Bazaars

Centuries ago, Seljuk and Ottoman traders travelled the Silk Road, stopping at caravanserais to do business. The tradition is still alive and so is haggling in Turkey’s labyrinthine bazaars.

Grand Bazaar Hone your bargaining skills in İstanbul’s original and best shopping mall.

Kapalı Çarşı Bursa's 14th-century Old Mirrored Market houses shadow-puppet shops.

Spice Bazaar Jewel-like lokum (Turkish delight) and pyramids of spices provide eye candy at İstanbul's fragrant bazaar.

Kemeraltı Market İzmir's labyrinthine bazaar features shops, eateries, artisans' workshops, mosques, coffeehouses, tea gardens and synagogues.

Hamams

Hamams are also known as Turkish baths, a name coined by Europeans introduced to their steamy pleasures by the Ottomans. Have a massage or just soak in the calming atmosphere.

Sefa Hamamı This restored 13th-century gem in Kaleiçi (Old Antalya) retains many of its Seljuk features.

Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı The service matches the stunning interior of this restored 16th-century İstanbul hamam.

Yeni Kaplıca ‘New thermal bath' is actually Bursa’s oldest, founded by the 6th-century Byzantine emperor Justinian I.

Kelebek Turkish Bath Spa Cappadocia’s most luxurious hamam experience, with a full range of spa-style added extras.

Beaches

Turkey is surrounded by the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, offering numerous beaches for reclining by the ‘wine-dark sea’ (as Homer called the Aegean).

Kaputaş The pale sandy cove and brilliant azure waters near Kalkan look brochure-perfect.

Kabak Take a steep ride or follow the Lycian Way down to this Mediterranean beach hideaway.

Patara One of the Mediterranean’s longest beaches, with 18km of white sand, ruins and sea turtles.

Ayazma A ruined Greek Orthodox monastery overlooks Bozcaada's best beach.

Gökçeada You might have the little-visited Aegean island's beaches to yourself.

Kızkalesi Warm water invites you to swim to the 12th-century Byzantine fortress just offshore.

Museums

In a country marked by great dynasties, from Hittite hill men to Ottoman sultans, every self-respecting town has a museum to preserve its local history.

İstanbul Archaeology Museums İstanbul's museums range from long-standing institutions like this complex in Gülhane Park to contemporary galleries.

Göreme Open-Air Museum Only in surreal Cappadocia could a valley of rock-cut Byzantine churches be called a museum.

Museum of Anatolian Civilisations Ankara’s star attraction examines the ancient civilisations that warred and waned on the surrounding steppe.

Ephesus Museum Selçuk's fine collection contains artefacts from Ephesus, including the famous effigy of phallic god Priapus.

Museum of Underwater Archaeology Housed in Bodrum’s 15th-century Castle of St Peter, it displays bounty from ancient shipwrecks.

İzmir Museum of History & Art One of Turkey's richest repositories of artefacts, including stunning sculptures from the Aegean’s ancient sites.

Hatay Archaeology Museum Reopened in new premises that do justice to Antakya’s great collection of classical mosaics.

Cities

Turks are a regionalist bunch; they will invariably tell you their town is en çok güzel (the most beautiful) – but these are the best places to experience urban Turkey.

İstanbul The world’s only city on two continents, the megacity was once the capital of empires.

Antalya The classically beautiful and stylishly modern gateway to the Turkish Riviera.

İzmir Turkey’s third-largest city is right on the Aegean; its kordon (seafront promenade) is a joy.

Antakya (Hatay) The site of the biblical Antioch has a distinctively Arabic feel.

Konya The Anatolian boomtown is historical and mystical with its Seljuk architecture and whirling dervish heritage.

Boutique Hotels

From half-timbered Ottoman mansions to Greek stone houses, Turkey’s architectural gems are increasingly being converted into small, one-off hotels. These distinctive properties offer a local experience with a stylish twist.

Kelebek Hotel Take up residence in a fairy chimney and experience troglodyte life in luxury.

Alaçatı Scores of the Aegean village’s stone Greek houses have been converted into boutique digs.

Safranbolu Among rocky bluffs, the fairy-tale town is an idyllic setting for hotels in Ottoman piles.

White Garden Pansion A smattering of boutique hotels adds further charm to Antalya’s Roman-Ottoman old quarter.

Nişanyan Hotel A 19th-century renovated stone house in the hill village of Şirince near Ephesus.

Casa di Bava Occupying an 1880s building, one of the many world-class boutique hotels in Beyoğlu, İstanbul.

History

Turks are proud of their long, eventful history, and it’s easy to share their enthusiasm at the country’s mosques and palaces, ruins and museums.

Topkapı Palace İstanbul’s historic significance can be felt everywhere, but particularly in the greatest Ottoman palace.

Gallipoli Peninsula Poignant memorials and cemeteries recall the battles fought here in WWI.

Kayaköy Places like this ghost town recall the Greeks displaced by a century-old population exchange.

Zelve Open-Air Museum Turkey's many Christian sites include these rock-cut monasteries in a Cappadocian valley.

Hattuşa Explore off the beaten track to the capitals of Anatolian civilisations, including the Hittite HQ.

Ruins

Whether in a city centre or atop a craggy cliff, the country’s ruins bring out the historical romantic in you. Excavations continue at many, giving new glimpses of ancient history.

Ephesus (Efes) The best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean evokes daily life in Roman times.

Nemrut Dağı Atop Mt Nemrut are the toppled heads of statues built by a 1st-century-BC king.

Pergamum The Hellenistic theatre is a vertigo-inducing marvel and the Asclepion was Rome’s pre-eminent medical centre.

Ani The 10th-century Armenian capital features fascinating remnants of ancient cultures, from Georgian to Zoroastrian.

Activities

Turkey’s many outdoor activities make the most of its beautiful and diverse terrain, from mountain ranges to beaches – and çay and baklava, or Efes beer and meze, await afterwards.

Walking Opportunities range from half-day wanders through Cappadocia's valleys to 500km Mediterranean trails.

Saklıkent Gorge The 18km-long fissure near Fethiye is Turkey’s top spot for canyoning.

Water Sports On the Aegean and Mediterranean, diving, windsurfing, kiteboarding, canoeing and waterskiing are on offer.

Yusufeli Northeastern Anatolia's activity capital offers adrenaline-pumping white-water rafting and mountain walking.

Kekova Island Sea kayak over walls, shattered amphorae and other remains of the Lycian ‘sunken city’.

Uludağ National Park The ski resort above Bursa is one of several across the country.

Landscape

Apart from a toe sticking into Europe, Turkey is part of Asia, so it should come as no surprise that its landscapes are varied and stunning.

Cappadocia The fairy chimneys (rock formations) and smooth valleys are best explored on foot or horseback.

Mt Ararat Turkey’s highest peak (5137m) is typical of northeastern Anatolia's rugged scenery.

Amasra to Sinop A great drive takes you past Black Sea beaches and green hills.

Behramkale The hillside village has dreamy views of the Aegean coast.

Eğirdir Gölü The mountain-ringed Anatolian lake, like those at Bafa and İznik, is among Turkey's unsung glories.

Datça & Bozburun Peninsulas Raw landscape dividing the Aegean and Mediterranean, riddled with coves and pine forests.

Nemrut Dağı Mountain-top stone heads gaze at the Anti-Taurus Range.

Ala Dağlar National Park Waterfalls crash down limestone cliffs in the Taurus Mountains.

Food & Drink

Turkey has epicurean indulgence nailed, from street snacks to gourmet restaurants. Not only does every region offer local dishes, you can sample them in individualistic eateries and panoramic terraces.

Cappadocia Home Cooking Sample true home-style Cappadocian cooking, surrounded by the family’s organic garden in a valley village.

Limon Aile Lokantası On the Bodrum Peninsula, Limon offers an original take on the much-loved Aegean meze-and-seafood experience.

Alex's Place One of the hole-in-the-wall cocktail bars taking over in fashionable Beyoğlu, İstanbul.

Hatay Sultan Sofrası The mezes and spicy kebaps are good examples of Antakya’s Syrian and Arab culinary influences.

Zeytin Bağı Overlooking the Bay of Edremit, this foodie retreat serves what may be Turkey's best breakfast.

Architecture

Turkey’s legacy of mighty empires has left a bounty of imposing buildings: palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries and caravansaries are a few of the ancient structures evoking bygone eras.

Aya Sofya The greatest surviving Byzantine building, just one of the glorious edifices in Sultanahmet, İstanbul.

İshak Paşa Palace Perched above the steppe, this 18th-century pile mixes Seljuk, Ottoman, Georgian, Persian and Armenian styles.

Ulu Cami & Darüşşifası Stone portal carvings so intricate that locals say they prove the existence of God.

Safranbolu From this heritage town to the Aegean’s old Greek villages, boutique hotels occupy Ottoman mansions.

İstanbul Naval Museum The exhibition hall, displaying 19th-century rowboats, is among İstanbul's attractive contemporary gallery and museum buildings.