Turkey’s ancient ruins, religious artifacts and cultural icons are layered throughout a dynamic landscape that ranges from mountains to plans, from rivers to the seashore.  So there’s no reason why a trip into the heart of Turkey’s ancient civilizations shouldn’t include some pure, sporting fun. In fact, there’s something for every adrenaline addict and all within easy reach of an airport, a comfortable hotel and the educational experience of a lifetime.

Sea Kayaking

Kayaking is a particularly rewarding way to explore Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline. Imagine paddling around the sunken city of Kekova, where it’s all in a day’s fun to visit the ruins at Aperlae, glide by a half-submerged sarcophagus and top off the day with a savory meal of fresh caught fish at a waterside table at Simena. Or guide the stern of your personal vessel down the Dalyan Delta, out of the mouth of the Blue Lagoon to Gemiler Island, or off the bow of a traditional gulet.

White water rafting

When the snow melt turns from a trickle to a roar, that’s when adrenaline seekers the world over head to the Çoruh River, one of the fastest flowing rivers in the world raging through the lush, forested mountain terrain of Artvin on its way to the Black Sea.  In the Province of Antalya, the Köprüçay meanders through the sheer and lush cliffs of the Köprülü Canyon, providing adventurers with a perfect blend of sport, scenery and even ancient architecture. The Dalaman River, in the heart of ancient Lycia once known as the River Indus, offers beginners a lazy ride from April to October, and the thrill of the chase for experts in sections from April to July. The 162 mile-long Göksu River descends from the Taurus Mountains and completes its journey at the Göksu Delta near Mersin. As part of one of the best preserved wetlands in the world, the Göksu Delta will reintroduce you to a natural world populated with hundreds of species of birds, the rare blue crab and the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle. Also in Mersin runs the Anamur River, originating as an underground spring before escaping from the earth in a furious explosion of water and air. The surrounding mountains are rich with wild flora and fauna, a feast for the raptors that call the surrounding forest home.

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Blessed with mild temperatures typical of the Mediterranean, the waters lapping up onto Turkey’s rich coastline are favorable to underwater explorers year -round. But these very same conditions also entice an exciting variety of marine species to feeding grounds up and down Turkeys shores, supported by thriving communities of fascinating and colorful coral and sponges, by mysteriously lit caves and caverns, and by the hospitable habitats provided by the more than 125 shipwrecks scattered offshore. Yes, Turkey’s historic geopolitical importance becomes increasingly visible at 20 and 30 feet below sea level, where WWI and WWII warships share the sea floor with downed fighter planes and countless earthenware amphora lost in wrecks dating back as far as the 14th century BC.  

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With a naturally high terrain, forested peaks and mountain ranges, winter sports in Turkey have been waiting for discovery by international skiers.  Today, modern facilities are spread across the slopes from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and from Cappadocia to Southeast Anatolia. And with peaks covered in snow nearly year-round,  visitors can for example, stroll through centuries of history in the morning, and head for the hilltops for some downhill adventure in the afternoon. The opportunity repeats itself over and over, on the Beydag range at Saklikent, just 30 miles west of Antalya, in Uludag, Turkey’s oldest alpine village situated a mere 20 miles from the foundations of the Ottoman Empire, and on Cappadocia’s extinct volcano, Mt. Erciyes, Central Anatolia’s highest peak just 15 miles south of Kayseri. But these are simply the more obvious choices, leaving the ski centers of the Black Sea, of Eastern Turkey and in the southeast to beckon to the truly intrepid.

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Ballooning and Paragliding

From the perfect aerodynamics of Babadag above Ölüdeniz, Fethiye in SW Turkey to still morning air that floats above the valleys of Cappadocia, Turkey possesses a dynamic and exciting wonderland combining perfect geographical and meteorological conditions for those wishing to soar with the eagles.

Hot air ballooning high above the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia is easily one of the experiences of a lifetime. It’s a breezy flight of light and shadow reflected off of tuffa towers, outlining rippling valleys and lush vineyards.

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Paragliding is another flight of fancy particularly suited to the high peaks and gentle gusts of wind above the Blue Lagoon, over the travertines of Pamukkale, atop Bolu’s Abant Lake, and down along the coastline above Kas. And you don’t have to be a licensed pilot to enjoy the bird’s eye view. Experienced and insured flyers offer tandem flights to anyone with a yearning for flight, leaving their charges free to meditate upon the sights below.

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For those in-the-know, Turkey’s golfing scene is one of Europe’s best kept secrets, boasting 29 courses and counting. The golf scene in Turkey is lent even more credibility thanks to courses designed by the likes of Faldo, Feherty and Montgomerie. Due to its Mediterranean climate and sweeping seaside vistas, the the sun-kissed courses along Antalya’s coastline have made this region the defacto capital of golf in Turkey. Golfing aficionados can also enjoy superb courses in Istanbul, Ankara and the highly desirable resorts of Bodrum. And each golf course or resort seems to have outdone the other, offering as part of the experience deluxe resort hotels, high-end spas and beachfront escapes.

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Mountain biking provides the ultimate off-road experience, one that allows visitors a more intimate window into traditional Turkey. The terrain above Kas takes pedalers along scenic roads, into magnificent canyons, along river streams and up into traditional, rural villages. The mountainous trails along the Lycian Way, from Antalya all the way West to Fethiye, stretch out along an idyllic and pastoral landscape, weaving between forested paths and coastal roads as it passes through the ancient relics of antiquity. A ride through the tinted folds and ripples of Cappadocia’s storied valleys offers a challenging, exhilarating and unparalleled introduction into the history and lore of the steppes.

And in the Belgrade Forest on the outskirts of Istanbul, cyclers continue to be amazed by the Roman aqueducts, the lush trails and a fabulous descent directly down to the edge of Kilyos Beach, on the Black Sea.

For the true biking enthusiast, the Black Sea region, with its dense forests and rich network of national parks, provides a seemingly endless and challenging ride of a lifetime.