I’ve always wanted to experience Turkey. After my experience in Greece and the stories I heard about Turkey for black travellers – so was a little anxious about travelling there. However, I was pleasantly surprised and loved the food, culture, people and sites. In August 2022, I travelled through Turkey catching flights to Istanbul, Turkey well-known city, to the beautiful island of Fethiye Oludeniz and then finishing in the magical town, Cappadocia, in just a week.
If you’re considering a trip to Turkey, here’s a guide on what to do, what to eat, things to see, and where to stay. This is helpful for you if you are planning a trip to Turkey this summer.
Turkey is a popular destination and attracts over 3.8 million tourists each year. The capital is Ankara, but many people visit Istanbul as the known for being the largest city and main financial centre. With a good mix of beach and city vibes, you have so many things to do in Turkey. The primary language spoken in Turkey is Turkish. The other languages and dialects also spoken include Caucasian and Kurdish, Arabic, Greek, Ladino and Armenian.
In February 2023, Turkey sadly suffered from a series of earthquakes which struck near the borders of southern Turkey and northern Syria. Several regions were affected. However, this has not kept tourists from visiting Turkey. The earthquake-affected areas are hundreds of miles from tourist centres like Istanbul, Cappadocia and the Mediterranean coast. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering travelling to Turkey.
Before you travel to Turkey, check the ‘Entry Requirements’ section for Turkey’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning, so please watch via the GOV.UK website.
Food in Turkey
Turkey has fantastic food. The cuisine of Turkey is of the Turkish diaspora. Turkish cuisine is delicious and varied, with dishes such as kebabs, meze, and baklava that satisfy the taste buds. It is essentially the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Mediterranean, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Eastern European cuisines.
Getting to Turkey
Travelling to Turkey wholly depends on your current circumstances. If you live in London, you will want to travel to Istanbul via Turkish Airlines – I reviewed their airline, which you can watch here. Make Instanbul your first stop if you are seeking to travel to other areas of Turkey, as you will have to stop in Istanbul first to go to other cities.
Getting around in Turkey
I travelled from city to city via Turkish Airlines. Sign up for their air miles if you consider travelling all over Turkey, as you can benefit from their miles as a member. If you have more time, you can drive, but as I was only there for a week, I suggest flying, and of course, the earlier you book, the better the price. This was my itinerary for flights:
- Arrive from London to Istanbul – Two Days in Istanbul. I booked transfers here.
- Arrive from Istanbul to Fethiye Oludeniz – Three days in Fethiye Oludeniz
- Fly from Fethiye Oludeniz to Cappaducio – Two days in Cappaducio
Pre-booking all your flights before you arrive and planning your hotels around the airports for ease. Here is how I planned my trip for one week.
Two Days in Istanbul
If you are looking for city vibes in Turkey, make Istanbul your starting point and base for your trip. Istanbul is a beautiful historical city with plenty of things to see and do. Here is what I did in Istanbul in two days:
- Taht Istanbul: This is the best studio in Istanbul for a pretend natural feel of the Turkish atmosphere at the top. Go there with a beautiful long dress and be ready to act.
- Explore the Grand Bazaar: This is one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, with over 4,000 shops selling everything from spices to jewellery to Turkish carpets. You will love this place for souvenirs but try to remember that the site is a maze.
- Visit the Hagia Sophia: This was literally a 5-minute walk from the hotel I stayed in and is known to be an iconic structure that has to be seen in Istanbul. It was once a church, then a mosque, and is now a museum. The building is a beautiful blend of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture.
- Wander around Sultanahmet Square: This historic square has many important landmarks, such as the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, and the Hippodrome. Book a tour of Istanbul here.
Other things you can do:
- A boat tour on the Bosphorus
- Turkish bath (hammam)
- Climb the Galata Tower
What and Where to Eat in Istanbul
If you are visiting Istanbul, I highly recommend visiting The Must Turkish Restaurant – which has the most authentic Turkish aesthetics and food you will see. I had their amazing Gozleme, which they cook right before you, and the Testi Kebab, made inside a clay pot, gives the meat a juicy tenderness. You can have this at The Must Turkish Restaurant.
There are quite a few restaurants to explore around the city of Istanbul. I suggest visiting Kuleli Yakamoz for beautiful views of the sea and the most superb Turkish breakfast! I also created a review reel for this which you can find here.
Where to stay in Istanbul
I stayed at the Royan Hotel Hagia Sophia, surrounded by luxury and affordable hotels. I loved it here because many of the restaurants were within walking distance.
Three days in Fethiye Ölüdeniz
Ölüdeniz was my favourite part of Turkey, a resort village on the southwest coast of Turkey. It’s known for the blue lagoon of Ölüdeniz Tabiat Parkı and the wide, white Belcekız Beach.
If you are looking for the blue lagoon and beach vibes in Turkey, you must add Fethiye Ölüdeniz. If I were doing this all over again, I would most certainly visit Fethiye Ölüdeniz as my last location as it is so chilled and relaxing. This was my favourite part of Turkey, and I will undoubtedly be visiting again. Here is what I did in Fethiye Ölüdeniz over three days:
- Took a boat tour: Many boat tours will take you around the coast of Fethiye Ölüdeniz. I used the Blue Lagoon. You can also book here. It came with lunch and was a full day, so don’t plan anything else. We visited seven islands, including the Blue Lagoon and the famous Butterfly Valley.
- She was a daredevil and went Paragliding: Ölüdeniz is also one of the best places in the world for paragliding. You can take a tandem flight with an instructor and enjoy the stunning views of the beach and the surrounding mountains. I absolutely loved doing this and am glad I did this in one of the best locations. Book here.
- Visited Ölüdeniz Beach: This famous beach, with its crystal-clear turquoise water and white sand, is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Other things you can do:
- Visit the Fethiye Museum and the Markets
- Chill out at the hotel.
- Enjoy the nightlife
Where to stay in Fethiye Ölüdeniz
I stayed at the Kassandra Boutique Hotel, and it was beautiful. I loved the small townhouses on a cobblestone street. The food is excellent here. You can have the option of an English or Turkish breakfast. Of course, I had the Turkish breakfast because I enjoy eating like the locals when I am travelling, so I can immerse myself in the rich culture and essence of the country through the food.
The hotel is in an excellent location because it is only 13 km from the rock-cut Tomb of Amyntas and 16 km. It is also only a 3-minute walk from Ölüdeniz Beach, which has many restaurants and activities.
What to Eat in Fethiye Ölüdeniz
Around the resort island, you will be spoilt for choosing what to eat. I enjoyed a cheeky lamb kebab at the Ölüdeniz Cafe Beach Restaurant with chips and a drink. I needed this after my paragliding experience. MBV would highly recommend having a Turkish breakfast which can be served in many restaurants. This was eaten every day at my hotel.
The tour guide gave us food on the tour, but I suggest packing some snacks to keep you going. Our boat gave us a card to purchase snacks and drinks, which you pay for at the end of the tour.
Two days in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is truly a beautiful magic region in central Turkey. If you are looking for hot air balloon rides, unique rock formations, and underground cities, this is the city for you. I truly loved Cappadocia and wished I spent more time. When I return, I will do at least 3 to 4 days rather than just two. Here is what I did in Cappadocia in just two days:
- Visited the Pasabag Valley: This valley is famous for its unique mushroom-shaped rock formations and is a popular spot for taking photos. It is hot in Turkey in August, so bring water. They had freshly squeezed orange juice you could purchase, which tasted amazing. You can book a tour here.
- I watched the hot air balloons: I woke up early (around 5 am) to watch the stunning views of the unique landscape. This is certainly worth the early rise.
- Horseback riding: Cappadocia has many hiking trails with a horse. I chose a white horse. You will see stunning views of the unique rock formations, such as the Red and Rose Valleys. Do this when the sun goes down after 5 pm. Book this tour here.
Other things you can do:
- Explore the Derinkuyu and Kaymakli underground cities.
- Visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum
- Take a pottery class
Where to stay in Cappadocia
I stayed in the Seki Cave Hotel. I chose this hotel because of its rooftop jacuzzi, which you must pay separately for, but it is worth it as the views are truly stunning in the morning. The breakfast was great. There is a vast selection to choose from.
What to eat Cappadocia
I had some fantastic food in Cappadocia. I had these amazing saucy prawns at the Cappa Gusto restaurant, only 3 mins walk from the hotel. Not your typical Turkish dish, but the seafood is unique in Turkey and must be tried.
Ending my stay in Turkey
Visiting Turkey reminded me that everyone’s experience is different when travelling. I thoroughly enjoyed Turkey and would go back again. There were a few stares here and there, but that is normal for me when I travel as a Black woman. I would stay longer in Cappadocia and even visit Antalya, which I have heard is another fantastic beach location. I hope this guide was helpful, and I look forward to writing more guides now that I am back!
Do you have any questions? Please do not hesitate to drop them in the comments; I’ll happily answer them.