Konya was once the capital of Sultanate of Rum, known in Turkish as Anadolu Selçukluları, a situation which resulted in much of the architectural heritage visible today. The poet and Sufi thinker Rumi also settled in the city during this period.
Despite rapid growth in recent years, and the arrival of many students from out of town in the Selçuk University (Selçuk Üniversitesi), founded in 1975, Konya still retains the air of an Anatolian provincial town. Even though the influx of tourists from the west has increased considerably visitors are still left in peace, and do not have to suffer the hassles they get in Istanbul. On the downside perhaps is the fact that fewer people speak English (or any other foreign language), but the natural hospitality of the people of Konya usually makes up for that. Be careful with taxi drivers, who sometimes have no scruples about ripping off visitors to their city.
Konya is also one of the most conservative cities in Turkey with more women covering their heads with headscarves. Dress modestly if you want to fit in with the local population, although not many people will bat an eyelid if you choose not to.
The city lies on a totally flat ground, with the sole exception of a small hill called Alaattin Tepesi in the very centre of the city—which is actually a man-made hill, erected during the Seljuk period so noble residents could easily watch the city below from their palace. Almost nothing remained of the palace and the hill now serves as the central park, which is a quite pleasant and shady one.
- "Come, come, whoever you are.
- Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn't matter,
- Ours is not a caravan of despair.
- Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
- Come, come again, come." — Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
Turkish Airlines , Anadolu Jet and Pegasus Airlines offer flights from Istanbul to the Konya Airport (IATA: KYA), located about 18 km north of city, off the highway to Ankara. In the summer period it's also possible to fly from various European countries, such as Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark. The easiest and cheapest way to get to the city centre from the airport is to take the shuttle buses provided by Havaş, which takes around 30 minutes and costs 10 TL pp . On the way to the centre, Havaş buses also stop at the bus station (otogar), which may be useful to hop on a tram to the hotels in the northwest of the city, around the university campus and the highway to Istanbul.
Until recently trains constituted a slower alternative to travelling by bus or car. However with the new high-speed trains (Yüksek Hızlı Treni, abbreviated YHT) all that have changed, journey time from Ankara have been massively reduced to just 1:40 h, down from almost ten hours (in pure theory, though, as Turkish State Railways never offered passenger trains between Ankara and Konya before, due to the absurdly long de-tours across the country the rail network formerly took between these two neighbouring cities)! Although not offering the charm of travelling while enjoying the landscapes slowly changing on the other side of the window, these new trains makes it much more practical to reach Konya. As of now there are fours trains every day, however more depatures will be added in the near future.
From Istanbul, there are still two nightly sleeper services (via İzmit, Eskişehir-Enveriye station, Kütahya, and Afyon), the Meram Express departing at 7:40PM from Haydarpaşa station and arriving in Konya just before 9AM the following day. İçanadolu Mavi Treni departs later in the evening at 11:50PM and is a bit slower, not arriving until afternoon to make its brief stop-over on its way to Adana (via Karaman). Fares starts at 35 TL for second class, 77 TL for first class sleepers.
The Konya railway station is located in the suburb of Meram, some distance from the centre; it is easy enough to take a taxi from the station to the centre, but surprisingly some of the taxi drivers are not familiar with the locations of the main hotels. Alternatively it is about 30–40 minutes' walk to the city centre, provided you don't have heavy backpacks.
As all the rail works is not finished yet, expect (temporary) cancellations of many inter-city train services. There is usually a replacement bus waiting but there will be delays. Always check with the Turkish State Railways .
There are a number of travel agencies on Mevlana Caddesi, Konya's main street, where you can buy bus tickets. The destinations they deal with are written outside.
Konya's bus station (otogar) has good connections to a wide range of destinations, including Istanbul (~10 hours, 40 TL.), İzmir (~9 hours, 30 TL.), Ankara (3.15 hours, 20TL), and Cappadocia (~3 hours).
When you are issued a bus ticket you will be told which gate at the station your bus will leave from; you need to be vigilant, however, as the buses sometimes park at another gate close by.
The bus station is several kilometres (7 km) away from Konya's main sites of interest, most of which are located around Alaaddin Tepesi in the city centre. A number of minibuses depart from outside the bus station, of which some stop in or near Alaaddin Tepesi: these take about 30 minutes and should cost less than 2 YTL. Alternatively, Konya's tram line—which conveniently has a stop at otogar—terminates in a loop around Alaaddin Tepesi: this also takes about 30 minutes and costs 1 YTL per person.
If you intend to head south by hitchhiking, take public bus #26 heading WEST on Mevlana(Karaman Yolu, fare: YTL 1.10/person) from the stops in front of the Governor’s Office (Valilik/Vilayet) in the city centre, about 5–10 minutes walk away from Rumi tomb/Mevlana Museum (leaving at 6:00, 6:30, 7:10, 7:30, 7:50, 8:30, 9:45, 11:00, etc., the bus stop has a posted schedule if you plan to leave later). #26 takes you to the highway leading to south. You can stay on until it arrives at the steppes out of city, almost until the middle of nowhere. Don’t get off the bus until it leaves the highway by turning left into a narrower road. If you plan to head toward Antalya, sit on the right side of the bus and get off when you see the large sign indicating the junction of highways D330, D715, and D696, about 15 min or so from the center. Go to the D696 on- ramp to hitch to Antalya, a short walk from the intersection.
In the city of Konya you can travel with the dolmuş minibuses, public urban buses (belediye otobüsü), tram or taxi. Most sites of interest, though, with the notable exception of the suburb of Meram, are clustered in the city centre and are walking distance away from each other.
- Mevlana Museum/Mausoleum of Rumi (Mevlana Müzesi) (Once downtown around Mevlana Cad., just follow the signs toward Mevlana Muzesi). 9AM-5PM. This must see tourist destination of Konya, is the tomb of the famous mystic/sufi/thinker Rumi (known shortly as Mevlana in Turkish, or with the full name Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi in English literature), as well as the neighboring museum that displays relics of his life and his time. The items on display in the museum range from old manuscripts, hand written copies of the Koran, musical instruments used at Rumi's time, as well as numerous art works dating from the Seljuk era. 3 TL.
- Also interesting for the curious traveller, esp. for those looking for interesting photographic opportunities or a short walk through an authentic neighborhood, is the parts of the city that surrounds the Mevlana Museum. Since this neighborhood hasn't quite kept up with recent times, it still maintains an authentic feel from older days with narrow streets and houses of old architecture, almost with historic significance.
- Located 5-6 city blocks away from the museum, one can also find other historic buildings and mosques dating from the 12th and 13th century Seljuks Turks (the most significant one of these is the "İplikçi Camii").
- Iplikçi Mosque (İplikçi Camii). This old mosque dating from the 13th century was restored about 50 years ago and is still open for prayer service. It is a nice example of the Seljuk architecture to be seen in Konya, conveniently located b/w the city center and the Mevlana Museum. Free.
- Ince Minare Museum (İnce Minare, literally 'thin minaret'), Alaaddin Meydanı, ☎ +90 332 351 32 04. Tu-Su 8:30AM-12:30PM/1:30PM-5:30PM. İnce Minare is the remains of a 13th-century madrasah (school) built by the Anatolian Seljuks. Located close to the city center near the northern end of "Alaaddin Tepesi", this minaret and the surrounding small buildings today serve as a museum that displays various artefacts from the Seljuk and Ottoman eras. It is a popular tourist attraction, owing mostly to the noteworthy ornamental architecture which has been very well preserved over the centuries.
- Alaaddin Hill (Alaaddin Tepesi). This is an artificial hill that was built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. Today it stands right in the middle of the city, and serves mostly as a park. Even though the small hill or the park on it may not be very interesting in themselves, the two places to stop by and see are 1) the Alaaddin Mosque, and 2)the remmants of an old palace with partly earthen construction located on the north end of the hill - this old structure is protected from the elements with a concrete umbrella.
- Meram. This is the district of Konya which lies somewhat away from the city center, with lighter construction and more greenery. The name "Meram" also refers to the popular picnic area located in the farther corner of the Meram district. Near this picnic area there are a few historic buildings to see, some of which are the "Tavus Baba Türbesi" and the "Ateşbazı Türbesi".
- Seljuk Palace remains (on the Alaaddin Tepesi Hill). Just one piece of the Seljuk Alaadin palace. Built by Seljuk Sultan Kilicarslan II, restored by Seljuk sultan Alaadin Kekubad
- Go shopping at Kulesite shopping center. You can also shop in the small streets of Konya where you can find a lot of clothes and presents for a low price.
- Go chill at Alaattin Tepesi.
- Have a cup of coffee at Meram (Aydincavus), with a sight of Konya from above.
- Go to Fuar (the funfair).
- Visit Kapu Mosque and Aziziye Mosque each with different styles of minarets (towers).
- take a walk at Zafer Street.
- Sema (Whirling dervish ceremony), Mevlana Cultural Centre (around 20 minutes walk from the Mevlana Museum, down the same road, away from the centre. The building is on the right side — a big, modern white building with a pyramide roof). Highly recommended! A free sema (whirling dervish ceremony) is held at the Mevlana Cultural Centre every Saturday at 8PM, as of Oct 2011, taking one and a half hours. You don't need to arrange tickets in advance, but you might want to ask at the Tourist Information centre right behind the Mevlana Museum in case there have been changes. The hall is very big so there will probably be free seats but it is recommended to arrive a bit earlier to allow time for luggage screening and a cup of tea. A lecturer from the local university gives an OK lecture about Mevlana in English at 7PM just before the ceremony. The ceremony begins with a long introduction in Turkish before the actual music and ceremony start. People say this is the closest you can get to a real sema. No flash photography or applauding during the ceremony (so as not to disturb the dervishes). Free.
- Trinkets related to Rumi (and whirling dervishes).
- Traditional Mevlana-candy (white with a mint taste).
- Kulesite, Kule Cad. 8, Selçuklu, ☎ +90 332 234 32 72, fax: +90 332 234 32 78, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern shopping mall.
- Kipa (approx. 2 km to Sille Kavsagi, opposite of the Dedeman Hotel). A big mall including cinemas.
- M1 Tepe, Dç. Dr. Halil Ürün Cad.. Modern shopping mall.
Traditional local cuisine mainly depends on wheat/bread and mutton - the major agricultural products of Central Anatolian steppe on which Konya is situated.
Local delicacies include:
- Etliekmek — some sort of long and thin pizza (with meat or cheese) which can possibly exceed 1 mt in length! Available at a lot of restaurants in Konya.
- Gülbahçesi Restaurant (at the backside of Mevlana Museum), ☎ +90 332 353 07 68, e-mail: email@example.com. Traditional Turkish/Central Anatolian cuisine served in traditionally decorated rooms. A nice view of Mevlana Museum and its garden.
- Adanali Köfteci Osman (near the train station). "Adana"-style kebab, grilled meat. Not expensive.
- Asya Restaurant. Traditional cuisine.
- Kösk Mutfagi, Piri Esat Cad. (at the end of Mengüc Cad., approx. 500 mt from Mevlana Museum), ☎ +90 332 352 85 47, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Traditional cuisine. Located in a renovated historical mansion. No alcohol served. Has a carpark in front. Not expensive.
- Restaurant Mahmut Keten, Israsyon-Feritpasa Caddesi Mahmuruiye Mah. Keten Apt (right next to the train station), ☎ +90 0332 322 22 03. The place is not used to tourist, the menu is in Turkish only and the staff not fluent in English. But they are extremely helpful and friendly. They have tasty salads and meats. Try their thinly cut lamb in butter sauce. No alcohol. YTL 10 for main.
- Mithat Tirit (Very close to Aziziye Mosque. Also around Mevlana Museum). One of the delicious and famous restaurants of Konya. It's famous for with the special kebap Tirit.
- Fast food — Burger King, McDonald's and some other American-style fast-food restaurants, as well as ever omnipresent döner, are also available around the city.
- The open-air café at Alaaddin Tepesi is good for a relief and some shade while watching the city during a summer day.
- Mevlevi sofrası is one of the best place that have panaronic view of Mevlana museum and gulbahcesi. You can have a drink with traditional desserts.
- Otel Mevlana, Just off Mevlana Cad., Istanbul Cad. Cengaver Sk. No: 2 (Take minibus from bus station to Mevlana. You will see signs pointing the way to the museum as you get closer to the Mevlana Muzesi (Museum) down an alley. Across from large, gray Hotel Bera Mevlana. If you reach the museum, just get off and walk back 100 m or so the way the bus came from.), ☎ +90 332 352-00-29. Check-out: 12 noon. A budget option in Konya. Wireless, air-con, free buffet breakfast, ideal location. The old building is very basic, a bit smelly, no heating, horrible bathrooms. The new building is fine. Reception is very friendly. 70 TL/double room, 90 TL/triple room in new building (private bathroom), 20 TL/person in old building (Oct 2011).
- Hotel Ulusan (behind the central postoffice (PTT), near Mevlana Cad.), ☎ +90 332 351 50 04, e-mail: email@example.com. A reliable budget option located in city center. 70 TL per double room, however this is bargainable down to much cheaper.
- Hotel Çatal Aile Pension, Mevlana Cad. Naci Fikret Sk. 14/A (very close to the Mevlana Müzesi/mausoleum/museum), ☎ +90 332 351 49 81, fax: +90 332 351 49 81. Dirty rooms (with a huge population of ants!), smells bad, but reception is nice. May want to avoid this place. Asking price of 35 TL for a single room with attached bathroom, 65 TL for double room with breakfast.
- Hotel Balikcilar (just across the street from Mevlana Museum), ☎ +90 332 350-94-70, fax: +90 332 351-32-59, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A 3 and a half star hotel. Nothing special about it except that it is literally across the street from the Mevlana Museum. Rooms with balcony, safebox wireless internet connection, satellite TV, air-con, en-suite bathrooms.
- Nil Otel, Mevlana Cad. (close to Alaaddin Tepesi; behind İplikçi Mosque), ☎ +90 332 350-24-25, e-mail: email@example.com. Clean rooms with wireless internet, bathroom, satellite TV, air-con. About 50 TL pp, including breakfast.
- Konya Rixos Hotel (5*)
- Konya Ozkaymak Hotel (4*)
- Konya Dedeman Hotel (5*)
- Konya Hilton Garden Inn (4*) (next to Mevlana Culture Centre, 500m. from Mevlana Museum)
- Çatalhöyük — about an hour's drive away from Konya, the importance of this prehistoric archeological site lies in the fact of being one of the earliest and well preserved human settlement sites discovered.
- Akşehir — a pretty little town in the northwest of Konya province, which was home of the Hoca, a Sufi sage famous for his folk wit. The city holds a Hoca festival every year from July 5–10.
- Tuz Gölü (literally Salt Lake) — about an hour away on the road north to Ankara, is Turkey's second largest lake after Lake Van, although only about 2 (yes, two) meters deep at most. During summer months, it literally evaporates and leaves behind a flat and completely white landscape, just like a salt desert. It's also a good spot for birdwatching as it's an important stop-over for migratory birds on their route from Europe to Africa and vice versa during spring and autumn.
- Cappadocia — about three hours to east, is the most logical next stop on your itinerary around Central Anatolia.
- Silifke — about 250 km to south, can be a good point of entry into the Mediterranean Turkey from Konya, as the town is located at about the midway of two extremes of Turkish Mediterranean coast.