Turkey holidays go heavy on the sandy stuff, with a sprinkling of spice markets, temples and age-old cities thrown in for good measure.
When it comes to holiday destinations, Turkey’s got the wow-factor in more ways than one. Straddling Asia and Europe, this place is packed to the rafters with poster child beaches, adrenaline-pumping attractions and left-behind landmarks.
Blue Flag beaches
You can’t really make a wrong turn along Turkey’s coastline – that’s how many A-star beaches there are. For starters, you’ve got the Aegean Coast, AKA the west coast, which takes in Bodrum, Izmir and Kusadasi. This curls around to the stunning Turkish Riviera – a chunk of shoreline sandwiched between Antalya and Fethiye. All the beaches here are Mediterranean Coast beauties. Look at Lara Beach, for example – with its long golden sands and glitzy hotels for top-notch package holidays.
Beaches aside, Turkey’s got lots of tourist-pleasing tricks up its sleeve. In Dalaman, Olu Deniz is home to one of those rare finds that actually lives up to the tourist board hype – the Blue Lagoon. And there are plenty more natural assets to track down – after all, this massive country has its fair share of mountains and diving hotspots, too. Meanwhile, Belek provides the golf courses and Bodrum sorts the raucous nightlife.
You can spice up your beach holidays with city breaks in Turkey. This place is a history buff, with tonnes of ancient cities on its books. Antalya is an old-new hybrid, with souvenir-stacked bazaars, museums and a swanky marina. Side turns it up a notch with an amphitheatre, Roman baths and a Greek temple. Or you can really wind the clock back at the classical City of Ephesus.
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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With the Taurus Mountains for a backdrop and the Mediterranean Sea front and centre, the Antalya area’s lucked out in the scenery stakes. The Karain Cave – once believed to be home to Neanderthal dwellers – dates back up to 200,000 years. Capping it all off is the Manavgat Waterfall – this natural wonder’s such a crowd-pleaser that it was once pictured on Turkish banknotes.
Bodrum splits its attention between age-old sites and modern additions. At one end of the scale, there’s the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Castle of St Peter, and an immaculately kept Roman open-air theatre. Ships, sea life and sunken artefacts are on display at the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The party-seeking crowd, meanwhile, have lively nightlife to look forward to. They can add a floating beach club, steamy mud baths and the famous Bar Street to their to-do list.
The Dalaman Area sits in a crescent-shaped scoop of Turkey’s south-west coast. Thanks to its bright blue waters and heart-eyes-emoji-worthy beaches, it’s known as the Turquoise Coast. Icmeler and Sarigerme put their sand-smothered swathes in the spotlight. The beach at Icmeler’s a sweep of golden sand, kitted out for watersports and sunbathing alike. Sarigerme, meanwhile, is on the site of an ancient city, Pilsilis. These days, though, it’s got its own national-park-protected ribbon of sand.
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