Holidaying in Turkey- Recharge your Mind, Body and Souladmin
Last Updated January 2nd, 2019
Holidaying in Turkey | Planning a Vacation to Turkey
Are you looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of your work and routine and set off on a holiday that would inspire you with a land rich in its history, diverse in its culture and modern in its outlook.
Imagine yourself walking through the bustling streets of a country that is probably one of the oldest inhabited regions on the globe. As per historians, the Anatolian Peninsula that holds most of modern Turkey today is the place where the earliest human settlements existed.
The Republic of Turkey is a Eurasian country surrounded by eight countries that include Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. In a country where Asia converges with Europe,
the landscape is studded with scenic mountains in the East, golden beaches, mysterious rock formations and the famous Turkish Riviera in the southwest.
Cities To Visit
The most important cities to visit while in Turkey would obviously include those in the Turquoise Coast like
- Bodrum and
- Ankara (the capital),
- Izmir and
Turkish Riviera and The Blue Voyage
The Turquoise Coast as it is popularly known is the other name for the Turkish Riviera. It has the heady combination of beautiful weather, warm sea, and a coastline that stretches beyond the horizon along the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.
The architectural and natural beauty of this place attracts many tourists every year to soak in the sun and sights. It is believed that during the Roman era, Marc Anthony had presented the Turkish Riviera as the most beautiful wedding gift to Cleopatra.
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The internationally acclaimed Blue Voyage is a weeklong trip for tourists to take on Gulets ( a traditional Turkish sailing boat) along the Turquoise coast.
They sail away to ancient harbors, cities, mausolea and cozy beaches hidden away in the small coves, among the lush forests and sunlit streams that lace the coast.
Istanbul has the modern chaos of a city booming in its economy. Shops and skyscrapers, streets busy with taxis, people and public transport are all the regular sights you would see in any city. But with a map to guide you, drink in the sights of ancient architecture found in the mosques and palaces that have stood the test of time. Istanbul is the cultural and economic hub of Turkey.
Art, entertainment, tourism, shopping, education, commerce and trade all begin here. It offers a mixed bag of entertaining delights in the form of jazz, rock concerts, theatre, opera, ballet, musicals, classical music and finally good Turkish and International cuisine.
The blend of Byzantine and Ottoman empires and culture is evident in the architectural wizardry. The Blue Mosque built in the 17th century, gets its name from the colored tiles that are placed in the interior upper level.
It was built during the rule of the Ottoman Empire and is one of the most popular sights that silhouette against the horizon.
The Byzantine Hippodrome was the scene of all games during the Ottoman history that scaled 500 years. The monuments that surround the Hippodrome are worth visiting. They include the 3500 year old Obelisk of Theodosius made of Egyptian granite bought in 390 AD by Constantinople from the Emperor Theodosius.Also worth visiting are two important places- the Hagia Sophia which is a basilica turned mosque and one of the most impressive buildings here.
The Topikapi Palace housed the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years of their rule where they lived in hundreds of rooms and harems with their concubines, servants and children.Other attractions include the Kapalicarsi, which is the Grand Bazaar that forms a covered labyrinth at many levels.
You would find bargains on Turkish carpets that assure you of everything except a flight out of Istanbul, glazed pottery and tiles, meerschaum pipes, expensive alabaster lamps and ashtrays, copper and brassware and…well, possible everything you have on your shopping list!
While you shop and bargain, a good walk to the market is better than taking a taxi that runs through arduous routes. Besides, when you walk, you see more…who knows, you may even find Aladdin’s lost lamp! Beware of pickpockets and bag snatchers.
The market closes at midday for ritualistic prayers and is closed on Sundays. Take your pick from the 4000 odd shops and walk through a maze of colors and treasures that you may never know the real worth of until you buy one!
The Best of Istanbul
The haunting, age-old invocation to worship from a hundred minarets mixes with clanging tram bells, western rap music and the commercial bellow of hawkers. In this city of 15 plus million people, situated where Europe meets Asia, the sounds and sights overwhelm the senses and I am left bewildered but excited.
I have arrived with high expectations and already these have been blown away. This is one of the world’s great cities. It’s exotic, cosmopolitan, surprisingly friendly and culturally stunning. While strongly Muslim, I see Western dressed kids in flashy cocktail bars and women in head-to-toe chadors walking in and out of Starbucks and McDonalds.
Aya Sofya, Istanbul
I look around. Within sight are mosques, churches, palaces, Roman ruins, markets and amazing views over the Bosporus. This was the centre of the world and capital of both Christian and Islamic empires for some 1600 years and it shows. We start by paying homage to all the marvellous sights of old Istanbul.
The 1500 year-old Aya Sofya, was once the greatest church in the world. Then, after the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, it became a mosque and Islamic additions were made inside and outside which can still be seen today.
In 1935 it became a museum and remains so today. For 1000 years this building had the largest dome and was the largest enclosed space on the planet. It is stunning. We wander around amazed by what we see then spend ages looking at the best of the glittering mosaics lurking in the galleries upstairs.
Next is the Topkapi Palace, the centre of power for the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. The many buildings are arranged around a series of courtyards on a spectacular site. Sultan Mehmet began to build Topkapi Palace in 1459 and it became home to generations of sultans and their wives, who were closeted in the famous harem.
The palace is divided into four courtyards: The first has three buildings that you must see: Aya Eirine, the mint / outer treasury of the Ottoman Empire, and the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
The second courtyard served as the working section of the palace, while the third courtyard has the audience hall for visitors to the Sultan and there are also rooms displaying the ceremonial dresses of the Ottoman Sultans, holy relics, portraits of the sultans, a library and the Treasury. The fourth court is more of a garden than a courtyard.
The Blue Mosque aka ‘Sultan Ahmet Mosque’
The Hippodrome is the site of a 2000 year-old Roman stadium. Little remains but it now forms a park and a fitting entrance to the attractive Blue Mosque.
It is so named because of the beautiful blue Iznik tiles decorating the interior. It was built by Sultan Ahmet from 1609 to 1616. Size is what impresses here and the interior, except for its 20,000 blue tiles, is rather gloomy and sterile. It is open all day except during prayer times and should be on every visitor’s list.
The Underground Cistern
The city’s most unexpectedly romantic attraction, the Basilica Cistern, offers an insight into the complicated system that once brought drinking water into the city.
The Underground Basilica Cistern is a great underground chamber which was used in times of siege but mainly as the Byzantine city’s main water storage.
After the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, it was forgotten of and few knew that it existed until it was re-discovered in 1545. Today it is an atmospheric underground cavern with beautiful arches and Roman support columns with opportunities for great photographs.
Don’t miss the upside-down head of Medusa that forms the bottom of one column.
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar, a bewildering home to 4000 shops is colourful, confusing and utterly fascinating. It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It slowly evolved but by the beginning of the seventeenth century the Grand Bazaar had achieved its final shape.
Today it must fight the competition of the giant malls built everywhere in Istanbul, but its beauty and history give it a formidable advantage particularly with visitors. When you visit get ready to swap friendly banter with the hundreds of shopkeepers who will attempt to lure you into their establishments.
We look at carpets, clothing, jewellery and ceramics without buying. We are greeted with cups of tea and graciousness completely unexpected.
Though there’s no doubt that it’s a tourist trap for visitors, it’s also a place where business deals are done between locals, and where import/export businesses flourish. The Grand Bazaar is opened each day except Sundays and bank holidays from 9:00 until 19:00.
Although it is somewhat difficult to get here except by taxi, the restored Chora Church in the old city walls offers a stunning glimpse of late Byzantine splendour. Its walls and ceilings are adorned with glittering mosaics and breath-taking frescoes and there is a sense of history everywhere you look.
Like Aya Sofya, it has made the journey from Byzantine church to Ottoman mosque and then to modern museum.
It stands in a neighbourhood of restored Ottoman wooden houses, prettily painted in pastel colours which will appeal to all photographers and lovers of architecture.
Today we catch a tram to Kabatas and a funicular to Taksim Square. This is the heart of ’new’ Istanbul. Wide streets radiate through affluent suburbs. Attractive, fashionably dressed women patronise up-market shops and boutiques.
We walk the 1.2 km down pedestrianised Istiklai Caddesi past restaurants, bars, international stores, movie theatres and foreign consulates. We stop for coffee, baklava, Turkish delight and a chance to watch the passing parade. Narrow laneways, lined with little shops disappear downhill. Peddlers and street children sell shoeshines and odd bits and pieces, amid clanging tram bells, blasting music shops, and street chatter.
As we walk further we reach the Galata Tower which was built by a Genoese colony in 1348 as a part of its fortifications. The surrounding quarter in more recent times nurtured a whole diversity of European ethnic minorities, among them Armenians, Venetians, Jews and Greeks but most have now gone.
As the waterway that divides two continents, the narrow Bosporus has a notable place in history. It is something we don’t want to miss so we catch a ferry and watch as the mansions drift by. I am reminded that Istanbul is said to have more millionaires than any city but New York, Moscow and London.
The villages could be on the Mediterranean but then something ‘Turkish’ appears to remind me where I am.
We relax and admire the shoreline of beautiful mosques, lavish palaces and decadent villas. We see Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, Ottoman summer mansions, Ortakoy Mosque, the defensive Rumeli Fortress and two dramatic bridges.
We need more time to explore some of these on land. The waterway itself is alive with ferries, fishing boats, yachts, huge cargo ships and tankers and the cruise ends far too soon.
Tonight we will have our dinner with a local family as part of an Urban Adventure. There are just us, the family of 3 and a guide. The family speak no English, but our bilingual guide translates.
We play with the two-year-old daughter then sit on the floor to enjoy a typical Turkish meal. The home-cooked food is delicious and the atmosphere warm and relaxed. We have brought some fresh baklava as a small gift and we all enjoy it for dessert.
We feel very privileged to get this insight into their lives and it will long remain a highlight of Istanbul. We recommend this to everyone. Afterwards we walk the cobbled back-streets of the area with the guide and drop into a local tea house. While drinking tea, sampling a waterpipe, playing backgammon and enjoying views over the Marmara Sea, we discuss Turkey and its quest for membership of the European Union.
I conclude that while many in Istanbul see a future in Europe, much of the rest of the country and the government is reluctant to give up the culture of its Eastern roots.
The Spice Bazaar
Nowhere are these Eastern roots seen better than at the Spice Bazaar which is filled with the fragrance of the exotic East. Spices,dried fruits, cheeses, sausages, teas, jams, nuts, Turkish Delight and other edibles fill most of the shops. It is busy, colourful, fragrant and crowded. But even here things are changing.
You can buy T-shirts with ‘I love New York’ on them and see bright signs in Japanese, French and Spanish. I talk with some of the merchants and am surprised to find that most think that the country as a whole is not changing as fast as it talks.
Some are concerned there are signs that the Islamist government is heading in a different direction. The main entrance to the Spice Bazaar is via an archway off the pigeon infested plaza next to the New Mosque near GalataBridge. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., every day.
The choice of accommodation in the city is overwhelming. There are chain hotels, locally-owned properties of all types and hostels for budget travellers. Another option is short-time rental.
Istanbul takes time to explore. Sure, the highlights can be seen in a few days but we leave knowing that six nights has not been enough for us. It has become common to say, ‘we will be back’, but in this case it comes from the heart.
It is the capital city and falls in the Anatolian Valley. It offers a host of inexpensive but good restaurants and cafes for the traveler to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city.
Ankara houses the Museum of Anatolian civilizations and Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk. Near Ulus square lie the ruins of the Temple of Augustus and Rome.
Ephesus and Selcuk
Ephesus that falls on the Asian side of Turkey, was once the capital of the Roman province. One of the Seven Wonders of the World-The Temple of Artemis, The Roman Library of Celsus, and Odeon, are some of the Roman ruins to visit here. Selcuk is a town, 3 km away offering tourist attractions like the Basilica of St John the Apostle and The House of Virgin Mary.
The city is known for its exhibition of art and some of the older parts of Selcuk have retained the traditional Turkish culture.
Goreme and Urgup lie in this region that has a great visual appeal because of the mysterious formations of rocks and caves. Attractions include visits to the caves, rides in hot air balloons that afford you a majestic view of the landscape below, hikes to the volcanic valleys, walking through underground cities, a visit to the open air museum in Goreme that holds a unique collection of beautifully painted ancient cave churches decorated with Byzantine frescos.
The lodging experience here offers a stay in a cave room with all the comforts of a hotel.
This is an ancient city founded in 2 BC, lying north of Antalya. It has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The trip offers a view of the ruins of the Temple of Apollo and the tombs of Necropolis. The Pamukkale springs located close by are believed to have healing powers. Visitors are allowed to bathe in these hot springs.
Their characteristic white frothiness is due to the calcium rich waters.
The monastery is located in the Trabzon province in Northern Turkey and is probably the most inaccessible locations to build anything on. Yet, this amazing and impressive architecture strikes out from the cliff face that is a 1000 foot above the valley! It miraculously clings on like a clam to a rock.
The monastery was founded by Barnabas, a Greek monk in the 4th century.
It houses some of the most beautiful frescoes and relics and is only accessible by foot. You can reach there within 40 minutes by hiking through thick woodland. Check for your wallet before starting out because there is an entrance fee at the top.
Turkey offers something for everyone. History, art, culture, food, music, theatre…it is the perfect blend of everything that can stir your senses and help you relax, rejuvenate and discover yourself in another land.
Buying Property in Turkey
Buying Property in Turkey – Affordable Luxury Where East Meets West
Where East meets West, Turkey is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Europe. Visitors enjoy magnificent historical sites such as Ephesus, crystal sea, plenty of sunshine and beaches, architectural gems, towering minarets and plenty of good food and cheap shopping.
Many visitors decide to invest in Turkish property to finance their own holidays by renting out when they are not using it. Others invest for their family use and love owning their special place in the sun to visit whenever they choose.
The purchase of real estate in Turkey by foreign nationals is a quite recent development when the laws relating to foreign ownership were liberalized.
There are many benefits to buying a property in Turkey namely affordability and Turkey’s potential admission into the European Union, which will bring distinct advantages for foreign investors and the ease of a European single currency.
Moreover, the property prices are low in Turkey with even luxury villas at very affordable prices and apartments within the reach of most people. Combined with friendly people, perfect sunny climate, and relaxed environment, it is easy to see why Turkey is a popular choice for foreign investors.
Most foreign investors are Buying a second home in the resort areas of the country with villas and apartments being a popular choice. With residual income benefits from property rental, Turkey’s real estate is a very attractive proposition.
Turkey has become a much more stable prospect for holidaymakers and visitor numbers are increasing year on year because of the facilities, value for money and readily available budget airline flights from all parts of Europe and beyond.
Despite the change of law to allow foreign investment, there are still areas of Turkey where the purchase of property by foreigners is prohibited. Properties of this kind are usually located in sensitive areas or in the vicinity of military bases and installations. It is essential that foreign buyers are aware of the location where they wish to purchase.
They should check out prohibited areas so they do not become involved in a transaction that may fail causing unnecessary wasted time and money. Purchasing property in Turkey needs to be undertaken with real attention to detail. For example, it is vital that a thorough title search is done to ensure the property is clear and free form anything preventing absolute transfer to a purchaser.
Title deeds in Turkey are often encumbered by liens and other complications. Be sure to use an experienced professional lawyer who can unravel these title deeds for you.
There are some obvious pitfalls worth looking for.
1. Buy new or fairly new property. The Turkish government introduced new building standards and regulations governing the building of property in Turkey in 2000. These standards and regulations comply with European Union standards.
2. Avoid unregulated real estate agents. Check that your agent is properly registered and licensed so you are assured they are compliant with all legislation.
3. Always use a lawyer who is an expert with Turkish property transactions. Your rights will be protected and all legal matters will be addressed, as they should be.
Investing in Turkey
When a property is found that a buyer wishes to purchase an oral offer should be made to the seller or seller’s agent. Preliminary contracts are drawn up if the offer is accepted.
The buyer has an obligation to put down a non-refundable deposit of between four and ten percent. If the seller backs out or there is no clear title, the deposit is refunded. Final contracts in Turkey are executed at the Land Registry Office where a new title or deed is applied for. These documents are usually issued within three months.
One crucial part of purchasing property in Turkey is that earthquake insurance is compulsory in most parts of the country and is very important. Factor in the cost of the premiums when the property transaction is going through.
A final consideration is to apply for a long-term residency permit in Turkey if you purchase a property rather than leaving and re-entering the country every three months on a temporary visa if you stay there for extended periods.
It is a simple process to fill out and submit a Declaration of Intent form, which will give you residency for five years if approved
All you need to know about Turkish Investment Properties
Turkey is hot – All you need to know about Turkish Investment Properties
Turkey is proving to be a viable investment option for would be property investors. Low property prices, adherence to EU regulations on new builds, a growing economy, potential entry to the European Union make Turkey one of the most exciting investment areas.
Turkey is democracy which is unusual in the Islamic world.
Although challenges have been presented to the democratic government, it has always stood strong and passed the democratic change test not once but many times.
It is a stable region hence its dramatic growth as an investment economy, retirement place and tourist resort.
Turkish Property Investment Advantages
With an unstable global economy, there is little faith in the traditional investment areas of the stock market and other financial investment vehicles. Property has stabilized worldwide in value meaning this is a perfect time to set up a property portfolio or buy a single property for personal use.
This new stability in property prices means we can look forward to slow and steady growth in prices meaning your investment will be safe rather than subject to volatile market forces.
Many reputable investment funds are looking to property in new areas like Turkey for long term growth. Everyone who has ever made an investment especially in recent times will realize that there are no guarantees to the return on your investment, but the probability is good for year on year growth.
A worthwhile option for investors is to have a mortgage that is repaid from rental income with the caveat you have the right property in the right location.
Turkey’s tourist industry is large and constantly growing which creates demand for quality property that appeals to tourists. Turkey has spectacular beaches, ancient historical monuments and cities,a sunny climate that surpasses most of the popular holiday resorts in Europe.
Competitive and cheap flights from budget and charter carriers make flying to Turkey convenient and affordable – ideal for the occasional visitor or for generating holiday traffic to your investment property.
Property prices in Turkish holiday resorts will respond by increasing in value as more tour operators and visitors demand good quality accommodation.
Once Turkey is incorporated into the European Union, its popularity will increase due to the single currency – the Euro.
Not only does this engender a sense of security in visitors but it does away with complex currency conversions.
Buying Property in Turkey
On the home market, with a 80 million population, many visitors to Turkish resorts are from other areas of Turkey so there is a captive marketplace for rentals as well. Strong Turkish economy showing 5.5% GDP Climate beaches and clean sea has established Turkey as a top holiday destination.
* There are longer summers extending the tourist season all good reasons why investment in property is a viable project.
* A 2% population growth in Turkey per annum and 70% population under the age of thirty creates a market that is locally strong.
There is no better time to invest in Turkish property whether apartments, villas, a home of your own or a property portfolio.
Enjoy the returns on your investments
Joint project written by Elizabeth Dcosta – Travel blogger and Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an online and offline digital marketing agency that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.