For people who have been to Turkey, the appeals will be obvious.
A Mediterranean climate for sun worshippers; a cuisine that’s perfect for people with a sweet tooth, as well as carnivores and spice lovers; unforgettable buildings and landmarks; and one of the most spectacular coastlines and window-clear oceans you are ever likely to see.
It’s a country that perfectly balances the exotic appeals of Asia with the relaxing convenience of a European resort holiday, with towns and cities catering to both.
Let Co-operative Travel take you on a whistle-stop tour of some of this gorgeous destination’s most unmissable highlights.
Oludeniz Blue Lagoon
This beach resort and village is famous for the rich turquoise and aquamarine tones of its seawater, as well as the diving and paragliding opportunities that tourists can try in order to enjoy the dazzling sights both above and below the ocean.
While the main beach is made up of pebbles, the sandy bay surrounding the lagoon (which you pay to enter) is bliss to spend a day sunbathing on. The mile-long stretch of sand is both a national park and a Blue Flag-awarded beach that tourists from thousands of miles across the planet annually flock to.
Whether it is a crowded summer day or a quieter few hours spent out-of-season, spend some time enjoying Oludeniz Blue Lagoon with the craggy mountains above you and the incomparable sea at your feet.
Hot air balloon ride Cappadocia
The spectacular rock formations of the Cappadocia region of Turkey are impressive when viewed from the ground, but awe-inspiring when viewed from the skies in a peacefully drifting hot air balloon. These alien-looking plains and mountains are the result of many millennia of rain and wind eroding the mixed layers of hardened lava that had burst from the region’s once-active volcanos.
A hot air balloon ride anywhere is a special experience, but in an area so unique and stunning you’ll capture a holiday moment that is impossible to forget.
Antalya’s Patara is the unspoilt strip of sand that makes up Turkey’s longest beach – and if you want to guarantee seeing it at its best, it might be best to go soon. Patara is part of a natural park, and it is not only a wonderful place for sunbathing and taking a dip; it’s also an essential breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead turtle.
For years, Patara Beach’s protected status has prevented constructions from being laid across the 11-mile stretch of coastline, but if recent reports are accurate this legal protection could be reduced and the area may see development. For now though, Patara remains a pristine Turkish delight.
While most people visiting Turkey will head straight for the south coast with its more famous resorts of Antalya, Marmaris, and Bodrum, a resort such as Izmir offers visitors the chance to gain an insight into the country’s ancient history.
Ephesus was a prosperous ancient Greek city built in the 10th century BC, and its ruins stand on the coast of Ionia just three kilometres from Izmir. A visit here gives you glimpses at a Turkey from as far back as the Neolithic age (6,000 BC) to the Bronze Age, the years of Greek rule to the Roman times, and through Christian times to its final abandonment in the 15th century AD.
The range of partially-collapsed buildings, restored structures, and historical sites makes Ephesus Europe’s most complete ancient city, and is a must for history lovers.
Turkish cities often combine great shopping and 5* establishments with a true sense of history and naturally beautiful surroundings. Even Istanbul, the largest and most developed of the country’s cosmopolitan areas, gives visitors a sense of Turkey’s history, with its historical mosques, churches and palaces standing alongside more modern buildings.
The joys of Turkish cities such as Fethiye and Konya lie in the exploration of both the ancient and contemporary, the new cuisines to try, and the impressive landmarks. Alternatively, larger touristic spots such as Trabzon, Ankara and Antalya offer these same holiday pleasures but in a more touristic way, and also have plenty to do and see for visitors craving hustle, bustle, entertainment, and nightlife.