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Europe and Asia meet in Istanbul, and throughout this vibrant city, you’ll find centuries-old mosques, churches and markets happily co-existing with modern restaurants, galleries and nightclubs. And plan on visiting a hamman (traditional Turkish bath)—for about $20 your skin will be scrubbed clean. And we mean scrubbed. Your wimpy loofah has nothing on this.
Antalya is the fastest-growing city in Turkey, and tourists from around the world are discovering its fabulous mix of great beaches and traditional Turkish culture. Kids will love the Beach Park, which features Aqua Land (a waterslide-fanatic's dream) and Dolphin Land (home to dolphins, sea lions and white whales). Make sure to explore the old town centre and to see Hadrian's Gate.
Approximately 40 miles southeast of Antalya, you will find the beautiful coastal resort of Kemer at the foot of the majestic Taurus Mountain. Enjoy a walk along the promenade and a visit a reconstructed tent city that reflects the life of the Turkish nomads. You can watch carpet weavers at work and sample Turkish specialties such as ayran (yogurt drink) and gözleme (pancakes). Close by is a cable car that lifts you right to the top of Tahtali Mountain (2,365 metres).
A town literally carved into the volcanic rock, Goreme is the gateway to the Goreme National Park, a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses spectacular 10th- and 11th-century cave churches. The park itself is known for its chimney rock formations and is very popular with backpackers. It’s also a great area to sample Turkish cuisine and wine.
Beaches cover both the east and west coast of Alanya. The harbour is lined with modern hotels, resorts, fresh seafood restaurants, bars and cafes. There are countless activities including water sports, boat tours, caves, historical sights, and even a large go-kart track. Some travellers’ favourites include parasailing, banana boating, and visiting the 13th century Alanya castle with amazing views of the entire coastline.
The waters surrounding the small village of Oludeniz are an achingly beautiful gradient of blue. Sapphire meets seafoam green at the shoreline, where stretches of white sand are dotted with leisurely sunbathers. The scenery is even more gorgeous from above—Oludeniz is renowned as one of the world’s top spots for paragliding.
The Cappadocia region's most upscale and contemporary tourist city, Urgup has a number of lovely hotels, many built in and around centuries-old cave dwellings. The city and its surrounding area are known for their mysterious fairy chimneys, early Christian rock churches and fine vineyards. A mix of ancient and modern, Urgup is a center for traditional handmade carpets, but also has a lively nightlife. Hot air ballooning is very popular, and a fantastic way to see the area's beauty from above.
Ancient ruins, mud baths and loggerhead sea turtle breeding grounds are just some of the magical features of Dalyan. Beach sports, bike rides and river tours will satisfy your inner adventurer. Don’t miss the ornate Lycian tombs, carved into the cliffs along the Dalyan Çayı River circa 400 B.C.
A gorgeous backdrop of pine-clad mountains looms behind the seaside resort of Marmaris in southwest Turkey. Popular as a cruise ship and yacht port and with the British budget holiday crowd, Marmaris offers an abundance of fast food restaurants, the restored castle of Suleyman the Magnificent and an appealing cobblestoned old quarter. Outside the busy town, coves and bays of the Datça Peninsula make lovely daytrip destinations for those travelling by boat.