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Turkey Travel Guide
Turkey has always been a crossroads between the East and West and the influences from both can be found across the country. It would simply be impossible to explore the whole country in one trip, even if you do have your own Turkey car rental. In fact, it would be a lifetime to truly get to grips with this complex country. Whether you’re looking to dive into Turkey’s epic history in the ancient port city of Ephesus, go hiking in the Kackar Mountains, take a hot air balloon over the rock formations in Cappadocia or get lost while bagging your shopping in the old Grand Bazaar, you’ll always find something to do.
Dining in Turkey
One thing is for sure – when you visit Turkey, you will eat well. Centuries of rulers and empires have all played a part in shaping the country’s varied cuisine. There’s much more than the greasy doner kebabs you find in your local takeaway. Keep an eye out for kokorec, a blend of seasoned sweetbread, hearts and kidneys cooked over charcoal. Or manti, tiny ravioli-style dumplings filled with lamb, onions and spices. First timers shouldn’t miss trying the iconic lahmacun, think dough topped with minced meat, peppers and spices before cooked until crispy in a wood-fired oven. Wash everything down with ayran, a cold salty yogurt drink that works well with Turkish cuisine.
There are few cities as historical or intriguing as Istanbul, a city that straddles both Europe and Asia. You could spend a lifetime exploring every nook and cranny of this ancient city and still not discover everything is has to offer. While it would simply be impossible to list every attraction there is, highlights include the Fatih Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and the Chora Church. It’s also the best place to pick up your Turkey car hire.
Most aren’t even aware that Ankara is the capital of Turkey. It may not have the same number of attractions or nearly as many visitors as Istanbul, but those who visit are pleasantly surprised by its charm. Here, you’ll find an enviable food scene, some wonderful parks and a vibrant coffee culture along with several extraordinary museums.
Izmir serves as Turkey’s third largest city and straddles the sun-soaked coastline overlooking the Aegean in the west of the country. It’s always been an important port city which brought in influences from nearby countries now found in the culture and cuisine. While many visitors pass through on their way to Ephesus, those who stay find ancient bazaars, fascinating museums and laid-back locals.
If you’re using your car hire in Turkey for a road trip through the country, don’t discount Antalya which lies along the southern coast and is considered the gateway to the Turkish Riviera. It’s a laid back place with winding narrow lanes, old harbours and some fine examples of Ottoman architecture. Plus, there’s two urban beaches which are surprisingly clean.
Be sure to nab your accommodation early if you plan to visit Bodrum in the summer. During the warmer months the town’s population balloons with locals and foreigners who come for the long stretches of nearby beach, the ancient ruins and the trendy waterfront eateries. A thoroughly charming place that never fails to deliver on a getaway.
While the town itself doesn’t have much to offer visitors, there are still reasons to visit this corner of Turkey. Just a few miles south, you’ll find a dazzling coastline, one with rocky cliff sides which tumble down into turquoise waters, secluded little sandy bays and some fine restaurants whose menus are dominated, unsurprisingly, with freshly-caught seafood.
Samsun lies along the northern coast of Turkey overlooking the Black Sea. It serves as a perfect stop off point for those taking their Turkey car rental on a road trip from east to west. If you’re feeling active, you can make a dash for one of the attractions like the city’s zoo or take the kids to Akyol funfair. Alternatively, make for one of the nearby beaches and kick back on the sand.
This northern coastal city was founded by the Greeks over 1,000 years ago. Over the centuries, influence for many civilisations have all left their mark on the cuisine and culture. A visit isn’t complete without a visit to Aya Sofya mosque which was converted from a medieval church or the Byzantine monastery in Sumela.
Turkey driving routes
There are some gorgeous driving routes in Turkey, but none can compare to a road trip along the truly spectacular Aegean coastline. While it’s possible to visit any time of year, the warm summer months are particularly beautiful. Drive along the road which hugs the waterfront stopping off en route at secluded little bays for refreshing dips, ancient ruins and charming little villages. The best place to pick up your Turkey car rental for a drive along the coastline is in Izmir. You can even take your car on one of the ferries to explore the islands of Cozcaada, Gökçeada and Cunda. It’s worth taking your time to explore it in depth stopping frequently to enjoy the memorising scenery.
Turkey car rental
While it’s tempting to spend your whole getaway in Istanbul, there’s so much more to see beyond and you can’t do better than nabbing your own car rental in Turkey. The best places to pick up a vehicle is in one of the international airports in Istanbul, Izmir or Ankara. There is more than 313,000 kilometres of paved road in Turkey, but not all is made equal. It’s worth planning your journey carefully as some of the porthole-laden roads simply aren’t up to European standards. It’s highly recommended that you don’t drive after dark and keep an eye out for animals and horse-drawn carts when you’re on those rural roads.
Click here to read the 'Overlanding in Turkey' post to enjoy the Turkish adventures of the Overlanding team.