Turkey has seen many empires and many eras of incredible history and it shows. Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have all left their indelible mark across the landscape and in the Turkish tales of heroes, myths and legends. But it’s not just a history of foreign invaders that this country has to offer; its own collection of Turkish rulers have left behind a plethora of monuments and palaces for visitors to marvel at. From the stunning Byzantine places of worship to the perfectly preserved port settlements from the age of the Silk Road, there is a little taste of history to be found everywhere.
Views that will be etched into your memory forever; Turkey’s rolling groves and vineyards flourishing up into the slopes of its soaring mountain peaks whose roots merge smoothly into glimmering sea waters. It is simply enchanting. If your ideal holiday views include miles of golden coastline, Turkey’s shores are the perfect relaxation location. Or if you prefer to gaze in awe over incredible rock formations, the ‘fairy chimneys’ of Cappadocia with their breathtaking otherworldliness will definitely exceed your expectations. Fantastical lakes, miles of verdant farmland and even some abandoned, overgrown cityscapes make Turkey’s landscape one of the most stunning in the world.
A holiday in Turkey will never be dull for those in search of some adventure. You can learn the national dance routine and join in a whirling dervish, leap from some heady heights and paraglide or soar majestically in a hot air balloon across Turkey’s famously stunning landscape. If your Turkish holiday is on the coast, you’ll have every water based activity to choose from including sea kayaking, speed boating, windsurfing, diving and many others. There’s definitely plenty of thrills and spills to get your adrenaline flowing and blood pumping in this world of excitement and action.
Food is the centre of Turkish hospitality and all social occasions. It has influences from all over the world, all wrapped up in some of the world’s tastiest packages. Start your dinner off with an array of morsel-sized meze delights, washed down with a glass of local wine, then follow it up with a hearty feast of fresh vegetables lathered in first-press olive oil and hot roasted lamb or fish. Finally settle back and catch up on the news of the day with friends and family over a plate of baklava and Turkish apple tea.
Slightly less common than Turkish tea which is the pride of the country, Turkish coffee is still something that can be found being prepared and poured on every street corner and which you have to try. It’s so popular in fact that it’s on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. You’ll see friends grouped together over a little silver cezve (brewing pot) and a plate of Turkish. The coffee is made by boiling together finely powdered coffee, water and sugar in a cezve until there is plenty of foam on top. The end result is a gorgeously rich and thick coffee, famed for its strength. But it’s not over yet; Turkish coffee cup-reading is a very popular method of fortune telling. When there’s nothing left a thick layer of grounds, place the saucer over the cup, make a wish, and turn it over. Find a nearby Falcı (fortune teller) and get the shapes on the side of the cup interpreted to find your destiny.
Another UNESCO marvel in Turkey, Mount Nemrut is the glorious pinnacle of the Eastern Taurus mountain range and a must for all avid mountaineers. More than just another stunning viewpoint this challenging hike is well worth the trek for the prize at its summit; the royal tombs which date back to the 1st century BC. The Hierotheseion was built on this impressive summit by Hellenistic leader, King Antiochos I of Coomagene as a house for the gods and a shrine to himself. The statues scattered around the site feature depictions of King Antiochus as well as various Greek, Armenian, and Medes gods.
A day trip to the world-renowned peaks of Cappadocia’s ‘fairy chimneys’ is a non-negotiable must for visitors to Turkey. A fairytale location that’s captivating in any light or season, the ethereal magic of the rock formations aren’t down to magic alone; human ingenuity had a part to play. Persecuted Christians fled to this remote corner during the Roman period and used it to build an impressive network of caves, living quarters, churches and storehouses. There’s still plenty of evidence of this dwelling period today, such as the blackened walls that were once the kitchens or the honeycomb effect created by air vents in the cave roofs. But for those who just want to enjoy the sites without the story, grab a camera and enjoy the views of hot air balloons floating across the sky.
Another natural wonder that should be singled out from Turkey’s plethora of incredible sights are the Pamukkale rock pools. These rippling white terraces have to be seen to be believed. Stacked above one another, the turquoise waters are kept at a toasty 35 degrees in natural water basins made white by the density of minerals found in the surrounding rocks and earth. If you want to take a revitalising dip in these warm waters, a top tip for avoiding the crowds is to arrive in the very early morning before the crowds.
As Turkey is a large country, climates can differ depending on whereabouts you’re headed to.
If your Turkish break is around Istanbul or the European side of Turkey, you’re best bet for a heatwave getaway is during the summer from the end of May to the start of September. If you’d prefer milder temperatures and less of a crowd, book a visit during the autumn from September to November when the sun will still keep you toasty but isn’t scorching. During the winter, it is common for these areas to experience heavy snowfall and chilly temperatures, but if you wrap up warm, you’ll see some of the most breathtaking winter scenes in the world. If you’re visiting the Mediterranean or Aegean coastal areas, the temperatures are milder in winter and wonderfully warm in summer, making these areas perfect year-round destinations.
British nationals need a visa to enter Turkey, except for cruise ship passengers with ‘British Citizen’ passports who are visa-free for 72 hours. Turkish visit visas are valid for multiple stays up to a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period. For the latest information on travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey/entry-requirements.
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY).
In Turkey, the main language spoken is Turkish.