Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities. Located either side of the Bosphorus Strait on the Europe/Asia border, it’s a fascinating mix of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influences. Wander the narrow cobbled streets to stumble across the minaret-studded Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and its magnificent mosaics, the sixth-century Basilica Cistern and Topkapi Palace’s warren of elaborately tiled rooms arranged around a beautiful Turkish bath. Ottoman bathhouses and excellent museums sit alongside the city’s kahvehans (coffeehouses), meyhanes (Turkish taverns), hip rooftop bars and swish seafood restaurants. Istanbul can be more than a city break. Turkish Airlines can whisk you across the centre of Turkey to the extraordinary landscape of Cappadocia, or down to Bodrum for a city and beach multi-centre. Istanbul is also a popular stopover on a cruise or en route to the Far East.
Cappadocia is surreal. This lunar-like pocket of central Turkey is contoured into an otherworldly terrain of stark Anatolian plains and soaring boulders. It feels more like the moon than Europe. Sunrise and sunset here is spectacular, and at dawn the sky is dotted with hot-air balloons, filled with guests eagerly taking in the views of the deep canyons, valleys and fairy chimneys from above. Visit the rock-cut churches at the Göreme Open-Air Museum, discover underground tunnels and see old cave dwellings – some of which have been transformed into boutique hotels, like the argos in Cappadocia.
Labelled the ‘Land of the Eternal Blue’ by Homer, Bodrum has had famous fans since the days of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. Warm turquoise waters are a heavenly swimming arena, with a seabed brimming with marine life and shipwrecks. Snooze on Blue Flag beaches, windsurf, sail, canoe and travel inland amongst bougainvillea to see the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Head to cobbled paths of Bodrum Marina to experience the resort’s ancient history, where you will find the Castle of the Knights of St. John, sip on a strong cup of Turkish coffee in one of many waterfront cafés or practice your bartering skills in a variety of small shops, selling leather goods, silver and clothing.Tourism plays a large part in Bodrum’s economy, so there is always something available to keep you entertained in this vibrant resort. Turgutreis is one of Turkey’s last remaining unspoilt resorts, situated on the Bodrum peninsula. Picturesque and natural, the old village is a popular spot with bars, cafés and a string of shops.
For a true beach escape, the creamy sands of Sarigerme lie close enough to explore Dalyan, home to 4x4 safaris, paragliding and sea kayaking. Indulge in mud baths and the healing powers of the Sulaniye Thermal Waters. The modern resort of Fethiye is famous for its Lycian rock-face tombs, Roman amphitheatre and ruined mountain fort. Visit the cobbled old town and gaze into the sea at the harbourfront as you savour some of the region’s finest seafood. Olu Deniz’ sublime bay is home to exquisite and secluded Butterfly beach, only accessible by boat, and in Belek, surrender to Pamukkale’s thermal baths, finding respite under the refreshing Manavgat waterfalls
GMT + 2 hours
4-4½ hours depending on destination.
Please note, from 10 Apr 2014 a sticker/stamp visa will be no longer be available upon arrival into Turkey. All visas must be obtained at www.evisa.gov.tr before travelling. Please call or speak to a Personal Travel Expert for details.