Turkey's immense charm is a result of stunning landscapes like Antalya and Muğla (which make up the Turquoise Coast), Cappadocia (keep an eye out for the ‘fairy chimneys’), the constant surprises offered by its legendary history; and the gregarious locals, who are always ready to chat over a fierce game of backgammon with a Turkish coffee or Efes beer in hand. In fact, the old Turkish proverb quoted above perfectly captures the irresistible essence of the Turkish lifestyle, enjoyed by a people who are blessed with a land of ancient - yet timeless - bazaars, glorious sandy sweeps of shore, magnificent ruins, looming mountains and a rich and complex past.
When you land here, you’re following in the footsteps of some towering figures. The country has played host to Julius Caesar, who 'came, saw and conquered' near Amasya, and St Paul, who traversed most of the land. Byzantine Christians carved cave churches out of living rock, whilst Ottoman sultans basked in the hedonistic luxuries of Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace, potentates of dominions all the way from Budapest to Baghdad. In other times, mediaeval Armenians built Ani's churches, whirling dervishes gyrated with the power of Sufi mysticism, and the Lycians left the ruins of magnificent tombs and temples on the beaches of Patara.

People

The Turkish people today are just as memorable. Understandably proud of their heritage, the gregarious locals are full of facts and information (be warned - facts come with varying degrees of accuracy!) about subjects from kilims (flat-weave rugs) to the Aya Sofya's floating dome to the best meze to the Ottoman Empire. It’s Turkey's long history, coupled with its unique place as the meeting of Europe and Asia that has given it such an unrivalled depth of culture.
On the subject of culture, it’s time to bring up backgammon. A national obsession, idle Turkish afternoons are inseparable from the click of the backgammon board as locals play in sunny village squares. Ask in any bar or café from Istanbul to Adana and there’s bound to be a set ready and waiting - and someone willing to teach you. And who knows? Perhaps one day you might even win…
(Important Note: With its veneer of Westernisation and the genuine warmth and friendliness of its people, it’s easy to forget that 97.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim. Accordingly, do make sure you dress and behave respectfully at all times.)

Places

In Istanbul, find a Westernised city which offers equal parts enchantment and overcrowded chaos. In Cappadocia and the southwestern coasts, mix hiking, horse-riding and water adventures. Then, in the less-visited eastern regions, turn back time itself as soaring mountain ranges pierce unchanged cerulean skies. In short, the choice of places to visit in Turkey is truly staggering, so here are 5 recommendations:

Istanbul
Reasons to go to Istanbul? Let me count the whys…Chief among them are the locals, who radiate an infectious love of life and generosity of spirit. There’s the unfolding layers of 2,500 years of history, the cultural diversity, the opulently decorated imperial mosques that, along with other architectural triumphs like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, form one of the world's most magnificent skylines. There’s the dining, shopping, nightlife and exotic atmosphere. And then there’s the city’s unique location straddling two continents, the place where East truly does meet West.

Ephesus
More than anywhere else, the Ancient world comes to life at Ephesus, Europe’s most complete classical metropolis. Located in Aegean Turkey, Ephesus was one of the largest cities in all of the Graeco - Roman Empires, boasting the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The ruins are well preserved and include the vast Theatre, the Temple of Hadrian and the magnificent Celsus Library, a two-story structure built to house more than 12,000 scrolls.

Marmaris
Set on the Turkish Riviera in southwest Turkey, Marmaris is a picture-perfect port set in a mountainous bay, crowned by a castle and lined with boats of all shapes and sizes. The immediate surroundings are breathtaking, including the rugged and relatively unfrequented peninsulas of Bozburun and Datça, and you can also enjoy water sports, adventure, fantastic dining and vibrant nightlife. If you have time, take a trip or two from Marmaris to outstanding nearby destinations like Dalyan, Pamukkale and Cleopatra Island.

Cappadocia
An otherworldly part of central Anatolia, Cappadocia is dotted with pointy ‘fairy chimneys' (rock formations) and has a history every bit as memorable as its landscape. Volcanic eruptions and erosion sculpted these odd formations over the ages and, thousands of years ago, the Hittites chiselled out underground tunnel complexes, seeking safety from invading Persians and Greeks. Later, Byzantine Christians added remarkable touches by carving out houses, churches and underground cities from the soft rock.
  
Konya
One of the oldest cities in the world, Konya treads a fine line between its historical significance and its modern importance as an economic powerhouse. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Konya prospered as a capital city under the Seljuk Dynasty. Today, buildings from that era can still be admired, like the Alaeddin Mosque and the ruins of the Seljuk Palace. The city was also home to the Sufi mystic, Rumi. Rumi’s followers founded the Mevlevi Order, better known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their religious ceremonies in which they spin around and around on the left foot while wearing white, billowing gowns.
 

Pleasures

Turkey's nightlife is quickly gaining recognition as one of the liveliest in Europe and the range of night entertainment is huge, from traditional male-dominated birahanes to techno and rave nightclubs. An authentic Turkish experience can be combined with a lively night’s drinking at one of Turkey's meyhanes. Of, for those who want to see something more exotic (if not authentic), many nightclubs offer "Oriental shows" with belly dancers and cabaret singers.
If shopping’s your bag, you’re in the right place. Turkey’s a mecca for shopaholics with rich avenues filled with historical bazaars and souks, interspersed with new-age markets. Discover the stunning maze of stalls that covers Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar, spend some free time browsing and exploring the stalls selling exotic spices, fresh foods and vegetables. And that, of course, brings us to the food which is rightly renowned as being among the best in the world. From home cooked stews to kebabs on the street, it’s cheap, delicious and there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of dishes to try.
The best thing about sampling Turkey's delicious specialties – ranging from kahvaltı (Turkish breakfast) to a vast array of meze to balık ekmek (fish sandwich) to kokorec (barbecued sheep intestines) – is that they take you on a journey to the heart of Turkish culture. For the sociable and family-orientated Turks, getting together and eating well is a time-honoured ritual. So get stuck into olive oil–slathered Aegean vegetables like Baklalı Enginar and İmam Bayıldı, munch on İskender kebabs, Künefe and dishes from all over – and as you contemplate some baklava for dessert, raise a tulip-shaped glass of çay and make a toast to the glories of Turkish cuisine.
 

Do

Remove your shoes before going inside a mosque. Women must cover hair and dress modestly. Men should not wear shorts
Be aware that men and women are expected to behave modestly when showing affection
Accept that smoking while eating is common and you shouldn’t request other diners to stop
Be polite at all times. Try to learn the Turkish words tesekkür ederim (thank you), lütfen (please) and pardon (excuse me)
Bargain. It’s regarded as a polite gesture and a form of dialogue to negotiate the price before buying
 

Don’t

Show the bottom of your feet to anyone when sitting down
Talk or sit next to a single, young Turkish woman if you are male. She might feel threatened
Make the “OK” sign with your thumb and forefinger. It’s considered obscene
Blow your nose or pick your teeth while sitting in a restaurant, cafe or bar. It’s seen as very impolite
Take pictures of people without their permission, particularly older people and women wearing a veil.
 

Best time to go

No matter when you come, a great time is always to be had because of the diversity in geographical landscapes, seasons and vast range of activities. However, you might want to time your trip depending on your preferences for the weather and the places you plan to visit and the adventures you plan to have. Spring is best for cultural destinations and hiking and trekking, summer brings perfect coast, beach and waterspouts weather, whilst autumn is ideal for city exploration. And winter? Well, there’s the annual Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival, held each January…
 

Best way to go

You can travel to Turkey by boat, depending where you are coming from. Hopping from the Greek islands over to Istanbul is a popular route. All boats, including private yachts, arriving in Turkish waters must go to one of the following ports of entry: Akçay, Alanya, Anamur, Antalya, Ayvalik, Bandirma, Bodrum, Botas (Adana), Çanakkale, Çesme, Datça, Derince, Didim, Dikili, Fethiye, Finike, Giresun, Güllük, Hopa (Artvin), Iskenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Kas, Kemer, Kusadasi, Marmaris, Mersin, Ordu, Rize, Samsun, Sinop, Söke, Tasucu (Silifke), Tekirdas, Trabzon and Zonguldak.
Dock in the port of your choice, spend some time exploring the food, the bars, the markets and the sites, then decide where you go from here. Maybe you want to rent a car and drive inland to whichever destination you choose? No problem. Your boat can pick you up anywhere along the coast and drop you off wherever you decide, meaning your trip is completely customisable.
Your boat’s customisable too…just choose from any of the beautifully equipped vessels.
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