BACKPACKING IN TURKEY
The west region
The west of Turkey sees more tourists and visitors than any other part of the country, and yet most people who visit know surprising little about what there is to experience. Backpacking Turkey, especially in the west, is super fun, safe and exciting. The west with it's bustling cities, ancient ruins, charming villages and pristine beaches will have you booking your next trip before you've even left.
No trip to Turkey would be complete without visiting its beating heart. Whether you're on a backpacking trip, a weekend getaway or a vacation, Istanbul is an absolute treasure chest of wonders. A mixing pot full to the brim of culture, art, creativity, history, beauty, warm people and amazing food. The only city in the world to cover two continents with the gorgeous Bosphorus separating the Asian and European sides of the city. Napoleon Bonaparte said "If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital." Read our complete guide to Istanbul to find out more.
Cunda is a beautiful island surrounded by seemingly endless sea glistening brightly in the sun. An island with Greek style stone houses lining its cobblestone streets. An island draped in natural charm and beauty where you can spend hours strolling amongst the olive trees. The island of Cunda seems too good to be true and from the moment we first set foot upon it, we were in love. Find out more about Cunda here.
This Ancient Greek city dates back to the 10th century BC and was once the traded centre of the ancient world. Originally established as a port its strategic location, fertile soil and importance as a commercial centre means Ephesus was of enormous significance in both history and modern times. Today many elements of the city remains still stand proud and the site is one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Turkey. If you're looking for the best tour company for your trip to Ephesus, we recommend you check out Alaturka travel.
Pammukale, which translates to 'cotton castle', is another of Turkey's most popular attractions. The UNESCO world heritage site was once the beating heart of the ancient city of Hierapolis, the remains of which can be seen at various points around the site. The image of Pammukale you'll be more familiar with is that of a series of terraced basins filled with calcite-laden water set to a backdrop of white cliff. It's easy to see why Pammukale and Instagram are the best of friends. Admission to the site is 50 TL (£7.15)
Popular with locals from nearby Izmir and tourists alike, this little resort town is the perfect place to unwind and relax. The castle overlooking the harbour is a restored military fortress which now doubles as an archaeology museum and the commercial centre is full of shops, bars and restaurants. On the eastern side of the peninsula is the beautiful Ilica beach and a number of accessible dive sites.
The Aegean coastal town of Kusadasi is a major cruise ship destination and the perfect base for exploring the nearby Selcuk and ruins of Ephesus. Kusadasi is a 'shop til you drop and eat til you pop' kind of place and is very popular with all manor of tourists. There are many beaches, bars, restaurants and markets to check out of the harbour and promenade are great places for a spot of people and/or boat watching.
You'll find the ancient ruins of Olympos in a river valley near the coast, a short 30 minute drive from the seaside town of Kemer near Antalya. Whilst the exact date is not known, analysis of the site and inscriptions on a sarcophagus has left experts estimating that Olympos was founded sometime in the 4th century BC. For a 20 TL (£2.85) admission fee you can explore the grounds and bathe on the pebble-beach coastline at the foot of the cliffs. Olympos is Turkey's very own 'hippie hub' where you can join the free-spirited locals staying in tree houses.
This is the town where many people will spend a few days either side of their visit to the ancient city of Ephesus. Also in town you'll find The House of the Virgin Mary and The Basilica of St John which you'll usually visit as part of the tour to Ephesus. During your visit to Selcuk you mustn't miss their bazaar (market) which is famous all over Turkey.
'The Tuscany of Turkey' as it is known by some. Set in the beautiful, green hills of the countryside, Sirince is as beautiful as it is peaceful. The wobbly streets are lined with old houses and authentic local-food style restaurants. Sirince takes it nickname from the abundance of wine available made from all types of fruits imaginable. Great for a weekend and a spot of souvenir shopping.