Sitting atop the Middle East and stretching out between Asia and Europe, Turkey is a thriving country where modern-day Turks live quite comfortably under all the weight of their country's biblical and historical references. Architecture dating back to Constantinople and Ephesus is only a short drive away from beaches where the battlegrounds of Greek legends are now packed with sun-bathing tourists.
Spanning 10,000 years of civilization, it would probably take you several years to see all of Turkey's attractions. But even if you're there for a few days, don't miss out on Safranbolu, Urfa, Troy, and Rumi's tomb in Konya. Often lost amongst the Roman, Greek, and Ottoman ruins, Lycia's magnificent tombs carved by the indigenous people are definitely worth your time. Head east to Mount Nemrut to see a relatively recent archaeological discovery from pre-Roman times. If you get an overdose of ancient history, visit some of Turkey's present-day Orthodox monasteries which dot the countryside or head straight to the beaches at Izmir on the Aegean or Antalya's Turkish Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea.
Sightseeing in Turkey will definitely work up your appetite — try a traditional meze platter with cheeses, olives, and pickles for starters. Add a few kebabs, a glass of raki, and you're set for a complete Turkish meal. Leave room for the aptly named Turkish delight — with a wide range of flavours on offer, you won't be able to stop at just one. During the month of Ramadan, some establishments may be closed for the hours of fasting, but Turkey is fairly secular and you will still be able to eat and drink at plenty of restaurants.
Flights to Turkey are cheapest when you head to the country's main international airport in Istanbul (IST). The city has a smaller airport (SAW) which deals with traffic from European budget airlines. On occasion, you can also get an international flight to Antalya (AYT), Milas-Bodrum (BJV), Mugla (DLM), Ankara (ESB), Izmir (ADB), Bursa (BTZ) and a number or smaller regional airports, but this depends on the time of year at which you're travelling.
Canadian visitors can fly to Turkey on Air Canada, Lufthansa, Delta, American, Austrian Airlines, and Alitalia. Most flights from Canada will stop over at a hub airport in Europe or the UK. If you're travelling around the region you can also book a flight to a European airport and take a train or budget flight to Turkey.
Turkey's Mediterranean coast has hot, humid summers, and mild winters. Further inland, the seasonal temperatures are more extreme, although summers are less humid. Toward the East, winters have heavy snowfall and temperatures drop as low as -12°C, while summer temperatures can rise as high as 45°C. On the northern coast, temperatures become moderate again with warm summers and cool winters, but substantially more rain than the rest of the country.
The Mediterranean and Aegean coasts are at their best from April to October. Unless you're in Turkey to ski, it is best to avoid the central and eastern regions during the height of summer or winter when it is too hot or too cold to really enjoy the country. The peak tourist season is from June to September so visit from April to June or in October to avoid paying steep rates for accommodation and airfares.
If you're planning on visiting Turkey's mosques, remember that women will need to don headscarves so be sure to bring one along or buy something locally.