Turkey’s finest example of a preserved Ottoman town is Safranbolu’s old town, known as Çarşı, 200 kilometers north of the modern capital at Ankara. Stroll through the meandering alleyways filled with shops, and admire the timber-framed architecture and red-tiled roofs. First made famous as an isolated source of the precious spice saffron, today Safranbolu allows you fully to experience life in an eighteenth-century Ottoman town, complete with creaky wooden floors, carved ceilings, cupboard bathrooms, and cobblestones. Soak up the scene (and steam!) in the old town’s hamam (Turkish bath), browse the many shops, and explore the old town’s many mosques, tombs, fountains, and roadside inns. Climb Hidirlik Hill for a stunning view of the old town’s houses, and do not miss the fabulous collection of Ottoman artifacts in the Kaymakamlar Museum.
Nearby Safranbolu is the wondrous Yenice Forest, a breathtakingly beautiful virgin forest with a unique ecosystem and a wealth of biodiversity rare outside the tropics. Nearly 400 kilometers of trails allow you to experience this natural gem first-hand.