Turkey is a rapidly developing country with beautiful roads built lately so I have made a list of the most beautiful routes that will be the most memorable for tourists driving and exploring on their own. I wish you will find the route you are dreaming to take while in Turkey. Nice reading...
Canakkale to Bergama
This is the most scenic road in the Aegean coastline. While it takes 4 hours if you drive non-stop to Bergama from Canakkale, please remember than you are a tourist and not a truck driver. They take frequent breaks as well so you should do along the way. Canakkale city is located in the entrance of the Dardanelles strait, which is right across the Gallipoli Battlefields. While the battlefields are in the European side of Turkey, Canakkale is in the Anatolian side. To get to Bergama, you will have to pass one of the most challenging mountains of Turkey; Kaz. Meaning gouse, Kaz Mountain is the epic Olympos as stated in the Iliad. Even though the road is not very hard to drive, it is the only existing route from Canakkale to Izmir hence carrying a lot of traffic of Istanbul to the West Coast which makes the drive a little bit tiring but the stops on the way will worth any moment. The ancient city of Troy and Assos are located on this road. Also the new Assos village located by the Aegean Waters have nice restaurants to take a break and fill your batteries. Continue to Bergama with a stop in Ayvalik, to taste ice cream and watch the party boats coming back from their daily cruises.
Cappadocia to Adana
Relatively new, road from Adana to Cappadocia region has always been carrying a huge traffic because of the trade of the South Eastern cities to Ankara and Istanbul. It is like to new Silk Road from Middle East to the big western cities of Turkey so a highway was always necessary which was finished lately in the most challenging part. It is the section passing the mighty Taurus Mountains and a century ago, Germans were helping the Ottomans to build the 17 Tunnel 27 Bridge rail road project to take the Ottoman Army to the Middle East. Today many tunnels drill the Taurus Mountains to take people easily to the Mediterranean Coastline from the Center of Anatolia. This 3 Hour drive will be a short climate lesson to figure out the difference between the Continental and Mediterranean. When in Adana, don't forget to taste the local Adana kebab and continue to the neighboring cities like Gaziantep or Hatay which both have the most delicious kitchens of South East Anatolia.
Antalya to Fethiye
Why take the short 3 hour drive when a 5 hour scenic road exist? Fethiye is located in the West Coast of Turkey while Antalya is the bustling tourist destination of the Mediterranean region. There is a short cut from Antalya to Fethiye going behind the Taurus Mountains but the alternative curly road built by the Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. It takes two hours longer and harder to drive but the small towns located on top of it and the ancient cities to visit are making this drive a 3 day itinerary. Please put the swim suits nearby to jump in to the water whenever you find a beautiful beach. Walking shoes, hats and a guide book is necessary to do self-explore excursions along the way. The views will be phenomenal once you start ascending with the road and don't forget to give a visit to Santa who was actually born in Demre located on this road.
Konya to Pamukkale
Why take the short-cut while you are travelling? If you are travelling from Konya to Pamukkale, it is better to get to off the beaten and drive by the lakes which are stuck in between the tall Anatolian Mountains. Turkish Lake region is called by us and they are housing very well preserved and least visited attractions because groups taking the short cuts in Turkey. First stop at Beysehir Lake and visit the Esrefoglu Mosque built in the 13th century. It is the biggest wood columned mosque in Turkey. Smaller lake Egirdir deserves a visit because of the phenomenal views you get from the little village located in a small peninsula. Nice restaurants are located there to prepare you for the rest of your drive to Pamukkale. Take a break in Isparta city as well to do some local shopping. The city is well known for the roses and the number of stuff they make with roses will amaze you.
Amasra to Sinop
Ever wondered what is the equivalent of the Great Ocean Road of Australia in Turkey? There are two routes similar to this and here is the Northern one! Amasra is slowly becoming a cruise destination along with Sinop. If you are not a cruise ship passionate but love exploring on your own, a drive from Amasra to Sinop is recommended which is roughly 6 hours. There is not much to visit along the visit one the way but the road is among the least touristy destinations of Anatolia and breaks in small villages will give you a very memorable local experiences since you will see the intimate Black Sea Region hospitality. But when in Sinop, spend a full day to explore the city and the environs and let me remind you that Sinop is the happiest city of Turkey!
Mersin to Antalya
And this route is the Sothern twin of the Great Ocean Road of Australia located in Turkey. Imagine a road curving the skirts and high hills of the Taurus Mountains separating the Mediterranean Region from Central Anatolia. This 6 hour drive should be done before noon to have the sun behind you and a stop is recommended in Anamur city to eat Turkish Banana and visit the historical sites there. The Anamur city houses a Roman Castle by the water which was built in the 3rd Century and will take you to the middle ages. Don't hurry along the day and try to arrive Alanya by the end of the day and watch the sun set from the Alanya castle which has phenomenal views of the ocean and the Alanya castle which has a twin in Thessaloniki, Greece. The one in Alanya called The Red while the one in Greece called the White tower.
Kusadasi to Bodrum
After visiting Ephesus Ancient city, The House of The Virgin Mary and their environs, you may have Bodrum in your itinerary. You are very lucky because in the end this drive, you will have seen two of the Seven Wonders of the World; Artemis Temple and Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The road is easy to drive but have two important ancient cities, one of the biggest temples built for Apollo in Anatolia and the Lake Bafa which will confuse you since the water have to be on your right hand side as you drive. Don't forget to take a break in one of the restaurants located by the water of Lake Bafa on the way to Bodrum and also stop by the entrance of Bodrum to take the white houses of the whole city right next to the Aegean Waters. The Castle of Bodrum and the villages around it deserves a day and if you are heading more south the following day, use the ferry to Datca leaves daily from Bodrum to visit another small fishing village by the water.
Mardin to Tatvan
For those travelling in South East that plan to drive up to the East of Turkey, I recommend you to drive from Mardin through Hasankeyf to Tatvan to visit two interesting 'still alive' ancient settlements on the way. Midyat town of Mardin is worth to visit to see the blended architecture of the many civilizations lived in the area and Hasankeyf which is located by the Tigris River. This 5 hour drive will be a small lecture about the cultural change in the South East and East of Turkey and when in Tatvan, enjoy a tea by the Lake Van which is called the Sea of Van by the people there. You may see the wagons loaded up the ferries to pass the Lake Van to the city of Van which continues all the way down to Tehran. That is the legendary rail road The Orient Express coming from France.
Van to Kars
May be the most impressive part of this drive is the Mount Ararat never leaving you after a while from Van. With 5137 meters of height (16.854 feet) above the sea level, the mountain is legendary because of the Noah's Arc. According to the Book of Genesis, Mount Ararat is the resting place for the arc. The road has a small city called Dogubeyazit which is a regular East Anatolian city but has the small copy of the Topkapi Palace of Istanbul. The palace is located by the slopes of the high mountains which are natural border in between Turkey and Iran and has spectacular views of the wide Dogubeyazit plains. The palace was the first central heated structure of Anatolia with a built in system of terracotta pipes carrying the hot water throughout the harem and the Turkish Bath complex. The snow cap of Mount Ararat will tell you why it was necessary to develop such a hard but effective way of heating the palace and the comfort the rich sought. When in Kars, take a walk in the town to see the Russian architecture which still dominates the city.
Trabzon to Hopa
This is the Eastern twin of the Amasra Sinop drive I have mentioned above and it is shorter thanks to the new road finished a couple of years ago. However, the stops along the way into the valleys will make it a full day drive. There are many national parks located in the East of the Black Sea Region of Turkey and many are located on this route. Altindere, Uzungol, Ayder, Camlihemsin are all hidden jewels of the North East of Turkey and keep a Unesco Heritage site; Sumela Monastery. The monastery looks like floating above the clouds because of the location high up in the mountains. Uzungol, Camlihemsin and Ayder are valleys which will satisfy your desires of green if you are coming from a big city. The city of Rize has mountains full of tea gardens and don't miss the chance of joining a harvest which is great fun and also the tea factory there.
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