Luxury Turkey Holidays
Turkey, Europe and Asia’s meeting point, has been a haven for travellers for thousands of years and has developed a rich and fascinating culture as a result. One of the world’s most cosmopolitan destinations, it also benefits from a variety of beautiful landscapes and sun-soaked, golden beaches. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy a luxury holiday.
When to visit
Turkey has a varied climate because of its huge land area and its coasts on two seas. The majority of holidaymakers prefer to visit between June and September when the climate is most pleasant. The Mediterranean resort areas are warm and dry at this time, whilst the Black Sea resort areas are hotter and more humid, with rain sometimes pleasant and welcome. The resorts along the coast of the inland Sea of Marmara are somewhere in between. Up on the Anatolian Plateau in the interior, the summers can be very hot, whereas winter sees ski resorts open as thick snow covers the hills and mountains.
To sum up
An intriguing country as rich in culture as in natural wonders, Turkey is a five-star holiday destination that everybody deserves to encounter at least once in a lifetime.
It is easy to hire a car in Turkey but many people find driving there stressful, as the traffic can be heavy and badly organised, especially in the cities. An alternative option is to take the buses, which are actually very good, with luxury buses available for intercity travel. There’s also a good train service, especially between Istanbul and Ankara. Some mountain areas are most easily accessed by light aircraft.
The most popular destinations for British and Western European visitors are on the Mediterranean/Aegean coast, where most people working in the tourist trade speak English. There are modern 5-star luxury hotels around the Mediterranean, but those who enjoy the idea of old-fashioned European travel will love some of the majestic old hotels around the Black Sea.
In a country with such an incredible history, there’s no shortage of exciting places to visit, but these are some of the most impressive:
• The Aya Sofiya - Istanbul’s most magnificent religious building, which has served as both a church and a mosque and is gorgeously decorated with mosaics, icons, and brilliant gold.
• Bodrum Castle - one of the best preserved medieval castles in the world, now a museum of underwater archaeology.
• Ephesus - one of the most impressive remnants of the ancient world, open for visitors to explore, with a great deal to discover.
• Cappadocia - a series of villages with houses, inns, and churches carved out of bizarre natural rock formations and surrounded by vineyards.
• Pamukkale - an interesting landscape of naturally terraced white rocks surrounded by hot springs with mineral-rich waters thought to have healing properties.
• The Chimaera of Mount Olympos - a cluster of flames that spring from the rock and can never be extinguished. They are best seen at night.
There has never been a city more dedicated to commerce than Istanbul, and today it’s still one of the best places in the world to buy jewellery, books, antiques, perfume, silk, carpets, and works of art beautifully carved from wood or alabaster. Vast bazaars and open-air marketplaces full of real treasures make shopping a thrilling experience, and places like this can also be found in many other Turkish towns.
Festivals and events
There are many different festivals held around Turkey, with the largest ones being in Istanbul and Izmir. The Izmir International Festival, in the first week of September, grew up as a trade festival but is now packed with musical and cultural events. Most major cities hold annual arts and culture festivals, whilst jazz and blues events are also common and showcase some fascinating blends of Western and Asian musical styles.
Turkey has a rich and diverse cuisine with many different specialist restaurants to try. Tummy upsets can be an issue for visitors lacking the immunities that locals have, so it’s best to stick to high-end or hotel restaurants or to patronise those with a reputation for high standards of hygiene. Although Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, traditional religious prohibitions are quite relaxed and alcohol is available in most of these restaurants.
Turkey Essential Facts
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