Welcome to Troy, Turkey, a destination steeped in history and culture that has been captivating visitors for centuries. As the site of the legendary Trojan War, Troy is a place of myth and legend that has drawn archaeologists, historians, and tourists from around the world. The story of Helen of Troy inspired my parents who named me Elena, the original Greek version of Helen, so it has been my lifelong dream to visit this ancient place – and recently I did! But Troy is more than just a historic site – it is a vibrant city with a rich culinary scene, natural beauty, and a lively cultural calendar. In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 things to do in Troy, from exploring the ancient city of Troy to hiking in the Kaz Mountains and sampling the local cuisine. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a foodie, Troy has something for everyone. So grab your walking shoes, your appetite, and your sense of adventure, and let’s explore the best that Troy has to offer!
1. Visit the Ancient City of Troy
As one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, the ancient city of Troy is a must-see destination for any visitor to Troy, Turkey. With a history spanning over 4,000 years, this ancient city is famous for being the site of the Trojan War, as recounted in Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the city and discover the layers of history that have been uncovered over the centuries.
The top attractions within the ancient city include the iconic Trojan Horse, a replica of the wooden horse that was said to have been used by the Greeks to infiltrate the city and win the war. I heard that visitors usually can climb inside the horse to get a sense of what it might have been like for the soldiers hiding within, but when I went there the horsey was off limits ☹️
Other highlights include the Walls of Troy, a massive fortification system that protected the city, and the Odeon, an ancient theater where concerts and plays were once held.
To make the most of your visit, consider hiring a guide who can provide insight into the history and significance of each site. Alternatively, you can explore the site on your own using maps and informational signs that are located throughout the site.
Visitors should also be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring plenty of water, as the site can be quite extensive and there is a lot of ground to cover. With its rich history and breathtaking views, a visit to the ancient city of Troy is an experience that you won’t soon forget.
2. Explore the Museum of Troy
For a deeper understanding of the history of Troy and the surrounding region, I strongly recommend visiting the Museum of Troy before going to see the ancient ruins. Located very close to the archaeological site, this museum is home to a vast collection of artifacts from the ancient city of Troy and the wider region. It was opened pretty recently (in 2018) and I was told that one year it even won an award for the best museum in Europe!
The museum’s exhibits are arranged chronologically, beginning with the prehistoric period and moving through the Bronze Age, the Classical period, and the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Highlights of the collection include ancient pottery, jewelry, and weaponry, as well as larger items such as sarcophagi and statues.
One of the most impressive items on display is the Treasure of Karun, a collection of gold and silver objects that was discovered by a farmer in western Turkey in 1999. The treasure is thought to date back to the sixth century BCE and is believed to have been buried by a wealthy individual in order to protect it from invading armies.
In addition to the permanent collection, the museum also hosts temporary exhibits and events throughout the year. Visitors should plan to spend at least a few hours at the museum in order to fully appreciate its many treasures.
Overall, the Museum of Troy is a fascinating and educational destination that is sure to deepen your understanding and appreciation of the rich history and culture of this unique region.
3. Take a Ferry to the Island of Bozcaada
For a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Troy, consider taking a ferry to the nearby island of Bozcaada. Located in the Aegean Sea, this picturesque island is known for its charming villages, beautiful beaches, and excellent local wines.
The ferry ride itself is a scenic journey that takes around an hour and a half, offering stunning views of the coastline and the open sea. Upon arrival, visitors can explore the island’s many attractions, including the 15th-century castle that overlooks the harbor and the quaint village of Bozcaada, with its narrow streets and traditional Ottoman houses.
One of the highlights of a visit to Bozcaada is the opportunity to sample the island’s renowned wines. Bozcaada is home to several wineries that produce a variety of wines using local grapes such as the red Karasakiz and the white Vasilaki. Visitors can enjoy tastings and tours of the vineyards, as well as purchase bottles to take home as souvenirs.
For those who prefer more active pursuits, the island also offers opportunities for hiking, swimming, and water sports. Several beaches around the island offer crystal-clear waters and stunning views, while the hilly terrain provides a challenging but rewarding hiking experience.
4. Experience the Local Cuisine
No trip to Troy, Turkey is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. The region is known for its fresh and flavorful dishes that incorporate a variety of herbs, spices, and local ingredients.
One must-try dish is the famous Turkish kebab, which can be found at many local restaurants and cafes. These grilled meat dishes come in a variety of styles, including shish kebab, doner kebab, and adana kebab, each with its own unique seasoning and preparation method.
Another staple of Turkish cuisine is meze, a selection of small dishes that are typically served as appetizers or snacks. Meze dishes can include items such as hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and grilled eggplant, and are a great way to sample a variety of flavors in one meal.
Seafood is also a popular choice in this coastal region, with fresh fish and seafood caught daily from the Aegean Sea. Some must-try dishes include grilled octopus, stuffed mussels, and fried calamari.
For those with a sweet tooth, Turkish desserts are not to be missed. Traditional treats include baklava, a rich pastry made with layers of phyllo dough and honey syrup, and Turkish delight, a chewy confection made with starch and sugar and flavored with rose water or other essences.
5. Attend a Festival or Event
Troy and the surrounding region are home to a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to experience the local culture and traditions.
One of the most popular events is the Troy Horse Festival, held each summer to commemorate the legend of the Trojan Horse. The festival includes horse races, parades, and other cultural activities, as well as a reenactment of the famous Trojan Horse story.
Another major event is the Canakkale Biennial, a contemporary art exhibition held every two years in the city of Canakkale. The biennial showcases the work of both local and international artists, and features a range of installations, performances, and other artistic experiences.
For music lovers, the Troya International Music Festival is a must-attend event. Held each summer, the festival features classical and traditional music performances by musicians from around the world, set against the backdrop of the ancient city of Troy.
Other events throughout the year include the Canakkale International Children’s Theater Festival, the Canakkale Maritime Festival, and the Olive Harvest Festival, which celebrates the region’s rich history of olive farming and olive oil production.
Attending a festival or event is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions of Troy and the wider region. With so many diverse events to choose from, there is sure to be something for everyone.
6. Shop for Souvenirs
For most of us, souvenirs are a way to keep memories from a trip alive. Fortunately, the region offers a wide range of shopping opportunities, from traditional markets to modern boutiques.
One of the best places to shop for souvenirs is the Canakkale Bazaar, a bustling market in the heart of the city that sells everything from Turkish rugs and ceramics to spices and sweets. Here, you can haggle with local vendors and pick up unique and authentic items to take home.
Another great place to shop is the local markets that can be found in many of the surrounding towns and villages. These markets offer a more traditional shopping experience, with vendors selling handmade crafts, local produce, and other unique items. On your way to the ancient ruins of Troy, on the right side there are some souvenir stalls from where I bought fridge magnets, keychains and some pieces of jewellery. Look after the Troya sign and the mural shown in the photo below and there you’ll find the souvenirs you’re looking for.
For a more upscale shopping experience, head to the Limani Mall, a modern shopping center that offers a range of international and local brands. In addition to shopping, the mall also features a cinema, restaurants, and other entertainment options.
The Museum of Troy also has a section of beautiful souvenirs on the ground floor, so definitely check that out. I spent at least half an hour looking at the masterfully crafted objects or colorful handbags.
Some popular souvenirs to look out for include Turkish ceramics, which are known for their intricate designs and vibrant colors, as well as traditional Turkish textiles such as kilim rugs and embroidered shawls. Other popular items include spices, dried fruits, and Turkish sweets such as baklava and Turkish delight.
Go on a Scenic Hike in the Kaz Mountains
For those seeking adventure and natural beauty, the Kaz Mountains offer an incredible hiking experience. The mountains are located just a short distance from Troy and offer a range of trails for all skill levels.
One of the most popular hikes is the Kazdagi Trail, which takes you through pine forests and up to the summit of Mount Ida. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including the Aegean Sea and the Gulf of Edremit.
If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, the Sarikiz Summit Trail offers a steep climb to the top of Sarikiz Mountain. The trail is known for its stunning views of the Gulf of Edremit and the surrounding valleys.
For a more leisurely hike, the Karabiga Trail is a great option. The trail takes you through picturesque villages and past olive groves and vineyards, giving you a taste of rural life in Turkey.
No matter which trail you choose, hiking in the Kaz Mountains is an unforgettable experience that will allow you to appreciate the natural beauty of the region. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for hiking.
Visit the Gallipoli Peninsula
Located just a short distance from Troy, the Gallipoli Peninsula is another must-visit destination for history buffs and those interested in World War I. The area was the site of a major battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied forces, including Australia and New Zealand, during the First World War.
Today, visitors can explore the battlefields and memorials that pay tribute to the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives during the conflict. The Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery, and Chunuk Bair are just some of the sites that are worth visiting.
At the Anzac Cove, visitors can learn about the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who landed here in 1915, while the Lone Pine Cemetery is the final resting place for many of the Australian soldiers who died during the battle. Chunuk Bair is another important site, as it was the site of a major battle that saw the Allied forces briefly capture the peak before ultimately being forced to retreat.
In addition to exploring the historical sites, visitors can also enjoy the natural beauty of the peninsula, which includes stunning beaches and rocky cliffs. The Kabatepe Museum is also worth a visit, as it offers an in-depth look at the events that took place during the Gallipoli campaign.
A visit to the Gallipoli Peninsula is a sobering reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers during World War I, and a chance to pay tribute to those who fought and died during the conflict. It is a powerful and emotional experience that is not to be missed.
Troy is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. With its rich history, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and vibrant culture, there is something for everyone in this fascinating part of the world.
Whether you are exploring the ancient ruins of Troy, sampling local dishes at a traditional restaurant, or browsing for souvenirs at a bustling market, Troy and the wider region offer a wide range of unforgettable experiences.
So why not make your lifelong dream a reality, and plan a trip to Troy today? With so much to see and do, you are sure to have an unforgettable adventure that will stay with you for a lifetime.