Turkey has different sides to explore, reports Katie McGonagle

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Fancy snoozing the day away on a sun-scorched shore? Soaking up culture on a city tour? Or striking out across vast landscapes brimming with adventure?

Well, you’re in luck. Turkey might be best known for its beautiful beach resorts, but this destination is no one-trick pony. Tear yourself away from those sandy shores and there’s rich cultural heritage, action-packed inland regions and more besides.

So whether your clients are new to Turkey’s charms, or repeat visitors looking for a side they’ve never seen before, we round up some of the country’s best coastal, cultural and adventurous options, with tips on how to mix and match for customers who want it all.

FLY-AND-FLOP: BEACH BARGAINS


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ll be familiar with the success story of Turkey’s beach resorts. A perfect combination of captivating coastlines, activities aplenty and good value compared to other beach destinations in the eurozone mean we Brits just can’t get enough.

It’s become such a firm favourite that even though euro exchange rates have now stabilised, the UK is still the third largest market to Turkey, with nearly 2.5 million visitors from January to November last year.

Olympic has seen strong uptake for all-inclusive product and has added the five-star Majesty Club Tuana & Park in Fethiye (pictured below), Crystal Admiral Resort Suites & Spa in Side, four-star L’Ambiance Resort in Bodrum and three-star Majestic Hotel Oludeniz to its Summer Sun 2013 range.

These popular beach resorts show no signs of slowing down, but operators are starting to brochure smaller towns too.

Akin Koc, managing director of Anatolian Sky Holidays, says: “Thanks to Turkey’s long Mediterranean coastline, there are plenty of less developed small towns and fishing villages. We recommend Datça, a typical Turkish fishing village on the end of a peninsula with beautiful scenery – green pine trees, crystal-clear turquoise water – and it’s also a place to discover some of the region’s ancient history.”

The operator brochures family options such as boutique hotel Perili Kosk, based on the beach and offering a host of watersports and activities, and has added several of the area’s growing range of four and five-star properties this year.

Across the water lies Selimiye, a favourite for upmarket escapes; it’s popular with the yachting crowd so there are restaurants serving gourmet food and luxurious boat trips to surrounding bays and coves. Ilios Travel suggests teaming it with the small town of Yalikavak on the Bodrum peninsula, a perfect spot for exploring on foot.

A multi-centre itinerary combining a week’s self-catering at Villa Layla in Selimiye, three nights at Hotel Lavanta in Yalikavak plus four nights at Sirkeci Konak in Istanbul, both B&B, starts at £1,600, with flights and car hire.

You can also escape the busier resorts such as Fethiye and Oludeniz by heading for nearby Ovacik, which has beautiful mountain views. Thomson offers the rustic Ottoman-style Ocakkoy Cottages for £354 self-catering for a week with flights from Stansted in May.

Turkey

CULTURE: CITY AND SURROUNDS


Istanbul is a city break favourite for good reason, and pairs up well with the coast or Princes Islands for a fun-and-sun twin-centre. Cresta Holidays currently has free night offers at the three-star Celal Sultan and four-star Orka Royal, starting at £277 and £271 respectively for four nights with British Airways flights until the end of February, plus a free bus tour.

As enchanting as it is, Istanbul is not the only cultural hotspot. Anatolian Sky has seen strong interest in its seven-night Traditional Turkey tour, introduced last year, which sets off from Istanbul to a farming village, the Ottoman town of Safranbolu, and finishes in Ankara with Ataturk’s Mausoleum (from £999 self-drive or £1,499 with an English-speaking guide).

History buffs will get more than they bargained for with G Adventures’ new Turkish Treasures, part of a partnership with the Discovery Channel, which includes extra cultural and educational elements. The nine-day tour takes in Istanbul, Ankara, dinner with a local family in Cappadocia, visits to Ephesus and Troy plus other historical highlights.

Peter Sommer Travels has also divided its Alexander the Great tour into two 11-day itineraries, with part one – In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great – following the historic route from Istanbul to Bodrum, stopping at Troy, the burial ground of the Lydian kings, and Ephesus.

EXPLORE: GET ACTIVE


Turkey’s coastal resorts are a haven for action-packed holidays, but turn inland to regions such as Cappadocia or Lycia and you’ll find even more possibilities for adventure.

Jude Berry, product executive for Explore, says: “Cappadocia is best explored by bike; it’s a quick but enjoyable way to travel between rock-cut churches, sleepy villages and conical rock formations. It also allows you to get off the beaten track and see fascinating landscapes most people wouldn’t even know about.”

Explore’s eight-day Cappadocia Freewheel visits medieval fortresses, the Troglodyte village of Zelve and the sleepy town of Mustafapasa (from £949 including flights and B&B accommodation).

For a bit more variety, there’s also the Active Turkey tour through Lycia with travel by boat, canoe, mountain bike, sea kayak and on foot (from £731).

Walking tours are also a popular way to get a feel for the landscape. Inntravel clients can explore Cappadocia’s unique rock formations on its self-guided eight-day The Two Faces of Cappadocia itinerary (from £740 land-only with B&B accommodation, transfers and walking notes), or from the foot of Mount Olympus along the coast to the sunken city of Simena on The Lycian Way (from £990 for 10 nights’ half-board and transfers, excluding flights).

Peter Sommer Travels has also added a new week-long Walking and Cruising Western Lycia tour, its first walking trip in Turkey, from May.

If your clients want a mix of action and relaxation, why not add a mini-adventure into their beach break? Exclusive Escapes finds one to three-night tours on the Lycian coast popular as add-ons to a break, especially with friends or families who want different things from their holiday.

It offers extras such as trekking through the Taurus Mountains staying in local village houses (from £155 for three nights), sea kayaking over the sunken ruins of Kekova and camping (from £275), or a multi-activity break with adrenaline-pumping sports such as canyoning, rock climbing and scuba diving.

For a real off-the-beaten-track adventure, head as far from the Mediterranean coast as you can with Anatolian Sky’s North Eastern Anatolia small group tour. The trip takes in lesser-known sights such as Hosap Castle in Van, the ancient ruins of Ani, and the 14th-century Sumela Monastery as it travels through Van, Dogubeyazit, Kars, Rize and finishes in Trabzon.