|Flight time||4 hrs|
|Ideal length||Seven days|
|Price||From £1,380 pp|
|When to go||April - October|
Getting under the skin of Istanbul with our expert guides
Staying in some of one of the new boutique boltholes popping up along the Bosphorus
Kicking back in Cesme - Turkey's hippest beach retreat.
Drinking in the views (and the champagne) as the sun sets behind the god's heads at Mt Nemrut
Rafting awesome white water in the untouched wilderness to the east
Exploring the underground cities, the frescoed churchs of the early christians and bizarre landcapes of Cappadocia
Exploring the underground cities, the frescoed churches and bizarre landcapes of Cappadoccia
Istanbul is the only city in the world where you can have breakfast in Europe, lunch in Asia, and be back where you began for evening sundowners on the water’s edge. The best way to see it is with our expert guides, who will show you the ins and outs away from the tourist throngs.
Get under the skin of the domed mosques and towering spires, trickling fountains, crumbling city walls and beautiful mosaic-lined arches with our local experts. We love the Beyoglu area for truly local market experience, stopping off at Taksim Square for great boutique cafés, patisseries, restaurants and winehouses. For an indulgent night out, we can arrange for you to take a luxury boat trip along the Bosphorus at sunset, ending at an open air nightclub where you can dance under the stars until dawn.
And for those morning-after party feet, try a massage at the best Turkish baths in the city, or a cooling limeade with mint in a cute little café in the backstreets near the Grand Bazaar.
In terms of hotels in Istanbul you are no longer restricted to the famous district of Sultanahmet in the Old Town. Dotted along the edge of the Bosphorus you’ll find some real gems. For a taste of the traditional, Les Ottomans is an impressive riverside mansion-meets-gallery displaying local art in traditional style. Decorated with swathes of silk, satin and polished oak furniture, staying here is like delving into the rich historical period of the area.
For something more contemporary, the Sumahan on the Water. We love these huge suites for their white walls, wooden beams, and funky modern fireplaces, not to mention floor-to-ceiling windows letting in the evening sun.
But Turkey isn’t only about the capital. In fact, we love the up-and-coming beach hotspot of Cesme, and we think you will too. You’d be a fool to miss this: one of the prettiest beach towns we have ever come across with clear blue seas and quiet bays dotted with fig and gum trees.
Who would have known such an unassumingly natural place would be home to one of the best small boutique hotels in continental Europe? Perched on the shores of the Aegean, 7800 Cesme is a surprisingly contemporary yet homely bolt hole, with sleek, airy rooms and quirky touches such as wooden bowl armchairs, sunken baths and the all-important swinging bench on the terrace. Oh, and the white sand beach isn’t bad either. Just round the corner you’ll find world-class windsurfing for over 330 days of the year, and in nearby Ephesus you can see the world-famous Roman ruins.
If history is your thing you’ll love Mount Nemrut, home to hundreds of gigantic stone god’s heads: a spectacular ancient sight at sunrise and totally out-of-this-world when the sun goes down. We’ll also throw in some champagne to make this experience even more special. And here’s one to get before it goes: the archaeological ruins of Hassankeyf in the Batman province of southern Turkey. The Roman fortress, conquered by Arabs in 640AD, lies in a well-preserved city in danger of total destruction by a huge dam currently being built. Head there now and snap a piece of history while you still can.
And finally, for you adrenalin junkies out there, head East for mountains, waves and rivers galore. Battle 120 km of rapids rafting down the Coruh river in the North- east of the country (with a stretch named ‘the stud’, expect your heart to be racing), and in winter, heli ski untouched powder in the Kackar mountains. Eastern Turkey’s unharnessed mountainous terrain is an adventure playground waiting to be discovered. Get out there before everybody else does.
If this has tickled your Turkish tastebuds then give us a call, and we will arrange your perfect trip. Before you know it you’ll be up in a hot air balloon over peaked fairy caves in Cappadoccia, eating croissants and drinking champagne.