Some of the country’s most impressive ruins are near the west coast of the country, known as the Aegean, allowing travellers to experience the best of both worlds. There are great resort towns, like Kusadasi and Izmir, buzzing with restaurants, cafes and bars, but just a short drive away are the outstanding ruins of Ephesus and Pergamon. Cruises to the Greek islands depart from Kusadasi.
Nearby are the natural white terraces of Pamukkale. At the top is the thermal spa of Hieropolis, where visitors can still swim in the mineral waters of Cleopatra’s Poolamongh collapsed marble columns just below the surface.
In the north of the Aegean it’s hard not to be overcome by emotion visiting the memorials to Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the former battlefields of Gallipoli. There’s a presentation centre at the town of Canakkale, but the vast area is dotted with monuments to the soldiers who fell here.
Close to Gallipoli is another historic site, although this one is far older. Troy was once thought to be a mythical city. Now you can see the excavated walls of the city, once breeched by the wooden Trojan horse (or so the story goes) and walk the ancient ruins.
Continue further down south to the Turquoise Coast, the southwesternmost region of Turkey. Spanning more than a thousand kilometres, this Turkish jewel offers Mediterranean delights in spades.
The beautiful city of Antalya is considered a stepping-stone into the Turkish Riviera, but it’s worth staying a few nights to take in the beautiful views of the harbour and the surrounding mountains, as well as visiting its bazaars and museums. For something quieter, the port town of Marmaris offers great wine, fresh food and excellent sailing.
Enjoy the sun on your skin and the fresh sea air while on a multi-day gulet trip. Imagine whiling away hours on deck, stopping at small islands and picturesque inlets with irresistible azure waters, as well as coral reefs to snorkel.
Sapphire waters may be the main draw-card for the Turquoise Coast, but the rugged mountain ranges that melt down toward the sea form a picture-perfect backdrop.