Turkey is in vogue this summer. As early as April this year, some 37,000 Britons were traveling to the country’s tourist hotspots each week, prompting British Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott to tweet that the country expects “record numbers of [visitors to its] beautiful coasts this summer”.
It is not difficult to understand why Turkey, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, has risen to fourth place in the world tourism ranking. Summer sunshine is guaranteed on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, with the resort town of Antalya July daytime highs averaging 34°C and sea temperatures an attractive average of 28°C during the same month.
Beaches abound, often against a backdrop of pine-forested mountains. Then there’s the fantastic array of ancient ruins to explore, from St. Paul’s Ephesus to Homer’s Troy, the majority of which are easily accessible from the coast. Water sports, from scuba diving to kitesurfing, from kayaking to windsurfing, attract active people. The cuisine is also superb, with a dazzling array of mezze, succulent charcoal-grilled skewers and syrupy baklava stuffed with walnuts and pistachios.
The Turks have made tourism an art form, with hotels and guesthouses almost always extremely well run, skilled chefs who take pride in what they do, and generally attentive and friendly staff. It doesn’t hurt that the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism oversees the industry. With tourism revenue accounting for around 12% of the country’s GDP, it is of national importance that holidaymakers are well served and become – as many do – regular visitors.
The staggering inflation rate of over 70% also means that Turkey offers excellent value for money this summer, although of course it will be disastrous for residents. In February 2021, one pound bought you less than 10 Turkish liras; today the exchange rate is above 20 and rising. You don’t have to be a mathematician to calculate how much you’ll save on all those holiday extras – restaurant meals (only around £2 for a pide [Turkish pizza]) drinks in bars (about £2 a beer) and ice cream (from just 25p).
And the best news? Despite the large number of visitors Turkey receives, it is such a large country (the size of France and Germany combined) with such an extensive coastline (the third longest among the countries bordering the Mediterranean) that there are still plenty of hidden and unspoiled gems where you can avoid the crowds of Antalya, Marmaris and Bodrum. Here are 20 lesser-known places to visit this summer.