Beaches, bazaars, and Byzantine buildings
As far as beach breaks go, Turkey doesn’t do things by halves. As well as superleague sands, the coast harbours big-name ruins, and bazaars hawking all things Turkish – from rugs to sticky sweets.
First up is Izmir on the Aegean Coast. Kusadasi is the big-hitter here, with an impressive white-sand beach and a treasure-trove Turkish bazaar. It’s also got the ancient Roman city of Ephesus – home to the Temple of Artemis – on its doorstep.
Head south from Izmir and you’ll reach the Bodrum peninsula. There are dozens of beaches here, and lively resorts like Gumbet, Turgutreis and Bodrum.
Follow the curve of the coastline and you’ll discover Dalaman. Here, you can head for Olu Deniz’s famous Blue Lagoon, or party ‘til dawn in Marmaris’ clubs.
Finally, there’s Antalya, the gateway to the Turkish Riviera. This region has 400 miles’ worth of beach to its name, and is home to resorts like Side and Belek.
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If anywhere puts Turkey on the travel map, Dalaman does. This stretch, also known as the Turquoise Coast, is all serene coves, white sands, and blue-green waters – hence the nickname. Nudge your way inland, meanwhile, and you can’t move for sights including the Caunos tombs, Pamukkale and Turkey’s biggest crowd-puller – Ephesus.
With super-sized hotels popping up left, right and centre, Antalya has become a bit of a favourite among holidaymakers. It’s no wonder really. You can’t move here for golden beaches, dramatic waterfalls and age-old sights, not to mention a whopping 21 of the country’s total golf courses.
The Bodrum peninsula is where old meets new and the pair get along famously. On the one hand, this region – at the southern end of Turkey’s Aegean coast – is home to the battlegrounds, palaces and castles of past empires. On the other, it’s the stomping ground of Turkey’s fashionable set, who can’t get enough of its sleek marinas and boutiques.