From the ‘Hamptons of Istanbul’ to a mind-blowing cliffside monastery and a time-capsule car-free island, 11 reasons why your next holiday should be to Turkey
- It’s a showstopper-only inventory of places guaranteed to fire up wanderlust
- The list also includes one-of-a-kind hotels and fascinating museums
- READ MORE: What picture-perfect holiday hotspots can REALLY be like
Turkey really does have it all – as we reveal here.
Want to feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet? Welcome to Cappadocia. Want to make your Instagram feed truly transfixing? Pose for a photo at the snow-white limestone terraces at Pamukkale. Want to experience the serenity of a car-free island? Head to beautiful Buyukada.
These are some of the showstoppers we’ve included in our list of eleven reasons for making Turkey your next holiday destination. It’s an inventory of places to visit guaranteed to fire up wanderlust in even the most jaded of travellers…
You are spoiled for choice for family friendly hotels
Turkey is famous for family-friendly hotels, but you won’t find one better than this. Built into the hillsides of a stunning natural cove near Fethiye, Hillside Beach Club feels like you’ve entered another world.
If you’re seeking a family-friendly hotel in Turkey, consider Hillside Beach Club (above) near Fethiye – it’s home to an award-winning kids club
Ideal for families, its award-winning kids club is one of the best in the world. Waterslides, shaded pools and creative activities for little ones and a basketball court, water polo, hot tub and Xbox for pre-teens.
Adults, meanwhile, will love the Balinese-inspired spa up in a treehouse, the beachside disco, and the two adult-only beaches. The night-time floating cinema on pontoons in the bay is a standout, as is the sunset cruise on a traditional Turkish yacht. All-inclusive, the cuisine is excellent, and there are private restaurants on offer, including adult-only options in ultra-romantic, waterside settings.
You can soak up incredible Bosphorus Strait views
Above is Istanbul’s Ciragan Palace Kempinski hotel, which has been converted from an Ottoman-era Sultan’s palace
The views along the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul are incredible, with the Ciragan Palace Kempinski offering a prime spot to soak it all in from.
The hotel, converted from an Ottoman-era Sultan’s palace built in 1840 and beloved by locals and celebrities alike, offers majestic views of not one, but two continents – Europe and Asia.
Guests are guaranteed to be transfixed, whether lolling in their luxury lairs, strolling on the manicured riverside gardens, splashing about in the outdoor infinity pool, or sipping a cocktail on the terrace.
You can travel back in time on the car-free island of Buyukada
Cars are banned on Buyukada (above) – travel is by horse-drawn carriage
A mere hour’s ferry journey away, the island of Buyukada is technically a far-flung district of Istanbul. But instead of urban roar, visitors here are met by the sound of seagulls, and the clip-clop of horses on cobblestones.
The island’s faded mansions, stone terraces and louvred shutters make you feel like you’ve gone back in time – cars are banned and travel is by horse-drawn carriage. Take a ride from the main square past the derelict mansion that belonged to Buyukada’s most famous resident, Leon Trotsky.
For information on how to reach the island, visit istanbultouristpass.com.
Feel like you’re on another planet in Cappadocia
Cappadocia lies on a plateau north of Turkey’s Taurus Mountains – but feels like another planet. Above is the ancient village of Uchisar in the region
Argos in Cappadocia (above) is crafted from the ruins of a 2,000-year-old monastery and has lovely views of hot air balloons drifting at sunrise
Cappadocia lies on a plateau north of Turkey’s Taurus Mountains – but feels like another planet.
The region’s landscape is festooned with bizarre towers and cones formed from soft volcanic rock and churches and dwellings carved into hillsides.
The topography is described by Lonely Planet as ‘fantastical’, with the guide noting that the ‘fresco-adorned rock-cut churches of Goreme Open-Air Museum and the subterranean refuges of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are the most famous sights’.
For lodging, Argos in Cappadocia is a memorable choice. A retreat by the ancient village of Uchisar, it’s crafted from the ruins of a 2,000-year-old monastery and has lovely views of hot air balloons drifting at sunrise.
You can feel like a jet-setter on Gocek
Gocek, once a stomping ground for Ottoman traders, now draws affluent Turks and jet-setters on superyachts each summer
Head to Q Lounge, a beachy-cool night spot in Gocek that offers panoramic island views, great cocktails and out-of-this-world sushi
Gocek peeks out behind a backdrop of forest-clad mountains, pretty islands, and market towns.
At one time overrun with pirates, Gocek later became a stomping ground for Ottoman traders. Now each summer, the bay draws affluent Turks and jet-setters on superyachts.
Dalaman Airport is just 20 minutes away but the village here is quiet – fishermen hauling a catch and the lazy clink of metal on mast is the soundtrack.
Try a group day trip on one of the boats lining the harbour (around £50 per person), and in the evening head to Q Lounge. On the top of a hill, the beachy-cool night spot has panoramic island views, great cocktails and out-of-this-world sushi.
You can learn about the founding of Turkey in eye-catching surroundings
Above is the Anitkabir museum in Ankara, which is the final resting place of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Everyone knows about Istanbul but fewer make their way to the country’s capital. If you get there check out the fascinating Anitkabir (‘memorial tomb’) museum, the final resting place of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Within the complex are ten rectangular towers built to symbolize the ideals behind his vision, all decorated with bronze arrowheads and beautiful frescos. Ataturk’s personal items and some of the gifts presented to him are also on display. Open seven days a week, admission is free.
You can make your Instagram feed truly transfixing with a visit to Cotton Castle
Pay a visit to Pamukkale, a town that’s blessed with natural thermal waters that flow down glistening limestone terraces
If you’re in the market for making your Instagram feed look truly unreal, then head to the small town of Pamukkale in south-west Turkey and pose for photographs at the breathtaking snow-white terraces there, collectively known as ‘Cotton Castle’.
These astonishing limestone basins, listed by Unesco, reach a height of 200m (656ft) and are filled with thermal pools of water.
Note – if you want to walk on the limestone, you must take footwear off first. It’s a bit of a hike – and it’s strictly bare feet. But it’s worth the effort, for there are few places on the planet as photogenic as this.
Experience heaven on earth courtesy of the Sumela Monastery
The Sumela Monastery has to be seen to be believed
This stunning 1,600-year-old ancient Greek Orthodox monastery in the Altindere Valley National Park in north-east Turkey has to be seen to be believed – for it clings to the side of a cliff at a giddy altitude of 1,200 metres (4,000ft).
There is a car park at an altitude of 950 metres – and from there it’s a one-kilometre hike to the entrance.
Experience fairways to heaven
Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa (above) is set on its own 27-hole award-winning golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo
Welcome to golfers’ paradise.
Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa in beachside Belek is set on its own 27-hole award-winning golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo.
Swimmers will love it, too – there are 12 outdoor pools. And tennis aficionados will also have a grand time, thanks to the 10 courts they can use.
What about foodies? They’re not left out, either – there are seven a la carte restaurants and 24-hour room service.
There are more lovely cafes than you can shake a coffee cup at. Not least in Antalya’s old town…
Boats have traded in this harbour in Antalya’s old town since the Romans conquered in 133 BC
Kaleici is the beautiful old quarter of Antalya city. It sits behind Hadrian’s Gate (named for the Roman Emperor) and slopes down a hill to a small harbour where boats have traded since the Romans conquered in 133 BC.
Start at the top by the large clock tower (called Saat-Kaleci) and work your way down the flagged and cobbled lanes. As you meander down you are met by inviting cafes and shops, with owners entreating you in as many languages as they can.
Dine on fresh fish at one of the restaurants at the bottom by the harbour and skip dessert. The vendors nearby selling homemade ice cream are far superior.
Experience the delight of Ayvalik – the ‘Hamptons of Istanbul’
Istanbulites keep colourful summer houses in the sleepy seaside town of Ayvalik (above)
Known by Turks as the ‘Hamptons of Istanbul’, Ayvalik is just being discovered by the outside world.
A sleepy seaside town, it’s unspoiled Turkey at its best.
Istanbulites keep colourful summer houses here that line the waterfront and are passed down from generation to generation.
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