Turkey will be the most dizzying of adventures you will ever take while venturing out into the world. It is a mix of modern European and traditional Islamic bound into one confusing whole. Step off the plane in Istanbul and you will feel as though you've landed in just about any other country in Europe, but get into the city and you will be met with sights and sounds that may bewilder at first and will be endearing just a day later.
You will be invited to partake in dozens of glasses of Turkish tea which seems to be served up every hour on the hour in every corner of the country regardless of whether you are taking a ferry across the Bosphorus or sitting at a shoe repair shop. Turks like their tea straight up so if you ask for milk you will raise eyebrows.
The historic heart of Istanbul is the Sultanahmet Area and this is where you will find the centuries old Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia as well as the truly magical Cistern.
Just a stone's throw away is the Golden Horn and Eminonu, here you will find men donned in sparkly fests cooking up fish on boats - and that fish being devoured by at least a few hundred people sitting on tiny stools, drinking pickle juice and basking in the marine air at any one time.
Istanbul is divided by the Bosphorus Strait so half the city sits in Europe and the other half in Asia. The Asian side is a little quieter and a whole lot greener. On the Asian side you will find giant villas, huge forested parks and dozens of tea gardens and restaurants sitting along the water. The Asian side also boasts Bagdat Street which is home to international labels and where Istanbul's elite doing their shopping.
The country has four distinct seasons, however the southern eastern parts of Turkey are warmer throughout the year whereas the central and northern parts get colder in the winter months and also receive snow.
Head into central Turkey and you will find the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. This magical little city seems to have landed straight from another planet. Homes are carved into stone as are many of the accommodations so you can stay in a cave room of your own. There are lovely underground cities to be explored and aboveground churches carved into hillsides. A hot air balloon ride early in the morning is one of the most popular activities in Cappadocia and really gives you a sense of the truly out-of-this-world place you're in.
If you head toward the south of Turkey close to the Mediterranean you will find gorgeous resorts, lovely beaches and turquoise waters. The resorts range from high-end luxury in Fethiye to party central in Bodrum.
One of the most popular sites in the northern part of the country sits in the city of Trabzon in Turkey's most northeastern corner. High in the Pontic mountains is a monastery that was carved into the mountainside in the late 4th century. It is believed to have been built after an icon of the Virgin Mary was found there. Today, it is no longer a working monastery but is open for tours of some of its various sections including chapels, a kitchen and a church which has some frescoes intact.
In Turkey, you can find everything from a Mediterranean beach getaway to a historic trek through Gallipoli and old Constantinople to a magical cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. It is a land of opposites curiously rolled up into one harmonious melody.
Airlines providing service between Turkey and Australia include Turkish Airlines, Korean Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Air France, Qantas Airways, Egyptair, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, British Airways, Virgin Australia and KLM.
Australia to Turkey
Popular stopovers between Turkey and Australia include Seoul, Abu Dhabai, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Dubai, Bangkok and Paris.
More information at the Turkey Holidays guide.