The meeting place of civilisations and convergence of both Eastern and Western cultures, Turkey has a wealth of historical and cultural riches. But beyond its spectacular religious sites and ancient ruins, this fascinating country also offers scenic mountains, sunny coastlines, beautiful resorts and colourful bazaars for a rich and varied travel experience.
In Istanbul, see the minarets of the magnificent Blue Mosque, the red-domed glory of the Aya Sofia, and the treasures of Topkapi Palace. Visit the extravagant Dolmabahce Palace and the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered bazaar in the world. Ankara, the capital, offers Hittite ruins and the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. Experience the cave dwellings and underground cities of surreal Cappadocia, and the whirling dervishes of holy Konya.
Visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus, Pergamon and Troy. Relax at the resorts of Bodrum and Kusadasi, and at the terraced pools of Pamukkale. Explore fine beaches, yachting and classical ruins along the Mediterranean coastline, with its picturesque resorts at Oludeniz, Marmaris, Perge and Aspendos, the underwater ruins of Kekova, and the Antalya Archaeological Museum. See fine mosques in Edirne, Turkish baths in Bursa, and beautiful blue-green tiles in Iznik. For history buffs, visit the World War 1 battlefields of Gallipoli and its adjacent military museum.
Near the untouched beaches of the Black Coast lie the towering fortress of Sumela Monastery, the coastal city of Sinop, romantic Trabzon and mountainous Amasya. Marvel at the mysterious carved heads on the peak of Nemrut Dagi, sacred Mount Ararat where Noah's Ark supposedly landed, the vast Lake Van and its rock citadel, and the ghostly ruins of remote Ani.
An extensive domestic flight network links major cities, though many prefer the air-conditioned buses, which are comfortable and makes for a good ride. Book in advance, through a travel agent. Trains are modern and good for long-distance journeys, with popular multi-day rail journeys to the Black Sea. Again, please remember to book ahead to secure a spot.
Ferries ply the coastlines and shuttle between islands, with regular services during summer and less frequent ones in winter. With a well-maintained road system, driving offers unlimited freedom. However, accident rates are high, and car rentals and petrol can be expensive.
Taxis are affordable. Either get them to use the meter, or agree on a price first. Or try a dolmus (similar to a shared taxi). You can get on or off anywhere along the route, though you'll have to wait till it's full before departure.
Because it's illegal to do so, don't show disrespect for Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Don't insult the Turkish government, military, or flag.
For the quintessential Turkish experience, relax in a hamam, or Turkish bath. Spend an afternoon opening your pores in the steaming rooms, and enjoying the hot and cold water in the warming and cooling rooms. Get a traditional massage, and finish off with beer, tea, or even by taking a nice long nap!
Turkish coffee is not actually a type of coffee, but a method of preparation. Roasted coffee beans are finely ground and boiled in a brass pot called a cezve, then poured into a small cup where the grounds are allowed to settle. The resulting drink is thick, dark and intense. Try it with some sweet Turkish delight (lokum).
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