What are the best and worst things about visiting Turkey?
Friendly and generous people
I feel like a broken record mentioning this yet again, but yet again, I was blown away by the nature of the people. The extent of their generosity knew no bounds, with people even force-feeding us apples, nuts and chocolate biscuits on a bus journey during a Turkish holiday (even though we'd eaten plenty of food and hardly look as though we're starving *sucks in stomach*). Most often than not, when people could tell that we were blatant tourists, such as in Amasya, they went out of their way to help us or on some occasions even gave us stuff for free. There is a big focus on family and traditions in Turkey, and it was great to see so many family-run businesses and hotels that we were able to help support.
Quality of bus travel
For the most part, the buses in Turkey were fantastic.
Amazingly diverse landscapes
Not as cheap as you would expect
Oddly, we had always assumed that Turkey would be a cheap destination to visit. Being outside the Euro zone, and regularly hailed as cheap by the beach-goers, I had assumed that we would find it on a par with Asia for price. How wrong I was.
Lack of diversity in food options
Upon arriving at the airport in Istanbul, we were shocked to be presented with having to buy a $20 USD visa to enter the country.
I don't know that there are ever "best" and "worst" things for me, but I will try to answer the best I can.
The best thing about Turkey - many things! :)
1. It is truly a country that straddles the West and East, modern vs. ancient, religions, cultures, histories, civilizations, many many things. If you are interested in world history, religion, architecture, language, politics, you will find all of that in Turkey. From my experience, it all exists in harmony (for the most part) which makes it truly amazing and magical.
2. The people - they are generally some of the most friendly, open, and accepting of all of my travels. They are quick to help with the language if you try and very interested in Americans (I can only speak from my own perspective). Of course in heavily touristed areas, shop keepers and restaurants are less then friendly, but that is to be expected in any country. The more outside the touristed areas you can go, the more you encounter the Turkish people who haven't been innundated with foreign tourists (which can have both it's pros and cons)
3. There is a certain magical feeling to Turkey. I feel it's very similar to a country that is changing, becoming more Westernized or "world friendly." I encountered this in Prague, Czech Republic just after they opened the borders after communism fell. It was all new to everyone - both natives and visitors alike and a sense of excitement and anticipation.
The worst parts ...
1. Perhaps the developing part of the country. Their hygiene is not always first world (but really, it is not bad), their transportation is wonderful, but doesn't always run on time or reliably, pollution can be a factor. I don't know this is a terrible thing, but only something to be aware of.
2. The country is so large and so many different things to experience in each area, it is impossible to try to cover in one trip (unless you have several months)! Getting around the country is easy by bus, but will take longer.
I honestly can't think of too many worst parts. It's just the nature of a country that is still learning tourism, you must bargain hard, but not gouge them.
I am biased because I love the country and don't see many "worst" - only just things as they are and I adjust accordingly.
Honestly, I can't remember that there were bad things about visiting Turkey at all. People are hospitable, beaches are so-so depending on where do you go and the atmosphere was awesome. The only thing that isn't positive in my opinion is the humidity there. Humidity in Turkey is just a party breaker (yes I used that expression) because the temperatures usually go to 38–39 degrees in the south and combine that with humidity, you get the idea. That was the only thing that bothered me as I felt like the temperature was 50 degrees. I am used to the heat (duh, Greece is not far from Turkey in that area). Other than that I really can't say that there are negative aspects of visiting Turkey.
- The food is wonderful and varied. There are lots of delicious veg meze, meat and chicken kebabs, several tasty breads, and locum - Turkish Delight. Plus helva, baklava, rice pudding, etc etc etc.
- People are nice
- Lots of archeological museums and sights
- Spectacular sights in Istanbul including the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. And the cistern.
- Boat tours on the Bosphorus
- Fascinating markets
Not such good stuff:
- Mosques on every corner in the countryside
- It's not the safest part of the world right now
- Bargaining in the markets could be a plus if you enjoy it, but they are pros and will probably get you to overpay
Photos from our trip: Turkey2012