Situated between Europe and Asia, Turkey has a coastline blessed with fantastic beaches and a rich culture filled with an intricate heritage. Through the centuries it has been a popular tourist hot-spot, and in modern times, it continues to receive thousands of visitors – especially since Iştanbul was voted as Europe’s top cultural site in 2010.
Read on to discover the best beaches, where you should go to pamper yourself, and what other entertainments are on offer.
When packing for the beach, remember that very few Turkish beaches have lifeguards so ensure you’re a competent swimmer, and if you aren’t bring a friend who can assist you if you start sucking water / things go wrong.
- Patara, 75 kilometres south of the town of Fethiye, is one of Turkey’s finest beaches, though there is very little shade. It is 20km long and incredibly picturesque. There are several ruins you’ll pass on your way here, from a triple-arched triumphal gate to a necropolis, and there’s even a sand-covered theatre.
- Olympos, 79km from the city of Antayla, is a smaller and more intimate beach that is backed by a lush forest with Roman ruins scattered throughout.
- Iztuzu, 8km to the North of Dalaman airport, is a great beach with cliff tombs, a river running in close proximity and the ruins of Caunos are also an added bonus. Loggerhead turtles call this area home and return every year to lay eggs. Tourists are not allowed onto the beach between May – October from 20.00pm – 08:00am. The beach has a Special Environmental Protection Area status.
- Kizkalesi is one of the best kept secrets in Turkey and its translated name means “Maiden’s Castle,” due to the slightly romanticised Crusader castle that is on a small isle 150m off-shore. This makes for some great holiday photos. Between the Olympos valley and national park is a constantly burning flame which exists due to the methane gas produced in the area. This flame was used to guide sailors safely to shore.
A spa treat while you’re on holiday is never amiss, and the Kempinski Hotel in Barbaros Bay has an incredibly luxurious spa attached. For a full body pamper session, make sure that a hamam treatment is included in your massage of choice, like the signature ‘Sense of Serenity’ massage. Hamam is the name for a traditional Turkish bath and what it consists of is: a guest stripping down and sits in a sauna, then a steam room to start sweating, then getting rinsed off. This is followed by an indulgent scrub using a type of foam which is massaged into the skin and scours off dead skin cells, before being rinsed off. Finally, you’ll receive the actual massage treatment. The entire process is nothing short of heavenly!
Shopping at the markets should be the number one alternative entertainment on offer, due in part to the bazaar haggling which is expected from tourists, and also for the sheer number of items and shops that are crammed together. The Grand Bazaar in Iştanbul is highly recommended.
Ankara is the second capital city of Turkey, and has a number of entertainment spots. It is often not perceived as being as glamorous as other places which tout a variety of ruins, but it has two top class museums: the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations and the Ethnographic Museum.
Iştanbul is a veritable hub of activity with a large number of bars, clubs, inns, music venues and other entertainments. Notable mentions include the Q Jazz Club& Bar inside Les Ottomans, and the Belfast Pub, that plays soft Irish music and has plenty of Turkish patrons.
- The Ayasofya, also known as the Hagia Sophia / St Sophia, was built in 537 AD and used as a church for 916 years. It then was used as a mosque for 481 years, and finally turned into a museum in 1935. The frescos and carvings here are slightly damaged but still spectacular.
- The Hidiv Kasri has a unique main tower which rises high above the tree line. This gorgeous remnant from the Ottoman Empire is open to the public and has an on-site restaurant. The views from on-high are amazing.
- Iştanbul Modern, a contemporary art museum with works of local artists and private as well as public collections.
- Commonly referred to by foreigners as the “Blue Mosque”, the Sultanahmet Camii was completed in 1616. It has a stunning interior and decorated ceiling, and is the only mosque to have six minarets.
About the Author: Roseanna McBain is a happily married 25 year-old with a passion for travel, and adventure. She is a writer for TravelGround, and in her free time she reads up on other cultures, myths, religions, and histories.