13 Facts About Turkey That Will Surprise You

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

As lovers of travel, we dream of waking up in a new place, opening up our window, and listening to the sounds of a new city or the sea on a foreign shore.

If you’re someone who loves to travel you should consider visiting Turkey. It’s a place filled with culture, beautiful architecture, historical sites, and delicious food. A lot of people don’t know a lot about this country. Fortunately, we’ve gathered some facts about Turkey to give you some insight into this beautiful destination and to help you decide if traveling to Turkey is right for you.

Interesting Facts About Turkey

Interesting Facts about Turkey

In this article, we’ll review some of the most surprising Turkey facts to help you decide if this will be your next destination. So get ready to book your flight, and enjoy everything Turkey has to offer you as a traveler.

1. Istanbul Straddles Europe and Asia

Facts about turkey it straddles Europe and Asia

One of the most interesting facts about Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, straddles Europe and Asia. It’s the only city in the world that straddles two continents. This is because the city sits on the Bosphorus, a beautiful strait with one side in Europe and the other in Asia. Additionally, the European side of Istanbul is split into two by the Golden Horn inlet. Istanbul is truly gorgeous. In fact, we have it on our list of The Most Beautiful Cities in Europe

The districts of Istanbul each have a distinct atmosphere and character of their own. You can find most of the well-known sites in the Old City, Sultanahmet, and around it. Other districts worth exploring include Karaköy and Nisantasi. Additionally, there are the areas of Fener and Balat, which have a dilapidated charm to them, with cobbled streets that overlook the Golden Horn. Read more at Best Things to do in Istanbul Turkey

2. Turkey Has One of the World’s Biggest and Oldest Malls

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey

If you love to shop for local items and buy souvenirs when you’re traveling you’ll be interested to know that the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, with the official name of Kapali Carsi in Turkish dates back as far as 1455 making it the oldest covered market in the world.

It has grown, throughout the centuries, into a 61-street  labyrinthine that takes up 333,000 square feet and has over 3,000 shops. Whether you’re shopping for Turkish rugs, beautiful lamps, tea, or Turkish delight, you can find some incredible local products here. Allow yourself some time to get lost in this beautiful labyrinth and have fun shopping.

3. Turkish People Love Drinking Tea

Facts about Turkey Tea

Even though the people of Turkey are huge fans Turkish coffee, they also love their tea. 96% of Turkey’s population drinks one cup of tea, at least, every day. And they do this in a special way. When they drink their tea, Turks sip it from a small tulip-shaped glass.

To enjoy this local custom, try the many different tea flavors available, ordering one with breakfast or after a meal, sitting out in the sun, and seeing how the sunlight filters through the glass before you drink it.

  • When visiting Istanbul, get an Istanbul Museum Pass to skip the line to popular museums like Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace and Harem, Great Palace Mosaics and more popular museums in Istanbul with the guided tour app. Check out this pass here.

4. Wine Production Is Important

If you love to enjoy a glass of wine on its own or with dinner, you’ll be happy to hear that one of the fun Turkey facts is that wine production is a big thing in this country. Even though many people think of other countries, such as France, when they think of wine, Turkey is big on wine. 

First of all, Turkey was one of the earliest wine producers. Additionally, Turkey is the fourth-largest producer of wine grapes in the world. This is because of the climate and fertile soil. So if you’re driving through Turkey, don’t be surprised to pass by many vineyards! We visited a beautiful vineyard when exploring Cappadocia.

5. The Cultural Heritage Is Incredible

Facts about Turkey Culture

If the Turkey facts that interest you most are historical ones, you will be interested in knowing that there are 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey. But that’s not all. There are also 62 more that are on the World Heritage Sites tentative list.

Some of the most important sites include Göbekli Tepe, a Mesolithic temple, Ephesus, a biblical city, and Gallipoli, a battlefield from World War One. Considering how many important historical sites there are in Turkey, it should come as no surprise that this country is the sixth most visited by tourists in the world. Check out: 42 Amazing Ancient Ruins of the World

6. There Are Over 80,000 Mosques

Facts about Turkey Mosques

99% of Turkish people are Muslims, which is why the number of mosques in this country is 82,693. This is an incredible cultural and religious experience you can experience, whether you’re Muslim or not. There are some impressive mosques that are open to tourists.

One of the most stunning is the Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul. This mosque, which is popularly known as the Blue Mosque, is grand and breathtaking, with soaring ceilings and beautiful tilework. Read more: The Blue Mosque of Istanbul and tips for Entry

7. The Turks Brought Many Products to Europe

Facts about Turkey Products in Europe

If you love to travel, you might be aware of tulip season in Amsterdam and other parts of the Netherlands. But did you know that tulips were actually brought there from Turkey? Tulips are native to Central Asia and they were in Turkish gardens long before reaching Central Europe. The government commemorates this fact by planting many bulbs in the city of Istanbul.

If you want to experience the stunning sight of these tulips in bloom, make sure you visit Istanbul between late March and April.

Turkey also introduced cherries and coffee to Europe. So if you love a morning coffee, you have the Turks to thank! In fact, Turkish coffee was so important that Turkish women had the legal right to leave their husbands if they couldn’t provide them with coffee. Coffee was considered essential. I agree, I need my morning coffee.

In addition to cherries and coffee, Turkey has an incredible amount of foods and cuisines to try. They have so many of their own foods that they export much more than import produce. Turkish cuisine is a mix of Central Asian, Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines, which results in a delicious array of foods. Check out more foods of the world here.

8. Santa Claus Comes From Turkey

Even though you might associate Santa Claus with the snowy North Pole, Santa Claus actually comes from Turkey! He was born in Turkish Patara which is located in southern Turkey on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

Additionally, there are other saints who are connected to Turkey. Possibly, the Virgin Mary was buried near Ephesus. Saint Paul came from Tarsus and the Prophet Abraham was born in Sanliurfa. Additionally, it might be the case that, after the Great Flood, Noah might have finally stopped at land at Mount Ararat.

9. There Are Over 30 Languages Spoken in Turkey

Turkish is Turkey’s official language with 90% of the population speaking Turkish, but there are actually more than 30 minority languages spoken in Turkey. These include Zazaki, and Kurmanji with Arabic with Northern Kurdish being two other languages that are widely used. If you’re a language lover or enjoy being in a culturally-diverse region, you should visit Turkey.

10. Turkey Is Home to Great Mountains

Facts about Turkey Mountains

Just because there are some beautiful coastal areas in Turkey, that doesn’t mean you can’t find great mountain ranges in this country. Over 130 peaks are higher than 2900 meters (98,000 feet), and there are almost a dozen winter resorts you can go to so you can enjoy snow and winter fun in Turkey.

Turkey’s highest mountain is Mount Ararat standing 5,165 metres (16,945 feet) tall.

11. It Has a Sea Turtle Nesting Area

Iztuzu Beach, which is near Fethiye, just west of it, is a big breeding ground for the endangered animal the loggerhead sea turtle. These turtles arrive between the months of May and October, planting a total of around 300 nests every year.

If you’re a lover of nature, you’re in luck. The Turkish government has made this a possible tourist destination while still conserving the area.

12. Istanbul Airport Is an Important Aviation Hub

Turkey Facts Istanbul Airport

As you know we travel a lot, and I have to say that Istanbul Airport has to be our favorite. There is a reason it has been awarded the Best Airport in Europe. It is well laid and out and the Turkish Airlines Lounge is one of the best in the world. This is yet another reason to visit Turkey!

Istanbul Airport is an important aviation hub. Turkish Airlines has flights that go to more than 360 destinations—so if wanderlust hits again, you can hop on a flight fast! Watch our tour of the Turkish Airlines lounge.

13. Early Christians Once Hid in Cappadocia

Facts about Turkey Cappadocia Caves

Cappacocia is an ancient land where Early Christians hid in the underground cities and caves when fleeing the Roman empire. You can visit these amazing caves today, as well as fairy chimneys and the early churches by making your way to Cappadocia. Read more: Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon: How to Choose the Right Company

While Cappadocia is famous for its hot air balloons over the Fairy chimneys, you can also see religious murals that are still preserved on the walls and make sure to stay in a luxurious cave hotel. This region has many fantastic formations, so it’s worth visiting to see the beauty of Cappadocia. Watch a tour of our Cave Hotel in Cappadocia.

Want to Learn More Turkey Facts?

More Facts about Turkey

We have put together the speed round to interesting facts that you can easily look up on Wikipedia, but why not have them all in one place right?

  • Turkey is officially named The Republic of Turkey. It was once part of the Ottoman Empire after being invaded in 1453.
  • The population of Turkey is 84.34 million inhabitants.
  • The capital of Turkey is Ankara not Istanbul.
  • Istanbul (Constantinople) was once Capital of the Ottoman Empire. It changed its name to Istanbul in 1930 after the War of Independence.
  • Greece also invaded Turkey after World War I which led to the Turkish War of Independence.
  • Turkey’s national sport is Oil Wrestling. You hear me correctly. Oil wrestling dates back to the Ottoman Empire but today the most popular sport in Turkey is football. (Soccer)
  • Turkey is bordered by three seas, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Aegean Sea
  • Turkey is bordered by a whopping eight countries – Greece, Bulgaria, Iraq, Syria, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Iran.

Now that you’ve learned some facts about Turkey are you ready to visit this beautiful country? Turkey will surprise you, each time we visit, we fall in love all over again. Have you been to Turkey? What are some surprising things you learned while visiting?

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About ThePlanetD Team

Guest writers for The Planet D offer insider tips and information on destinations that they are experts in. We can't be everywhere at once, and it is important to have the highest level of travel information from local writers and experienced travelers.

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3 thoughts on “13 Facts About Turkey That Will Surprise You”

  1. You have prepared an excellent guide. As someone who lives in Turkey, I really appreciated it. If you come to Turkey, I would like to meet you. Thank you very much for introducing our country.

  2. Thank you for sharing the post, it’s very informative. Turkey is definitely a beautiful place, with so much of culture and history and definitely, a must-try Turkish tea, which is absolutely delicious.