Commonly underestimated for its charm, Turkey is noticed by travel enthusiasts and locals alike for its jeweled coastlines, chimney-like rock structures, bohemian architecture and lively foodie scene. Touring its terrain and each pocket of cultural communities could easily take a lifetime, yet a 14-day exploration of the country’s eastside can expose you to some of Turkey’s most grand impressions dating back centuries.
In a 14-day excursion, you’ll have traveled across cultural boundaries to encounter the most favorable sights of the Middle East, indulged in a handful of history, sampled authentic recipes that emerged from the region and shopped through enticing bazaars. Nailing down an itinerary that leaves no room for FOMO can leave you with endless open routes of possibilities, making you question whether you are digging any further than the surface level in your exploration or not.
Allow us to take the questioning out of your planning process by suggesting some highlights from our daily itinerary identical to that which is found in our Eastern Turkey trip package.
Wander Through the City on Seven Hills
Arriving at a new travel destination is always an otherworldly experience, as the unfamiliarity both strikes your fancy and slightly disorients you until you settle into your accommodation and get a feel for the area. Istanbul, a historical city with unique ideologies and streets painted with greenery, will be at your leisure upon first landing. As you emerge from your hotel’s doors to a world of buzzing streets and stylish energy, start out on a trail graced with historical monuments and cultural tokens such as The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, eyeing up tiles, rugs and calligraphy.
Continue to the city’s famous Hippodrome, the ancient home of chariot races and competitive events, before entering the beautifully placed Hagia Sophia mosque and Topkapi Palace. Venturing into the heart of Istanbul wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the hypnotic Grand Bazaar, bargaining with local vendors as you search for souvenirs. Saunter in and out of pastry shops to taste authentic baklava recipes crafted by the shop owners’ ancestors.
Experience a World Heritage Site
In your city-hopping adventure through Eastern Turkey, travel to Sanliurfa and the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site titled Mount Nemrut. This visionary sanctuary is speculated to be the resting place of royalty, as its carefully crafted statues depict an imperial status. Walk beside these weathered statues, honoring the deceased and gaining a deeper inspection into the nobility of centuries past. With a mixture of preserved and disintegrating structures, visitors are able to see the aging process in action. This man-made burial ground is mystical enough to pass as a natural wonder, especially as the sun casts a tangerine glow on the statues.
Locate Religious Sites
Despite Turkey’s non-formal religious associations, scholars have been able to pinpoint many sacred sites scattered throughout the country, painting a valid portrait of events described in the Old Testament. Whether you associate with these spiritual beliefs or not, historical sites have an allure that connects travelers despite their varying religious affiliations. Turkey’s chronicled settings are no different, the Pool of Abraham being a fetching sight to behold. It was at this site that King Nimrod once sentenced Abraham to death before throwing him in the fire, only to have him miraculously survive. Nowadays, the pool is occupied by protected fish and bordered by stone columns.
Another Old Testament-inspired tourist highlight is Mount Ararat, the rumored resting place of Noah’s ark. This snow-covered dormant volcano accounts for Turkey’s highest peak, shading its province and reaching toward the heavens. With its ombre gradient in direct view for the locals, a simple step outside one’s door is never monotonous.
Discover Turkey’s Muslim population by exploring its various mosques, where tradition is just as relevant in the current age as it was in centuries past. Make your way, also, to the Mor Gabriel Monastery, which still houses a small group of priests and nuns and provides a location for locals to study the Syriac language.
Carpets and Boats for the Traveling Folk
Although not an Arabian country, Turkey has had many cultural influences seeping in through its borders, with easily over a million of its citizens coming of Arab descent. As a direct result, bohemian influences can be seen scattered throughout its lands, as Turkey itself adheres to this style. Urartu Hali is a one-stop shop for handmade Anatolian carpets that pay homage to the cultural styles of the region. Browse the alluring building to view its local and international handmade rugs, Kilims and decorations.
Continue from one highlight to the next, sampling local cuisine as an appetizer to a scenic boat ride through Lake Van, a saline soda lake offering rich views of the mountainous terrain. Approach Akdamar Island, dotted with blossoming florals in select seasons and surviving structures such as the Church of the Holy Cross.
Turkey’s eastern regions offer an aesthetic snapshot of the country’s underrated archaeological preservations, diversified topography and vivacious culture, all of which will likely one day call you back to explore more of its towns.