Straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey provides a bridge between cultures and continents. Secular and Westernised, it's still possible to get a flavour of traditional Turkey by stopping for tea at a street market or being scrubbed and massaged in a hamam steam bath.
Istanbul is the exotic hub where East meets West and ancient collides with modern. Formerly called Constantinople, this vibrant, evolving city straddles the Bosphorus and is Turkey's modern face. Yet it is also home to architectural wonders such as Aya Sofia, a cathedral built by the Romans and converted into a mosque by the conquering Ottomans. It features an enormous dome and some stunning Byzantine mosaics. Make sure to also see the Topkapi Palace, admire the minarets of the Blue Mosque and browse the intoxicating Grand Bazaar.
Go in search of archaeological sites and ruins at Ephesus, the best-preserved ancient city in the region, travel to Pergamum to see the Acropolis and Asclepion or watch sunrise over the enormous sculpted heads lying on the mountain top at Nemrut Dagi. Tour the Gallipoli Peninsula to see the poignant Anzac battlefields, trek into the Kackar Mountains to see Sumela monastery clinging to a rockface or explore the ruins of the Ishak Pasa Palace as the sunsets over Mt Ararat.
Elsewhere, Cappadocia has an unusual landscape of surreal rock formations. Capped pinnacles and jutting ravines hide dwellings hewn from the rock and are the remains of a semi-troglodyte population, which can best be appreciated from a hot air balloon. Elsewhere, in East Anatolia, the landscape is a mixture of red ochre plateaux, forests, waterfalls and green pastures whilst the peak of Mount Agri is permanently snow-capped.
The Turquoise Coast is a beautiful stretch of shore; drift along it and explore the archipelago of islands that lie close by on board a gullet or traditional sailing craft. Weigh anchor in secluded bays to explore historic sites or snorkel in clear waters. Ports such as Fethiye are perfect places to pick up a boat. Alternatively, walk sections of the Lycian Way to appreciate the rugged beauty of this region.
The Practical information displayed here is taken from The Traveller's Handbook, published by WEXAS (2009). While all possible care was taken to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, we are aware that situations change, so for the latest information and up-to-date visa requirements, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0621.
South and west coasts have a Mediterranean climate and are warm and sunny May-September. Inland has cooler winters and the east can be very cold.
Islamic holidays are of great importance. Ramadan, the month of fasting, is a particularly significant time. Dates of religious festivals change year-on-year. In Istanbul, the most prestigious event in the calendar is the International Istanbul Music Festival, in June-July, featuring classical music, dance and ballet in spectacular venues. A highlight is Mozart's opera Abduction from the Seraglio, performed in the Topkapi Palace, the exquisite former residence and seraglio of the sultans.
Lamb is featured on most menus, served as shish (cubed and grilled on a skewer) or doner (carved from a roasting spit) kebabs. Red mullet and swordfish are also popular, as are dolma (vine leaves stuffed with nuts and currants) and karniyarik (aubergine stuffed with mince meat). Ayran is a yoghurt drink, tea and strong coffee are widely available. Raki is an aniseedy liquor, usually taken with meze.
Visitors should always respect Islamic customs. English is widely spoken in business circles, although any effort to speak some Turkish is appreciated. Be aware that a service charge is almost always included in hotel and restaurant bills. Smoking is widely acceptable, but is prohibited in some public places, including cinemas, theatres, city buses and dolmuses (collective taxis).
Ankara (ESB) is 35 km from the city. Istanbul (IST) is 24 km from the city. Also Izmir, Dalaman, Antalya, Adana.
Excellent roads. Good rail and flight network.
The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Turkey. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0621.
The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Turkey. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Turkey, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0621.
Rui Ribeiro - Middle East Specialist
To make an enquiry or to start planning your trip talk to our team of specialists on 020 7590 0621