Turkey is a top destination for enchanting landscapes, both inland and along the coast. Ancient cultures, millennia of habitation and natural quirks of geology and meteorology have formed the truly wondrous travellers' treats of Cappadocia and the Turquoise Coast. Our newest trip through Turkey combines both – walk through surreal landscapes, resting in comfortable hotels at the end of each day, then sail on a gulet (traditional sailing boat) with private twin berth cabins, along a coast replete with submerged ancient cites, secluded islets and sparkling waters.
Beyond the architectural wonders of vibrant Istanbul, Cappadocia is spectacular terrain that’s at once awesome and whimsical in appearance. Eons of wind and water have sculpted a myriad of deep, volcanic valleys, bizarre rock formations and fretted ravines – a surreal, otherworldly realm best explored on foot. Hike through spectacular valley after valley, and discover the distinctive villages, banded colours, ‘fairy chimneys’ and rock cones unique to each. Along the way, come across intricate cave dwellings, rock-cut churches and elaborate underground cities in existence since the birth of Christ.
Other valleys have their own rocky wonders – including the ancient subterranean city of Derinkuyu. Get on a stairwell and down and down you go, descending into the earth’s depths. An extraordinary eight floors down – a full 85 metres below ground level – is Derinkuyu’s rock bottom (at least the lowest level open to visitors – below are more, unexcavated levels). Walk through underground cellars, chapels, stables, refectories, wineries and oil press rooms, as well as squat little rooms that once housed some of the thousands of people who called this place home. Take a look back up the huge ventilation shaft when you’re at the bottom and try not to be overawed by the feat of carving this hidden city into the earth, and by the lives of those who lived in this alien, subterranean world.
The Turquoise Coast
The tranquil blue waters off southern Turkey are perfect for an idyllic five-night boat cruise along a stunning coast lapped by the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Encounter unspoilt bays, precarious islets, secluded coves and rocky peninsulas, and ancient cities from Lycian, Pamphylian, Greek and Roman times. With a different anchorage each evening, you’ll experience an enriching cultural exchange with the gracious folk of the coastal villages. There’s also plenty of time to swim, sunbathe and simply relax in picture perfect splendour.
A few ports of call along the way:
Kas has a low-key charm that lulls visitors into rethinking their post-trip options – it’s a fantastic place to return to and wile away a few more days. However, on a Peregrine trip you’ll have time to bask on its shingle beach with Meis island lying picturesquely offshore; a scatter of white-washed houses tumbling down the steep hill behind you and a well-preserved Greek theatre nearby. All deserve a ramble between lingering cups of tea or glasses of beer at one of the many cafes and bars that dot the town.
Swim among the ancient ruins of Kekova, a sunken Lycian city that appears like a slowly sinking Atlantis. Fish swim alongside as you explore the long submerged staircases and kilns, facades and foundation stones. It’s a truly magical experience that can prod imaginations into overdrive.
Fethiye is home to a fantastic fish market full of fresh produce awaiting your selection.
Head to the centre of the market and the small stalls bursting with delicious cuisine form the sea, choose a few fillets, a handful of prawns or calamari and get one of the vendors to cook it up local style – they’ll bring it out to you for some al fresco dining. Head down to the sea afterwards and top it off with some Turkish coffee and a baklava at one of the waterfront cafes.
Antalya’s Roman harbour and tangle of old streets nestles in a postcard-pretty location, between the steep countenance of the Bey Mountains and the broad curve of the town’s beaches. From the busy narrow streets in the north, where old Ottoman houses have been converted into a shopper’s paradise, to the quiet residential backwaters further south, it’s the joy of accidental discovery that makes a wander around Antalya’s old town such a compulsively entertaining tour. Ancient Roman remains mingle with abandoned mosques, and crumbling homes line streets that bask in the late afternoon sun. It’s a beautiful match for the brilliant sea and a fitting end to your trip.