While it’s nice to see the big bustling cities of Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey is so much more than the Grand Bazaar and ancient ruins. From the beautiful beaches of Antalya to the party playground of Bodrum, take the time to see a different side to this Mediterranean gateway – it’s something completely unexpected. If you like going off the beaten track, living like a local and discovering hidden gems – here are the top places you need to see:

Antalya

Situated in the southwest, Antalya is Turkey’s fastest growing city. With its picturesque old town and multicultural ambience, Antalya and its surrounding areas is where the real Turkey lies. If you’re taking a September trip, make sure you head down to the beach at Cirali.

Around the time of the full moon, miniature loggerhead turtles break free from their shells and scramble down for their first dip in the ocean. The rural village is about an hour away from Antalya and is a WWF protected area which lets the tiny turtles take precedence over hotels and cafes. It’s a great out-of-the-way day trip to help you de-stress and get back in touch with nature.

Bodrum

If you’re looking for glitz and glamour, the coastal town of Bodrum is the place to be – it’s famous for its fascinating combination of ancient and new world. One side of the town boasts the Mediterranean build-up of five-star resorts, pumping nightclubs and all-night bars. The other side however, is a pretty marina lined with designer stores and first-grade restaurants.

Take a day drifting around in a gulet, a traditional Turkish boat that was actually designed for the calm Bodrum bays. Sail around the many hidden coves and spend a few hours diving in 2,000 year old submerged cities, then make your way back to civilization for a fresh seafood lunch.

Nemrut

For some truly unique holiday photos, head inland to Mount Nemrut, a 2,137m high mountain and home to a collection of colossal statues. Thought to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BC, you can now walk amongst the stone ruins of heads, animals and thrones for a fascinating trip back in time.

Today, Mount Nemrut is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with tours tripping out to the remote national park from Kahta, Malatya or even Cappadocia. Visits are recommended during summer – from June until October – as the snow sets in during the colder months, making the way virtually impassable.

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