Turkey holidays: Book a break on this sunny riviera – and you won't need to self-isolate on return

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Turkey holidays: Book a break on this sunny riviera – and you won't need to self-isolate on return

Turkey has always been a welcoming country, which its decision earlier this year to waive visas for British visitors confirmed.And the country’s cu

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Turkey has always been a welcoming country, which its decision earlier this year to waive visas for British visitors confirmed.

And the country’s current infection rates, lower than Britain’s, show how hard it has worked to keep Covid-19 at bay.

Because the currency has taken a tumble of late, you will get close to 10 lira to the pound (it was 6.5 lira in the summer of last year). 

Turkey has always been a welcoming country, which its decision earlier this year to waive visas for British visitors confirmed. Pictured is the stunning port town of Datca

Turkey has always been a welcoming country, which its decision earlier this year to waive visas for British visitors confirmed. Pictured is the stunning port town of Datca

Turkey has always been a welcoming country, which its decision earlier this year to waive visas for British visitors confirmed. Pictured is the stunning port town of Datca 

That will do wonders for your spending money when it comes to shopping and eating out.

Add the weather (invariably superb, with highs of around 25c/77f well into October), outdoor activities and ancient ruins galore, and, well, why wouldn’t you?

Here is our pick of Turkey’s holiday regions, with favourite villa stays. Prices based on full occupancy in early October.

CASTLES AND CLUBBING

Bloom time: The Bodrum peninsula is packed with charming streets. It is Turkey's favourite resort area

Bloom time: The Bodrum peninsula is packed with charming streets. It is Turkey's favourite resort area

Bloom time: The Bodrum peninsula is packed with charming streets. It is Turkey’s favourite resort area 

A map showing some of Turkey's main holiday regions

A map showing some of Turkey's main holiday regions

A map showing some of Turkey’s main holiday regions 

With a maze of inlets, bays and gulfs, the Bodrum peninsula is Turkey’s favourite resort area — a perfect holiday playground that also comes with sunset views over Greek islands such as Kos and Kalymnos.

The former haunt of sponge divers, artists and exiles, Bodrum’s easy-going, raffish atmosphere draws a mixed crowd of cultured Turks and Europeans by day and committed clubbers by night.

As it can get noisy, you might opt to stay in one of the peninsula’s outlying villages such as the north shore’s fancy marina resort at Yalikavak, the fishing village of Gumusluk or budget Bitez. You are sure to be drawn to the appealing city of Bodrum, with its landmark knights’ castle, beaches, buzzing bar quarter and harbour, home to traditional timber schooners called gulets.

Dine out at Liman Koftecisi, a must for devotees of kofte (Turkish meatballs).

Explore beyond the waterfront to lose yourself among white-washed alleys where you will find fish restaurants and artisans’ studios turning out hand-made leather sandals and fine jewellery.

Be sure to find time for the mausoleum of Halicarnassus, built in the 4th-century BC, even if most of the masonry was long since removed for use in the walls of the castle; pack your imagination for what was, after all, one of the ancient world’s Seven Wonders.

The sprawling covered market is the place for bargain bags, clothes, accessories, leather-work and carpets. Escape on a day boat to swim at the thermal springs at Karaada, or take the daily car ferry to the adjacent Datca peninsula.

Book it

Luxury: Villa Pasha, Dagbelen (normally sleeps ten). From £837pppw (oliverstravels.com).

Mid-range: Villa Reve, Yalikavak (normally sleeps ten). From £250pppw (peninsulavillas.com).

Budget: Villa Gulin, Bitez (sleeps four). £125pppw (jamesvillas.co.uk).

Getting there: Gatwick to Bodrum return flights from £100 (easyjet.com).

COASTAL CHARMS 

The Gulf of Fethiye, pictured, is the Turkish Mediterranean’s most scenic stretch of coast

The Gulf of Fethiye, pictured, is the Turkish Mediterranean’s most scenic stretch of coast

The Gulf of Fethiye, pictured, is the Turkish Mediterranean’s most scenic stretch of coast 

Backed by 2,000-metre Babadaği (Father Mountain), the island-strewn Gulf of Fethiye is the Turkish Mediterranean’s most scenic stretch of coast.

The hub is the city of Fethiye, with its harbour front and impressive colonnaded rock tombs. There’s an outstanding covered market, with extensive fish stalls where you take your purchase to the restaurant of your choice to cook it for you.

Look across the bay to Calis, a budget resort on the beach. Or head to bucolic Kayaköy for characterful country villas scattered among olive groves, and the ruins of an abandoned Greek village that inspired Louis De Bernieres’ epic novel Birds Without Wings.

The lagoon resort of Oludeniz, where the beach is the landing spot for paragliders, who descend from the peak of Babadaği

The lagoon resort of Oludeniz, where the beach is the landing spot for paragliders, who descend from the peak of Babadaği

The lagoon resort of Oludeniz, where the beach is the landing spot for paragliders, who descend from the peak of Babadaği

For a bit more bustle, there’s the lagoon resort of Oludeniz, its beach the landing spot for paragliders making the magnificent descent from the peak of Babadaği (skysports-turkey.com).

Day boats leave Oludeniz for the Byzantine ruins of St Nicholas island. The 300-mile Lycian Way starts just above Oludeniz, with a network of waymarked day hikes.

The glorious scenery extends to the river town of Dalyan and the beach at Iztuzu, where endangered loggerhead turtles nest. Or hire a boat to visit the ruins of Kaunos and wallow in thermal mud baths.

Book it

Luxury: Villa Beyaz, Faralya (normally sleeps 12). From £230pppw (oliverstravels.com).

Mid-range: Villa Karatavuk, Kayakoy (sleeps six). From £170pppw (oliverstravels.com).

Budget: Gunay’s Garden villa, Kayakoy (sleeps six). From £85pppw (izelagunaysgarden.com).

Getting there: Gatwick-Dalaman return flights from £160pp (easyjet.com).

SEA KAYAKING

Kapatus Beach in ancient Lycia, which has place names clustered with Ks and wooded landscapes

Kapatus Beach in ancient Lycia, which has place names clustered with Ks and wooded landscapes

Kapatus Beach in ancient Lycia, which has place names clustered with Ks and wooded landscapes

Head east to the lands of ancient Lycia, the place names clustered with Ks and wooded landscapes thick with the Lycians’ signature sarcophagae; you might mistake them for capsized boats.

The area is popular with the British, especially the twin ports of Kalkan and Kaş, where shaded lanes scented with jasmine tumble past rug shops and garden restaurants to pretty harbours and a rocky shore. Shuttle boats serve nearby beach clubs (the pick is at Kalkan’s super‑stylish Villa Mahal hotel), with rock steps to the water and swimming platforms; toddlers will prefer the shallow sand beach that Kalkan has built itself in recent years.

For the real thing, head for nearby Patara where Turkey’s most perfect beach stretches into a hazy infinity. The dunes are backed by the ruins of a once-great port city. 

The resort of Kaş, where shaded lanes scented with jasmine tumble past rug shops and garden restaurants

The resort of Kaş, where shaded lanes scented with jasmine tumble past rug shops and garden restaurants

The resort of Kaş, where shaded lanes scented with jasmine tumble past rug shops and garden restaurants

Don’t miss the restored parliament building and the ancient world’s best preserved lighthouse.

Kaş, more workaday than glitzy Kalkan and no worse for it, is a popular centre for diving and other activities (bougainville-turkey.com). It’s also the embarkation point for day boats to the lovely Kekova region, a good spot for sea kayaking, where a grand citadel totters above the exquisite fishing village of Simena. Within easy reach is Saklikent, where kids will love exploring the river gorge, and the ancient ruins at Tlos, one of the great cities of Lycia.

Another popular outing is to Myra, the original resting place of St Nicholas (aka Santa Claus).

Book it

Luxury: Ying & Yang, Villa Mahal, Kalkan (sleeps six). From £580pppw (villamahal.com).

Mid-range: Villa Lapis, Kalkan (normally sleeps ten). From £699pppw including flights and car hire (simpsontravel.com).

Budget: Yavuz Evi, Kalkan (normally sleeps eight). From £155pppw (iliostravel.com).

Getting there: Gatwick– Dalaman return flights from £160 pp (easyjet.com).

PEACEFUL PERFECTION

Pool with a view: Zeytin Ev villa has a beautiful backdrop. It is located in the village of Sogut, which has a boat-building heritage

Pool with a view: Zeytin Ev villa has a beautiful backdrop. It is located in the village of Sogut, which has a boat-building heritage

Pool with a view: Zeytin Ev villa has a beautiful backdrop. It is located in the village of Sogut, which has a boat-building heritage 

For Turkey at its somnolent best, leave the busy resort of Marmaris behind and make for the Bozburun peninsula.

The west side is wild and enchanting; before the road runs out it reaches shoreline villages such as Sogut, where a ribbed frame rises from every other garden in testimony to the area’s boat-building heritage.

Decaying dinghies, put to imaginative use as planters, bloom with geraniums. An Ottoman castle sits above Selimiye, where fish restaurants line an idyllic waterfront. Stride out along the waymarked paths of the long-distance Carian Trail; the particularly lovely stretch at Selale follows a succession of waterfalls along a wooded ravine to Bayir. There you will find herbs, honey and a village tea house shaded by a plane tree said to be 800 years old.

In Datca, pictured, the lanes are home to shops overflowing with almonds, olive oils, soaps, honey and wines

In Datca, pictured, the lanes are home to shops overflowing with almonds, olive oils, soaps, honey and wines

In Datca, pictured, the lanes are home to shops overflowing with almonds, olive oils, soaps, honey and wines

For a longer foray, head for Datca, where the lanes are home to shops overflowing with almonds, olive oils, soaps, honey and wines. Eski Datca, the old town, has been imaginatively restored as a centre of local crafts.

Beyond Datca a long road leads through spectacular scenery to the tip of the peninsula and the atmospheric ruins of Knidos, a port city famed in ancient times as the home of the world’s first nude statue of the goddess Aphrodite.

On the east side of the Bozburun peninsula, within closer reach of Marmaris, the light in places such as Kumlubuk and Turunc are that bit brighter.

Book it

Luxury: Dionysos Villa, Kumlubuk (sleeps five). From £735pppw (oliverstravels.com).

Mid-range: Zeytin Ev, Sogut (sleeps four). From £795pppw including flights and car hire (simpsontravel.com).

Budget: Villa Saranda, Sogut (sleeps four). From £165pppw (iliostravel.com).

Getting there: Gatwick- Dalaman return flights from £160pp (easyjet.com).

YOUR UP-TO-DATE COUNTRY GUIDE ON TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

The removal of seven Greek islands from the travel corridor lists — but not the country’s mainland — marks a shift in Government policy as it embraces regional travel corridors for the first time. 

Add this to Wales, Scotland and England all imposing their own individual restrictions on countries, and it’s set to get even more complicated. 

Here’s all you need to know… 

PORTUGAL

England has followed Wales and Scotland by reimposing quarantine restrictions from this morning after the country reported 646 new cases on Wednesday. Hungary, Reunion and French Polynesia were also removed from the list. The Azores and Madeira are exempt.

GREECE

The islands of Crete, Santorini, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Lesbos and Zante have been dropped from the ‘travel corridor’ list. You now must quarantine when returning from any of them. Of the islands you can fly to direct from England that leaves Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and the mainland quarantine-free.

SWEDEN

The country recorded its lowest infection rate on Wednesday, despite an expansion in testing. British tourists can visit with no restrictions and face masks are not required in public places or on public transport.

POLAND

In Poland, Covid cases remain low. Gdansk, pictured, Krakow and Warsaw are great options for a city break

In Poland, Covid cases remain low. Gdansk, pictured, Krakow and Warsaw are great options for a city break

In Poland, Covid cases remain low. Gdansk, pictured, Krakow and Warsaw are great options for a city break 

The country is on the UK’s travel corridor list and cases remain low, making Gdansk, Krakow or Warsaw great options for a city break. British tourists are welcome with no restrictions.

CYPRUS

Cases are very low. Britons must provide a negative test result on arrival, and fill out an online form (cyprusflightpass.gov.cy) within 24 hours of departure.

ITALY

British holidaymakers can travel to Italy quarantine-free, but cases are nearing 20 cases per 100,000, the Government’s threshold for introducing quarantine. All visitors must complete a self-declaration form before boarding (esteri.it).

BULGARIA

Bulgaria is not on the UK's travel corridor list. Pictured is the Bulgarian beach resort of Sunny Beach

Bulgaria is not on the UK's travel corridor list. Pictured is the Bulgarian beach resort of Sunny Beach

Bulgaria is not on the UK’s travel corridor list. Pictured is the Bulgarian beach resort of Sunny Beach 

Cases are creeping up and the country is not on the travel corridor list.

ICELAND

The Nordic island nation is on the travel corridor list and infections remain low. However, all arrivals must either choose a 14-day quarantine or a double Covid-testing procedure along with quarantine for five days. 

SPAIN

Cases are sky-high. British tourists are unlikely to experience Spain quarantine-free for many months.

FRANCE

Infections are rising, with 39 deaths on Tuesday, a daily record since the end of the country’s lockdown. It is not on the UK’s travel corridor list.

By Harriet Sime

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