Charmed by Turkey

There’s no need to spend precious time organising a visa, you can get a 30-day one at the border – for less than £10One of the most beautiful destinations around … welcome to Turkey, an incredible  mix of cultures  and attractions – from the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia to the mineral  waters of Pamukkale and buzzing Istanbul.

This famous Roman  hot spring town has been pulling in the crowds for thousands of years. You’ll soon discover  why  when you wade into its warm mineral waters. Don’t leave without exploring Hierapolis, an ancient Roman  town. There  are lots of impressive sites, including Frontinus Street, once the commercial axis, and the ruins of the Arch of Domitian. The amphitheatre offers unrivalled views of the gleaming white rock face, ancient  Roman  ruins and blue pools.

The underground city of Derinkuyu in Cappadocia plunges 85m below the ground. This subterranean dugout was used by 6th and 7th century Byzantine Christians as a refuge from the marauding Persian and Arabic hordes.  It’s huge, accommodating 10,000 people and their livestock. Next up is the 40m-high fairy chimneys at Göreme. Created by wind erosion,  one day they will eventually disappear.  To best appreciate this lunar landscape, float above it in a hot air balloon at dawn, when the sun causes the rocks to change colour.

You’ll be charmed by the friendly people and jaw-dropping sights in Istanbul. Start at the Blue Mosque, so named  because of the thousands of blue Iznik tiles decorating its interior. If you enter take your shoes off (women also have to cover their heads). Marvel at the city’s beauty  on a Bosphorus boat cruise. The Public Excursion Ferry departs  Eminöniü at 10.35am daily or take a smaller private excursion boat from the same area.

Next explore  the opulent Topkapi Palace and get to know its colourful occupants, including Selim the Sot, who drowned after drinking  too much champagne. The harem costs extra but its grandeur  makes  it worthwhile. Istanbul has a cracking nightlife so head to Beyoglu to party with  hip young locals. Finally, test your haggling skills at the Grand Bazaar where you’ll find jewellery, colourful glass lamps, leather wares  and other  goodies. Remember, haggling is expected!


When to go: April to October. Venues virtually close in winter.
Getting there: BA, EasyJet and Turkish Airlines fly to Istanbul.
Getting around: Buses connect Pamukkale  and Cappadocia. Walk or take a tram in Istanbul.
Visas: Have never been easier for South Africans. As Vanessa Wallace of Fez Travel Ltd, one of the largest tour operators in Turkey, points out – you can get one in London or obtain a 30-day sticker-type entry visa when you enter  the country. This costs (at the time of going to press) just over £8 or 10 euros.
Currency: Turkish lira. 1GBP = 2.36 TRY
Language: Turkish
Accommodation: A room in an Istanbul 3-star hotel starts at £40.
Top tip: Vanessa suggests heading east to Mt Nemrut  for sunrise.





tsulrobk umrespo

Turkish Holidays

Does anyone know a cruise that includes Turkey?