If you like to shop, the world’s largest covered market is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. You can buy almost everything under the sun there for a price. Shopping in Turkey especially for carpets, jewelry and antiques is an exciting adventure. Turkish handicrafts make great souvenirs and can be found in the Sultanahmet district in Istanbul. Food products are available at the Egyptian Bazaar and textiles, embroideries, spices and nargiles, which are water pipes, make wonderful gifts and souvenirs. Almost all the cities in Turkey have a market area where visitors can purchase Turkish handicrafts and souvenirs.
Bargaining is an accepted business practice, but unless the asking price is too high to begin with, vendors don’t usually accept low ball offers. If you buy a carpet or Kilim make sure you get an invoice that states how old it is and how much you paid. It’s illegal to export genuine antiques from Turkey, so be suspicious if you’re offered a piece of antiquity at an archaeological attraction like Ephesus, because they are usually not antiques.
If you enjoy a mini getaway, take a ferry from Istanbul’s Eminonu dock to the Princes Islands where you can ride a bike, or see the sites in a horse-drawn carriage, because cars are banned on the islands. Istanbul’s Galata Bridge area is a great place to watch the sunset while you’re sipping tea or even enjoying a smoke using a nargile, in one of the traditional cafes in the area. The Lycian Way is a 311 mile stretch of spectacular scenery between Fethiye and Antalya. You can stroll through history and get a real taste of the natural Turkish topography that surrounds the Lycian Way. The Dalaman, Koprulu, Coruh and Zamanti Rivers offer visitors a chance to white-water raft.
Turkey is considered one of the best places in the world to white-water raft; it has some of the best rafting descents anywhere. Not going to a Turkish bath, which are called hammam in Turkey, is like going to the zoo and not seeing the animals. Istanbul has some of the most historic baths. The Cagaloglu Hammam in Sultanahmet and the Galatasaray Hammam in Beyoglu are very well known, but other local baths are just as good.
Thanks to Jelaluddin of Konya, better known as Rumi, you can watch a Whirling Dervish ceremony in Istanbul or Konya. The whirling dance, called the Sema, was started by Rumi in the 13th century in order to connect the spirit with the flesh. The Mevlevi Order follows Rumi’s teachings and they still perform the Sema just the way Rumi performed it 700 years ago.
Another great adventure is to go trekking in the northeast Kackar mountain range close to the Georgia border. The Kackar Mountain is worth the trip and so is the trip to bathe in the warm waters found in travertine pools near Denizel, located in the Aegean region. Near the Syrian border in Sanliurfa you can visit the cave where Abraham was born, or at least that’s the story that has been passed down through the centuries, plus there’s a Middle Eastern bazaar in the same area.
The Black Sea costal towns of Giresun and Unye are perfect if you want to experience a cooler, greener and less crowded area of Turkey. A hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia is an unforgettable adventure and looking for fragments of Noah’s Ark on the slopes of Mount Ararat in the eastern region of Turkey, or examining the 16th century Selimiye mosque at Edirne, near the Bulgarian border, or a traditional wooden boat ride along the Aegean, definitely puts you in touch with ancient Turkey and all of its beauty and culture.