Acting as a bridge between Europe and Asia – and having been conquered and reconquered countless times throughout history – Turkey is a real mixing pot of cultures that provides an intriguing mix of the exotic and the familiar. Some of the best scenery in the world, and picture perfect white beaches, draw around 30 million visitors to the country each year.
The climate is generally warm, although it does vary somewhat across the country. Coastal areas are hot and humid in the summer months, while inland areas can be unbearably hot during the height of summer, and sub-zero in winter – when temperatures dip to -30°C in the far east of the country.
Turkey’s capital is Istanbul, which is the world’s second-largest city in terms of population living within the city limits. It is easy to reach the city’s wonders from the UK, as regular flights are provided by Turkish Airlines.
One of the best ways to explore this vibrant, unique country is by visiting on a cycling holiday. Cycling can be a challenge in the summer months, and the humidity around the coast provides little respite, so the best time to visit is in either spring or autumn. Avoiding high summer will also dodge the mosquito season.
In general, Turkey is a country ideal for cycling. One of the most popular areas to explore is the Cappadocia region – located in Nevşehir Province. With rocky tracks and trails throughout, the area’s lunar landscape is ideal to explore on a bike. Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia have to be seen to be believed, and are deservedly recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is famous for the rock dwellings that inhabitants have chiseled into the soft rock in the region, and for the bizarre ‘fairy chimney’ formations that complete the otherworldly atmosphere. After a hard day’s cycling, it is even possible to stay in one of the hollowed out caves overnight for a truly authentic experience.
For something a little different, a Turquoise Coast ride is hard to beat. Certain parts of the country do get a little overcrowded during peak season, and there’s no better place to escape the crowds and enjoy endless stretches of undeveloped coastline than here. While cycling, individuals may be lucky enough to see turtles on the white sands, and the incredible ruins that nestle into Mt Moses and Mt Olympos. Stopping off at Gelemiş will give cyclists a chance to rest their aching legs on perhaps the finest beach in all of Turkey.
The Turkish countryside is a brilliant place to cycle, and can cater for any cycling specialty. Mountain bikers will find a variety of challenging descents – but also more relaxing, less technical trails. Some of the best mountain biking can be found at the Kackar Mountains. Road cycling holidays are also incredibly popular, offering a unique way to explore the Turkish scenery on high quality, sparsely populated roads. The Aegean Coast is a great place for road cycling, offering pine forests and miles of glorious blue sea for company.
There are organizations that run guided tours that include transport between the most interesting areas, so there’s always something unique to view while riding. Alternatively, self-guided tours are available, where accommodation and routes are prepared that can then be negotiated at any pace. Another option is to hire a guide for a cycling vacation in this fascinating country.