These are the best places in Turkey to get really off the beaten track!
Coups. Terrorism. Refugees. Doesn’t Turkey have a border with Syria? And with Iraq?
Yes. That’s all Turkey makes the news for these days. And yes, there is a lot of trouble in the country right now, there has been for a while, and there will be for the foreseeable future. And yes. There are land borders with Syria. And with Iraq. But it’s not all bad. And events shouldn’t hold you back!
Outside of the big cities there’s only a minor chance of political unrest, and even less chance of terrorism. Yes, even in the south and the east. Life in the villages and towns continues as it has done for centuries.
Away from the coastal resorts and the stunning yet over flowing tourist hot spots of Pamukkale and Cappadocia, there’s a real wealth of historic, cultural and down right interesting places still left to be discovered. Safe places too. Terrorists don’t tend to target barely visited sights in the middle of nowhere.
From ancient stone heads dedicated to a long dead King, to a modern town that is actually called Batman, why not give Turkey a chance? It’s not all coups and terrorists. I promise.
This is Turkey off the beaten track!
Escape The City On A Trip To Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands…
Istanbul is busy. It’s hectic, chaotic, and huge. It’s also a lot of fun, but when it all gets a bit overwhelming, you can escape the city by travelling to the Princes’ Islands. This small archipelago is a short ferry ride away from Istanbul, in the Sea of Marmara. The public ferry will take you on a stunning voyage along the coast, past all of the city’s most famous attractions! Get off at the largest island, Büyükada. The culture shock will be palpable. There’s no chaos, almost no vehicles- only horse carts- and the roads are perfect for hiking. Oh and the fresh air….!
To get here, take the public ferry line which runs from Kabataş on the European side of the city, down the hill from Taksim Square! Ferries run each way rather regularly and the crossing takes perhaps an hour.
Visit The Giant Heads Of Mount Nemrut…
Mount Nemrut isn’t easy to get to. For half of the year snow blocks any access. The rest of the year it’s still very cold. It’s also in the middle of nowhere. Intrepid travellers will be rewarded with the insane sight of the giant decapitated stone statues which have stood on the peak of this mountain for centuries. This was the legacy of an egotistical King, who wanted a place amongst the Gods. But his Empire fell, and the statues he built were decapitated and left in the snow. Few visitors make it this far into Turkey, but the heads, the views and the hospitality of the Kurdish villages around the mountain will be enough to stop anyone from ever leaving.
For more information on travelling to Mount Nemrut, then check out my detailed guide right HERE.
Explore Hasankeyf, A 12,000 Year Old City Which May Soon Be Underwater…
In southern Turkey, in the heart of the Kurdish speaking lands, the town of Hasankeyf has stood for 12,000 years. It’s seen empires rise and then fall and borne witness to the complex and intriguing history of Anatolia. Now ancient Hasankeyf is threatened. It may soon be completely underwater. When the huge Dam project nearby is completed- it’s only a matter of time- the town and its history will be flooded.
For more information on the plight of Hasankeyf then read my in depth article HERE.
Be Haunted By An Abandoned Ghost Town On The Mediterranean Coast…
Kayakoy is an abandoned, haunting village near to the coastal city of Fethiye. It’s a tragic place. It was once the home of a large Greek community who were forcibly removed during the population exchanges which took place with Greece after the First World War. It was never really repopulated, and now the buildings and churches are slowly being overgrown and crumbling into the dust. It’s a sad reminder of the turbulent modern history of Turkey.
There’s more pictures of the abandoned village of Kayakoy HERE.
Hike The Epic Lycian Way…
The Lycian Way is a long distance hiking trail formed from historic roads and footpaths which have been walked for thousands of years. It’s a great way to get off the beaten track and to see the Mediterranean coastline without getting sucked into a touristy holiday resort! It starts in Fethiye and finishes near Antalya, but you can walk as much or as little as you want. It’s way marked and passes through some epic places on the rural back roads that you’d otherwise never see.
You can find out more about my own hike HERE!
Take A Boat Out On Lake Van, The Largest Lake In Turkey…
Lake Van is the largest lake in the country! It’s huge, and that’s why the locals refer to it not as a lake, but as a sea. The city of Van is a vibrant, overlooked Kurdish city, but on the lake itself, you will find an island which is home to Van’s last Armenian church, a testament to the area’s multi cultural history, and also to its unfortunate ethnic conflicts.
Find out more information about Akdamar Island and Lake Van HERE!
Discover The Long Forgotten Armenian Ruins Of Ani…
If one Armenian church isn’t enough, then head to Kars. Right on the closed Armenian border, you will find the ruins of an old and long forgotten Armenian Kingdom. The ruins of Ani are unique, yet almost no visitors make it to this part of Turkey. It’s a shame, but it means more solitude and quiet for those that do make the effort. Ani was known as the city of 1001 and churches, so there’s plenty of ruinous architecture to explore.
Take The Ferry From Tasucu To Northern Cyprus…
Tasucu is a sleepy port town on the Mediterranean. There’s no big hotel resorts, and few tourists. The beaches are lovely though, and it’s a great jumping off point to head onto a new adventure in Northern Cyprus! From Tasucu, you can catch a night ferry across to Girne, on the Turkish speaking side of Cyprus, where untouched beaches and ancient crusader castles await you! If you’re really adventurous, you can even get a ferry from Tasucu across to Lebanon!
Find out more about the ferry to Northern Cyprus HERE!
There’s A Town Called Batman!
That’s right. A town called Batman. There isn’t much to do in Batman apart from be continually amused by the name, but it is a rather authentic, and completely untouristy city in the south of Turkey. It’s a place where people just get on with their lives. It’s also the best place to travel to Hasankeyf from!
Find out more about my epic search for Batman HERE!