Holidays in autumn are somehow different from those in other seasons. Days are shorter, colors are more vivid, and the weather is still fine for camping, trekking or bicycling. As well, autumn vacations often seem less frenzied, with a renewed focus on nature’s changing palette.
In this month’s Journal, we look at some of the best places to visit in Turkey during this season. And, naturally, we have selected destinations that offer a socially distant holiday, far from the crowds!
An ancient city under the Euphrates River: Halfeti
A district of Şanlıurfa, Halfeti was included in the Slow Towns network by the Cittaslow International Coordination Committee in 2013. Founded by the Assyrians in 855 BC, Halfeti, set along the Euphrates River, has been home to Hittites, Assyrians, Persians and Macedonians. For a scenic autumn holiday accented by history, Halfeti is an excellent choice.
A significant part of the district – the ‘old city’ – was submerged in 2001 following the construction of the Birecik Dam. The mosques, walls and other structures of the old city are visible – presenting an otherworldly sight, and accessible via boat tours. Meanwhile, floating restaurants serve unique regional dishes such as shabut fish kebab, sour zucchini, panned plum, fig kebab, rice with black chickpeas and wrapped Burma dessert.
As well, the rare Black Rose grows only in Halfeti. The flowers, which are a deep rich red, appear black when they are buds. A fragrant perfume from these roses is also available in Halfeti.
In pursuit of the perfect photo: Sunset on Nemrut
Set in the Kahta district of Adıyaman, the 2,150-meter Mount Nemrut is renowned for the enormous statues at its summit. These ancient sculptures earned Mount Nemrut a place on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list in 1987, and the area is now protected as the Mount Nemrut National Park.
Built in the 1st century BC by the Hellenistic King Antiochos I of Commagene, the statues blend Hellenistic, Persian and Commagene styles, popularly recognized as a bridge between Eastern and Western civilizations. The tomb and temple of the king are also located here.
In summer, most visitors ascend the mountain to watch the magnificent sunrise – and leave before the heat becomes too intense. In the autumn, the optimal time to visit is in the afternoon: save some time to watch the sunset!
Away from the crowd: Autumn cycling routes
Autumn in Turkey brings a plethora of brilliant colors across every region. One of the best ways to experience the season in all its glory is via a cycling tour.
The mild climate of the Aegean and Mediterranean regions is ideal for traveling by bicycle. The Lycian Way and Gökova are routes with magnificent views, as well as marvelous beaches. Cunda, Dalaman and Bodrum offer scenic biking, while the Phrygian Valley and the Hittite Path feature history. The elevated Black Sea plateaus have crisp fresh air and campsites. And, in the Marmara region, Kapıdağ Peninsula and Sapanca Lake welcome cyclists to a bucolic setting. For more information, see our infographic on the 7 best bike tours in Turkey.
Easy access from Istanbul: Autumn in Kıyıköy
Surrounded by black pine forests, the picturesque coastal village of Kıyıköy has a fishing harbor and quiet beaches along the Black Sea. Many of the local residents came from Thessaloniki and built wood-and-stone Greek-style houses. In addition, there’s the Kıyıköy Mosque, the Aya Nikola Monastery, the Kıyıköy Harbor Bath, the Kıyıköy Cave and the Kıyıköy Castle, while the Pabuçdere dam also provides photo opportunities.
Just 160 kilometers from Istanbul, Kıyıköy is easily accessible for a weekend autumn getaway or even a day trip.
2-day Gaziantep-Hatay-Adana culinary tour
Turkish people are passionate about food – and with good reason. Turkish cuisine is not homogenous by any means and each region has its specialties. But the emphasis on freshness and flavor is undeniable throughout the country. However, as delicious as it is, some dishes can be a little heavy in the summer. The solution: a culinary tour in the autumn! You can start with this delicious two-day route. Beginning in Gaziantep – a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy – the tour continues in Adana, the kebab capital, and concludes with the distinctive local flavors of Hatay.
Camping time at Seven Lakes, surrounded by vivid colors
Located within the border of Bolu, in the western Black Sea region, Seven Lakes National Park unveils its true brilliance in October and November. As its name suggests, there are seven lakes; campers can set up tents on the lakeshore. These are connected via hiking paths surrounded by lush woodland that includes beech, hornbeam, oak, redwood and maple trees, along with witch elm, quaking aspen and poplar. There are also Scots and Black Pines, as well as fir, hazel, linden and ash trees.
In the villages of Büyükgöl and Deringöl, visitors can observe as fabrics are created on traditional looms. For dining, just keep in mind that the lakes are renowned for their rainbow trout.
Nature, peace and tranquility await you at Seven Lakes National Park.
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