Population: 75 million (2013)
Capital City: Ankara
Major airports: Istanbul Ataturk (IST), Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (SAW), Ankara (ESB), Van (VAN), Nevsehir in Cappadocia (NAV)
Trains: Train travel has come a long way in the past few years. Seat61 Turkey Trains
Buses: Extensive network of luxury bus travel. They even serve tea and biscuits on longer trips. Numerous bus companies are available. Usually there is no need to book in advance, at least not more than a day.
Best time to visit: April is one of the busiest months in Turkey, partly because of beautiful weather. Also because of ANZAC Day on April 25th. This is the start of the “season” and it continues to be very busy throughout summer, up until about September. This means long lines to visit historical sites, potential waits at some restaurants, and crowded bars at night. September through March is actually a great time to visit Turkey if you’re not going for a beach holiday. The weather is still pretty good, and experiencing Istanbul and Cappadocia in the snow is actually quite beautiful. You have much shorter lines (if any) for visiting the sights, better customer service in restaurants, and overall just fewer tourists to deal with.
Main tourist draws: Istanbul sights, Cappadocia caves, Ephesus ruins, seaside resorts in Antalya and Fethiye, Konya Mevlana Museum, and so much more
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 3.80 TL (lyra) (Jan 2018) It is a great time to visit Turkey!
Local cuisine: The most common dishes in Turkey are dolma (stuffed peppers or cabbage leaves), sarma (stuffed grape leaves), sutlaç (rice pudding), kebap, döner kebap (sliced from a rotating skewer). Mezzas are also popular. They are small dishes, usually vegetables, to start each meal. Pide and lahmacun, which is the Turkish equivalent to pizza, is a fave of mine, and börek, which is a pastry stuffed with wonderful cheese and herbs. Some not-so-common dishes you should try are guveç (stew), imam bayıldı (the imam fainted, aubergine stuffed with beef), anything with artichokes or fava beans.
Beer: You can find Efes everywhere and it is pretty good, but the craft beer scene is starting to take off in Turkey. Gara Guzu blond ale is also a favorite of mine. Efes also makes a white ale that is good.
Here are some photos from my many visits to Turkey. I hope you enjoy and I hope they inspire you to move past Istanbul and see more of this stunning and hospitable country.