Over 20 years ago, many of my friends from the UK would holiday in Turkey. I never could understand that. My idea of Turkey was mostly from films like The Midnight Express. Needless to say, my impression of Turkey was wrong and it is a wonderful country to visit and vacation in.
A country spanning two continents, Turkey has been the center of many cultures and civilizations throughout history. This mostly mountainous country is washed by the waters of four seas, the Mediterranean in the south, Aegean and Marmara in the west and northwest, and the Black Sea in the north. Its long coastline and warm Mediterranean climate make Turkey an ideal summer holiday destination. Turkey has also a lot to offer in terms of cuisine and cultural heritage: those among you who are into culinary tourism will have a great variety of Turkish delicacies to choose from. When you get tired of enjoying the local culinary specialties, you can head to some of Turkey’s world-famous archeological sites and discover a fascinating tale from ages past, when the country was the home to mighty empires and wealthy cities.
Turkey offers something for everyone, so no matter what type of holiday you prefer, you won’t be disappointed.
Visit Fethiye Turkey’s Hidden Treasure
Fethiye is a small port city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, some 800 km (500 mi) south of Istanbul. The site of the modern city has been continuously inhabited since antiquity due to its advantageous location, protected by a deep natural harbor and its rugged hinterland. Known as Telmessos during antiquity, the city enjoyed a long era of prosperity evident in the number of well-preserved ancient monuments the most famous of which are Amynthas Rock Tombs. The tombs are located on the southern outskirts of the city and offer a fantastic view of the surrounding area. A testament to the skill of ancient engineers, the rock-cut tombs are one of those rare places where you can feel history come alive. In case you’re visiting during the summer months, we advise you to come early in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat and crowds.
An impressive list of Fethiye’s ancient sites doesn’t end with the rock tombs, the Ancient Theater, the Lycian Mezari, and the Fethiye Museum are all well worth a visit.
Fethiye is best-known for its proximity to one of the most scenic beaches in the entire Mediterranean: Oludeniz. If you get tired of walking in the footsteps of the ancients or exploring the city’s colorful alleys, a visit to this beautiful beach will be a perfect way to say farewell to this amazing part of the Turkish Riviera. Olu Deniz can be roughly translated as ‘Blue Lagoon’ a name that refers to the calm, pristine waters of the lagoon that borders the beach. The beauty of the whole area is guaranteed to leave you breathless. A small part of the beach is free to visit but much of it is located within a National Park which charges a small entrance fee.
Kemer: Turkey’s Elite Mediterranean Seaside Resort
Less than an hour’s drive from Antalya, backed by a chain of wooded mountains hugging the coastline is one of Turkey’s most luxurious resorts: Kemer. There are Greco-Roman ruins nearby but the city has only started to develop relatively recently as a high-end tourist destination. If you visited the Antalya region before, Kemer offers a chance to discover something new and if you’re visiting for the first time, it’s an excellent starting point for exploring this part of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. There’s no shortage of sights to see and activities to engage in even if you don’t want to leave the city. Kemer is famous for its pebble beaches and many luxury hotels. The local infrastructure is excellent so you won’t have difficulties in reaching the nearby beaches no matter where you’re staying.
No visit to Kemer is complete without getting to visit the nearby natural sights. The Olympus-Bay Mountain Shore National Park offers a wide range of opportunities for engaging in recreational activities. The more adventurous among you will want to climb Mount Tahtali, rising 7,700 ft. over Beydaglari Coastal National Park. The mountain was named after an ancient city of Olympos on the coast just to the south. Don’t miss taking the Olympos Cable Car, the view from the summit is simply unforgettable. The 3-hour tour from Kemer will take you directly to the top of the mountain from which you can witness the spectacular view of the pine-covered Taurus Mountains and the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Head to Egirdir to Enjoy the Beauty of Rugged Anatolian Hinterland
There’s much more to Turkey than beaches and seaside resorts. The vast Anatolian hinterland is still something of a mystery for the majority of tourists who visit Turkey. The interior of Anatolia consists of rugged mountains with spectacular snow-capped peaks, highlands, and fertile valleys. Leaving the coast will make for a welcome change of scenery and let you discover some of Turkey’s best-hidden secrets. One of them is the picturesque little town of Egirdir, located in Isparta Province, some 140 km (86 mi) north of Antalya. Egirdir lies on the southern shore of the eponymous lake and is largely untouched by mass tourism. It’s a perfect place for a peaceful getaway, far from the hubbub of major tourist hotspots. This lovely town offers you a perfect opportunity to explore the local culture and experience the Turkish way of life, far from the large urban centers. You’ll find many comfortable and cozy little hotels and apartments that are inexpensive and perfect for spending a relaxing weekend. Be sure to pay a visit to one of the two small islands connected to the shore by a narrow causeway. There’s not much to see besides a small church and a mosque, but the calm blue waters of the lake and the view of the surrounding mountains will be a sufficient reward for visiting this mysterious Turkish gem.
Discover Konya, The City of Whirling Dervishes
Even if you’re an experienced traveler, chances are you haven’t yet heard of Konya, a city in central Anatolia, 260 km (160 mi) south of Turkey’s capital, Ankara. Konya has a long history, dating back to ancient times. The city was an important point of the famous Silk Road, connecting China with Europe. During the Roman and Byzantine times, it was known as Iconium. After the Turkish conquest of central Anatolia, Konya became the capital of the first Turkish state, the Sultanate of Rum. Today, Konya is one of the most conservative cities in Turkey, famous for being a spiritual center. It is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for Sufis, members of the mystical school of Islam, who flock to Konya to visit the tomb of Jalaluddin Rumi, a Muslim poet and a mystic, one of the most revered figures in Islam.
Rumi’s tomb is located in the Mevlana Museum, which can be found in the very center of the city. It is a must-see when you’re visiting Konya, the architecture is outstanding and you can witness the Sufi worship ceremony known as the Mevleva sema. As a part of the ceremony, the dervishes whirl for a quarter of an hour, to honor Rumi and symbolize a mystical union with God.
We also recommend you visit the nearby archeological site of Catalhoyuk (Çatal Höyük) believed to be one of the oldest human settlements. It’s a fascinating place to visit and see the well-preserved remnants of a Neolithic city that served as one of the earliest centers of human civilization. There’s a lot you can learn about the way of life of people who lived some 9000 years ago and even set foot inside a Stone Age house.
Our Final Word
Turkey is filled with beach and ancient locales that will ignite your senses. It is both ancient and modern, both European and Asian. Turkey is an incredible destination for holiday and should be on everyone’s to-do list.
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