What is Turkey famous for? 15 amazing things

by capetocasa

Turkey has become extremely famous for many things on the world stage in recent years due to several factors. Anyway, for good or bad, Turkey and its famous things are going to be with us for a long long time to come. So, let’s see what Turkey is famous for.

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1. Istanbul

One cannot think about Turkey without giving consideration to Istanbul. There is so much to say about Istanbul. It is the largest city in Europe, one of the largest cities in the world, and perhaps one of the oldest in the world. Istanbul is the only city that occupies parts of Europe and Asia. It served as the religious capital of several empires over the ages from the Romans to the Ottomans. It is currently the cultural, intellectual, and economic hub of Turkey and the greater region. Istanbul is definitely the first thing that Turkey is famous for.

Istanbul ortakoy mosque
Ortakoy Mosque

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2. Turkish Coffee

Growing up, I would see Turkish coffee on menus at coffee houses and I could never understand why. Little did I know that Turkish coffee is an ancient tradition made famous by the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. I later traveled through the Arabian Gulf and I noticed that Turkish coffee had become a staple that would be regularly served alongside Arabian Coffee. Even the coffee consumed by Syrian and Jordanian coffee lovers is similar to Turkish coffee. Being a coffee lover myself, I really took to Turkish coffee and began drinking it. occasionally, myself.

Turkey is famous for Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee

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3. Hot air balloon in Cappadocia

One of the most visited destinations in Turkey is the enchanting Cappadocia. The landscapes and weird pillars and mountains are really amazing. It’s like traveling to the scene of a fairytale or visiting a new planet. As a well-established tourist hub, Cappadocia is a great ad famous place to visit in Turkey, especially for families. The number one activity is the beautiful hot air balloon experience, which is what Cappadocia is best known for. In addition, there are several other cool things to do, like staying in a cave hotel, exploring the terrain on horseback or quadbike and exploring the ancient history of this magical place, which dates back thousands of years.

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4. Pamukkale cotton castle

One of the equally unusual and famous destinations in Turkey is Pamukkale with its white travertine pools. This amazing location, which is famous in both Greek and Roman history, has become a holiday craze among locals and foreigners. These beautiful naturally-crafted hot spring pools make for an out-of-this-world experience. And once you are done taking amazing pictures of this epic place, there are several other things in the area that are really fun to do. Why not go to the Hierapolis city ruins and ponder over the old days of the Roman Empire. Then, explore the ancient artifacts of the Hierapolis Museum before taking a dip in an ancient thermal pool.

Pamukkale natural pools

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5. Hagia Sophia

This enchanting and unique structure has been managed by different Christian dominations over the ages according to the changing leadership of the region. In 1453, the Hagia Sophia has proclaimed a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II, after the Ottomans conquered the city of Constantinople. After Turkey transitioned into a republic, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a Museum and remained as such for 86 years. Once again, this year, the Hagia Sophia has been re-opened as the Aya Sofya Camii, where Muslim worshippers can offer their 5 daily prayers.

The good news for tourists is that the Hagia Sophia is still open to visitors in-between prayer times and entry is now free for everyone. The Hagia Sophia has been a famous religious, cultural, and political symbol in Turkey for centuries. It is one of the most unique and unparalleled sites in the world.

Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

6. Baklava

This indulgent delicacy which is a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth is something I can’t get enough of. A dessert or snack made of pastry, nuts, and syrup, baklava’s origins dates back to the 15th century Ottoman Empire. Some argue that it dates back even further, to the pre-Ottoman period. All we know is that this treat is devoured by all, East and West. It is still part of a well-established and famous tradition in Turkey and the greater Middle East, including North Africa. The sweets of choice on special occasions, celebrations, or for no good reason but as the perfect companion to a cup of Turkish coffee, Turkish Baklava, and its varieties are here to stay.

Turkey is famous for Turkish baklava
Turkish Baklava

7. Clothing & Shopping

Turkey is seldom credited as being a fashion hub. However, Turkey’s clothing manufacturers have a very good reputation in the clothing industry. So don’t be surprised if you go to your favourite department store or designer branch and pick a up a garment that is made in Turkey. Clothing constitutes one of the top 10 exports for Turkey. These items vary from cheap to exclusive brands. Several international labels make their clothes in Turkey, especially those that are destined for Europe and the Middle-East. Turkey is also known for producing a large quantity of leather goods: shoes, bags, jackets.

Turkey is also the undisputed Hijab capital of the world. The number of influential Hijab brands here is countless. Furthermore, Turkey is a large consumer and exporter of hijab fashion items including scarves, suits, long tops and dresses.

Turkey is famous for clothing and hijab clothes
Clothing on display

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8. Turkish Rugs

You may recall a glimpse of a rare Turkish rug from an old T.V. drama or historical documentary about the Ottoman Empire. How awesome would it be if you could get your hands on one. Well, in Turkey, you can. Ottoman rugs or Kilim, as they are called in Turkish, date back to the 11th century Seljuk Period in Anatolia. The Mevlana Museum in Konya has rugs on display that date as far back ass the 13th century. There is really something special about old things. The older they are the more enchanting they feel. Perhaps that is why they are so expensive. Turkish rugs are no exception. The unique rugs are hand-made from sheep’s wool, cotton and silk in a tradition passed on from generation to generation. These rugs are known for their geometric shapes and motifs which distinguish them from other rugs made in Asia.

Turkish rugs

9. Turkish Delight

The first time I heard of Turkish Delight was as a child, when I read the fantasy classic The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis (1950). This literary reference suggests that Turkish Delight had long been enjoyed in Europe, even as far out as The British Isles. An interesting sweet of sorts, Turkish delight is made of starch and sugar, usually flavored with rose or lemon. The unusual taste and feeling you have in your mouth are what I love about it. And it doesn’t hurt that it is sweet. Turkish Delight is common throughout Turkey and has become consumed internationally, made popular by the Turkish and Middle-Eastern diaspora. A variety of Turkish Delight has also been sold by the chocolate giant Cadbury for decades. Turkish Delight is sometimes served outside mosques after the sacred Friday Cuma prayer and also on the holy days of Eid.

Turkey is famous for Turkish delight
Turkish delight

10. Kebab

Turkey is famous for its yummy Turkish food, and to be specific Kebab. There are studies that suggest that the origin of the much-enjoyed Kebab goes back 790 000 years. This shows that human beings always knew how to make a good barbecue, or as we call it in South Africa a Braai. It goes without saying that grilled meat has become part of our DNA. That being said, there is no meat in Turkey that is celebrated as much as the Kebab, especially in the South of Turkey.

This strong link between different varieties of kebab and cities in the South can be found everywhere. Notable mentions are Mersin, Urfa, Hatay, Gaziantep, and most commonly Adana. There are several restaurants in Istanbul named after these cities and the variations can even be found on food menus, where you routinely find the Adana Kebab.

My friends from Adana are extremely proud of their home-grown kebab and swear that it is the best in Turkey. The concept of the kebab is not confined to the current borders of Turkey. One can still find traces of it in former Ottoman lands like Iraq and Syria.

Nothing smells better than a fresh kebab on the grill. I can’t wait to go to Adana and sample the original Adana specialty myself.

Turkey is famous for Kebab
Turkish Kebab

You might also like: Top 23 Turkish foods you should try in Turkey

11. Galata Tower

Built in 1348, Galata Tower was the tallest building in the city. It stands at a towering 67 meters, making it a skyscraper back then. Today, it looks like something out of a fairytale. Was this the true location of the legend of Rapunzel? If so, she would have had really long hair. Fast forward to today and Galata Tower is still a masterpiece. It is a great place to take pictures and the view from the top is incredible. Make sure to visit Galata Tower if you visit Istanbul.

Turkey is famous for Galata tower
Galata Tower

12. Hazelnuts

Did you know that Turkey is famous for hazelnuts? No ..? me too. When I first came to Turkey I remember feeling bombarded by the endless sight of hazelnuts. They are sold fresh and rosted. You can find people selling them out of vans in the street. There are countless sweet, chocolate and biscuit brands that have hazelnuts in them. There are even dozens of hazelnut spreads, and hardly any peanut butter, which is kind of a downer. But it never dawned on me until now.

It so happens that Turkey is not only the largest producer of Hazelnuts on the planet but Turkey is responsible for whopping 80% of the worlds Hazelnut production. The other countries might as well give it up. This explains the obsession with hazelnuts. They literally grow on trees here…okay maybe not. Hazelnuts are grown mainly in the Black Sea region, which stretches across the Northern coastal border of Turkey. So the next time you order a Hazelnut Latte or enjoy some Nutella, remember that those delightful hazelnuts probably came from Turkey.

Hazelnut production in Turkey

13. Turkish Tea

Although Turkish Tea is not particularly unique or different from regular tea, it is included here because it has become famous and almost iconic in Turkey and worldwide. Interestingly, drinking tea is not the oldest tradition in Turkey. Historical accounts argue that tea production in Turkey began in the 19th century and the first tea factory only appeared in Rize in 1947.

The consumption of Turkish coffee is much older. However, Turkish tea has become preferred by most Turks. Some say that tea became popular due to the rarity and high cost of coffee during the World War II period. Whether this is true or not, Tea consumption has skyrocketed in Turkey and some statistics show that the average Turk consumes more tea in a calendar year than anyone else.

Turkish tea is still mostly brewed with leaves rather than with tea bags. It is consumed black, not with milk like the Brits and Indians. Finally, the most interesting invention is the Turkish teacup, which is basically an oddly shaped glass. There you have it. That is the ABC of Turkish Tea. It is the cheapest drink available in Turkey. Many establishments and businesses offer it to guests all day long. It tastes pretty much the same wherever you go. It can be addictive.

I consider myself an avid coffee drinker. I need a good cup of coffee each morning and sometimes another after lunch. Since I arrived in Turkey, I have found myself drinking 3-6 cups of Turkish Tea a day. In real cups, it only counts as 3, due to the small size of the teacup. However, it is still a lot more than what I used to drink, which was zero.

Drinking Turkish tea with a view

14. Galatasaray Football Club

Football lovers know that Galatasaray epitomizes the illustrious history of football in Turkey. Football is the number 1 sport in Turkey and the famous Galatasaray, the oldest and most successful club. Some say that they are not as successful as they were in the days of old but they are still the number 1 club that is associated with Turkey, in Europe, and worldwide. The club was established in 1905 in Istanbul by students of the school that had the same name, Galatasaray.

They rose from humble beginnings to join the Istanbul football league in the 1905-1906 football season. Galatasaray was the first Turkish club to join this league, which had thus far only consisted of English and Greek teams. A few years later they won their first championship title in the season of 1908-1909. This would be the first of several league titles that would make Galatasaray the greatest football club in Turkish history. To this day, they are respected all over Europe and their iconic yellow and red colors command both admiration and fear. Galatasaray has also often boasted a star-cast of great footballers over the years, including the local legend Hakan Şükür, who is the Turkish Super Lig top scorer with 249 goals.

Galatasaray squad

15. Turkish Hammam (Turkish Bath)

Turkey is famous for its Turkish Hammam experience. Turkish Hammams are an ancient bathing tradition of the Turks that have been around for centuries. It is an important part of Turkish people’s daily life, and now it has become a special tourist experience for foreigners visiting Turkey. Most Turkish Hammams offer different package experiences from self-service to customized packages that include other services such as aromatherapy, Indian massage, and many more.

Turkish bath
Turkish Hammam


Turkey is a huge and influential country, economically, politically and culturally. Its location was always contested and fought over by the superpowers of the world, for a good reason. It is rich in history, culture, natural beauty and natural resources. Combine all these and you get the perfect holiday destination. Turkey has so much to offer. Turkey is famous for many things but there are still more that the world still needs to discover about Turkey. Perhaps you should visit Turkey and see it for yourself.

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