Country guides Europe
Turkey Travel Guide
Turkey just may be the ultimate holiday destination. In one thrilling, sun-kissed package tourists can discover perfect beaches, ancient ruins, epic religious sites, wonderful food, glorious scenery, and a warm welcome from the famously friendly local people.
Turkey includes tremendous variety in its vast borders: the west and east coast beach resorts offer pristine beaches and gorgeous turquoise-coloured waters, while to the west of the land are the rugged mountains of the Anatolian plateau, with its ancient cities and vibrant tribal cultures.
Turkey's variety is best experienced in the glorious city of Istanbul, straddling two continents across the Bosphorous, and with Ottoman mosques and palaces, Roman ruins and glorious Byzantine churches interspersed with cutting edge nightlife, retail stores and modern developments.
It's easy to get seduced by the picture perfect resorts of Oludeniz, Bodrum and Marmaris, but Turkey has plenty of other world-class attractions. Top draws include Cappadocia's famed rock-hewn houses and churches, set amid a lunar-esque landscape; Gallipoli, a emotionally moving WWI site; the astounding ancient cities of Ephesus and Pergammon; and the thermal waters of Pamukkale.
Turkey offers a curious and exciting mix of ancient and modern; east and west; secular and pious, and visitors seldom find one trip enough.
Best time to visit Turkey
Turkey is best visited during the periods April to June and September to October, when the weather is warm without being too hot, and the bulk of the summer tourist rush is over. Istanbul has mostly mild weather and can be visited year-round. The busiest times are July and August, in addition to early September. Bear in mind that during this time beaches and attractions are at their most crowded and prices at their highest.
What to see in Turkey
-The colour turquoise was named for the luscious blue-shaded ocean of the Turkish west coast. Visit Bodrum and Fethiye to see why.
-Visit ancient Troy, and get bonus views over the Dardanelles and the hills of Gallipoli.
-Ancient Ephesus ranks as one of the world's greatest historical sites and is a better preserved Roman ruin that any found in Italy.
-The Blue Mosque is a global symbol of Istanbul and is famed for its elegant dome and minarets.
-Explore the riches of Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul; then buy some treasures of your own at the famed Grand Bazaar.
What to do in Turkey
-Go hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia's unique landscape at sunset.
-Visit the 'land of beautiful horses' and give horseback riding a try.
-Taste kebab, kofta, and strong coffee in a traditional cafe.
-Try yachting along the Turkish Riviera.
Holiday Resorts in Turkey
Turkey has many popular resorts for sun-seekers looking for the perfect beach holiday. Each resort has its own character, varying from lively nightlife to laidback and secluded, and from singles' heaven to family-friendly holiday.
Getting to Turkey
There are direct, cheap flights to Turkey from most European hubs, including multiple, daily departures from London and US eastern seaboard airports. Tour operators such as Thomas Cook have numerous charter flights direct to resorts on the Turkish Riviera.
Novelists, Orhan Pamuk and Jenny White. Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.
Midnight Express (1978), Topkapi (1964), Gallipoli (1981), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).
Shish kebabs, pide, meze platters, and dolmades.
Raki (an anise-flavoured spirit), strong Turkish coffee, and sahlep (a hot and creamy winter beverage).
What to buy
Turkish carpets and kilims, inlaid woodcrafts, shisha pipes, and ceramic tiles.
What to pack
A jumper or light jacket is useful for the evenings. Clothes are particularly good value in Turkey so leave some room in the suitcase and stock up before returning home.
What's on in Turkey
Experience cutting edge contemporary art Contemporary Istanbul. Witness or particpate in the Bosphorous Swim.
Did you know?
-The world's first church is St. Peter's found in Antioch (Antakya).
-The town of Harran has been continuously inhabited for 6000 years.
-Istanbul is located on two continents.
A final word
Turkey is a fascinating, beguiling country which bridges a gap between Europe and the Middle East. It is bursting at the seams with historical riches, natural beauty, and sunny beaches.