Olive trees on a hillside in Turkey.

Turkish Olives and Olive Oil

In 2013, Turkey became the fifth-largest olive oil producer in the world. Turkish olives are so different—and prized so highly for the oil they make—than those cultivated in the rest of Europe because of the sandy soil in which the trees grow, the prevalence of a sea breeze, and the sheer variety of the fruits.

Turkish Angora cats are known for their heterochromatic eyes.

Wildlife Native to Turkey

Turkey is a natural habitat for a wide variety of animals. Europe in its entirety is home to 60,000 species, while Turkey has 80,000, not counting subspecies. From migratory birds to ancient species of lions to two almost extinct sea creatures, here’s a little about Turkey’s wonderful native wildlife.

Clear turquoise water on the Aegean coast of Turkey.

Turkey’s Regional Climates

Turkey’s four western and central regions all have different climates. Year-round there’s some variation as well, so to help plan when and where you’d like to visit, here’s what to expect in the Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean, and Anatolian areas.

A pair of tinted aviator sunglasses on a table.

The Reality of Traveling Solo as a Woman in the Middle East

My elbow nudges the covered woman next to me as we sit shoulder to shoulder on the front seat of a cramped Turkish dolmuş (shared taxi). Our bodies sway and jolt on the unforgiving pothole-infested roads of the remote Biga Peninsula as we leave the Aegean coast behind. In a moment of awkwardness our eyes meet and we share an apologetic smile.

Tulips blooming in the gardens outside Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.

Planning Your Time in Istanbul

Before you visit Istanbul, here’s some advice to help decide how long to stay in the city, what time of year to visit, where to spend your time & more.