Turkey is a country which beckons with glorious history, fabled cities and spellbinding beauty. The capital Istanbul rises from the Bosphorous, a sparkly vision of minarets and domes, a meeting between Europe and Asia. Sure What better way to explore Turkey than to cruise through the country’s most enchanting ports of call? If ever there was a compelling reason to take to the seas in Turkey, it’s that taking to the roads can be something of a hair-raising adventure not many will enjoy.
Time then to explore which cities are worth a stop on your grand Turkish cruise!
Considered the third largest city in Turkey, Izmir, once the ancient city of Smyrna is now a bustling commercial centre, draped by mountains which form a stunning natural harbour. There’s a lot to see and do around Izmir, beginning with the famous Kemeralti Bazaar, where you can haggle and bargain for hand woven carpets, exotic shawls and irresistible spices. Izmir is also home to wonderful beaches, with Cesme, Alacati and Altinkum being some of the best beaches the Agen coast has to offer. Of course, no trip to Izmir is complete without a visit to Pamukkale, a unique geographical phenomenon where mini plateaux hold hot spring waters that offer spa-like therapeutical benefits.
Where do we begin with Istanbul? A vibrant city that straddles both the continents of Europe and Asia, it’s impossible to take in all the sights in just one short excursion. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and at Wonderlust Europe, we recommend you start with the Hagia Sophia. Known for its incredible architecture and intricate interior, this historic building started out as a church in the year 532 before being turned into a mosque in 1453. Its now open to the public as a secular museum. Once done, head on to the Basilica Cistern to marvel at Byzantine engineering. For the best 360 views of Istanbul, there’s only one place to head to: the Galata Tower. If the weather is good, you can see all the way to Princes Islands. As with most cities in Turkey, a trip to the local bazaar (known as pazar) is a must.
St Tropez is so yesteryear. If you’re looking for the next hottest summer destination, look no further than the idyllic city of Bodrum. One of the first sights that will greet you as you sail into it’s enchanting port is the 15th century castle of St Peter. With so much history crammed into this city, it’s no wonder that many are eschewing the overcrowded beaches of Spain and Greece for Turkey’s best-kept secret. Aside from St Peter’s castle, a must-see in this place is the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The tomb was built between 353 and 350 BC by Artemisia after the death of her husband Mausolus, as a testament to how heartbroken she was.
The only thing that rivals Demre’s beauty is its history. Located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey’s Antalya Province, this ancient Lycian town (previously known as Myra) holds the key to many historic happenings. The story of Santa Claus? It all started in Demre where Saint Nicholas of Myra served as a bishop, before his story eventually evolved into what we now know as Santa Claus. If you only have time to do ONE thing, make sure you visit the rock tombs in Myra.
The history in Canakkale goes wayyyyyyyy back. As far back as 3000BC if we’re to be exact. This is the place where Troy is located – the city depicted as the site of Homer’s epic tales of the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”. For most visitors though, the sheer wonder of this tourist attraction is standing on the site where the myth of Achilles, Hector, Paris and the Trojan horse all walked into history.