Turkey

European Turkey :: Books

Travel Guides

Short descriptions of Turkey appear in three of Lonely Planet's regional guides listed in the Overview section: Europe on a Shoestring, Southeastern Europe, and Mediterranean Europe. If you are continuing eastwards, it is also covered by the Middle East guide.

If you are spending any length of time in Istanbul I recommend a dedicated city guide rather than relying on a section of a guide to Turkey. I don't know enough about the rest of Turkey to judge the merits of the many guides available for the country as a whole, so I have listed a few below without comment.

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Time Out Istanbul  (5th edition published April 2012)

A well-organised city guide with good coverage of sightseeing as well as restaurants and entertainment.

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Companion Guide to Istanbul and around the Marmara  (1st edition published 2000) - John Freely

The author has lived in, and written about, Istanbul for many years and seems to know the history behind every stone. If you are interested in history and architecture, and have time to explore the city in depth, this book will make your wanderings all the more enjoyable. It is not intended as a practical guide, so if you want maps and accommodation listings you will need to supplement it with another guide.

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The Rough Guide to Istanbul  (published May 2015)

Includes coverage of a number of destinations outside Istanbul such as Edirne and Bursa.

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Turkey - Lonely Planet Country Guide  (14th edition published April 2015)

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The Rough Guide to Turkey  (9th edition published June 2016)

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Background Reading

Given the key role played by Istanbul (or Constantinople) in the history of the Balkan region, several of the books listed in the Overview may be of interest, particularly Lords of the Horizons.

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Istanbul: Memories of a City - Orhan Pamuk

"As in my childhood, we still see [the Bosphorus] as the font of our good health, the cure of our ills, the infinite source of goodness and goodwill that sustains the city and all those who dwell in it. 'Life can't be all that bad,' I'd think from time to time. 'Whatever happens, I can always take a walk along the Bosphorus'."

Pamuk is one of Turkey's most successful novelists. In this memoir of his early life he describes his early years and his relationship with his city. Memories of the pangs of first love and early attempts to be taken seriously as an artist are interweaved with reflections on the hüzün, or melancholy, that pervades the city. Recommended reading for anyone with an interest in Istanbul. (Incidentally, I don't know why the subtitle is Memories of the City in Europe but Memories and the City in the USA).

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