Packed to the brim with ancient monuments leftover from a parade of conquerors and endowed with showcase scenery that never fails to impress, Turkey is a dazzling destination that straddles Asia and Europe. Its vibrant culture, famed cuisine and vast history wow all who venture here while its glorious landscapes - from the sun soaked Mediterranean to the mighty mountains and arid steppe - are a highlight in themselves. Whether you want to lap up the Byzantine and Ottoman glories of Istanbul on a city break, laze on the beach, delve into history wandering through ruins such as Ephesus or see some of the world's most surreal panoramas in Pamukkale and Cappadocia, this country has attractions galore.
Ankara: Turkey's 'other' city may not have any showy Ottoman palaces or regal facades, but Ankara thrums to a vivacious, youthful beat unmarred by the tug of history. The country's capital has made remarkable progress from a dusty Anatolian backwater to today's sophisticated arena for international affairs. Turkey's economic success is reflected in the booming restaurant scene around KavaklÄ±dere and the ripped-jean politik of KÄ±zÄ±lay's sidewalk cafes, frequented by hip students, old-timers and businessmen alike. And while the dynamic street-life is enough of a reason to visit, Ankara also boasts two extraordinary monuments central to the Turkish story – the beautifully conceived Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and the AnÄ±t Kabir, a colossal tribute to Atatürk, modern Turkey's founder.
Cappadocia: As if plucked from a whimsical fairytale and set down upon the stark Anatolian plains, Cappadocia is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of other worldly beauty. The fantastical topography is matched by the human history here. People have long utilized the region's soft stone, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating troglodyte-style architecture. The fresco-adorned rock-cut churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum and the subterranean refuges of Derinkuyu and KaymaklÄ± are the most famous sights, while simply bedding down in one of Cappadocia's cave hotels is an experience in 21st-century cavern dwelling.
Ephesus: Not to be missed, the mighty ruin of Ephesus is a city of colossal monuments and marble-columned roads. One of the most complete, still-standing Roman cities, this is the place to experience what life must have been like during the golden age of the Roman Empire.
Mount Nemrut: This funerary mound scattered with the broken remnants of once mammoth statues that guarded it is one of Turkey's most peculiar archaeological site. The giant body-less stone heads of long-forgotten gods stare out from the summit of Mount Nemrut casting an eerie atmosphere over the barren mountaintop.
TopkapÄ± palace: A visit here leads you into the fantastical, opulent world of the sultans. It was from here that the leaders of the Ottoman Era carved out an empire that would extend up into Europe and down through the Middle East and into Africa. The interiors with their decadently exuberant tiling and lavish jewelled decor are an unforgettable peek into the Ottoman's powerbase.
Aya Sofya: Renowned as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the spellbinding Byzantine glory of the Aya Sofya Museum is not only Istanbul's top sightseeing attraction, but also one of the top sites in Turkey. The staggering bulk of its exterior is rimmed by the delicate minarets added after the Ottoman conquest while the sumptuous and cavernous frescoed interior is a grand reminder of old Constantinople's might and power.
Süleymaniye mosque: This crowns one of Ä°stanbul's seven hills and dominates the Golden Horn, providing a landmark for the entire city. Though it is not the largest of the Ottoman mosques, it is certainly one of the grandest and most beautiful. It is also unusual in that many of its original külliye (mosque complex) buildings have been retained and sympathetically adapted for reuse.
The mosque’s setting and plan features gardens and a three-sided forecourt with a central domed fountain. The four minarets with their 10 beautiful ÅŸerefes (balconies) are said to represent the fact that Süleyman was the fourth of the Osmanli sultans to rule the city and the 10th sultan after the establishment of the empire.
Mevlâna museum: This museum is located right in the heart of Konya and is a beautiful site in itself, attracting Muslim visitors from all over the world. The museum consists of the mausoleum of the famous Sufi mystic Rumi, and a dervish lodge of the Mevlevi order: several attractive buildings set around a courtyard, where members of the Mevlevi order lived and conducted their studies.
It is a fascinating museum, with rooms laid out in the manner in which they would have been used, and information detailing the use and history of the rooms and the items within.
Istanbul archaeology museums: This museum showcases archaeological and artistic treasures from the TopkapÄ± collections. Housed in three buildings, its exhibits include ancient artefacts, classical statuary and an exhibition tracing Istanbul's history. There are many highlights, but the sarcophagi from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon are particularly striking.
The complex has three main parts: the Museum of the Ancient Orient, the Archaeology Museum and the Tiled Pavilion. These museums house the palace collections formed during the late 19th century by museum director, artist and archaeologist Osman Hamdi Bey. The complex can be easily reached by walking down the slope from TopkapÄ±'s First Court, or by walking up the hill from the main gate of Gülhane Park.
Turkish cuisine: This cuisine is largely the continuation of Ottoman cuisine, which in turn borrowed many elements from Greek, Central Asian, Caucasian, Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Balkan cuisines. Turkish cuisine includes beef and chicken, as well as all sorts of seafood. The most common preparations are roasting and grilling, which produce the famous Turkish kebabs, including döner kebab, the national dish, and köfte, the workingman's favorite.