Turkey’s coastline is washed by the waters of the Aegean, the Lycian and the Mediterranean seas. With popular resorts spanning all three regions, all of them share Turkey’s ancient history along with mouth-watering cuisine, and their own unique attractions too.
If you like a bit of everything going on while you’re away, head to Turkey. History buffs can lose themselves in centuries of castles and battle grounds.
Get-up-and-go types can sign up for golf, hiking and rafting. And those with every intention of doing very little can look forward to the show-stopping shoreline. And that’s before even mentioning the belly dancers, bazaars and whirling dervishes.
No wonder the country has been climbing the popularity polls just lately. And even though everyone seems to want in on Turkey at the moment, you can still get there without paying a heavy price. Reason being, it’s outside the euro-zone, so it’s hard to beat on the value front.
In terms of where to stay, the area around Bodrum is the one that’s big on nightlife. In nextdoor Izmir, there’s a similar mix of culture and cool. Nudge your way south and Dalaman is the address of Turkey’s most famous beach, Olu Deniz. Also spread along the Mediterranean is Antalya. Sheltered by the Taurus Mountains, it’s where temples and fortresses sit alongside lose-all-your-cares beaches like Belek and Side.
Cesme, on the Aegean coast, boasts the best two beaches in Turkey. Wherever you stay, the history and sightseeing is superb.
Top of the list would have to be the Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus and the petrified limestone waterfall at Pamukkale. The Dalyan rock tombs are also impressive.
Turkish cuisine is delicious, among the best in the world. Grilled or barbecued meat is popular, and the shellfish and swordfish is always good.
Also, try a traditional Turkish meze-style meal while you are there and don’t miss the markets for a colourful souvenir – but remember to barter if you want a bargain.
Best places to visit when renting a car in Turkey
You’ll want to make the most of your rental car when travelling around Turkey, so here are some of the best destination and resorts that are well worth a visit during your stay.
With its wide stretch of golden sand lapped by the sparkling clear waters of the Aegean, it is little wonder that life in Altinkum revolves around the beach. Along the seafront you’ll find a multitude of bars and restaurants, geared towards the British Market.
Turgutreis, the region’s second largest resort (spreading to include the smaller villages of Kadikalesi and Akyarlar), is surrounded by mountains and the sea. Relaxing cafes and restaurants circle the main square, home to a large Saturday market. Retaining a traditional Turkish charm, the new marina also injects a cosmopolitan feel.
For lazy days on the beach combined with lively nightlife, head for Gumbet. The shelving beach has shallow waters. During the day there is an array of bars and restaurants, providing an attractive setting in which to eat and drink and at night Gumbet takes on a party atmosphere.
Cascading down the hillside to the water’s edge, Bodrum’s narrow streets and mass of sugar-cube houses make it one of the prettiest resorts on the Aegean. If the daylight hours are lively, then the twilight hours are positively vibrant with a dazzling choice of bars and discos. Due to Bodrum’s narrow streets travelling by car is idea.
Kusadasi has erupted into one of Turkey’s most extensive resorts from simple origins as a fishing village. A cosmopolitan atmosphere pervades the busy harbour which is backed by bars and discos. Add cafes, colourful bazaars and plenty of restaurants, mixed with two beaches to choose from and there you have this popular holiday destination.
Torba is a picturesque coastal village with a mountain backdrop and a peaceful, typically Turkish atmosphere. It is home to a small pebble beach and harbour, from which an occasional ferry runs to Altinkum. Torba has a small selection of restaurants, but for a wider range of amenities, the bustling resort centre of Bodrum is 7km away.
The blossoming resort of Lara Beach is scattered with luxury hotels and blessed with a beautiful golden sandy beach. A peaceful resort, situated 16km from Antalya centre, Lara Beach is ideal for a relaxing, restful getaway. There is a small selection of designer boutiques in the Sultan Bazaar shopping centre, perfect for picking up a holiday souvenir.
Icmeler has blossomed into one of the liveliest well-planned resorts. Its focal point is the charming beach, contrasting sharply with the backdrop of lush, green mountains rising behind the resort. The relaxed ambience is infectious and you can spend your days sunbathing or exploring Marmaris. Evening offer a wide range of restaurants, bars and discos.
Belek rests on a coastal plain, with pine forests and the Taurus mountains in the distance. The resort consists of two villages, Belek and Kadriye. Belek boasts food stores, cafes and gift shops, and Kadriye has a selection of restaurants and bazaars. Ideal for golf fanatics, Belek offers several golf courses, including the National Golf Course
Marmaris, considered to be one of the most European of the Turkish resorts, is large and lively, with vibrant nightlife. Divided into three main areas, there’s the harbour with Turkey’s largest marina and main nightlife hub; the Old Town with small bazaars selling leather, jewellery and carpets; and the tourist area to the west, stretching all the way to Icmeler.
The old town of Side sits on a headland, with several beaches to either side, offering a range of water sports. The resort’s hotels stretch out along the main road, with bars, shops, restaurants and discos. Side is a must for history lovers, with an ancient amphitheatre and two second-century temples for visitors to appreciate.
Fethiye is a captivating place. Tourism has had little impact on the town and the harbour is bordered by a palm-lined promenade. This enclosed inlet and natural harbour, protected by twelve islands, provides a haven for fishing boats. Behind the harbour, a maze of streets filled with shops, bars and restaurants offer delights and bustling evening life.
This quaint resort, set by the sea, offers a small selection of shops, bars and restaurants. Nightlife is based in the hotels but for those wanting to venture further afield, the bustling resort of Kemer is 17km away. The resort is surrounded by orange and lemon groves, giving a beautiful fragrance that envelops the village.
Olu Deniz caters for all types of holidaymaker, whether you want to sit bythe beach, take part in water sports or explore the area. Easily navigated on foot with its paved streets, the best draw to Olu Deniz is the wide arc of sand and shingle beach. The main beach, Belcekiz, is rumoured to be Turkey’s best.