South Aegean

Civilisation on Turkey's sparkling Aegean coast looks back thousands of years. Indeed, cave paintings discovered in the Beşparmak Mountains above Lake Bafa date to 6000 BC, the earliest evidence of human settlement in Turkey. Among the region's embarrassment of ruins is Ephesus, the celebrated capital of Roman Asia Minor. Nearby, the ancient ports of Priene and Miletus, and the temples at Euromos and Didyma, offer an evocative picture of the ancient past.

In summer the population swells as millions of tourists descend on Marmaris, Kuşadası and Bodrum. The latter is Turkey's most popular and chichi seaside getaway. This whitewashed town beneath a 15th-century castle somehow maintains an air of refinement through the nonstop partying, while new boutique hotels and elegant eateries spring up, both here and in the sophisticated coastal villages of the Bodrum Peninsula. On the remote Bozburun and Datça Peninsulas, more elemental pleasures wait in the rugged terrain and fishing villages.

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