Remind yourself of Turkey’s top beauty spots with Katie McGonagle’s guide.
Beaches tend to steal the limelight any time clients are seeking inspiration for their next holiday, and understandably so. Given the current restrictions on our day-to-day lives, who wouldn’t dream about lying back on a sun-kissed beach, cocktail in one hand and trashy novel in the other, as waves lap at their feet?
Turkey is no exception, with some stunning beaches along its Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines. Yet those aren’t the only beauty spots you’ll find in this vast country, where everything from steep-sided canyons to lunar-like landscapes – many of them reachable from popular tourist resorts – can enrich your client’s beach break no end.
This region in central Anatolia is famed for its fairy chimneys and cave dwellings, though these days, it might be better known for the myriad hot air balloons that take tourists to the skies at sunrise each day to see the remarkable landscape from above. Kuoni product and purchasing manager Angelo D’Avino says: “Cappadocia was formed 60 million years ago by erosion of soft layers of lava and ash from the volcanic mountain range surrounding the region. Nowadays, it has great importance in terms of tourism, particularly the traditional Cappadocian houses and dovecotes carved into caves, reflecting the uniqueness of this area of Turkey.”
“Cappadocia was formed 60 million years ago by erosion of soft layers of lava and ash from the volcanic mountain range surrounding the region.”
Book it: Kuoni offers five nights’ B&B in a Stone Room at Argos, BA
flights from Heathrow and transfers, from £1,149 for travel in June 2021.
2. Koprulu Canyon
This national park offers not only dramatic scenery, its steep-sided rockfaces towering 400m above the turquoise waters of the Kopru River, but it’s also a prime spot for white water rafters to brave the rushing currents in one of the best watersports spots in the country. The canyon stretches nine miles, but the national park, set an hour inland from Belek, covers an area of nearly 150 square miles. Expect scenic hiking routes through pine and cypress forests, look out for two Roman bridges so well-engineered they are still in use today, or head to mountain town Selge for more ancient ruins including a well-preserved Roman theatre.
“The canyon stretches nine miles, but the national park, set an hour inland from Belek, covers an area of nearly 150 square miles.”
Book it: Tui offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 5T-rated Tui Magic Life Masmavi, an hour from Koprulu Canyon National Park, from £763 including flights from Gatwick departing April 20, 2021, and transfers.
3. Lycian Way
It would take a month to walk the full 335-mile Lycian Way, which links ancient Roman roads and old donkey tracks, quiet mountain villages and sweeping coastal scenery, on a route stretching from Fethiye to Antalya. Most walkers tackle day-long sections with transport in between, as on solo specialist Friendship Travel’s new Lycian Way walking holiday, which has its first departure in autumn. Company founder Colum McLornan says: “Olu Deniz is an ideal base because the official start of the Lycian Way is close by. The busy beach and Blue Lagoon are only 15 minutes’ dolmus ride down the hill, but up on the hillside, when you’re following the ancient mule tracks that make up most of the route, you could be in another world.”
“Most walkers tackle day-long sections with transport in between, as on solo specialist Friendship Travel’s new Lycian Way walking holiday.”
Book it: Friendship Travel offers a seven-night holiday with three guided day walks, flights from Gatwick, transfers and accommodation with breakfast and four dinners, from £635.
The Bosphorus strait is the dividing line between two continents, splitting Istanbul into its historical and commercial centre on the European side, and residential suburbs on the Asian side. This mighty waterway is the main the reason this city, once known as Constantinople, was at the very centre of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, and while it’s now frequented by tourist boats and cruise ships, sailing its wide expanse still feels like retracing the steps of long-forgotten conquerors.
“This mighty waterway is the main the reason this city, once known as Constantinople, was at the very centre of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.”
Book it: Do Something Different offers an Istanbul Full Day Bosphorus and Asia Side – Private Tour with Lunch, starting from £78 and including a cruise along the Bosphorus, visits to the Spice Market and Beylerbeyi Palace, and a photo stop to see the Bosphorus from above at Camlica Hill.
The brilliant-white travertine terraces of Pamukkale feel like something from a film set on an alien planet, such is their feeling of otherworldliness. With a name that translates as ‘cotton castle’, the Unesco-listed landmark was formed from the chalky deposits of calcium bicarbonate left behind over millions of years by the nearby hot springs, and covered with a cascade of mineral-rich waters. It was a centre of healing for the area’s oldest settlers too, with the ancient Greek spa town of Hierapolis – of which well-preserved ruins of its streets, temple, bath house and theatre remain, along with a much-underrated museum – just next door.
“With a name that translates as ‘cotton castle’, the Unesco-listed landmark was formed from the chalky deposits of calcium bicarbonate left behind over millions of years.”
Book it: Attraction World offers a day trip to Pamukkale from Marmaris, from £60 per adult and £55 per child, including hotel pick up, breakfast and lunch.
6. Olu Deniz
Turkey has more than its fair share of stunning coastline, but chief among its coastal beauty spots is the Blue Lagoon at Olu Deniz, where the water seems to positively glow in varying shades of electric blue. Craig Davidson from Jet2holidays says: “This Unesco World Heritage Site is surrounded by emerald forests and ribbons of soft white sand, making it pure paradise. Accessible from the ever-popular resorts of Dalaman and Izmir, visitors can enjoy a dip at this incredible scenic spot, taking advantage of the therapeutic waters, as well as a stroll around the picturesque village at the foot of the mountain.”
“Accessible from the ever-popular resorts of Dalaman and Izmir, visitors can enjoy a dip at this incredible scenic spot, taking advantage of the therapeutic waters.”
Book it: Jet2holidays offers a week B&B at the three-star ATA Lagoon in Olu Deniz from £439 including flights from Stansted departing October 20, 22kg baggage allowance and transfers.