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Mile upon mile of rugged coastline, canyons so deep the sun never penetrates them, and mountains so high that the snow never melts: The landscape of Turkey makes for an adventurer's wonderland. There's plenty of space—as much as France and Spain combined—and here you can strike out along long-distance footpaths, paraglide from mountain plateaus, trot through hidden valleys dotted with medieval churches, or be up with the lark to watch the sun rise over ancient stone sculptures on a mountaintop.

In fact, you'll find reminders of ancient inhabitants wherever you turn. With more monuments and ruins per square mile than even Greece, Turkey is a country where it sometimes seems as if every hillside and every bay boasts the forgotten ruins of a temple, castle, or classical theater. Culture vultures will have their hearts set on Ephesus, the vast ruined Roman city near Kusadasi. But if Ephesus is a little too crowded for you, explore lesser-known archaeological sites where you're unlikely to meet another soul.

Of course, not every Turkish adventure needs to leave you gasping for breath. For something gentler, drift down the Bosporus and observe the crazy mix of styles that makes up modern Istanbul. Or head for Cappadocia and float over it in a hot-air balloon.

You won't be alone in your explorations. True to their nomadic origins, modern-day Turks are big on outdoor activities. Walkers and climbers in particular are likely to find themselves sharing trails with the locals. And after a slow start, organized adventure travel is also starting to take off. So, no matter whether you're a solo thrill-seeker or prefer to explore with a group, Turkey brings together ancient world and modern adventure in a heart-pounding way.

English-born Pat Yale has been traveling in Turkey since 1974 and is co-author of several guidebooks and many articles about the country. After traveling in more than 60 countries, she currently lives in the Cappadocian village of Goreme where she is restoring a ruinous cave house.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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