The Turquoise Coast is just as spectacular as its name advocates. Radiant blue waves in that stunning colour ('turquoise' originally comes from the French word for 'Turkish) caress secluded coves and some of the country's most iconic and world renowned beaches – such as Patara and Ölüdeniz.

In the west is the Datça Peninsula, a Mediterranean landscape of rolling hills and olive trees looking out on a sea dotted with Greek islands. East of Bodrum, a more-touristy town, you'll find the Lycian coast with its rich mix of ruins and camera-ready beaches. Each Lycian coast destination has a distinct feel: Such as Ölüdeniz, a little crowded but with a lovely lagoon; Göcek, laid back with beautiful beach clubs; low-key Patara with 18km of sandy beach; upscale Kalkan, once visited, always returned to; lively Kaş with a huge selection of restaurants bars and shops.

It's not all about beaches, bars and restaurants though. There are many other things to do during your stay; boat tours, riding, water skiing, jet skiing, paragliding, sailing, snorkelling, scuba-diving, cycling, and fishing. We guarantee that if you're the active type you won't be disappointed with Turkey!

On the other hand, some of us prefer our holidays to be quiet, peaceful and calming. The Turquoise Coast is a paradise of calm. There are long, empty stretches of sand to walk along, endless mountain trails, sunsets to take your breath away, and welcoming little cafes dotted around where you can while away a few hours with a coffee and a good book. Alternatively, why not just chill out by the pool at your luxury villa!

To enjoy what this special place has to offer, you want to stay in a special villa, and that's what we have. Staying in a private villa is a wonderful experience - relaxing by the pool, throwing a fish on the barbeque, no concerns, and no disturbances. A villa holiday can also be remarkably cheap: our prices are for the villa complete, so divide the cost by the number of people in your party and it can be very economical compared to staying in a hotel.

Climate

All of our villas are located along the south coast of Turkey, Aegean and Mediterranean, so that's the climate we'll mention here. The summers along this coastline are hot and dry and can reach temperatures of around 35C (95F) during the day. Winters are usually warm throughout the day but can get quite cool at night, sometimes below 10C (50F). The most popular time to visit is between middle of April and end of October, although it depends what you want to do. For instance, it's much better to visit the ancient sites in winter as there are much fewer tourists and the weather is much more conducive to walking, climbing, and hiking around.

Language

With more than 200 million people speaking Turkish, it is 7th in the world as the most widely spoken language. Today's Turkish belongs to the Ural-Altaic group of languages, which stems from 11th century dialects and has relatives in Japanese, Korean and Finnish. It is a relatively easy language to learn being based on the Latin script and alphabet (although there are 6 additional characters to normal English) and it is entirely phonetic - a word is said as it is spelled, vowels don't change sounds as they do in English. If you can produce a few words of Turkish while visiting the country, you are guaranteed to delight your Turkish listener.

Religion

Being the only secular Islamic country in the world where religion has no power in the running of the country, there is in fact no official state religion. While most of Turkey's population is Muslim, religion in the country is firmly a private matter. The weekly holiday is Sunday, the same throughout Europe, and there is no strict dress code (except when entering a mosque). However, five times a day the call to prayer can be heard emanating from the many mosques, and there are also two Islamic festivals (Seker Bayrami at the end of Ramadan, and Kurban Bayrami) in addition to the country's secular national holidays. Turkey also has Christian and Jewish minorities with 236 churches and 34 synagogues.

Hospitality

Those that have already visited Turkey will tell you that hospitality in the country is outstanding, and comes as second nature for the Turks. Visitors are often surprised at just how friendly the people are and how much effort they will put in to chatting and assisting with any problems. It is certainly not unusual for newly made Turkish friends to invite you for dinner, often in their homes with their family. This hospitality can be said to stem from Turkey's past presence on the silk trade road between west and east, the arrival of travellers needing somewhere to sleep and food became a normal part of the culture. It is usual for Turks, of both sexes, to greet one another with a kiss on both cheeks.

Food

There is an incredibly wide variety of Turkish food, with each region having its own specialities, and as such Turkey is renowned as one of the foremost cuisines of the world. The trade route which passed through the country had a profound effect as the Anatolians were continually being presented with new foods, herbs and spices - new dishes were always being thought up. The historic and present fertility of Turkey's land has allowed for the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables to create delicious dishes. To generalise, with their proximity to the Middle East, the foods of the eastern regions are more spicy and centred around meat, while further into the west you will find more seafood, olive oil and vegetable dishes. Healthy freshly prepared food is available wherever you go, even in the less upmarket shops and restaurants.

Carpets

Carpet weaving has been an important part of the Turkish culture for thousands of years. The origin of the Turks is nomadic therefore producing carpets and flatweaves to furnish their tents was a necessary part of life. Every carpet produced would be unique, traditionally made by women, and reflect both the place she was from and her character. The style, pattern, and colours of carpets vary from region to region. In modern times chemical dyes are more prevalent with carpets being made from cotton, wool, and silk. The quality of each carpet is determined by the density of knots - more hard-wearing carpets have more knots per centimetre. Should you decide to buy a carpet, the majority of merchants will be delighted to sit and explain its history and the meaning of its many symbols - commonly over a glass of tea. To preserve the tradition and art of carpet making, 'carpet schools' have opened in recent years and you can visit and watch carpets being made.

Iznik Tiles

It was in the 11th century that the Selcuk Turks began development of tile and ceramic art, which reached a high point in the Ottoman Empire days. In the 15th century the centre of production for tiles was established in Iznik, wholly due to the huge demand to decorate mosques and palaces in the new Ottoman capital Istanbul. There were at least 300 specialist tile-making workshops. Tiles were produced in Iznik for two hundred years and increased in sophistication, colour, and design throughout that period. There was also an active export trade for tiles around the world via the Greek island of Rhodes.
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is an excellent place to see Iznik tiles; a legend says that shortly after decorating the Blue Mosque, tile production declined as the artists of Iznik were so exhausted. You can also see original tiles at the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Eminonu, along with the Eyup Mosque in the Golden Horn. There are specialist shops throughout Turkey where you can buy Iznik tiles.

Turkish Baths

Turkish baths (hamam) are public bath houses and have existed since medieval times, not only used as a place to get clean, but also to relax and socialise. During the Ottoman times this tradition reached its pinnacle, being the social focus for women. Many of these women used it as a rare chance to get away from the home to see their friends, and check out potential daughters-in-law. The baths were segregated, with there being a separate section for men - even today, many still have this separation - or in the case where a town had only one hamam, men and women would enter at different times of the day or week. It is only in the tourist beach resorts that it common to have mixed bathing and even to be massaged by a member of the opposite gender - something that would never happen in a traditional hamam.
The most popular historical hamams for visitors to Istanbul are the Cemberlitas (near Sultanahmet), Cagaoglu and the Galatasaray (near Taksim Square).

What to do in a hamam: On entering the hamam, there will be a locker for you to leave your clothes in and a towel (called a pestemel) for you to wrap yourself, wooden slippers are also provided. In the main bath house there are taps along the walls where you fill a bowl and wash by tipping water over yourself from the bowl. Eventually it will be your turn to lie on the marble slab (gobek tasi) in the centre of the room where you will be scrubbed with a coarse cloth (kese) and then covered in soap suds and massaged. These treatments normally have an extra charge.

Nargile

The nargile (hookah) is a traditional Turkish tobacco pipe where the smoke is passed through a bulb-shaped bottle filled with water. It was very popular during the Ottoman times and recently has experienced a comeback, particularly among young people. There are many cafes in Turkey where you can enjoy a game of backgammon (tavla), puff on a nargile - which is available in many different fruit and spice flavours - and watch the world pass by.

Evil Eye

Everywhere in Turkey you will see the evil eye charm (nazar boncuk), to protect from the 'evil eye'. The nazar boncuk is normally made from turquoise blue glass with an eye motif in the centre and comes in many sizes. These are for sale on bracelets, as pendants or pins, in fact anything that the design can be put on, such as pottery and tiles. You will see them attached to doorways, hanging in cars and buses and many other places. The evil eye is a widespread symbol all over the Middle East and dates back thousands of years. It is customarily thought to defend against negative energy from other people which can produce bad luck.

Music

Turkey has a wealth of musical tradition with many different and sometimes contrasting styles. From the sophisticated Ottoman court music to the folk music which comes from the plains of Asia; from the loud military music of the mehter takimi to the mystical and evocative sound of the reed pipe (ney) which is played as the Whirling Dervishes dance.
Classical Turkish music is monophonic, which means all the instruments basically produce the same melody. The commonly heard instrument are the kemence (violin), kanun (like a zither), ud, (lute), zurna (like an oboe) and zil (cymbal).
Polyphonic music began to develop with the formation of the Turkish Republic and Turkey has many successful classical composers. There is also a booming pop music industry promoted by TV channels playing MTV style programmes with non-stop music videos. There are several notable music festivals in Turkey such as the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival along with Istanbul's famous Music and Jazz Festivals.

Folk dancing

There is a deep tradition of folk dancing in Turkey. These dances are always performed at social events such as weddings, military service farewell parties, local, national and religious festivals. Dances vary from region to region reflecting the cultural life. The most famous dances in Turkey include the halay (from the East and South East), the bar (from Erzurum), the hora (in Thrace), the horon (from the Black Sea) and the spoon dances (around Konya). Modernisation of Turkish folk dance has led to the creation of River Dance style troupes displaying contemporary varieties of the original dances in intricate and spectacular stage productions, as the Fire of Anatolia.

Mevlana - Whirling Dervishes

The Whirling Dervishes, or to use their proper name, the order of Mevlevi, were founded in the 13th century by the Sufimystic, Celaleddin Rumi (also called Mevlana). Mevlana was a poet who believed that a religious state of ecstasy could be produced by music and dance allowing the discovery of divine love. His philosophy, or religion, was formed based on tolerance. His widely know poem voices the core beliefs of Sufism:
Come, come, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire-worshipper or idolator, come!
Come even if you have broken your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the door of hope, come as you are.
Thousands of people travel to Konya every year to watch the hypnotic Whirling Dervishes in their annual December event commemorating the Mevlana at their spiritual home. The sema ceremony is essential to the philosophy and climaxes with the whirling dance. The ceremony is performed in traditional dress of white robes, which represents a shroud, and conical hat (sikke) whic symbolises the tombstone of their ego. With his left hand pointed downward toward earth and his right hand pointed upward toward God, the dervish whirls to the accompaniment of the reed pipe (ney).

Karag ö z Shadow Puppets

Karagöz is a traditionally designed shadow puppet play, where the puppets are made from stretched and painted camel skin. Like a kind of Turkish Punch & Judy, there are two main characters, Karagöz and Hacivat. Karagöz is the sensible one who usually finds himself in disagreement with Hacivat, who is well versed in Islamic theology but in the end unreliable. The plays are amusing, using double entendres, mimicry and caricatures. Satire is prevalent throughout the shows, which was used in Ottoman times to allow for humorous critique of those in authority. Karagöz used to be performed at festivals and feasts and was one of the most important types of entertainment during this period.

Nasreddin Hoca

Nasreddin was a popular 13th century philosopher and wise man, famous throughout Turkey for his humorous tales and anecdotes usually conveying a serious message. He features in thousands of stories; however, his now mythical status has made it difficult to differentiate fact from fiction within the anecdotes credited to him and the stories surrounding him. His tales are of everyday situations of the common Anatolian people, with his wisdom, humour, and logic opposing the more strict basics of Islamic law. His donkey is featured in many of his stories, itself a representation of suffering, which was a common factor of village life.

The Van Cats

The area around Lake Van is home to these fascinating cats, which unfortunately are becoming rarer. These unique felines typically have one blue and one amber eye (but can have both eyes the same) and are pure white in colour. Perhaps even more unusual for these animals is that they are the only species of feline that loves swimming and playing in water.