In a recent edition of the UK's Daily Telegraph Online, Sophie Butler chooses ten reasons to visit Turkey:
If you don’t count the food – Turkish cuisine is far more inventive, varied and appetising – there should not be much to choose between Turkey and Greece when it comes to a holiday. Assuming, that is, you are looking for sunshine, ancient culture or an activity break on land or water. True, Turkey doesn’t have the islands, which offer so much variety and character, but the mainland coast is just as spectacular in its own right.
However, Turkey does have one very significant advantage over its neighbour: it isn’t part of the eurozone. While Greece has struggled to adapt to a strong currency, Turkey has kept its prices generally much lower. Over the last two years the Euro has strengthened, while the lira has dropped about 20 per cent against the pound. Thus a three-bedroom villa with private pool will cost you about £1,350 for a week in August, while a similar property the other side of the watery divide will be about £2,000.
In short, for value and variety, Turkey is unbeatable for a summer holiday in 2011. Here are 10 more reasons to be tempted, followed by our comprehensive guide.
1. More escorted tours
Interest in Turkish culture and history is growing (Cox & Kings has seen bookings for its escorted tours double this year), and travellers are becoming more adventurous. As well as tours of classical highlights, there are itineraries on which you can venture farther into eastern Turkey and through Anatolia to the Black Sea coast.
2. More choice for families
Package-holiday operators are continuing to expand their family programmes in Turkey by including more mid-range hotels near the main airport hubs of Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman. Thomas Cook and First Choice have added additional hotels with pools and waterslides.
3. More activities
Turkey is becoming an increasingly popular place for active holidays, and tour operators are more options than ever this year. As well as walking and sailing itineraries, there are packages offering the chance to try kayaking, scuba diving, white-water rafting and mountain biking.
4. Varied sailing bases
The best locations for water-based holidays – whether you charter a yacht or join a flotilla – include the deep-water port of Antalya, scenic Göcek bay in the far north of the Gulf of Fethiye, the quiet towns of Cesme and Marmaris – a good starting point for the southern coast – or cosmopolitan Bodrum, with its excellent restaurants. Kusadasi’s marina is a good base for visiting Ephesus and Pamukkale.
5. Extraordinary landscapes
Most visitors are not tempted to leave the coast, but those who do discover some remarkable landscapes. The desert region of Cappadocia, with its striking “fairy chimneys” of eroded rock, is an amazing backdrop to a walking, riding or even ballooning holiday. Some operators have deals in some of the stylish cave hotels that have started to open up there.
6. Cheap touring
If you prefer to travel independently, you will find that public transport is exceptionally good value in Turkey, whether you travel by local dolmus (minibus) or long-distance coach. In fact, there is little point in hiring an expensive car, especially since roads can be hazardous. The recently launched Fez Bus (www.fezbus.co.uk) offers a 14-day “Shoestring Turkey” tour, taking in classical sights, priced from £449 with accommodation.
7. New beach-club holidays
Watersports specialists continue to add to their club bases. Neilson (www.neilson.co.uk) now has a Beachplus club – its fourth – at Adakoy, on an island in Marmaris Bay, where a week’s stay costs from £339.
8. Scenic walking
Although there are far fewer walking holidays than in France, Italy or Spain, most walking specialists feature the Lycian Way, which passes through some of the country’s best coastal scenery and archaeological sites, with short transfers to good hotels en route.
9. Wonderful wildlife
For rich bird life, head to the southern Taurus Mountains, or to Istanbul in autumn, when spectacular numbers of birds, including white storks and raptors, fly across the Bosphorus.
10. Beachside cool
SunSplash Festival Antalya (www.sunsplash-antalya.com), in the last week of May, is now considered one of Turkey’s top annual music events. Festival packages are offered by Journey Anatolia and Original Travel.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"
Lao-tzy, Chinese Philosopher (604 - 531 BC)