Turkey has always been that East-meets-West sort of place. Throughout its history, Turkey’s position between Europe and Asia has formed its identity with a fascinating blend of cultures that is its own unique not-quite European, not quite Middle Eastern. For this reason, it’s a popular destination for foreign travelers around the world.
Turkey hasn’t always been Turkey. Before the Turks it was the Ottomans who ruled Anatolia, and a much larger territory beyond that. Today’s traveler can find a tremendous amount of history here, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the Byzantines to the Ottomans. Here are a few suggestions for your next Turkey holiday ideas.
If you want to combine history, a quaint city, and a nice beach, then Bodrum is a great idea. There are numerous flights to Bodrum from northern Europe, especially charter flights from Britain. Look for good deals in the summer and shoulder seasons of spring and fall. Bodrum city is divided into two main parts: one with the maria and yachts and one with the beach and beach bars and restaurants. Be sure to explore both and visit the nearby ruins. Bodrum is an ancient city, as the location of the famous Mausoleum of Halikarnassus
It probably goes without mentioning that Istanbul should be included on your Turkey itinerary. This compelling city straddles the border of Europe and Aisa and offers its visitors some gratifying views of history. After you make you way through the Grand Bazaar dodging shady carpet salesmen, visit the Blue Mosque, an extraordinary place of Islamic worship. Soak in the atmosphere of the old streets before taking in Haga Sofia, a stupendous achievement in world architecture. This mosque was once a Byzantine cathedral, and its enormous dome was a model for centuries afterwards. The inside is filled with exquisite mosaics.
Side is another popular resort town. Here the resort is practically built upon the ancient ruins. Cafes, trinket shops, guesthouses, restaurants, and bars are all packed into the center. Two nice beaches extend in each direction. Side is lovely, but can be crammed with Europeans in the summer.
To visit outstanding Greek ruins, it is often advised to go outside of modern Greece. Perhaps the most extraordinary Greek ruins in Turkey are at Ephesus. They are remarkably well preserved, especially the famous library of Celsus. If you’re interested in religious history, including that of the Virgin Mary, check out the nearby Marian shrine where Jesus’s mother lived out her remaining days on earth.
If the backpacker scene is more your style, head to Olympos. Here, a string of backpacker chalets and treehouses leads up to a long, sandy beach. There’s another beach with nicer accommodation accesable only by foot. Olympos is a good place to break and get away from the hustle of Turkey. Enjoy the sand and of course the nearby ruins of Olympos!
Turkey is the go-to destination for many Europeans looking for sun, history, and culture. For those travelers in need of a little something off the beaten track, head to central or eastern Turkey and you will find what you’re looking for. Far Eastern Turkey is the gateway to Georgia and then Armenia or Azerbaijan.