THE TURKISH RIVIERA (12 DAYS)
A wonder of the party world, Bodrum is the place to pursue hard-core hedonism, whether on a sun-soaked beach or in an open-air dance club. Recover aboard a relaxing Blue Journey boat ride to one of the many nearby Turkish islands and beaches. Or hop a continent via a short ferry to the Greek isles of Kos and Rhodes. Once back on shore, bronze your body on the secluded beaches of Datça, a quiet and charming little town away from it all. Get vertical long enough to reach the backpackers’ gathering ground of Fethiye, which works well as a base for day trips further along the Mediterranean coast to Ölüdeniz and the serene Butterfly Valley. For even more natural wildlife, head to the beaches of Patara, where endangered loggerhead turtles lay their eggs. Visit Demre’s basilica of St. Nicholas and climb among the Lycian rock tombs of Myra before being drawn to the eternal flame of Olympos. After a night in a treehouse, finish off with a stay in Antalya, the capital of the Turkish Riviera.
BEST OF EASTERN ANATOLIA (3 WEEKS)
Begin in Trabzon, Turkey’s last major outpost along the Black Sea Coast, and visit the spectacularly situated Sumela Monastery, clinging to the side of a sheer cliff. Head east through the Kaçkar Mountains to the summer plateau village of Ayder before trekking across the Çoruh Valley to Yusufeli, stopping along the way only for some white water rafting and an introduction to Hemşinli culture. From Yusufeli, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to the majestic Armenian ruins of Ani, near modern day Kars, and then down to the misty double peaks of Mt. Ararat, just outside Doğubeyazıt. After a brief search for Noah’s Ark, spend some time relaxing by the deep, crystal waters of Lake Van and exploring the region’s dozens of eerie, abandoned churches and fortresses. Next, swing by the ancient black basalt walls of Diyarbakır before coming face to face with the 2000-year-old statues of Antiochus at Nemrut Dağ. Finally, wander through the mind-bogglingly old streets of Şanlıurfa, the City of Prophets, on your way to Antakya, formerly Antioch the current food capital of Turkey.