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History buffs and faith-based travelers alike often list Turkey — and its myriad historical, religious and cultural sites — high on their travel bucket lists. But the country, which straddles both Europe and Asia and is often referred to as a crossroads between several of the major regions of the world, offers more than just monuments and mosques.
According to these three travel experts, the place where “East Meets West” may be more adventurous than you think.
HikingSince childhood, Gurbuz Mesut Pehlivan, president of Flo Tours, has been fascinated with the various languages, cultures, music and cuisines of the world. Now, as a licensed guide in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey, he pursues these interests on a daily basis.
For vacationers looking for equal parts history and adventure, Pehlivan suggests walking The Lycian Way — a 336-mile historic hiking route comprising several individual paths between Fethiye to Antalya on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.
Pick Your Path: Of Flo Tours’ two trips incorporating The Lycian Way, the one beginning in Ovacik — the path’s traditional starting point — is generally recognized as the easier itinerary.
“It is often described as the prettiest section of the pathway, and clients will enjoy coastal views, ancient historic ruins and unspoiled villages and towns,” Pehlivan said.
SailingIn the late 1990s, travel agent Daniel Oppliger, owner of Surprise, Ariz.-based Tropical Sails Corp., took 35 clients on a cruise in two wooden gulets (traditional sailing vessels) on the Turkish Coast. Since then, he has continued to book sailing adventures in Turkey as a simple and affordable activity for his clients.
“A cabin can be booked for about $1,000 per week with meals, tours and transfers all included,” he said. “A private six- to eight-person ship can be chartered for families or groups, and the cabins are small with private facilities.”
Go Blue: A popular sailing option is called a “blue voyage” by Turkish locals, according to Oppliger. These types of sailings offer all the makings of an active — yet restful — vacation, mixing “complete relaxation with swimming, touring ancient sites, incredible local onboard meals and the intimacy of a small group.”
SkiingMurat Cahid, chairman and CEO of Erciyes Ski Resort in Kayseri, encourages active guests to look beyond Turkey’s picturesque coastlines in favor of ski resorts scattered throughout the country.
“Each resort has different features depending on the altitude, climate and sports activities,” he said.
Cahid adds that centrally located Erciyes — Turkey’s largest resort — offers new gondolas and lifts; 63 miles of slopes; and close proximity (about an hour by car) to the dramatic landscapes of Cappadocia.
Ski on a Budget: Erciyes is funded by public investment and managed by the metropolitan municipality of Kayseri, which keeps costs low for visitors.
Transportation, ski passes and food remains affordable for both locals and tourists, which has drastically increased interest in the mountains, Cahid says.