- Middle east
45 Photos that will Inspire you to visit Turkey
Oh, this is going to be a big one. On June 2015, I spent a whole month traveling in Turkey from west to east, from Istanbul to Kars. During that month I was able to experience a wide range of landscape and attractions from the cave city of Cappadocia and tropical beaches of the Mediterranean sea to the Armenian ruins in the east. It's all here and I can show you that there is more to Turkey than Istanbul. Follow me and I'll show you the REAL Turkey!Table of Contents
Napoleon once said: "If the world were a single state Istanbul would be it's capital.". I could see why. Istanbul lies between 2 continents, Europe and Asia and you can literally cross from one to another in 20 minutes.
Even though there were not many notable attraction on the Asian side of Istanbul, I found it to be one of the best place to get away from tourists and experience the real Istanbul. With the help of my Turkish friend, Tulu, I had one of the most delicious and cheap local food here (and it's not just kebabs!).
From Istanbul, I took an overnight bus to Selcuk and used it as a base to explore Ephesus and Pamukkale. Ephesus is only 45 minutes walk away from the city centre and I spent half a day exploring the area. One of the impressive structures in Ephesus was this amphitheatre, the biggest of its kind in Anatolia.
Pamukkale is an ancient tourist city that dated back thousands of years to the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine era. This is one of the amphitheatre in the ancient city of Hierapolis
Pamukkale contains hot springs and the famous travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. People believe that the water will make them young and beautiful, let see if my feet become younger. :)
Fethiye is a port city, popular amongst vacation-goers and yacht owners. It was also a great starting place for hikers who are planning to start the Lycian Way walk. I met all kinds of different travelers here.
Lies within the vacinity of the city is the Fethiye pillars tomb carved on the side of a mountain. I accidentally stumbled upon this place while I was trying to find a good spot for sunset.
With the view of the mountain range as a backdrop and the city of Fethiye that stretches as far as the eyes could see, there's no doubt that this place was the PERFECT spot for sunset.
Butterfly Valley, Faralya
From Fethiye, I took a bus to Olundeniz in the morning and boarded a cruise to the Butterfly Valley to hike up the cliff. What I did not know was that I wasn't suppose to climb with my full backpack. It was crazy dangerous since it involved narrow path, several steep sections that required you to climb with ropes, and a very scary cliff.
I eventually mountain-hugged my way to the top. At one point, I was so rely on my footing that if one thing went wrong, I would have slipped and fall to my glorious death. Please for the sake of your life, don't climb this with your backpack.
I survived though and I was glad to find a guesthouse at the top. At first, I planned to camp in Kabak, but the Butterfly Valley was so beautiful I decided to stay here for a night. Three nights later and I was still there in the Butterfly Valley. It was that beautiful!
George's Guesthouse provided me with a tent, and a sleeping mat for free. All I needed to pay was for the breakfast and dinner.
The best thing about camping is that you can choose where you sleep. I got the best seat in the valley with the view of the ocean and sunset.
I met the most interesting people here in Faralya. These people were attempting the Lycian Way walk, one of the best long-distance walk in the world, and they had the best stories to tell. The trail would take them along the coast from Fethiye to Antalya, a whooping 540km in distance and people who do this kind of thing are usually more optimistic and humbled than most people and I love hanging out with them.
At the guesthouse the night before, me, Kat and Elissa formed a little group where we hiked parts of the coastal trail from Faralya to Kabak and to the Paradise beach.
Believe it or not, we got lost the minute we stepped out of the Guesthouse. We were walking in circles in a campground for 15 minutes before we were able to find our way back to the trail.
We arrived at Kabak beach in less than 3 hours. We were promised a quiet, peaceful beach (according to Wikitravel), but that was not the case. There were way too many tourists jamming to their loud music, lying on the beach, tanning themselves. We had to walk a little further to find a quiet spot so we can relax and rest from the hike.
While we were heading back to Faralya via a minibus, I had an epiphany. The reason why Kabak became so touristy is because of the access of roads. Any beaches that have some kind of road access will always attract more people.
Me and Elissa decided to tag along with Kat in a quest to find the "Paradise beach", a beach that not many tourists had set foot on. Kat works at the guesthouse as a guide so she knows all the hidden gems around the area.
The trail started from Kabak, and because of the disappointment we had the day before, we were more driven to find the Paradise beach than most people.
We finally found it! The Paradise beach completely unoccupied! We swam there for a few hours, hopped on a speed boat to the Pirate Bay nearby and headed back to Faralya.
Since I overstayed in Faralya than I planned to, I decided to hop on the next night bus to Cappadocia and hit the ground running by hiking the Red Rose Valley.
The trail took me through some of the most alien-looking landscape. It almost felt like I was walking on Tatooine!
The next morning, I decided to go on a hot air balloon ride and witnessed one of the best sunrise ever in Goreme, Capadoccia. Hundreds of balloon competed to rise above the ground was quite a sight to behold.
After the balloon, me and a few friends from the hostel went and hiked the Pigeon Valley. I saw no pigeon though.
Along the way, we passed the Uçhisar castle and since it was the highest point in Cappadocia, we decided to hike to the top.
After a day hiking the Pigeon Valley, the Uçhisar castle and the Love Valley, we decided to go a little slow the next day and went on the "Green tour". It was a tour that accommodates us to see all the sights on Southern Cappadocia that are not accessible via public transport. One of them was the famous cave city.
Our next stop was the Selime Monastery, where George Lucas based his design of Star Wasrs Tatooine set he built in the States. I don't know about you but I see Rampart from Heroes of Might and Magic 3 instead. Noticed the mountain on the right? Anyone? No? Ok..
Now, this was where it got interesting. Most people never go further than Cappadocia, and because of that I decided to go further. I had to catch a plane from Ankara to Adiyaman (due to my scheduled meeting with my friend in Istanbul) and paid a fortune for a transfer to Karadut, the village at the foot of Mt Nemrut.
From the village, it was a 3 hours walk one way to the summit and there were no shade to be seen along the way. I was extremely dehydrated by the time I arrived at the summit. The road was also not as exciting after a while, but the statues of gods at the summit made it all worthwhile.
The heads were scattered around the summit, overlooking the gorgeous mountains that surrounded the area.
Ramadan started when I was in Van and the further I went east, the more difficult it was for me to find food. Van was the most difficult of all and I ended up living on cookies and crackers for the next 2 days. Thankfully, there is a beautiful Armenian cathedral situated in the middle of Lake Van so it was not as bad.
I took a dolmus from Van city to Akdamar port and got on the island via public ferry. Upon arriving, I went straight to the only hill on the island to capture the cathedral from the top. The cathedral of the Holy Cross was nice and all, but I preferred seeing the it from afar with a backdrop of the mountains.
After I came back from the island, I took another Dolmus to the Citadel to watch the sunset. Since the citadel entrance was already closed by the time I got there, I had to be a little creative to get into the citadel without passing through the entrance.
While I was trying to find a way in, I saw an openned side gate. I looked left and right, made sure that no one was looking and I slid myself in. I walked along the side the citadel from the bottom until I reached the west tip of the mountain and climbed up to the top to see the sunset. By the way, You did not hear this from me! :)
I went to Trabzon before heading to Kars but I forgot to take a back photo of myself there so I apologize. From Trabzon, I took a night bus to Kars and went on a day tour to Ani. Ani is a ruined medieval Armenian city near the border of Armenia and Turkey. This place was definitely one of the highlight of my trip in the east.
I spent a total of 3 hours in Ani alone. The site was full of Armenian architecture, huge valleys and beautiful silk road trails that you can explore.
It is also a site of structures built in impossible places. This is the remnant of Armenian church, built on the side of a cliff. The Armenian architecture was a refreshing change from all the Roman ruins I'd seen on my trip.
In Ani, there was a trail called the Silk Road that would take me through the valley. I was intrigue to give it a go but since I was on a 3 hours schedule, I decided not to.. until one Turkish couple approached me and told me that I should at least go down to see this amazing structure in the valley. I am easily persuaded when it comes to something like this and so I went. It was freaking awesome!
The structure was hiddenly built behind a cliff, at the bottom of the valley right by the river. You just got to wonder what the function of the structure was during the ancient times.
I called this the Thunder Canyon because it looked like a thunder struck the ground and created the canyon.
This was me overlooking the canyon from a window of one of the Armenian church along the cliff.
I mean, who the hell built that house on that mountain. They really did enjoy building structures in impossible places.
Even though I had to travel 1600km across Turkey to see Ani, I think it was well worth the effort. It was one of the most beautiful ancient site I'd seen bypassing the Ephesus and all structures in Cappadocia. If you are an adventurous type, this place is a no brainer.
After a whole month traveling in Turkey from west to east, I can proudly say that I'd done a lot more things in Turkey than most people and I urged you to give the east a go next time you are in Turkey. Farewell Turkey.
Do you enjoy this type of photography? Check out other entries to our "Follow Me and I'll Show You ________" series. If you have any suggestion on what I could improve, do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below or tweet me here: @peachananr
Further Reading for Turkey
Turkey is a country that stands in the middle of Europe and Asia. Empires after empires rose and fall on this land and in order to see Turkey as a whole, you will have to go further than just Istanbul.
Here is a selection of articles and travel guides that you might need to further plan your trip to Turkey:
- Looking for a complete itinerary and travel guide for Turkey? One Month Itinerary for Turkey.
- You will likely be flying into Istanbul when you are traveling to Turkey. Check out my 4 days itinerary for Istanbul.
- A lot of Roman-influenced can be seen throughout Turkey. One of the big ones is Ephesus, a Roman ruin near Selcuk, south of Istanbul. Here’s a quick guide on how to get to Selcuk and visit Ephesus.
- Pamukkale is a popular tourist attraction since the ancient time. People from all over come to bath in these white salt pools along the cascade. It is an incredible sight to behold and if you want to visit, check out my One Day Travel Guide to Pamukkale.
- The southern coast of Turkey boasts a vivid turquoise colored sea, stunning cliffs and the Lycian trail, one of the best long trekking trails in the world that runs along the coast. Check out our travel guide on hiking the Butterfly Valley and Kabak in the Southern port town of Fethiye, Turkey.
- Cappadocia is a big area full of amazing things to do, from hot air balloon to hiking the valleys. Here’s a complete guide on how to spend 4 days in Cappadocia, Turkey.
- Mt. Nemrut and a collection of stone heads of gods atop the mountain are not easy to visit. The question has to be asked, Is Mt. Nemrut really worth visiting? We have the answer.
- It’s time to go off the beaten path with a visit to Van, a city in Eastern Turkey known for its massive breakfast and an Armenian temple on an island. Here’s a travel guide on how to visit Van, Turkey.
- The Northern coast of Turkey, below the Black Sea is also a great place to go off-the-beaten-path. Trabzon is an important ancient port city full of history waiting for you to explore. Check out my travel guide on how to visit Sumela Monastery in Trabzon.
- Kars is a city located on the easternmost part of Turkey and along the border with Armenia, there’s an ancient Armenian ruin called Ani that will blow your mind away. Here is a complete guide on how to visit Ani from Kars, Turkey.
- Since you are already all the way east, why not cross the border from Turkey to Georgia and make your way to Tbilisi, a vibrant capital city of Georgia. Check out my Georgia Travel Guide to plan your next trip to Georgia.
- For all articles about Turkey, visit Turkey Travel Guide page.
- Looking for more travel guides for the Middle East? You can find more on my Middle East Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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