Get your bearings
Spanning Europe and Asia, Turkey borders seven countries and four seas. Bustling Istanbul
in the far northwest bridges the two continents, split by the Bosphorus waterway. Linking Istanbul to the Georgian border is the laid-back Black Sea
coast with high-pasture villages. Along the western coast, Lycian tombs dot the Aegean Sea
around port city Izmir
. In the centre of Turkey is modern-day capital Ankara
, just north of the vast, windswept Anatolian plateau. Mountains dominate the country’s rugged, undeveloped East.
Explore a wealth of history on your holiday in Turkey. See Ottoman riches in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and glittering Byzantine frescoes under Hagia Sofia’s dome, then trawl the Grand Bazaar for painted ceramics. In the first Ottoman capital Bursa
, Yesil Cami mosque dazzles with its carved marble work and green tiles. Devout Konya
is famed for being the home of the whirling dervishes. Şanliurfa
’s carp-filled pools ooze biblical history. Capital Ankara
honours modern Turkey’s founder Atatürk at the Anitkabir monument.
Take a trip along the Turquoise Coast on a wooden gület
boat and drift between busy resort Bodrum
and quaint Kaş
. Scuba-diving at Fethiye
brings you close to dazzling coral. At nearby Ölüdeniz,
paragliders swoop over the azure lagoon. Search for unspoilt beaches, like Patara with its nesting caretta caretta turtles. The town of Kaleiçi in Antalya
is home to a picturesque harbour. For a more lively holiday, book a Turkey hotel in Marmaris
on the Aegean coast.
Cosmopolitan residents of Istanbul
enjoy swanky sushi bars and noisy meyhanes
(taverns) serving grilled palamut
fish. Regional meaty specialities include Bursa kebap,
served with yoghurt sauce, and Arabic-influenced spicy Adana kebap
. Kick off dinner with meze
, garlic dips and starters like smoked aubergine or fried cheese pastries. Then wash it down with aniseed-flavoured raki
followed by sweet black tea.
At the peak of remote mountain Nemrut Dagi
, colossal statues were built by a pre-Roman king. Today, only the two-metre heads remain. Cappadocia
’s rock-hewn dwellings, once centre of the Hittite Empire, date back millions of years. Gaze at Mount Ararat
’s twin peaks, where Noah’s Ark is said to have rested, and Lake Van
, Turkey’s largest lake. The ancient eternal flames of Chimaera
flicker out of the rocks near Olympos
. Bring comfortable shoes to explore Gallipoli
’s First World War battlefields.
In winter, camel-wrestling festivals
take place in Aegean villages, and summer sees traditional yağli güreş
) around the south coast. Istanbul enjoys year-round contemporary culture, and Babylon nightclub
is home to Turkey’s best fusion bands. Look out for live music events and international film festivals. Village agricultural festivals are usually accompanied by costume-clad folk dancers.