Beyond the sun, sea and popular resorts, Turkey still has so much to offer; there are dozens of places offering an array of outdoor activities, historical wonders and small glimpses of paradise.
The recent Middle East unrest has deterred visitors and experts believe Turkey is where most tourists will end up. Tourist numbers to Turkey are expected to increase by three million, to 31 million this year meaning overcrowding could become a problem; this is the perfect time to skip the usual tourist pursuits and do something different.
•The Princes Islands, Istanbul
These are a group of tranquil and car-free islands located a short ferry-ride from Istanbul. Four islands are inhabited and the biggest islands, Buyukada and Heybeliada, are the most popular for visitors. You can explore them and view their multi-storeyed 19th-century wooden houses at a leisurely pace by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage – the only transport on the islands.
When descending into Alacati on the Aegean coast, the stone windmills spied on the azure horizon offer a reminder of the flour-making industry that once flourished here. It has become a popular place for windsurfers; the whitewashed old buildings and cobbled streets have received a facelift making it the perfect place to unwind and sample the local life.
This peaceful yachters’ haven is equipped with several marinas, excellent seafood restaurants, friendly service and fabulous shops selling indigenous jewellery, crafts and clothes. You will spend a little more than usual here but you will get quality for money.
Kas is a fishing town of 6,000 people at the heart of the Lycian Way on the southwestern Mediterranean coast. Kas offers kayaking and canoeing trips to the sunken Lycian ruins and its pristine waters and varied coastline has made it Turkey’s top spot for diving.
For the adventurous landlubbers, the Taurus Mountains which tower above the town are the perfect place for mountain -biking, rock-climbing, trekking and canyoning.
•The Kackar Mountains
Far away from the Mediterranean on the Black Sea coast is Trabzon, the gateway to the Kackar Mountains, one of Turkey’s best kept secrets.
The Kackars remind one of being in the Alps and the Himalayas all rolled in one. There are verdant green valleys, with rushing rivers flowing through them, pine forests and steep rocky mountains with ridges pock-marked by large glacial lakes.It’s a paradise for trekkers, mountain-bikers, ramblers and nature lovers of every description.
Whether it’s to marvel at the fairy chimneys made of volcanic rock, go white-water rafting in its rushing rivers, descend into the multi-storey underground cities or squeeze into a hermit’s cave in an early Christian monastery, there is plenty in Cappadocia to sate the appetite of the curious traveller.
Also, hot air balloon rides have become legendary here as the views of the lunar-type landscape are fabulous.
This is a nature-lover’s paradise perched on a clifftop on the Lycian Way; Kabak has blossomed from one tranquil hippy den to dozens of little paradises ranging from wooden huts to five-star hotels with swimming pools, it is a place to get away from it all.
Patara boasts some of the most impressive and important ruins of the Lycian, Hellenistic and Roman period which take a considerable amount of time to explore properly.
It also has the most luxurious white sandy beach which is a huge attraction for visitors to the area during the summer months.
Go back in time in Sanliurfa in one of Turkey’s most authentic covered bazaars, admire Hasankeyf’s ancient cave dwellings and visit Mardin’s Deyrulzafaran monastery where services are still held in Aramaic.
No visit to this area would be complete, of course, without ascending Mount Nemrut and marvelling at the giant statues that King Antiochus had carved out of stone of himself and pagan gods transforming the mountain top into a gigantic tomb.
Turkey has gradually become popular for medical tourism so why not combine your holiday with a low cost medical procedure?
Procedures from simple dentistry to plastic surgery can be carried out in private or public clinics around the country or in JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals.
So if you want to have shiny teeth and get a little nip and tuck before you head off to the beach, it seems Turkey just might be the recession-friendly place to do it.