Straddling the invisible boundary between Europe and Asia, Turkey is a true crossroads – and it has been for centuries. Its culture and especially its cuisine reflect the many empires and armies that have passed this way, heading either east or west.

Today, Turkey attracts millions of visitors every year, but happily, they come in peace. It’s not hard to see why Turkey is so popular: it offers all the benefits of the Mediterranean (sun, sea, and beaches) alongside dramatic inland scenery and in Istanbul, one of the world’s great cities.

Whether you come to Turkey to relax, explore, shop or eat – or a combination of all of these – you’ll inevitably find yourself wanting to return, and you’ll be planning your next trip before your flight home has taken off.

Turkey is a large country and contains a remarkable diversity of scenery. Like other Mediterranean destinations, it has excellent beaches (many of them secluded, so you can almost have your own private one) but it’s perhaps the rugged interior that is most impressive. From lagoons to mountains, Turkey has it all – with a hot air balloon ride over the conical rocks of Cappadocia an experience that you’ll never forget.

If you’re a history buff, you’ll find Turkey absolutely fascinating. The relatively dry climate means that ancient ruins have often been very well preserved, so you can take your seat in a Greek amphitheater or visit Ephesus, site of one of the original seven wonders of the world: the Temple of Artemis.

By this point, you’re bound to have worked up quite an appetite. In which case, we have some good news for you: Turkish food is amazing! From strong cups of coffee to insanely sweet baklava, via a whole array of small dishes (or mezze) that make the most of the Mediterranean region’s key ingredients, your taste buds are in for a real treat.

Then, of course, there is Istanbul. You’ll want to make sure that your Turkish vacation itinerary includes at least a couple of days here so that you can wander at will through the fascinating streets and visit the astonishing Blue Mosque and the intriguing Hagia Sophia Museum.

Gateway cities: Istanbul

Best time to travel: April to May; September to November

Highlights: Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Mediterranean Sea and Beaches, Pamukale

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