Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey is a land of incredible diversity: a true melting pot of cultures, sights and experiences. With cosmopolitan cities, jaw-dropping architecture and some of the best food to be found on the planet, this is a country you might find yourself visiting again and again.
“This trip had to seriously the highlight of my life! Turkey is freaking amazing, has to be one of the most amazing countries on this planet! I met some amazing people on this tour and made some life long friends, this has to be my all time favorite holiday I've ever had, thanks contiki”
“A whirlwind of entertainment. The onboard activities are great. The excursions are excellent. The downfall is staying up late in the dancehall and waking early for breakfast and exploration. The trip is not long enough to get exhausted so it's very doable as long as you stay hydrated and take a break from the sun. I had a great time and it was all made possible by my lovely tour guide Stacey :)”
There's a lot to consider when planning your Turkey travel 2015. History buff? Istanbul has some of the world's finest mosques and temples. Beaches? The Turkish Riviera has you covered. Hot springs? Try the thermal pools at Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa town and UNESCO World Heritage site. Read on for our list of the best things to do in Turkey.
Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.
Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!See all trips that visit Seville
Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.See all trips that visit Madrid
Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.
Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.See all trips that visit Ibiza
Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.
Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.
Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.See all trips that visit Gibraltar
1. SunSplash Festival, Bodrum – Turkey's premier electronic music festival takes place in the stunning seaside location of Aspat Bay, near Bodrum. Expect sunshine, good living and a heavy roster of international dance music and club DJs.
For more information on SunSplash Festival, click here.
2. Istanbul Jazz Festival – A single concert given by jazz legend Chick Corea in 1984 was the spark that gave life to this festival, so its credentials are impeccable. Held over a 3-week period and spread throughout a large range of venues across the city, it attracts some of the biggest names in jazz, blues and folk music from around the world.
For more information on the Istanbul Jazz Festival, click here.
3. Camel Wrestling Championships, Selçuk – Each January, camel owners from across Turkey descend on an ancient stadium in Ephesus. Their goal? To prove their camel is the best at, er, wrestling. Prospective champions battle it out with other camels of similar weight, securing a win by making their opponent scream, fall down or simply run away. Spectators are strongly advised to beware of flying saliva and - perhaps more worryingly - urine.
For more information on the Camel Wrestling Championships, click here.
4. Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival, near Side, Antalya – Not many festivals can claim to be held in a Roman amphitheatre dating from 155BC. Still, for such an old structure the acoustics are impeccable and a program of world-class international ballet and opera ensures the entertainment lives up to the setting.
For more information on Aspendos, click here.
5. International Istanbul Film Festival – Full-length feature films and documentaries are the order of the day at this, Turkey's leading festival of film. Various masterclasses, Q&As and panel discussions supplement the 16-day program of screenings, and it's attended by A-list actors and directors. Time to gatecrash that red carpet.
For more information on Istanbul Film festival, click here.
1. Istanbul Archeology Museum – Split over three separate buildings, the Istanbul Archeology Museum houses over a million epic artifacts, including the Kadesh Peace Treaty (the oldest known peace treaty in the world) and the Alexander Sarcophagus, the museum's pièce de résistance.
For more information on the Istanbul Archeology Museum, click here.
2. Istanbul Modern – The Istanbul Modern is one of Beyoğlu district's biggest draws, featuring an extensive collection of 20th century Turkish art and changing mixed-media exhibitions. Its impressive waterside location also offers superb views of the Bosphorus.
For more information on the Istanbul Modern, click here.
3. Chora Museum, Istanbul – Now well over 1000-years old, this beautiful Byzantine church is most famed for its wonderfully preserved mosaics and frescoes, but its architecture alone makes a visit worthwhile.
For more information on the Chora Museum, click here.
4. Antalya Museum – Antalya's best-loved museum is home to some of Turkey's most unique treasures. It's split into 13 galleries, each filled with an array of pottery, mosaics, jewellery and sculptures from throughout the ages. Our highlight? A series of incredibly well preserved statues of Olympian gods.
For more information on the Antalya Museum, click here.
5. Topkapi Palace, Istanbul – The former court of the Ottoman Empire, this truly magnificent palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Turkey's major tourist attractions. It consists of four spectacular main courtyards as well as numerous other buildings (the Treasury and Harem are favourites) and is home to many of the finest Ottoman artifacts still in existence.
For more information on the Topkapi Palace, click here.
Turkey inherited its incredible culinary palette from the Ottoman Empire, who drew on its gateway position between the Mediterranean, the Balkans, central Asia and the Middle East to absorb a huge range of ingredients, techniques and influences.
Happily for all you carnivores, its cuisine is traditionally meat heavy - lamb in particular - with onions, aubergines, tomatoes, green peppers as the big players in the vegetable world. Yoghurt and tantalising cheeses like beyaz peynir are dairy favourites, with a range of delicious breads like gözleme, lavash and simit to make up the picture.
Here's a selection of some must-try dishes:
Balik ekmek – This fish sandwich is a classic Istanbul street food, and it doesn't get much fresher than this. Pulled from the river, then cooked and served straight from the boat, it's one of the great Istanbul food experiences. Some sliced onion and a squeeze of lemon juice take it to the next level.
Best eaten at – Fish Sandwich Boat, Galata Bridge (southwest side), Eminönü, Istanbul
Baklava – Get your sugar-rush on with Turkey's most famous dessert, made from delicate layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts bound together with honey. Eat it like the locals: washed down with a small cup of thick Turkish coffee.
Best eaten at – Çiğdem Pastanesi, Divanyolu Caddesi 62, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Pide – Turkey's answer to the pizza, pide (pronounced 'pee-DAY') is a mouthwatering oblong flatbread cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven, topped with meats, vegetables and cheeses of your choice. This boat-shaped treasure is a popular street food throughout the country, and might just be your new favourite dish.
Best eaten at – Hatay Has Kral Sofrasi, İskender Paşa Mh., Ragıp Bey Sk No:27, 34091 Istanbul
Menemen – If you thought scrambled eggs couldn't get any better, then think again. The Turkish version incorporates fried onions, green peppers and tomatoes with a little ground red pepper and oregano, with plenty of fresh Turkish bread on the side.
Best eaten at – 7 Mehmet, Meltem Mh., Atatürk Kültür Parkı, 07030 Antalya
Adana kebab – A proper Adana combines young lamb meat with just the right amount of tail fat. It's then minced by hand, impaled on a thick metal skewer and grilled to perfection over an open fire. Eat yours 'dürüm' (wrapped in flatbread) or 'porsiyon' (on a plate), served with roasted tomatoes, green peppers and thinly sliced onions.
Best eaten at – Zubeyir Ocakbasi, Istiklal Caddesi, Bekar Sokak No:28, Beyoglu, 34435 Istanbul
Sunglasses - Whether it's to blend in with the stylish Istanbul locals or simply to protect your eyes from the fierce Turkish sun, you're going to need a solid pair of shades.
Sensible walking shoes - Many of Turkey's sights are best explored on foot, so a pair of comfortable shoes is a must.
A headscarf - Some of the world's most amazing mosques are to be found here, and if you're female then it's customary to cover up your hair.
An extra suitcase - Whether it's spices, carpets or home goods, shopping temptation runs at an all time high here. And that's before you've even set foot in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar!
A two-pin adapter plug - To keep your electrical essentials juiced up.