Turkish culture is a blend of the Asian, Persian and European civilisations that once ruled it. It’s a country with a unique atmosphere, where you’ll find Roman temples, Egyptian obelisks and domed mosques alongside each other.
On a Turkey cruise you’ll uncover a land of contrasts. You’ll discover a diverse landscape of mountains, forests and white sand beaches. The towns you visit effortlessly blend the traditional and the modern, with spice markets sitting alongside chic designer shops.
Popular Ports in Turkey
One of the most popular destinations on a Turkey cruise is the seaside town of Bodrum, on the country’s south-west coast. It’s an elegant town of white bougainvillea-draped houses, bordered by the aquamarine Aegean Sea. You can easily while away a few hours wandering along the marina, shopping for souvenirs or having lunch in a waterfront restaurant.
There are some fascinating attractions here. On a promontory jutting over the ocean is an impressive 700-year-old castle, which houses a unique underwater museum. On the hills around the town you’ll discover an ancient amphitheatre still in use, and some striking white windmills.
Bodrum is also renowned for its beaches. Kumbahce Beach is the closest to the centre. It’s a golden stretch of sand lapped by clear waters, and is popular with holidaymakers. If you want a more adrenaline-packed visit there are lots of watersports on offer, from windsurfing to jet-skiing.
Located on Turkey’s western coast, Kusadasi is a popular resort town surrounded by some of Turkey’s best beaches. We particularly recommend the appropriately named Silver Sand Beach and Paradise Beach, both easily accessible by minibus from the town centre.
If you can tear yourself away from the beaches, take a trip to nearby Ephesus, one of the most well-preserved cities in the Mediterranean. You’ll marvel at the ancient temples, mosques and museums.
Kusadasi also has a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of pubs, bars and restaurants. Many of these can be found around the town’s marina. There are lots of places where you can try authentic Turkish food, including some succulent kebabs.
The fascinating city of Istanbul straddles the continents of Asia and Europe, and it really is a place where cultures and religions collide. Istanbul offers world-renowned historic sites, unique architecture, and a delicious local cuisine.
There’s so much to explore in the city’s old district, Sultanahmet. The iconic blue mosque with its six minarets is a star attraction, as is the unbelievably lavish Topkapi Palace.
Istanbul is a great place to buy souvenirs. Visit the Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest covered market, to pick up traditional handicrafts, spices and jewellery.
What are the best cruise ships for a Turkey cruise?
Turkey is a popular Eastern Mediterranean cruise destination. We’re here to help you travel there in style, by recommending our two favourite cruise ships.
Marella Discovery 2
Your best bet for balancing luxury with affordability is Marella Discovery 2, which visits both Bodrum and Kusadasi. A Marella Discovery 2 cruise comes as an all-inclusive package combining food, flights and activities, making it excellent value for money. Children will love the escape room, where you solve puzzles to free yourself, and the interactive gaming area. Adults will be sold on the classy Atrium bar, the 7 stunning restaurants, and the fantastic spa facilities on offer.
Seven Seas Voyager
The Seven Seas Voyager epitomises luxury. This is especially true of their spacious suites, which feature marble bathrooms and wraparound balconies; some even offer butler service. There’s a large pool deck with whirlpool baths and a nearby bar, perfect for relaxing in the sunshine. Room service and food at each of the restaurants is complimentary – we recommend a visit to Prime 7, an American steakhouse.
Shore Excursion Ideas
Tempting as it may be to spend the day on the beach, Turkey offers some unique shore excursions you shouldn’t miss out on. Here are three highly recommended options.
Ephesus and the House of Mary
The most popular shore excursion in Bodrum is a trip to Ephesus, an impressive ancient city, parts of which are almost 8,000 years old. Ephesus is located in the hills and offers striking views of the surrounding countryside. There are also many fascinating archaeological attractions here, including the atmospheric ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You’ll also look around the Isa Bey Mosque, which was purposefully built in an asymmetrical style. Both the interior and exterior are decorated with striking mosaic patterns.
Between Ephesus and Bodrum lies the House of the Virgin Mary. This small chapel, where Mary is supposed to have spent her final days, is an important pilgrimage sight.
Many cruise lines offer a gulet sailing experience. Gulets are twin-masted, timber-lined boats which were traditionally used to carry goods such as oranges and lemons to ports in the Aegean. Now, many of them have been renovated into pleasure vessels, and are used to explore the Turkish coastline. Drift away from the busy resort towns across the glassy waters of the Aegean. Your skipper will take you off-the-beaten track to uninhabited islands where you’ll be able to live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasy, along quiet inlets and to secluded coves. You can sunbathe on deck and then cool off with a refreshing dip in the sea.
Visit a Turkish hammam
Once you’ve had your fill of walking tours, why not unwind at a Turkish hammam? These traditional Turkish baths have been around since antiquity, but now they’ve been bought up-to-date in hammams with modern amenities. Most hammams offer a sauna, steam room, a foam massage and scrub-down. Other treatments on offer might include aromatherapy massages or face packs. You’ll leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, ready to continue sightseeing. Make sure to bring your swimsuit on this excursion.