Hop aboard for a scenic trip. While Istanbul has enough history and charm to keep you hooked for days, there are many more places in Turkey waiting to be discovered.
Any day is a beautiful day in Istanbul. You can walk around the busy Sultanahmet district, admire the intricate architecture of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, and spend quiet moments watching the twinkling lights of Asia and Europe as they embrace over the straits of Bosphorous.
Pamukkale and Hierapolis
In Turkish, the word ‘Pamukkale’ means a cotton castle. You will know why once you behold the cascade of travertine terraces. Apart from creating a unique dreamy landscape, the terraces are also dotted with numerous hot springs, ideal for a relaxing dip. One should also check out the Greco-Roman ruins of the city of Hierapolis adjacent to the terraces.
Fethi Bey, a pilot in the Ottoman Air Force, was killed in an air crash while flying from Istanbul to Alexandria. Today a statue of the proud young man overlooks the harbour in the town named in his honour. Warm and unassuming, the town of Fethiye has much to offer to a wanderer.
You can trek up the hills to the ruins of the ancient city of Telemessos; get a bit of the local lowdown with kilim (hand woven Turkish carpet) sellers; or just lose your way in the winding lanes – a black cat fiercely guarding a house numbered thirteen, an old Turkish couple smiling from a window above; and a glass figurine maker who could just as well been piloting a turbo prop across the Mediterranean skies – Fethiye is a character out of your favourite book.
For those who cannot resist the waters, hop on the day long twelve-island cruise of the Mediterranean. There are many operators plying, and you can negotiate the price on the spot at the harbour. On the boat, you can sunbathe as you take in the stunning seascapes, or sway to the lively strains of Turkish pop playing in the background. Or perhaps you can choose to jump and dive right into the sea, when the boat anchors off an island.
The underground city of Kaymakli
Located in the Cappadocia region, this city must be on any ‘thousand places to see before you die’ list. Built to protect the locals against the marauding Roman, Arab et al invaders, Kaymakli is arguably the largest among the underground cities in the region.
There are four storeys of the city currently open to public. One gingerly navigates through the long, sloping passages to discover a complete world below – living quarters, kitchens, cellars, wineries, even stables for domestic animals! You can find guides right at the entrance of the city; highly recommended as they keep you regaled with interesting anecdotes.
The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
Lava formations, further weathered by wind and rain, have created a spectacular moonscape of flat faced cliffs and pointy chimneys. Quite a few of these were chiselled into cave dwellings and chapels by the Byzantine Christians as they took refuge here. Best way to explore the valley is on foot. One must check out the Goreme Open Air Museum, an erstwhile monastic settlement, for fine Byzantine frescoes.
Check Fez Travel for a plethora of tour options.
How to get there?
Turkish Airlines offers direct connections from India to Istanbul.