Things to do in Turkey

leisure in Turkey
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Updated 2020-05-25 14:05

You are in a treat if you are in Turkey as an expat! There are plenty of different leisure opportunities awaiting you. Whether you are passionate about sports, music, theatre, dance, clubbing, museums or any other recreation, you will surely find it in here. Big cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, and Adana offer pretty much any activity that you can enjoy in modern Western cities from bowling to paintball. However, it is best if you dig a bit deeper to experience the traditional ones.

The country is famous for its historical places, beautiful nature, crystal clear beaches, rich and diversified food heritage, high-class accommodations for both winter and summer sports, and of course it's friendly, and warm people.

Music and performing arts in Turkey

Turkey is a unique country resting right in the middle of Asia and Europe. Hence, the culture is exceptionally vivid and has been influenced enormously from the best of both worlds. You can experience the Middle East and Europe without ever leaving the country. This phenomenon is apparent in every aspect of society and makes no exception when it comes to music and performing arts. Indeed, Turkey is a hidden musical haven to enjoy western classical music, arabesque, Turkish art music, Anatolian rock, indie, jazz, pop, flamenco, and more in one single place.

Live shows have always been important to music fans in Turkey. Consequently, there are many alternatives to venues from small clubs like Babylon to huge performance halls like the Zorlu Performing Arts Center. You can enjoy small bands performing live music or fancy musical theatre plays at these locations.

Turkish folk theatre has a strong follow up with a substantial audience. Theatrical plays range from comedy to drama, and a typical show costs around 65 Turkish Liras per ticket. Some modern theatre plays are focused solely on politics, but most are based on wit and humour. During Ramadan and special celebrations, you will probably stumble upon a version of Karagöz and Hacivat, which is a famous puppet (shadow play) show that has been around for centuries.

You can follow up on your favourite musicians filling up massive stadiums or concert halls just like in other European cities during summer. However, make sure you also check up on the local gems who are performing in small meyhane (local pubs/taverns) and bars for distinctive shows. If you fancy top-notch live music, then get ready to be blown away by the fantastic performances of these local artists.

Turkish people tend to go to Fasil nights when they like to enjoy authentic Turkish music with real traditional food. It is an experience that you will never forget, and you get to watch the musicians perform between the tables without an actual stage. Feel free to sing along with them as most guests also do. Expect nothing less than an outstanding performance from Fasil musicians.

Sports in Turkey

It is no secret that Turkish people are huge soccer fans. The country has globally famous soccer clubs. Some of the players like Arda Turan, who played for FC Barcelona, are internationally popular.

Soccer fans march to the stadiums every weekend, mostly on Sundays, to support their teams. Many cities have large and modern stadiums for this purpose. It is festive and a great way to enjoy the weekend if you like sports. Turkish soccer league, called the Süper Lig, is run by the Turkish Football Federation. Eighteen clubs compete annually for the championship. Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, and Beşiktaş are the most popular clubs with millions of fans.

Basketball is also another popular sport activity that has been growing constantly in Turkey since the early 1930s. TBL, the Turkish Basketball First League, is made up of sixteen teams that compete with each other. Many fans support their teams at the games, and you will realize that it might be hard to get tickets for important games. Other popular sports in Turkey include wrestling, volleyball, and tennis, and they all have their own fan base.

If you want to play rather than watch, then you can do so in the game areas that are located in public parks. There are free soccer, basketball, and tennis courts that are set up and run by local municipalities. Nevertheless, paid soccer fields with artificial grass (Astroturf) are widely popular among amateur soccer players.

Outdoor activities in Turkey

If it is summertime, then you will probably end up by the beach. Make sure you gear up with adequate sun-block since it gets really hot. Extra humidity in the air makes it feel hotter than the actual temperature, especially in the southern parts of the country where the temperature ranges from 35°C to 45°C (95°F to 113°F) in the season. Turkey has a very rich coastline full of beautiful beaches. Even if you travel non-stop during the summer, it is almost impossible to visit them all in one season.

Take note that the accommodation facilities are highly developed. From all-inclusive 5-Stars luxurious hotels to small village pensions, the country is loaded with a tremendous variety of lodging. In winter, there are plenty of ski resorts all around the country where you can enjoy snowboarding or skiing. As of 2020, there are 37 active ski resorts with 131 ski lifts. The most famous ones are, namely Erciyes, Palandöken, Kartalkaya, Kartepe, and Uludağ.

Another popular leisure activity in Turkey during springtime is probably having some barbecue and picnic with close friends. You will notice that Turkish families gather up around the parks and other recreational areas with small disposable barbecues and soccer balls. It is a favourite pastime for the locals as long as it is not raining. Kids play soccer or volleyball, while the parents chat and prepare the grill.

Museums and archaeology in Turkey

Anatolia has been home to many civilizations for thousands of years. Hittites, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans left their marks and helped to shape the current culture of the Turkish people. Remnants of these marvellous societies are a must-see. You can either visit local museums that are spread around the country or see the actual cities, or what is left from them, in person. Walking on a thousand-year-old pathway like the ones in Ephesus or Adamkayalar is surely an exceptional experience.

If you are in Istanbul, make sure you visit the Topkapı Palace Museum that was built in the 15th century. You can even see the original costumes of the Ottoman Sultans. Admission fee for adults cost 72 Turkish Liras, and another 42 Turkish Liras if you also want to visit the Harem section.

 Useful links:

Zorlu Performing Arts Center
IF Performance
Babylon Venue
Yakala Co Activity Guide
Firsat - Leisure and More
Turkish Football Federation
Topkapi Palace Museum

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