Straddling the border between Europe and Western Asia, Turkey is an ancient crossroads of cultures, religions and civilisations.
Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have all dwelled here over the centuries, and they’ve all left their mark. Spend a day or two in Istanbul, the culture-soaked capital, to discover sites like the Roman-era Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, or the Byzantine Hagia Sophia, formerly a Greek Orthodox Church before becoming a mosque.
But for all the capital’s allure, it really is just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond the narrow Bosphorus Strait, there’s a treasure trove of attractions, both natural and man-made. The western region is home to countless historic ruins, including the big four: Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus and Hierapolis. These were all once major powerhouses of the ancient world, and can be explored easily on foot. Hire a local guide to get a clearer perspective.
Conveniently, Turkey’s prime beach resorts are within day-tripping distance of some of these ruins, so you could be sunbathing on the beaches of Bodrum or Çeşme one day, and wandering around crumbling columns and temples in Hierapolis the next. This particular site is also revered for its location, atop the dazzling, white-rock travertine terraces of Pamukkale. And yet there’s so much more to this magical country. In central Turkey, float over Cappadocia’s otherworldly scenery in a hot air balloon. Go paragliding over the crystalline lagoons of Oludeniz on the south coast. Or, trek through the Kaçkar Mountains in the east. Wherever you go, Turkey’s landscapes and epic history will leave you breathless.
Accommodation in Turkey ranges from luxury hotels and villas to private apartments and budget-friendly hostels. As you’d expect, you can find the bulk in Istanbul and along the western and southern coast, where Turkey’s most popular beach resorts lie.