A whole host of historic sites to explore
During its time Turkey has been the head of three Empires, which we think is a bit greedy, and hence it has more historic sites than you could shake a souvenir spear at. The country somewhat resembles an open-air museum, with ancient Greek cities sitting beside ruins of Roman temples, and Ottomon mosques next to medieval castles. Turkey's beautiful West coast boasts not one but two of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the Ancient World. The ancient city of Ephesus is better preserved than any Roman ruin in Italy, and comes without the crowds its Italian competitor attracts. Anatolia in the north west is home to the legendary city of Troy, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can spend the day pretending to be Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom in battle. However, if history is not your cup of Turkish tea, don't worry because there is a flavour for everyone.
Have fun haggling for a bargain at a bazaar, and take in the sights as you meander through the myriad market stalls selling everything from carpet to ceramics. Breathe in the scents of the spice stalls that merge with those of rich coffee beans and fresh leather and be sure to try some authentic Turkish Delight, which comes in a colourful variety of flavours.
If you prefer to feel the sand between your toes than shopping bags in your hands, there are over 350 Blue Flag beaches to choose from. The popular resorts of Oludeniz, Bodrum and Marmaris all reside along the south-westerly Turquoise Coast, which was is aptly named after the Aegean Sea's stunning shade of blue. Each of these postcard-perfect resorts has its own unique character and offers something completely different:
Adventure in Antalya
Located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, the city of Antalya is Turkey's busiest holiday destination. Fret not though as you'll never be short of a sun lounger or parasol on Lara Beach beach – not that you'll be spending much time working on your tan with so many things to do. The biggest holiday region on the coast, Antalya has it all, boasting opportunities for shopping, hiking, golf, diving and history all within a pebble's throw of your hotel. Adventurers can embark on an exotic jeep safari, explore the mountainous terrain on mountain bikes or pluck up the courage to do a bungee jump. Or you could cool down on a river rafting adventure, don your snorkel and explore hidden coves, or take a yacht to a distant secluded beach. Whatever floats your boat, so to speak.
After dark, Antalya comes alive with some of the best restaurants, bars and clubs the coast has to offer. Head into the old town for dinner, where restaurants set into the ancient Roman walls ooze with authentic charm. For the tastiest lamb shish kebabs, we'd suggest heading to Coco Bar, or if you just fancy sampling a range of Turkish delicacies Develi Restaurant serves up a treat. On an evening many hotels put on spectacular shows that showcase traditional Turkish culture. Eastern and Western influences ensure Turkish culture will provide you with a sensory feast of colour and sound. You'll fall into a trance watching the swirling colours of traditional costume, but will surely snap out of it pretty quick when you're asked to join in!
Party in Marmaris
If you like to party, Marmaris is the place to be. This bustling cosmopolitan tourist centre located in the south west of Turkey boasts almost one hundred bars and clubs all within staggering distance. Start off with a Tequila Sunrise or two on Long Beach, then as the night goes on make your way down to the ever-so-original-yet-oh-so-aptly named Bar Street where music can be heard booming out of various clubs until the early hours.
Dalaman resorts offer a wide range of water sports from parasailing to jet skiing. If you need to clear your head, we'd recommend taking a trip out on a banana boat – an unexpected plunge into the sea is sure to sort you out. Not just a place for parties, however, Marmaris has a long natural bay met by pine-covered hills. Its modern marinas make it a hub for diving, sailing and boating, particularly in winter. If you fancy pampering yourself, we'd recommend heading further inland to relax in the calcium-rich mineral springs of Pamukkale. Roughly translating to "cotton castle" due to its fluffy, white appearance, the hot springs have been a place of healing since the Roman times. As far as shopping goes, markets in Marmaris sell a range of quality fake goods from well-known brands such as "Dolce & Banana" and "Roy Ban". For some retail therapy, head to Carsi Market in the Ottoman Castle. With two hundred stalls open seven days a week, there is plenty of opportunity to haggle a bargain or two.
Romance in Bodrum
Despite its popularity with holidaymakers, Bodrum has managed to retain its traditional charm and character. A port city in the heart of the Turquoise Coast, the resort is built around two marinas. Ancient buildings and pretty painted villas adorn the hillside and it's worth climbing to the top and admiring the view down to the spectacular 15th century Castle of St Peter set out at sea. The castle houses the award-winning Museum of Underwater Archaeology which features the famous Uluburun Shipwreck, and is well worth a visit. There is nothing about Bodrum that isn't romantic, whether it's getting lost in the winding streets that lead down to the sea, or enjoying a gourmet Mediterranean meal at the Secret Garden. Even its nickname 'the land of eternal blue' sounds dreamy.
If you're not a fan of sunbathing on shingled beaches, why not take a trip out to sea? Small boats offer daily excursions to explore nearby coves, and there are plenty of water sports on offer. With so many historic attractions in the area, the best way to see everything is by car or bike. We wouldn't recommend trying to eat an ice cream whilst cycling though, trust us, it just doesn't work. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is a must see as is the largely-intact Bodrum Ampitheatre. It would be rude to visit Turkey without experiencing a Turkish bath or hamam, so treat yourself to the full experience – you know you're worth it.
There is much more of a variety when it comes to nightlife in Bodrum compared with other popular resorts. Rather than your typical western-style club, head to one of the meyhanes. These local night clubs are full of live music, belly dancing, eating and drinking, and give a real feel for the Turkish culture. If you are looking for a party, Halikarnas is one of the world's fanciest open-air clubs. Time it right, because the entrance charge changes in time with the volume of music inside. Alternatively, the catamaran party boat is novel, sailing off into the sunset and returning at dawn. Just don't fall overboard.
Shop in Izmir
Izmir, in the north, is lively and cosmopolitan. The city is thoroughly modern, having been largely rebuilt in the 20th century after a blaze swept through its historic buildings. There are plenty of opportunities to shop, with malls dotted all around the area. The city is very cultural, hosting the International Arts Festival each year between June and July, and the carnival-esque International Fare at the end of August. Kulturpark, site of the annual International Fair, is a great day out. It has an amusement park, zoo, restaurant and gardens. Other attractions include the Teleferik cable car, Kadifekale castle and the city's public elevator which links Mithatpasa Street with the Halil Rifat Pasa at the top of the hill. The best way to see Izmir is by horse and carriage, which, we'll admit, seems a bit out of place in such a modern city. Still there is plenty of room to put all of those shopping bags… Head to the popular resort of Kusadasi to experience the odd tradition of 'Camel Wrestling' or make a splash in the popular waterparks of Aquafantasy and Aquaresort.
Location of Turkey
Average monthly temperature (°C) for Turkey