Despite being Turkey’s first and third largest cities (respectively), the contrast between Istanbul and Izmir couldn’t be more stark or compelling; while Istanbul offers an intense and chaotic energy; a frenetic mix of sights, sounds, tastes, and smells you could easily describe as an assault on the senses, Izmir exudes a more peaceful presence, and an ancient vitality.
It’s only an hour flight from Istanbul, but sheltered by the Gulf of Izmir on the serene coast of the Aegean Sea, the experience is polar opposite, with 8,000 years of history rubbing shoulders with beautiful sandy beaches.
İzmir may be an underrated region, and one of Turkey’s most spectacular hidden gems, but tourism is starting to pick up; rumors have started flying about this buzzing cosmopolitan on the Aegean, with year round sunshine and cheap medical tourism.
So, if you’re planning to visit Turkey, make sure you travel further than Istanbul and Ankаrа. Here are things to do in Turkey’s most westernized and historic city.
When it comes to most popular countries, Turkey consistently ranks in the top ten most visited every year. Last year saw nearly 50 million tourists alone, many of whom centered their visits around the many treasures of Istanbul.
Though while the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the thousands of stalls that make up the Grand Baazar receive most of the tourist hype, sadly, much of country’s natural landscapes go overlooked.
Straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey boasts one of the world’s most important natural biodiversity hotspots. Rich in flora and fauna, the country is home to bears, wolves, hyenas, and the highest number of threatened European bird species.
So, on your next trip to Turkey, why not go beyond the bustling cities and beautiful coastline to explore its floodplain forests, mountains, crater lakes, rivers, canyons, and waterfalls?
You’ll find important wetlands, dozens of national parks, and a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Check out these top places to experience Turkey’s diverse landscapes and wildlife.
Do you ever wonder why medical tourism is suddenly the new black and stealing the spotlight from cultural tourism? Medical tourism is booming, and people from all over the world have started traveling overseas for medical care in another country.
Around 8 million patients each year in fact!
Of those 8 million people who travel for medical treatment, 700,000 alone travel to Turkey; an industry that earned the country a whopping $1.5 billion in 2018.
Turkey is a popular destination among tourists generally, and many European and American-trained doctors have taken up residence here, which appeals to medical tourists from these regions.
It has the most American-accredited hospitals of any other country, and with affordable healthcare, it is estimated that 32% of Turkey’s patients are medical tourists.
So, if you’re thinking of traveling for medical, what are the benefits of specifically choosing Turkey?
It is a city unlike any other. Cut in half by the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Europe from Asia, Istanbul is unlike any other city in the world; a city where two continents collide.
Throughout history it has been one of the world’s most major cultural, political, and commercial centers. It has seen occupation by the Greeks, Romans and Venetians, and was the heart of the Ottoman empire; physical reminders of each empire still stand to this day.
But its location as a meeting place between the East and West also saw it as the final stop “on the legendary Silk Road linking Asia with Europe, and many merchants who came here liked it so much that they, too, decided to stay. In so doing, they gave the city a cultural diversity that it retains.”
Istanbul ranks as one of the Top 10 most visited cities by tourists and for good reason. Visitors could spend a lifetime getting lost in the city’s cultural sights, sounds, and smells. But the big question is, do you visit Europe, or Asia?
It’s Turkey’s fastest growing city, and one which has really made a splash onto the tourism scene. Antalya, the largest Mediterranean coastal city in Turkey, was once viewed as just a gateway to get to the Turkish Riviera, but has since morphed into a flourishing international sea resort.
Situated right on the Gulf of Antalya, it’s here on the Turquoise Coast where “sandy sweeps of shore hug a coastline lapped by jade waters and backed by forest-blanketed slopes.”
This is one of the most staggeringly beautiful coastlines in the Mediterranean, but beyond the beaches is an incredible landscape of canyons, waterfalls, and a classically beautiful city, with ancient Roman ruins, finely restored Ottoman houses, and a Roman-era harbour with clifftop views over the sea.