Lying at the crossroads of Europe and Asia where East meets West, and with a long and eclectic history, Turkey has become a cultural melting pot, all of which is reflected in its food, nightlife and shopping. Expect to find traditional wholesome food being served alongside modern, contemporary cuisine. After spending an hour watching Turkish folk dancing, you can strut your stuff all night on the dancefloor. And while on the hunt for souvenirs, you can browse Byzantine boutiques before heading next door to a designer store. Turkey really is a country of fascinating contrasts.
Turkey is situated on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia with roughly three percent of Turkey’s land area also being located in south-eastern Europe. It shares a border with Greece and Bulgaria to the north, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to the north-east, Iran to the east, Iraq to the south-east and Syria to the south. The country also shares a coastline with three seas; Black Sea to the north, Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Aegean Sea to the west. Turkey has a land area of 783, 562 square km and the capital city is Ankara.
Turkey is home to several airports, however, Istanbul (IST), Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) and Antalya (AYT) are the three main and busiest airports in the country.
The average flight time from London to Turkey is three hours and 45 minutes. We offer direct flights from many airports across the UK. Speak to one our experienced sales members to explore all your flight options.
The best time to visit Turkey depends on what you want to achieve from your holiday and what activities you wish to participate in. If you want warm weather and reasonable prices, without the hassle of crowds then April to June is the ideal time to visit. This is the perfect time for sightseeing and hiking. Alternatively, if you want a lazy holiday spent sunbathing around the pool and at the beach, partnered with hot weather and glorious sunshine then mid-June to August is the perfect time to visit Turkey. This is Turkey’s peak season so be prepared for plenty of crowds and higher prices compared to other times of the year.
You simply must try the food here - Turkish cuisine beautifully blends Asian, African and Balkan flavours for a party in your mouth! Some of our absolute favourites are manti, little lamb or beef stuffed dumplings covered in spicy sauce or kumpir, a baked potato full of whipped butter and cheese topped meats, vegetables and sauces. A good way to sample many of the dishes is to try a fish or meat meze which is a collection of small bite-size tasters, showcasing the best tastes on offer. We also enjoy lahmacun which is the Turkish take on pizza, minus the cheese. And oh my, save room for the sweets! Baklava and Turkish delight, which always taste better in their home country.
Not surprisingly, given its rich history, Turkish drinks have earned global popularity and are enjoyed far beyond the country's modern borders. Traditional beverages continue to play a significant role in Turkish culture and daily life, offering a range to satisfy every palate. The top favourites include strong coffee, boiled rather than brewed, and hot sweet tea served in tulip-shaped glasses. Ayran, a yogurt-based drink, is a common accompaniment to meat dishes, especially kebabs. For anyone who enjoys an alcoholic drink, options like boza—an ancient fermented beverage made from grain—or raki—a potent spirit crafted from a blend of white grapes and anise seeds—are popular choices. Just a heads-up, raki is not for the faint-hearted.
Turkey, under the guise of the Ottoman Empire, ruled vast swathes of Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa and this is reflected in its musical and dance culture. Turkish music is defined by its melodic tones and is famous for reflecting daily life and raising social issues. As most of the population was nomadic, musical instruments had to be portable such as the small, plucked lute-type saz and stringed kermancha, as well as drums and tambourines. Not surprisingly Turkish traditional dance also reflects its varied past and consists of rhythmic, flashy and sometimes dramatic components. Typical examples are Cifeteelli where women dance whilst playing string and wind instruments, Halay which involves people dancing linked at the arms and Horon involving coordinated foot strokes as arms and knees are held in the air.
Turkish people follow and participate in many sports, but by far the most popular is football. Football has historically always had a passionate fan base, but things really took off after the FIFA World Cup of 2002 when Turkey finished third. Other sports with strong followings include basketball, volleyball, handball and athletics. However, the title of the Turkish National Sport goes to oil wrestling. Dating back some 4,500 years, this traditional sport requires great skill and strength as wrestlers covered in grease or oil attempt to grab hold of each other. Motorsports are also now gaining an increased interest among the local population especially since the introduction of the Turkish Grand Prix to the racing calendar.
Shopping opportunities in Turkey are both varied and abundant. You can choose between modern, air-conditioned malls offering designer brands or explore traditional markets, bazaars and backstreet vendors where you will be presented with a dazzling selection of carpets, leather and copper goods, jewellery, glassware, souvenirs and of course those all-important bargains, ‘genuine fakes’. In our opinion, it is the markets and bazaars that provide the best Turkish shopping experience. Forget the stresses of daily life and allow yourself to be immersed in the bright-coloured stalls and heady smells of exotic spices. Join in with the fun and expect to be enticed into small shops by over-exuberant shopkeepers offering Turkish tea as a bribe and promising out-of-this-world bargain prices that will no doubt ruin his family and his business.