The best time to visit the country (weather-wise) is during the summer, between April - October, but the hottest months of July and August may be worth avoiding. For Istanbul you may want to take the residents advice and visit during the autumn when they consider the city to be at its best.
For foodies the Istanbul International Gastronomy Festival is held in March, in June the city becomes home to the Turkish leg of F1 Grand Prix, whilst the International Izmir Festival is an annual event during June-July.
Note: flight, boat, train and bus timetables change constantly, and airlines come and go, so please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning. Check with relevant companies, or a flight search engine like Skyscanner, first.
Istanbul has 2 airports:
Ataturk International, 24km / 15 miles west of the centre, is the main airport, used by most scheduled airlines apart from a few low-cost carriers. To get into town from there, it's easiest and quickest to take a cab. There are also buses and 'LRT' (light rail) trains from the domestic terminal into town, and an irregular airport shuttle.
Sabiha Gokcen, on the Asian side and further out of town, is used by charters and low cost airlines like Easyjet. To get into town, either take a cab or take the Havas shuttle to Levent, north of Taksim.
Flights from the UK to Istanbul:
British Airways from London Heathrow to Istanbul Atatürk
Turkish Airlines from London Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester to Istanbul Atatürk
Pegasus from London Stansted to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen
Flights from the rest of Europe to Istanbul:
Besides Turkish and other national airlines:
easyJet from Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen
germanwings from various airports in Germany to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen
Condor from Zurich and various German airports to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen
Pegasus from Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna, Zurich and various German airports to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen
Corendon from Amsterdam to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen
Flights from North America to Istanbul:
Delta flies nonstop from New York
Turkish Airlines flies nonstop from New York, Chicago and Toronto (amongst others).
Most other U.S. and European airlines can get you there with a stopover in Western Europe.
TO THE TURKISH COAST
Flights from the UK to the Turkish Coast:
Scheduled airlines tend to fly out of London Heathrow / Gatwick (unless stated); charter flights operate from regional airports too. If there are no suitable direct flights, it is often not much longer or more expensive to fly via Istanbul (see below for Internal Flights).
Antalya: British Airways, Cyprus Turkish, Thomas Cook (summer charters only), Thomson (summer charters only), Monarch (summer charters only)
Bodrum: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, easyJet (also from Bristol, Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton), Thomas Cook (summer charters only), Thomson (summer charters only), Monarch (summer charters only)
Dalaman: Cyprus Turkish, easyJet (also from Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and London Stansted), Thomas Cook (summer charters only), Thomson (summer charters only), Monarch (summer charters only)
Izmir: British Airways, Cyprus Turkish, Thomson (summer charters only)
Flights from the rest of Europe to the Turkish Coast:
If there are no suitable direct flights, it is often not much longer or more expensive to fly via Istanbul (see below for Internal Flights).
From Germany, Switzerland and Austria to the Turkish Coast:
Sun Express flies to Izmir and Antalya, as will as internal flights between these airports and Istanbul, Bodrum and Dalaman
Air Berlin flies to Antalya and Bodrum from various German and Swiss airports.
Condor flies to Dalaman from various German and Austrian airports
germanwings flies to Izmir and Antalya from a few German airports
TUIfly to Dalaman and Antalya from various German airports
From Holland and Belgium to the Turkish Coast:
Corendon flies to Antalya and Bodrum from various Dutch and Belgian airports, and also to Izmir from Amsterdam and Eindhoven
Jet Air flies to Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman and Izmir from various Belgian airports
Pegasus flies to Ankara, Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman and Bodrum from Amsterdam
Condor flies to Dalaman from Amsterdam
Flights from the UK to Cappadocia
Cappadocia is served by 2 airports: Nevsehir and Kayseri.
Turkish Airlines offers indirect flights to Nevsehir from Birmingham, London Gatwick and Manchester, and to Nevsehir from London Gatwick and Manchester.
Alternatively you can fly to Istanbul, then link to Nevsehir or Kayseri with Pegasus Airlines.
Flights from Europe to Cappadocia
France: Turkish Airlines offers indirect flights to Nevsehir from Lyon, Nice and Paris Charles de Gaulle, and to Kayseri from Nice, Lyon and Toulouse.
Germany: Turkish Airlines offers direct flights to Kayseri from Munich and Franfurt, and indirect flights to Nevsehir from all the big airports.
Italy: Turkish Airlines offers indirect flights to Kayseri from Rome and Naples, and to Nevsehir from Bologna, Rome, Milan and Venice.
Holland: Turkish Airlines offers indirect flights to Nevsehir from Amsterdam.
It's still possible – and as exotic as ever – to take the train from UK or from western Europe to Istanbul, using the old Orient Express for the Strasbourg-Vienna leg. Of course, it costs more than a flight, since it is a 2- to 3-day adventure – but you can stop over in cities like Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Belgrade or Sofia, and pat yourself on the back for reducing your carbon emissions too.
From London there are daily departures, starting with a lunchtime Eurostar to Paris and an evening TGV to Strasbourg, before boarding the Orient Express overnight train to Vienna. A cheaper but less evocative alternative is the Eurostar to Brussels, an evening Thalys train to Cologne (Köln), and an excellent-value City Night Line "hotel train" to Vienna. Either way it will take 3 days / 2 nights.
For more details, see Seat 61
In addition to Turkish Airlines, try low cost carriers Pegasus, Onur Air, Sun Express and Atlas Jet which between them fly from Istanbul to most of the Mediterranean coastal airports including Izmir, Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya.
FERRIES IN ISTANBUL
Ferries from Karakoy will take you across the strait to Asian Istanbul
From Eminonu, on the other side of the Golden Horn, special “touristic” ferries travel up and down the Bosphorus
To visit the Princes Islands, take a hydrofoil from Kabatas (east of Taksim Square)
BY HIRE CAR
If you're travelling around the coast, a hire car is essential - see our car rental recommendations.