Discover the Hidden Quirks of Turkey



Turkey is packed full of history, culture and uniqueness as this country lies in both Asia and Europe. The European portion of Turkey is known as Thrace, while the Asian portion is known as Anatolia or Asia Minor. There are seven regions in this ancient country: Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Marmara, Mediterranean and Southeast Anatolia. This destination is perfect for those who travel for heritage and culture as there are many ancient sites here such as the Biblical city of Ephesus, Hattusha and the Mesolithic temple, Gobekli Tede. Turkey is surrounded by four different seas. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south of the country, the Aegean to the west, the Sea of Marmara between Asia and Europe and the Black Sea to the north. Aegean is said to be one of the prettiest regions in the country. Home to the city of Izmir and resort town of Kusadasi, a trip to this region is a real Turkish delight.

Izmir is a modern city with ancient roots. Kemeralti Market is a fun market to explore if you want to fit in with locals. With traditional shops and tasty restaurants, visitors can spend a couple of hours wandering around here. Alsancak is a perfect place to stay when visiting Izmir. The streets are filled with many restaurants, bars, and shops. As well as this, the corniche is a perfect place to take a stroll and watch the Aegean Sea.

Kusadasi is a popular spot for tourists due to the fabulous coastline, humid atmospheres, and hot summers. This lively town has excellent nightlife if you want to party until dawn, as many bars stay open all night here. Bar street is filled with bars and dance clubs to dance the night away. Or, if you’d like to immerse yourself into the Turkish culture, there are plenty of excursions of historical interest here. Ephesus is one of the most famous cities from the ancient Greek times. Ephesus is home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The ruins of the Library of Celsus is also visible at Ephesus, this library was dedicated to Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, and it housed between 12 thousand and 15 thousand scrolls.

In the region of Marmara lies Istanbul, the most populated city in Turkey. Istanbul has incredible history and architecture, so this city is definitely worth visiting on a trip to Turkey. Hagia Sophia Museum displays 30 million gold tiles throughout the building, and a wide, flat dome which is 55 metres high and 30 metres wide and is surrounded by minarets. Once a Church, then a Mosque, Hagia Sophia is now a museum which holds fascinating history throughout. The Wishing Column at Hagia Sophia is said to have healing powers. Tourists place their thumb inside the hole and twist their wrist 360 degrees while making their wish. It is believed that if your thumb gets wet, your wish comes true.

Turkey is also a great place to visit if you are a lover of sports as this country is mad for sports. The national sport of Turkey is oil wrestling which is a sight to behold for any tourist as two fighters aim to put their opponent in a position where their belly button faces the sky, all while covered in olive oil. Other popular sports in Turkey include handball, basketball, volleyball, and weight-lighting. But, by far the biggest sport in Turkey is soccer. Turkey is home to some of the most famous soccer clubs in the world in Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce. Catching any game here would provide you with a lively atmosphere and high-quality performances. Rivalries in Turkish soccer can also get very heated with Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce known worldwide as one of the fiercest matches in soccer, so if possible, make sure you are able to get a ticket for this game.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Turkish is the official language of Turkey. In most tourist spots or resort towns English is spoken, however outside of these areas, English isn’t spoken that much.
  • The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (abbreviated ₺ / TRY). Always carry cash as in smaller towns credit cards aren’t accepted. Loose change is needed for taxi fares, tips and for public bathrooms.
  • There are a lot of airports in Turkey, major airports include: Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST), Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW), Antalya Airport (AYT), Ankara Esenboğa Airport (ESB) and Izmir Airport (ADB).
  • Most restaurants and hotels have standard western toilets, however, if travelling around Turkey, you may come across a squat toilet!
  • Although the tap water in Turkey is safe to drink, it is high in calcium which makes it taste bad. Large bottles of water are available from supermarkets and corner shops.
  • Make sure to cover up in rural areas and traditional towns as these communities retain their old traditions. So, be aware of dress etiquette to avoid unwanted stares.
  • The weather varies in different areas of Turkey. Istanbul has temperatures in summer months that average at daily highs of 29°C/84°F and lows of 20°C/68°F. In colder months, Istanbul has average daily highs of 9°C/48°F and lows of 4°C/39°F.
  • On the west coast of Turkey, in cities such as Izmir, there are average daily highs of 33°C/91°F and lows of 22°C/72°F in summer months. In colder months, Izmir experiences average daily highs of 12°C/54°F and lows of 6°C/43°F.
  • Beware of scams, especially in Istanbul! People may guilt trip you into giving them money.
  • Tipping is expected in restaurants around Turkey. Leaving a 10-15% tip is considered an acceptable amount. In other areas of the service industry, tipping isn’t as common.
  • The drinking age in turkey is 18 years of age, however at some events, the sale of alcohol is restricted to people under the age of 24.
  • Turkey drives on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Turkey uses two plug types; types C and F. Voltage is 230 V and frequency is 50 Hz.

The Quirky and Unusual

The House of the Virgin Mary

The House of the Virgin Mary is a Catholic shrine located on Mt. Koressos near the ancient ruins of Ephesus. It is said to be the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent her last days after being brought here by Saint John.

The house was discovered by a nun, Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, in the 19th century after taking ill one night in the nunnery and began hearing voices no one else could hear as well as having very vivid visions. These religious visions were of the Virgin Mary leaving Jerusalem with Saint John and returning to Ephesus. Emmerich described the house as being rectangular in shape with a round back wall and an apse. Emmerich explained these visions to an author in 1812, and sixty years later, a French priest used that book as a compass and found the house.

Today, thousands of tourists and pilgrims walk through the house every year and collect the water from the basin that comes from the spring outside to bring home with them after their visit. Some visitors even drink this water. Over the years, many popes have also visited this shrine.

Address: House of Virgin Mary, Sultaniye, 35920 Selçuk/İzmir, Turkey

Coordinates: 37.912401, 27.332756

ABC Travel

18 Upper Mount Street,
Dublin 2.
Eircode: D02 ER26

Telephone: 086 8522 189




Online Payments

Note that fees apply when using Stripe's payment gateway (2.9% + €0.25 per transaction).

Please type your full name.
Invalid email address.
Invalid Input
0.00 EUR
Invalid Input