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Holidays in Turkey
A magnificent land full of Turkish delights. Holidays to Turkey boast golden beaches, ancient history, and mouth-watering cuisine. Pick a modern beach resort brimming with top-class entertainment, or perhaps a tranquil bay. Alternatively take to the seas and see Turkey on a relaxing gulet cruise. Lying in both Asia and Europe, the country brings you the best of both continents, from Istanbul’s 21st-century nightlife and fashions, to the mystic Sufi culture in Konya.
The best time to visit is in May or September.
There are many international and domestic airports in Turkey.
Book a Thomas Cook holiday to Turkey for lagoons, sandy beaches, and cities where Ottoman history meets 21st-century nightlife.
Wherever you stay you will be tempted by sandy beaches, perhaps the most famous of which is Olu Deniz. The white sand beach and beautiful blue lagoon have been designated a national park. Turkey’s picturesque Turquoise Coast dotted with Roman remains is a huge draw; city resorts including Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris offer a mix of family fun, historic culture and funky nightlife. Further east on the Aegean coastline lies the ancient Greco-Roman town of Ephesus, one of the Roman Empire’s greatest cities and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Ancient sites of epic proportions await you on the Aegean Coast. Visit beautiful Pamukkale, a petrified limestone waterfall, or some of the world’s best-preserved ruins at Ephesus. From Side make the trip to the Temple of Apollo where you will be awe-struck by the sheer size of the still-upright columns, not to mention the ingenuity of the ancient civilisations. Enjoy some tranquillity at the famous moonscape-like landscape of Cappadocia, filled with stone chimney shaped rock formations – some of which have been carved into chapels with ornate frescoes. For some of Turkey’s most impressive architecture, visit mosaic-filled Ottoman mosques in Istanbul.
A sandy lagoon surrounded by pine forests, or a buzzing resort with wall-to-wall bars? Take your pick from beaches in Turkey, from Konyaalti Beach in Antalya, to tiny, tucked-away Kapitas surrounded by steep cliffs, and 18km of golden sands at family-friendly Patara beach, near Kalkan. In the Bodrum region you can recover from a night out on friendly Gumbet beach or scuba dive to see multi-coloured coral reefs. The coastal gem of Olu Deniz bay is one of Turkey’s most photogenic – head to the main beach lined with cafés and restaurants, or to the protected Blue Lagoon, a national park, where the kids will love swimming in its clear, shallow waters.
Stretching over both Europe and Asia, Turkey’s attractions tell the story of centuries of history, from ancient amphitheatres and Crusader castles to Byzantine churches. Istanbul is a cultural gem, home to the immense jewels of Topkapi Palace where the Ottoman sultans lived for 400 years with their many concubines. In the central region you’ll be dazzled by natural wonders such as the cascading limestone rocks of Pamukkale, and the ‘fairy-chimneys’ moonscape of Cappadocia. Roman remains dot the Mediterranean coast. Near Antalya, you can visit the well-preserved Roman amphitheatre in the ancient city of Aspendos, or explore the massive ancient site of Ephesus, near Selçuk.
Fresh local produce and a fusion of Arabic and Mediterranean cuisines mean that eating and drinking in Turkey is diverse and delicious. You’ll typically start a traditional meal sharing a tableful of mezze – perhaps smoky aubergine dip, garlicky spinach in yoghurt or hot cheese pastries. On the coast, make the most of freshly caught seafood, such as grilled sea bass, but throughout Turkey you’re likely to find char-grilled meats – lamb or chicken – on skewers. Look out for gözleme in seaside resorts – freshly made pancakes filled with potato or white cheese. Raki is the local aniseed liquor; powerful and pungent, it should only be tried with food.
Celebrity spotters: Party with the international jet set at the waterfront Halikarnas in Bodrum – it’s the world’s largest outdoor club.
History lovers: Step back to Roman times at the ruined city of Ephesus.
Adventure seekers: Take the ride of your life in a tandem paraglide at Olu Deniz, drifting slowly onto the lush lagoon.
Language: The language spoken in Turkey is Turkish.
Currency: The currency used in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TL).
Local time: Turkey is 2 hours ahead of GMT/UK time.
Fly to: There are many international and domestic airports in Turkey. Antalya International Airport is where you’ll fly if you are staying in Antalya or Belek. Further west, use Dalaman International Airport for Marmaris and Fethiye, and Milas-Bordum Airport for resorts around Bodrum. Istanbul has two airports.
Flight time from UK: 4-5 hours
Tourist Information: Further Turkey tourist information can be found at www.goturkey.com
Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turkey for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Turkey.
Temperatures: In the region of 30°C in July and August on the south coast.
Best time to visit Turkey: May or September when the days are pleasantly warm and the nights are balmy.
Weather in Turkey varies greatly – this is a vast country with seven different climactic regions. On the south coast between Bodrum and Antalya, expect a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Further north in the country, in Istanbul, summers are hot and humid but it can get surprisingly cold in winter – and can even snow in January. Central Anatolia, the centre of Turkey, is extreme, with blazing hot, dry summers reaching 40°C, and its snow-capped mountains in winter plummeting to -25°C.
By taxi: All resorts have metered taxis; there are also some fixed-route charges, for example to and from Dalaman airport.
By coach: Sleek, speedy coaches are the best way of getting around Turkey, with fast, frequent, services covering every town and city. There are many private operators, but buy your ticket in advance if you’re travelling in high season.
By minibus: For shorter journeys, and within towns and cities, minibuses (dolmuş) are a common way of getting around, operating on a fixed route and will let you on and off along the route wherever you wish.
Anzac Day Aussies and Kiwis gather for Anzac Day, marking the anniversary of the World War I Gallipoli landings (25 April).
For culture lovers The glorious Roman amphitheatre near Antalya is the venue of the prestigious Aspendos International Opera And Ballet Festival where world-famous music troupes dazzle music-loving audiences.
Turkish tradition It’s a very different form of entertainment in Selçuk where the camel wrestling festival sees these heavyweight beasts battle it out in this traditional sporting event.
For yachters Nautical culture is celebrated at autumn’s Marmaris International Race Week – you’ll see sleek yachts racing from the busy harbour.
Take to the skies See colourful parachutes and paragliders in daredevil flights from Babadağ mountain for October’s Ölüdeniz Air Games.
To find out more information about a specific region please use the links below.
To find out more information about a specific city please use the links below.