Rod Elliott A really enjoyable holiday, extremely professionally run. We saw as much as you could in 9 days and came away feeling we really knew enough about the country at the real working level... Read More
Sue Reynolds This trip was a wonderful taster of all the flavours of Syria, amazing archaeological sites, fascinating history, colourful markets, friendly locals and wonderful food. Read More
Liz Telford Chamos Festival was a ‘never to be repeated’ experience and one that I am so glad I enjoyed. Read More
Sumela Monastery, Trabzon, Eastern Turkey
Wild Walk in the Taurus Mountains, central Anatolia
Ishak Pasa Sarayi, Dogubeyazit, Iranian border
With history at every turn, it is tempting to portray Turkey as a quaint, time-locked country that adheres to tradition, but this is far from the truth.
The modern republic's first leader, Kemal Atatürk, saw that Turkey was reinvented as a modern secular state following the demise of the Ottoman Empire. What you see today is a healthy combination of ancient tradition and contemporary outlook. Modern European ways are tempered by Islam and time-honoured traditions of hospitality.
Rich in Hittite archaeological sites, Greek and Roman ruins, Christian and Moslem history, Turkey's diversity will appeal to all lovers of culture. And the landscapes are utterly unique, too. The Mediterranean coastline is punctuated with well-preserved Greco-Roman cities such as Pergamom and Ephesus, the austere and rugged Anatolian plateau has cave churches hidden away in the improbable fairy chimneys and underground cities of Cappadocia, and the petrified waterfalls of Pamukkale are simply breathtaking.
In addition Wild Frontiers' walks through the Taurus Mountains, along St Pauls' Trail, and journey along the eastern borderlands, offer adventure and culture in equal measure, while in Istanbul, still very much the pulse of the nation, you will find both a modern vibrant city and an ancient town with Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques and palaces.
Holidays in Turkey
What to do in Turkey
Please select the regions you are interested in.
Explore Old Antalya
Antalya has a beautiful old walled city, overlooking the turquoise waters of the eastern Mediterranean. Dating back to pre-Roman times it is made up of a narrow maze of streets, peppered with ancient churches and mosques, and has a picturesque harbour where once Phoenicians galleons moored. Today there are any number of quaint bars and restaurants, offering great views and a perfect place to enjoy an early evening drink.
Shop in the Grand Bazaar
La la la...Istanbul not Constantinople...yes you undoubtedly know the song but you may not know that Istanbul today spans both Europe & Asia both geographically and culturally and is a great place to hunt for bargains. Its Grand Bazaar is just one of the city's many architectural gems dating back to Ottoman times. From spices to jewellery and leather to carpets it is a shopper's paradise and warrants a return visit time and time again. Just be sure to have your very best haggler's hat on (although I'm sure someone will offer to sell you one if you don't!)
Walk St Paul's Trail
If you remember your Sunday school classes you might recall how St Paul, a converted Roman officer, eluded capture by setting out from Damascus to enlighten the pagan tribes of Asia Minor. According to legend, having landed in Antalya, he headed north, into the Taurus Mountains and on towards Constantinople. Today, a wonderful walking trail has been 'way-marked' from the coast deep into the interior following his supposed route, taking you through stunning mountain landscapes, past ancient Roman ruins, and into remote local villages. With interesting accommodation along the way, we think this is one of the best walks Europe can offer.
Wander the ruins of Ani
At the very eastern edge of Turkey's Anatolian plateau opposite the border with Armenia lie the stunning ruins of the Armenian city of Ani. About 1000 years ago, this strategic city had a population of over 100,000 and rivalled Baghdad & Constantinople for beauty & power. Sacked by Genghis Khan in the 13th century and seriously damaged by an earthquake in 14th century, the city has languished for generations, not least when it lay within the 900m exclusion zone around the Soviet Union. Today it is a wonderfully tranquil place that still amazes all who wander in and amongst the remains. One of our favourite places in Turkey, this is a real gem not to be missed.
Holidays in Turkey
Where to stay in Turkey
Please select the regions you are interested in.
The four star Antea Hotel occupies an outstanding location in the oldest quarter of Istanbul, just minutes walk away...
Situated in Sultanahmet, at the heart of Istanbul, the hotel Arcadia is just minutes walk from main local attractions...
Hotel Yasmak Sultan
The Yasmak Sultan hotel is situated just a short walk from the Blue Mosque, the spice bazaar and many other enchanting...
The Spina is a converted 19th century house featuring a striking wooden exterior with ornate Ottoman and Byzantine...
The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons 5 star hotel offers a delightful experience. Situated in the heart of Sultanahmet or the old city of...
Holidays in Turkey
Holidays in Turkey
Turkey Travel Guide
Please select the regions you are interested in.
The city of Ankara lies in the centre of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau. The city, an important trading, cultural and arts centre in Roman times, and a post on the caravan routes to the east in Ottoman times, had declined in importance by the 19th century. It became an important centre once again when Kemal Ataturk chose it as the base from which to direct the War of Liberation. By consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Turkish Republic on October 13th, 1923. Ankara, whose ancient name is Angora gives the famous wool its name and Angora goats still roam in the neighbouring steppes and hills.
Cappadocia is a land where nature and man have competed with each other to create the most unusual and the most beautiful natural formations. The morphology of the region was formed by repeated volcanic eruptions around 40-50 million years ago, covering the area with layers of a light rock called tufa and creating a natural 'lunar like' landscape. Over time the elements have eroded this surface rock to create unusual valleys and vast rock sculptures or 'fairy chimneys', which have been incorporated into the building of towns, villages and vast rock mounds. The moon-like terrain of Cappadocia with its endless artwork is a photographer's delight.
Istanbul is a fascinating city, full of colour, mystery and culture. Known as Constantinople when it was the capital of the Eastern Roman and Byzantine Empires, Istanbul was later renamed and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The city spreads out over two continents, Europe and Asia, and is called the Gateway to Asia. It lies on the straights of the Bosphorus, which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean.
Pamukkale was called Hierapolis in ancient times and is located in beautiful surroundings rolling along the edge of the mountains. People are amazed by this natural phenomenon which is known as the petrified waterfalls. Lustrous white calcium formations form what is literally translated as the 'cotton castle'. The calcareous salts running off the plateau's edge have created this fantastic formation of stalactites, cataracts and basins. The Romans who were always partial to the pleasure and the benefits of bathing, established the spa city of Pammukale . You should not miss the Theatre and the Temple of Apollo, the Museum, Southern Baths, Byzantine Basilica and Church.
Amasya, near the Black Sea is one of Turkey's most beautiful cities, located in the narrow cleft of two rocky hills along the banks of the Yeþilýrmak River. It has a history dating back 3000 years and many civilizations have left priceless relics of their cultures. The city also has many architecturally precious buildings, such as the Ottoman houses along the river's edge.
The highlights of Amasya are the Rock Cut Tombs of the Pontic Kings, standing high above the river, the traditional Turkish mansions that have been perfectly restored and the many old fine mosques for example the 13th century Seljuk Burmali Mosque, and the 15th century Yýldýrým Beyazit Mosque complex.
Trabzon (Black Sea)
Turkey's lush, humid and ubiquitously green Black Sea Coast surprises those who imagine the country to be nothing but barren steppes. From Turkey's European frontier with Bulgaria to the Georgian border, along the coastline, mile after mile of beautiful uncrowded beaches offer sun, swimming and relaxation. Throughout the region, fishing villages and mountain hamlets alike preserve their indigenous and traditional wooden architectural styles.The humid climate and fertile soil encourage the cultivation of a variety of produce, including tea, tobacco, corn and hazelnuts. Once called Trapezus, and later Trebizond, the modern town of Trabzon is the major city of the region. It was founded in the 7th century B.C. by Miletian colonists and was the centre of the Comnene Empire established after the fall of Byzantine Istanbul.
Situated in a green, fertile oasis fringed by rocky mountains, Van was the ancient Urartian capital of Tuspa (1000 B.C.). Sitting on the south-eastern shores of Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey and the largest saline lake in the world, mountain silhouettes, coves, beaches, islands, waterfalls and centers belonging to various historical ages are located around the lake. Although its waters are highly alkaline the fish caught in the lake is delicious.
The name Cappadocia derived from the Old Persian "Katpatuka ". It is an enchanting open-air museum and an unparalleled example of the common cultural heritage of humanity. Centred on the triangle of Nevsehir, Urgup and Avanos, Cappadocia is in the middle of a once active volcanic region. At the time when Anatolia was completing its geographical evolution, these volcanic eruptions were so strong that the lava in some places was up to 100 metres thick. Over many millions of years, volcanoes, wind, rain and ice sculpted what we now know as Cappadocia. As the land eroded, the basalt stones remained and formed conical structures sometimes reaching as high as 45 metres. The local people called these unique rock formations "Fairy Chimneys", a name that has endured throughout the ages. If nature was the first artist to arrange the decor, it was Anatolian man who over the centuries carved the rocks and built houses, churches and over 120 underground cities. The largest of these, Ozkonak, once had a population of 60 thousand. The canyon formed by the Melendiz stream, which has pierced its way through the rocks, is called the Ihlara Valley. In this 14-km long valley there are 105 churches and 4535 houses.
Antalya is a walled old city surrounded by modern sprawl. We'll spend the night in the old city, in a reconstructed Ottoman mansion and we'll eat at a traditional restaurant, which serves the typical cuisine of the Black Sea (fish, olive oil and unusual vegetables). In the morning, if you get up early, you can explore the old harbour and narrow maze of streets lined with tumbling wooden and stone houses. Don't get lost!
Egirdir, in Byzantine times called Acrotiri, is built on the only piece of level land facing two islands in the vivid green Lake Egirdir (40 km long!). An ancient castle defended the shore road but the two islands have now been linked to the land with a causeway. The town has some medieval Seljuk buildings including a mosque and madrassa (school) with huge decorated doorways. A harbour with fishing craft, a litter of modern pensions and abandoned Greek mansions complete the picture. On the shore, Turkish commandos have their training camp and, slim and handsome with their camouflage fatigues and blue berets, they fill the cafes and billiard hall. In winter the lake freezes, the wind screams down from Siberia but in summer all is calm and sunny. The ring of mountains reflected in the lake tempts you to climb to upper lands.
Kasimlar is a village, dragged into modernity by being chosen to host a major secondary school. The teashop, tiny village shops and council offices cluster round a square with a fountain where the old men mumble about bygone days. The young people have mainly fled to the cities. But from the village are magnificent views down the gorge of the Koprulu River which has excavated a huge and unstable V through the soft shale. Light and shade plays on the sheer, blue-grey slopes, distant farmhouse roofs add colour and the river is a trickle of silver at the bottom.
Kasnak is a unique forest, preserved because it shelters a magnificent 600-year-old specimen of the endemic Volcanic Oak. Around this grandfather tree cluster all his seedlings and also, in June, wild peonies in a deep magenta with golden stamens. Wild irises, magnificent cedars, orchids and fritillaries complete the picture. Far below is a dammed lake and, below that, the larger lake of Kovada. It's a long and winding walk down.
Adada is one place where we're pretty sure St Paul walked. We retrace his footsteps up the beautifully engineered Roman road which curls around the hillside for 2km to the centre of the site. The site is a surprise because, although there is a Christian church, far more in evidence are three neat Imperial Roman temples, almost intact, lined up near the main street. Obviously Christianity and paganism co-existed here. The unusual forum and the theatre have recently been excavated.
Holidays in Turkey
Turkey Travel Information
UK Passport holders require a visa to visit Turkey. This can be acquired at the port of entry on arrival and are valid for 1 month. A useful tip is to carry a £10 with you as change is not always happily given!
Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the end of your trip, and it must have at least one blank page for each visa required. Please ensure the passport details we hold for you are correct.
Please note it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa documentation when starting your trip. Country entry regulations can alter daily and it is always best to check with the relevant embassies for any changes.
If you prefer to obtain your visa prior to departing from the UK you can use a visa company such as:
6-12 Gladstone Road
Tel: 020 7223 5295
Fax: 020 7738 2617
If you are travelling on a non-UK passport, please contact your nearest consulate/embassy for up to date visa information.
Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours.
You should be aware that many standard insurance policies may not cover you adequately for all aspects of a Wild Frontiers trip and so we strongly recommend that you purchase a suitably designed insurance policy.
One such policy is the "Wild Frontiers" policy underwritten by Ace European Group Limited (ACE " firm reference 202803), which is available to EU residents (which excludes Norway & Switzerland) through our website or via the insurance company direct on 0845 345 3456. Under this policy there are two different levels of cover available.
Standard policy: a comprehensive travel insurance policy that provides cover for all Wild Frontiers activities, including trekking up to 6,000m. This policy does not provide cover for travel to areas where the FCO is advising against all or all but essential travel.
Elite policy: provides the same comprehensive level of cover as the standard policy. In addition the Elite policy also provides cover for travel to areas where the FCO is advising against all or all but essential travel. The policy will not provide cover for any claims arising from or relating to the reasons why the FCO is advising against travel.
If purchasing the Elite policy you also have the option to extend the cover provided by the policy to include cover for claims arising from a terrorist act in an area where the FCO is advising against travel. You can add this cover to your policy when purchasing online or over the telephone.
These policies are only available to those travelling on a Wild Frontiers holiday.
For more information and to purchase your policy online please visit the Insurance section of our website.
The cover is underwritten by Ace European Group Limited (ACE), and is arranged by Travel & General Insurance Service Limited. Both companies are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Wild Frontiers Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Travel & General Insurance Company plc, details of which can be found at the FSA's website www.fsa.gov.uk.
To contact them please visit their website at www.travel-general.com or call 0845 408
Health and Vaccinations:
There are no mandatory immunisations for travellers to Turkey, although you should be up-to-date with Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A. We recommend you seek advice from your local GP or travel centre as to the correct immunisations and preventative treatments.
We also recommend:
• A dental check-up prior to travelling.
• You inform us of any pre-existing medical conditions or medication.
To be on the safe side you can also check on www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
Holidays in Turkey
Check out what makes us different from the restRead More…
More useful information when travelling to:
Flight InformationFlight time to Istanbul from London is 3:45hrs, with British Airways or Turkish Airlines. A number of charter companies fly direct to the regional airports in other parts of the country.
Useful Tips• Don't be tempted to buy caviar in Istanbul's Spice bazaar - its likely to be lump fish roe!
• Try an Iskender kebab - a tasty interpretation version of the classic "doner"
• Have a beer (or a raki) sitting on top of the deserted amphitheatre at Selge
• Check out a Belly Dancing show in Perla, Istanbul (all very James Bond!)
• If walking St Paul's Trail take your trunks, there are wonderful rivers to swim in
Good books and maps of Turkey are available at Stanfords in Covent Garden, London or online at www.stanfords.co.uk
A Traveller's History of Turkey, by Richard Stoneman is a concise account covering everything from the legendary Flood of Noah, the early civilisation of Catal Huyuk 7000 years before Christ, the treasures of Troy, Alexander the Great, the Romans, Selcuks, Byzantines and the Golden Age of the Sultans to the changes of the 20th century.
Europa Minor, by Lord Kinross may now be out of print but if you can get your hands on a copy it gives a lovely taste of the country you’ll be travelling through.
Kinross also wrote The Ottoman Centuries, and A life of Ataturk which are both recommended.
St Paul: the Traveller and Roman Citizen, by William M Ramsay " Ramsay also wrote many other books about St Paul and his excavations and travels in Asia Minor.
Ancient Turkey " Seton Lloyd gives a summary of all the ancient races that influenced and occupied the peninsula of Asia Minor, finishing with the Romans.
A Short History of Byzantium, by John Julius Norwich is the best-known, quirky Byzantine history that covers the court in great depth but, as most others, neglects the regions.
Osman’s Dream, by Caroline Finkel is the latest scholarly history of the Ottoman Empire, with much more information than usual about what happened in the regions.
Turkey Unveiled " Ataturk and After, by Hugh and Nicole Pope is the modern history of Turkey, bringing you almost up-to-date.
When To GoDuring June, days in the east are generally warm (in the region of 25 degrees) and dry.
In the Taurus Mountains from mid September to early May it is pleasantly warm to hot (around 30°C) during the day and cool to cold (around 15°C) at night. If you are at altitude it can be cold at night. In spring you will also be treated to blankets of wild flowers if trekking.
Packing ListBelow is a list of general items you might take with you on a Wild Frontiers trip to Turkey. With your booking confirmation you will receive a packing list specific to your tour, so please treat this as a general guideline only.
It is best to use a soft bag - rucksack/hold-all/duffel bag - so it can be transported and stored more easily.
On all our trips a small daypack is practical for keeping general items (e.g. camera, books, wallets etc.) at hand when your main pack is out of reach. It is also handy for day trips and excursions.
In general you should bring clothes you feel comfortable with but do be aware that if you are travelling in Eastern Turkey you will require a little bit of preparation as it more conservative than the better known west. Therefore as a guide we suggest a packing list like this:
• 3 x Light cotton shirts or T-shirts, short sleeved and long
• 1 x lightweight jumper, fleece or sweatshirts
• 2/3 pairs recreational trousers (not shorts) or women can wear dresses (but not skirts)
• Waterproof jacket
• Socks suitable for walking as well as light weight ones for evenings
• Pair of comfortable light walking boots or shoes
• Pair of recreational shoes (adventure sandals, trainers or pumps)
• Sun hat or cap
The following is useful extra equipment for your trip:
• Travel towel, travel soap and toiletries
• Torch (LED head-torch keeps your hands free)
• A bandanna or large handkerchief is useful for dusty tracks
• Pair of good quality sunglasses
• Water bottle
• Plug adapter (see ‘Electricity’ section)
Personal First Aid Kit:
While we do carry a large medical kit we would advise that you take some of the basics with you. This should include:
• Any prescription medication required (please inform the tour leader at your pre-departure meeting about these)
• Antibacterial dry hand wash
• Painkillers: paracetamol & ibuprofen
• Rehydration salts (Gastrolyte)
• Malaria Tablets (if necessary)
• Travel motion-sickness tablets if required (e.g. natural ginger tablets)
• Diarrhoea remedies
• Cold/flu decongestants
• Mosquito Repellent
• Insect bite cream
• Plasters/Bandage/Steri-Strips/Blister pads
• Sunscreen (30+ factor)
• Moisturiser/after sun cream/lip balm
• Contact lenses and solution if required
(A kit with most of this in is available at www.nomadtravel.co.uk)
• Ear plugs (if sharing a room / camping)
• Alarm clock
• 3-4 plastic carrier bags are very useful for dirty washing, dirty shoes and rubbish
• Flip flops/sandals for bathrooms
• Sleeping bag liner (cotton or silk)
• Small packs of tissues
• Money belt or secure pouch for money and passport etc.
• Eye patches if light affects your sleep
• Sewing kit/scissors
• Writing materials
• Spare batteries/camera memory cards
• Swiss Army knife
• Universal bath plug
• Calculator (for currency conversion)
• Trekking poles
• Lyons coffee bags if you cannot survive without ‘proper’ coffee.
NB: If you wear glasses, it is advisable to bring a spare pair since opticians are uncommon. If you wear contact lenses you may find that climatic changes and dust can create visual irritation, therefore, it is advisable to bring a pair of glasses.
You might be tempted to buy a few souvenirs here and there, so leave a little room for those extra purchases!!
Although it is very rare that luggage goes missing on flights, it has been known to happen and so it’s a good idea to carry a spare top, toothbrush, wash kit, underwear and any other essentials in your hand luggage so that you can at least freshen up while waiting for your bags to catch you up. If you wear your sturdy shoes/boots it will also reduce weight in your luggage and keep them safe.
Turkey is 2hrs ahead of GMT.
A useful website to check the time zone differences is www.worldtimezone.com
Food and Alcohol:
Some specialties include pide, or Turkish pizza " flat bread with various toppings " köfte (meatballs), dolma (peppers or vine leaves stuffed with rice). Fish and seafood are also good and include freshly grilled sardines and mackerel. Another great option is the mezes " an extensive array of cold appetizers. For dessert, there's every imaginable concoction, the best being the honey-soaked baklava, and of course Turkish delight " solidified sugar and pectin, flavoured with rosewater or pistachios, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Tea is the national drink, served in tiny tulip-shaped glasses, with sugar on the side but no milk. Turkish coffee is served in tiny cups; don't drink the last mouthful (it's the grounds). Alcoholic drinks are available - the main locally brewed brands of beer are Efes Pilsen and Tuborg; imported beers are available, but at an horrendous mark-up. The national aperitif is anis-flavoured raki " stronger than Greek ouzo, it's usually drunk with ice and topped up with water.
Those bringing video & digital cameras that require battery chargers should also bring a two-pin, continental style adapter. In most hotels you can charge from the mains using a travel adaptor plug.
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira.
To check out the latest exchange rate for the places that you are visiting you can go to www.oanda.com
A few points to help you plan:
• Don’t bring travellers’ cheques as banks take a long time to change them and charge a hefty commission.
• You can change Pound Sterling, Euros or US Dollars in Trabzon and other major cities.
• If using ATM machines, be sure to notify your bank before you travel and be aware they often carry a service charge.
• Payments are mainly made in cash.
• It is useful to bring lots of small denomination notes.
Language & Religion:
Turkish is the national language of Turkey, spoken by about 75% of the population. The remaining 25% is mainly comprised of Kurdish speakers and other local languages or dialects. Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion although roughly 97% of the population are Muslim.
At Wild Frontiers we are very aware of the ethical impact tourism can have on ancient cultures. We realise that taking a group of tourists through such a region can have a negative impact on the lives of those who live there and on all our tours we therefore go to great lengths to minimise the negative and accentuate the positive…after all, there are also many good things that the tourist can bring.
To help this process we ask that our clients do not hand out pens or sweets to children. As one sign in Egypt emphatically put it, ‘Please don't make beggars out of our children!' No matter how well intentioned, in our opinion the dolling out of free gifts fosters a ‘beggar mentality' that is ultimately extremely destructive to a society. In addition we do not condone giving out money to beggars or ‘students'.
However, we also realise that we are exceptionally privileged to be travelling in areas where most of the people have far less than us and that the desire to ‘help' can be very powerful. As a result we ask that you refer to your trip dossier for information on the Wild Frontiers Foundation which supports specific projects in the areas where we travel.
Please remember, we are guests in the countries through which we travel and we may sometimes inadvertently cause offence by taking photographs without first asking permission. There may also be strict rules about taking photos of army, police or any official personnel; restrictions apply at borders, bridges and any government building.