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Europe and Asia meet in Istanbul, and throughout this vibrant city, you’ll find centuries-old mosques, churches and markets happily co-existing with modern restaurants, galleries and nightclubs. And plan on visiting a hamman (traditional Turkish bath)—for about $20 your skin will be scrubbed clean. And we mean scrubbed. Your wimpy loofah has nothing on this.
A town literally carved into the volcanic rock, Goreme is the gateway to the Goreme National Park, a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses spectacular 10th- and 11th-century cave churches. The park itself is known for its chimney rock formations and is very popular with backpackers. It’s also a great area to sample Turkish cuisine and wine.
Steep cliffs, mysterious caves and balmy temperatures serve as a siren call to the resort town of Antalya, which sits proudly on a bay bearing its name like a Turkish beauty queen. In this Mediterranean enclave, beaches and a lovely marina vie for attention with the picturesque streets of Kaleici, the old town center. The 18th-century Fluted Minaret of Seljuk origin, with its 90 steps to the top, is a towering symbol of the city, while Hadrian's Gate provides an archway to its ancient past.
Approximately 40 miles southeast of Antalya, you will find the beautiful coastal resort of Kemer at the foot of the majestic Taurus Mountain. Enjoy a walk along the promenade and a visit a reconstructed tent city that reflects the life of the Turkish nomads. You can watch carpet weavers at work and sample Turkish specialties such as ayran (yogurt drink) and gözleme (pancakes). Close by is a cable car that lifts you right to the top of Tahtali Mountain (2,365 metres).
Beaches cover both the east and west coast of Alanya. The harbour is lined with modern hotels, resorts, fresh seafood restaurants, bars and cafes. There are countless activities including water sports, boat tours, caves, historical sights, and even a large go-kart track. Some travellers’ favourites include parasailing, banana boating, and visiting the 13th century Alanya castle with amazing views of the entire coastline.
The waters surrounding the small village of Oludeniz are an achingly beautiful gradient of blue. Sapphire meets seafoam green at the shoreline, where stretches of white sand are dotted with leisurely sunbathers. The scenery is even more gorgeous from above—Oludeniz is renowned as one of the world’s top spots for paragliding.
The Cappadocia region's most upscale and contemporary tourist city, Urgup has a number of lovely hotels, many built in and around centuries-old cave dwellings. The city and its surrounding area are known for their mysterious fairy chimneys, early Christian rock churches and fine vineyards. A mix of ancient and modern, Urgup is a center for traditional handmade carpets, but also has a lively nightlife. Hot air ballooning is very popular, and a fantastic way to see the area's beauty from above.
Cesme attracts all types of surfers from all over the world: wind surfers, kite surfers, surf surfers. If you can surf it, you’ll probably want to surf it in Cesme. This resort town on the Aegean Coast is all about the water. Even the 16th-century Cesme Castle is a stone’s throw from the sapphire sea. The beaches are golden, the ocean is warm, and the atmosphere is posh but friendly.
The beaches that stretch along Kudasi's Aegean coastline are as diverse in terrain as they are in ambiance. Ladies’ Beach, thusly named because it was once a for women only, is packed with nightclubs, souvenir vendors, restaurants and, of course, sunbathers and swimmers. Grass-lined Gold Beach is well-manicured and peaceful. Ride a horse from there to Long Beach, a playground of beach bars, pool tables and water sports.