August 16, 2013

Turkey Travel Guide

Blessed with a temperate climate, exquisite coastline and situated on both Europe and Asia, Turkey’s natural charms and fascinating history make it the ultimate holiday delight. Here’s the Sure Travel version of a Turkey Travel Guide so you can start dreaming and planning…

WHEN TO GO: Late April to May (Spring) or late September to October (Autumn).

VISAS: Visas are required by SA passport holders - they are free and must be applied for online before departure. Apply for the free e-visa online here. Quick & easy!


CURRENCY: Turkish Lira (approx. ZAR1=0.19 Lira as of 15 August 2013). Thompsons Holidays gives an approximate guideline of prices: 35-70 Lira per day for transport, a meal in a restaurant 1-15 Lira upwards, a beer will set you back 5 Lira and an ice-cream between 3-5 Lira.

LANGUAGE: Turkish - English is widely spoken.

Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise: No visit is complete without a cruise on the Bosphorus – the river separating the European side of Istanbul from the Asian side. Take in the views of the city from the water before heading to the Spice Bazaar for a nose-tingling sensory adventure.

Istanbul City Tour: Get your dose of history and culture discovering the city’s fascinating past – an absolute must. The Topkapi Palace (the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans and their Harem), the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Underground Cistern are just some of the highlights.

Istanbul Bazaars:
If you’re a shopaholic, then you’ve come to the right place. Istanbul boasts the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world and the Spice Bazaar – the second largest covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar.

Bodrum Beach Nightlife:
Join the party in the glittering clubs and waterside bars on the north side of the Bodrum Peninsula.

Bodrum Hamam experience: Experience a traditional hamam (Turkish Bath) experience in Bodrum’s centre. Wherever you are in Turkey, make sure you visit one of these for a rejuvenating (and eye-opening!) scrub and massage in a hot bathing area.

Visit Ephesus near Kusadasi:
Ephesus, an ancient Greek and then Roman city, is the best preserved classical city of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is a must-visit to really soak up and understand the long and fascinating history of this area.

Nowhere else in the world can you see this kind of otherworldly landscape. The best way to take in the volcanic valleys, fairy chimneys and caves is in a hot air balloon at sunrise.

Formed by calcite-laden waters from a hot spring higher on the cliff, Pamukkale (which means “Cotton Palace” in Turkish) is a natural mountain of “cottony” or snow-like terraced basins.

At the end of the 2nd century BC, the thermal spa of Hierapolis was created above Pamukkale. The ruins of the baths, temples and other Greek monuments can be seen, and bathed in, at the site today.

Cleopatra Island near Marmaris:
Sedir Island, also known as Cleopatra Island, is a tiny island in the Aegean off the south-west coast of Turkey. The beach is made entirely from a special type of sand that is only found in Egypt. According to legend, Cleopatra refused to step on any other land than Egypt and so the Roman general Mark Anthony imported the sand to the island by ship – the start of their famous love affair.

 Gulet cruise:
For a truly relaxing way to make the most of the idyllic Turkish coast, step on board a gulet (a traditional wooden Turkish sailing vessel). Stop for lunch in quaint villages, discover hidden coves for swimming and snorkelling and explore secluded hillside ruins.

GETTING THERE: Turkish Airlines flies daily from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Istanbul. From there, you can connect to your final destination in Turkey or one of their other 236 destinations. Read more about the award-winning Turkish Airlines here.

You can win a holiday to Turkey! Read about the competition here.
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