Whether you’re cycling along the Turquoise Coast, walking through the rose and red valleys of Cappadocia, or exploring Lycia with the family, don’t leave Turkey without ticking off some of these must-sees.
Pronounced ‘Cash’, Kas is a thriving fishing, watersport and tourist town on the Mediterranean with a distinct laid back vibe. Kas has been a firm favourite with Explore customers for many years – it’s one of the most beautiful ports on the Turkish Riviera, with pretty cobbled streets and lively cafes set against the dramatic limestone cliff backdrop.
Known as the 'cotton castle’ Pamukkale takes its name from the white carbonate deposits from mineral springs. A boardwalk offers spectacular views of the unusual white cliff face with crystal blue pools and the huge valley below. Above the terraces is Hierapolis, an ancient spa town with well-preserved Roman baths, tombs and an impressive theatre. Don't miss Cleopatra's Pool - an oasis of beauty with a mirror-like clarity that enables views down to the ruins below.
Formed by volcanic eruptions which covered the valleys with mud, ash and blocks of hard rock, this volcanic ‘tufa’ has been shaped by erosion into strange and improbable shapes. Byzantine hermits settled in this area and carved churches, houses, fortresses and even complete underground cities into these cone formations known as ‘fairy-tale chimneys’. Places to see here include Goreme Open Air Museum and Uchisar citadel.
Ephesus is Europe’s most complete ancient city and an absolute must-see. The city’s centrepiece, the Temple of Artemis, was once the biggest temple on earth and one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Little remains of the marble temple today other than a single pillar marking its location. Visit the much-photographed Library of Celsus and the incredible theatre, capable of holding 25,000 spec, TAtators.
This Greco-Roman site is one of the earliest and most interesting sites in the region – equally as impressive as Ephesus but quieter, and lesser-known. The cult of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, had its most important temple here and the city since established itself as an artistic centre, inspiring some of the finest Carian sculptures. Many of them can be seen in the impressive on-site museum. Aphrodisias’ athletics stadium is one of the largest and best-preserved from the classical world.
Formerly called Constantinople, Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents. The remarkable mix of western and eastern influence here makes Istanbul a fascinating world city. Founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC, it’s a city packed with history. Places to see include the famous Blue Mosque, the opulent Topkapi Palace, the historic hub of Sultanahmet Square, impressive 6th century Sunken Palace cisterns and the great Hagia Sophia.
7. Gallipoli Peninsula
The Gallipoli Peninsula was the location of extensive First World War battlefields and is an important memorial pilgrimage site. It was here in 1916 that, after much bloody hand-to-hand fighting and loss of life, the ill-fated Allied campaign was forced to concede victory to the Turks and withdraw. The peninsula itself is beautiful, windswept and poignant – visits here include the WWI cemeteries, memorials and Anzac Cove.