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The mosques, bazaars, and Turkish baths of Istanbul could keep you happily occupied for your entire trip: an eyeful of breathtaking architecture here, a good-natured haggle over a carpet there. Kick your trip off at the awe-inspiring Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), which is visible from many points of the city. Stroll the Galata Bridge and stop by the Miniaturk Park to see its tiny artifacts. The Grand Bazaar has thousands of shops to browse, while the Egyptian Bazaar is a fragrant trove of spices and fruits.
A town literally carved into the volcanic rock, Goreme is the gateway to the Goreme National Park, a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses spectacular 10th- and 11th-century cave churches. The park itself is known for its chimney rock formations and is very popular with backpackers. It’s also a great area to sample Turkish cuisine and wine.
Antalya is the fastest-growing city in Turkey, and tourists from around the world are discovering its fabulous mix of great beaches and traditional Turkish culture. Kids will love the Beach Park, which features Aqua Land (a waterslide-fanatic's dream) and Dolphin Land (home to dolphins, sea lions and white whales). Make sure to explore the old town center and to see Hadrian's Gate.
Approximately 40 miles southeast of Antalya, you will find the beautiful coastal resort of Kemer at the foot of the majestic Taurus Mountain. Enjoy a walk along the promenade and a visit a reconstructed tent city that reflects the life of the Turkish nomads. You can watch carpet weavers at work and sample Turkish specialties such as ayran (yogurt drink) and gözleme (pancakes). Close by is a cable car that lifts you right to the top of Tahtali Mountain (2,365 meters).
Beaches cover both the east and west coast of Alanya. The harbor is lined with modern hotels, resorts, fresh seafood restaurants, bars and cafes. There are countless activities including water sports, boat tours, caves, historical sights, and even a large go-kart track. Some travelers’ favorites include parasailing, banana boating, and visiting the 13th century Alanya castle with amazing views of the entire coastline.
The waters surrounding the small village of Oludeniz are an achingly beautiful gradient of blue. Sapphire meets seafoam green at the shoreline, where stretches of white sand are dotted with leisurely sunbathers. The scenery is even more gorgeous from above—Oludeniz is renowned as one of the world’s top spots for paragliding.
The Cappadocia region's most upscale and contemporary tourist city, Urgup has a number of lovely hotels, many built in and around centuries-old cave dwellings. The city and its surrounding area are known for their mysterious fairy chimneys, early Christian rock churches and fine vineyards. A mix of ancient and modern, Urgup is a center for traditional handmade carpets, but also has a lively nightlife. Hot air ballooning is very popular, and a fantastic way to see the area's beauty from above.
Cesme attracts all types of surfers from all over the world: wind surfers, kite surfers, surf surfers. If you can surf it, you’ll probably want to surf it in Cesme. This resort town on the Aegean Coast is all about the water. Even the 16th-century Cesme Castle is a stone’s throw from the sapphire sea. The beaches are golden, the ocean is warm, and the atmosphere is posh but friendly.
The beaches that stretch along Kudasi's Aegean coastline are as diverse in terrain as they are in ambiance. Ladies’ Beach, thusly named because it was once a for women only, is packed with nightclubs, souvenir vendors, restaurants and, of course, sunbathers and swimmers. Grass-lined Gold Beach is well-manicured and peaceful. Ride a horse from there to Long Beach, a playground of beach bars, pool tables and water sports.