It’s easy to think of Turkey as a party hub, but the true beauty of this European getaway lies in the heart of its history. Drenched in stories of ancient gods and goddesses, abundant with succulent foods and cute cafes that hug tiny cobbled streets and carry the charm of the people, the west coast offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic long weekend getaway.
With beau in tow, touchdown in the picturesque town of Izmir known as the ‘Pearl of the Aegean Sea.’ Start your day in this seaside city by finding a place to put your bags – the Swissotel has an amazing see-through swimming pool which is definitely worth a look. Afterwards, meander your way along the corniche that is lined by a grassy plane on one side – where the gypsy’s soak up the sun – and flanked by the sea on the other. As you stroll down pebbled paths into the bustling hub of the tiny town, stop at the local food vendours and sample the freshly-picked fruit of the juicy grape, pomegranate and melon varieties. As the sun sets, head back to the corniche, where you’ll find the locals relaxing at tables in one of the many chic fish restaurants. Grab a table at Deniz and ask for the catch of the day.
After all the heady sea air, drive out of Izmir along the scenic coastal roads and discover the natural wonders of this stunning country. First stop, Pergamon. These ruins are thought to have been home to the ancient kings and queens of Turkey. Atop the hill, take a romantic stroll through the ruins of the amphitheatre, take a right through the marketplace and finish with a stop at the library. As the celebrities of the ancient world, royalty adorned their homes in Turkish rugs, and today the tradition of rug making is still alive and women learn to weave their creations from as young as three. If you head to the Carpet Weavers’ Association near Pergamon, you’ll get a peek at the men who produce the silk for the rugs and the women weaving them. If your liras permit, you can even invest in a ‘love’ carpet – traditionally a dowry for local women.
If you love the romance of ancient stories, then make sure you stop at the place of Zeus. Once an important rock structure, today it makes the perfect picnic spot, surrounded by pine forest and overlooking the sea.
Turkey is surrounded by four seas, and if you head to the small town of Güre, you’ll discover why they’re lauded as a natural phenomenon thanks to the thermal waters and spas. Book into Hotel Adrina, which is run entirely on natural springs and boasts two large indoor swimming pools, and take a late-night dip in the relaxing thermal waters.
When dawn breaks, continue your way up the west coast where you’ll come across tiny villages off the beaten track. The locals are very friendly and are often spotted sitting beside their roadside olive stalls or pulling donkeys down dirt tracks. These are the best places to sip a Turkish coffee and revel in knowing there isn’t another tourist in sight.
Finish your romantic road trip at Canakkale, where you can then jump on a plane and touch down in Istanbul half an hour later. Once in the capital, enjoy the notorious buzzing nightlife, with a trip to the star-studded club Reina, where party queen Paris Hilton has been spotted out dancing.
While You’re There...
Enjoy a Turkish Hammam
As the saying goes, when in Rome… so do as the Turks do and book in for a traditional bath. The locals once used this pampering treat as a daily cleansing ritual, before it was adapted into the modern spa menu. Make sure you schedule a his ‘n’ her’s Turkish hammam sesh, so you’ll both come out with buffed bods.
Visit Azac Cove
Join the thousands of travellers who make the pilgrimage to Anzac Cove every year on April 25 to pay homage to the war
heroes. You can go any time of year and experience the views and to visit the war memorial. From Canakkle hop on a five-minute ferry ride, then walk to the other side of the island.
Experience Olive Gastronomy
Turkey is famous for its olives and olive oil. So, if you love your food and want to know more about the gastronomic delights of the tasty fruit, head to Adatepe where you’ll learn the ancient traditions of making olive oil and you’ll also be able to buy a few pressies at the same time.
Turkish Airlines fly direct to Istanbul from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and internally to Izmir and Canakkale from Istanbul. Visit www.turkishairlines.com
For local tour guide information, contact www.oasis.com.tr