10 Reasons Turkey Rocks – in Association with Cosmos

imgres-2On the boundary between Europe and Asia, on the cusp between the Middle East and the West, Turkey is a stellar place to spend a holiday – not least for the weather.

Here’s ten reasons, brought to you with the support of bargain holiday specialists Cosmos, why you should visit Turkey now.

Hot air balloons rise with the sun above the lunar landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey.

SUNRISE BALLOON RIDES

There are few things more magical than rising with the sun in a hot air balloon, the roar of a gas burner sending you skywards as the lunar landscape of Cappadocia appears below you. Simply stunning.

Deserted beach in Turkey by Alex Kulikov.

BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

Turkey’s Aegean coast, a blend of rugged, forested hills and stunning beaches looking out over the deep blue sea, is one of the best places in Europe to chill out with a good book. Or try watersports from sailing and windsurfing through to paragliding, waterskiing and more.

Turkish stuffed mussels.

AMAZING SEAFOOD

Even during the British winter, it’s possible to sit outside on Turkey’s Aegean Coast and feed your face with the bounty of the Mediterranean. Turkish stuffed mussels, fresh sea bass, snapper, mullet, octopus, shrimp – you name it, and it’s there, all cooked up in the style of one of the world’s great cuisines.

The remains of cave churches and cave monasteries in Cappadocia, Turkey.

UNDERGROUND CITIES

Turkey boasts a tonne of history, but the underground cities and cave churches of Cappadocia are seriously magical. Winding your way through the cramped, underground caves where entire communities lived and worked in hiding will bring out the Indiana Jones in anyone.

The remains of the library at Ephesus, Turkey.

STELLAR RUINS

When most of us think ruins, we think Greece or Italy. But both the Greeks and the Romans built and settled in Turkey (as did the Lycians, the Trojans and the Hittites), and the remains of Ephesus, the city to which Saint Paul addressed his letters to the Ephesians, simply wow.

The travertine hot springs at Pamukkale, Turkey, glisten in the sun.

DAZZLING HOT SPRINGS

For more than 2000 years, folk have flooded to Pamukkale to bathe in the warm waters that trickle down through a succession of white, travertine pools, in a landscape so pristine that even in midsummer it makes you think of snow.

Working magic tricks with dondurma, Turkey's stretchy ice cream.

STRETCHY ICE CREAM

With or without kids, dondurma, Turkey’s stretchy ice cream, is a magical experience. It tastes like ice cream, comes in flavours from blackcurrant through to chocolate, but stretches almost as much as chewing gum. And many street vendors do magic with it, too.

Teas on sale at the spice bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey.

INCREDIBLE MARKETS

Love markets? Then Turkey is for you. From the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, with its welter of carpets, antiques and souvenirs, through the luscious confines of the Spice Bazaar, to the quirky chaos of the Animal and Flower Market, Turkey is haggling heaven.

The dome of the Aya Sofya, Istanbul, Turkey.

MOSQUES AND PALACES

During the Ottoman period, Turkey was one of the greatest empires in the world. And this heritage remains in the form of the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofya, and the grandiose splendour of Topkapı Palace, where the sultan’s harem spent their days and nights in luxury.

Adaland Aquapark by Adrian Libotean.

WONDERFUL WATERPARKS

We’re absolute suckers for a good waterpark, and Turkey’s Aegean Coast has waterparks aplenty. We love Adaland and Aqua Fantasy, for their long slides, their boomerangs, their lazy rivers and the welter of fun, but all along the coast it’s hard to go wrong.


Image credits: Beach at Belek, Antalya, Turkey by Alex Kulikov; Adaland Aquapark by Adrian Libotean.

16 Responses

  1. Nice. I just did a hot air balloon ride in Barcelona and it was awesome! I’ve seen pics in Cappadocia as well and would love to try next time!

    If you wanna see how it is in Barcelona, here’s my post:

    http://www.dreameurotrip.com/hot-air-balloon-ride-barcelona/

    • Theodora says:

      One of my all-time favourite pics of Barcelona had a balloon ride in it, DJ. I can thoroughly recommend the Cappadocia experience…

  2. I’m sold! Seriously. Everything you mentioned, I’m interested in. Well, perhaps not so much the stretchy ice cream! But I’d love to go the the thermal springs, just wrote about a thermal spa in Italy I visited.
    And I’d love the architecture, markets, all of it1 Good photos too. Thanks!

  3. You had me at stellar ruins!

    • Theodora says:

      Ephesus is wonderful. Particularly if you go when the cruise boats aren’t going. We also liked Troy, which has an enormous fake wooden horse, though that’s a minority taste…. Zac was too ruined out to check the Hittite and Lycian sites, but there’s an amazing amount of stuff there if you want it…

  4. Shelley says:

    I visited Turkey for only one day as part of a cruise and would love to return! I blogged about our port day – we had an amazing time. It was actually nothing like I expected, although I wasn’t really sure what to expect at all! Your post definitely highlights what I enjoyed and also what I’d love to return for. Great post!

    Shelley

    • Theodora says:

      It’s incredibly diverse, Turkey, which is I think why people have a problem getting a handle on it — it’s an enormous country, and in some places it feels very European, in others quite Middle Eastern, in others again South-West Asian. But it’s utterly unique and with phenomenal heritage — I do thoroughly recommend it…

  5. i’ve wanted to go to turkey for a very long time (and not just bc of that awesome stretchy ice cream) – thanks for the inspiration!

    • Theodora says:

      You will LOVE, Jessie. And, unlike so many of the other places that I write about, I think it’s doable with a disability. Maybe not the cave churches and the underground cities, but certainly Istanbul and some of the coast… Get cracking!

  6. Larissa says:

    I’ve only visited Istanbul for a few days, but it was enough to put Turkey on my list as the number 1 place for a return visit!

    • Theodora says:

      It’s splendid — and almost impossible to get bored of. I wanted to get all the way out east to Trabzon and so forth, but we didn’t make it that far. Another time, I hope….

  7. Julie K. says:

    If I should only judge by Istanbul Turkey is SO worth a trip! The basilica cistern was definitely my favorite part, I was surprised to like it even more than Hagia Sofia itself. Felt so good to be down there in the summer heat:) I would love to see Pamukale next! They look like a perfect fantasy or sci-fi movie setting.

    • Theodora says:

      Istanbul’s wonderful — and Pamukkale is incredible. To get the most of it, though, I’d visit outside the high season so you can really enjoy both the pools and the Roman ruins at the top…

  8. eyeandpen says:

    Stretchy icecream sounds interesting! I would like to try it!