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SPRING TRAVEL IN TURKEY

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Wildflower season

Spring is one of the nicest times to travel in Turkey not least because it's the time of the year when the wildflowers blossom, bringing colour not just to the grass verges but also to many of the archaeological sites including Aphrodisias. 

In Cappadocia this is the time when the apricot, walnut and almond trees are blossom, while in İstanbul April is the month when the tulip festival is in full swing with millions of bulbs bursting into colour all over the city but especially in Gülhane Park, Emirgan Korusu and the grounds of the Hıdiv Kasrı (Khedive's Villa).

Thousands of tulips are also planted in Konya especially on Alaadin Tepesi in the centre of town. 

No sooner have the tulips faded than the pink blossom of the Judas trees brightens up İstanbul, then roses bloom all over the country, especially around Isparta in the Lake District. The rose garden beside the shrine of Mevlana in Konya is a picture in May. One of the special treats of late spring is to see the fields full of the purple and white poppies that supply Turkey's legal opium trade around Afyon.

Flowers aside, spring is also a wonderful time for birdwatchers as the herons nest in Gülhane Park and storks fly back from their winter homes in Africa. Watching them fly over İstanbul in their thousands is a fantastic sight as is seeing them taking up their old nest sites on the Byzantine aqueduct in Selçuk.

Elsewhere in the country this is also the time when you can see flamingoes, especially at the Sultan Sazlığı Kuş Cennet (Sultan Marshes Bird Paradise) south of Kayseri, and on Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake).

lilacsLilacs in bloom in garden of Kelebek Hotel, GöremeIn April there is still a strong likelihood of rain, especially in İstanbul and Cappadocia. In the east snow lingers on into May (which can mean even on the summit of Nemrut Dağı). Bring some warm clothes for evenings unless you're travelling only to Mediterranean resorts like Antalya

Although efforts are finally being made to extend the tourism season you should be warned that the coastal resorts only really get into their stride in May. Before that you may still arrive to find many hotels either closed on in the throes of renovation. Ditto the restaurants. 

DSC09023Tulips in Gülhane Park,İstanbul

In the past it was easy to recommend spring as one of the best times to visit Turkey, especially Istanbul. In recent years, though, April in particular has become almost too popular with long queues outside attractions such as Ayasofya and hotel rooms at a reasonable price almost impossible to find. 

In contrast June is often quite quiet, at least until 15 June when Turkish schools close for three months signalling the start of summer.

Tip: Avoid if possible the days around 23 April, especially when it falls on a weekend. This is Turkey's Children's Holiday and Turks take to the roads in their thousands to visit their families or for short holidays. Towns like Konya fill up rapidly although you should still be able to find rooms in hotels that cater for backpackers and other Western travellers rather than Turks - except in Çanakkale where ANZAC Day (25 April) adds to  the problems.

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