If you haven’t decided where to go this summer…
GraphicTODAY’S ZAMAN, Adnan Sarıkabak
With the rise in the number of alternative tour options, including vacation by the sea and cultural tours, many families have started to include many key tourist attractions in their vacation plans.
For those who prefer cool locations in the summer heat, there are plenty of choices. Here are our suggestions from seven geographical regions of Turkey for your holiday plans.
The most important places that you should see in Bursa are Ulu Camii (Great Mosque), İkinci Murat Camii (Murat II Mosque) and Orhan Gazi Camii (Orhan Gazi Mosque), which were all built by Sultan Bayezid I between 1396 and 1400. Don't forget to visit the museum, also known as Yeşil Medrese (Green Madrasah), where Turkish Islamic works of art are exhibited. The Archeology Museum, containing artifacts from 3000 B.C. to the Byzantine period, is also worth a visit. Also of interest is İznik Çini Ocakları, the ancient ovens in which İznik tiles were produced. Edremit is a holiday destination that is becoming more popular by the day. Balıkesir province has Turkey's first and only photography museum -- the Balıkesir Photography Museum -- and the M. Emin Tan Fotoğraf Kitaplığı (photo library). You can spend the night in Rizom Tatil Köyü (Rizom Vacation Village) in Yalova, or at the Asya Pamukçu Termal Hotel, Liva Orkinos Hotel or Beyza Hotel in Balıkesir. In Çanakkale, you can visit the Martyrs' Memorial and the Çanakkale Museum. İstanbul, “the pearl of the Marmara,” is one of the must-see cities. Besides the Eyüp Sultan Mosque and the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, you must visit Topkapı Palace and the Hagia Sophia Museum.
The Mediterranean is on top of the list for many due to its seaside attractions. In addition to Islamic hotels around Antalya and Alanya, where there are special options for Muslim women who chose to cover in the way of all-women beaches and pools, there are also affordable hotels. There are numerous museums and ancient ruins worth seeing in the region. Of particular interest is the Antalya Museum, which was awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize in 1988. In Aksu, situated 18 kilometers east of Antalya and located within the Güllük Mountain National Park, are the ancient towns of Perge and Termessos, two of the city's most historical locations. Isparta is a small province but there are many things to do there, including visiting Bediüzzaman Said Nursi's house and the town of Sav, where he lived. You can also walk around Gölcük Krater Gölü (Gölcük Crater Lake) or have a picnic at Milas or Ayazma Mesireliği. At Davraz Ski Resort, you can try skiing, mountain climbing, or trekking.
The Aegean region is ideal if you wish to spend your vacation in a thermal facility or by the sea. Afyonkarahisar province is the center of thermal facilities and there are several activities here which you and your family might enjoy. You should definitely see Afyonkarahisar Castle. Kütahya is another thermal facility destination and you can visit the Kütahya Tile Museum and Kütahya Castle, as well as historical fountains and the War of Independence Museum. In İzmir, we recommend going to one of the ever-growing number of Islamic vacation villages. Those who enjoy vacationing by the sea should make their reservations quickly. Besides İzmir's renowned Kordon, you could also visit the Natural Life Park in Çiğli. This park, where several endangered species are protected, is one of the rare beauties of İzmir. Pamukkale (travertines) in Denizli is one of the most important places to visit in the Aegean. If you are interested in visiting Bodrum, a classic vacation spot, you will be able to find options suitable for your budget and family.
Among the many natural beauties of Kayseri province, the most frequented ones are Aladağlar National Park and Hacer Forest. The region, at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level, boasts oxygen-rich air, wildlife and beautiful nature walks. You might also enjoy mountain climbing. The Kapuzbaşı waterfalls, which are larger than the Niagara Falls in terms of height of water flow, and the Sultan Sazlığı Bird Paradise, one of world's rare bird paradises, are also worth visiting. Nevşehir is well-known both for its historical and natural sights and for its thermal springs. You could visit fairy chimneys, rock churches and the Hacıbektaş-ı Veli Museum, where Byzantine frescoes and examples of Turkish-Islamic works of art are exhibited. You could experience for a few minutes how it feels to be a pottery master at a pottery workshop in Avanos. Other interesting activities include hot-air balloon flights and a jeep safari. As for Konya, it invites you by saying “Come whoever you are” (a quote from Rumi, whose tomb is in Konya).
The first location to visit in the Black Sea region is Trabzon. The waterfalls at the lower parts of Altındere National Park and Sümela Monastery will rejuvenate you. The Sümela Monastery was carved out of the lower side of Karadağ Mountain and is at an altitude of 1,250 meters above sea level. You should definitely visit Hamsiköy, a village in Black Sea everyone knows about. Rize's Ayder Plateau is a destination that will fascinate you with its green meadows and waterfalls, most notably the Gelin Düveni waterfall. Historical stone bridges built in the Ottoman era named Mikron and Kale Köprüsü (Castle Bridge) near the Fırtına River are favorites of photography lovers. You could try rafting on the river or visit the historical Zilkale Castle perched at the edge of a cliff. You should also visit the Rize Cloth Atelier to see the world-famous Rize cloth. Located in the Western Black Sea area, Bolu province is the best place for a vacation, especially if you are tired of the hot weather.
Eastern Anatolia is a top attraction for those who like nature sports. The ski resorts here are quite crowded, even in the summer. In Ağrı province you can visit the Urartian Tombs and ancient artifacts at the Doğubayazıt Castle. The Beyazıt Eski Camii (Beyazıt Old Mosque) at the southern outskirts of the castle is also worth a visit. Traces of Noah's Ark can be viewed between the villages of Telçeker and Meşar. Everyone is familiar with Lake Van. Akdamar Island and the historical Akdamar Church are locations where nature and history coincide. The history behind Halime Hatun Cupola, one of the cupolas inherited by the Seljuk dynasty in Gevaş, dates back centuries, while the history of the İzdişir Mosque, Hoşab Castle and the Hoşab bridge go back almost 600 years. The Muradiye waterfall is a favorite with both photography lovers and nature lovers.
In this region, Gaziantep and Mardin are the most prominent cities to see. You must definitely visit Bakırcılar Çarşısı (Coppersmith Bazaar) and the world-famous Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep. In Mardin, the Kasımiyye Medresesi, the Deyrulfazaran Monastery -- a remnant from the fourth century -- and the Mor Benham Church dating back to the fifth century are all worth seeing. You could also visit the ancient town of Dara. The region's old center of science and culture, Hasankeyf, is one of the area's top sights. In Şanlıurfa, the city of prophets, you could visit Maqam İbrahim (The Station of Abraham) and Balıklı Göl (Fish Lake). Additionally, you could see Eyyub Sabır Makamı (Prophet Job's cave) and the well that is rumored to heal any scars if you drink its water. In addition, you could visit the remnants of Harran University that collapsed during the Mongol invasion, wander through the historical Harran houses, or see the remnants of Göbekli Tepe, the first settlement in world history, albeit behind barbed wire.