Many Australians and New Zealanders will search for cheap flights to Turkey for April 25 so they can be in Gallipoli to mark Anzac Day. Others will head for Istanbul, that city of mosques and churches that spans Asia and Europe.
The resorts of the Mediterranean, Aegean, and latterly, Black Sea coasts, are a huge draw for bargain-minded tourists. Bodrum, Kusadasi, Gumbet, Side, Fetiyhe and Olu Deniz are famous with European holiday makers who are drawn by the beaches, weather and cheapness, relative to Spain, Portugal or France.
Ankara, is the capital. Not as inspiring a city as Istanbul, it’s more along the Canberra lines. It’s pretty modern, an administrative capital. Istanbul is the city that tugs at the heartstrings. Its foundations were laid down about 3,000 years ago.
Once known as Byzantium and Constantinople, it’s the city of the Grand Bazaar where traders and tourists haggle, the Aya Sofya (its Greek name is Haghia Sophia), and the Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi), the residence of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.
Other magical destinations include Ephesus, just outside Kusadasi. This ancient holy city, which dates from the Roman era, is where you will find the house of the Virgin Mary. Cappadocia is a stunning moonscape of “fairy chimneys” that once were home to Hittites, Romans and Christians. And Nemrut in eastern Turkey, where colossal statues and two temples dominate an artificial mountaintop.
The most captivating thing about Turkey may just be the Turks, who are warm and friendly. Their hospitality, especially with food, is legendary.
The Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and the winters are mild. The Black Sea Coast has a Temperate climate with warm summers, mild winters and fairly high rainfall. In the centre of Turkey, Central Anatolia has a Steppe climate. The summers are hot and dry and the winters are very cold with lots of snow. There is great variation between day and night temperatures. Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia experience hot summers and very hard winters with snow.
The European summer, June to September when schools are out, is high season. Istanbul is best visited between April and June and in September and October. The Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Central Anatolia (Cappadocia for example) has hot, dry summers and cold winters, while Eastern Anatolia (Nemrut for example) has mild summers and long, cold winters. Christmas is marked in Turkey but the New Year is the big celebration. Many Turks will return from overseas to spend this time with their families and flights will therefore be pricier.
The winters in some parts of Turkey are harsh and the country doesn’t really have a winter tourist season. The coastal towns will more or less shut down between October and April.
(prices quotes are from London)