ABTA have named their travel hotspots for 2009. Over the next four weeks we will be bringing you bitesized guides to our top choices, including Aruba, Iceland and Cuba. This week we kick off with Turkey.
With the Euro at an all time low against the Pound, ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) highlight Turkey as being great value for money for travellers looking to escape the rising costs within the eurozone. With popular beach resorts, such as Bodrum and Olu deniz, and a wealth of culture in Istanbul and beyond, there is something for everyone.
Turkey’s national airline is Turkish Airlines with flights direct from London Heathrow and London Stansted to Istanbul and Ankara.
Visit the old Ottoman city of Bursa south of Istanbul, with its beautiful 15th-century Green Mosque, covered bazaar and Islamic Art Museum. Close to the city is the 2,543m (8,343ft) mountain of Uludağ with glacial lakes and a winter ski resort.
Visit Bodrum, site of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum of Mausolus, and now Turkey’s finest Aegean resort. Dominated by the Castle of St John, the town is renowned for its shopping, dining and nightlife.
Visit the historic town of Safranbolu, between Istanbul and Ankara, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its Ottoman architecture.
Shop in the world’s largest covered market, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, then head uptown to browse for cut-price fashion goods and clothing in the department stores along Istiklal Caddesi or upmarket Nisantasi.
Experience white-water rafting on the Dalaman River, the Köprülü River, the Zamanti River or the Coruh River, which is rated by professionals as one of the top rafting descents in the world.
Relax in a steamy Turkish bath, known as a hammam, and have a scrub and massage. In Istanbul, the most popular historic baths are the Galatasaray Hammam in Beyoğlu and Cağaloğlu Hammam in Sultanahmet, though local baths are often just as good.
Charter a gulet, a traditional wooden boat for a leisurely cruise along the Aegean or Mediterranean coast. Itineraries of a week or more are possible, with a variety of destinations and ports of call.
Turkish food combines culinary traditions from the people’s nomadic past in Central Asia with influences of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Guests are usually able to go into a kitchen and choose from the pots if they cannot understand the names of the dishes. National dishes include kofte (spicy sausage-shaped meatballs made of minced lamb), shish kebab (pieces of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled) and dolma (stuffed vine leaves).
Witness the bizarre sport of grease wrestling at the Kirkpinar Festival outside Edirne in early summer, or the even stranger spectacle of camel wrestling that takes place in mid winter at Selçuk on the Aegean coast.
Next week…Bitesized guide to Aruba