Two sides of Turkey
For two very different experiences of Turkey, consider a few days in Istanbul, followed by a week in Northern Cyprus. In Istanbul, base yourself in Sultanahmet near the beautiful Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the huge and handsome monument to the Byzantine empire – once a church, later a mosque, and now a fascinating museum.
Excellent public transport and affordable taxis make visiting all the sights straightforward. Must-sees include the opulent Topkapi Palace; the bustling Grand Bazaar; and the remarkable engineering feat of the Great Cistern. After the buzz of Istanbul, Northern Cyprus is a far more laidback experience. I’d recommend staying in lovely Kyrenia – be sure to dine in one of the excellent restaurants around its picture-postcard harbour (left), looking across to the castle.
Car hire is reasonably priced (and they drive on the left) so visit Nicosia and Famagusta or just relax under Lawrence Durrell’s Tree of Idleness in Bellepais.
Lynda Robson, from Surrey, wins a holiday voucher with DialAFlight
More feedback from readers
This resort on the Bodrum peninsula is the most magnificent we have stayed in. There are beautiful boutique shops, strings of twinkling lights framing the shoreline and restaurants that serve your dinner to a table set out on the sandy beach while you look out on the luxury yachts moored in the bay.
It has a different atmosphere to other towns we have visited in Turkey and feels grown-up, chic and relaxed, so it is little wonder that it’s a favourite of the rich and famous.
The town is a late riser, so if music and dancing is your thing, be aware that the nightlife doesn’t get going until midnight.
Jo Stevenson, by email
Bodrum, Turkey (Fotolia/AP)
My wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in Kalkan. We rented a villa on the hillside overlooking the old town and harbour with breathtaking views across the Mediterranean.
Kalkan surprised us both as it is quite sophisticated and classy. The shops sell good-quality upmarket goods – some genuine, some not. (There is also a weekly market full of fake goods.) There are plenty of supermarkets selling fresh food and drink, essential if you are self-catering. The nightlife was quite lively with around 200 restaurants to choose from and several cocktail bars.
We had several excursions in our hire car but Patara was the best place to visit with wonderful and extensive ruins to explore and a massive beach to chill out on.
Stan Kirby, Kent
My tips are to eat where the locals do. We were in Kalkan and used to eat at a lokanta in the middle of a bus station – not much to look at, but when we climbed the stairs to the terrace, it was an oasis of green because the owner was also a landscape gardener. So visit places off the beaten track and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, try the delicious apple tea and the wonderful coffee.
Heather Jenkinson, West Midlands
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul (Alamy)
We’re just back from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul – highly recommended. The city is steeped in history and there is so much to see. We stayed in the Celine Hotel, which is ideal for visitors seeking a superb central location and a decent breakfast. It is fairly obvious, but the earlier you get to the main sights, notably the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Cisterns, the shorter the queues will be. This does not apply to the Grand Bazaar, which is relatively quiet and hassle-free towards the end of the day. The Galata Tower is worth the queue for the stunning views, while the Bosporus boat trip was a bargain at £3, providing the opportunity to rest our feet for a couple of hours.
Chris Saunders, Nottinghamshire
Old Istanbul is enchanting, but a local guide who can turn back the centuries can make it sublime. From your boutique hotel on the slopes under the Sultanahmet, look out on the Golden Horn, the Bosporus and the original railway station built as the terminus for the Orient Express. From here, walk or take a tram to absolutely everywhere of interest. Yes, you must see the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and its museum and of course the Grand Bazaar, but then find your guide and step back into history.
Be led through a hamam into narrow streets. Pass ancient rickety houses with their hanging balconies, through heavy wooden gates to discover the colonnades of the sultan’s caravanserai where traders, slaves and camel caravans ended their treks.
Tony Meakin, by email
The white rocks of Pamukkale (Alamy)
My favourite place in Turkey has to be Pamukkale. Where else can you swim in hot mineral waters with Roman columns lying underneath you? Now a Unesco World Heritage site, the mountains have regained their whiteness and look spectacular. Besides the ancient graves, a museum, and the remains of a theatre, there are the ruins of a church dedicated to St Philip, who was believed to have been martyred there. Also nearby are the ruins of Laodicea, one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelations. It’s best to go by bus to Denizli and then on to Pamukkale and stay in the village for a few nights to give ample time to explore this fascinating area.
Mave Dellor, Warwickshire
Memories of Samaria 40 years earlier persuaded my friends that a trip to the Saklikent Gorge, one of the deepest in Europe, was for us. High temperatures meant early arrival and no tourists in sight – just a gaggle of children clutching bright blue waterproof shoes, soon offered in exchange for small change. “Go to the end, I’ll take you,” was the cry from one small boy. Despite having no idea where the “end” was, we accepted. My short skirt billowing, we survived the first waist-deep wade through icy, rushing waters then scrambled, squeezed and pushed our way steadily upward through a tumble of large boulders and deep pools, increasingly helped with a push on our bottoms by our wiry guide. We arrived 90 minutes later at the final waterfall, exhausted but enthralled at the beauty of the limestone walls 1,000ft above us. Next time I’ll wear shorts!
Janie Toy, Cornwall . . . .