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.
Turkey's Ancient wonders
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.
A spectacular coast
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.