Turkey: 28,632,204 can’t be wrong!

Istanbul, Turkey
Photo credit: Lukas Bergstrom

What can’t you do in Turkey!?

There are a lot of reasons for visiting in Turkey; Turkey is a country located at a point where the 3 continents of the old world – Africa, Europe and Asia – are closest to each other.

Turkey is a vast and richly diverse country boasting incredible landscapes and natural wonders bordered by four different seas.

Well known as a great destination for relaxing beach holidays, it also offers many sporting activities, some of the world’s most important ancient monuments, welcoming Turkish hospitality and a delicious and varied national cuisine.

Above all else, Turkey is a country rich in history, heritage and cultural traditions.

Whether you are fond of history, archaeology or nature, you will, no doubt, find that exploring this fascinating country beyond satisfying.

Twenty beguiling civilizations render Turkey the benefactor of thousands of years of cultures and history.

These lands are still providing answers to ancient mysteries.Turkey can be proud that 10 properties are currently inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and 26 nominated properties are in the Tentative List.

Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on a variety of historical sites, and on seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts. In the recent years, Turkey has also become a popular destination for culture, spa, and health care tourism. In 2010, Turkey attracted more than 28.6 million foreign tourists.

Istanbul is Turkey’s former capital and is the country’s largest city, and is one of the country’s most important tourism spots. The city stretches along the two shores of the Bosphorus (Istanbul Strait) that links the Marmara Sea with the Black Sea.

The city is nothing less than enthralling. Historians believe the city was founded around 2,600 years ago and archaeologists believe that settlements can be traced as far back as 8,000 years. The city served as capital first to Byzantine, and then to the Ottoman Empire.

And yet, to this day, you can view the history of several 1000’s years at the Sultan’s Topkapi Palace, the old Turkish baths, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar.

Istanbul is also the capital for art and culture with a rich tradition in opera and ballet, theatres, concerts, art exhibitions and of course unique museums. Being an imperial capital for 1500 years, Istanbul has acquired a highly original personality. At every turn in the city, you are faced with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries, monuments, walls and ruins. Yet Istanbul is not a city living in the past. It is a vibrant, modern and future-oriented metropolis. Bazaars and ultra-modern shopping centres and department stores, street vendors and stockbrokers, old crumbling buildings and skyscrapers coexist and this amalgam gives the city a multi-faceted outlook and flavour.

Having been the capital of two major empires, Istanbul today has many architectural monuments across the city, which reflects the past splendour. The area between the Marmara Sea and the Golden Horn is sometimes referred to as the “Peninsula of History” because of its many Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman works.

Antalya is Turkey’s answer to the Riviera, and it is enticing with all its elements of a large city. Antalya’s broad palm-lined boulevards and interesting “Old Town” makes it a nice place to explore. The city is an exciting destination for those looking to experience a bit more Turkey and do not want a typical charter holiday. From the city of Antalya, you get a view of the ocean and mountains.

The port of Antalya

Antalya is the most stunning part of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. It is typical of Turkey, a thriving modern city, with an historic heart in the centre of Kaleiçi, within the old city walls.

Antalya has a backdrop of stunning mountain scenery, and the city is set high on cliffs, with many of its grandest hotels overlooking the sea on the outskirts of the town. Heading up into the mountains, you can make the most of the beautiful scenery by visiting the spectacular Düden or Kurşunlu waterfalls. At Saklıkent, just 50 km from the city centre, you can even ski, where they usually have snow on the slopes until early April.

Alanya is a beautiful holiday centre featuring clean, sandy beaches, as well as numerous fish restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars. There are three blue flag beaches and sights to see include Damlataş Cave, the Archaeology and Ethnography Museum, Dim Çayı Valley and three grottoes: Fosforlu Mağara, Kızlar Mağarası and Aşıklar Mağarası.

Since the dawn of time, Bodrum, known in antiquity as Halicarnassus, has amazed human beings, and carried the imprint of many cultures and civilizations, including the Carian, Leleges’, Persian, Dorian, Helen, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. A world-renowned holiday and entertainment peninsula, Bodrum is a paradise for its climate, sea, natural beauty, magnificent coves and history, as well as for its modern nightlife where the show goes on until sunrise. The seaside villages, bays and coves of Bodrum, Gümbet, Bitez, Ortakent, Bağla, Aspat, Karaincir, Akyarlar, Turgutreis, Gümüşlük, Yalıkavak, Gündoğan, Göltürkbükü, Torba, Güllük, are world-famous, and each has its own charm and peculiarities.

The region known as Cappadocia includes the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Avanos, Üçhisar, Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı and Ihlara. It is a beautiful area of otherworldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings, the scale of which is over-whelming. The area is also famous for its carpet weaving, wines and the distinctive red pottery of the Avanos area. Cappadocia was a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground. There are an estimated 3000 rock churches in this region, not all of which are open to the public.

The village of Göreme is the heart of the area’s tourist industry, and many of its villagers still live in cave dwellings, some of which have been converted into pensions. Surrounding the area are the amazing rock formations known evocatively as Peri Bacaları or ‘Fairy Chimneys’.

Didim is one of the most beautiful holiday resorts on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Located on a peninsula, where the Büyük Menderes River reaches the sea, the resort has secluded coves, sand beaches, natural harbours and nearby Lake Bafa. The important Ionian cities of Miletos and Didyma, home of the famous prophet in ancient times, are also near Didim. The Temple to Apollo at Didim was one of the most sacred places of antiquity. Though many times looted and burned, the sanctuary still possesses elegant beauty.

Fethiye is a traditional market town set around a beautiful natural harbour. It is a popular centre for scuba diving and boats leave from here for daily trips around the stunning coastline.

The Izmir clocktower
Photo credit: Slava

İzmir, the city known as “Beautiful İzmir” in Turkey, is located at the start of a long and narrow gulf, decorated with yachts, passenger ships and gulf steamers. It has a warm climate and the cooling sea breeze in the summer takes away the burning heat of the sun. İzmir, which enjoys a special cultural and historical identity, is the third largest city in Turkey.

The best time to visit Turkey is April through October when the weather is at its best. In the middle of May to the end of September it is high season and decidedly the best time to visit.

Turkish lifestyle is a vivid mosaic; juxtaposing the West and the East, the modern and the ancient

Life in Turkey is a rich variety of cultures and traditions, some dating back centuries and others or more recent heritage. Any visitor to Turkey will find a great deal that is exotic, and much that is reassuringly familiar. The intriguing blend of East and West makes up the Turkish lifestyle.

Visitors to the country are often pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the Turkish people, who will go out of their way to assist and happily spend time chatting. Hospitality is a cornerstone of Turkish culture, and Turks believe that visitors should be treated as “Guests sent by God”. Most Turks welcome the opportunity to meet foreign visitors, learn about different cultures and practice their language skills. It is usual for Turks – even the men – to greet each other by kissing on both cheeks.

Did you know …

Turkish Delights are candies that have been around since the 15 century. First made in Turkey, Turkish Delights were introduced to the Western world in the 19 century quickly becoming a British delicacy. The original Turkish Delights were simple treats made from water, flour, and honey called kum. Today’s Turkish Delights recipe was perfected by the Haci Bekir Company using sugar and starch in place of the traditional honey and flour. There are many different flavours of Turkish Delight available, the most common being rose, lemon, and mint.

Because of Turkish Delights short shelf life it is difficult to ensure the quality of the candy. One company solved this problem by coating the Turkish Delight in chocolate to prolong the overall shelf life of the candy.

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