WELCOME TO TURKEY.
Plan your holiday to Turkey with great deals on accommodation, travel advices and a variety of things to do and see. Turkey, what a beautiful country; fun, joy, happiness and neverending journey.
Turkey is home, where your journey begins, holiday paradise center
Turkey is a modern country with a captivating blend of antiquity and contemporary and East and West. Get interesting information about Turkey and read up on our history, culture and art, nature and geography, traditional culinary culture, real Turkish lifestyle and more. All you need to know about Turkey and beyond.
Places to visit in Turkey
There is far more to Turkey than the packed holiday resorts. Explore the sites away from the crowds to find ancient architecture and some extraordinary landscapes. From snow-like natural wonders to hippy beach retreats here is my choice for 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey…
One of the most ancient cities in the world, Istanbul at times overshadowed even ancient Rome, serving as capital first to Byzantine and then to the Ottoman Empire. At every turn in the city you fall over beauty. It teems with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries, monuments, walls, and ruins. The Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the mosques of Süleymaniye and the Blue Mosque dominate the skyline.
Antalya is best known as being the Turkish Riviera and is the most stunning part of Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline. It is a blend of thriving modern city and ancient history on your doorstep, boutique hotels, and restored Ottoman mansions. Heading up into the mountains, you can make the most of the beautiful scenery by visiting the spectacular Düden or Kursunlu waterfalls.
Patara was once the major naval and trading port of Lycia, located at the mouth of the Xanthos river. Now it is a wide, stunning smile carved on to the landscape of Turkey. This bohemian beach retreat is also an incredibly biologically diverse national park rich in birdlife. It sits not far from the sites of Letoon and Xanthos, and a day trip from Kalkan, Kas or Fethiye. Beautiful 12 km-long Patara Beach, voted one of the top beaches in the world by Times Online, is an easy 10- to 15-minute stroll away from the major ruins at Patara.
Ruggedly and rustically beautiful, Ankara is the capital of Turkey. It is the country’s second largest city after Istanbul and the centre of Turkish government. It has historically been a vital and much fought-over crossroads of trade. The city was famous for its long-haired Angora goat and its prized wool mohair. The historical centre of Ankara is situated upon a rocky hill, which rises 150 metres above the plain on the left bank of the tributary of the Sakarya river.
5. Temple of Hadrian
The facade of this ancient and wondrous temple has four Corinthian columns supporting an exquisite curved arch, the middle of which contains a relief of Tyche, the goddess of victory. Although the carvings are replicas, with the originals in Ephesus, the quality and setting transport you back in time. The pedestals with inscriptions in front of the temple are the bases for the statues of various emperors, while inside the temple above the door a human figure, probably Medusa, stands with ornaments of acanthus leaves.
Alanya is a paradise of sun, sea and sand. If you want more of the cultural vibrancy of Turkey, Alanya is a beautiful place to start. It works as a great holiday centre with its pristine sandy beaches, modern hotels, and quality fish restaurants. The cafes that ring the harbour are popular gathering places for tourists and locals, with three blue flag beaches and many sights, including Damlatas Cave, the Archaeology and Ethnography Museum, and the Dim Çayi Valley.
Fethiye is a very traditional Turkish market town that is spread around a beautiful natural harbour on a wide bay. It is a big centre for scuba diving and sailing on a stunning piece of natural coastline. Fethiye has a very traditional lifestyle and offers a change of pace for travellers always on the go. The most famous beach in Turkey is Olu Deniz (Dead Sea) near Fethiye, a serene lagoon beach with turquoise waters – a far cry from the arid and rugged areas to the south.
Cappadocia is a stunning region of rock formations, subterranean churches and underground cities, the scale of which is simply overwhelming. There are hundreds of underground buildings in the region. Two of the most unmissable are Kaymakli, which has eight levels, and Derinkuyu, which descends some 55 metres. Nevsehir, the capital of Cappadocia, is a great place to base yourself when visiting. The surrounding area is a popular trekking route amid the breathtaking and alien rock formations called Peri Bacalari or ‘Fairy Chimneys’ – easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey.
This once thriving ancient Greek city has seen it all and lived to tell the tale. A major Roman site on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. Famed for housing the Temple of Artemis in 550 BC, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Ephesus now houses some of the finest examples of classical architecture to be found in the region.
Few people can ever say that they’ve seen snow at 40C. A hot spot on the backpacking trail and one of Turkey’s most impressive natural wonders, the Pamukkale mineral spa, translated as ‘cotton castle.’ Stunning white terraces of calcium-rich warm waters spring up from the earth and cascade over low cliffs, forming the crisp, snow-like landscape.
Things To Do In Turkey
Istanbul is truly the jewel in Turkey’s crown. Throughout its history, it has been known as Constantinople, Byzantium and finally Istanbul. Whilst the political capital of modern-day Turkey is actually in Ankara, Istanbul remains the epicenter of Turkish life.
Top attractions on any Istanbul itinerary include the Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque and Old Bazaar. You can also take a boat ride across the Bosphorus Strait which separates Europe from Asia. Hostels in Istanbul are very well priced and the food is also super affordable once you get away from the popular tourist areas.
If you somehow can’t find time for a full-scale exploration of Turkey, you may be able to at least take a little city break in Istanbul as the airport is now a major transit hub between Europe and Asia.
The rocky moonscape of Cappadocia is a surrealist, tripped out dream. The city is popular amongst travelers for its distinctive “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered around Monks Valley and Göreme.
Many of the balmy rocky formations around the area have been carved out over millennia into homes, monasteries or places of refuge for pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. Our top tip is to take an early morning balloon ride over the valley – they can easily be arranged once you reach the town.
Ephesus was a once thriving ancient Greek and then Roman city. It subsequently passed through the hands of successive empires before been abandoned completely in the 15h century.
The site is both haunting and fascinating, and some of the ruins are incredibly well preserved. There is a stunning Roman amphitheater, an ancient Greek library as well as several early Christian churches – you may not know this, but it is often speculated that the Book of Revelation was written in Ephesus.
4. Whirling Dervish Show
The Whirling Dervish’s are in many ways the original trance ravers, dancing themselves into ecstatic communion with God through an ancient ritual of frantic spinning. The early Sufi Dervishes developed the strange and unique practice as mystical-religious experience and whilst this tradition is alive and well in Turkey, modern-day dervishes are more than happy to perform their routine for spectators.
Dervish shows can be found throughout the country but your best opportunity of finding one is probably in Istanbul. The spectacle is not to be missed.
Hierapolis is another site from antiquity which boomed under the Romans. What sets Hierapolis apart from Ephesus is the large, ancient Necropolis as well as the hot springs around which the town was built. The springs are still used to this day and you can take a dip to absorb their healing properties all whilst looking out over 2000-year-old ruins.
6. Pamukkale Thermal Pools
The aforementioned city of Hierapolis forms part of a larger spring and thermal pool network known as “Pamukkale” (cotton castle). Over thousands of years, geological changes have etched out some stunning natural, calcium and granite rock formations. There were once hotels built around the area but they were, thankfully, pulled down in the 1960’s when the government recognized that their presence was damaging the natural environment. Therefore, in order to explore Pamukkale Thermal Pools, you can base yourself in Denizli and catch one of the regular mini-buses. Alternatively, the pools are a 4-hour drive from Antalya or Marmaris.
Marmaris is a beautiful beachside resort. It’s very popular with many different kinds of travelers, be they family holidayers, couples on romantic getaways right through to us broke backpackers seeking some beach time after a heady tour of Turkeys cultural highlights.
Marmaris does cater to mainstream tourism so may, seem “inauthentic” and kind of expensive compared to the rest of Turkey. Nevertheless, the resort does pack a lot of charm and is still our pick of the seaside resorts in Turkey. Accommodation standards here vary massively and prices can spike here in the summer season. To ensure you get the best deal possible, look online to discover cheapest prices on hotels before you go.
Who even knew that Troy was in Turkey?! The ancient city of Troy is famed for being sacked by the Athenians using an ingenious scheme based on flattery and a big wooden horse. You can spend a day exploring the ruins by taking a day trip from Canakkale. The site of Troy is also very near the Gallipoli Peninsula – the battlegrounds of Gallipoli themselves are worth visiting for any passing Australians wanting to pay their respects to their fallen.
As with most “ruin” sites in the world, in order to get the most out of this experience, we highly recommend either joining a guided tour, hiring a local guide or at least picking up a handbook in order to bring the site back to life.
9. Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Da)
Mount Nemrut is a 2,134 metre high mountain and Biblical era site famed for a number of giant, pretty eerie statues. The statues are nearly 2000 year old and are remarkably well preserved considering their deliberate defacement at the hands of zealous Islamic rulers (graven images such statues are unacceptable in some forms of Islam).
The mountain summit is a doable but demanding hike so bring good footwear, lots of water and suncream. You can get to Mount Nemrut by either basing yourself in the nearby town of Adyaman or by taking one of the overnight tours available from Malatya or Kahta.
10. Music Festivals
Throughout history, Turkish music has been one of greatest in the world. Music is omnipresent in Turkey from the melodious call to prayer broadcast from the mosques to the bustling bazaars perpetually thronging with traditional music.
Turkish music is best explored by either simply sitting in Istanbul’s cafe’s, or by attending one of the 1000 music festivals held annually. Traditional music festivals are found in every region but major centers are Istanbul, Izmir, and Antalya with the best-known festival being the International Fethiye World Music Festival.
Weater in Turkey
Istanbul and European Turkey experience hot summers and cold winters with snow being a common feature. Spring and autumn, from April to May and from September to mid November respectively, are the ideal times to visit Istanbul and the inland regions when temperatures are pleasant and the skies are clear. Istanbul’s location near the sea means it can be quite a windy city, especially in the winter.
The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts both enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate characterised by mild winters and hot summers, which makes the beach resorts of Marmaris and Kusadasi popular year-round destinations. The majority of rainfall occurs in winter along the coast so the summer months remain hot and dry, perfect for topping up that tan. As you travel further east in Turkey the extremes in climate become more pronounced with very hot and dry summers reaching highs of 40°C and bitterly cold winters with heavy snowfall. Spring, autumn and the shoulder months of summer are the best times to visit the region when temperatures are mild and pleasant and it tends to stay relatively dry.
A Guide to Adventure Activities
1. Walk the Lycian Way
Turkey’s pioneering long-distance hiking trail winds its way through the dramatic limestone peaks of ancient Lycia, high above the most spectacular seascapes in the Mediterranean. Following traditional droving paths, paved Ottoman tracks, forest roads and rudimentary village paths, this marked trail gives a unique insight into traditional Turkish rural life. InnTravel’s self-guided, eight-night Seven Capes hike takes walkers through the atmospheric ghost village of Kaya Köyü, above the spectacular lagoon of Ölüdeniz (Dead Sea), across the rugged slopes of Baba Dag (Father Mountain) and out to the tip of the remote Yediburunlar (Seven Capes) peninsula. En-route are several unspoilt coves where foot-weary walkers can dip into the turquoise waters, and the romantic ruins of ancient Sidyma to explore.
2. Family adventures around Kas
The laid-back resort of Kas, squeezed between the astonishingly blue waters of the Mediterranean and the soaring mountains of Lycia, is generally acknowledged to be Turkey’s adventure capital. This pretty, former Greek fishing village has been saved from over-development by its rocky location and lack of big beaches. As a result, prices have remained reasonable in the low-key restaurants and shops, the locals friendly and the atmosphere relaxed – making it the ideal venue for a multi-activity family holiday. Exodus’s Turquoise Coast Adventure includes activities as varied as shopping in the local market to sea-kayaking above an ancient sunken city off Kekova, and negotiating a rope adventure course to exploring the dramatic Saklikent (Hidden City) canyon.
3. On horseback across Cappadocia
With its weirdly eroded volcanic tuff pillars known as Fairy Chimneys, some positively phallic in appearance, the central Anatolian region of Cappadocia possesses one of the world’s most intriguing landscapes. Then there are mysterious valleys riddled with rock-cut dwellings and churches, underground cities, mile after mile of rolling steppe-land punctuated by snow-covered volcanic peaks, and flat-topped mesas and buttes. This is “Big Sky” country in Asia, custom-made for exploring on horseback. No wonder Cappadocia, a name derived from the ancient Hittites, means “Land of Horses”. In The Saddle offers a fascinating circular ride around this fabulous landscape , taking riders into parts of the region yet to be affected by large-scale tourism.
The central Anatolian region of Cappadocia possesses one of the world’s most intriguing landscapes
4. Cycling along the south-west coast
Turkey’s fascinating southwest coast and its hinterland, between the river bank resort of Dalyan and the former-fishing village of Kas, is a magnet for visitors. Most explore this beautiful area in a hired car, on organised excursions from their villa or hotel, or on a gulet cruise. Some more energetic souls walk the Lycian Way (see above). A brilliant compromise is to peddle your way through this majestic region. On Explore’s moderately callenging Turkish Backroads and Coastal Towns route you’ll cover around 30 miles a day, weaving your way around reed-fringed Lake Köycegiz, dropping your bike for a swim off lovely Patara beach, and cruising down a mountain road to journey’s end in picturesque Kas.
5. Climbing Mt Ararat
Rearing up to nearly 17,000ft in the remote country where Turkey, Iran and Armenia meet, the glacier-clad summit of this legendary volcanic mountain is a magnet for peak-baggers worldwide. The climb is best done over five days to allow adequate time for acclimatisation, and anyone in good shape can attempt it, though crampons and ice-axe are de rigueur for the summit bid. A reputable agency based in Dogubeyazit at the foot of the mountain is Tamzara, run by friendly, fluent-English-speaking Mustafa. They have experienced guides and arrange the baggage transfers, provide pack animals and set up camps (three in all). They also arrange the obligatory official climbing permit. You probably won’t find Noah’s Ark, but the views from the summit are superlative.
6. Kite-surfing in Alaçati
Turkey’s premier kite-surfing venue is Alaçati, a delightfully well-preserved former Greek village on the Çesme Peninsula. Offshore, the warm waters of the Aegean and the steady and reliable winds make for an ideal place to learn this most exhilarating of activities – a curious but thrilling hybrid of surfing, windsurfing and paragliding. The best way to learn is to sign up for a course. Kite-Turkey, a reliable part-British-run company based in Alaçati, offers beginners’ courses spread over four days, with one instructor for a maximum of two students. With application, you’ll be soaring and twisting over the azure waters of the Aegean by the end of it.
7. Diving, Kas
The waters off Kas are justly famed for their clarity, making it among the best dive-sites in the Mediterranean – especially for beginners. Once you’ve been taught the basics it’s time to look out for tunnels in the underwater rock formations, caves and freshwater springs, not to mention brightly coloured inhabitants of the deep, which include parrot and damsel fish, larger fish like grouper, and oddities such as flying fish. Above water the vistas of the Çukurbag Peninsula, the Greek island of Kastellorizo and the looming presence of the peaks of Lycia are splendid. Long-standing Anglo-Turkish Bougainville Travel in Kas offers a five-day course leading to the internationally recognised PADI open water certificate. It also offers accommodation in laid-back Kas at reasonable rates.
8. Mountain biking in the Lake District
Turkey’s unspoilt Lake District is incredibly remote, given its proximity to Mediterranean coastal resorts such as Antalya. Transhumant pastoralists still spend the summer on high pastures in goat-hair tents while their flocks graze spectacular snow-flecked mountainsides. Fishermen haul carp from Lake Egirdir, a pristine lake covering 300 square miles at an altitude of almost 3,000 feet. Tumbling streams course through deep gorges, high-altitude Roman roads cut through remote, pine-blanketed valleys. A welter of little-used village roads, forestry tracks and dirt roads up to summer grazing grounds make this ideal – if demanding – mountain-biking terrain. Middle Earth Travel’s engaging Jon Bawn has devised a superb biking route through a beautiful mountain environment he once called home.
9. Sea kayaking, Lycian Coast
The Lycian shore is one of the most spectacular in the entire Mediterranean. A picturesque labyrinth of secluded coves, remote promontories, uninhabited islets, tumbling cliffs and crystal-clear waters, it’s best explored from the sea. And what better way than by sea kayak? The adventurous Western Lycian Odyssesy offered by Anglo-Turkish Seven Capes eschews the tamer itineraries and takes moderately experienced kayakers (it’s graded 2/3) from the island-studded bay of Fethiye, around the wild Seven Capes peninsula to finish on the soft white sands of Patara beach. The trip covers some 80 miles in total, with wild camping on islands, blow-holes and caves to explore, and swimming opportunities galore – plus the odd Byzantine church for a spot of culture.
Explore the Lycian Coast by sea kayak
10. Unleash your inner adventurer in Mugla
The Mugla region has more than 680 miles of rugged coastline, the longest in Turkey. It is perhaps unsurprising then, that some of the country’s most popular holiday destinations- Bodrum, Ölüdeniz, Marmaris- are nestled within this region. With mountainous landscapes, rivers, lagoons, ancient ruins and the vast Mediterranean Sea at your fingertips, what better place to unleash your inner adventurer. This action-packed solos itinerary incorporates a varied array of exhilarating activities; from walking and canoeing to jeep safaris and quad biking and always leaving plenty of time for beachside barbeques and mountain picnics.