If the thought of dipping temperatures and being smothered in Christmas jumpers again isn’t filling you with festive joy, why not take yourself off for a last minute timeshare break to somewhere worlds away from our wintery shores?
Turkey’s mild coastal winter climate makes travelling, sightseeing and shopping even more of a pleasure than in the height of the summer when tourism peaks and the mercury can soar beyond comfortable levels.
So here’s our 60-second guide to the best bits of Turkey’s mesmerising capital, Istanbul, full of east-meets-west flavour, cultural blends and breathtaking landmarks.
Istanbul – First Stop, The Blue Mosque
On your first morning, you’ll probably want to visit the iconic Blue Mosque, for many visitors the absolute highlight of a trip to this city. Covered in beautiful blue tiles, the interior is simply stunning (it’s not a bad idea to book a guided tour to really appreciate the beauty and history of this special place).
After this, visit the Basilica Cistern that is the largest of the hundreds of cisterns below the city built – astonishingly – in 532. Walk along the wooden platforms with water droplets trickling around you and watch the schools of carp swimming below…
After a lunch of delicious Turkish mezze (Turkey’s version of tapas), head to the Byzantine Hagia Sophia cathedral. This incredible building was transformed into a mosque in 1453 before finally being converted into a museum. The high ceilings and beautiful mosaics make the Hagia Sophia one of the most beautiful buildings in Istanbul.
Explore the “secret souks”
Once you’ve finished sightseeing Istanbul’s top landmarks, if you’re still in discovery mode visit the jam-packed markets to watch the haggling in the backstreet clothes stalls and have a wander around the magical spice streets.
Shop till you drop at The Grand Bazaar
If you’re going before Christmas, The Grand Bazaar is the place to go to stock up on those last minute Christmas gifts but make sure you’re in bargaining mode, as this is the place to do it!
Tip: You’ll probably want to be armed with a map as the souks are full of winding passages and alleys, each one leading to another discovery along the way.
Indulge in the ultimate Turkish Delight
If you fancy feasting on more Turkish treats you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice with an array of restaurants and street food stalls. You can’t leave Istanbul without indulging in a delicious kebab with fresh pomegranate and rich, creamy yoghurt and for Turkish delight fans, Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir near Taksim is sweet treat heaven – the perfect place to stock up on little pressies to take back home!
Can’t get away? Start dreaming about next year’s trip to Turkey now, you can check out a diverse selection of holiday exchange options and Turkey-based resorts at www.RCI.com, www.intervalworld.com and www.dialanexchange.com