If your impression of Turkey runs no further than the country’s magnificent beaches then it may be time to reassess that opinion. The sun-drenched stretches of sand are just one of many major attractions in this extremely popular vacation destination.
Over 35 million people take flights to Turkey every year to explore the many national parks, historic ruins and the natural beauty this country has to offer – so we’ve put together some of the reasons why you should book a trip in 2015.
Step back in time
Whichever region of Turkey you choose to visit you’re bound to come across amazing historical landmarks, ancient ruins and towering monuments. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Hagia Sophia—a 6th century church turned museum, and the iconic image of Istanbul. The majestic Basilica Cistern, or sunken palace – also in Istanbul – is set deep underground; legend has it that it took 7,000 slaves to construct this incredible cistern. If you head to central Anatolia, you can explore another underground wonder in the form of the 36 cities of Cappadocia, which are troglodyte cave cities. Some of the caves are located 85m below the surface!
The national parks
Turkey is home to 33 national parks including the popular Honaz Mountain Park, which can be reached via the Afyon-Izmir highway. This park is where you’ll find the highest peak in the Aegean region (2528m), a great stop for some skiing during the winter months. Meanwhile, the Dilek Peninsula National Park is a true slice of paradise featuring idyllic bays and beaches as well as many mountain trails for trekking and biking. If you’re looking to mix a little culture with an outdoor adventure then head to the Nemrut Mountain Park to view the immense ‘gods on the mountain’ sculptures that are said to date back to the 1st century BC.
Lycian coast attractions
Dalaman offers a number of ‘off the beaten track’ experiences including the famous sulphur-rich mud baths and the chance to trek the otherworldly 17-mile Saklikent Gorge. The beaches in this area are largely non-commercial; check out Patara Beach, which features nine miles of golden sands, shallow waters and Roman ruins. The 311 mile Lycian Way is regarded as one of the world’s best walking routes, but if that sounds too overwhelming then head instead to Marmaris and take a hydrofoil to Rhodes for the day. If you’re visiting this area towards the end of June in 2015, don’t miss the three-day international Kas Lycian Festival featuring plenty of drinking, dancing and local food.
One of the most popular resorts
Bodrum, a resort on Turkey’s south-west coast, does seem to have it all; fashionable beaches, upmarket restaurants and excellent nightlife options. Often described as Turkey’s answer to Marbella, this is the place to hire a yacht, sail the coast and stop off to dine on the freshest seafood at the chic waterfront restaurants. There are a number of ancient sightseeing attractions here including the Temple of Artemis and the world-famous Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. For those seeking some action, kite-surfing, scuba-diving and jet-skiing are popular day-time activities on the coastline, but don’t forget to stop and take the time to watch those spectacular Bodrum sunsets.
Turkey is such a diverse country, that you may find yourself extending your holiday in order to enjoy everything it has to offer. Why not explore it in 2015?