By Ahmet Cemil Cerenoğlu, Ankara, Turkey

Have you booked your ticket to Turkey yet? Turkey, my home country, is one of the hottest up-and-coming travel destinations. From Cappadocia to Anatolia, the entire country is bound by diverse and wild natural features, and is a rich cultural melting pot at the intersection of Europe and Asia, where East meets West. Turkey also produces some of the most excellent wine in the world, and if you’re a foodie, the country also features the third most diverse cuisine in the world after China and India. Everywhere you go within Turkey you will find interesting food.

1 – Olimpos

Olimpos is a secret and sacred location in Turkey. Here you will find pristine beaches and the ruins of the ancient city of Lycia. There are also many unique and interesting ethnic groups living in the area, who pass along their traditions and stories around the campfire.

2- Cappadocia

Cappadocia, or Kapadokia in Turkish, is an important geographical region of Turkey. This is the most famous wine region in the country (the wine is not produced in giant vine factories but from local wine houses). Always buy what the seller drinks. My favorite is the cherry wine.

There is much to do in Cappadocia. Be sure to visit the whistling stones and the underground city. Ride in a hot air balloon. And check out the work of local artists (many of whom are living in caves).

3 – Rize Highlands

Rize is the capital of Rize province in Turkey and features fantastic music, festivals, and rejuvenating waterfalls and mountains. The local tea, nuts, milk, fish, honey are some of the best. Everything is very healthy and natural. It may rain a lot. Rize is my favorite city in Turkey so far.

4 – Nemrut Mountain

Nemrut mountain is located in Southeastern Turkey, where at the summit one finds giant mysterious stone sculptures that are reported to be 2,100 years old.

5 – Pamukkale

Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a surreal natural wonder in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. Here one finds travertines which are naturally white painted rocks, as well as countless tiny natural pools. The water here is rumored to have healing powers. One of 0nly two such sites in the world.

6 – Istanbul

No list of notable sites in Turkey would be complete without Istanbul, the city of wonders. Istanbul will leave you breathless. One could try but they could never see everything there is to see and experience here.

7 – Mardin

Mardin is a city in Southeastern Turkey near Syria that features interesting traditional architecture in its old town. The culture, people, and food are also unique and interesting as well.

8 – Safranbolu

Safranbolu is a charming and beautiful city nestled in the Black Sea region of Turkey. The city itself is a UNESCO world heritage site. The architecture and natural scenery are gorgeous.

9 – Yedi Goller, Bolu

Yedi Goller means seven lakes in Turkish. The scenery here in the autumn is breathtaking. There are also many traditional festivals at this site.

10 – Amasya Kral Mezarlari

Amasya Kral Mezarlari are the tombs of ancient kings set into limestone foothills. There are 23 tombs carved into the rocks. The inner passages are remarkable.

11 – Konya

Konya is a city in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. The city is a holy location in Turkey featuring religious festival, very good music, and strong sensations and unique dance featuring semazens. Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, also known as Rumi, lived here. He is famous worldwide as an enlightened, historical philosopher and poet.

12 – Antalya

Antalya is the perfection destination for a summer holiday. This dynamic area has many faces. You can find both fast-paced areas and calmer parts. There are many picturesque villages waiting to be explored: Manavgat, Side, Kemer, Finike, Kas, Fethiye.

13 – Kars

Kars is a city in Northeastern Turkey near Armenia. Here one finds the spectacular ancient ruins of Ani Harabeleri. There is also a very unique and different culture, food, and music in this region. The area is predominately Christian.