- Istanbul & Marmara Region
- Cappadocia & Central Anatolia Region
- Izmir & Aegean Coast
- Antalya & Mediterranean Coast
- Fethiye & Bodrum & Marmaris
Istanbul is truly a world city, a city which everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It is an enchanting blend of Eastern and Western culture, a vibrant, modern city, with a unique identity. Its rich past coexists alongside its youthful exuberance. Although no longer the capital of Turkey, Istanbul still remains the country’s cultural and business centre.
It is a city of contrasts, bustling with the cacophony of 21st century life, and is yet achingly beautiful. It is set in a stunning location, surrounded by water, which is the narrow strait of the Bosphorus and the serene sea of Marmara separating Europe from Asia. İstanbul has a foot in each, celebrating the best of both heritages. As Byzantium, Constantinople and finally, İstanbul, it has been the capital of three Empires, each leaving their mark in the form of stunning palaces, castles, mosques, churches and monuments. The legacy of its chequered past can be seen on every turn of the modern city.
The layout of İstanbul can seem confusing at first. The Bosphorus divides the city into the European and Asian sides, linked by two magnificient bridges, spanning the continents, the first of which was opened in 1973 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Republic. Most visitors to the city, staying for a few days, will have little reason to visit the Asian side, except for as part of a Bosphorus tour, on a boat which zigzags from side to side, to take in the best of each.
The European side, however, is also divided in two by the Golden Horn or Haliç, which roughly divides the historic part of old İstanbul, encompassing the areas of, Sultanahmet and Laleli, from the modern city. It is crossed by a number of bridges, the most famous of which is the pontoon, the Galata Bridge. Most visitors on short city breaks stay in the old town as the vast majority of the sites which they will be visiting are in this area. İstanbul’s most famous sites – The Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmet Cami, Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia), Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) and the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) – are all within a 30 minute walk of each other. It is easy to get around on foot or by making use of the tram, which provides a regular service on the pedestrianised main street. In terms of accommodation, there are now a number of characterful boutique hotels in the area of Sultanahmet, many of which are restored Ottoman wooden mansions. These are ideal for those who really want to savour the authentic atmosphere of the Old Town. Those on a budget, may want to consider the more modern, and competitively priced hotels of the Laleli district, although this area is much busier.
Although it is convenient, the disadvantage of staying in the Old Town, is that, since it is not a residential area, you don’t really benefit from the ambience of the modern city of İstanbul, with its excellent restaurants, lively bars, and cosmopolitan feel. Some of İstanbul’s finest, most luxurious hotels are located on the Bosphorus with stunning views over the straits, or in the modern business districts. There are also some historic establishments in the area known as Pera, which blossomed at the turn of the last century. The heart of modern İstanbul, is Taksim Square and the streets around. The advantage of staying here is that in the evenings you have a wealth of restaurants and relaxed bars within an easy walk of your hotel.
Wherever you choose to stay, it doesn’t take much to make the most of the city, and even three days will give you the opportunity to see the highlights. It is such a large city, however, that even if you visit time and time again, you can still discover something new each time. It is easy to get around. There are a couple of handy trams – one in the old town, and the other in the main shopping street in Pera, İstiklal Caddesi. Taxis are plentiful and relatively cheap and there are also dolmush and bus services for those who really want to explore. Most tour operators can arrange tours to see the main sights.
Some of İstanbul’s finest vistas are to be seen from the Bosphorus. If you have time it is well worth spending at least half a day viewing the sights and savouring the atmosphere. You can take a guided tour on a small boat, or Turkish Maritime Lines (TDİ) runs a good value public ferry service which leaves two or three times a day and does the full round trip as far as Anadolu Kavağı, the nearest village to the Black Sea on the Asian side, and back to Eminönü. It is a charming place, known for its fish restaurants, and the walk up to the ruined fortress overlooking the village, is well worth it for the stunning views. As you leave from Eminönü you can benefit from some beautiful views back towards the old town with its evocative skyline of turreted roofs and minarets. As you head towards the Black Sea you will pass the Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and the 15th century fortresses built by Mehmet II, Rumeli Hisarı and Anadolu Hisarı. Also look out for the stunning wooden Ottoman mansions, many of which have been renovated and form some of the city’s most desirable residences. Even if you don’t have time for a Bosphorus trip just take one of the distinctive city ferries for a quick trip from Eminönü to the Asian shores and back to Üsküdar for example, just to admire the views of the old town.
The Princes Islands
Those who are staying for a little longer in İstanbul, should really set aside a day to visit these charming islands in the sea of Marmara, just off the coast of İstanbul. The picturesque scenery of wooded hills, charming beaches and authentic Ottoman mansions, combined with the tranquil atmosphere, make for a pleasant contrast to the city itself. Easily reached by ferry or hydrofoil, the ambience of the islands seems worlds away. Büyük Ada, or “Big Island” is the most popular with visitors. No cars are allowed but you can take a trip in a horse and carriage to visit the Monastery of St. George.
Cappadocia , ancient region of Asia Minor, watered by the Halys River (the modern Kizil Irmak), in present E central Turkey. The name was applied at different times to territories of varying size. At its greatest extent Cappadocia stretched from the Halys valley E to the Euphrates River, from the Black Sea S to the heights of the Taurus and Anti-Taurus ranges. Mostly a high plateau, it was famous for its mineral resources, particularly its copper and iron. Cappadocia maintained its local Asian traditions in contrast to the Mediterranean seacoast of Asia Minor, which was dominated by the Aegean culture.
Several thousand tablets, written in cuneiform by Assyrian colonists in Cappadocia, have been found at Kültepe (Kanesh); they show that a highly developed trade existed between Assyria and Asia Minor before 1800 BC At that time Cappadocia was the heart of an old Hittite state. Later the Persians controlled Cappadocia. It did not yield fully to the conquest of Alexander the Great, and during the 3d cent. BC it gradually developed as an independent kingdom. Pontusnow became completely separated from Cappadocia. The kings had their capital at Mazaca (later Caesarea Mazaca); the only other important cities were Tyana and Melitene, though Iconium was at times in Cappadocia.
In the 2d and 1st cent. BC the Cappadocian dynasty maintained itself largely by siding with Rome. Invaded in 104 BC by Mithradates VI and c.90 BC by his son-in-law, Tigranes of Armenia, Cappadocia was restored by Pompey. Antony replaced the king, who had been disloyal to Rome in the Parthian invasion at the time of Julius Caesar, and in AD 17 Rome annexed the region as a province and Cappadocia became prosperous. It was a refuge for persecuted Christians in 2d cent. AD, and several major saints came from there, including St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Kayseri.
Modern Cappadocia is famed for its unusual rock formations and caves. Deep valleys bordered by steep cliffs have formed out of rock and ash from prehistoric volcanic eruptions. Among the unusual formations are “fairy chimneys,” cones of volcanic tufa and ash that resemble hats perched on columns. Ancient peoples dug underground cities that date back to the 4th cent. BC or earlier, including Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu, S of Neyşehir, and a more recently discovered one at Neyşehir itself. Christian monks carved caves and churches out of the cliffs; notable examples are found at Göreme, in the center of the region 45 mi (72 km) W of Kayseri.
Izmir is the 3rd largest City in Turkey and the 2nd largest sea port.
Following the Turkish revolutionary war much of the city needed to be rebuilt; as a result the city today is an interesting mixture of modern High rise buildings with wide tree lined boulevards. There are still many traditional houses and chateaus hidden away to discover though.
Izmir enjoys a temperate climate with mild winters and warm summers, which is probably why the street life is so lively. A walk on the Kordon reveals an endless line of restaurants, Bistros, Bars, Coffee shops and Tea Houses all spilling onto the street. In many cases so close together it is often difficult to know exactly which place you are actually relaxing in.
A visit to Izmir can not be complete without spending a few hours wandering round the Market Area of Kemer Alti. This is a bustling Bazaar where literally anything can be purchased. It is a confusing warren of small allies, dead ends, connecting squares, shopping centers, offices, workshops, cinemas, Mosques and just about anything else you can think of, there is even a renovated Karavan Sarai hidden in there. You are pretty much guaranteed to lose your way, but don’t panic you will find your way out eventually.
The culture park in the Alsancak district hosts the annual Izmir International fair, held every year in September. The rest of the year many other fairs and expos take place also. In addition to serving the commercial needs of the city the Culture Park provides a relaxing green area in the middle of the city for the residents to lay back, drink tea play Backgammon and smoke a “hubbly bubbly pipe” (Nagile) or even exercise on the running track.
The city of Izmir itself does not possess any beaches however a short journey to the North, East or South of the city will take you to either hustling tourist resorts, or quiet secluded peaceful beaches the choice is yours.
The region has been inhabited since 3000 AD so the area is rich in historical sites, these can be found within the city (Kadifekale – Bayrakli) but also within a short drive you can find Efesus, Pregamum, Sardis, Teos and many more places to explore.
Night life in Izmir is lively and getting livelier all the time, should you feel the need to rock the night away, you can find many modern Disco’s and Night Clubs around all running into the early morning.
The westerly region of Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline is especially popular and sandy beaches around Antalya and the Konyaalti Bay are in abundance. With a particularly diverse landscape, it is actually quite feasible to enjoy a morning swim, and then head to the Taurus Mountains for a spot of skiing in the afternoon at the neighbouring resort of Davras.
Antalya’s historical Old Town area known as the Kaleici offers beautiful harbour views and is surrounded by medieval fortified walls, which date back before both the Roman and Byzantine periods and have been restored many times. Currently the fasted-growing city in Turkey, Antalya enjoys an idyllic climate for a good deal of the year and much tourism. In the city centre, Taksim Square leads to the elegant street of Cumhuriyet Caddesi, where the tourist information office is located, along with plenty of hotels and shops, while the Republic Squares gardens are close by.
ANTALYA TOURIST INFORMATION AND TOURISM: TOP SIGHTS
Old Town Antalya is where tourists will find many of the city’s oldest attractions, with numerous mosques adding much Turkish character. The city’s beaches offer something quite different and are always very busy during the summer, when holiday makers often choose to head to some of the nearby beaches just outside of the city’s environs. Antalya’s newly opened Beach Park offers fun for all the family, with its Aqualand featuring countless water slides, and the adjoining Dolphinland is home to a collection of dolphins, sea lions and white whales. For a little more history, be sure to check out the ancient cities of Phaselis and Perge (Perga). More information about Antalya Tourist Attractions.
During the Middle Ages, the city of Antalya was an important Byzantine stronghold and today, a number of its medieval landmarks remain in a good state of repair. Hadrian’s Gate is amongst the most famous and its three beautifully preserved arches once formed the main gateway through the ancient city walls, almost 1,900 years ago. Other important sights within Antalya include both its Fluted Minaret (Yivli Minare) and its Truncated Minaret (Kesik Minare). More information about Antalya Landmarks and Monuments.
Although it is true to say that Antalya is far from overflowing with museums, artefacts and historical information, there are a few such attractions worthy of a little time.
The Antalya Museum (Antalya Müzesi) really does stand out and offers an insight into the city’s Roman and Ottoman past. Another good bet is the Suna and Inan Kirac Kaleici Museum, while close by, further museums await in the neighbouring seaside resort city of Alanya. More information about Antalya Museums.
There is a truly extraordinary selection of tourist attractions situated on the outskirts of Antalya, including spectacular Roman remains, picturesque stretches of coastline and national parks. For the most impressive ruins, a day trip to either Patara or Termessos won’t disappoint. Antalya is also within reach of the port town of Bodrum, the Turkish capital of Ankara, and the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, as well as popular tourist destinations such as Aspendos,Izmir, Kemer, Olimpos (Olympos) and Demre – the home town of the world-famous Saint Nicholas of Myra, who to most is perhaps best known as simply Santa Claus. More information aboutAntalya Attractions Nearby.
Fethiye is a large region set on Turkey’s stunning Turquoise coast. The area has long lured property investors and holiday makers alike attracted by its diverse beauty, year-round facilities and relaxed lifestyle.With traditional villages and lively resorts nestled into rugged pine-clad mountains, a rolling patchwork of countryside or banking onto clear blue waters – there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget.Most famed as home to the wonderful Blue Lagoon of Oludeniz, Fethiye is perhaps the most popular area for coastal property in Turkey with established foreign communities, a wealth of holiday let properties which attract premium returns and numerous apartments and desirable villas for sale, ideal for a permanent residence or holiday home.Residential development in Oludeniz itself is prohibited therefore the nearby resorts of Hisaronu, Ovacik and Calis have become the favored areas for property investors.For those looking for something a little more traditional or rural, Fethiye Town, Tasyaka, Uzumlu and Kemer Village are also popular choices and are still within easy reach of all the amenities.Dalaman, offers the nearest airport, and provides year round flights to and from international destinations across Europe and daily domestic flights to Istanbul. Fethiye has an established bus station (otogar) which runs scheduled services to towns and cities across Turkey and local buses (dolmus) operate a frequent jump on/jump off service along most streets.
Fethiye fascinating history dating back to the 5th Century BC with archaeological remains in evidence from its Lycian, Carian, Roman, Greek and Ottoman occupations where it gained prestige as an important harbor town. Striking Lycian Rock tombs stand high above the town and much investment being put into renovating outstanding ruins of local historical significance, such as the Roman amphitheater in the town center.
Modern Fethiye was to the ancient world known as Telmessos and used to be the most important city of the ancient Lycian civilization.
Lycian legend explains the origin of the name Telmessos as, the god Apollo who fell in love with a beautiful girl by the name of Agenor, the youngest daughter of the king of the Phoenix. He transformed into a little dog and he made his way to a shy and timid Princess and eventually won her love. After which, Apollo transformed back and then his son Telmessos was born, whose name translates as “the land of lights”
Fethiye was the “Untouched Virgin of the Lands Lights” and today it is as if all the magnificence of the entire. Mediterranean was concentrated in the bay of Fethiye, Its islands, coves, long sandy beaches, and the entire riches of its history and natural beauty are before you to explore .With its excellent seas, highly developed facilities, and entertainment beyond belief Fethiye it is a paradise that caters to your possible requirement for remarkable holiday and lifestyle. The most impressive ancients’ ruins, the best sites for paragliding and water sports, most magnificent bays and beaches come together at Fethiye, along with mouthwatering gastronomy.
Central Fethiye boasts a long harbor front and newly extended promenade stretching from upmarket Karagozler to the east, with its deluxe private marina at Ece Saray and plethora of boutique hotels and pensions, to the popular shingle beach resort of Calis to the west.
With picture-postcard views to Sovalye Island, the largest of 12 islands circling the Fethiye gulf, the harbor is home to a bustling café and restaurant scene fed by regular sea-taxi services from Calis, ferry services to the Greek Island of Rhodes and gullet cruises popular with day trippers wanting to tour the striking turquoise coastline.
Fethiye town center itself offers a good high street with modern supermarkets, a cinema, fashion & furniture shops, banks, live music venues and Turkish and international restaurants and recognized food chains in good supply. Turn down a side street and you are drawn into a cool vine covered enclave of traditional bazaars in Paspatur, Fethiye’s ‘old town’. Housed in traditional shuttered Ottoman buildings, Paspatur has an eclectic collection of craft and carpet stores, jewellers, tea houses, cafes and spice and leather shops set around a warren of small squares cooled by overhead water sprays – an ideal escape in the height of Turkey’s summer heat.
As to be expected of a resort destination, bars and small clubs are in good supply and both Turkish and international tourists head to Fethiye each year to enjoy its nightlife and convenient access to the many beaches and private bays in and around Gocek, Calis and Oludeniz.
Ölüdeniz is the archetypal picture-postcard beach backed by dramatic pine-clad hills. Literally translated as ‘dead sea’, the stunning lagoon is a protected area, ensuring that its natural beauty is preserved. There is a small entrance charge to use the lagoon beach and only non-motorized watersports are allowed. The main resort beach is a long stretch of coarse sand and shingle beach known as Belceğiz. Most of the houses, built in the traditional local Muğla style, are set back from the beachfront. There is a strip alongside the seafront promenade with a number of relaxing bars and restaurants, serving local and international cuisine. Shops stay open well into the night. It is a perfect family resort, great for a laid-back beach holiday, with plenty of facilities but not too much development. Boats depart from the bay for trips around the surrounding coast. Paragliding is a big draw with the descent from the Babadağ mountains to land on Belceğiz beach, rating as one of the best in the world.
Fifteen years ago, there were only a few houses here but now it is a lively resort in its own right. Due to the planning restrictions and lack of space to expand in Ölüdeniz itself, many holidaymakers now stay in this lively village. It is in a stunning location, surrounded by stunning pine-clad mountains, and hotels are all built in the local style, low rise, mostly with rooms set in villa-style blocks and decorative wooden balconies. The beach of Ölüdeniz is just a short dolmush ride away (approx. 15 minutes), and the town of Fethiye is also very close, approximately the same distance away in the opposite direction. You can, however, easily spend your time in Hisarönü , lazing by the pool, and venturing out at the night to sample international or local fare in one of the many restaurants or visit its lively bars playing music well into the early hours. There are plenty of shops with a wider range on offer than in Ölüdeniz itself.
Ovacik is Hisaronu’s sleepy neighbour. Overlooked by the colossal Babadag Mountain, surrounded by lush pine forests and offering distant views across the Oludeniz bay in some places, it’s predominantly residential with many fabulous hotels, villa and apartment lets to be found at great prices. Ovacik is popular with those that choose to live in the area permanently as it is one of the closest areas to the famous lagoon where residential development is allowed. Recent years have seen Ovacik grow into a friendly and laid-back resort with a welcome mountain breeze suiting all those looking for some peace and quiet yet still wishing to be within easy reach of the lively nearby resorts.
For families and those in search of some peace and quiet, the budget conscious, or anyone wanting to stay self-catering then Ovacik is perfect. With excellent transport links to the busy resort of Hisaronu (5 minutes), Oludeniz beach (10 minutes) or Fethiye Town (15 minutes), it is an ideal and affordable base from where you can easily explore the region or simply lay back and enjoy the surroundings.
Set at the north-west end of the Gulf of Fethiye and blissfully unspoilt, the port town of Gocek is blessed with magnificent scenery and a lovely selection of high-end boutique shops and cafes. Backed by majestic mountains and substantial pine forests, it looks out over Fethiye’s twelve islands, which provide shelter for its almost circular bay making it an ideal, natural harbor.
Calis Beach is a delightful 4km stretch of shingle and sand, well known for its mesmerizing ruby sunsets and year round breeze. A minutes from Fethiye town centre, the area has seen much development in recent years with a good selection of high end villas and spacious apartments being built within five to 10 minutes’ stroll of the beachfront. A wide selection of hotels and restaurants serving international and local cuisine border its palm-lined promenade which is currently being extended to offer a direct route into Fethiye. Alongside frequent dolmus services, a scheduled river-taxi operates between Calis and Fethiye for those seeking a more scenic journey.
Uzumlu village takes its name from the abundance of grapevines (uzum) that grow in the area. Surrounded by rolling fields filled with grape, citrus and olive groves, babbling brooks and pine forests, the area is an ideal location for those desiring the quiet of country living within a short distance of the coast. Renowned for its local wine making, the village is just 15km from Fethiye and is growing in popularity with overseas investors who relish in its locally grown produce and outstanding country vistas. Uzumlu is at its prettiest in springtime when its fields burst into life with a beautiful array of poppies and wild flowers. Gourmets will delight in its annual Morel (Kuzu Gobegi) mushroom festival. The village has many old wood and stone houses and narrow lanes giving it a great character so far removed from the commercial holiday resorts. As Uzumlu sits further inland, buyers are often able to gain more property for their money compared to many estates in more prominent beachside locations.
One of the highlights of a stay in this area is a visit to the eerie ghost town of Kayaköy, literally ‘stone village’. Once the Greek town of Karmylassos, it was abandoned in the 1920’s. It has recently been the subject of renewed interest as it features as the setting for Louis de Bernières novel, ‘Birds without Wings’ which provides a fascinating insight into life here and the period of dramatic social change which took place in the time leading up to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. There are around 400 houses here together with churches and other public buildings. It can be visited by dolmush on foot from Hisarönü or even on horse-back.
Not to be confused with the purpose built resort of the same name in Antalya. Kemer Fethiye is the polar opposite. A small traditional rural Turkish working town dependent on farming, Kemer has a peaceful atmosphere. With a patchwork quilt of open fields, a river running through the town and the pine clad Taurus mountains behind, the views in the town are superb. With plenty of day to day shops, a few restaurants, lokantas, cafes and a weekly open market, Kemer has everything you need for everyday living. Fethiye is just a short drive of 20-25 minutes along a good road. Not as well-known as other local small villages and towns, Kemer does not have such a large foreign resident population. However, it offers as much if not more than most. If you want some ‘elbow room’ and the peace of the countryside while being within easy reach of the ‘bright lights’ of the resorts in the Fethiye area, then Kemer may well be for you. Patara beach is under 30 minutes away and the ski center at Seki is about one hour away. The town has a good bus service with Fethiye so getting out and about is simple. Nearby places of interest, include Saklikent gorge, the antique site of Tlos and the natural beauty of Yaka park.
Known in Turkish as the ‘hidden city’ Saklıkent is a stunning mountain gorge some 44 kms from Fethiye, a narrow opening stretching an incredible 18 kms into the rock face of Mount Akdağ. A wooden walkway has been constructed above the icy cold waters of the mountain springs of Gökçesu and Ulupınar. If you are feeling particularly brave you can take a dip here, but otherwise the waterside cafes provide a relaxing break and a chance to enjoy the spectacular setting