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    Discover Turkey, the bridge between Europe and Asia

    By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile
    Turkey is one of the leading tourism destinations in the world, combining stunning scenery with a rich historic legacy. Surrounded by the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, it is home to numerous coves, creeks and beaches. Explore Turkey's most popular holiday destinations, fascinating events and cultural festivals.

    Travel guide

    Geography

    Turkey is situated in the middle of the border between Europe and Asia. However, nearly 97% of the country is located in Asia, while only 3% resides in the West. The European part of the country is called Thrace, while the Asian part is known as Anatolia (or Asia Minor). It is bordered to the northwest by Greece and Bulgaria, to the east by Iran and the former USSR (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaican Republics), and to the south by Iraq and Syria.

    The Turkish peninsula is surrounded by four seas: the Mediterranean to the south, the Aegean to the west, the Sea of Marmara between the European and Asian land masses, and the Black Sea to the north. The entire coastline spans approximately 5,000 miles in length.

    Resorts

    Travelers looking for a relaxing beach vacation should consider resorts on the Turkish Riviera, such as Antalya, Kemer and Side. Guests are surrounded by luxury, not to mention water activities, spa treatments and traditional Turkish baths which are all widely available. In addition, these resorts offer many international cuisines along with fitness centres. Most of the best beach resorts in Turkey can be found between Antalya and Alanya, with a few near Oludeniz and Bodrum.

    Bodrum is a beautiful setting, and an amazing nightlife which gives other European summer spots a run for their money! Kusadasi is a resort town on Turkey's Aegean coast which offers a wide range of accommodation, excellent entertainment and special access to some of the greatest ancient sites in Turkey - Ephesus, Pamukkale, Aphrodisias and Pergamum.

    Sports and activities

    Although soccer is the most popular sport in Turkey, basketball, volleyball, handball, track-and-field and wrestling (which is considered as the ancestral sport) are also popular. Sailing, boat trips, gullet cruising, scuba diving, rafting, canoeing, windsurding, kiteboarding, fishing, flying, ballooning, caving, hunting, football, golf, skiing, mountaineering, trekking, backpacking, horseback riding, bird-watching and wrestling are also available.

    Transport

    Transportation available in Turkey includes taxis, metros, buses, trains, trams, midibuses and local dolmus (minibuses). Thousands of modern, luxurious buses roar between Turkish cities and towns daily and are probably the most convenient mode of transport. If you are confident in driving in a foreign country, why not rent a car?

    History awaits you

    Turkey combines beautiful nature with fascinating history. The country is brimming with as many mosques as it is churches, all with fascinating stories to tell. The mainland of Anatolia is the birthplace of many great civilizations.

    Visit the Aspendos theatre - a preserved ancient threatre built in 155 AD during the rule of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Bodrum Castle was built by the Crusaders in the 15th century as the Castle of St. Peter. It is one of the world's best preserved monuments dating back to medieval times. The castle now operates as a museum.

    The ruins of Ephesus are also a popular tourist attraction on the west coast. The city of Ephesus was once famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which was destroyed by a mob led by the archbishop of Constantinople in 401 AD.

    Beautiful weather

    It is impossible to give a general overall climate of Turkey due to its geographical conditions. The climate is moderate in Istanbul and around the Sea of Marmara - usually around 4°C in winter and 27°C in summer. In Western Turkey and the southern coast it is slightly warmer with an average temperature of 9° in winter and 29°C in summer.

    In the Anatolian peninsula, rainfall is low but snow can fall. The average temperature is 23° in summer and -2°C in winter. In the Black sea region, it is very wet and humid with temperatures around 23°C in summer and 7°C in winter. In Eastern and South-Eastern Anatolia the winters are long and hard, with snow falling from November until the end of April. The average temperature is 17°C in summer and -13°C in winter.

    Turkey is a year-round destination, but spring and autumn are the best seasons to travel. The sun is warm and the sky is clear - absolutely beautiful!

    Our Editorial team's advice

    Turkey cannot be entirely discovered in just one trip. If you can only spare a weekend, head straight for Istanbul. Several different types of visits can be made within a week - you could visit the many tourist attractions in Istanbul, opt for a seaside holiday, or go on a hiking excursion in Cappadocia. If you have a few weeks to spare, tour the major historical sites of the country or enjoy a relaxing cruise along the Mediterranean coast in one of the typical wooden yachts.

    Don't confine yourself to tourist sites - you'll be surprised at the hidden treasures to be found off the beaten path! For visiting religious sites women should wear a long sleeved tops, long skirt or pants and cover their heads with a scarf or hat. This type of respect for the religion and culture in Turkey is always greatly appreciated. The best experiences you have in Turkey may come from just walking around the various districts and taking the time to talk to people. Perhaps learn a few basic phrases to open yourself to the friendliness and culture of Turkey. The local people will probably love the opportunity to improve their English too!

    Over 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year and most visits are trouble-free. However, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 10 km of the border with Syria due to high a high threat of terrorism. They also advise against all but essential travel to the remaining areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay provinces and the Siirt, Tunceli and Hakkari provinces. If you're visiting Turkey as a tourist or on business, you'll need to get an e-Visa online before you travel.

    pros

    • +This completely exotic destination is only four hours from London and yet easy on the purse-strings.
    • +A broad array of holiday choices: weekends, seaside stays, archeological discoveries, excursions, caïque cruises (traditional wooden hull boat) and even skiing in winter!

    cons

    • -The language barrier in places outside of the tourist zones
    • -Some seaside resorts, such as Antalya or Izmir, have sometimes suffered due to hotel expansion and overdevelopment. The coast has lost its originality (which is not so much the case with Bodrum).
    • -The string of earthquakes have left their mark.
    • -The Kurdish issue.

    Traditions

    Turkish is the official language spoken by 90% of the 71.1m population. Other languages include Kurdish (spoken by 6% of the population), Arabic (spoken by 1.2%). Minority languages include Circassian, (spoken by about 0.09%), Greek, Armenian and Judezmo, (a Romance language spoken by Jews). English is taught as a third language in most schools, so local people should be able to help you get by if you don't understand Turkish.

    A feature that symbolizes the Turkish way of life is the Turkish baths, known as 'Hamam'. They are a result of the emphasis placed upon cleanliness by Islam. The hamam has been an institution in Turkey since medieval times, and its social character is capable of shedding light on many aspects of Turkish life. Bathing in a hamam is very healthy and refreshing, so don't forget to pay one a visit!

    Even the smallest village will have an authentic coffee-house, known as 'kahve' in Turkey. A typical souvenir for sale in shops is the blue glass 'Boncuk'. It is known as the small magic stone that protects people from the 'evil eye' (a Turkish superstition).

    Food

    You can find a great variety of mouth watering dishes in Turkish cuisine. 'Mezze' is a selection of appetizers served hot or cold. It usually consists of cucumber yoghurt, pickled mackerel, stuffed eggplant, berek (puff pastry stuffed with cheese or meat) and baklava (sweet pastries). White beans with rice is the national dish of the country.

    Other main courses include popular meat dishes such as kebabs, Manti, Lahmacun, and Karniyarik. Delicious fish dishes and traditional salads are also served. Turks have a large variety of vegetables and this reflects on the dishes. Dishes cooked without any kind of meat are called 'zeytinyagli' - meaning cooked with olive oil. These kind of vegetable dishes are mostly served cold. Examples include Yaprak Sarma, Dolma, and Taze Fasulye.

    The countless sweets and pastries are excellent. Try traditional deserts such as baklava (made with honey and pistachios), rose jam, and of course Turkish delights! The Turkish national drink is Raki, an aniseed-flavored grape brandy), and coffee and tea grown from the country's northern Black Sea coastline are also extremely popular.

    Ideal Weather Search

    Find weekly weather forecasts for Turkey . Different criteria make it possible to predict with precision the best time of year to go to Turkey . A comprehensive weather score, made up of temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds, will allow you to choose the activities best suited to the weather conditions and therefore make the most of your holiday in Turkey .

    Souvenirs

    Turkish handicraft is rich and varied, and you don't have to go far to find it. Almost every way you turn, you will find the famous kilims, or turkish carpets. The quality of these rugs is extremely high and they are cheaper by far than elsewhere. The price depends on the complexity of the design as well as the material used (silk, rayon or cotton). Semi-precious stones are offered at very attractive prices, as well as hides and leather (caution would be advised here as some are of a slightly dubious quality).

    Those looking for a truly Turkish shopping experience should try the Grand Bazar in Istanbul, where stall owners compete raucously for attention to their wares, which range from fez hats to intricate mosaic pottery and delicate jewellery, to name just a few.

    What to see

    Cappadocia , Just look at that view! , Turkey
    Cappadocia
    The desert lands of the East , Desert lands: the middle of nowhere , Turkey
    The desert lands of the East
    The Black Sea Coast , Between land and sea , Turkey
    The Black Sea Coast
    Sea of Marmara , Turkey
    The Marmara Sea
    Wildlife , The brown bear , Turkey
    Wildlife
    Plantlife , Turkish dates , Turkey
    Plantlife
    The museums of Ankara , The Museum of Anatolian Civilisations , Turkey
    The museums of Ankara
    The Istanbul Archeological Museum , Istanbul Archaeology Museums , Turkey
    The Istanbul Archeological Museum
    Istanbul Museum of Modern Art , Turkey
    Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
    Les derviches tourneurs , Turkey
    The Whirling Dervishes
    Nemrut Dagi , Mount Nemrut , Turkey
    Nemrut Dagi
    St. Sophia Museum , St Sophia Museum , Turkey
    St. Sophia Museum
    La vallée de Göreme , Turkey
    The Göreme Valley
    La Mosquée Bleue , Turkey
    The Blue Mosque
    The Süleymaniye Mosque , The most imposing Ottoman monument , Turkey
    The Süleymaniye Mosque

    Package holidays in Turkey

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