Turkey, a large transcontinental country that spans both Europe and Asia, offers a fascinating cultural experience. Wander along hiking trails in search of ancient ruins left by the Greeks and Romans, or spend your time sprawled on a sun lounger in the modern resorts on the coast. This is a country where you can go from exploring the cobbled lanes of cosmopolitan Istanbul, admiring the mosques and minarets of the skyline, to flying over the otherworldly rock formations of Cappadocia in a hot-air balloon.
Istanbul is a stunning example of the country’s cultural diversity. No visitor should leave without touring the breathtaking Hagia Sophia, a mosque-turned-museum with a cavernous nave, gold mosaics and a huge dome. Practice your bargaining skills at the city’s Grand Bazaar where artisans sell colorful handicrafts, including carpets, jewelry and lamps.
Turkey’s rich history is evident in its ancient ruins and temples. Head to Didim for the remains of the Temple of Apollo where a giant Medusa head appears to watch over the site. Travel south of Didim to Bodrum Castle, which features preserved artifacts and dioramas depicting ancient scenes.
Away from the cities, Turkey’s coastline is lined with beaches. Head to Alacati on the Aegean coast for mineral springs and wind conditions perfectly suited to sailing and kitesurfing. On the Mediterranean, visit Kaputas Beach for its stunningly clear water and unspoiled natural scenery. Divers flock to Icmeler in the South Aegean, where marine plants and animals thrive.
Most visitors arrive via Istanbul, the transportation hub for much of the surrounding regions. Take a domestic flight from Istanbul to elsewhere in Turkey, or hop on the high-speed train from Istanbul to Ankara, the country’s capital city.
Consider visiting Turkey in the spring or fall, when temperatures are still warm and the crowds are fewer. In the winter, expect to find more discount accommodations.
While much of Turkey is considered open to tourists, it is essential that you research any government travel advice ahead of time to avoid volatile regions.
Whether you want a lazy beach holiday, a city break or a pilgrimage to ancient historic sites, Turkey fits the bill.