According to Tripadvisor, Istanbul remains as the most travelled city in Turkey in 2016. For independent travelers, possibilities to fly and stay over in Turkey, are vast. The author Reeta Paakkinen gives tips to experienced travellers to Turkey at MATKA 2017 20.-22.1.2017. Turkey is the official partner country of the fair.

For the author of Kuun ja Tähden mailla, 36 years old Reeta Paakkinen, Turkey is both a home country and also a holiday destination. Paakkinen moved to Istanbul in 1998 to study. She became familiar with the country and the city as a member of a Turkish family. According to Paakkinen, Istanbul has grown a lot since she moved there.

Istanbul is located in the boarder of Europe and Asia. The flight from Helsinki to Istanbul takes 3,5 hours. During a weekend one can eat well, go sightseeing, shop and relax. December is a good month to visit the city and enjoy the best parts of the holiday season such as spectacular lights in Nisantasi. In the Turkish bath, hammam, one can warm up and wash up in the same tradition as in the old days.

– The flight to Istanbul takes approximately same time as a flight to my other old home city, London. Istanbul has more to offer, sights such as the Blue Mosque and the Prince Islands. Restaurants can be found in every corner and the variety is endless from the local ones to the international stars. The price level is affordable for Finnish people, Reeta Paakkinen says.

The shopping possibilities are endless in Istanbul. Nisantasi, the city’s fashion district is well-known for its boutiques. The long shopping street, Bagdat, in the Asian side is full of premium brand shops. One of the most well-known avenues in Istanbul, Istiklal Caddesi, was referred earlier as the Paris of the East. Today it’s a home to the shops and street food vendors. The hipster area Cihangi, located nearby is known for its cafes and antique shops.

Reeta Paakkinen.

– Istanbul differs from the other European cities with its historical shopping areas such as Egyptian Bazar and Grand Bazar. There is a special historical vibe. People used to shop there already hundreds of years ago, in the Ottoman Period, Paakkinen continues.

Black Sea region is not just a seaside

Package holidays are booming but more and more people are travelling independently. The favourite holiday destinations of Paakkinen are Trabzon, a city on the Black Sea coast in the north-eastern and the city of Akyak near Marmaris. The Black Sea region is perfect for nature lovers. Snow-capped Kaçkar reminds European Alps. It’s a mountain range with an elevation of almost 4 meters.

– In the Black Sea Region, I like the greenery mountain view. An important part of the local cuisine is fish. Also Turkish Pide, a classic dish is originally from the Black Sea region. In the valleys, people cultivate tea and hazelnut, so the scenery is picturesque, Paakkinen continues.

The resorts in the South of Turkey have grown a lot, and the service level has improved. Finnish people travelled to Marmaris for the first time in the 80’s. Reeta challenges Finnish people also to travel to the surrounding areas of Marmaris, such as Akyaka, which is reached easily by a local bus

– The local people have summer cottages in Akyaka. Also there are beautiful “lace” villas and the beach is quiet and clean, Paakkinen praises.

Sirince village.

In Turkey, one should rent a car since driving is easy and affordable, especially in areas like Alanya. In addition, Alanya region has many rustic villages to visit and experience the authentic Turkish lifestyle. Such villages are Dereköy, Mahmutseydi and Türktaş situated about one-hour drive from Alanya. These are authentic villages, which are yet not part of group tour programs.

Excellent price-quality ratio

Hotels in Turkey have respectable price-quality ratio when compared to other Mediterranean destinations. Turkish hotels are well presented in global booking sites such as booking.com, expedia.com and hotels.com – all familiar to frequent Finnish travellers. There are also affordable hotels deals available via these sites.

One site specialized in local boutique and small hotels is www.boutiquesmallhotels.com. Site’s managers visit the hotels before they are listed to this site.

Several weekly scheduled flights

Finnair, SAS and Turkish Airlines are frequently flying to the country. For example, there are a total of 14 weekly scheduled Turkish Airlines flights to Istanbul, in summer months one weekly SunExpress flight to Izmir and 4 weekly Finnair flights to Antalya and 5 weekly Finnair flights to Alanya-Gazipaşa. From Istanbul there are good connections all over the country with Turkish Airlines and other companies.