If the mention of a holiday primarily makes you think of Bodrum, Alanya or Çeşme, you have clearly been deprived of the hidden beauties of Turkey.
If you step beyond the popular beaches, you will be sure to find new adventures and paradisiacal locations. We will take you on a brief tour to whet your traveling palate, however please note that these descriptions merely scratch the surface of what this wonderful country has to offer.
The cleanest Aegean beaches: The coasts in Edirne, Kırklareli and Tekirdağ share borders with the Aegean, Marmara and Black seas. Enez, one of the cleanest shores of the Aegean, is only well known to families who live nearby and head there for weekends. Kırklareli province’s Kıyıköy, İğneada and Panayır are among other less-known areas. These locations along Kırklareli shores have not only lovely seas and beaches but also greenery. Tekirdağ is one of the significant tourism hubs, with the Marmara, Ereğlisi and Şarköy districts and the town of Kumbağ. Tekirdağ beaches, which are easy to get to with public transportation, are preferred by both locals and people from İstanbul, however Çamlıko (Kastros) Beach in the Saray district, which shares a narrow coastline with the Black Sea, is solely the domain of day trippers and campers because it is without accommodation. Thus, if you seek a location to quietly commune with nature in the evenings and stargaze at night, this is the spot for you.
Stop by Sparta’s plateaus: Sparta has a multitude of plateaus and lakes waiting to be explored. The area has both camping and caravan facilities. The region, known as “the roof of the Mediterranean” and surrounded by mountains, some of which are as much as 3,000 meters high, possesses great potential for tourism. The town of Eğirdir is graced by the northward-facing slopes of the Taurus Mountains as well as plateaus and valleys. Kurucaoluk, Camili, Belova and Belkuyu plateaus on the outskirts of Eğirdir are other places of natural intrigue; one may also visit the dazzling plateaus of Tota, Söğüt, Zengi and Sorgun.
Halfeti’s stone architecture: The Halfeti, Bozova and Birecik districts of Şanlıurfa province are attractive for their mild climates and historical architecture. Halfeti, which made the news when some of its residences were inundated during the construction of the Birecik dam as part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), is a picturesque coastal town. Its houses were built with traditional stone architecture and its historic mosque stands amidst fields of green.
Black Sea for its monastery and waterfall: The eastern Black Sea region is notable not only for its natural, cultural and historical merits but also for its ancient cities which remain unknown to tourists. Vaselon Monastery stands above a rocky cliff in Kiremitli village only 14 kilometers from Trabzon’s Maçka district. Lake Sera is located in Yıldızlı town only two kilometers from the sea. The lake came into existence in 1950 thanks to a landslide. Near the lake, visitors can also see Memişoğlu Mansion in Balıklı, four kilometers east of Sürmene district.
Ayder plateau of Rize, Marselabat Hill of Çamlıhemşin district along with Kolezana and Sırt plateaus of Ardeşen district are other fascinating sites. However, the Bulut Waterfall, with its 250-meter cascade, is a real highlight of the area. If you have enough time, you can also visit smaller waterfalls at Tar Deresi Valley located between the Çamlıhemşin district and Ayder Plateau.
In Artvin’s Murgul district, on Tiryal Mountain at an altitude of 1,700 meters, Karagöl is home to many rare plant species. These mountains are great for nature lovers in terms of the nice trails and the abundant variety of flora and fauna.
There are a total of six ancient cities in Aydın, one of the provinces in Turkey with the greatest number of historic sites. Described as lying “beneath the most beautiful sky” by Herodotus, Aydın hosts the ancient sites of Aphrodisias, Milet, Alinda, Didim, Nysa, Prien and Magnesia. There are no organized tours to these areas, and therefore one is free to explore. Other ancient sites of interest include Amyzon (Mazın), Gerga, Myus, Orthasia, Piginda and Pygela.
Trekking the Burdur Plateaus: Caves, lakes, bird observation areas and plateaus are waiting to be discovered in Burdur. One feature of the area is Insuyu Cave, a paradise for spelunkers. Lake Çorak Bird Territory, Lake Salda Bird Territory, Lake Karataş Bird Territory, Lake Varışlı Bird Territory and Lake Burdur Bird Territory are also within Burdur. Plateaus in the area range between altitudes of 200 and 2,200 meters. Visitors can also find out about the Yörük people, who reside in these plateaus.
The hidden paradise of the Taurus: Located in Limonlu town of Mersin’s Erdemli district and reached via a steep path (that eventually leads to the Taurus Mountains), Kayacık Valley is a hidden paradise with its dense green forests and refreshingly cold river.
Wonderful waterfall: Suuçtu Waterfall, near Bursa’s Mustafakemalpaşa district, is a visual wonder. The waterfall is located 100 kilometers from Bursa’s city center and 20 kilometers outside of Mustafakemalpaşa. The water drops 38 meters and is surrounded by colorful and diverse flora.
Hunting and nature tourism in Kocayayla: Located in the Keles district of Bursa, which dates back to ancient times, Kocayayla is an area geared toward hunting and nature tourism. Wooden houses have been built under the build- operate-transfer model (BOT) on land belonging to the municipality in the Kocayayla Gediksiret region. People wishing to spend their holidays in natural spaces with clean cool air can reserve these houses.
A healing picnic spot: Soğuksu picnic area in the Bahçecik town of Kocaeli provides its guests with facilities for picnicking under the trees. The water, from which the district got its name, is purported to cure stomach illnesses.
Karaburun bays and climate: As the smallest district of İzmir, Karaburun is among the hidden paradises of Turkey with its nature and bays on which no development has taken place. Karaburun, the center of a town and 13 villages on the peninsula, can be difficult to reach since the 130 kilometer highway between İzmir and Karaburun has many sharp turns.
Natural botanic garden: At the resort in Bakacakkadı town in Zonguldak’s Gökçebey district, the arboretum — a botanical garden home to mainly trees and woody plants — is one of the important natural areas in the district. With a layer of green, including coniferous and broad-leaf trees along with lower canopy flora, covering more than half of the area, Zonguldak is waiting to be discovered by hikers, nature photographers, fishers, hunters and wildlife lovers.
Karabük for trekking: Karabük with its plateaus, rich forests, fauna, magnificent landscapes and medicinal plants is worth exploration. Trekking in the clean air, living with villagers for a short time, tent camping, chatting around a camp fire, watching wild life and nature photography are just a few of the activities one may enjoy here.