This time two years ago, tourism in Turkey was in free fall. An attempted military coup had spread chaos across the capital and further afield, reports of ISIS sleeper cells hiding out were in the UK papers and the government’s official line was to avoid all but essential travel to anywhere in Turkey. A state of emergency was declared.
Fast forward to now, though, and things are definitely on the up. Despite a recent dip for the Lira, Turkey’s economy is growing faster than any other G20 country and it’s expected to be a record year for tourism. ABTA says that bookings are up 69% on last year as cheaper prices, increased capacity and political stability all play their part in putting Turkey back on the map. The government has also updated its official advice to only advise against travel to the areas around the Syrian border.
So, as more people from the UK, Germany and even Russia head to Turkey, here are three different types of holiday we can offer.
A Cruise Into Kusadasi
As tourism continues to grow, Kusadasi is beginning to appear on cruise itineraries once again. Its position on the west coast makes it ideal for an Eastern Mediterranean cruise that also includes ports in Greece and Croatia.
The major highlight of a stop here is the chance to visit the ancient city of Ephesus. This was the second-largest city in the Roman Empire and was one of the world’s principal trade centres. A guided shore excursion will show you the impressive structures of the library, Gate of Augustus and Basilica of St. John, as well as the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You can also visit the nearby House of the Virgin Mary, supposedly her last resting place.
Other than historical sights, your time in Kusadasi can be used to try some of the local cuisine. The village of Sirince in the picturesque area of Selçuk is famous for its wine and olive oil, making it the perfect place for a relaxing bite to eat.
A Beach Break
Turkey can offer some great beaches on which to soak up the sun and the good news is that high temperatures make it a viable destination into the colder months. For example, an average of 20 degrees in October is fantastic for a family break during half-term or a couples’ holiday just as the weather starts to turn in the UK.
There are three different coasts to choose from but the so-called Turquoise Coast (where the sands are lapped by either the Aegean or Mediterranean Seas) are the most popular choices. Resorts such as Marmaris, Bodrum, Alanya and Kas are all excellent options that offer water sports, restaurants, warm waters and miles of golden sands.
But it doesn’t have to be all sunbathing if you don’t want to. Each of the coastal resorts offers its own highlights and so there’s plenty more to do. The Taurus Mountains behind Alanya offer some great walking trails; Patara Beach, Turkey’s longest, is known to be a breeding site for loggerhead turtles; Gumbet is a great spot for snorkelling and there are historic sites waiting to be discovered in most areas. Also, the resorts are full of water parks and other great attractions that children will love.
An Istanbul City Break
Whilst there is likely to be heightened security in Istanbul, and the UK government advises that tourists keep their passports and e-visa on them when out and about in case of ID checks, Istanbul can be regarded as safe as London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, New York or any other world city that has experienced terrorist incidents in recent years. In short, don’t let these fears stop you from seeing this amazing city.
From wandering the streets of the Grand Bazaar to discovering iconic historical buildings like the Blue Mosque, your Istanbul city break will be brimming with exciting activities. The brightly coloured trams are a nostalgic and efficient way to get around the city and its fun to see the differences between the historic and busy European side and the more relaxed, residential Asian side.
Trendy Karaköy offers a host of cool cafés and hipster shops to browse, whilst Çamlıca Hill is a peaceful place to enjoy the views across the Bosphorus Strait and Golden Horn. Plus, there are many other neighbourhoods with their own character to explore.
And how should you fuel these explorations? With a hearty Turkish breakfast, of course. The ‘most important meal of the day’ is not taken lightly in Turkey, with bread, jams, fruit, meat, eggs and more all combining to make a smorgasbord of tastes. And if you need to take the weight off for a bit during the day, stop and enjoy some local tea – or Çay, as it is called.
If you would like to join the influx of tourists heading back to Turkey, we can tailor-make a trip to suit you. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or contact us through the website by clicking here.