Turkey holds a unique place at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. You can find influences of all three continents in different parts of the country, making it the perfect destination to get you back in the travel mood. Here’s our pick of top places to visit, paired with superb handpicked hotels.
There’s an exoticism to Turkey that often masks the fact that it’s within easy reach of many European cities. When you look around Istanbul, the biggest city in the country and the economic hub where East meets West, you’re steeped in history at every turn. It’s the first destination many travellers head to, and certainly one we highly recommend, but why not take the opportunity to see other parts of Turkey this year?
There are outstanding hotels to suit every taste throughout the country, and experiences to thrill every traveller. Here are some places beyond Istanbul that we hope will entice you back to Turkey.
Travel across Turkey has become an increasingly pleasurable affair. There are a number of buses that connect major cities, running regular services, and the road network is improving with every passing year. Another option is travel by sea, which requires a little planning but opens up the country as a gateway to further destinations. In the south, you can explore the rest of the Mediterranean, while up north you’ll find the Balkan nations on the Black Sea.
There are regional airports that are well-serviced to, and from, various locations, but one additional tip is rail travel. The romanticised Orient Express might be a thing of the past, but there has been huge investment in domestic train routes in recent years, giving you a budget way to get around in comfort. Overnight journeys on sleeper carriages are something we’re particularly keen to experience this year, especially if it leads us to these great places.
This port city is only a short ferry ride – just under an hour – from the Greek island of Kos. Modern Bodrum sits on the ruins of an ancient city that had previously fallen under both Persian and Greek rule, and visitors today can see a number of relics from the past. Bodrum Castle is one of the main attractions, highlighting the additional rule under Knights Hospitaller in the 15th century. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was one of the original Seven Wonders of the World and stood in Bodrum until the 12th century. Ruins from the mausoleum are accessible, marking out the area as of particular interest to culture lovers.
Further east, but still in the same province as Bodrum, is the popular tourist destination of Fethiye. The city is one of the highlights of the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast. Every summer, thousands of tourists descend here when the weather is exceptional. Dalaman Airport connects the city to the rest of the world, and local minibuses known as dolmus help you get to some of the smaller villages dotted around Fethiye. We think this summer will not be as popular as previous years as the region recovers from coronavirus, and as such, there are some great bargains to be found.
We’ve focussed this guide to Turkey on the southern coast, and our final highlight is easily the most popular destination in the region. One of the most visited places in the world, Antalya has a vibrant local economy and growing population. There are historic monuments worth visiting, although many tourists are happy just to enjoy the resorts and beaches. For 2021 we think a trip to the Old Town is an essential part of any visit, offering a more cultural experience in Antalya.
Bodrum’s ancient history, coastal harbour and local markets draw visitors to this sunny destination in southwest Turkey every year. Duja Hotel Bodrum, a slice of heaven overlooking the Aegean Sea, won’t disappoint either. The resort’s numerous facilities – as well as a private beach – will keep guests of all ages occupied, with space to relax and soak up the peaceful holiday atmosphere.
Sertil Royal Forest, a new architectural addition to the area with stunning views over the countryside, welcomes guests in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere, away from the bustle of busy Fethiye. The location is ideal for savouring the landscape of Babadag mountain, the surrounding forests and the extraordinary blue lagoon that visitors to this part of the Turquoise Coast all come to experience.
If it’s peace and calm you’re after, Elegance East Hotel in Antalya, a popular resort town on the Turquoise Coast with just 25 rooms, is the place for you. Whether you’re visiting to relax poolside or delve deep into Turkish history, this stylish boutique hotel is perfectly located for exploring Antalya. This former Roman port also has plenty of stunning beaches if you fancy a dip in the Mediterranean.