A guide to Turkish cuisine

Many people might not be as familiar with Turkish dishes as other cuisines from around the world, but that’s not to say the nation doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of delicious meals. Here is our guide to what and where to eat if you’re planning to go on a cheap holiday to Turkey soon.

Head to its markets
If you really want to get an idea of how Turkish food should taste, make sure you spend some time at markets in the destination you are holidaying at. These souks offer great opportunities for you to tuck into freshly-prepared food, made with local ingredients and to age-old recipes.

The Grand Bazaar marketplace in Istanbul is brilliant place to visit if you love your food, as well as if you fancy the idea of immersing yourself in one of busiest locations in the country. Up to 400,000 shoppers pass through the bazaar on a daily basis.
It is extremely easy to get lost here, with 5,000 stalls spread out over 60 streets, but areas are split into product groups, so keep an eye out for fresh fruit and vegetables and you’ll discover the food section. One thing you’ll definitely find here is huge piles of colourful spices. Take this as a chance to learn more about the ingredients by speaking to vendors – or you could buy some to bring back with you and recreate the delicious stews and kebabs you taste here.

Smaller markets also often have food sections, so whether you’re in Istanbul where you can sit at one of the many restaurants or cafes in the Grand Bazaar and tuck into local fare, or you’re staying in a small resort by the coast, you’ll find a bazaar selling food. Marmaris, for instance, has a vibrant market on Thursdays, and this is a great opportunity to pick up locally-grown fruit and vegetables – you could even test your culinary skills and add these to a few recipes if you’re staying in a self-catering apartment during your stay.

Enjoy fast food – Turkish style
While the idea of having fast food might not sound appealing when you’re on holiday, think again. Turkey’s fast food is very different from our own, and you can swap your pictures of takeaway joints for street vendors, and greasy pizzas for delicious pastries.

A popular street food is borek – baked filo pastry with scrumptious fillings. Try pogagca (buns) or simit, a bread ring, for something to eat while you’re on the move. You can find a range of healthy options as well, such as roasted chestnuts and stuffed mussels. My favourite is corn on the cob cooked on the street – you can choose to have yours boiled or roasted and season it with butter and salt for a really tasty and easy snack.
Of course, one thing that will be similar to home is the famous Turkish kebab – you can expect these to be a lot tastier in the country they originated from and you can choose doner kebabs, lamb cubes on a skewer or kofte, a mince meat patty.

Seafood restaurants
Somewhere else that really shows off how delicious Turkish cuisine can be is the seaside. Let’s face it, lots of people head to Turkey on a package beach holiday where they can soak up the sun and sea for a couple of weeks. By doing this, travellers are giving themselves an excellent opportunity to sample one of the country’s best types of cuisine – its seafood.

Whether you are by the coast or not, fish is a staple part of the diet in Turkey and, of course, when it has been caught by fishermen that day, it will inevitably taste as good as it can. You can find fish and seafood included in a variety of stews served with rice. Or, for a simple yet delicious meal, choose to have your fish or seafood grilled. This brings out its natural flavour and, seasoned with a splash of lemon juice and eaten with salad and rice, is a truly tasty, yet understated, meal.

Top places to have a mountain adventure

There’s nothing quite like heading into the mountains for an adventure, whether you’re planning a challenging trek to a summit or hoping to make the most of the foothills. Whatever kind of mountain adventure you’ve got your heart set on, read on to find out some of the top destinations for it.

Tanzania
Home to the roof of Africa, Tanzania is where you’ll find the awesome Mt Kilimanjaro. Now, you don’t have to be planning to reach the highest point (the aforementioned ‘roof’ Uhuru Peak, which is a whopping 5,895 m above sea level) to have a great time here but, of course, we salute you if you are!

There are lots of different adventure breaks you can take in Tanzania and, if you can, I think it’s best to pick one that lets you pack in as much variety as possible. If you have four weeks to spare, for example, you could go on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara, stay in a traditional Masai village and relax on the incredible beaches of Zanzibar.

As part of your trip, you can opt to either explore the foothills of Kilimanjaro, which are themselves pretty exciting (you should get to see things like the Machame Waterfalls, as well as camp overnight in the forest), or spend around six days trekking to Uhuru Peak and back. Whichever you choose, remember you need to be fit to tackle something like this, so get training well in advance before you travel.

Nepal
Having an overseas mountain adventure doesn’t always mean having to climb a mountain. Take trips to Nepal, for example – you can come here and stay in Kathmandu, which is the Himalayas, to combine volunteering with weekends spent exploring your incredible surroundings.

What’s great about this is that you can get some really varied mountain experiences – yes, you can do things like go trekking, but you’ll also be able to give activities like white water rafting a go.

Choose to volunteer while you’re here, meanwhile, and you can get a little more out of your adventure by really getting under the skin of the destination, getting to know the locals and giving something back. Among the things you could have the chance to do is assist at a children’s home, which aims to aid little ones that would otherwise be forced to face life in jail with their parents or live on the streets.

Thailand
Our final top destination for a mountain adventure is Thailand – and this is another place that is well worth finding a varied itinerary for. The ultimate place for a mountain adventure here is Chiang Mai, where you can trek in the incredible Huay Nam Dang National Park.

You can start your exploration of the much-celebrated Chiang Mai mountains by hiking through forested hills for 5 to 6 km, before staying overnight with a local hill tribe. Continue your trek the next morning to reach an elephant camp, where you can have a go at riding these powerful creatures!

And, if you have a soft spot for elephants, you could include a stay in the province of Surin in your itinerary, where you can volunteer to help local mahouts – or elephant carers – with their daily duties. Other top activities you might like to add to your itinerary include bamboo rafting (which is ideal for thrill-seekers) and exploring the country’s fascinating capital, Bangkok.