in the middle
Once the playground of emperors and ancient kings, Turkey has been trodden by the Persian monarchs, Alexander the Great, Roman legions and Ottoman imperialists. Each has left their own mark on the vast land, which ranges from the soaring Caucasus Mountains in the east to the shimmering swells of the Aegean Sea in the west. That means travellers can flit between gorgeous beaches and great relics like Ephesus. They can marvel at mosques in Istanbul and see troglodyte cave villages in Cappadocia or go in search of Troy and see curious megaliths on Mount Nemrut.
If that's tickled your travel buds, then compare the best cheap hotels in Turkey with dealchecker, and have your own adventure on the sweeping Anatolian plateau.
Everyone from sunbathers to partiers descend on Marmaris during the summer. Bar Street pulses with Europop and raki shots, the harbourside is lined with bobbing 40-footers and the famous beaches of Icmeler and Dalyan glow a coral-pink against the blue Aegean coastline.
Cappadocia is an alien land. Hoodoos and dusty rocks spike out of the earth, sheer canyons carve the ground and the mysterious remnants of old troglodyte peoples hide in the subterrane. Check out places like Goreme and Guzelyurt for the best history and heritage.
Squeezed into its own headland south of Fethiye, beautiful Oludeniz is a jewel of the Turkish Aegean. Overlooked by high coastal mountains dotted with fir and eucalyptus, it's famed for its shimmering, secluded beaches. Searching for Turkey hotels here means searching for romance and natural beauty.
Colossal Istanbul straddles the historic Bosphorus channel, marking the spot where Europe begins to mix with Asia. The city is a fusion of traditions, too. Erstwhile basilicas like the Hagia Sophia combine Byzantine majesty with Arabesque and Muslim charm. Shisha houses hide next to Greek coffee haunts, and there's nightlife like you wouldn’t believe.
Ankara, the capital, will be the first thing on the menu for many people flying to Turkey. A lively and loveable place, the metropolis goes wild on café culture and honorific monuments to the great Ataturk.
For access to the sloping beaches and yachting meccas of the Aegean coast, travellers would do well to hit sprawling Izmir city. Built over the ruins of ancient Greek Smyrna, the town is also a great jump off point for tours of Ephesus – one of the country's veritable must-sees.