Still debating where to spend the summer? We think these 11 reasons might just convince you Turkey is the world’s leading summer destination.
1. Beaches, glorious beaches
The long sandy Patara with its striking ruins; beautiful Oludeniz; Fethiye’s hidden coves or sunny Side’s gentle shores: Turkey’s southern coast is full of incredible beaches, with calm blue waters and soft sand just waiting for castle-building toddlers.
Most well-attended beaches have great facilities - as well as paragliding, parasailing and jet-skiing on offer, so whether you’re sporty or just up for relaxation there’s something for everyone.
2. Exploring underwater treasures
Lovers of undersea exploration and adventure will find plenty to keep them occupied in Turkey. The best diving is to be found by Kas, where beginners can explore the shallow sea around Snake or Heybeli Islands and view the rock pinnacles at Frank Wall; while more seasoned divers can swim amongst the barracuda and grouper at Snake Island’s southern tip. You can also explore sandy-bottomed caves, coral reefs and the unforgettable Sakarya Reef, where the Duchess of York sank 90 years ago and is now very popular with divers.
3. Cool off in waterparks
It gets hot on the Turkish Mediterranean. Luckily, there are a number of fabulous waterparks where the kids can run around and you can ensure some quality relaxation time - or join in yourself, of course. Head to Atlantis Waterpark in Marmaris, Water World Aqua Park in Fethiye or Antalya’s Aquapark, on Konyaalti Beach.
4. Experience culture at an ancient theatre
Take in a show like none other at the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival. The incredible 2000-year-old theatre is thought to be the best preserved ancient amphitheatre on the planet, which makes it the ideal location for watching atmospheric performances during the summer months. Between early June and the end of September culture vultures head to the 20,000-capacity theatre for unforgettable outdoor performances of ballet and opera.
5. Go on a jeep safari
Enjoy a day out exploring the Taurus Mountains by open-top jeep, in Antalya. These day trips are a great way to see something of authentic Turkish life as you’ll visit quaint Turkish villages and stop for lunch to enjoy some great local food. The Taurus Mountains are almost 4000 metres high - which means you’ll experience the welcome cool breezes found high above sea level.
6. The sand sculptures
The Antalya Sand Festival is in its tenth year, and takes place in Lara Beach Park, Antalya, between June and November. The festival features large sand sculptures, each fitting in with the year’s theme. Hundreds of sculptors from around the world head to the Mediterranean city to create works of art using thousands of tonnes of sand from Lara Beach.
7. Turtle spotting
Each summer, thousands of endangered caretta-caretta turtles haul themselves across the moonlit sand to lay their eggs. Only around one in a thousand hatchlings survive infancy, which is why it’s imperative these beautiful creatures are protected. Visit a turtle breeding ground in Dalyan or Patara - but be warned, you might not get as up close and personal as you’d like.
8. Soak in thermal springs at Pamukkale
Turkey’s home to some 1500 thermal springs, the best known of which is Pamukkale, where natural pools in the cliff face are fed by thermal springs. The UNESCO site has been used for thousands of years and was Turkey’s original tourist destination. What better way to soak away a day’s aches and pains from sightseeing?
9. The food
Turkey’s food is glorious in its diversity, bursting with flavour and colour and well, just superb. Immerse yourself in a world of kofte, menemen, lahmacun, manti, dolma, lokum - and many other dishes that might sound strange but will be rolling off the tongue - and down into your belly - by the end of your stay.
10. Explore Ephesus
The enormous archaeological site of Ephesus is one of the most significant ancient sites in the world, and its Temple of Artemis= is one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The site, which predates Christ, was in 133BC the second most important Roman city after Rome. Today, you can wander through streets, take in the famous Temple of Artemis, look at the Basilica of St John, where St John the apostle is said to be buried and soak up the atmosphere.
11. Join the jetset Bodrum crew
The peninsula that juts into the Aegean Sea has always been beloved of tourists. But Bodrum is bigger and better than ever, with new developments - like Yalikavak’s luxury marina - have attracted a new, sophisticated crowd and the peninsula is attracting an upmarket crowd who stroll along the promenades, eat in the (increasingly fine) restaurants and charter yachts to explore the Aegean islands and hidden coves.
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