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Home > 53 Top Destinations In Turkey: Best Places To Visit In Turkey For All

53 Top Destinations In Turkey: Best Places To Visit In Turkey For All

Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

Here is your complete guide to all the best places to visit in Turkey, which I have discovered as a local.

This guide has beautiful places in Turkey, from ancient sites, palaces, rock formations, beautiful beaches, hot air ballooning, scenic views, underground cities, amusement parks, and all the most famous places with countless historical landmarks and a seaside town (or 10) for every kind of traveler.

Best Places In Turkey To Visit For Every Kind Of Traveler

  • Beach Resorts

Top Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want To Shop

Places to visit in turkey if you want to party, places to visit in turkey if you want to eat, places to visit in turkey if you want nature.

  • Saklikent National Park Antalya
  • Koprulu National Park
  • Butterfly Valley
  • İztuzu Beach
  • Mount Ararat

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want History And Archeological Sites

  • City Of Safranbolu
  • Mount Nemrut
  • Göbekli Tepe

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want Authentic Culture

  • Any village

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want To Go Off The Beaten Track

  • Northern And Central Turkey
  • Black Sea Coast
  • Gelemis 
  • The Lycian Way

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Like The Cold

  • Uludağ Ski Resort

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want To Sunbathe

  • South Coast
  • The Blue Lagoon

Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!

Find The Best Places To Visit On The Map

There are so many things to do in Turkey, from the lush greenery stretching from Fethiye to the Anatolia region to the ancient churches and underground cities waiting to be discovered.

Where Are The Best Places To See

You’re wrong if you think that Turkey is all beaches and Istanbul! Turkey is a vast country packed with major cities, towns, villages, beach resorts, and the list goes on.

That means there is something for everyone – and I’ll show you my favorites. My guide offers all the best places in Turkey to visit for history, food, nature, partying, and more.

Sure, not every destination will suit you, but I aim to provide a list so you know what you want to do and experience; then, you can find the ideal place that will suit you best.

If you want to know the best cities to visit in Turkey, jump ahead here .

For instance, if you want to enjoy the nightlife, it’s not a good idea to head somewhere like Adana, Aydin, Trabzon, or Rize. However, my husband and I always find fantastic opportunities to party the night away in Istanbul, Izmir, the province of Antalya, and any beach resort south on the Mediterranean coast .

If you want to enjoy history, you’re probably not going to find what you’re looking for that much in Marmaris (well, we have never). Still, in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, you’ll have more history than you can possibly absorb into your brain! With Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Strait, and dozens of Turkish baths , to name a few.

It comes down to what you want and then figuring out where you want to go.

Let me give you some ideas on where to go in Turkey…

We’ve got the low down on the best places to visit in Turkey to shop!

1. Istanbul And Izmir

Best Places In Turkey To Visit For Every Kind Of Traveler - Istanbul Bazaar

You can find everything in Istanbul —in fact. Taksim is the ideal spot for high-street stores, but there are also huge malls across the city, such as Cevahir and the Mall of Istanbul .

Izmir is also a great shopping spot , with several other malls and plenty of your international names. If you want traditional souvenirs , you’ll find these in most places, but you can’t beat Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar for choice and experience!

  • Guide To Istanbul
  • Guide To Izmir

We’ve compiled a list of the best places in Turkey to party.

2. Istanbul – Izmir – Antalya – Beach Resorts

popular tourist destinations turkey

Most people are surprised when they see the amount of nightlife in Turkey . Sure, it’s not everywhere you look, and some of the smaller cities and towns still tend to be more traditional in terms of beer houses, mainly for men, etc., but you’ll find many International and modern bars, too.

Taksim and Besiktas in Istanbul are ideal for party fans , but Izmir and the Antalya Province will tick your boxes, too. Taksim is home to some seriously loud nightclubs if that’s what you’re after!

Alternatively, the beach resorts on the Mediterranean Sea , such as Marmaris , Gumbet, Bodrum, and Alanya, also have plenty of bars and nightclubs.

  • Istanbul Nightlife
  • Where To Stay In Izmir
  • Best Beach Towns On The Turkish Coast

If you like to eat, here are the best places to visit in Turkey .

Traditional Turkish Drink Raki, Salgam (Turnip Juice) with Adana Kebab

Adana is a beautiful city of contrasts, where ancient traditions meet modernity. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Seyhan River and visit the Grand Mosque’s striking architecture. Don’t forget to savor Adana kebabs , renowned for their delicious blend of flavors.

  • Guide To A Turkish Breakfast
  • What To Eat In Turkey
  • How To Tip In Turkey

4. Istanbul

A pink sky over Istanbul city at sunset from Calmica

There is nothing you won’t find here, including traditional Turkish food. Turkish food all over the country is delightful , and if you can head to a small village, be sure to try the homemade fare there.

You need to chow down in Istanbul and not miss trying the street food , as it’s not only cheap but also super filling.

  • Lesser Known Istanbul Street Food
  • Best Rooftop Restaurants & Bars In Istanbul
  • Where To Eat In Istanbul

Nature lovers, take note; here are the places in Turkey to head to to get your dose of lush greenery.

5. Saklikent National Park Antalya Or Cappadocia

Best Places To Stay In Cappadocia, Turkey

One of the most iconic travel photos worldwide is one of a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia , which is a true must-visit. The unique landscape around here is something to behold, and the so-called ‘fairy chimneys’ formed by years of rock erosion are genuinely magnificent. You can even stay in a traditional cave hotel!

Alternatively, or possibly also, head to Antalya’s Saklikent National Park. You can go canyoning, rock climbing, or sailing down the river, but whatever you choose to do, it’s genuinely breathtaking.

  • Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Guide
  • The Best Cappadocia Tours
  • Where To Stay In Cappadocia
  • Nearest Airport To Cappadocia

6. Koprulu National Park

Nature enthusiasts will find paradise in Koprulu National Park. Raft down the Köprüçay River through stunning canyons or go hiking amidst pine forests. The park’s natural beauty and outdoor activities make it an excellent destination for adventure seekers.

7. Pamukkale

How To Get From Pamukkale To Cappadocia - Sunset at Pamukkale

Its name means “cotton castle” in Turkish; Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s best tourist attractions that everyone will love, from kids to the most well-traveled people.

Whether you’re into nature or not, you’ll undoubtedly be impressed by the extraordinary features of this vast thermal spring. This natural UNESCO World Heritage Site is in inland southeastern Turkey but is a great day trip for major coastal cities.

Millennia of endless water flow and mineral deposits have created a stunning collection of travertine terraces, pure water, and snow-white limestone shimmering in the Turkish sun. Since antiquity, people have visited these hot springs and pools when it was the location of the Roman city of Hierapolis (Holy City).

Pamukkale Turkey - Family

Pamukkale is easily one of the best places to go in Turkey for a day trip from the coastal resorts. Although the terraces and pools are off-limits to visitors nowadays, you can still see them up close on footpaths. The on-site Roman ruins and museums are worth visiting , too.

  • Guide To Pamukkale
  • Best Thermal Hotels In Pamukkale
  • How To Get From Pamukkale To Cappadocia

Akyaka ,Turkey,

Nestled on Turkey’s southwestern coast, Akyaka is a hidden gem that beckons travelers with its serene charm. This picturesque town is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and water sports lovers.

The crystalline waters of the Azmak River wind their way through Akyaka, offering opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding. Stroll along the charming boardwalk and indulge in fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants. Akyaka’s unique architecture, with its traditional Mugla houses , adds to the town’s allure.

For a perfect day in Akyaka, explore the surrounding pine forests and soak in the natural beauty of this coastal paradise.

  • Why You Need To Visit Akyaka

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Places to visit in turkey if you want history.

So, where are the best places to visit in Turkey to learn about history?

9. Istanbul

popular tourist destinations turkey

Turkey is packed with history; if you want to study natural history, you should head to the southeastern region. While traveling there isn’t forbidden by any means and is relatively safe provided you’re careful , certain restrictions and places are not ideal.

Many governments warn their citizens not to go to the border area with Syria, for example. This is quite a shame because Mardin, which isn’t too far from the Syrian border, is one of Turkey’s oldest and most historic sites .

Despite that, Istanbul is the best place to go in Turkey for history, hands down, if not the entire world. There are more historical places to see in Turkey than you will ever have time to visit on one vacation!

  • The Istanbul Museum Pass – Save Time & Money
  • Whirling Dervishes In Istanbul
  • 17 Amazing Mosques In Istanbul Not To Miss
  • Best Museums In Istanbul

10. Çannakale

Things To Do In Gallipoli - Reasons To Go To Gallipoli - Tombs

Çannakale, located on the shores of the Dardanelles, offers a gateway to ancient Troy and the historic Gallipoli Peninsula. History buffs will be enthralled by the remnants of the ancient city of Troy, where the famous Trojan War unfolded. The Gallipoli Battlefields, a poignant reminder of World War I, is a solemn but essential stop for those interested in history.

Çannakale’s waterfront promenade provides breathtaking views of the strait, and the city’s warm hospitality ensures a memorable stay. Experience the intersection of history and natural beauty in Çannakale.

11. Ancient City Of Ephesus

Bodrum Vs. Marmaris - Ephesus day trip

Located near the present-day town of Selçuk on Turkey’s southeast coast , Ephesus is one of the world’s most magnificent ancient ruins and is one of the top places to go in Turkey for ruins.

This ancient Greek city dates back to the 10th century BC, after which it grew to become one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League in Classical Greece . The Roman Empire conquered this stunning city in the 2 nd century BC.

Celcius Library - Ephesus Turkiye

Now, the ruins of this ancient city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site ; Ephesus is easily one of the best sites in Turkey to visit ancient architecture and history. It was home to the fabled Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Simultaneously, other iconic buildings include the imposing Library of Celsus, the Gate of Augustus, and the Tomb of John of the Apostle. If you only have time to visit one historic site in Turkey, this should be it.

  • What To See & Do In Ephesus
  • Tours From Istanbul To Ephesus
  • Getting From Izmir To Ephesus

12. Aspendos

Best places to visit in Turkey - Aspendos

Another spectacular Turkish site dating from antiquity is Aspendos. This ancient Greco-Roman city is near Antalya on the southern coast of Turkey. There’s plenty of history to discover and learn about here, making it one of the best places in Turkey for history buffs to visit. The absolute star main attraction, however, is the massive Aspendos Theater.

One of the best-preserved theaters from antiquity, the Aspendos Theater, dating from the 2 nd century AD, once seated no fewer than 12,000 spectators. It is exceptional for its superb acoustics and impressive architectural design. The Theater of Aspendos is even more remarkable because it’s still in use today—it hosts the annual Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival.

13. City Of Safranbolu

City Of Safranbolu - UNESCO TURKEY

Another one of the many beautiful places in Turkey , the old City of Safranbolu, was an essential stop on the main east-west trade route between Europe and Asia in the 13th century. UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site for its significance to historic trade and its well-preserved buildings.

The Çarşı District is home to beautiful Ottoman Empire architecture, including hundreds of red-roofed traditional houses that line cobblestone streets. Other top attractions in Safranbolu include the 17th-century caravansary of Cinci Han and the restored Tarihi Cinci Hamam bathhouse.

  • Day Trips Ideas From Istanbul

14. Mount Nemrut

Hidden Gems In Turkey - Stone head statues at Nemrut Mountain in Turkey

By now, you’ve probably noticed that several of the best places to visit in Turkey are historical or cultural sites. And here we have yet another historic UNESCO World Heritage Site in Turkey. Mount Nemrut is no different.

Also known as Nemrut Dağ, Mount Nemrut is situated in southeastern Turkey and is one of the tallest mountains east of the Taurus mountain range.

This striking mountain is topped with several ruins, buildings, and famous statues. It is assumed to be the mausoleum of Antiochus, the former late-Hellenistic king of Commagene, which originated after Alexander’s empire fell. Seeing the temple tomb’s colossal statues and sculpted slabs is an experience that makes the trip out there more than worth it.

  • Top Landmarks In Turkey
  • Should You Visit Southeastern Turkey

So, where are the best places to visit in Turkey to experience culture?

15. Trabzon

Cities in Turkey - Trabzon - Sumela Monastery

If you’re looking for a breathtaking Turkish city to add to your travel list, look no further than Trabzon. This Black Sea gem in northeast Turkey is known for its stunning natural scenery , rich history, and delicious cuisine.

One of the must-see sights in Trabzon is the Sumela Monastery. Nature lovers will also enjoy exploring the Uzungol Plateau , hiking through the Altindere Valley National Park, and relaxing at one of the many scenic beaches.

No visit to Trabzon would be complete without sampling some of the local dishes like hamsi (anchovies), karadeniz pidesi (black sea bread), and kuyu kebabi (lamb cooked underground).

So, if you’re looking for a city with everything – from beautiful landscapes to tasty food – make sure to put Trabzon, Turkey, on your radar !

  • Guide To Trabzon

16. Sanliurfa

Cities in Turkey- Gobeklitepe, Sanliurfa / Turkey

Sanliurfa, often called the “City of Prophets,” is a unique place of historical and spiritual significance. According to local legend, it is the birthplace of the biblical prophet Abraham. Visit the vibrant bazaars of Sanliurfa, where you can shop for colorful textiles, spices, and handicrafts.

The city’s stunning Balikligol (Pool of Sacred Fish) is a serene oasis surrounded by gardens and historical sites. Witness the mesmerizing dance of the sacred fish, which is said to bring good luck. As you explore Sanliurfa, you’ll be immersed in a city where legends from ancient times and modern life coexist harmoniously.

17. Diyarbakir

DIYARBAKIR, TURKEY - Markets

Diyarbakir, located in southeastern Turkey, is a city of ancient walls and rich traditions. The city’s iconic black basalt walls, dating back to Roman times, encircle the old town and stand as a symbol of its resilience through centuries.

Explore the bustling, narrow streets of Diyarbakir, where you can savor traditional Kurdish cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to taste the delectable mutton dishes and baklava. The city’s Grand Mosque and the Hevsel Gardens along the Tigris River are must-visit attractions. Diyarbakir’s cultural heritage and warm hospitality make it a popular place for those seeking authenticity.

Cities in Turkey - Konya, Beysehir stone bridge view in town.Historic stone bridge on Beysehir lake

Konya is a city in Turkey that is full of history and culture. There are many fun things to see and do in Konya, making it a great place to visit. Some top sights include the Mevlana Museum, the Alaeddin Mosque, and the Selimiye Mosque.

There are also plenty of outstanding restaurants and shops to explore. If you’re looking for a city full of character and culture, Konya is definitely worth a visit .

  • How To Get From Istanbul To Konya

Cities in Turkey - Mardin, Turkey

Mardin, perched on a hilltop in southeastern Turkey , is a captivating blend of history and culture. The city’s ancient stone buildings, adorned with intricate carvings, transport you back in time.

Explore the narrow alleyways of the old town, where the scent of spices fills the air from bustling bazaars. The iconic Mardin Houses , made of local beige stone, offer a glimpse into the region’s architectural heritage. Don’t miss the chance to savor traditional Mardin cuisine, which combines flavors from Arabic and Turkish influences. As you wander through Mardin, you’ll discover a city where history and tradition harmoniously coexist.

20. Any Village

Best Places In Turkey To Visit For Every Kind Of Traveler - Ankara - Kocatepe Mosque

Many tour operators will take you to local villages and show you the local way of life . If you visit cities and towns , you’ll surely see some of them, but they’re usually touched by modern life and have changed a little. You must visit a local village to see how people live off the land, focus all their time and energy on family, and value communities. The food is also excellent!

Turkish people, by nature, are very welcoming, and hospitality is high on their list. If you meet a local family and they invite you to their home, you’re more than blessed in terms of the culinary delights that will come your way, too!

The good news is that many villages are close to the main tourist resorts on the south coast of the Turkish Riviera, so you can visit them if you hire a car.

Get off the beaten track and visit one of these options, which are among Turkey’s best places to visit.

21. Northern And Central Turkey

Best Black Sea Beaches -Amasra

Turkey is a safe country, and provided you listen to advice, e.g., the advice we gave before about not going close to the Syrian border; you’re more than fine. This is a huge country, and it’s exceptionally welcoming. Thanks to a very high-quality long-distance bus network, traveling around Turkey is straightforward, meaning you can go from place to place relatively cheaply.

If you want to leave the main tourist resorts and cities, head to the Black Sea Coast , with destinations in Turkey such as Rize and Trabzon. Do be aware that during the winter , however, this part of Turkey sees heavy snowfall, but it’s beautiful to see! Central Turkey is also a delight, and this is where the capital city of Ankara is situated.

  • Guide To The Black Sea Coast
  • Surfing The Black Sea

22. Gaziantep

Visit a museum in Southeast Turkey featuring a mesmerizing mosaic floor and majestic pillars - Gaziantep, Turkey - April 2022: Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Gaziantep, often called the “City of Gastronomy,” is a culinary haven in southeastern Turkey. Renowned for its delectable dishes and rich culinary heritage, Gaziantep offers a feast for the senses. Sample the world-famous Baklava, prepared with layers of thin pastry, pistachios, and honey, at local bakeries.

Explore the Gaziantep Castle and the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which houses remarkable ancient mosaics. The bustling markets of Gaziantep are perfect for indulging in traditional sweets and savory delights. With its culinary delights and historical sites, Gaziantep promises a delightful journey for foodies.

Most beautiful mosques in Turkey - Selimye Mosque - Edirne

Edirne, a city steeped in history, is a treasure trove of architectural marvels and cultural richness. Known for its stunning Selimiye Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edirne’s skyline is dominated by its magnificent dome and minarets.

The city’s annual Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival is a testament to its cultural heritage, attracting participants and spectators from all over the world. Edirne’s Ottoman-style bridges, including the Meric River Bridge, offer captivating views and a glimpse into the past. Sample Edirne’s famous liver and meatball dishes at local eateries and immerse yourself in the grandeur of this historic city.

We’ve got the tourist spots in Turkey that are still fun while cold.

Do you think the best places to visit in Turkey are reserved only for the summer months?

Wintertime in Turkey can be magical, a great opportunity to relax, recharge your batteries, and see the traditional way of life. Of course, you can still embrace plenty of hectic action in the large cities, especially Istanbul .

  • Christmas In Turkey
  • Best Things To Do In Istanbul In Winter
  • Istanbul In January
  • Why You Should Visit Turkey In Winter

24. Cappadocia

Cave Hotel Cappadocia Turkey

Did you know that Cappadocia Is open all year round?

This beautiful fairy chimney landscape in Central Turkey is iconic for the hot air balloons flying high at sunrise every day. You might not know that Cappadocia isn’t close, so you can still head there and enjoy the beautiful scenery even when the weather is freezing and the snow is falling.

While hot air balloons are subject to cancellation at any time of year, depending upon weather conditions, it’s more likely to happen during the winter months. Don’t let that stop you, however, as there are many days when flights take off exactly as scheduled!

Even if you can’t get on the balloon, there are many things you can do around Cappadocia, with walking trails, cuisine, museums, archaeological sites , and, of course, the chance to stay in a cave museum!

Winter in Turkey is undoubtedly something you should do. While you might not be able to jump into the sea and get a suntan, you’ll experience something far more valuable – authenticity!

  • How To Enjoy Cappadocia In Winter

Places To Visit In Turkey For All

Things to do in Ankara - Ankara, Turkey - November 09, 2021: Front view of Anitkabir. Editorial shot in Ankara.

Turkey’s capital city, Ankara , is a modern metropolis with a rich history. Explore the awe-inspiring Atatürk Mausoleum and the ancient Roman Temple of Augustus. The city’s museums, vibrant nightlife, and diverse culinary scene offer a glimpse into contemporary Turkish life.

  • Epic Things To Do In Ankara
  • Istanbul To Ankara Train Guide
  • Istanbul Vs. Ankara – Which To Visit

Top Destinations If You Want To Sunbathe

If you want to know where to go in Turkey for the sun, we’ve got you covered (in 50+).

26. South Coast

Best Black Sea Beaches - Sinemorec Rocks - Sile Beach Turkey

Finally, if you want to kick back and relax, get a tan, and enjoy the summer temperatures (although, be warned, they’re hot), you should definitely head south and visit one of the many tourist resorts on the south coast.

  • Things To Do In Kas On Turkey’s Southern Coast

27. Side Antik Kenti

Side Antik Kenti is a seaside archaeological wonder that transports you to the ancient world. Stroll through the well-preserved ruins of temples, theaters, and baths overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a perfect blend of history, sun, and sea.

The Land of Legends in Belek, Turkey

Belek is a coastal paradise known for its luxurious resorts and pristine beaches. It’s a golfer’s dream destination with world-class golf courses. Relax by the turquoise waters, take a dip in the Mediterranean, or explore the nearby ancient ruins.

Lapped by the Mediterranean and Aegean Coast, you can also choose between some of the most beautiful places in Turkey.

  • Guide To The Turkish Riviera

29. Kusadasi

Kusadasi - Aegean Coast Turkey

Nestled along the stunning Aegean Sea, Kusadasi is a traveler’s paradise . With its crystal-clear waters, Kusadasi offers some of the most breathtaking beaches in Turkey . Beyond the shore, you’ll discover the ancient ruins of Ephesus, where history comes to life. Stroll through the bustling bazaars, savor the local cuisine, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this coastal gem.

Bodrum beaches - Ortakent-Yahsi Beach Beach (Yahsi-Yalisi)

Bodrum is a coastal town that effortlessly combines history, culture, and natural beauty. The Bodrum Castle, overlooking the marina, is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Relax on the pristine beaches during the day, and as the sun sets, immerse yourself in Bodrum’s vibrant nightlife, filled with bars, clubs, and restaurants.

  • Where To Stay In Bodrum
  • Ferry Day Trip From Kos To Bodrum
  • Best Beach Resorts In Bodrum
  • Bodrum Beach Guide

Sailing Turkish Coast - Gumbet, Bodrum, Turkey

If you’re seeking a lively beach destination, Gumbet is the place to be. Known for its energetic atmosphere, Gumbet offers many water sports, beach parties, and vibrant nightlife. During the day, you can explore nearby Bodrum or bask in the sun along the golden shores.

  • Aegean Coast Of Turkey – Izmir, Bodrum & Beyond

32. Icmeler

Icmeler - Ibiza Beach

Tucked away on the southwest Turkish coast, Icmeler is a hidden gem known for its tranquil charm. The beach here is a haven for relaxation, and the town’s friendly locals make you feel right at home. You can leisurely stroll along the palm-lined promenade, indulge in delicious Turkish cuisine, and unwind in this serene coastal retreat. It is always a place where you can really unwind. 

  • Luxury Beach Resorts On The Turkish Riviera

33. Marmaris

Sedir Adasi, Marmaris

Marmaris is a diverse coastal town that caters to all types of travelers. Whether you’re interested in water sports, a boat trip to a secluded cove, or exploring the picturesque old town, Marmaris has it all. Don’t forget to visit the famous Marmaris Castle and enjoy a taste of the local nightlife.

  • Marmaris Or Bodrum – Which Is For You
  • Marmaris Or Antalya – How To Choose
  • Your Guide To Marmaris

Aerial view resort city Alanya in southern coast of Turkey

With its dramatic cliffside castle and two stunning beaches, Alanya is a coastal paradise with a touch of history that never disappoints me. Explore the centuries-old Alanya Castle, offering panoramic views of the coastline, and then relax on Cleopatra Beach, said to be the favored bathing spot of the ancient queen herself. Alanya’s vibrant markets and dining scene add to the charm of this captivating destination.

Not to mention, these cities along the southern coast are perfect for day-tripping to Greece!

  • Alanya Or Antalya – How To Choose
  • Your Guide To Alanya

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Turkey Travel FAQs

Should i go to turkey.

Yes! Turkey is an incredible country that offers diverse sights and delicious food. It is a melting pot of culture, history, and modern-day life.

When is the best time to go to Turkey?

If you want beach time, the best time to visit is from May to the end of September. If you’re more interested in sightseeing and city life, Turkey is a year-round destination.

What are the popular places to visit in Turkey?

While Istanbul is an obvious choice, the southern beach resorts are also bustling during the hottest months.

Where is Turkey?

Turkey is located on the border between Eastern Europe and Asia. It is bordered by eight different countries: Armenia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece, Iraq, and Syria.

What is the most beautiful part of Turkey?

All of Turkey is beautiful in different ways. The south coast is particularly home to some of the best towns to visit, and when the sun is shining, it’s blindingly beautiful.

What is Turkey the most famous for?

Turkey is famous for its food, fantastic beaches, centuries-old history, music, and warm welcome to all guests.

Is Turkey safe to visit?

Yes. Turkey is safe like any other country. It is advised to avoid the border areas with Syria and Iraq and to watch your belongings in crowded spaces. 

What are the must-see cities in Turkey?

The must-see cities in Turkey include Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, and Ankara.

Is Turkey cheap or expensive?

Compared to the rest of Europe, Turkey is considered a cheaper country, though prices have risen a lot in the last 12 months.

What are some of the best places to visit in Turkey?

Turkey offers a variety of incredible destinations to explore. Some of the best places to visit include sun-drenched beaches, lush mountains, vibrant cities, and ancient ruins.

What activities can I try while in Turkey?

In Turkey, you can engage in various activities depending on your interests. You can enjoy water sports at the beaches, go hiking in the mountains, explore bustling markets, indulge in delicious Turkish cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the country.

Are there any recommended places to stay in Turkey?

If you’re looking for accommodation options in Turkey, there are numerous great places to stay. Depending on your preferences, you can choose from luxurious hotels, cozy guesthouses, seaside resorts, or even unique stays like cave hotels in Cappadocia.

How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are there in Turkey?

Turkey boasts an impressive total of 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites showcase the country’s significant historical and cultural landmarks, providing visitors with awe-inspiring experiences.

Whether you are looking for panoramic views, water sports, natural wonders, or small-town feels, you can see that Turkey is the perfect place for everyone to go.

  • What To Pack For Turkey
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  • How To Get From Istanbul To Cappadocia
  • What To Wear In Turkey: Area-by-Area Guide
  • Guide To Hiking The Lycian Way
  • Things To Do In Cappadocia Other Than Ballooning

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26 Top Tourist Attractions in Turkey

By Kaeylen McCrea · Last updated on April 30, 2024

Renowned for its ancient history, rich culture, and sensational landscapes, Turkey is dominated by highly favored destinations that draw millions upon millions of visitors annually.

Throughout its history, Turkey’s background and culture have been influenced by numerous cultures, such as Armenians, Romans, and Greeks. The country was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over numerous nations across Asia, Europe, and Africa for six centuries.

From hot air balloon rides widespread across social media to exploring the misty mountains of Eastern Black Sea, Turkey offers a wide variety of things to do. But that’s not all to check out in this unique country!

The considerable archaeological finds in Turkey, like the Lycian tombs, make it a hot spot for history buffs and inquisitive minds intrigued by ancient history. Other tourist attractions in Turkey include the dome and minaret filled skyline of Istanbul and the beaches along the Mediterranean. This is a country waiting to be explored!

26. Ani Ruins

Ani Ruins

Across the Akhurian River from Armenia, the Ani Ruins are the remains of what once was the metropolis of Ani, an ancient Armenian city.

Established over 1,600 years ago, Ani was widely known as “the city of a thousand and one churches.” The walled city protected more than 100,000 residents in the 11th century, prosperous for its time. Unfortunately for the city, it was conquered, harassed, and attacked more than a few times resulting in Ani being utterly abandoned by the 1700s.

The Ani Ruins feature more than 30 caves, 50 churches, and 20 chapels, with other excavations discovering more of these historic structures. Reaching the Ani Ruins, the first sight is welcomed by towering city walls that have mostly stood tall and proud over the years.

Then, once past the walls, is one of the most favored structures preserved in the Ani Ruins, the Cathedral. It is the largest standing building in Ani, a domed basilica with pointed arches and cluster piers admired as the sun peeks through parts of its missing structure.

25. Duden Waterfalls, Antalya

Duden Waterfalls

A collection of waterfalls in Antalya , the Duden Waterfalls pour into the rich turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Duden Waterfalls are divided into Upper Duden Waterfall and Lower Duden Waterfall.

Upper Duden Waterfall, also referred to as Alexander Falls, is a favored recreational area, exuding a natural and refreshing charm surrounded by fresh greenery. The story goes that Alexander the Great allowed his horses to drink water here as he passed through the region. Behind the Upper Duden Waterfall are caves where people go to see the views of the flowing waterfall from below.

The Lower Duden Waterfall, also called Karpuzkaldiran Selalesi (which translates to watermelon raising waterfall), is found in the Lara District in Duden Park. The stunning scenery of the waterfall is often viewed by boat, the nearby sidewalk, or from Duden Park for those searching for a replenishing display of nature’s beauty and power. Lower Duden Waterfall drops water from Duden River, one of the largest in southern Anatolia, into the sea below.

24. Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe

Dating back to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, Göbekli Tepe, translating to “Potbelly Hill,” is a famed archaeological site where the world’s oldest known megaliths were discovered. The megaliths are older than Stonehenge by about 6,000 years!

Discovered in the Germus Mountains, northeast of Sanliurfa, the archaeological site boasts the discovery of structures built by hunter-gathers estimated from 9,600 to 8,000 BCE and are assumed to be related to rituals of some sort.

The Sanliurfa Museum presents an impressive collection of artifacts excavated from Göbekli Tepe. Visitors can easily explore the site at Göbekli Tepe, the world’s oldest temple. Observe archaeologists at work as they excavate the enormous site that still offers up more monumental archaeological and historical finds. There’s a small museum at Göbekli Tepe where visitors can peer at intriguing 3D animations of the site and discover more about this impactful historical site.

23. Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

On the south portion of Ankara Castle in the capital of Turkey is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, located in two Ottoman-aged buildings.

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is the perfect place to learn the complexity of Turkey’s background through top-class exhibits featuring original artifacts from various native archaeological sites. A journey through the museum’s exhibits, organized chronologically for ease of learning, takes visitors through different periods displaying impressive artifacts like the museum’s cuneiform tablets, which date back to 2 BC.

Peer at carved stone slabs from the 8,000-year-old archaeological site of Arslantepe, an ancient city. Gaze at horse bits and shields established by Anatolia’s leading metalworkers, the Urartians. There is so much to see and learn at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations to comprehend the ancient history of Turkey.

22. Lycian Tombs in Fethiye

Lycian Tombs

Discovered in Fethiye, the ancient Lycian Tombs were established for kings and queens. They are an architectural wonder dating back to around 350 BC, having been built in the side of a mountain to overlook the city of Fethiye below.

The Lycians were the people that lived in Lycia, a prosperous state bordering the Mediterranean Sea, from around 1400 BC to 546 BC. The Lycians believed that the dead were taken to the afterlife by winged creatures. The location of the Lycian Tombs in the cliffside was to have the honored dead closer to heaven.

Taking a river cruise to see the tombs is one of the most popular things to do in Turkey. The entryways of the Lycian Tombs in Fethiye are illuminated by towering Classical columns, the inside comparatively bare thanks to years of looters emptying the tombs.

21. Mardin Old Town

Mardin Old Town

Near the Mesopotamian plains and north of the Syrian border, Mardin is a historical city full of spectacular architecture and thousands of years of intriguing history.

There are many fascinating things to do within Mardin’s Old Town, such as visiting the Mardin Museum in the ancient town square. The museum presents outstanding exhibits on the cultures established in Mardin throughout its history. Mardin Castle, commonly called Eagle’s Nest, overlooks the whole of Mardin, dating back 3,000 years.

The Mardin stone houses are another, featuring eye-catching Arab-style architecture strategically positioned, in a stair-like method, to overlook the plains of northern Syria and to prevent the houses from blocking each other’s view.

These stone houses enrich the atmosphere of the historic area. They draw in visitors from all over to get lost sightseeing in Mardin Old Town’s streets, surrounded by spectacular architecture and authentic design.

20. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Grand Bazaar

One of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors daily.

Getting its start in 1461 during Ottoman rule, the bazaar continued to expand throughout the years to establish itself in its notoriety today. It’s one of the top tourist attractions in Istanbul , so you don’t want to miss a trip to this famed market and one of its famous sales, traditional hand-loomed carpets paired with a notorious storytelling experience from the seller.

The notorious Grand Bazaar boasts more than 4,000 stores, a police station, multiple banks and cafes, a post office, and a mosque. Scour the maze of the Grand Bazaar’s shopping paradise for traditional textiles, historical antiques, magic lanterns, Turkish rugs, and other unique finds. It’s not hard to spend hours walking through this historic and culturally rich market!

19. Uludag National Park

Uludağ National Park

Near Istanbul and Bursa, Uludağ National Park is home to Mount Uludag, or Great Mountain, the highest point in the Marmara region. Known in ancient times as Olympos Misios, better known as Mount Olympus, the mountain where Zeus and other gods and goddesses were believed to have lived in mythology.

One of the premier destinations for winter sports and summer activities, Uludağ National Park, welcomes more than a million visitors annually. The world’s longest cable car, Uludağ Teleferik, connects the city of Bursa to Uludağ National Park and the nearby ski resort for visitors to take on the glorious landscapes of Mount Uludag.

Skii, hike, and explore the natural wonders of Uludağ National Park. Watch for its numerous endemic species of plants and animals. Then, walk to the secluded Softabogan Waterfall, where locals and tourists swim and relax in nature. Finally, join fellow skiers on the slopes, weaving down the mountainside surrounded by fir trees and snow.

18. Pergamon Acropolis

Pergamon Acropolis

Pergamon was once an ancient and wealthy Greek city. Now, the Acropolis of Pergamum rests atop a hill facing the town center of Bergama.

The archaeological site of the acropolis is one of the most reputed in Turkey. Impressive temples and a picturesque theater are scattered across the ancient ruins. However, one of the most well-known points of interest at the Pergamon Acropolis is the marble-columned Temple of Trajan, the only Roman monument on the site.

It was built under the order of the Roman emperor Trajan and was completed by Trajan’s successor, Hadrian. The purpose of the Temple of Trajan was to act as a place for others to worship the rulers and Zeus, along with strengthening the relationship of Rome with the people of Pergamon. Other enigmatic historical structures at Pergamon Acropolis include the Hellenistic theatre, the Temple of Dionysus, and the Altar of Zeus.

17. Ruins of Troy

Ruins of Troy

The legendary city of Troy may not be left standing, but its ruins are open for exploration for a giant leap back to the time of the tales of the great Trojan War and the Trojan Horse.

Troy’s tale was written by Homer in The Iliad, detailing the story of the famed Achilles and the siege that ended in the Trojans losing the war to the Greeks. However, what was previously believed to be a myth was discovered in 1870 after an archaeologist uncovered the city of Troy.

The Ruins of Troy are found on the Turkish Aegean coast, near the village of Tevfikiye. The site has been established as a famous tourist attraction, featuring a walk through the ruins, a Trojan Horse model, and the Troy Museum. The museum preserves and exhibits archaeological finds from the city of Troy and nearby sites.

Side

Settled on the southern Mediterranean coast, between Alanya and Antalya, Side is a stunning city drawing in visitors with its impressive ancient ruins, renowned resorts and plenty of things to do.

An ancient port city, Side’s natural charm combines a paradise of sunshine and sandy beaches with the impact-fullness of ancient architecture and archaeological sites. The city’s origins date back to 7 BCE, quickly becoming a significant trading post of the region. Throughout history, the city fell under the rule of many leaders and cultures that have impacted Side, including Alexander the Great.

Explore the ancient Roman-style theater that hosted gladiator fights in Side’s Old Town, which dates back to 2 AD. Peer through the Side Archaeological Museum’s significant collection of ancient artifacts sourced from Side and other nearby excavation sites.

Or turn the tides and head down to Side’s turquoise beaches for a day spent relaxing in the sun and basking in nature. Then head to Side’s Old Town market for Turkish goods, including jewelry and clothing, to bring home souvenirs!

15. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Found in the Fatih district in Istanbul, the Topkapi Palace served as the residence for sultans until the 17th century. It is now a grand museum displaying the grandeur of Turkey’s history and wealth.

Topkapi Palace was established in the 15th century under the order of Sultan Mehmed II. Once the Ottoman Empire’s reign failed in 1923, the palace was restructured into a museum, becoming a famous tourist attraction for visitors to see and imagine the life of sultans. The museum welcomes more than three million visitors a year.

Visitors can observe the remarkable exhibitions that display kaftans, portraits, sacred relics, and the world’s fifth-largest diamond, the Spoonmaker’s Diamond. Through the Harem section, which served as the private residence of the sultans and their concubines, are handmade Iznik tiles of the finest quality. And that’s only some of the stunning beauty of the Topkapi Palace, with its grand courtyards, prosperous gardens, and intricate architecture.

14. Goreme Open-Air Museum

Goreme Open-Air Museum

Located in Cappadocia, the Goreme Open-Air Museum preserves a collection of intricate rock-carved churches, many dating back to the 10th-12th centuries. The churches prospered under the direction of one of three prominent Cappadocian Fathers, Saint Basil of Caesarea, who played a vital role in the advancement of early Christian theology.

Many of these early churches exhibit stunning displays of Byzantine art that adorn the ceilings and walls, imagining scenes from the Bible, which aided followers who were unable to read. Elmali Kilise, or Apple Church, is one of the well-known churches within the Goreme Open-Air Museum. This church dates back to around 1050, with art depicting numerous frescoes of Biblical scenes, like The Last Supper.

13. Bodrum Castle

Bodrum Castle

Fortified on a rocky peninsula on the southwest coast, Bodrum Castle, also known as the Castle of St. Peter, was built by Crusader knights in the 15th century as protection against the Seljuk Turks. The castle now is a popular sight in Bodrum , housing the world-famous Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which features significant underwater finds from shipwrecks and historical civilizations.

Bodrum Castle’s walls are well-preserved, paired with imposing towers and turrets that exude an enigmatically medieval and fairytale-like feeling. A step into the time of knights patrolling the castle, fending off invaders, the castle served as a refuge for Christians in Asia Minor.

Each of the castle’s four towers is named after the nations responsible for its construction: German, English, French, and Italian towers. After the Ottomans overtook the castle under the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent, the castle was re-established as a prison in 1895.

12. Kaymakli Underground City

Kaymakli Underground City

Within the citadel of Kaymakli, near Nevsehir, the Kaymakli Underground City is one of the most famed underground cities, believed to have been established around 2,000 BCE.

In ancient times, the underground city was called Enegup. Over time, it served as a shelter for those seeking refuge during the Arab-Byzantine wars, the underground city expanding to become the widest in Turkey.

Only the first four of the eight levels are open to the public. The floors closer to the surface were where the wealthier families resided. Walking through Kaymakli Underground City, you’ll note kitchens, homes, stables, and a church, imagining how ancient settlements resided in the maze of one of Cappadocia’s oldest underground cities.

11. Patara Beach

Patara Beach

The widest and longest beach in Turkey , Patara Beach, is decorated with yellow sand dunes and refreshing views near the ancient Lycian town of Patara. The town was the birthplace of St Nicholas, the 4th-century Byzantine bishop who later passed into legend as Santa Claus.

Patara Beach is a famous beach and tourist attraction, its honey-yellow sand resembling a desert more than a beach. The surrounding area is undeveloped, offering a desirable location for peace, and if you time it right, you can experience the magical views as the sunset falls beneath the waterline.

Inland from the beach are ancient Lycian and Roman ruins. So, make a day of exploring and enjoying the best of Patara. Soak in the sand and the breeze at Patara Beach and visit the ancient Patara ruins, including the necropolis and basilica, to get the best of both worlds!

10. Lake Van

Lake Van

The second largest lake in the Middle East and the largest in Turkey, Lake Van, lies near the border of Iran.

Known as Arsissa Lacus or Thospitis Lacus in ancient times, the lake was created by a volcanic explosion of Mount Nemrut. Near the southern section of Lake Van are four small islands, all of which have been designated important archaeological sites. One of the islands, Akdamar Island, is a popular tourist attraction thanks to its preserved Church of the Holy Cross and other monastery ruins that date back to the 10th century.

Under the waters of Lake Van was a surprising discovery of an underwater castle. Archaeologists and scholars are still in deep discussion over this accidental find. Still, it truly empowers the rich history of Turkey – home to thousands of years of history, culture, and stories.

9. Sumela Monastery

Sumela Monastery

Balancing confidently on the cliffside of Mela Mountain within the Pontic Mountains, the Sumela Monastery is an ancient Orthodox monastery built in the 4th century. The monastery was abandoned in 1923, becoming an established museum and beloved tourist attraction.

Throughout the Sumela Monastery and museum are breathtaking frescoes dating back to the 18th century. These ancient depictions feature biblical scenes like Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.

The surrounding scenery of the Sumela Monastery, paired with the hike over to the location, is stunning. From foggy days casting a serene solitude to the atmosphere and sunny days that clear the fog to present awe-inspiring views of the mountains or waterfalls dotting the way, the Sumela Monastery is settled in the perfect location to revel in nature and history.

8. Olüdeniz

Olüdeniz

Famous for its stunning blue lagoon, Olüdeniz is a village and resort town established on the southwest coast of Turkey .

Spend a few days unpacking the numerous activities waiting to be experienced at this breathtaking destination. Paragliding above Olüdeniz is one of the most popular things to do with unreal viewpoints of the mountains and blue sea all around you.

Then, check out the most famous and photographed attraction of Olüdeniz–the Blue Lagoon! A national conservation site, the lagoon’s calm waters are ideal for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.

Go for a dive or learn how to at the numerous educational diving schools for a unique adventure in Olüdeniz’s archaeological diving sites. Then, join a boat trip to the nearby famous Blue Cave, with its piercing blue colors and foundation created by limestone rock.

Ephesus

An ancient city near Selcuk, Ephesus was once a wealthy metropolis and capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. It was established around one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis.

The city’s origins begin in 4 BCE, founded by one of Alexander the Great’s military generals, Lysimachos. Along with its numerous ruins are the Basilica of St. John, the House of the Virgin Mary, and the Mosque of Isa Bey. Other iconic historical attractions include the Great Theater and the Library of Celsus.

The Great Theater dates back to the Hellenistic era, re-structured by the Romans to become Ephesus’s three-story amphitheater, social hub, and site for gladiator fights. The Library of Celsus was built by a prominent member of the Roman Senate, Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus. It was one of the largest Roman libraries of its time, featuring a grand arched entrance and Corinthian columns.

6. Aspendos Theater

Aspendos Theater

Not far from Antalya is the ancient city of Aspendos and its famous historical landmark and tourist attraction, the Aspendos Theater.

The Aspendos Theater is one of the best preserved ancient theaters of antiquity, constructed during the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’s reign. Its sheer size is remarkable, exuding the wealth and prosperity of its ancient city.

The theater could seat between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators. Because the stage area was later used as a caravanserai (a roadside inn) in Seljuk times, it was continuously repaired and maintained.

Today the Aspendos Theater is used for its original purpose again, hosting the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival annually, showing off the theater’s outstanding acoustics and intricate architectural design.

5. Pamukkale

Pamukkale

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is an unreal landscape in western Turkey, famous for its white terraces and. The terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water with a very high mineral content.

People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years. The ancient Greek city of Hierapolis was built on top of the hot springs by the kings of Pergamon.

A natural wonder, these rock formations formed beneath the ancient city of Hierapolis transform into a cascading water fountain. The water is sourced from ancient hot springs that helped form the shell-shaped terrace pools over millennia.

Above Pamukkale’s stunning white travertine pools is the famous attraction Cleopatra’s Antique Pool. The pool in which Cleopatra herself once swam, this pool features warm and clear water surrounded by Roman ruins, including fallen columns and carved stones to explore.

4. Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

Known officially as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque of Istanbul is a famous attraction that lures many tourists throughout the year.

The colossal and majestic architectural beauty of the Blue Mosque is an attraction itself, established next to the famous Hagia Sophia. The Blue Mosque is a testament to the Ottomans’ achievements and wealth throughout history, the only mosque with six minarets in Istanbul.

Built in the early 16th century, the Blue Mosque is known for its interior’s blue walls, totaling 20,000 blue tiles. It is an active place of worship and is open to the public except during prayer, which lasts 90 minutes.

3. Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut

One of the highest peaks in the Eastern Taurus Mountains, Mount Nemrut is famous for homing the funerary mound of King Antiochus I of the Kingdom of Commagene at its peak.

Commagene was an ancient Armenian kingdom, eventually incorporated into the Roman empire in 72 AD. King Antiochus I was the most famous ruler of the kingdom. The funerary mound features sculptures of the king, other gods, lions, and eagles. The king decreed the funerary mound’s dedication so that he was to be deified and worshiped as the other gods depicted on the stones.

Since their construction, the heads have toppled from the bodies and lay scattered throughout the site. The summit of Mount Nemrut provides a great view of the surrounding mountains. The main attraction is to watch the sunrise from the eastern terrace which give the bodyless heads a beautiful orange hue and adds to the sense of mystery of the place.

2. Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

One of the best places in the world for hitching a scenic hot air balloon ride , Cappadocia is famous for its picturesque 360-degree viewpoints of sprawling valleys and weird natural rock formations.

Southeast of Ankara, the region of Cappadocia is home to big tourist towns such as Goreme and Urgup. As a result, its hot air balloon season is open year-round. Before sunrise, 100 hot air balloons are permitted to take off, and then after that, 50 more are granted permission after every half hour after sunrise – so make sure you’re on time for your hot air balloon reservation!

This is one of the most things to do in Turkey. Make sure you book your hot air balloon trip early, so you don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind adventure!

1. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

The church was looted by the fourth Crusaders in 1204, and became a mosque in the 15th century when The Ottomans conquered the city. The Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935 and is now one of the top attractions in Turkey.

The public can now absorb the architectural marvels of Hagia Sophia, which translates to “Holy Wisdom.” Throughout Hagia Sophia are columns and marble sourced from ancient city ruins in Syria and Anatolia, such as the pink marble from Afyon. Unique mosaics decorate the walls of Hagia Sophia, like the VI Leon mosaic Pantaktrator Jesus on the Emperor’s Gate. The gate’s origins date back to the 6th century and were only used by the Emperor.

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Turkey Map

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July 5, 2012 at 3:14 am

Regarding the theatre at Aspendus: if it was built in AD 155, then it was erected during the reign of the Emperor Antoninus Pius (r. AD 138-161). (Perhaps your source was Wikipedia, which also erroneously lists Marcus.)

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12 unmissable things to do in Turkey

Jennifer Hattam

Jan 3, 2022 • 8 min read

The landscape of  Cappadocia and its horizon filled with hot air balloons is one of the most iconic sights in Turkey

The landscape of Cappadocia and its horizon filled with hot air balloons is one of the most iconic sights in Turkey © Francesco Riccardo Iacomino / Getty Images

Whether your ideal vacation involves sunbathing on a Mediterranean beach , trekking in rugged mountains or learning more about the complex cultural layers laid down over thousands of years of history, Turkey has options to entice every kind of traveler. 

The country boasts an abundance of ancient sites and diverse natural landscapes, as well as lively cities, tantalizing food and opportunities for adventure. You'll never cover everything on just the one vacation but here’s our pick of the best things to do in Turkey to get you started.

Woman admiring ruins at Ephesus in Turkey

Tour the ancient city of Ephesus

The well-preserved streets of Ephesus are lined with evidence of what daily life was like for the ancient Greeks and Romans who inhabited the city for hundreds of years: the remains of their shops and schools, temples and public toilets.

Highlights of the main site include the intricately carved facade of the Library of Celsus – once the third-largest library in the world – a huge open-air theater, a Roman bath and numerous monumental fountains and gates. Well worth the separate admission fee are the Terraced Houses . These luxurious residences belonged to the Roman elite and are full of mosaics, frescoes and marble worthy of an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Luxuriate in a Turkish bath

In the days when most homes lacked indoor plumbing, hamams (commonly referred to as Turkish baths in English) played a crucial role both as a place to get clean and to socialize. Today, they’re typically a special-occasion destination, more often frequented by tourists than locals, but still a luxury well worth indulging in.

The full treatment includes a scrub and massage by a same-gender attendant, but you can also opt to bathe yourself in their steamy chambers. With their marble-covered interiors and sky-lit domes, the grandest hamams – such as the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı , the Cağaloğlu Hamamı and the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı in Istanbul – are a treat for the eyes as well as the body. In the old Ottoman capital of Bursa, hamams like Eski Kaplıca and Yeni Kaplıca feature pools fed by the area’s natural thermal springs.

See Cappadocia from above and below

First thing in the morning, the skies above Cappadocia fill with hot-air balloons that take visitors floating above the area’s canyons, fairy chimneys and other fantastical rock formations. Even if you don’t fancy a flight, it’s worth getting up early to see the colorful aerial display from the ground. For a more, er, down-to-earth experience, follow labyrinthine tunnels many stories deep into underground cities such as Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı , where thousands of people took shelter from invaders for months at a time. In addition to living quarters, these subterranean settlements included facilities to stable animals, cook, worship and even make wine.

Imam bayildi with vegetables and sesame close-up on a plate

Feast on meze and fish

The “rakı-balık” night is a quintessential Turkish dining experience, particularly in Istanbul and along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. What some call the national drink of Turkey, rakı is a strong anise-flavoured liqueur typically mixed with water and ice, and balık is fish. Such meals typically start with an assortment of meze, which are often the real stars of the show.

These small dishes meant for sharing feature both classic and creative combinations of vegetables, herbs and seafood, often topped with yogurt or cooked in olive oil. If you do manage to save room for the main course, popular fish choices depending on the season include grilled levrek (sea bass) and çipura (sea bream), or lightly fried istavrit (mackerel), barbun (red mullet) and hamsi (anchovies).

Shop in colorful bazaars

Despite the proliferation of shopping malls and grocery stores, traditional bazaar culture remains strong in Turkey. Most historic centers will have at least one çarşı , a shopping arcade or maze-like marketplace district with vendors selling everything from cheap souvenirs to handmade leather or metal crafts. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (known as the Kapalı Çarşı, or “covered marketplace” in Turkish) is the most famous example, but ones in cities like Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa are more atmospheric and authentic.

Equally colorful and important to local life is the pazar , an open-air market for fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and other food products, as well as clothing and household goods. Depending on the town or city neighborhood, they might be set up in the street under rigged-up tarps, in an emptied parking lot or garage, or in a purpose-built structure. Held in different areas on set days of the week, they’re cheap and lively places to buy staples or just browse. Some large pazars , like the weekly market in the resort town of Fethiye, feature stalls selling gözleme (stuffed flatbreads) and other simple dishes to sate hungry shoppers.

The ornate interior of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Admire architectural splendor in Istanbul

The rulers of the city formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople left their marks in grand style. The Hagia Sophia ’s soaring dome still leaves visitors awestruck a millennium and a half after its construction, while the towering Aqueduct of Valens and the vast subterranean Basilica Cistern attest to the impressive engineering feats that the Romans employed to supply the city and its residents with drinking water. 

With a prime position overlooking the confluence of the Bosphorus, Golden Horn and Marmara Sea, Topkapi Palace evokes the might of the Ottoman Empire at its peak: lavishly decorated chambers, a treasury dripping with massive jewels and a kitchen that could feed 4000 people. Istanbul’s minaret-studded skyline is a heritage of the Ottomans as well. The famous Blue Mosque gets the most attention, but visitors shouldn’t miss the tiny, tile-bedecked Rüstem Paşa Mosque and the graceful Süleymaniye Mosque , perched atop one of the old city’s seven hills. History buffs can really dig into the different cultural eras in Istanbul by exploring its wealth of museums detailing the fascinating legacy of the city .

Cruise turquoise waters on a gület

Few vacations are more relaxing than a multi-day cruise aboard a gület (traditional wooden yacht) plying sections of Turkey’s southwestern coastline between Bodrum and Antalya . While away the long, sunny days swimming in secluded coves, reading or playing tavla (backgammon) on deck, eating fresh-caught fish, drinking rakı as the sun sets and sleeping out under the stars. If you get tired of blissfully lazing around, you can hop ashore along the way to explore the ancient ruins of Knidos , climb to the top of the Crusader Castle in Kaleköy or stop for lunch at one of the cool cafe-restaurants in Kaş . 

Hike the Lycian Way

For a more active way to explore the Turquoise Coast, consider taking on part of the Lycian Way , a long-distance trekking path stretching 540 km (335 mi) from Fethiye to Antalya. Best traversed in spring or fall, the sometimes challenging trail winds along spectacular coastal cliffs, through bucolic villages and beach towns, past ancient ruins and up into the mountains.

Most sections have accommodation options in small pensions as well as camping. Highlights along the way include the secluded valley of Kabak , the long sandy beach of Patara , the massive rock tombs of Myra , the ruins of Olympos and the “ burning rock ” at Çıralı. If you want to see more of Turkey's incredible landscape on foot and escape the crowded tourist spots, extend your trip and spend some time exploring the country's stunning array of national parks .

See incredible Roman mosaics

Tiny colored cubes of glass, ceramic or stone were used during the Roman era to make amazingly detailed tableaux depicting mythological tales, heroic battles, lavish banquets and other scenes. Splendidly preserved examples of these mosaics, which often decorated the floors of grand palaces and villas, can today be found in numerous museums in Turkey, most notably the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum , the Hatay Archaeology Museum and the Haleplibahçe Mosaic Museum in Şanlıurfa.

Linger over a leisurely Turkish breakfast

It’s hard to think of a better way to fuel up for a big day of sightseeing than with a Turkish breakfast spread ( serpme kahvaltı ). Start with the savory nibbles: olives, cheeses, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, perhaps some spicy pepper paste along with your eggs. Then satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade jams and a decadent swirl of honey and thick cream ( kaymak ). Different parts of the country have their own special additions: fresh herbs along the Aegean coast, cornmeal cooked with melted butter and cheese (called mıhlama or kuymak ) in the Black Sea region, and fermented cheese and hot peppers in Hatay. Endless small glasses of black tea are universal.

Nemrut Dağı ruins

Watch the sunrise from atop Mt. Nemrut

The surreal sight at the summit of Nemrut Dağı is testament to both the extent of the power that can be wielded by a ruler and to its inevitable decline. In the 1st century BCE, a Hellenistic king had massive statues of deities, mythic beasts and other figures built on top of a rocky peak as a monument to his own greatness. Earthquakes over the centuries toppled the heads of these statues from their bodies and they now sit scattered around a stark, remote landscape. Tour groups typically bring visitors up here at sunrise or sunset, but if you stay overnight at one of the simple lodgings a little below the summit, you can experience both.

Imagine the beginnings of human civilization

Turkey is home to some of the world’s most important Neolithic sites , which are still yielding new insights – and questions – about how humans lived more than 10,000 years ago. In the center of the country near Konya, the excavations of Çatalhöyük have provided clues about early “urban” life, the period when people started to transition from nomadic ways to settled agrarian livelihoods. In the southeast outside of Şanlıurfa, the findings at the ritual complex of Göbeklitepe – thought to be the world’s first place of worship – have transformed our understanding of when humans began to develop religious beliefs and practices.

You might also like: Do you need a visa to go to Turkey? The 10 most incredible places to visit in Turkey How to drink Turkish coffee like a local

This article was first published Oct 12, 2021 and updated Jan 3, 2022.

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Wander-Lush

25 Beautiful Places in Turkey for Your Travel Itinerary (Must-sees & Hidden Gems)

A land of immense natural beauty and diverse cultures underpinned by eons of history, Turkey (Türkiye) is a country like no other.

Here are 25 jaw-droppingly beautiful destinations (including 10 hidden gems!) you can’t overlook when planning your trip, from hot springs to beach resorts, coastal towns to ancient cities hewn from rock, palaces, monasteries, sparkling lakes, sacred mountains, and much, much more!

In travellers’ terms, Turkey is in a league of its own. This is the place where East meets West; where Europe and Asia collide and produce a transcontinental culture clash. Amazing food, diverse traditions, religions and histories – these are the things that make Turkey such an unforgettable travel destination.

Although Turkey is known for its beautiful beaches and hot air balloon-filled skies, it’s so much more than that. Once the playground of great figures such as Cleopatra, Caesar and Alexander the Great, Turkey’s historical significance is proudly displayed in the palaces, mosques, monasteries and countless archaeological sites that dot the vast landscape. There are no fewer than 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey plus 41 national parks where unforgettable valleys, lakes and mountains lay in wait.

Fragrant bazaars and stunning views at every corner, from the narrow streets of Istanbul – one of the world’s great cities – to Turkey’s small towns and villages, the urban landscape is every bit as enigmatic.

To help you narrow down your wish list, I’ve rounded up the most beautiful places in Turkey to visit.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Ishak Pasha Palace perched on a rocky outcrop in Eastern Turkey.

When is the best time to visit Turkey?

Summer is peak tourist season in Turkey, when prices go up – along with the temperatures – and popular destinations become overcrowded, especially the bigger cities such as Istanbul and towns along the Turquoise Coast.

A better time to visit Turkey is during spring or fall shoulder season . Winter is a great time to plan an Istanbul city break , just note that the east of Turkey and the mountainous regions experience very cold winters. See a list of the best places to visit in Turkey in winter .

How to get around Turkey

One thing to know before you visit Turkey is that this country is big! Most travellers fly into Istanbul, which is indeed a good place to start your itinerary. It may be necessary to take a domestic flight or two to travel onwards to central or eastern Turkey. The country’s railway network can also come in handy: There are regular trains from Istanbul to Ankara and Kars.

Once the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway launches, this will make it possible to travel into Eastern Turkey overland from the South Caucasus.

If you want to visit all of these diverse and beautiful destinations, renting a car for a Turkey road trip is the best option. I recommend using Local Rent .

25 of the most beautiful places in Turkey to add to your itinerary

From the domes of the Blue Mosque to the cobalt waters of the Black Sea, the bustling city of Istanbul and the enigmatic Hagia Sophia to the hidden secrets of Turkey’s underground cities and historic sites, from popular tourist attractions to hidden gems , here are the most gorgeous places to visit in Turkey!

1. Istanbul: The most beautiful city in Turkey

Sunset over Istanbul, one of the most beautiful places in Turkey.

A melting pot of cultures in the truest sense of the term, Istanbul has to be one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey. It’s a transcontinental city, meaning you can literally travel between Europe and Asia in a matter of minutes – in fact, it’s as easy as crossing a bridge.

Istanbul’s skyline is dotted not only with the spires and domes of mosques, but also with medieval European architecture. This is because the city was the capital of four major empires throughout the ages, including the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

But that’s not all. Istanbul is known for its delicious food, cafes that serve up Turkish coffee, traditional baths (hammams), Whirling Dervish ceremonies , vibrant nightlife and unique shopping experiences, which include the biggest covered Bazaar in the country: The one and only Grand Bazaar.

There are countless famous landmarks to see in Istanbul, including the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Galata Tower , Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, and many more. And then there are Istanbul’s hidden corners, including the gorgeous Arnavutkoy neighbourhood , with its Ottoman-era mansion houses.

Get there: Fly into Istanbul Airport. Where to stay: Ayramin Hotel Taksim, boutique hotel 200m from Istiklal Street. Search rooms here .

2. Pamukkale & Hierapolis

Travertine pools at Pumukkale.

The mineral spring waters that have cascaded down this hillside for thousands of years have created an extraordinary sight. Located in Turkey’s Büyük Menderes Valley, the 17 tiered pools of Pamukkale – which means ‘cotton castle’ – make up the most beautiful thermal spring you’ll ever see. You can find the stacked white Travertine terraces overlooking the city of Denizli. 

Back in the day, Pamukkale was one of the most popular thermal pools in Turkey. It was a spa, first used in the 2nd century BC and famous for its healing properties. Today, the perfectly blue water that fills these white limestone bowls still stays at a comfortable 34 degrees Celsius.

No day trip to Pamukkale is complete without a stop in Hierapolis, one of the first thermal spa resorts in the world. This spa city was also founded at the end of the 2nd century and is home to the famous Antique Pool, also known as the ‘Cleopatra Pool’.

Legend has it that the famous Cleopatra herself often bathed in these warm waters, gifted to her by Mark Antony on the occasion of their wedding. The pool itself was once covered by the Roman temple of Apollo, but now the columns lie dormant in the water, adding even more charm to this unique bathing experience.

Get there: 1-hour flight or overnight coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Hotel Sahin, simple rooms 20m from the Pamukkale travertines. Search rooms here .

3. Ancient Ephesus

Close-up of ruins at Ephesus, Turkey's celebrated archaeological site.

Did you know Ephesus is considered one of the great outdoor museums of Turkey? In ancient times, Ephesus was a port city and was considered to be one of the most important Greek outposts and trading centres in the entire Mediterranean region. Throughout history, many different forces conquered the city. It even played a role in spreading Christianity.

Today Ephesus is one of the largest and most celebrated Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean and remains a popular Christian pilgrimage destination. In 2015, the ancient town was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Other nearby famous landmarks include the House of the Virgin Mary on Mount Nightingale and the Ruins of the Temple of Artemis, which is one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.

Get there: 1 hour by road from Izmir or 7 hours by coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Eliada Hotel (Kusadasi). Search rooms here .

4. Cappadocia

Hot air balloons rise over rock formations in Cappadocia.

If you have an Instagram account, then you’ve probably already seen the iconic photos of hot air balloons soaring over unique landforms in Cappadocia.

Located just outside the town of Goreme in the south-centre of Turkey, Cappadocia is known for its otherworldly, cone-like rock formations. As well as the ‘fairy chimneys’, the landscape is dotted with magnificent rock-cut monasteries including Selime Monastery, a popular sunset spot.

Every morning, 100-150 hot air balloons float over Goreme to create one of the most beautiful scenes in Turkey. But don’t be fooled, hot air ballooning is not the only thing you can do in Cappadocia . This area is known for its outdoor activities, including hiking. Popular sunrise trails can be found in Love Valley, Pigeon Valley and Rose Valley.

Get there: 1.25-hour flight or overnight coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Sofa Hotel (Avanos), one of the area’s best cave hotels. Search rooms here . Recommended reading: Learn more about the famous hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia and other things to do in Goreme here .

5. Butterfly Valley

A woman hikes on a ridge above Butterly Valley, a small secluded beach in Turkey.

Only accessible by boat, or via a very difficult trek down from Faralya village, Butterfly Valley is a real hidden gem. If you manage to get here, you’ll find its one of the best off-the-beaten-path experiences in Turkey.

The valley takes its name from the roughly 100 species of butterflies found in the area, including the endemic orange, black and white Jersey Tiger. The Turkish Government declared the 86,000sqm valley a preservation area in 1987 to protect the butterflies and the local flora.

With lush greenery, waterfalls and a sandy cove, this whole area is perfect for hiking. Those that make their way to the water’s edge are often looking to slow down and connect with nature. On the shoreline you’ll find a campsite with a beach bar that serves beers and grilled fish.

Get there: 1 hour by road from Fethiye.

6. Bodrum: One of the most beautiful places in Turkey

The sun sets over the pretty Turkish city of Bodrum.

Often called the ‘St. Tropez of Turkey’, this beautiful resort town is located on a peninsula enveloped by shimmering sapphire and turquoise waters. Bodrum is most famous for its array of sandy beaches – more than 60 in total.

With a unique mix of archaeological sites, attractions, nightlife and culture, Bodrum is an alluring destination for travellers of all types, not just sun-seekers. It also happens to be surprisingly affordable if you’re savvy about where to stay.

If you’re a history buff, then one of the highlights of the city is the waterfront-located Bodrum Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only visually beautiful but also packs a historical punch. Inside the castle you will find the Underwater Archeology Museum, which features a variety of artefacts unearthed from the seabed. Another highlight is the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Get there: 1-hour flight or overnight coast from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Ena Boutique Hotel, overlooking Bodrum Castle. Search rooms here .

7. Mount Ararat

Hay stacks in a field against a backdrop of a snowcapped Mount Ararat.

Mythical Mount Ararat is actually two separate peaks, both of which are dormant volcanoes. Their summits are snow-capped throughout the year. The thing that makes Ararat so famous is that it’s believed to be the mountain on which Noah and his ark landed during the great flood.

If you ‘re looking to do some trekking , climbing Mount Ararat doesn’t require much technical skill as most of the path is quite easy. The biggest challenge, however, is the altitude, as it is over 5,000m high. The trek takes around 8-9 hours.

Get there: 3 hours by road from Kars. Where to stay: Tehran Boutique Hotel (Dogubayazit). Search rooms here .

8. Kas: The prettiest village in Turkey

Historic architecture in the beautiful town of Kas.

Another place where you can escape the hustle and bustle, the old fishing village of Kas is one of the most beautiful places in Turkey. This seaside town offers a cool combination of ancient history that traces back to the Lycian kingdom plus modern leisure activities that you can enjoy around its twin harbours.

One of the more interesting sites in Kas is the Lycian Rock Tombs (Likya Kaya Mezarlari), which mirror similar tombs found in other parts of Turkey. According to Atlas Obscura , the Lycians believed their dead were carried to the afterlife by magic winged creatures, thus they placed them in geographically high places such as the cliffside. Some of these tombs can be seen just above the Old Town in Kas, including the King’s Tomb, which is located at the top of the bazaar street in the heart of the old town.

Kas is also known for its gorgeous whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets that lead down to white-sand beaches.

Quick tip: Be sure to visit Kaputaş Beach. If you’re into exploring the underwater world, then head to the island of Kekova.

Get there: 1.25-hour flight or overnight coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Luna Kas, beachfront hotel with a pool. Search rooms here .

9. The Blue Lagoon (Oludeniz)

Turkey's blue lagoon, a natural bay.

Oludeniz is known all around the world as Turkey’s Blue Lagoon because of its perfectly aquamarine waters. The natural cove is formed by a long peninsula that curves around the Mediterranean coastline, creating a giant swimming hole reminiscent of Croatia’s Adriatic coast .

One of the most popular activities at the Blue Lagoon is obviously to pull up a beach chair and enjoy the sun in between fresh dips in the ocean’s calm waters. If you’re an active traveller, then this beach is one of Turkey’s best spots for paragliding due to the amazing views of the lagoon and surrounding cove.

The Lycian Way, Turkey’s famous long-distance hike, passes through this area.

Get there: 20 minutes by road from Fethiye. Where to stay: Harbour Suites (Fethiye). Search rooms here .

10. Koprulu Canyon

Aerial view of the turquoise waters running through Koprulu Canyon in Turkey.

Koprulu Canyon is both a canyon and a national park in the province of Antalya. It’s also Turkey’s most popular water sports area.

The canyon trails for 14km along the Koprulu river , its rock walls towering to a maximum height of 400m. The surrounding park is home to a rich diversity of flora including pine, fir, and oak trees, and even wild olives. It also hosts the largest cypress forest in Asia Minor.

Highlights include whitewater rafting on the river Oprucay, visiting archaeological sites and historic Roman bridges nestled in the park, hiking and even camping.

Get there: 1.5 hours by road from Antalya.

View of the city skyline in Ankara, a beautiful city in Turkey.

Ankara might not be Turkey’s most famous city, but it is the nation’s capital. A mecca for Turkish food and a centre for the performing arts, music and dance, Ankara is a dream destination for culture-focused travellers who want to sink their teeth into Turkish traditions.

Kemal Ataturk, the first president of Turkey who was born in Thessaloniki , declared Ankara the capital in 1923. His mausoleum, Anitkabir, sits prominently above the city centre as a hilltop tribute to his role in shaping modern Turkey.

Don’t miss the world-class Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which documents the region’s preclassical history in stunning detail. The Citadel (Kale) neighbourhood is the most charming part of town for a wander, with dozens of cafes, craft workshops and boutiques nestled inside quaint red-roofed houses.

Get there: 1.25-hour flight or overnight coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Divan Cukurhan, one of Turkey’s finest boutique hotels. Search rooms here .

12. Lake Van

An Armenian monastery perched on an island in Lake Van, Turkey.

One of Turkey’s largest lakes, Lake Van, is located in the eastern part of the country close to the cities of Erzurum and Kars. Formed by tectonic movements, the water is naturally high in saline. In the 11th century, it formed a land border between the East Roman Empire and the Turko-Persian Seljuk Empire.

The city of Van on the lake’s eastern edge is a natural jumping-off point for enjoying this sublime landscape. Nearby, the abandoned 15th century Ktuts monastery sits on a tiny island, creating one of the area’s most striking scenes. The Armenian Apostolic edifice sits on Akdamar Island just off the coast and can be accessed by ferry for an up-close look.

For the perfect sunset spot, head to Van Fortress. Find more exciting things to do in Van here .

Get there: 4 hours by road from Kars. Where to stay: RÖNESANS LİFE HOTEL (Van). Search rooms here .

13. Trabzon & the Black Sea Coast

Drinking a glass of tea with a view over a small lake on Turkey's Black Sea coast.

Though not as famous as the Turquoise Coast, Turkey’s Black Sea Coast is another popular tourist destination that comes alive in the warmer months. As well as white sand beaches, you’ll find dramatic cliffs and panoramic views.

The city of Trabzon is a good base for exploring the countless small seaside resort towns that run up and down the seashore. Breathtaking mountain peaks rise us behind the water, framing the beaches beautifully. This is Turkey’s tea tourism capital, so you simply must sample the local leaves while you’re in town!

There are plenty of treasures to be found in the hills as well, including Soumela Monastery (AKA Sumela Monastery) and Uzungol, a picturesque lakeside village at the edge of the Kackar Mountains.

Get there: 1.5-hour flight or overnight coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Radisson Blu Hotel Trabzon. Search rooms here .

14. Gaziantep

An old fortification in Gazantep, Turkey.

If you are a foodie, then this one’s for you! Gaziantep is one of the oldest settlements in the region, with roots that go back more than 10,000 years. This is a city where ancient history meets culinary culture .

If you need proof: Gaziantep was added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a city of gastronomy in 2015. Between the fresh produce, wonderful desserts, delicious sauces and blends of flavours, there are more than 400 local specialties to try in Gaziantep – so what will you try first?

Get there: 1.5-hour flight or overnight coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Anadolu Evleri, historic hotel in the centre. Search rooms here .

15. Antalya

A long coastal peninsula in Antalya, Turkey.

Antalya, one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey, is also the hub of the Turkish Riviera and is the largest settlement on the country’s Mediterranean coast.

This is an urban metropolis much like Istanbul but with the kind of laid-back charm only a city with world-renowned sandy beaches can offer. A beautiful history lies beneath the surface: Antalya is dotted with mosques, churches, and a Turkish bath from ancient times designed in the Greco-Turkish style.

Be sure to set aside plenty of time for visiting Kaleiçi, the city’s historic old town. Before Antalya was one of Turkey’s top resort destinations, it was the ancient city of Attalia. The old town has structures dating back from the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottoman and even modern Turkish republican eras. It is the perfect mix of old and new and should not be missed – it ‘s also incredibly walkable as it falls within an area of one square kilometre.

Get there: Fly into Antalya Airport (1.25-hour flight from Istanbul) or overnight coach. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Sibel Pension, traditional guesthouse with panoramic sea views. Search rooms here .

Top 10 hidden gems in Turkey

16. ishak pasha palace: a hidden gem in turkey.

Ishak Pasa Palace, a large walled complex in Eastern Turkey, lit up at night.

One of Turkey’s most striking but lesser-visited historical sites, the Ishak Pasha Palace is located in the country’s far east, close to the borders of Iran and Armenia . Commissioned in 1784 by the Kurdish Sanjak Chief Ishak Pasha, it’s a rare example of an Ottoman-period palace that has stood the test of time.

The vast complex combines Ottoman, Seljuk, Persian and Armenian architectural styles to perfectly reflect the layers of culture and history that define this part of Turkey. Inside, visitors can admire the beautiful facades, a mosque, opulent ceremonial halls, arched gates and a mausoleum.

The Ishak Pasha Palace cuts a striking figure against a backdrop of mountain peaks, with the city of Doğgubeyazit stretched out in the valley below.

Quick tip: This part of Eastern Turkey experiences heavy snowfall in winter , so it’s preferable to visit in late spring or summer.

17. Alacati: A charming alternative to Cesme

Historic stone houses in Alacati, a beautiful village and alternative to Cesme.

Located on the Aegean Coast close to Izmir, Alacati is a little slice of blue-and-white paradise. If you want to walk relatively quieter laneways and experience sleeping inside an authentic stone house, Alacati is a good alternative to the more-popular Cesme.

Charming stone houses draped in bougainvillaea flowers and cobbled streets make this one of the most traditional towns in Turkey. There is plenty to do in Alacati to warrant staying for a few nights, from boat trips and windsurfing to summiting the nearby 16th-century Cesme Castle. But your time might be best spent simply weaving your way between cute restaurants and bars that serve local wine.

Subtle differences in the shape and layout of Alacati’s historic houses reveals the story of their owners: Homes that belonged to Ottoman Greek families have an enclosed balcony and cumba alcove window, and are usually painted in violet or Aegean blue. Besides the architecture, windmills and street murals add to Alacati’s appeal.

Get there: 1 hour by road from Izmir. Where to stay: Gaia Alacati, stunning rooms inside an authentic stone house. Search rooms here .

18. Safranbolu: One of the best small towns in Turkey

Orange rooftops in the prettiest Turkish town of Safranbolu.

If you’re on the hunt for Turkey’s cutest small town, look no further than Safranbolu. Located in the Black Sea region on a former tributary of the Old Silk Road , Safranbolu used to be a centre for growing and trading saffron. Hence the name, which combines the name of the precious spice and the Greek word polis , meaning ‘city’.

The town revolves around Çarşı district, where hundreds of perfectly preserved Ottoman houses line charming cobbled streets. This style of architecture can be seen across the old Ottoman world, from Berat in Albania to Plovdiv in Bulgaria . Safranbolu’s houses are among the finest in the region – no wonder the entire town was inscribed as a UNESCO Site in 1994. More than 1000 other registered historical artifacts can be found on Safranbolu’s streets, including an ancient sundial.

The 17th-century Cinci Han – once a caravanserai – now provides visitors with sweeping views from its rooftop, while the restored Tarihi Cinci Hamam offers the chance to experience a traditional 17th-century bathhouse.

Get there: 6-hour coach from Istanbul. Search tickets here . Where to stay: Mehves Hanim Konagi, design hotel in a heritage Ottoman mansion. Search rooms here .

19. Mount Nemrut: A lesser-known archaeological site

Stone statues on Mount Nemrut, a lesser-visit archaeological site in Turkey.

Well-known among Turkish people but still relatively obscure on the world stage, Mount Nemrut is a true hidden gem. Located in south-eastern Turkey within Mount Nemrut National Park, this 2,100-metre-tall peak is one of the highest in the country.

Majestic as it may be, it’s not the natural landscape that makes Mount Nemrut memorable – rather, it’s the area’s ancient ruins. Recognised by UNESCO as the royal tomb of Antiochus, the site dates to the 1st century BC. Huge limestone heads now strewn across the volcanic soil once topped seated statues depicting the Greek and Persian gods. At some point in history the pantheon was ransacked and the statues desecrated, creating the otherworldly scene you see today.

Often referred to as the ‘Throne of the Gods’, Nemrut Park has many more archaeological treasures to discover, including burial sites, Roman bridges , and the ruins of ancient cities associated with the ancient Kingdom of Commagene.

Get there: 1.5 hours by road from Adiyaman. Where to stay: Nemrut Kervansaray Hotel, historic property and closest option to the top of Mount Nemrut. Search rooms here .

20. Mardin: An ancient city in Anatolia

A rooftop view of Mardin, one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Turkey.

Floating on a rocky outcrop above the Mesopotamian plain, the city of Mardin in Anatolia is both a time capsule and a living library of history, archaeology and religious heritage. Better still, it’s almost completely free of mass-tourism.

Fashioned almost entirely from locally mined, buff-coloured limestone, the city emerges from the landscape as if it were a natural rock formation. The narrow streets are bristling with traditional houses – take note of the local building style, which favours sloping facades and big courtyards – interspersed with historic buildings and little workshops belonging to the city’s Syrian Orthodox silversmiths.

Climb up to the top of the ridge for stunning views of the mountain village and surrounding grasslands from the citadel. On a clear day, you might be able to see all the way to the Syrian border.

There is immense beauty in Mardin’s diversity: The proliferation of churches and mosques belonging to different denominations attest to the area’s long and storied history. Be sure to visit the Meryem Ana Syriac Catholic Church (1895), the Surp Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church, the Mor Hirmiz Chaldean Catholic Church, and the Mor Petrus and Pavlus Assyrian Protestant Church.

Get there: 2-hour flight from Istanbul or 4 hours by road from Gaziantep. Where to stay: Maridin Hotel, stunning suites set in a historic stone building with rooftop terraces, Turkish baths and a pool inside a cave! Search rooms here .

21. Konya: Home of the Whirling Dervishes

A Whirling Dervish in Konya, Turkey's spiritual heartland.

Konya is known throughout Turkey and the world for one thing: As the home of the Islamic Mevlevi Order, AKA the Whirling Dervishes . As the last residence of Rumi, the Sufi sect was founded here in Turkey’s spiritual heartland back in 1273.

One of the top things to do in Konya is of course to enjoy an authentic Whirling Dervishes experience. Semas take place on weekends at the Mevlana Cultural Centre. The Mevlana Museum is very much worth visiting if you want to learn more about Dervish traditions – or for a fully immersive cultural experience, attend the Mevlana Festival, which is held every December.

Other points of interest include the myriad of beautiful mosques and the Konya Tropical Butterfly Garden.

Get there: 1-hour flight from Istanbul or 3 hours by road from Ankara. Where to stay: Konya Dervish Hotel, cosy rooms inside a 200-year-old Ottoman house. Search rooms here .

22. Amasra: A laid-back fishing village on the Black Sea

Amasra, a cute Turkish village of fishermen on the Black Sea Coast.

The fishing village of Amasra is a somewhat peaceful place to retreat from the crowds that descend on Turkey’s Black Sea Coast every summer. Small sandy beaches, restaurants serving fresh fish, and boat trips to the two nearby islands, Big Island and Rabbit Island, are among the most popular activities on offer.

Curvaceous Amasra takes its form from the natural harbour at its centre. The Roman-era Amasra Castle overlooks the bay, with a tide of little red roofs running down the hill to meet the inky waters of the Black Sea.

Get there: 5.5 hours by road from Istanbul. Where to stay: Amasra Kerem Apart, self-contained beach apartment with panoramic terrace views. Search rooms here .

23. Aladaglar National Park: Crimson Peaks & waterfalls

Aladaglar National Park, a beautiful nature area in Turkey.

The perennially snow-capped mountains of Aladaglar National Park are a popular destination for skiing in winter and for trekking in the warmer months. The highest peaks in the park – there are no less than four that tower above 3,700 metres – command views of both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

The Ala-Daglar range extends over four provinces in central Turkey and offers some of the country’s best alpine hiking and mountaineering. One of the most beautiful spots here is the Kapuzbasi Waterfalls and glacier ponds, which offer cool relief for trekkers during summer.

Sunset in Aladaglar National Park is something else. Known as the ‘Crimson Mountains’ in Turkish, the Ala-Daglar are graced by a brilliant scarlet flush every evening, painting a truly magnificent picture.

Get there: 2 hours by road from Kayseri. Where to stay: Taurus Guest House, simple rooms and Turkish food prepared from organic ingredients at the edge of the park in Cukurbag. Search rooms here .

24. Sirince: Turkey’s breakfast village

Sirnice, a popular hill top town near Izmir in Turkey.

One of the best things to do in Turkey is eat a lavish kahvalti spread breakfast – and one of the best places for breakfast in the entire country is in picturesque Sirince.

This small village on a hill is easy to reach from Izmir and less than 30 minutes’ drive from the ancient city of Ephesus. Known for its organic garden produce and the buzzing Sirince Bazaar, chefs here draw on local supplies to furnish some of the most delicious breakfast mezes in the land. There are dozens of cafes and pansiyons on the town’s pedestrian-only streets, each serving up different early morning specialties. Hilltop Sirincem Restaurant & Cafe Pansiyon is one of the most popular.

Come for breakfast, stay for the views! The old-style houses here command gorgeous outlooks from every direction. Spend a couple of slow-paced nights using Sirince as a base for visiting the various sights around the area – and you can enjoy a home-cooked kahvalti every morning!

Get there: 20 minutes by road from Ephesus or 1 hour by road from Izmir. Where to stay: Heaven’s Gate, an idyllic stone-and-wood family home with generous private suites and a pool. Search rooms here .

25. Sanliurfa: The City of Prophets

The mosque and canal in Sanliurfa (Urfa), Turkey's city of Prophets.

Sanliurfa (Urfa) is the ideal place to stay when visiting the world’s oldest temple, Gobekli Tepe. The Neolithic archaeological site is a mere 30 minutes by road from the city. But Urfa has its own charms that make it more than worthy of your time.

Sometimes called ‘the City of Prophets’, legend says that Abraham was born in Urfa. Its relevance to Jewish, Christian and Islamic history makes Sanliurfa a popular pilgrimage site for believers of the three faiths. Many of the city’s most prominent landmarks, including the Pool of Sacred Fish (where Nimrod cast Abraham into the fire), are tied to Biblical history. Take a stroll through the leafy Golbasi Park or explore the warren-like souq. Don’t miss the views from the 9th-century Urfa castle or a visit to the stunning 12th-century Great Mosque.

A must-do in Urfa is to stay at the Palmyra Boutique Hotel, which is set inside a restored palace. The opulent rooms and character-filled hallways and terraces are reason enough to visit Urfa!

Get there: 1.5 hours by road from Gaziantep. Where to stay: Palmyra Boutique Hotel, elegant rooms in the city centre. Search rooms here .

Which of these pretty places in Turkey are you most excited about visiting? What did I miss? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Turkey essentials

Here are some of the websites and services I recommend for planning a trip to Turkey. Remember to check out my full list of travel resources for more tips.

FLIGHTS: Find affordable flights to Turkey using the Skyscanner website .

VISAS: Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Turkey and apply for an expedited visa online.

DOCUMENTATION: Use OneWayFly to obtain proof of onward travel/hotel reservation for your visa application.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: Insure your trip to Turkey with HeyMondo , my preferred provider for single-trip and annual travel insurance.

CAR HIRE: Use the Local Rent platform to hire a car from a local agent. Prices start from as little as 18€ per day.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Turkey hotel deals on Booking.com .

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: Browse the Viator website to find the best itineraries and prices for Istanbul food tours, Cappadocia balloon rides and more!

More Turkey inspiration

  • The perfect first-timer’s itinerary for 4 days in Istanbul
  • Essential travel tips for Istanbul
  • Istanbul travel budget
  • Guide to Arnavutkoy , a hidden gem in Istanbul
  • Tips for visiting Istanbul’s Galata Tower
  • Where to go in Turkey in winter

Amazing Information.

Thanks for the great list.

Great list. I would also add Sanliurfa, Mardin and Diyarbakir. I believe they are amazing.

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17 Top-Rated Things to Do in Turkey

Written by Jess Lee Updated May 11, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Jess Lee lives in Turkey, led adventure tours in the country for five years, and has authored several travel guidebooks to the country.

Turkey's rich cultural heritage and varied geography, which swoops from beaches to mountains and high plateaus, guarantees that visitors have plenty of activities and things to do on hand.

Hiker on the Lycian Way in Turkey

The long, meandering coastline offers some of the most scenic sailing in the Mediterranean plus Turkey's most famous long-distance hiking trail. Cappadocia's hot-air ballooning is feted as the best in the world.

Even on a short city break in Istanbul, you can easily dig a bit deeper into Turkish culture by taking a food tour, shopping in the historic bazaars, or simply steaming yourself rosy-pink in a hammam (Turkish bath).

Whether you're here for a few days or a month, plan your time using our list of the top things to do in Turkey.

1. Scrub Up in a Hamam (Turkish Bath)

2. hot-air ballooning over cappadocia, 3. hike the lycian way, 4. explore ephesus, 5. yacht cruising from fethiye, 6. paragliding in ölüdeniz & pamukkale, 7. join a food tour in istanbul, 8. kayaking at kekova, 9. watching a whirling dervish ceremony (sema), 10. hop aboard an istanbul ferry tour, 11. horse riding in cappadocia, 12. go boating in bodrum, 13. shop in the bazaars, 14. take the eastern express to kars, 15. trek in the kaçkar mountains, 16. take a scenic cable car ride, 17. river cruising at dalyan, map of things to do in turkey, best time to visit turkey for activities.

Marble-clad hammam interior

Highlight: Experience spa life, Turkish style, amid the opulent interiors of a historic Ottoman hamam

Getting soaped up and scrubbed down in a hamam (Turkish bath) is the traditional Turkish bathing experience that combines history and culture with pure pampering. These public baths were once an integral part of life in the Ottoman Era. Today, many of the more ornate surviving hamams are tourist attractions in themselves.

In a typical hamam experience, you first sweat it out amid the steam before an attendant scrubs your skin with a traditional kese mitten. Cold water is then thrown over your body before you have a tip-to-toe soapy wash that includes a (very short) massage.

Many of the most famous hamams are now like historical spas and offer extra services such as oil and aromatherapy massages, facials, and manicures that you can add on to your traditional soak and scrub.

Istanbul is home to some of Turkey's most lauded hamams, with lavish, domed marble interiors that provide one of the most luxurious and ornate bathing backdrops you're likely to ever have.

In particular, the Cağaloğlu Hamam , in business since 1741, and the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam , built by the famed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan for Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, are two of the best places to visit for a scrub and soak that combines historic sightseeing with Turkey's most famous bathing experience.

Balloons in Cappadocia

Highlight: Panoramic vistas over one of Turkey's most astonishing landscapes

One of Turkey's top things to do, a hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia provides astonishing panoramic vistas of this region's fantastical rock formations.

Cappadocia is known as one of the world's top ballooning destinations . Flight conditions allow for year-round flights, and due to a lack of wildlife, balloons here are allowed to fly close to the ground, so ballooners get both up-close and far-above aerial views.

Ballooning takes place just after sunrise, so be prepared to roll out of bed before dawn if you want to partake. The early morning wake-up call is definitely worth it for the experience of seeing the jutting fairy chimney formations and craggy moonscape of valleys from above.

A standard hot-air balloon experience here includes hotel pickup and drop-off (from hotels across the Cappadocia village region) and breakfast.

You'll typically share a basket with between 16 and 24 other participants for a flight that takes between 45 minutes to an hour.

Both longer flight packages and completely private flights are also offered.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Cappadocia

Hiking the Lycian Way

Highlight: Back-to-basics slow travel on one of the world's top-rated thru-hikes

Turkey's most famous long-distance walking trail winds along the Mediterranean Coast from Fethiye down to Antalya .

Along its 540-kilometer length, the way-marked trail passes some of Turkey's most famous Classical-era Lycian city ruins, such as UNESCO World Heritage-listed Xanthos and Letoön, as well as taking in some of this coastline's most magnificent views.

Scenery along the Lycian Way swoops from craggy Taurus Mountain vistas to rocky pine-forest-clad coves lapped by the Mediterranean Sea.

Walking the entire trail takes 29 days. Most people, though, walk just a few sections of the trail or a section as a day hike.

Good destinations for starting a shorter Lycian Way hike are Fethiye, Patara, Kalkan, and Kaş.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus

Highlight: Stroll through the preserved remnants of one of the eastern Mediterranean's most famed ancient cities

One of the world's best-preserved Roman ruins, exploring Ephesus , whether independently or on a guided skip-the-line tour , allows you to get a real feel for city life in the ancient world. Ephesus was once home to a population of approximately 250,000 and was capital of Asia Minor in the region's Roman era.

Today, its major monuments such as the Library of Celsus, Great Theater (which could seat 25,000), and Temple of Hadrian are reminders of the city's grandeur at the height of its power.

Exploring beyond these famous buildings, though, reaps rewards. In Ephesus' Terraced Houses complex, you see the frescoes and mosaic floors that decorated the villas of the city's upper classes. The various bathing complexes show the public nature of Roman ablutions, while multiple temples point to the importance of religious worship in daily Roman life.

The two main bases for visiting Ephesus are the town of Selçuk , right beside the ruins, and the resort town of Kuşadası , 20 kilometers to the south.

Yacht moored near Butterfly Valley

Highlight: Scenic trips showcasing the Turkish coast at its most dramatic

Fethiye is the number one base for travelers who want to cast off for yachting trips along Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

If you don't have plenty of time up your sleeve, you can opt for the popular 12 Island's Tour day trip, which sails around the islands that speckle Fethiye Bay. It makes for a lazy day of sun-soaked lounging, scenery, and swim stops.

The most famous sailing itinerary, though, is the Blue Cruise tour. This trip takes three nights to sail along the coastline from Fethiye to Olympos , with stops at Butterfly Valley, Gemiler (St. Nicholas) Island, Kaş, and the Kekova Island area. Typically, the yachts take between 12 and 14 passengers, and facilities are shared.

High season for yacht trip departures is July and August, though trips are possible from April through to October.

Paragliding over Pamukkale's terraces

Highlight: Adrenaline-fueled aerial views over some of Turkey's most famous landmarks

Paragliding takes place at several destinations in Turkey but for tourists, the two best places to visit for this adventure sport are Ölüdeniz and Pamukkale.

Ölüdeniz is feted as one of the world's top destinations for tandem paragliding tours . For scenery, as you descend, you really can't beat it, with a backdrop of craggy pine-tree-clad mountains swooping down to the famed azure blue lagoon and Mediterranean Sea beyond.

Flights take off from the summit of Babadağ (Mount Baba), which looms over the resort village, and land on the beach in front.

Tandem paragliding at Pamukkale offers aerial views over both one of Turkey's best-known Roman city ruins and most famous natural wonders.

Flights soar over the ruins of Roman Hierapolis and the slope of glistening white calcite travertines below. For sightseeing from a bird's-eye perspective, it can't be beaten.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Pamukkale

Exploring Istanbul street food

Highlight: Dig deeper into Turkish culture and history through its famed cuisine

Istanbul is foodie central, and there are few better ways of discovering a city's culture than through its food.

Several local Istanbul tour companies run walking tours that focus on Istanbul's culinary heritage. They're an excellent way of supplementing your big-hitter sightseeing and getting to know the city on a more intimate level.

Depending on the itinerary you choose, the walks take you through some of the city's market districts, to local restaurants well off the normal tourist beat, street food stalls, and to specialist food purveyors — such as cheese mongers, confectioners, and coffee roasters — with plenty of sampling of local delicacies.

Some focus on specific neighborhoods, such as the Bazaar district , Beyoğlu, or Kadıköy and look at their distinct food cultures, while others take a wider-lens view and hit both the Asian and European shores.

All the tours give you a more personal view of this mega-city and allow you to look beyond the historic monuments to see the city's vibrant, modern face.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Istanbul

Kayaking along the Kekova Island shoreline

Highlight: An up-close, slower style of exploring one of the Mediterranean's most idyllic areas

The main center for organized sea kayaking activities along Turkey's rugged coastline is Kaş . The nearby Kekova Island area, with its underwater Sunken City ruins, is best seen from a kayak, and tour operators in town offer popular daily excursions from April to September.

These kayaking trips are suitable for complete beginners and are the only way to see the ruins up close, as swimming isn't allowed in the area.

A typical tour heads by vehicle to the itsy village of Uçağız and launches the kayaks from the harbor there. Kayakers then paddle out of the harbor and skim along the Kekova Island shoreline to see the ruins. Afterward, you cross the Kekova Strait to the village of Kaleköy to see the ruins of Ancient Simena, before paddling back along the coast to Uçağız.

If you're a more experienced kayaker, a couple of Kaş tour operators also offer longer, multi-day sea kayaking trips that explore farther along the rocky, forest-clad coast with its sea caves and ancient harbor ruins.

Whirling dervish ceremony

Highlight: Experience a performance of the sacred swirling of the Mevlevi Sufis

The Mevlevi sect is a Sufi religious order that began under Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi in 13th-century Konya. They're best known for their religious practice of sema – a meditative whirling ceremony.

In Turkey, there are several places where visitors can see a whirling dervish ceremony, though be aware that most performances in tourist resort towns use professional dancers not Mevlevi devotees. Konya, Istanbul, and Bursa are the best places to see an actual sema.

Konya has held onto its heritage as the birthplace of the Mevlevi order and hosts semas every Saturday evening throughout the year at the Mevlana Culture Center. During the summer months, you can also see the dervishes whirl at a second sema ceremony held outdoors on Wednesdays in the garden of the Mevlana Museum .

In Istanbul, the best place to see the whirling dervishes is the Galata Mevlevi House Museum , which holds a weekly Sunday sema ceremony.

If you're visiting Bursa, don't miss visiting the city's Mevlana Culture Center. Here, you can see Mevlevi students whirl in the short daily evening sema ceremonies.

Ortaköy, along the Bosphorus Strait

Highlight: Istanbul sightseeing the easygoing way on these scenic boat trips

Take to the water for Istanbul's most laid-back sightseeing. Istanbul's ferry tours are a popular way to see the city's famed shoreline cityscapes on a ride up the Bosphorus Strait.

There are two main options, depending on how much time you have up your sleeve: The Long Bosphorus Tour departs from Eminönü dock at 10:30am daily throughout the year. It chugs the entire length of the Bosphorus up to the pretty village of Anadolu Kavağı, overlooked by a Byzantine castle, in around 90 minutes. The ferry stops here for three hours before turning around for the return journey.

For a quicker ferry tour itinerary, the Short Bosphorus Tour heads up the strait to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, where it turns around and returns to Eminönü, taking two hours in total. It operates daily from May to October.

Horse riding in Cappadocia

Highlight: Horseback adventures amid Turkey's famed valleys of volcanic rock

The valleys of Cappadocia, with their fairy chimney rock formations, make for Turkey's best horse riding destination and there are plenty of stables where you can saddle up.

Sunset tours, taking in some of the most famous valley panoramas, particularly the vistas over Red Valley, are the most popular option and are a good choice for novice riders looking for a short riding option.

If, though, you do have some horse riding experience, opt for a half-day or full-day horse ride. These usually take you into the countryside of Red Valley, Rose Valley, and Meskender Valley, which connects the villages of Göreme and Çavusin to discover the surreal topography of Cappadocia all on horseback.

Bodrum Castle and beach

Highlight: Scenic cruising for a lazy day of swimming, sunbathing, and sightseeing

Bodrum is a major summer vacation hub, and the sun worshippers who head here have plenty of options to get off the beach and onto the water.

The most popular boat trip is a day-long cruise around Bodrum Bay, anchoring off islands for swimming between puttering along, admiring the craggy coastline of the Bodrum Peninsula with its hidden coves and lush forest.

A number of yacht operators also offer one-day and multi-day sailing itineraries.

One-day yacht trips sail around Bodrum Bay, while longer journeys either head down the coast towards Fethiye or combine the Turkish coast with a number of nearby Greek islands. Unlike in Fethiye though, these yacht trips are all private charters.

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Highlight: Searching for traditional crafts amid the labyrinthine alleys of historic bazaars

From the many region-specific designs and styles of Turkish carpets to Iznik's blue and white ceramic tiles, Turkey is renowned for its craftwork traditions, and it's a rare traveler who doesn't spend at least some time shopping on their trip.

The most atmospheric places to shop are the bazaars (markets), many of which are sightseeing attractions in themselves.

The most famous bazaar is Istanbul's Grand Bazaar , a thriving center of commerce, with its own restaurants and mosques, which has been in business since 1461. You could easily spend half a day exploring the maze of vault-roofed lanes lined with stalls that lead between hans (caravanserais) and bedestens (warehouses) here.

Bursa's vast bazaar, built during its heyday when it was a major silk producer and trading stop, is another historical bazaar not to miss, both for its modern silk products in the bazaar's Koza Han building and to stroll between and admire the architecture of the restored caravanserais and bedestens here.

If you really enjoy bazaar shopping, though, don't miss the bazaars of Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa where the narrow winding lanes, stuffed with stalls and shops selling spices, local produce, clothing and household goods, are also home to tiny workshops producing fine engraved metalwork and woodcrafts.

Winter scenery on the Eastern Express

Highlight: Sit back and watch the rugged scenery of Turkey's northeast sweep past your window

Turkey's most scenic rail journey is the Eastern Express (Doğu Ekspresi) train, which connects Ankara with Kars in Turkey's far northeast. The journey passes through the best of Anatolia's rugged mountain and high plateau scenery over the 24 hours it takes end to end.

This route has become a favorite tourist activity for Turkish visitors, particularly during winter to see the landscape covered in a deep layer of snow.

In recent years, it has become so popular that tickets can sell out months in advance, so planning is essential if you want to take this train journey.

The train route stops in the cities of Sivas and Erzurum along its way, which are both also worth visiting overnight for their historic monuments, if you want to break up your journey. The most scenic section of the train journey is between Sivas and Kars, so it's also worthwhile just taking this easternmost section.

Kaçkar Mountain scenery

Highlight: Hub for hikers and nature lovers amid a lush, lesser-seen corner of the country

Tucked into the northeastern corner of Turkey, the Kaçkar Dağları (Kaçkar Mountains) are one of the country's most beautiful wilderness areas.

Lush, green high mountain pastures are hemmed in by soaring snowcapped mountain peaks and densely forested slopes.

The entire area is one of Turkey's top places to visit for climbers and trekkers but is also a major location for less rugged pursuits, such as niche wildflower and butterfly-spotting tours.

The hardiest treks here traverse the high mountain passes (over 3,000 meters high) from the west to east (or vice versa), though villages in the valleys on both sides of the mountain range can also act as bases for easier day hiking.

High summer (July and August) is the main hiking season, as the highest passes are accessible during this time, but if you're only planning to hike in the lower reaches of the mountains, late spring and early fall are also great times to come.

Bursa teleferik

Highlights: Summit a mountain peak the no-sweat way for panoramic vistas

Turkey has several cable cars, but two to definitely add on to your itinerary for the panoramic views they provide are Bursa Teleferik up Uludağ (Mount Ulu), on the outskirts of Bursa, and the Olympos Teleferik in Kemer.

The Olympos Teleferik in Kemer, 50 kilometers west of Antalya, offers stunning views across the coastal mountains of Beydağları National Park, and the Mediterranean Sea beyond, on its way up to the summit of Mount Tahtalı at 2,365 meters.

At the summit, paragliding and hiking trails are available, though many people are here simply for the views along the way and from the summit restaurant.

Bursa Teleferik is one of the longest cable car rides in the world, taking 25 minutes to run the entire nine kilometers up to the ski slopes and ski hotels of Uludağ.

In winter, most people are using the cable car to get to the slopes, while in summer, the stations along the length are big picnicking spots for Bursa locals, but it's also worth riding simply for the views.

Kaunos ruins along the Dalyan River

Highlight: A scenic river cruise passing ancient ruins perched on the cliffside

Dalyan is a little riverside town, roughly halfway between the big resort towns of Marmaris and Fethiye. It's a laid-back place that's highly popular for summer breaks because of its location, with the ruins of Kaunos on the opposite shore, and just 12 kilometers north from Iztuzu Beach.

The river is Dalyan's prime center of activity. As well as boats shuttling regularly to and from the beach during summer, the boat cooperative here also offer a bundle of half- and full-day tours that further explore this area. The most popular boat trip is heading up river to Lake Köyceğiz and the mineral-rich hot mud pools of Sultaniye Hot Springs.

On Mondays, in summer, the river boat captains also run half-day tours to Köyceğiz village, when the local weekly market is in full swing.

Private river trips heading down river past Iztuzu Beach and along the coast to Ekincik Beach are also popular.

For outdoor activities in general, the best times to visit Turkey are the months of May, June, July, August, and September when the days are long and the weather is dependably sunny.

For water-based activities such as Mediterranean yachting and other cruising, June, July, and August are the best months to visit, as sea conditions are the calmest during this period. And, due to the higher numbers of tourists during this time, there are more trip options (and more regular departures) available.

For hiking activities, the best months to visit depend on the region. For example, July and August are the best months for trekking in the Kaçkar Mountains due to snow cover on the highest mountain passes through much of the rest of the year. But, May and June are noted for being excellent months for hiking the Lycian Way on the Mediterranean coast because of the milder daytime temperatures and lower humidity.

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More on Turkey

Turkey Travel Guide: Plan Your Perfect Trip

Turkey

Turkey Travel Guide

From the postcard-perfect beaches and mountain ranges, to its charming cobblestone streets that are perfect for sipping tea and having baklava.

Best time to visit Turkey

How to travel on a budget 11 tips, best places to visit in turkey, best things to do in cappadocia: a guide to the hot air balloons, best things to do in fethiye: turkey’s turquoise coast, istanbul’s must-see: the colorful houses of balat, 7 best things to do in kas, turkey, map of turkey, weather in turkey.

Turkey boasts diverse weather! Coastal areas enjoy a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, perfect for beach lovers. The inland areas experience continental weather, with cold winters and hot summers. Spring and fall are generally ideal nationwide, offering pleasant temperatures for sightseeing. So there's a perfect season for every Turkish adventure!

All destinations

11 best things to do in istanbul, turkey, best things to do in antalya, turkey (old town), best travel insurances, how to plan a trip.

  • Find Hotels via Booking.com
  • Find Hostels via Hostelworld
  • Find a Rental Car via Sunny Cars
  • Find Flights to Turkey via Skyscanner
  • Get a Travel Insurance via Heymondo
  • Book Tours & Attractions via GetYourGuide
  • Book a Bus/Train/Transfer via 12Go
  • Get a Visa via iVisa
  • How to pack light for your trip
  • How to plan your trip our tips

Why is Turkey worth visiting?

From the lively city of Istanbul to the fairy-tale landscapes of Cappadocia , there are countless reasons to visit Turkey. With breathtaking scenery, rich history, intricate architecture, pristine beaches, and exceptional shopping, Turkey offers diverse experiences catering to every type of traveler.

Is Turkey cheap to visit?

Turkey boasts affordability that’s hard to match. Because it’s straddling both Asia and Europe, it’s much cheaper than many other nearby destinations. With free sightseeing opportunities, budget-friendly stays, and delectable street food, Turkey is a great European destination for those wanting to save some pennies!

Can I drink tap water in Turkey?

In major cities in Turkey, tap water is safe and refreshing to drink. However, sticking to drinking filtered water in more remote areas is advisable. Bring a reusable water bottle to keep hydrated on the go while being environmentally friendly.

Do I need a visa for traveling in Turkey?

Entry regulations vary by nationality; some countries, like the UK, France, and the Netherlands, enjoy visa-free stays for 90 days. However, citizens from countries such as Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the USA require an e-visa for a 90-day visit. Make sure to check your entry requirements in advance.

What language do they speak in Turkey?

Turkish is the primary language spoken throughout Turkey. While English is commonly used in tourist areas, having a grasp of basic Turkish phrases can enhance your cultural experience and foster connections with locals during your travels.

Do I need travel insurance for Turkey?

A vital necessity for every journey, travel insurance safeguards against medical emergencies and unforeseen travel disruptions, granting you the freedom to explore Vietnam with peace of mind. Discover the optimal travel insurance for a worry-free adventure.

Is Turkey safe?

Turkey is generally safe for travelers, but as always, take standard precautions. While some areas are best avoided, these are typically off the tourist path. Exercise common sense, and you’ll find warmth and hospitality in this captivating nation.

What power plug type does Turkey have?

Turkey predominantly uses the Type F plug with two round pins. Pack or buy an adapter at the airport to keep your devices charged as you explore the enchanting landscapes and historical wonders.

Why do people love Turkey?

It’s the allure of contrasts, from bustling markets to serene beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant bazaars. Turkey is a country that has it all: mouth-watering food, mesmerizing landscapes, rich history, and crazy adventures.

Travel to Turkey 

A vast country straddling two continents, Europe and Asia, Turkey is a captivating blend of history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. From the sun-kissed turquoise coastline home to beautiful boutique hotels to Istanbul’s lively bazaars selling everything you could ever think of and more, traveling Turkey promises to be full of adventure!

How to plan your trip to Turkey

To plan the ultimate adventure, check out our Turkey travel guides ! Whether you’re looking for a beach break along the Turkish Riviera or backpacking around the country, our guides have you covered with everything you need to know for an unforgettable holiday in Turkey . 

To discover the best places in Turkey , we’d recommend staying for at least 2 weeks to experience a mix of fantastic beaches and to see the breathtaking balloons over Capadoccia . But if you have longer, make sure to visit Istanbul to explore the beautiful, colorful houses of Balat and enjoy lots of delicious street food. 

Planning an extraordinary vacation in Turkey ? Discover more about Turkey’s weather to choose the ideal time to explore this unique country! 

Spring & Autumn: For those seeking pleasant weather and fewer crowds, April to May and September to October would be the perfect time to visit for your Turkey holiday . During these months, temperatures range from 20°C to 30°C, providing a comfortable environment to explore Turkey’s rich array of ancient sites. Additionally, this period brings festivals, with the International Istanbul Film Festival in April and the International Wine Festival in Cappadocia at the end of October, among others. 

Summer: If you’re a beach lover looking for sun and sand, the summer is the best time to visit Turkey , with the Turquoise Coast offering a haven for relaxation and swimming. However, avoid these peak summer months if you plan to explore historical sites, as the temperatures can soar, making it less enjoyable for outdoor activities. 

Winter: If you prefer a more serene experience, consider visiting during the winter months from November to March. While coastal areas may be closed due to the cold weather, it’s an excellent time to explore areas like Cappadocia , adorned with a snowy landscape creating breathtaking panoramas. January to March is particularly quiet, providing a unique opportunity to have destinations to yourself, although make sure to wrap up warm! 

In essence, the best time to visit Turkey depends on your interests. Whether you prefer spring’s lively colors, summer’s warmth, or winter’s tranquility, Turkey has something to offer year-round.

Coastlines and beaches in Turkey

Turkey’s 7,200 km coast unfolds with a diverse array of pristine shores and picturesque landscapes, the most prominent being the Turquoise Coast in southwest Turkey. 

Starting at Bodrum, a hotspot for holidaymakers, catering to a diverse range of beachgoers. Whether it’s the lively atmosphere of Gumbet Beach, the upscale vibes of Yalikavak, or the historic charm mixed with the modern allure of Bitez Beach, Bodrum has something for everyone.

Further along the coast is the enchanting town of Fethiye , arguably the hidden gem of the Turquoise Coast and one of the best places to visit in Turkey . Make sure to stop by Ölüdeniz nearby, renowned for its iconic destinations, Butterfly Valley, a natural marvel with a crazy drop to a white-sand beach, mainly visited by boat, and the Blue Lagoon, a hotspot for paragliders and water sports. 

If you’re a wildlife lover, Patara Beach near Gelemiş is the perfect stretch of coastline for bird watching and the chance to see the protected loggerhead turtles. As one of the longest sandy beaches in the Mediterranean, Patara Beach is backed by giant sand dunes and ancient ruins, offering a serene and historically rich environment.

For those seeking a beach with dramatic scenery, Kaputaş Beach near Kas is a must-visit. Hemmed in by steep cliffs, the beach features dazzling emerald waters and fine golden sand, creating a postcard-worthy setting for sunbathing and relaxation.

Near the end of the Turquoise Coast is Antalya , with many beaches to choose from. Nestled in the heart of the old town, Mermerli Beach offers a blend of history and relaxation. Konyaaltı Beach provides a lively atmosphere with cafes, shops, and stunning views of the Taurus Mountains. For a unique coastal spectacle, visit Lower Duden Waterfall (yes, there are two parts to this waterfall!) and watch it cascade into the ocean, creating a captivating natural display.

Food, culture and religion in Turkey 

Turkey, a country bridging continents, promises breathtaking landscapes and a delightful blend of flavors, religious influence, and cultural spectacles ready to be explored!

Cuisine: Prepare your taste buds for a Turkish feast that’s nothing short of a flavor fiesta! Turkish cuisine is a delightful mishmash of Ottoman, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and Mediterranean influences, with each region having its own specialties. Dive into juicy kebabs, tempting mezes, and flaky baklava. Wander through vibrant bazaars, a sensory overload of spices, fruits, and sweets. And, of course, don’t miss out on the iconic Turkish breakfast – a feast of olives, cheeses, tomatoes, and more, ensuring you start your day on a delicious note.

Religion: With the majority of the population being Muslim, Turkey’s landscape is dotted with mosques that are not just places of worship but architectural wonders. The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is a showstopper, standing tall against the skyline. Despite being a secular state, the Islamic religion weaves seamlessly into daily life, with the soothing calls to prayer echoing through the streets. 

Culture: Turkey’s culture is shaped by its vast history. Areas like Istanbul , Ankara, and Cappadocia are living museums, showcasing architectural marvels such as Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Beyond architecture, traditional Turkish arts like calligraphy and miniature painting tell stories, and vibrant ceramics add creativity to the cultural landscape. 

Why You Should Travel to Turkey

Turkey has an irresistible blend of diverse things to do in Turkey, making it a must-visit destination for any type of traveler! 

Picture yourself soaring high on a scenic hot air balloon flight over the mesmerizing landscapes of Cappadocia, where fairy-tale-like rock formations and ancient cave dwellings create a surreal panorama—or relaxing in mineral-rich thermal waters at the cotton candy castle of Pamukkale. Turkey’s one-of-a-kind scenery is unmatched! 

For those seeking sun-soaked relaxation, Turkey boasts beautiful beaches along its stunning coastline, the perfect place to unwind with crystal-clear waters and golden sands. Or, if you’re more of a foodie, the country’s culinary scene is out of this world! With delicious cuisine that reflects its rich cultural heritage, from kebabs to baklava and huge breakfast spreads, eating local is a must! 

Venture into the heart of bustling markets and bazaars, and you’ll discover why Turkey is hailed for having the best shopping in Europe – make sure to leave enough space in your suitcase for the flight home! And once you’re all shopped out, head to a traditional Hamam, an unusual yet rejuvenating spa experience involving several cleansing rituals. 

Safety and travel advice in Turkey 

A vacation in Turkey promises to be full of amazing sights and experiences, but it’s essential to be prepared and aware to ensure a safe trip. The information below will help travelers get the most out of their adventure. 

Crime and Safety in Turkey : Turkey is generally safe for travelers, but petty theft can occur, especially in major cities and tourist hotspots, so exercise caution by securing your valuables and leaving non-essential items at home. Avoid isolated areas at night and prioritize well-lit, populated spots. There is a risk of terrorism, but mainly in areas that travelers don’t tend to visit. Make sure to follow the advice of local authorities and always stay vigilant. 

Find out more about travel safety.

Natural Disasters: While natural disasters are infrequent, Turkey can experience flooding, forest fires, and earthquakes. Stay informed by registering with your embassy and following directions of local authorities should a natural disaster occur. 

Driving in Turkey: Turkey’s roads can be busy and chaotic in populated areas and poorly maintained in remote, rural areas. Whether navigating through city traffic or taking in landscapes on quiet rural roads, always drive carefully, focus on the road, and stop if you get tired. 

Tip: Make sure to carry cash for toll roads, as many still don’t accept cards and will make you turn back. 

Travel Insurance: Prioritize your safety for all your travels by purchasing travel insurance. While Turkey is generally safe, unexpected events like accidents, flight disruptions, or baggage loss can occur. Having suitable travel insurance provides peace of mind and financial protection, ensuring you have a worry-free trip. Check out the best travel insurance for you.

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18 TOP-RATED TURKEY TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Are you planning a trip to Turkey? If you’re looking for destinations to add to your itinerary, here are the 18 top-rated Turkey tourist activities!

Hagia Sophia Exterior

1. Hagia Sophia

Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) is known as the eighth wonder of the world. This wondrous building was initially built in the 6th century under Byzantine emperor Justinian I, formerly a cathedral, and later became a mosque with the Ottoman conquest .

Today, Ayasofya is now a museum located in Istanbul, listed as one of the top tourist attractions without any doubt. When entering the building, you’ll see  incredible mosaics  and other spectacular forms of art and architecture. Also significant because it unites the world’s religions, and many visitors see Ayasofya as a symbol of peace, harmony, and tolerance.

Top Places Ephesus

Ephesus is an ancient city built in the 10th century BCE. Its ruins still exist, reflecting centuries of inhabitants. Tourists can spot classical Greek architecture to the invasion of the Roman Empire and the spread of Christianity.

Today, you can find Ephesus on Turkey’s western shore, 80 kilometers south of Izmir, where there are many well-preserved ruins along the route. Some of the most famous include the Temple of Hadrian and the Temple of Artemis.

Cappadocia Love Valley Balloons

3. Cappadocia

Cappadocia is another historical site  in central Turkey. It’s characterized by unique cliffs, shaped by million-years’ worth of wind and water altering the land.

Cappadocia is famous for its towering rock formations, nicknamed “fairy chimneys” because of its magical shape and unique history.

The rock-cut churches are some of the most well-preserved ones in the world that range in size, from small churches hidden in caves to amazing multi-cave structures.

The specific sites you should visit include the subterranean regions of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu dating back to 2000 BCE, as well as Goreme, Uchisar, and Avanos towns within the heart of Cappadocia.

You can discover this destination on foot, but most visitors also prefer to see this wondrous landscape from a hot air balloon.

Photo Topkapi Palace

4. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was originally a luxurious residence, built during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, which the sultans resided at this palace for 400 years.

Today, Topkapi Palace is one of the most visited museums in Turkey, and many say no trip to Istanbul is complete without visiting this site.

Renowned for its glamour —jeweled decor adorns this palace, and guests love the large courtyards and serene garden, several pavilions, and other multiple sections.

At the museum, guests can see all of the items collected from the Ottoman Empire, including manuscripts, books, and more.

Natural Hot Pools Pamukkale

5. Pamukkale

Pamukkale is one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world. Located on top of the travertines, this was a spa center first settled by the Greeks and then taken over by the Romans. The ancient health center has mineral-rich thermal waters that travel down white travertine terraces. The result is a breath-taking four-seasons wonderland.

To this day, the thermal waters are renowned for their healing benefits. You can soak in the Antique Pool (also called Cleopatra’s Pool) and other hot springs listed among the top tourist attractions. Visitors can also see the Roman ruins throughout the city. Some of these ruins include a well-preserved theater and the Necropolis of Hierapolis  (which also borders Denizli).

Black Sea Region Sumela Monastery

6. Sumela Monastery

Along the Black Sea Coast, visitors can view the spectacle of Sumela Monastery (Monastery of the Virgin Mary). This Greek Orthodox is said to be one of the most beautiful monasteries in the world.

The monastery was founded by two monks, dedicating the site to the Virgin Mary. They dreamt they found the lost Virgin Mary painting by Apostle Luke at the monastery’s location.

Sitting on top of a jaw-dropping hill at the banks of the Panagia river, Sumela Monastery was built with Cappadocia-influence, featuring a rock-cut design. The monastery also features a holy spring, chapel, guest house, library, and student rooms.

The monastery welcomed many different activities in its reign. It was a place for education during the time of the Eastern Roman Emperor, and the Ottoman sultans would deliver gifts to show respect to the monastery.

Top Places Mount Nemrut

7. Mount Nemrut

Located in Southeastern Turkey, at one of the highest peaks in the Taurus Mountains, Mount Nemrut is a fantastic destination to see a perfect sample of a tumulus tomb.

The gods & goddesses statues around the mountain on both east and west terraces along with the remains of the Temple of Zeus and other ruins, dating back to 1st century BCE, which is believed to be the resting place of King Antiochus I of Commagene.

Mount Nemrut was once guarded by these massive statues that unfortunately crumbled down today, where visitors travel to see the awe-inspiring sunrise or the sunset at this first-degree archaeological site.

Top Places Ani Ruins, Kars

8. Ani Ruins, Kars

Ani was a walled-in Silk Road city that borders Armenia. The town was founded more than 1600 years ago but is no longer inhabited. Ani was destroyed  because of earthquakes , Mongol raids, and trade route issues.

Many ruins remain in the ancient site; two of the most prominent ones include the Church of St. Gregory and Church of the Redeemer.

The ruins of Ani are mesmerizing; the architecture is elaborate, and the ruins represent a former powerful city, lost over time. You can easily spend a half-day exploring this fantastic site.

Top Places Aspendos Theater Antalya

9. Aspendos

If you’re a history buff, seeing Aspendos is a must. This incredible site is home to a large Roman theater that dates back to 160. During Marcus Aurelius’ rule, the theater welcomed many cultural performances and festivals.

Today, the theater hosts the annual Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival. Guests describe the incredible acoustics and the overall experience of watching superb talent in a historic location.

While the theater is the most famous attraction, the whole city still has various ruins.

Aspendos is 50 kilometers east of Antalya and shares a border with Side, and the best way to get to Aspendos is by private vehicle.

Cruising the Mediterranean

10. Cruising the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most exquisite sights in the world. If you have anything close by the coastline, cruising the Mediterranean is a must.

On a cruise, you’ll glide on the brilliant blue waters and gaze at the white-sand beaches and forest-clad slopes.

There are not only amazing sites but several incredible activities on the coast. For example, you can stop in Fethiye or Marmaris and spend a day gazing at the historic locations and eating delicious Turkish cuisine.

The Seven Churches of Revelation: Pergamum

11. Pergamon

Pergamon was a Greco-Roman town located in modern-day Bergama. The city was once a rich and powerful kingdom in the 3rd century BCE. Today, Pergamon is a quiet coastal town, though it still holds an immense history.

Pergamon is located 16 miles from the Aegean Sea on an isolated hill. It reached its peak in the 5th century BCE when it became the residency of the Attalid dynasty.

The most recognizable ruin is an Acropolis-like metropolis. It was once an iconic library, but only its bare ruins remain. You can also find the ruins of a gymnasium, a marketplace, and the temples of Demeter and Hera.

Oludeniz Beach Fethiye

12. Oludeniz

Oludeniz is Turkey’s most famous beach, easily accessible from Fethiye. This beach is unique because it combines a lush forest with scenic blue-green waters.

Visitors can relax on the beach, sunbathing, and swimming in the warm waters. But Oludeniz is also one of the best paragliding destinations globally, offering a stunning aerial view of the beach.

If you want to hike south, you can explore Butterfly Valley. This area is more secluded yet is a beautiful oasis. It gets its name because it is home to a myriad of butterfly species.

Top Places Antalya Kaleici

13. Antalya

Antalya is one of the best holiday destinations and the fifth-most populous Turkish city for a reason. The beaches are some of the best in all of Europe.

History buffs will love Old Town, specifically the Ottoman-era structures and cobblestone roads. Hadrian’s Gate is one of the most famous sites, built to honor the Roman Emperor in 130.

For the beach-goers, Lara is one of Antalya’s most famous beaches, which is home to several luxurious resorts and plenty of entertainment.

Off-the-beaten-path travelers will love some of the adventures Antalya offers. You can go hiking or bike riding in Lycian Way and see Duden Waterfalls.

Top Places Safranbolu Turkey

14. Safranbolu

If history buffs truly want a look into Turkey’s Ottoman days, a trip to Safranbolu is necessary. Stroll the streets, eat delicious food, and pick up some souvenirs.

Currently listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Safranbolu was once a trading route. This preserved town consists of restored wooden mansions that were previously homes to wealthy merchants. Today, these buildings are restaurants and boutique hotels that you can enjoy the beautiful architectural aspects.

While Safranbolu doesn’t boast tons of tourist activities, it’s a charming town that gives you a glimpse into  the history of Turkey  at every little corner.

The best way to get there is a private van while there are public buses available from Istanbul. If you fancy a train trip, then you can get a ticket to Karabuk and take public minibusses (dolmush) to Safranbolu from there.

Top Places Patara Beach

Patara is another splendid beach in Turkey, famous for its long shoreline. It’s located on the southeast coast of Fethiye and is a favorite for tourists because of the privacy — even during the busy summer holidays, you still won’t get absorbed in the crowd.

Founded in the 8th century BCE, Patara also has plenty of ruins. Some of the ruins you can find include a restored Bouleuterion, a colonnaded street, and a 5,000-seat theater.

You can easily access Patara from Fethiye or Kas and include it in your bucket list to explore the ancient site with one of our expert guides.

Top Places Troy

You probably recognize Troy from Homer’s classic epic “The Illiad.”

Troy was said to be a real town in northwestern Turkey.  Its existence is a matter of debate, but the ancient city of Hisarlik is said to have been the site of Troy.

Even though the empire Troy may have been destroyed by King Agamemnon and his army, tourists can still visit the exact site where the ancient kingdom was said to reign. You can even see a replicate Trojan Horse!

Keep in mind that Hisarlik is a long trip from Istanbul if you plan to do it daily. If you want to visit Troy, you’ll want to devote at least a day to travel to and from the capital city. If you like, we can also combine it with Gallipoli and stay one night near Canakkale.

Top Places Gallipoli

17. Gallipoli

Gallipoli is another historic site, but it offers a different history than the other places on this list.

During WWI, the Gallipoli Campaign (also known as the Battle of Gallipoli) was the Allied Powers’ attempt to control the sea route from Europe to Russia. The Turkish’s resistance was fierce, halting the invasion.

This site is not only historic but groundbreaking for Turkey. The battle was one of the turning points for Turkish independence, and it is significant to the country’s identity.

This battle was one of the most brutal, where half a million casualties lost their lives for whom the site features memorials. Combining with Troy, as noted above, you’ll learn where the battles took place as well as details about the campaign.

Top Places Gobeklitepe

18. Gobeklitepe

Nicknamed the “world’s first temple,” Gobeklitepe is located six miles from Sanliurfa (commonly called Urfa). The site is 11,000 years old and consists of massive pillars, some blank and others carved with various animals. In 2018, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There’s debate about what these pillars mean — the animals that were carved were beasts, such as scorpions and vultures, suggesting the carvings represented fear and dominating over that fear.

Gobeklitepe is easily accessible from Sanliurfa Airport, and you can enjoy a daily tour from Istanbul. Visiting the new Sanliurfa Museum is highly recommended as well, where more excavated ruins from Gobeklitepe and its surroundings are displayed.

Don’t Miss These Turkey Tourist Attractions

Now that you know the most incredible Turkey tourist attractions, are you ready to begin your journey? We offer a variety of tours — take a look at what we offer.

Journal of Nomads

The 13 best places to visit in Turkey

Where should I travel to in Turkey? Where are the best places to visit in Turkey? We have compiled a list of the best places to visit in Turkey to help ensure that you have the most incredible trip.

We have also included some extra information regarding the best activities to try whilst in Turkey, as well as listing some of the best places to stay in Turkey to help you plan your time in this unique country a little bit easier, see it as your very own Turkey travel guide and let us help you create the trip of a lifetime!

From sun-drenched beaches to lush, forest-covered mountains, vibrant and bustling cities to ancient ruins, Turkey is a country with an incredible amount to offer.

The country boasts a startling 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with so many more historical places and sites set to blow your socks off in absolute awe and wonder. A country dripping in history and culture, Turkey has a complete array of stunningly beautiful places awaiting you.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Pamukkale - Journal of Nomads

We spent nine months in Turkey so we had plenty of time to visit various locations.

Some of them were mentioned in tourist guides, others were recommended by locals or we discovered them during one of our hitchhiking trips . They all marked us in a very special way and we would love to share those places with you.

Reading Tip: How much does it cost to travel to Turkey?

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra costs for you. This way you’re helping me run this website and writing more informative and awesome guides like this. I only recommend products and services that I like and trust. Thank you!

Turkey Travel Essentials & Resources

  • Turkey Travel Guide: 10 useful things to know before you go
  • Where to go: 13 Beautiful Places to visit in Turkey
  • Travel Costs : Turkey Budget Guide
  • Tours & Experiences: City tours, guided day trips, multiple-day tours
  • Visa: Visa-free or e-visa for most passports – Check the required Turkey travel documents!
  • Getting there: Search for flights to Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya and Izmir in Turkey
  • Where to stay : Find a room in hotels, hostels or guesthouses
  • Travel Insurance: Choose the best travel insurance for Turkey
  • Getting around : Rent a car in Turkey or travel by bus, train or taxi

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Where should I travel to in Turkey – The 13 best places to visit in Turkey

1. Istanbul

Top things to see and do in Istanbul

It’s most likely that you’ll begin your trip in the city of Istanbul , a city that straddles east and west, divided by the Bosphorus Strait that splits the city into two separate parts.

The only city in the world that can lay claim to residence on two different continents (Asia and Europe), Istanbul really is one of the most unique cities in the world. With over 2500 years of traditions, history and incredible landmarks, this city is a complete cultural melting pot.

Istanbul has been the capital of four empires and the remains of each of these empires can still be seen today. Many buildings and landmarks from Istanbul’s opulent past remain intact today and the cultural heritage of the city is highly impressive.

Go and marvel at the beautiful Hagia Sophia , a Byzantine structure that was originally built as a Christian church in the 6th century CE (532–537) under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. In later centuries it then became a mosque, a museum, and then a mosque once more.

This building reflects the religious changes that have happened over the centuries, boasting both inscriptions of Islam as well as lavish mosaics of Christianity.

best things to see in Istanbul

The Blue Mosque is another of the city’s world-renowned landmarks, named famously after the blue tiles that surround its walls. Built between 1609 and 1616, this building still holds high importance to the history of the Ottoman Empire.

Daily prayer services still occur in the mosque so why not go and spend some time there, say a prayer and embrace the architectural beauty.

Blue mosque in Istanbul - Best sites to visit in Istanbul

Other top tourist attractions are the Grand Bazaar , the largest covered market in the world, the Topkapi Palace and museum where you can view the imperial collections of the Ottoman Empire and then head up the Galata Tower to take in the view of the cityscape.

things to do in Istanbul

Whether it’s the only destination on your list, Istanbul really is one of the best cities to visit in Turkey.

Reading Tip: Top 17 Things to do in Istanbul – Complete Istanbul City Guide

How to get to Istanbul

The easiest way to get to Istanbul is by plane. Turkish Airlines along with other major airlines have regular daily flights to this remarkable city.

Places to stay in Istanbul

There are hundreds of lovely, well-priced places to stay when visiting Istanbul. We have included a few hotels and guesthouses for less than €50/night below:

  • Atlantis Royal Hotel ( check price and availability here )
  • Sirkeci Ersu Hotel & SPA ( check price and availability here )
  • Ahmet Efendi Konağı ( check price and availability here )

Things to do in Istanbul

We would highly recommend going on a walking tour and you can take one for FREE through Old Istanbul.

You’ll learn all about the incredible history of Istanbul and also be guided to a number of the city’s beautiful landmarks, including the ones we have mentioned above.

Read: T o p 1 7 Things to do in Istanbul

2. Bursa / Cumalikizik

Bursa - Best non-touristic cities to visit in Turkey - Journal of Nomads

Cumalikizik is a UNESCO World Heritage town, 20 minutes from Bursa.

Perched in the hills on the foot of the Uludag Mountain, the cobblestoned and narrow streets of this 700-year-old village remain largely untouched and have been well preserved.

This little village is another one of the many well-visited tourist places in Turkey, with streets lined with traditional houses, the higher you walk up, the less crowded it becomes.

The friendly reputation of the local villagers, some of who have turned their homes into family-run eateries, precedes them and draws you into this charming Ottoman hamlet, offering you a peek into the traditional Turkish way of life.

Bursa, known as ‘Yeşil Bursa’ (Green Bursa) due to the high number of parks and mountains surrounding it, was also once the capital of the Ottoman state.

How to get to Bursa

From Istanbul- A bus will take you 3 1/2-hours and cost you 15TL, just over €1.(Nilüfer Turizm/bus company) (tel. 0224/444-0099)

Things to do around Bursa

On the west side of Bursa, in the village of Çekirge are natural thermal spring baths whose fame has spread throughout the East and the source of all of them is from Mt. Olympus.

Reading Tip: 10 Useful Things to Know before Visiting Turkey

The 13 best places to visit in Turkey

History lovers gather round, you do not want to miss out on visiting the ruins of Ephesus and the surrounding area, which was once an ancient Greek city. It’s not only the biggest area of excavation in the world but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Located just outside of Selçuk, it was once considered to be the most important Greek city and trading center in the Mediterranean region.

Few ancient landmarks stand quite as impressive as the ruins of this ancient city. Immerse yourself in the ancient history of this place, although thousands of years have gone by, it is nearly impossible not to be impressed by the history and remains of this once bustling city.

It’s also worth visiting the Temple of Artemis, Temple of Hadrian, and the Basilica of St John whilst in the area.

Ephesus is open to visitors every day of the week, and visiting hours may vary depending on the summer and winter seasons. The cost to enter the ruins is 60 TL (Turkish Lira) or about $10.

How to get to Ephesus

You can get to Ephesus from Selçuk by dolmuş (minibus) or taxi. They run every half hour between Selçuk bus station and the lower entrance of Ephesus archaeological site and the journey will take about 5-10 mins.

4. Pamukkale

what is the best time to visit Pamukkale

The mineral white forests of petrified water, series of terraced warm pools of water and the numerous waterfalls that connect all these pools together make for a pretty dream-like landscape in Southwestern Turkey.

The terraces have been created from layers of travertine, white sediment that has been deposited by the hot springs that over time have solidified and become solid.

Platforms, cliffs, and terraces have been formed, entirely made up of this sediment, and you can understand why this place is called ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, as they appear together as some kind of giant, white castle.

What to expect in Pamukkale?

The temperature of the water that flows from the springs is roughly between 35 °C (95° F) to 100 °C (212° F) and you can bathe in mostly all of the 17 springs. They have been drawing visitors since the second century BC and it’s been said that Cleopatra herself bathed in these very pools.

What to see in Pamukkale

Another one of Turkey’s impressive World Heritage Sites, this open-air spa makes for a completely unique and ancient UNESCO experience.

Reading Tip: Things to do in Pamukkale – The Complete Traveler’s Guide to Pamukkale

How to get to Pamukkale

From Istanbul: There are direct flights from Istanbul to Denizli Çardak, the nearest airport to Pamukkale. The cheapest option is then to go by shuttle bus from the airport to Denizli city’s bus station and catch a dolmuş that departs every 15-20 minutes to Pamukkale.

From Selçuk: Take a train to Denizli Çardak and then from there, take a dolmuş the same as mentioned above.

From Cappadocia: Take an overnight bus. They usually depart around 8PM and arrive the next day at 6AM.

Where to stay in Pamukkale

Read The Complete Guide to Pamukkale for our selection of best places to stay whilst visiting Pamukkale.

5. Gelemis /Patara

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Lycian Way - Patara - Journal of Nomads

Gelemis is a small village completely off the beaten path and untouched by mass tourism. It’s set right at the edge of the coastline in the foothills of the gorgeous Taurus mountains and it’s the perfect place for expat artists in need of some inspiration.

Life here is organized around agriculture and apiculture (beekeeping). People grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables and the landscape is filled with small clusters of beehives.

Next to the village of Gelemis lies an 18km long stretch of beach that can be described not only as one of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in all of the Mediterranean but is also the second most important nesting site in Turkey for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles.

Known as Patara, this beach and the surrounding area provide you with an ideal swimming and camping destination, founded by the Lycians during the Roman Empire, it also used to be one of the most important cities and seaports on the Turkish Riviera.

Patara happens to also be the birthplace of Saint Nicholas who was also known as Nikolaos of Myra, a 4th-century Christian saint who would later give rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus. You read that right, the infamous Mr Claus.

There are no tour companies that operate in Patara and everything is local or independent from the pensions where you can stay to the eateries that are run by local families, the only cafe on the beach is run by the local authority with the profits being put back in to support the local area.

The beach remains largely untouched by commercial development due to the city’s few surviving buildings, temples, bathhouses, colonnaded streets and theatre which are incredibly interesting to explore.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Lycian Way - Patara - Journal of Nomads

Patara is also the stage for a unique cultural event that we would recommend to everyone to attend; the annual Nomadic Walk.

Every year, the people of Patara organize a 10 km walk from Delikemer to Patara where the hikers follow the old Roman aqueducts which were used to bring water from Islamlar, a small town in the mountains, to Patara.

This walk also forms part of a 509 km footpath known as the Lycian Way. If you would like to know more about this event and maybe participate, have a look at our article In the Footsteps of the Nomadic Tribes .

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Lycian Way - Patara - Journal of Nomads

How to get to Patara

Patara is 230 km South-West of Antalya, the easiest way to get there is to follow the coastal highway (highway D4000) through Kaş and Kalkan.

If you’re not in the mood to see the coast and rather see gorgeous mountain landscapes, there is an alternate route that follows highway 3500.

If you’re coming from Fethiye, follow the highway D4000 south for 73 km.

Where to stay in Patara

Hotels and pensions for less than €50/night:

  • St. Nicholas Pension ( check price and availability here )
  • Flower Hotel Patara ( check price and availability here )

6. Myra (Demre)

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Myra - Journal of Nomads

Myra was an ancient Lycian town that is now known as Demre.  Most of this ancient city has disappeared and all that remains today are its incredible ruins – an enormous Roman theatre, ancient Roman baths, and two huge necropolises that are carved in the vertical rock cliffs.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Myra - Journal of Nomads

If you want to experience one of the most unique places to visit in Turkey, Myra ticks that box. 

The tomb of Saint Nicholas is also housed in the center of Demren at St. Nicholas Church, an ancient East Roman basilica church, built in 520 AD. I

t is noted for its remarkable wall frescos, architectural and religious significance and after a nearby river changed its course, the church was filled with silt and was buried but the frescoes remained intact which is why it remains to be one of many great places in Turkey to visit today.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Demre - St Nicholas - Journal of Nomads

If you like to see more of this area, check out our video Santa’s Tomb .

How to get to Myra

Demre is located almost halfway between Patara and Antalya. To visit this city just follow the coastal highway (D4000) east of Patara for 87 km.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey -Olympos - Journal of Nomads

The bohemian dream of Olympos is nestled amongst lush, pine forests and is the backdrop of Antalya province’s Mediterranean coast.

This is a truly spectacular place, where overgrown Lycian ruins sit within the surrounding forests, this is the place to come if you’re seeking some peaceful tranquility.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey -Olympos - Journal of Nomads

This ancient area is under protection which means no luxury hotel or resorts have permission to build, instead you have the opportunity to strip things back to nature and spend a night staying in one of the many Kadir Tree Houses and little wooden shacks.

Olympos is also one of the nesting sites for Caretta Caretta loggerhead sea turtles along Turkey’s Southern coast and it’s important to be respectful and follow the guidelines so as to not disturb their ancient nesting cycle during your stay. 

How to get to Olympos

Olympos is located 77 km north of Demre following the coastal highway (D4000).

As you will approach Olympos the highway will start going through a very high mountain pass. If you have time we would definitely recommend stopping to enjoy the view before continuing to the ruins, it’s totally worth it.

Where to stay in Olympos

The most famous way to spend your night here is in one of the many different tree houses scattered throughout the area. Below we have listed a few other accommodation options for you to choose from:

  • Kadir’s Tree Houses (Kadir’in Yeri) are the most famous in Olympos and these were built by the founder of this place Kadir Kaya, 31 years ago. Check here for availability .
  • Bayrams Tree Houses sit much closer to the beach in a quieter location. Nestled next to orange and pomegranate trees, there is also a lounge and bar area, the ideal place to sit around an open fire in the evening with a cold beer. Check here for availability .

Things to do in Olympos

If you’re up for a small mountain climb, Mount Chimaera is worth visiting whilst you are in Olympus.

BBest places to visit in Turkey -Olympos - Chimaera - Journal of Nomads

It’s about a one-hour walk to see Yanartaş or alternatively, you can hop on a service bus or organize a car from your accommodation.

The climb will take you another half an hour approx to reach the top of this small mountain but it’s so worth it to make it to the top where you’ll witness a very unusual sight.

Yanartaş are flames that burn on their own and never go out made from a combination of natural gases that emerge like flames from the rock, burning day and night as they enter into contact with the air.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey -Olympos - Chimaera- Journal of Nomads

If you head to the top, just before sunset, you’ll see the flames at their most spectacular.

There are many areas around Olympos that are great for rock climbing. One of the most well-known areas for climbing is at Kadir’s Tree Houses where you will be able to find all the necessary supplies and gear for your level.

8. The Blue LAgoon / Ölüdeniz

The 13 best places to visit in Turkey

The Blue Lagoon in Ölüdeniz is on the list of Turkey’s top UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The gorgeously vibrant, turquoise water within the lagoon boasts a tremendous array of different shades of blue great with a thin finger of beautiful white sand that curves around the water.

Add in a gorgeous mountainous backdrop and you’ll understand why this beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in Turkey and is one of the most photographed too.

For this reason, it’s important to note that it can be extremely busy with visitors.

If you’re after a more spacious way to view this site, why not consider taking to the skies and trying your hand at paragliding, soaking up the spectacular views from the air.

How to get to the Blue Lagoon

You can catch a bus from nearby Antalya, a resort town on the south coast that will take about 3.5 hours and cost you around €6.

9. The Lycian way / Fethiye to Antalya

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Lycian Way - Patara - Journal of Nomads

Located on Turkey’s Tekke Peninsula, known historically as Lycia, the Lycian Way is a footpath that spans across 540 km of mountains, coastline, and valleys from Fethiye to Antalya.

A well-marked-out path takes you past many major archaeological sites, stretches of beautiful coastline and gorgeously lush pine forests and hiking the entire way would take you around a month to complete.

If you decide to walk this path, the route will take you past historical sites from the Greek culture and Roman Empires that date back to 8 BC, passing through traditional villages that seem untouched by tourism where you can find food and other supplies.

Your accommodation options whilst on this path are guest houses, village homes and basic B&Bs although, we might suggest camping as a fantastic option and depending on your location, it can be the easiest option whilst walking the Way.

It is possible to walk only parts of the way and depending on your hiking experience, you could choose the eastern part for the tougher hike especially close to Fethiye are particularly tricky.

The western part would be more suitable if you are not as experienced as this is the easier section of the way.

The best time to go would be either in the Spring March-May or in the Autumn months of September/October, that way you’re not walking in the sizzling summer heat and avoid the larger crowds of tourists.

Experiencing walking along the Lycian Way is a really special way to take in so many of the sights to see in Turkey.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Lycian Way - Patara - Journal of Nomads

Reading Tip: Cycling in Turkey – 3 Cycling Routes

How to get to the Lycian Way

The Lycian way starts in Olu Deniz, about 2 hours from the Dalaman airport and finishes in Antalya but you can find numerous access points to this path along the coast.

Since it connects the archaeological sites of Myra and Olympos, it is also very easy to access the path from these two locations.

Where to stay on the Lycian Way

We have included a link to a great website that lists a whole heap of places to stay whilst walking the Lycian Way. Find it here .

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Konya - Journal of Nomads

From incredible architecture, great food and some of the oldest mosques in Turkey, this is a brilliant city for you to load up on culture.

Konya is the Islamic capital of Turkey and home of the world-famous spiritual poet Rumi, known to the Turkish people as ‘Melvana’ – (the sainted one), and his tomb is kept within The Mevlana museum.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Konya -Rumi - Journal of Nomads

This mystic and Sufi saint loved all religions and followed his own religion which was love and his followers are known as the Whirling Dervishes.

The whirling is a form of Sama, a physically active meditation and is also called ‘Sufi spinning’. The Dervishes listen to music, whilst focusing on God and spin their body in repetitive circles, which is a symbolic imitation of the planets orbiting the sun.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Konya - Dancing Dervishes - Journal of Nomads

This spinning dance represents a spiritual journey to enlightenment in which the Dervishes aim to reach the source of all ‘perfection’.

They seek through abandoning their egos and personal desires to find truth and cultivate inner peace so in turn, they can foster peace and world harmony.

Known as the heart and soul city, no trip would be complete without a visit to Konya, one of Turkey’s best cities.

How to get to Konya

From Istanbul or Ankara, it’s faster, more comfortable, and not much more expensive to take the high-speed train. Two trains leave daily between Istanbul and Konya, stopping at Eskişehir where you will have to change trains, taking in total about 4.5 hours.

If traveling by plane, Turkish Airlines has several flights each day between Istanbul and Konya.

Driving or hitchhiking – If you are coming from Antalya, follow the highway D4000 until you are in Kizilagac. From there take the D695 north and follow it until it becomes the highway D696. Continue following this road and you will arrive in Konya. The total distance from Antalya to Konya is 304 km.

Where to stay in Konya

Below, we’ve listed a few choices for accommodation whilst visiting Konya. Hotels and guesthouses for less than €50/night:

  • Araf Hotel: see here for availability
  • Rumi Hotel: check here for availability
  • Bera Konya Hotel: see here for availability and prices

Things to do in Konya

If you want to truly experience the essence of Konya, take yourself to see an authentic Sema ceremony and watch the Whirling Dervishes perform.

The ceremony is a free event that takes place every Saturday night at 7 pm at the Mevlana Cultural Center and we would advise that you head there early to get yourself a seat with a great view.

Each show lasts about two hours and it’s a wonder to see.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Konya - Dancing Dervishes - Journal of Nomads

11. Cappadocia

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Cappadocia - Journal of Nomads

High on the Anatolian plateau, Cappadocia’s curious landscape resembles that of a fantasy world.

The rugged mountains, vast plains, and the formation of its valleys and landscape have been shaped by the frequent eruption of three volcanoes and created from layers of deposits of lava, volcanic ash and basalt.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Cappadocia - Journal of Nomads

Earthquakes and effects of erosion have contributed to the creation of Cappadocia’s famous ‘fairy chimneys, tall cone-shaped honey-colored rocks that have been slowly eroded into stunning sculptural forms that resemble minarets.

The history of Cappadocia is as rich and remarkable as its landscape. The first dwellers in this region were troglodytes or cave dwellers during the Bronze Age who carved out cave houses, churches and monasteries from this soft volcanic rock, creating settlements underground.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Cappadocia - Journal of Nomads

The cave houses were then used later on in history by Christians fleeing Roman persecution. Nowadays, locals in Cappadocia now inhabit many of these cave houses and treat them as their permanent homes.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Cappadocia - Journal of Nomads

Cappadocia is one of the best places in Turkey for families to meet in a unique tourist environment, a place for you to make some memories of a lifetime.

If you thought that the views were spectacular from the ground, imagine the mesmerizing view from 3200 feet above the ground in a hot air balloon?

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Cappadocia - Journal of Nomads

Watch more about Konya and Cappadocia in the video Dancing Dervishes and Hot Air Balloons .

How to get to Cappadocia

Turkish Airlines has daily flights from Istanbul, Antalya, and Izmir to the Nevşehir airport. From there, there is a bus that leaves from the airport at the top of every hour called the Tüzköy minibus.

This bus will take you to Gülşehir and from there you can catch a local city bus into the main city center of Cappadocia.

Where to stay in Cappadocia

  • BUDGET: Old Town Stone House ( see availability here )
  • MID RANGE: Lunar Cappadocia Hotel ( check prices here )
  • LUXURY: Sultan Cave Suites ( find more info here )

What to do in Cappadocia

Voted as one of the best destinations in the world for hot air ballooning, Cappadocia attracts people from all over the world who want to set sail up into the clouds and take in the wonder of its incredible landscape from the sky.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Cappadocia - Journal of Nomads

If you choose a sunrise trip, you will be taken up for one hour over the fairy chimneys, orchards, and vineyards.

It’s wise to reserve your ticket ahead of time during the high season and the cheapest tickets for a standard flight are sold for about €90.

12. Sumela Monastery, Trabzon

Trabzon - Best non-touristic cities to visit in Turkey - Journal of Nomads

Nestled in a cliff, 1200 meters above sea level is where you’ll find the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon province on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, which is said to be more than a thousand years old.

This Greek Orthodox Ministry, built in the year 346 AD holds both cultural and historical significance and is a prominent tourist attraction.

Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, built to house an icon of her that was believed to possess miraculous properties. Built high into a cliff, access to the building is via a steep path through the forest and then via a narrow stairway.

The principal areas of the Monastery are the Rock Church, kitchens, students’ rooms, a library, several chapels as well as a holy water fountain.

Both the inside and outside walls of the church have been covered in intricate and detailed frescoes that depict biblical scenes from the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

The murals of the chapel were painted in three different periods, on three different levels with most of those that are visible today dating back to the 18th century.

In 2000 the Monastery was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List and has been closed to the public since 2015 for safety reasons, however, the site was partially reopened in July 2020 after the completion of major restoration works.

This part of North-Eastern Turkey is quite unique with nearby Trabzon not only lying close to the Black Sea but also the epic Pontic Mountains passing through it, it’s an area of Turkey that has been sprinkled with bouts of silence and a lot of beauty.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Hostel - Bageni Pansyon - Journal of Nomads

How to get to the SUmela Monastery in Trabzon

From Trabzon, you should be able to get a dolmuş (pronounced dol-moosh) direct from the east-bound dolmus station located along the highway.

They leave twice a day at 11 AM and 2 PM in the summer.

Reading Tip: 10 Best Non-Touristy Cities to visit in Turkey

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Ayder - Journal of Nomads

Artvin sits by the Black Sea, on the border of Georgia, and is yet another one of the beautiful places to visit in Turkey.

Surrounded by mountains, some reaching 4,000 metres, it’s dreamlike landscape carved by the Çoruh River (one of the longest-running in Turkey) is full of rock formations, steep valleys and forests of tall pine trees that will completely mesmerize all who visit.

This is a truly breathtaking place and among the wonders that everyone should see at least once.

This part of Turkey is also the area where you can find the Laz people. It’s a culture that has its very own language, called Laz that has been classified by UNESCO as an endangered language.

The Laz people have their own traditions, one of them involves the Tulum, a form of Turkish bagpipe that people dance the Horon to.

I visited this gorgeous place and met Evrim, the owner of a hostel there (see below) who is a descendant of the Laz people of Turkey.

I also had the honor of meeting Evrim’s father who told me all about the history and culture of the Laz people, recited some beautiful Laz poems and taught me some Laz words too.

How to get to Artvin

The fastest and easiest way to get there from Istanbul is to follow the highways E80 and E70 east. The road is long (1219 km) but you will see some of the most scenic landscapes that we have seen in Turkey.

You can fly from Istanbul to Erzurum (1hr 45 flight) and then from there you can take a bus (3h 36m bus) from Erzurum Otogar that leaves 5 times a day.

Where to stay in Artvin

Bageni Pansiyon is the perfect place to spend some time day gazing at the green valley below and the ocean in the distance.

Awesome places to hitchhike in Turkey - Hostel - Bageni Pansyon - Journal of Nomads

Things to do in Artvin

The most popular reason for visiting and exploring this area is for its natural beauty and the various trekking and hiking opportunities on offer.

Mount Kaçkar is one of the highest mountains in Turkey and is the most popular trekking route.

The Trans-Kaçkar route that takes you through Yusufeli Yaylalar Village to Rize – Çamlıhemşin Ayder Highlands is another option for avid trekkers and mountaineering groups.

Visitors also travel here to try out some of the more adventurous activities to do in Turkey such as skiing, rafting and canoeing.

We really hope this article has helped you plan for your trip and that you’re no longer asking the question of, ‘where should I travel to in Turkey?’.

We have tried our very hardest to cover what we believe to be the best places to visit in Turkey and the top things to do whilst you are there. Wishing you the most magical of trips!

Don’t forget to check out the articles below, in which we tell you everything you need to know about this beautiful destination!

MORE TURKEY TRAVEL POSTS

  • The 13 beautiful and unique places to visit in Turkey
  • 10 best non-touristy cities to visit in Turkey
  • 10 useful things to know to visit Turkey
  • The complete guide to the miraculous pools of Pamukkale
  • Top 17 things to do in Istanbul
  • Backpacking in Turkey on a budget – How much does it cost to travel in Turkey
  • Is Turkey dangerous? This is what we’ve learned so far!
  • In the Footsteps of the Nomadic Tribes
  • 25 photos that will trigger your wanderlust for Turkey
  • What happens when you overstay your visa in Turkey
  • One year of hitchhiking – the good, the bad, and the untold stories. Part 2: Turkey
  • Cycling in Turkey: 3 great routes

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25 thoughts on “the 13 best places to visit in turkey”.

Thanks ! Was a great Post !

Thank you Kevin!

Hey! Loved the post and Im planning my trip. Whats the name and place of the hostel in Rize/Artvin?

Hi Hibbe, thank you so much! The name of this hostel is Bageni Pansiyon and it’s located in the mountains near the village of Findikli. You can find more info and the exact address of this hostel here: https://www.facebook.com/bagenipansiyon/

I came here as an aupair in 2017 and it is totally different than I thought. Turkey is a lovely country and thanks aupairinturkey, the agency in Turkey I had a chance to discover this country. You sohuld all visit here and people are so friendly

Thank you! We are visiting Turkey next week and want to avoid all of the conflict. We have based our trip on your itinerary and are looking forward to it (not hitting everything).

Hi Laura, very happy to hear you used this post as inspiration for your trip! Which places are you going to visit? Have a great trip and enjoy!!

Living in Turkey, this post put a big smile on my face. You’ve visited a diverse range of places and had some great experiences. We have a lot of dots to visit on our map of Turkey. The list keeps getting longer, regardless of how many places we visit. So when I read your post about overstaying on your visa, I could easily relate how that happened. Wishing you happy travels to come!

Hi Pascale! Your comment puts a smile on my face 🙂 Turkey has so many beautiful places and has so many varied experiences to offer! We still want to return to visit some places and regions that we had to skip last time. I can imagine that your list is only growing 😀 Where in Turkey are you based? Wishing you a great time exploring the country and ticking of your list 😀 Warm wishes!

Hi Cynthia, thank you for your kind wishes. We’re currently based in Faralya, which is near Fethiye. We do have plans to move around though!

thanks for the advice. what is effes?

Effes is a Turkish beer, I like it (and I’m from Belgium… 😉 )

Turkey has been on my radar after seeing so many beautiful pictures on Instagram. I would love to go on a hot air balloon in Cappadoci one day! And Pamukkale looks absolutely stunning!

You’ve discovered so many beautiful gems!! What’s your favorite??? I’m bookmarking this for when I take a trip to Turkey! I’d love to go to Pamukkale and Cappadocia most especially! And maybe ride on a hot air balloon! What a dream!

Woow! That’s one hell of an article. I loved every bit of it! I really like Turky, but i’ve been only to Istanbul so far. I really want to see each and every place you wrote about here and hopefully even more. Good luck on your trip! I admire u deeply! 🙂

Thank you Nastja 🙂 Turkey is a surprisingly varied ranging from fantastic beaches to stunning archaeological sites. Hope you go back there one day to explore more of this beautiful country!! 🙂

I was completely hooked to your post right from your first picture of Myra (and I ended up researching a lot about it later on). I have spent such little time in Turkey and I think it’s a shame. Bookmarking this post for planning my adventures there 🙂

Thanks!! Myra is definitely worth a visit! Where did you stay when you visited Turkey?

Turkey is a wonderland and all of these places that you have listed look breathtaking. Turkey has been in my bucket list since a long time and now I can’t wait to add these places in my bucket list. Amazing!

Pack your bags and go there NOW 🙂 We were very pleasant surprised when we discovered all these beautiful places that Turkey has to offer!!

All of these places look simply incredible, most of which I’d never heard of before! Patara and Myra remind me a lot of different archaeological sites in Jordan. I suppose given their geographical proximity they must share a little bit of history right? Also, I’ve never actually seen a photo of Cappadocia without balloons in it so haven’t ever fully appreciated the landscape. It definitely looks absolutely breathtaking!

Yes, Patara and Myra have definitely a similar look to the sites in Jordan. Cappadocia might be famous for its hot air balloon rides but we didn’t think that was the highlight of our visit there. That landscape is so outworldy and is beautiful to see with and without balloons 😉

Great post Nicholas, You posted covered almost all the must see sites Turkey. Love it. I must say that I had thought of visiting Turkey one day but the pictures from Myra, Pamukkale and Cappadocia are simply stunning. More interesting than the capital Istanbul, which everyone talks about.

Thanks man! We first had the idea to visit Istanbul but eventually never made it there. Instead we ventured through other parts of the country and we’re happy we did or we might have missed out on these beauties!

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Discover the best places to visit during your stay in Turkey

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 Best places to visit in Turkey in 2024

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Here is a selection of the best destinations to visit during your stay in Turkey in 2024 . Istanbu l is undoubtedly the tourist capital of Turkey but its real capital, Ankara, is well worth a visit, as are the magnificent seaside resorts of Izmir, Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris.

If you have time, don't hesitate for a second and plan a real road trip in Turkey. Travel from Istanbul to Kars by visiting the best hidden gems in Turkey : Alaçati, the natural pools of Pamukkale, Cappadocia, the Nemrut Dagi Mountain or the Sumela Monastery in Macka.

Book your flights and accommodation at the best price as well as your tours and activities in Turkey and discover the best places to visit in Turkey .

Best places to visit in Turkey - Cappadocia -

1. Cappadocia

Stay in the most beautiful destination of Turkey . Cappadocia is home to gems of rare beauty such as the Goreme National Park, Uçhisar and its thousand-year- old castle , Byzantine tombs, phallic rocks and troglodyte hotels.

You can discover the wonders of Cappadocia on a guided highlights tour or fly over the region and experience the beauty of Cappadocia from above in a balloon flight. The sunrise over this region is an unforgettable sight.

During your stay do not miss to visit the Best Hidden Gems in Turkey , Best Beaches in Turkey ,  Best Things to do in Turkey , Best Castles in Turkey as well as the Best Ski Resorts in Turkey and discover the best of Turkey .

  How to get there:  Book your  flights  to Kayseri (1 hour by car) as well as your accommodation and your  tours and activities  in Cappadocia. 

  Where to stay:  We advise you to stay in Uchisar , an emblematic village of Cappadocia.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Istanbul

2. Istanbul

 If Istanbul is one of the most visited destinations in the world and for sure one of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey . It is not due to a fad but to the incredible beauties and riches of this destination. Istanbul is a city of contrasts. Asian and European at the same time, it is a deeply Turkish city, incomparable with other European destinations and even incomparable with other Turkish cities. Both traditional and modern, it is a timeless city and a soothing city with its magnificent river; it is also constantly effervescent, full of life, colours and smells.

Depending on the neighbourhood you stay in, and the places you visit, your perception and understanding of Istanbul will be totally different from that of another traveller. Forget the 2-night city break and plan to stay 5 to 7 days there by booking your accommodation in different areas of the city.

Sultanahmet and Eminönü are the most popular and must-see neighbourhoods. We like to visit their mosques and the Grand Bazaar there, but we don't recommend you sleep there, as they are really to touristy. If you want to stay in a trendy bohemian area, book your accommodation in the Cihangir district. To be in the heart of the city, book in the Taksim district. For a chic stay away from the hubbub of the city, book in the Uskudar district (we recommend the " Sumahan on the Water " hotel).

Book your flights and accommodation at the best price as well as your tours and activities in Istanbul, such as a “ Bosphorus sunset cruise on a luxurious yacht ”.

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Istanbul and your transfer .

  Where to stay:  “ Room Mate Emir ”. We love its location, decor, gym and sauna.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Bodrum

Bodrum is on your podium of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey . Located in the south-west of Turkey, bordered by the Aegean Sea, Bodrum is a perfect destination for beach lovers, gastronomy, scuba diving and wine. This incredible city, dedicated to relaxation and leisure, is also called the Turkish Saint-Tropez .

During your stay in Bodrum, be sure to visit Bodrum Castle. It is ranked among the most beautiful castles in Turkey and was built with the stones of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Want to take off? Treat yourself to a boat trip to the Greek island of Kos to discover the heritage of this island. If you are travelling with children make a splash at the largest water park in Turkey, Aqualand .

Need more inspiration? Visit the  Best Hidden Gems in Turkey ,  Best Beaches in Turkey ,  Best Things to do in Turkey ,  Best Castles in Turkey  as well as the  Best Ski Resorts in Turkey  and discover the  best of Turkey .

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Bodrum-Milas Airport (located 30 minutes from your swim in the sea). 

  Where to stay:   “ Yalikavak Marina Beach Hotel ” offers a private beach and spa facilities.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Marmaris

4. Marmaris

Marmaris is one of the pearls of the Turkish Riviera and one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Turkey . Surrounded by mountains, pine forests and turquoise waters made for swimming, Marmaris is a popular destination for holidaymakers looking for relaxation, dining, bars and nightclubs. It's the perfect destination for partying and lounging on the beaches .

If you long for nature, treat yourself to a horse safari in Marmaris National Park (no previous experience is required). Do you need a well-being experience? Treat yourself to a traditional Turkish bath in Marmaris and if you are travelling with the kids, visit Aquadream , the largest waterpark in Marmaris. 

Book your flights , accommodation , tours and activities in Marmaris for a dream holiday in one of the most beautiful destinations on the Turkish Riviera .

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Dalaman Airport (1h30 by car) or Bodrum-Milas Airport (1h30).

  Where to stay:   “ 8 oda Marmaris ” in the heart of Marmaris, in a traditional house with great views.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Kas copyright   fokke baarssen  - European Best Destinations

Kas is one of the most beautiful destinations   in Turkey. It is located   in the province of Antalya. With its magnificent sea views, narrow streets and sublime whitewashed houses and their bougainvillaea, this is the perfect destination to blow up your Instagram account or melt your globetrotter heart.

The more you wander around Kas the more you will wonder, "Wait a minute, am I still in Turkey or am I in Greece?". This magnificent former Greek village may remind you of the narrow streets of Kastellorizo, a Greek island located 5km from Kas. Did you know that "Kas" means "Eyebrow" in Turkish? Come and find out why.

During your stay, visit the  Best Hidden Gems in Turkey ,  Best Beaches in Turkey ,  Best Things to do in Turkey ,  Best Castles in Turkey  as well as the  Best Ski Resorts in Turkey  and discover the  best of Turkey .

Book your flights and accommodation at the best price and treat yourself to timeless moments, far from stress and hassle.

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Dalaman Airport (2h by car) or Antalya Airport (3h).

  Where to stay:  " Hideaway " overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Lycian Tombs

6. Lycian Rock Tombs

Dalyan Valley

This is one of the most exceptional places in Turkey. In the 4th century, the Lycians believed that the deceased were taken to the afterlife by angels. In order to give the angels priority to help the deceased, the Lycians built monumental tombs at the tops of the hills. The tomb could thus be seen from afar and the angels gave priority to the dead buried in highly visible and easily accessible places. You can book a guided tour , take a one- or two-day trail or simply ask a taxi to take you directly there for a small fee.

Book your flights to Dalaman Airport or Antalya as well as your accommodation in Fethiye or Ölüdeniz and your tours and activities , such as a "Blue Lagoon Ölüdeniz Tandem paragliding from Fethiye".

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Dalaman Airport (1h30 by car) or Antalya Airport (3h).

  Where to stay:  “ Yacht Classic Hotel - Boutique Class ” located in the heart of Fethiye.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Pamukkale

7. Pamukkale

Pamukkale is one of the best destinations to visit in Turkey . An incredible natural phenomenon is at the origin of the sparkling whiteness of Pamukkale which means "cotton castle" in Turkish. Calcium oxide gives the white colour to this unique place in the world; another natural phenomenon, probably an earthquake, is at the origin of these large terraces which form real ponds and natural swimming pools . 

Pamukkale is also ranked among the best natural pools in Europe . Depending on the number of people, it may be more or less difficult to bathe in these pools, but you can enjoy a moment of well-being and calm by booking your room in one of the Pamukkale thermal hotels .

Book your flights to Denizli Çardak Airport as well as your accommodation , tours and activities at the best price, such as an " Antalya: full-day Pamukkale and Hierapolis tour & lunch ".

  How to get there:  Book your  flights  to Denizli Çardak Airport (1 hour by car). You can also reach Pamukkale from Izmir (3h) or Antalya (3h). You can get there on your own or book a transfer with a guided tour .

  Where to stay:  “ Doğa Thermal Health & Spa ”. Guests love its thermal pool and the friendly staff.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Ankara

Atatürk, Turkey’s founding father, made this incredible city the capital of a country that will dazzle you. If you love history, exceptional monuments and sites look up Aniktabir, a mausoleum dedicated to Atatürk or the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations or the Roman baths. If you are travelling with your children or prefer relaxation to culture, visit the amusement park at Gençlik Parki, and treat yourself to a Ferris wheel or rollercoaster ride. Have you noticed that the country is very attached to its flag? Even more so on May 19 or October 29 which commemorate Ataturk and Turkey’s National Day.

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Ankara as well as your accommodation and transfer .

  Where to stay:  “ Hotel Cinnah ” located in the heart of Ankara.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Antalya

Antalya is a perfect destination for those hesitating between a city break and a beach holiday. Antalya is world famous for its turquoise blue waters and beautiful sandy beaches.

Are you or your other half passionate about history? Antalya is surrounded by Greek and Roman ruins. You will fall under the spell of its old historic centre, its traditional cafes but also the trendy cultural places.

Do you long for nature? Treat yourself to a Duden waterfalls visit with boat trip or travel from Antalya to " Pamukkale " the cotton palace. If you like height, discover the landscapes around Antalya from up, on a panoramic tour by cable car.

Are you travelling with the children? Treat yourself to a Viking boat tour on the beautiful bays of Kemer.

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Antalya and your transfer .

  Where to stay:  “ Ramada Plaza Antalya ” situated on Antalya’s seafront in our guests ’favourite part of Antalya.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Izmir

Despite being the third largest city in the country, Izmir is much less well known than some Turkish destinations such as Marmara, Olüdeniz or the region of Cappadocia. We advise you to visit Izmir if you want to discover another aspect of Turkey, if you like to think outside the box and want to see a city that oscillates between east and west.

Izmir is considered to be the westernmost city in Turkey, it has, in any case, one with the best quality of life. We advise you to visit its Blue Mosque and take a stroll on the Konak Pier (designed by Gustave Eiffel). During your stay, be sure to visit the UNESCO site of Ephesus as well as the lovely little Turkish orthodox village of Şirince. If you have time, take the car and discover Pamukkale and its natural pools (3 hours by car).

During your stay visit the  Best Hidden Gems in Turkey ,  Best Beaches in Turkey ,  Best Things to do in Turkey ,  Best Castles in Turkey  as well as the  Best Ski Resorts in Turkey  and discover the  best of Turkey .

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Izmir.

  Where to stay:   “ L’agora Old Town Hotel & Bazaar ” for its amazing location.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Izmir

This summer, can you see yourself on a lovely beach named after the Egyptian queen? Soak up the sun on Cleopatra beach in one of the most beautiful destinations on the Turkish Riviera .

When you are finished lounging, visit Alanya Castle with the kids, discover the sublime Ottoman villas, or treat yourself to a day of rafting in Koprulu Canyon. The sweet scent of Alanya orange and lemon trees will perfume your stay in this dream destination.

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Antalya (2h by car) or Gazipaşa airport (40 min).

  Where to stay:   “ Hotel Kaptan ” is one of our top picks in Alanya.

Best places to visit in Turkey - Oludeniz

12. Olüdeniz

Olüdeniz is a promise of exceptional landscapes, breath-taking nature, incredible beaches . If heights excite you, treat yourself to a paragliding flight over Olüdeniz. Want to escape the crowds and tourist areas? Discover the secret Kelebekler Beach located in a green oasis, the Butterfly Valley. It is possible to discover this secret beach by making a hike in the Butterfly Valley, but there is a risk of falls. We therefore recommend that you take your car (or the bus) to Olüdeniz beach and board a boat marked "Butterfly Valley". It is one of the best ways to discover this dream beach.

So, dream no more and book your flights and accommodation and live unforgettable experiences in one of the most beautiful destinations in Turkey .

Need more inspiration? Discover the  Best Hidden Gems in Turkey ,  Best Beaches in Turkey ,  Best Things to do in Turkey ,  Best Castles in Turkey  as well as the  Best Ski Resorts in Turkey  and discover the  best of Turkey .

  How to get there:  Book your flights to Dalaman Airport (2h) or Rhodes (car + ferry).

  Where to stay:  “ Ecclesia Hotel - Adult Only (+14) ” situated 50 m from Olüdeniz beach. 

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19 Best Places To Visit in Turkey in 2024

popular tourist destinations turkey

After more than 20 trips to Turkey I finally put together this a list of the most amazing places to see in Turkey. In this travel blog you you can expect quaint mountain villages, a UNESCO World Heritage city for food, unique landscapes, beautiful mosques, ancient Greek ruins, beach destinations and the unmistakably Turkey tourist destinations: Cappadocia, Pamukkale and the mesmerizing capital Istanbul.

Map of places to visit in Turkey

popular tourist destinations turkey

RELATED: The Ultimate Turkey Itinerary for 14 days .  Check out the best way to see all the amazing places to see in Turkey.

popular tourist destinations turkey

This is a lake not the sea: Lake Salda! Definitely a unique place to visit in Turkey.

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This is Ephasus. An ancient Greek city and one of my favorite places to visit in Turkey.

How to get around Turkey

Turkey is a very easy country to travel. You can easily rent a car and drive around the whole country for an affordable price. However, I understand that most solo travelers do NOT opt for renting a car and no worries, there are uncountable (overnight) busses, luxury tourist class coaches and on top of that very cheap domestic flights.

Some domestic flights in Turkey can be as cheap as $15. How to find them?

I recommend using the transportation search engine of 12Go Asia. They do not only show you the cheapest domestic flights, they show you the options for busses and trains as well. Try it out yourself below.

cappadocia turkey

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Best E-Sim Cards for Traveling to Turkey in 2024

1. Istanbul - One Of World’s Most Bustling Cities

istanbul turkey

No need to introduce the most popular tourist destination in Turkey to you and actually one of my favorite cities in the world. There is so much to do and the city has so many different faces. Of course unique in its kind as half the city is located in Asia and the other half in Europe.

Make sure to visit the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Galata Tower and Istiklal Street, the most famous places to visit in Istanbul. 

On top of that I would totally recommend you to visit the colorful houses of Fener Balat and watch the sunset from the Maiden Tower on the Asian side, my two favorite things to do in Istanbul.

If you still have time go to admire the Ortaköy mosque underneath the famous bridge over the Bosporus that connects Asia and Europe and have a drink in one of the fancy rooftop bars in Bebek.

The best way to get around in Istanbul is by ferry, they are really cheap. So are taxi’s, but traffic in Istanbul can be hell! Don't forget to explore the Asian side of Istanbul as well, click here for a guide for visiting Kadikoy , things to do in Uskudar and make sure you pay a visit to Turkey's biggest mosque: Camlica .

Where to stay in Istanbul?

Besiktas is one of my favorite areas to stay and easy to move around from. If you are looking for 5 star hotels in Besiktas I have stayed in the Ritz-Carlton , Shangri La and W Hotels , all totally worth the money and pretty affordable for Western standards. Click here for my travel blog about Besiktas hotels .

2. Cappadocia - Magical Hot Air Balloon Rides

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Unmistakably the most amazing Turkey tourist destination. Cappadocia is a must visit in Turkey and worth it in every aspect. When you see the Instagram photos and videos of this place, you starting to question how this could even be real!

Every morning there are about 100-150 hot air balloons gently gliding over the unique moon-like landscapes of Goreme. But hot air ballooning is not the only thing to do in Cappadocia. Hiking is another amazing Cappadocia activity. If you go for sunrise hikes in either Love Valley, Pigeon Valley or Rose Valley there is a big chance multiple hot air balloons will fly just above your head.

Check this guide for visiting Pigeon Valley or read here how to visit Sunset Point in Goreme .

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Be aware that hot air balloon flights are weather permitted and do not take place every morning!

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Apart from hiking and hot air ballooning you should visit the Galerie Ikman Carpet shop. Even if you are not into buying a carpet like me it is worth having a look. Sit down drink a tea and marvel at the beauty of this place. See all my adventures in Cappadocia, click here to see all my Instagram highlights .

A good restaurant in Goreme that I would like to recommend is Seten Restaurant . One of the highest restaurants, amazing views over the town, good food and live music. For more Cappadocia travel tips I invite you to read this 2 & 3 days Cappadocia itinerary .

Where to stay in Cappadocia

koza cave hotel room

Check out Koza Cave Hotel ! It is the highest hotel in Cappadocia and its rooftop terrace is one of the best spots to watch hot air balloons in the morning.

Side note: I have been to Cappadocia now twice and both times it wasn’t the fairytale experience I had imagined. The first time in 2014 there were hardly any tourists/balloons because it was winter and heavy snowfall. Last time I was in Cappadocia in August 2020 there were no balloons due to Cøv$d.

Nevertheless I can tell you it is totally recommended to travel to Cappadocia even if there are no balloons. The hot air balloons make it a magical place to visit in Turkey, but if you are unlucky it still is incredible to experience this unique landscape.

3. Pamukkale - Thermal Springs & Magical Sunsets

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Always mentioned in a list of the top things to do in Turkey is Pamukkale. The site of Pamukkale is famous for its unique white ‘sun bathing pools’ that are formed by carbonated minerals from the thermal springs. Entrance fee: 50 TL.

I often get the question: is it worth visiting Pamukkale? Yes, is my answer! But…

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At first I wasn’t convinced. Pamukkale is a very popular tourist attraction in Turkey and expect huge crowds. Most pools suffer a lot from overtourism and therefore the original Pamukkale pools are closed to the public. They created man made pools for people to swim in.

These pools are busy but if you go early morning you have this UNESCO World Heritage site all for yourself. My advice though is to go late! Go around 6pm and explore Pamukkale and Hierapolis before you find your favorite pool to chill in. Most people leave already before sunset and towards sunset you will have your private pool. After you entered Pamukkale you can stay as long as you want.

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Watching the sunset from one of the Pamukkale pools is one of the best things to do in Turkey. So is Pamukkale worth it? YES, YES, YES! But plan your stay wisely. Click here to see the videos of my visit to Pamukkale .

Be aware that due to a shortage of water most of the original pools are dry. Just indulge yourself with the amazing picture you find on social media because people with high expectations are those that get disappointed.

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Another great place to visit next to Pamukkale is the ancient Greek city of Hieraplois. It is included in the entrance fee for Pamukkale. The Hierapolis theater is one of the best preserved theaters I have seen in Turkey. It is almost 2,000 years old and could hold up to 15,000 spectators. The 91m long facade is very impressive.

Where to stay in Pamukkale

bellamaritimo pamukkale

A super affordable family run place to stay in Pamukkale is Bellamaritimo just 5 minutes walk outside the town center. You can get a room here for already $30 and they have a big swimming pool. Some rooms have views of Pamukkale. Click here to check the prices for your dates .

4. Ephesus Ancient Greek City - Relive the Past

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There are a couple ancient Greek cities that can be visited in Turkey, one of the most popular and famous is the ancient city of Ephesus. Ephesus dates back to the 10th century BC, more than 3,000 years ago. This Turkey tourist attraction can best be reached from Kusadasi (25 minutes). From Izmir to Ephesus is a 55-minute drive. Ephesus entrance fee: 100 TL.

Landing in Izmir AIrport then check out my guide for buying a sim card at Izmir Airport , but I can already tell you that buying an e-sim card for Turkey on the internet is cheaper.

When enter Ephesus come in you will walk right up to the massive theater that could hold up to 25,000 spectators. To be honest there are many more better preserved and restore ancient greek theaters around Turkey than the one at Ephesus. But there is a reason this ancient Greek city is listed as one of the best places to visit in Turkey.

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Ephesus is much more than just the theater, so don’t be disappointed at first. I admit I was!

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Keep on walking down the more than 3,000 year old avenue and you will come up to the incredible facade of what once was the Library of Celsus. To me this was the highlight of visiting Ephesus. This ancient Greek city is pretty damn big, so reserve at least a couple hours to get lost and let your vivid imagination go crazy when walking around this UNESCO World Heritage site.

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If you search well on the steps down towards the library you can find carvings that point in the direction that there may have been a brothel in Ephesus back in the days. You can find the carvings of a cross, a woman, a heart and a purse.

Three other nearby famous landmarks to add to you Turkey itinerary are:

  • the House of Virgin Mary on Mount Nightingale (5 min drive from Ephesus). Entrance fee 40 TL
  • Ruins of the Temple of Artemis (5 min drive from Ephesus). One of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Visiting the Temple of Artemis is free.

5. Sirince - Historical Turkish Mountain village

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Come at ease in the super tranquil and quaint mountain village of Sirince. An old historical village dating back to 300 BC. In the narrow streets of Sirince you will find streets full of local shops, souvenir shops and restaurants and cafes. Somehow you will taste the culture as you try local wines, olives or fruits.

Read my article about the best things to do in Sirince in 2024 .

It is a nice escape from the heat as temperatures up here are pretty mild in the evenings. Eating out on one of the terraces is the best way to soak up the Sirince vibes, a place where Turks come to drink wine and listen to live music.

sirince turkey 3

Where to stay in Sirince

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This is not a standard tourist destination in Turkey but therefore even more an amazing place to visit. There is a charming boutique hotel that I would totally recommend called Gullu Konaklari . The rooms are located in a historical house, the garden has amazing views over the town and the breakfast was one of the best I had on my Turkey trip.

6. Pergamon Ancient Greek City in Bergama

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Compared to Ephesus the ancient Greek city of Pergamon is a hidden gem. Located on a hilltop 335 meters (1,100 ft.) above the city of Bergama you will find the ruins of the Kingdom of Pergamon dating back more than 2,300 years. Entrance fee Pergamon: 50 TL.

For me this one of the most beautiful places to see in Turkey as it was not so crowded as Ephesus, yet still super impressive. We were the only ones in the theater and while roaming this UNESCO World Heritage site there were just a handful other tourists. Of course I recommend you to go early.

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The massive theater is one of the highlights, but also the remains of the Acropolis are very impressive. You can walk around freely. Visiting Pergamon was one of the highlights of my Turkey trip.

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Pergamon is located 1,5 hour north of Izmir and 2,5 hours south of Bursa. Pergamon is a perfect stop on a Turkey road trip in the Izmir province.

7. Behramkale Assos - Ancient Greek Ruins With Views Over Lesbos, Greece

assos berhamkale canakkale

A much less discovered Turkey travel destination is Assos on the Aegean Coast, right in front of the Greek Island of Lesbos . Assos is a quiet peaceful beach town in the Canakkale region. The main tourist attraction here is the beach, but on top of the hill you will find the ancient Greek city of Behramkale. Entrance fee: 25 TL.

Visiting Behramkale is perfect stop on your Turkey trip if you like to visit another UNESCO world heritage site. Walk up through the old historical village to reach this Turkey tourist attraction where Aristotle once lived. The ruins of the Temple of Athena offer amazing views over the surrounding Adramyttian Gulf.

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The ancient Theater of Assos has amazing sea views with the Greek island Lesbos in the background. Assos Behramkale can best be reached from Canakkale which is a little more than 1 hour drive.

Where to stay in Assos

For amazing views over the town head to Assos Derin Mavi , a lovely family run hotel. 

bodrum turkey

If you are looking for Ibiza vibes then Bodrum is the best place to visit in Turkey. In this popular beach destination you will find endless beach clubs, fancy bars and party people. This is where the rich and famous Turks travel to go wild.

On the Bodrum Peninsula there are many cool places to visit, like the ancient Greek ruins of: Iasos, Knidos, Didyma and Miletus. If you are done with sightseeing these historical landmarks then I recommend you to visit the lovely villages around Bodrum like: Mugla, Akyaka, and Eski Doganbey.

9. Fethiye - Ölüdeniz

One of the most famous places to visit in Turkey is Fethiye and the nearby village of Ölüdeniz. The Blue Lagoon in Tukey? This is where you gotta go! Ölüdeniz is where you will find that stretch of white stone beach with the deep blue water.

An amazing beach destination in Turkey, but there is much more. First thing I have to mention are the extremely popular tandem flight above the Blue Lagoon. Paragliding in Fethiye is world famous and unmistakably one of the best things to do. Even if you don’t feel like flying, it is still worth going to the top of Mount Babadag. There is a restaurant on top called Zirve which of course has absolutely fantastic views.

Another great place to visit in Fethiye is Butterfly Valley, a beach only accessible by boat. Escape the crowds and get yourself on a boat (80 TL round trip). You can also admire the beautiful Butterfly Valley from above. Drive to the ‘ Kelebekler Vadisi Uçurum ’ viewpoint on Google Maps.

As you can see there are so many cool things to do in Fethiye that there is a reason this is one of the best places to visit in Turkey.

Where to stay in Fethiye

My favorite place to stay in Fethiye is  Beyaz Yunus Hotel, a charming boutique hotel . A romantic getaway in Fethiye with ocean view rooms.

10. Mount Nemrut - Surprisingly Spectacular Statues

mount nemrut turkey 2

One of the most surprising Turkey travel destinations on my itinerary. I had zero expectations of these fallen apart statues on more than 2,100 meter altitude, but visiting Mount Nemrut was one of the highlights of my Turkey trip. Mount Nemrut entrance fee: 25 TL.

First off it is an off the beaten path travel destination in Turkey. No mass tourism and getting there is an adventure already! Spectacular scenic mountain roads will lead you away from the tourist trail and already because of its location I think this UNESCO World Heritage site deserves a mention in every Turkey travel guide.

mount nemrut turkey 1

At the top of Mount Nemrut you will find 2 tomb-sanctuary dating back to 62 BC, one on the East side and one on the West side. The tombs were flanked by huge statues that were up to 9 meter high, but unfortunately the heads have been broken off. Nevertheless this is one damn impressive Turkey tourist attraction that you must see.

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The East side tomb is the most impressive, but the West side tomb has absolutely amazing sunsets views. One of my Turkey travel tips is to visit Mount Nemrut either during sunset or sunrise.

Where to stay around Mount Nemrut

There is pretty much nothing around Mount Nemrut, so I suggest you to stay in either Malatya (2h drive). We found the Movenpick Hotel Malatya (5-star) for only $50 per night. Click here to check the prices for your dates .

Mount Nemrut can also be visited from Gaziantep (3,5 hour drive). A great hotel recommendation for Gaziantep is the Sirehan Hotel (5-star) for just $45 per night.

11. Gaziantep - Heaven for Food lovers

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We keep on adding UNESCO places to this Turkey travel blog, as the Gaziantep cuisine and gastronomy has been added to the UNESCO list. Enough reasons to add this city to our Turkey itinerary .

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Walking around the city of Gaziantep I wasn’t really triggered by anything nor did I spot some cool places to visit. May be the Gaziantep Castle and the bazaar, but that is about it.

gaziantep turkey 4

All in all just an ordinary city I would say, but I was here to try the food!

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The fact that more than 50% of all business in Gaziantep are directly related to the Gastronomy industry says enough. We tried several places, there are loads of beautiful courtyards to sit down and have tea and try the renowned delicious pistachio baklava. Also don’t miss the famous Gaziantep kebabs of course.

Stay connected when traveling to Turkey. My advice is to get yourself an e-sim card or a local prepaid sim card if you are a heavy data user just like me. Want to buy a prepaid sim card then check out my ultimate guide for buying a sim card for Turkey in 2024 .

If you rather order an e-sim card for Turkey then click on the link and find everything you need to know before buying an e-sim card for Turkey.

If you are flying to Istanbul Airport then read my guide for  buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport or  SAW Airport  when landing on the Asian side or Izmir Airport if that is your Turkey holiday destination.

Where to stay in Gaziantep

For less than $50 per night you already sleep in the 5-star Sirehan Hotel . Click here to find the rates for your dates.

12. Adana - The Adana Mosque

adana mosque

Well worth traveling all the way to Adana for is the Sabanci Merkez Mosque. Until recently it was the biggest mosque in Turkey. Adana is not on many lists of places to visit in Turkey, but it is worth taking the trip. The exterior is obviously very impressive, but so is the interior.

Flights from Istanbul to Adana are sometimes just $15 USD, so that makes another reason to visit Adana. If you are on a roadtrip in Turkey then Adana is a perfect stop between Cappadocia and Gaziantep. Other places to see in Adana are the Taskopru Bridge, the oldest still operational bridge in the world and the Ataturk Museum.

Where to stay in Adana

The Sheraton Grand Adana has amazing views over the mosque. A room in this 5-start hotel can already be found for less than $70 per night. Click here to check the rates for your dates.

13. Lake Salda - Maldives Of Turkey

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One of the most surprising places to visit in Turkey is Lake Salda. I was stunned when I got there and I could hardly believe I was in Turkey. The green and blue colors of the water and the white sand beach made me think I was in Maldives.

Lake Salda is only about 1 hour drive from Pamukkale and a must visit in Turkey. There is not much around here apart from a couple restaurants. It would be a great place to go camping.

14. Egirdir Peninsula - Embrace This Slow Pace Island

egirdir turkey

Another cool place to add to your itinerary when you visit Turkey is the Egirdir peninsula. One of the most tranquil places to visit for sure as there isn’t much going on. Embrace the slow pace of this island away from the standard tourist trail.

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This lakeside peninsula is a great day trip to unwind. A stroll around the island won’t take you longer than 20 minutes. A great place for lunch is the Melodi Restaurant as it has stunning views over the lake.

egirdir peninsula

If you are looking for one of the best views of the Egirdir peninsula then head up to the Baba Keyf Cafe Restaurant on the hill behind the town.

Where to stay in Egirdir

I recommend you visiting Egirdir on a day trip from either Pamukkale or Konya, both places are 2,5 hour drive. Egirdir is an off the beaten path tourist destination in Turkey. A great stop on any road trip through the country.

15. Sumela Monastery - Hidden Gem Close To Trabzon

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Built on the cliffs of an impressive rock face deep into the Pontic Mountains you can find a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It can best be reached from Trabzon, a 1 hour drive through scenic landscapes. Entrance fee Sumela Monastery: 10 TL.

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It is not exactly known when Sumela Monastery was built, but at least somewhere around 386 AD when Emperor Theodosius was ruling the Roman Empire.

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To visit Sumela Monastery you have to take a bus up a steep mountain road that leaves from the parking lot. That is the only way to get there for all visitors. The bus costs 6 TL for a round trip.

When I visited Sumela monastery it was rainy and foggy. Sometimes it adds up to the experience, but not this time. The fact that the monastery is under construction didn’t help either. At first I was a little disappointed, but when I saw the Rock Church I knew straight away why Sumela Monastery is mentioned as one of the best places to visit in Turkey.

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The paintings inside and outside the rock church are absolutely breathtaking. Therefore I would totally recommend you to add this Turkey tourist attraction to your itinerary.

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Where to stay around Sumela Monastery

trabzon hotel radisson blu

Sumela Monastery is a popular day trip from Trabzon and that is also where we stayed. For less than $100 per night you get the Radisson Blu  5-star hotel with the best views of Trabzon. Click on the link to get the prices for your dates.

16. Uzungol - Switzerland of Turkey

uzungol turkey

Often when you see pictures of Trabzon they show you a picture of the nearby beautiful landscapes of the Uzungol mountain village. Uzungol means long lake in Turkish. This picturesque village is located in a valley between high mountain peaks and famous for its stunning scenery.

It looks a little like the Switzerland of Turkey. You will find many cafes and restaurants with absolutely breathtaking views. The temperature can be chilly at night, but in summer visiting Uzungol is a great escape from the sweltering heat in Turkey. Check this Uzungol travel guide for more tips on where to go.

Not that I didn’t like Trabzon, but the best thing to do in Trabzon is to visit Uzungol, which is 100 km (62 miles) east of the city. It takes about 2 hours in a car.

17. Amasra - Charming Fishing Village

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Once a sleeping fisherman village on the Black Sea, now one of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey. The narrow streets of this small village are packed with souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants. When you are looking to eat fresh fish then this is definitely the place you are looking for.

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Grab a drink and find your spot for sunset they are magical in Amasra. During the day you can hang out on one of the beaches, take one of the boat trips or go hiking in the nearby hills.

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Close to Amasra you will find the UNESCO World Heritage village of Safranbolu, a 50-min drive. It was nice to walk around the old historical Ottoman Empire houses and a cool addition to your Turkey road trip itinerary , but I liked Amasra more.

Where to stay in Amasra

I would combine these two amazing places to visit in Turkey and stay in either Amasra or Safranbolu. The Safranbolu Peri Konak is a charming boutique hotel located in a historical house. In Amasra the Northdoor Amasra Hotel is a great place with the best reviews in town. Both hotels can be booked for less than $50 per night.

18. Bursa - Old Ottoman Empire Capital

koza han bursa bazaar

Don’t travel to Bursa just on day trip from Istanbul. Dive into the rich historical culture of this old Ottoman Empire capital. Now the 4th biggest city in Turkey with a couple UNESCO World heritage sites and the once was the biggest mosque in Turkey.

Get lost in the old bazaar and visit the Grand Mosque, explore the old city walls for amazing views over the city. Another great viewpoint is the Tophane Park where you will find the clocktower. Don’t forget to drink tea at Koza Han, the old caravanserai in the historical center.

Click here for my Bursa travel guide with the  best things to do in Bursa in 2024 .

In Bursa you can take one of the longest cable cars in the world. A 10-km ride will take you up to 2,500 meter to Mount Uludag. Another great place to visit in Turkey is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cumalikizik, 20 minute drive away from Bursa. This historical village is more than 700 years old.

You can easily visit Bursa from Istanbul as it is only a 2 hour drive away, but the best way to travel to Bursa is by ferry from Istanbul Yenikapi.

Where to stay in Bursa

The Crown Plaza Bursa is a great 5 star hotel in one of the best locations in the city. Best thing is that I only paid $60 per night. Click here to see the rates of the Crown Plaza Bursa for your dates .

19. Edirne - Edirne Mosque & Turkish Wines

Easily done on a day trip from Istanbul. Edirne was also once the capital of the Ottoman Empire and is full of history. It is located just a stone’s throw away from the Bulgarian and Greek border.

Although a stroll around the old city is nice, the best thing to do in Edirne is visiting the Selimiye Mosque. This breathtaking mosque was built almost 500 years ago and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Make sure to visit inside and admire the impressive 31m diameter dome.

Edirne is also famous for being a prima wine region in Turkey, there are wineries all over in this region. In case you decide to add Edirne to your Turkey sightseeing itinerary then consider spending the night in one of the wineries.

Where to stay in Edirne

On my Turkey trip I stayed in the Bakucha Vineyard Hotel & Spa and looked out over the vineyards. They serve delicious food, great wines of course and even do wine tastings. They charge about $100 per night, including a fabulous dinner.

Cheap bus, train and flights in Turkey

Looking for a way to get around Turkey? Why not using public transport? Tourist class busses in Turkey are like business class flights and roads are very good. Check out my ultimate Turkey itinerary for more info on how to get around.

I also recommend you to use the search engine of 12Go Asia as they give you the cheapest domestic flight options and bus schedule and even trains and ferries all in one overview.

Up to date time schedules, direct online booking and e-tickets. Try it yourself below.

Powered by 12Go system

I hope all the above things to do, places to visit and other Turkey travel tips were helpful for your upcoming trip to Turkey. Please leave me a comment below if you have any more questions and I am more than happy to help you out.

Find more travel blogs about Turkey in the link or check out the suggestions below.

Saying that Turkey is one of my favorite travel destinations sounds pretty badass from someone who is traveling to every country in the world ! Right? As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries around the world.

Enjoy your trip to Turkey!

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7 best Turkey holiday destinations – and when to travel to each one

Discover the transcontinental country’s vibrant cities, beach-strewn coast and geographical wonders, article bookmarked.

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Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s most well-known destinations

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A country steeped in history, Turkey combines lively cities, popular coastal towns, ancient historical sites and some of the most varied natural phenomena on Earth into one diverse nation.

From cosmopolitan Istanbul and the capital of Ankara to beloved beach resorts such as Bodrum, Alanya and Marmaris, the country’s main towns and cities attract millions of tourists a year to sample everything from culture to coastlines.

With an array of idyllic beaches, high-octane cities and incredible natural sites like the Pamukkalelake and the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, Turkey has bagged a place among the world’s most popular tourist destinations – it welcomed over 44 million visitors in 2022 the fourth highest number of any country in the world.

If you’re planning a trip to this varied and storied country, read on; below, we’ve rounded up a list of some of its premier destinations.

Istanbul is the world’s only transcontinental city

The most populous city in Europe is where the west meets Asia. Having been the capital of three different empires, the city has over 2,500 years of history and its main attractions include Byzantine structures such as the Hagia Sophia and the soaring minarets of the Ottoman-era Blue Mosque.

Other popular tourist spots include the Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern, but a simple visit to the Sultanahmet district will likely cover many of the ‘must-do’ things in the city. Those wanting to venture further afield will want to see the city’s famous Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorous Straight and neighbourhoods including Balat and Fener, where you can discover everything from foodie delights to local markets. For great views, try climbing the Galata Tower.

When to visit Istanbul

June and September are the most pleasant times to visit Istanbul. Average temperatures will hover around 22C, while you’ll avoid the peak summer crowds – perfect for enjoyable sightseeing and al fresco dining.

Where to stay

Located in the Taksim area of the city, Hotel The Public is set in a historic building – built in 1901 – on the well-known Istiklal Avenue. Interiors are contemporary but period features like exposed brick walls remain, creating an eclectic aesthetic right in the thick of the city.

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Bodrum is a popular resort in the south

A destination that is popular with those wanting a taste of the Turkish coast, Bodrum is another city with links to ancient times. Once known as Halicarnassus (and home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), Bodrum still houses some ancient ruins as well as its own famous medieval fortress, Bodrum Castle. Away from the sights, Bodrum has a vibrant and lively nightlife scene, with a mix of bars and clubs in the town, on the beaches and in the marina area.

However, most tourists flock here for access to some of Turkey’s best beaches. The surrounding region is a scenic mix of charming villages, rolling green hills and tranquil marinas, with dozens of fine golden sand-stretches lapped by turquoise water. Set back from the sea, several hotels and resorts offer a mix of luxury and more affordable stays.

When to visit Bodrum

Bodrum can be sweltering in the summer, with average daily highs hitting 35C in July and August. With average temperatures of 22C and very few crowds (apart from at half-term), October can be a good choice for a more affordable trip to the southern resort.

Kaya Palazzo is a large resort right on the Bodrum coast, just 15 minutes away from Bodrum itself. The accommodation features a private section of beach and a seasonal outdoor pool, while rooms are elegant and modern.

Read more on Europe travel :

  • Europe’s best trips to try in your lifetime
  • Spain travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go
  • Best European holiday destinations to visit by train from London in 2023

Cappadocia is well-known for its ’fairy chimneys’

The chances are that a visit to the Cappadocia region will be unlike any other trip you’ve been on. Starting with nature, Cappadocia has a distinctive topography shaped by soft volcanic rock, volcanic activity and erosion that has caused various rock formations such as the so-called ‘fairy chimneys’ (rock spires seen in the image above), as well as the presence of a large range of caves throughout the region. Many of these caves now act as charming hotels, with rooms carved into the rock and restaurants that serve authentic local fare overlooking the hills.

While hiking, biking and visits to open-air museums are some of the popular activities in the area, the stand-out excursion is a hot air balloon trip, offering unforgettable views of mesmerising landscapes and orange sunsets. For a bit more exploration, the main towns in the region include Avanos, Goreme, Uchisar and Urgup.

When to visit Cappadocia

Daily temperatures at the height of summer can vary as much as 15 degrees between 32C and 17C, but with average temperatures around 24C, these months are a good choice for pleasant weather and hot air balloon watching.

For a sensational stay near Goreme, opt for Argos. Located in the hills near the centre of Uchisar, the hotel consists of a series of stone buildings offering accommodation options ranging from smooth stone rooms to large suites carved from tuff (a light rock local to the area) with private indoor pools.

Antalya is the main city in the eponymous province

Another popular destination on the southern coast, Antalya is the main city in the Antalya province. The province as a whole offers miles of coastline, ancient city ruins (including Perge, Aspendos, and Termessos) and a range of activities ( Belek is well-known for its range of golf courses), while the city itself is also an excellent choice for a holiday. Its charming Old Town (Kaleici) is a maze of narrow, paved streets, Ottoman-era architecture and ancient walls, while the marina and harbour areas offer sea views in a relaxed setting. There are many family-friendly sites too, including a zoo, aquarium and waterpark.

Near the city, the Duden and Kursunlu waterfalls are a dramatic site of natural beauty, while the Taurus Mountains offer opportunities for hiking. For soaking up the sun and taking a sip, Cirali, Konyaalti and Patara are some of the best beaches in the region.

When to visit Antalya

Antalya is another place where summer highs can reach over 35C, so July and August are best avoided. September generally receives little to no rain, and average temperatures will stay around a much more manageable 25C.

Tuvana Hotel is situated in the historical heart of Antalya, just 450m from Hadrian’s Gate. Traditional Ottoman decor and retained period features line the interiors, with several garden areas providing a great option for romantic drinks and dinner.

Izmir is the third most populous city in Turkey

The third most populous city in Turkey may not be on most visitor itineraries, but this coastal hub has a rich history to add to its contemporary arts and cultural scene. There are nearby top-notch beaches in places like Cesme, Alacati, and Urla, while in Izmir itself you’ll find a 20th-century Clock Tower, the Agora and Kadifekale (an ancient castle). Modern living is showcased in the shops and restaurants of the lively Kordon Promenade or the city’s annual International Fair, and visitors can enjoy a blend of Turkish, Greek and Aegean cuisine.

When to visit Izmir

June and September carry average daily temperatures of 25C and 26C. Alternatively, for a better mix of cooler (but still pleasant) temperatures (think 21C on average) and far fewer crowds, visit in May or October.

Key Hotel is situated right on the city’s coastline, boasting spectacular sea views from its reception and restaurant plus some rooms.

An aerial view over part of Kas

Kas is another destination on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, lying between Bodrum and Antalya. A popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, it sits between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, while the 320-mile Lycian Way hiking route runs near the town, providing excellent hiking opportunities and the chance to do a host of activities including kayaking, scuba diving and paragliding.

The town itself is a smaller settlement with whitewashed houses and russet-tiled roofs and cobbled streets, with a laid-back atmosphere both in the centre and on beaches such as Kucuk Cakil. Historical sites such as the ruins at Xanthos, Patara, and Myra, the Kas Amphitheater and the Sunken City of Kekova can all be found within the region.

When to visit Kas

Similar to Antalya, temperatures in Kos can get sweltering at the height of summer. Consider May and October to beat the crowds, with average highs that are perfect for some winter sun (think around 22C).

The Mandalina sits at the western tip of a peninsula just west of Kas (roughly 10 minutes away by car). The hotel has a pool with sweeping sea views and access to a private beach area, while the suites offer spacious and comfortable accommodation (some with balconies and private pools).

Oludeniz beach, located at the southern part of Fethiye

Oludeniz is one destination where nature is the focus. The main attraction is the Blue Lagoon, an idyllic bay where azure waters are surrounded by curved stretches of white sands backed by green hills. Oludeniz Beach is popular for swimming and water sports ranging from jet skiing to snorkelling, and there are plenty of other beaches in the nearby Kidrak National Park.

Away from the sea, Babadag Mountain has a range of hiking trails and is a popular paragliding spot, with panoramic views over the Blue Lagoon and other areas. The area around the village is a nature reserve, offering untouched landscapes and a peaceful atmosphere; for those who do eventually want to return to civilisation, the village itself has options for eating, drinking and nightlife, and the popular town of Fethiye is just a 30-minute drive away.

When to visit Oludeniz

June and September are the best options outside of school holidays, with average temperatures staying at 24C, providing optimal weather for relaxing by the sea.

Sitting just 50 metres from the beach, the Bronze Hotel has a large outdoor pool and terraced seating where buffet breakfasts are served every morning.

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popular tourist destinations turkey

The 21 Prettiest Places In Turkey To Visit: 2024 Guide

With turquoise coastal waters, forested mountain peaks, ancient historic sites and deliciously fresh food, Turkey (Türkiye) has it all. Whether you’re looking to relax on a white sandy beach, soar in a hot air balloon over other-worldly landscapes or get lost in ancient history, as a tourist destination Turkey has something for everyone.

The culture across the country is diverse and the religions are varied. There are a huge amount of national parks to explore and a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to delve into.

There are modern cities and cities steeped in history, there are pretty coastal towns and remote mountain villages. From mosques to monasteries and hot springs to ski slopes, Turkey is a travellers paradise.

This vast, transcontinental country has such a huge selection of beautiful places to visit it can be difficult to choose which destinations to put at the top of your list.

After living and travelling in Turkey for several years, I’ve narrowed down the 21 prettiest places in Turkey to add to your travel itinerary.

The Pammukale travertines is a popular destination in Turkey

Disclaimer:  Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps cover the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!

The 21 Most Beautiful Places in Turkey 

For those looking for a relaxing break, Turkey has a Mediterranean coastline complete with white-sand beaches, rocky coves and stunning lagoons. The natural landscape also makes Turkey a paradise outdoor enthusiasts whether it be hiking the long distance Lycian Trail, scuba diving ocean wrecks or skiing on the frozen, snowy peaks.

It’s a country where east meets west and where battles for power have been fought over millennia. The result of these ever changing civilisations has left a plethora of historic sites scattered across the country. Cities provide a chance to shop in ancient bazars or modern malls, whilst the small towns and villages demonstrate the unique culture and Turkish way of life.

So, let’s discover the most gorgeous places in Turkey to visit.

1. Butterfly Valley

Butterfly valley is a spectacular gorge on the Turquoise coast of Turkey which is surrounded by sheer cliff faces. Flowing down the steep limestone cliff into the back of the valley is a large, multi-tiered waterfall.

The valley floor is filled with lush vegetation and a golden sandy beach which opens out into the turquoise-blue waters of the Mediterranean sea. Reputedly home to over 100 species of butterflies and only accessible by boat trip or a hair-raising hike, this pretty Turkish delight is like something straight off the cover of a travel magazine.

For a complete guide to visiting Butterfly Valley, see this handy guide.

Butterfly Valley is a gorgeous place in Turkey

2. Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Daği)

High above the Euphrates river on the tallest peak of the Eastern Taurus mountain range lies one of Turkey’s most famous ancient sites . Atop the pyramidal burial mound sit a series of carved stone statues representing Grecco-Persian gods.

Over the years a combination of iconoclasm and natural disasters has led to the statues losing their heads but this only serves to add to the atmosphere of this unique site.

The iconic head statues of Nemrut Daği perhaps need no introduction as they are a popular Turkish tourist attraction, however this eerie ruin is certainly a mesmerising place to visit in Turkey. Be sure to wear warm clothes and sturdy shoes as theres a steep hike up from the carpark and can get cold especially at sunrise and sunset, the best times to visit.

For more information on visiting Nemrut Daği, see this guide.

Nemrut Dagi is a unique place in Turkey

3. Cappadocia 

Cappadocia is an incredibly unique landscape and one of the top destinations to visit, not just in Turkey, but in the world. This semi-arid region of Central Turkey is home to unusual rock and earth towers affectionately known as Fairy Chimneys.

For a long time this pretty region of Turkey has grown in popularity with tourists and is now a must-visit destination for any trip to Turkey. Explorations of this other-worldly landscape can be enjoyed on foot, on horseback or, as it’s become most famous for, by hot air balloon .

Get your perfect Cappadocia itinerary here.

Cappadocia is a stunning place in Turkey to visit

4. Istanbul

Istanbul: the city fought over for centuries, the gateway between east and west, and hands down one of the best cities in the world. Not only is Istanbul a city with great historical importance, it’s the only city that crosses continents and a place that lives long in the memory.

Situated on the European side, the old city of Sultan Ahmet is home to several historically important sites such as the magnificent Hagia Sofia and the jaw-dropping Basilica Cistern. Visit the beautiful Blue Mosque and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Grand Bazar.

Cross the Golden Horn via Galata Bridge to energetic Taksim Square or take boat trip across the Bosphorus to experience the Asian way of life. As Turkeys largest city, there are lots of things to do and with many unique hotels in Istanbul , there is no shortage of accommodation options. Be sure to allow several days to fully explore this beautiful and memorable city.

Read Next: Unmissable things to do in Istanbul

Top Istanbul Tours

  • Luxury Yacht Bosphorus Sunset Cruise $
  • Full day Classic Istanbul Tour $$
  • Taste of Two Continents Food Tour $$$

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul

5. The Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz

The Blue Lagoon on the Turquoise Coast is a dreamy location of white sand beaches with a backdrop of tree covered mountains. The Lagoon feels like a slice of paradise as access from the town of Ölüdeniz is limited and gives the feeling of seclusion.

Paragliding is probably the most famous activity in Ölüdeniz and no doubt offers the best view of the Blue Lagoon. If you have a fear of heights the next best way to see the Lagoon is to walk part of Lycian Way long distance hiking trail.

The Blue Lagoon is a popular tourist destination in Turkey

6. Lake Van

Located in eastern Turkey, Lake Van is a salt lake which is the largest body of water in Turkey. This vast lake is surrounded by mountain peaks which dominate the skyline.

In the city of Van the lake can be admired from atop a hill in ancient Van Fortress. Explore the lake by boat to visit one of the many small islands, the most notable of which is Akdamar Island, that is home to the intricately carved Armenian Holy Cross Church.

Pretty Lake Van is a gem of eastern Turkey

Situated near the Armenian border in eastern Turkey lies the ancient city of Ani. Ani was once one of the largest cities in the world and a bustling commercial centre along the ancient Silk Road.

Although much that remains lies in tatters, this ruined ghost city was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, no doubt thanks to its massive historical importance.

A visit to this remote region offers an eerily mesmerising experience and a chance to get off the beaten track in Turkey.

Ani is a historically important place in Turkey

Not only is Mardin a place of historic importance, it’s also one of the prettiest cities in Turkey . Picturesquely perched on a hillside above the plains of Mesopotamia, this small Silk Road city offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the past.

The city is made up of cobblestone alleyways that criss-cross their way around the hill and the cityscape is dotted with minarets attached to the numerous mosques and madrasas. The bazar is alive with the smell of spices and soaps, whilst the the rubbish laden donkeys trot amongst streets too narrow to fit cars or trucks.

For a complete guide to visiting Mardin, see this post.

Mardin in Eastern Turkey

9. Termessos Theatre

There is no shortage of ancient theatres in Turkey. Some impress with their scale such as Ephesus, some impress with their intactness such as Aspendos, whilst others impress with their importance such as the theatre at the Lycian Capital of Xanthos.

But for me, the prettiest theatre in Turkey is that of Termessos. The 4000 seater theatre of Termessos lies partly in ruin, with little time given to its reconstruction and I think this adds to the atmosphere. However, the most impressive aspect of this theatre is the incredible location and amazing views it offers.

Uniquely, Termessos is also known as being one of the few cities Alexander the Great was unable to conquer.

Termessos Theatre is an impressive destination in Turkey

I love Kas (Kaş) and since I live part-time in the nearby hills, is easily my most visited place in Turkey. This seaside town is packed with charm and character and is quieter than other resorts like Fethiye, Marmaris or Antalya.

The pretty cobbled streets and white-washed houses make Kas a beautiful place to visit in Turkey where you can relax on the pebble beaches and dine in shoreside seafood restaurants. But Kas isn’t just a seaside town, it’s a place steeped in history. The town is built on the ancient Lycian site of Antiphellos and evidence of this is still visible today in the form of several sarcophagi and a small amphitheatre.

For more information on Kas, take a look at this guide.

Kas harbour at sunset

11. Pamukkale

Pristine white travertines filled with warm aqua-marine pools of water are what await you at the popular Turkish tourist spot of Pamukkale. Take time to soak your feet in this enchanting landscape before exploring the attached Roman ruined city of Hierapolis.

The white terraces of Pamukkale are formed from calcium carbonate that have slowly been deposited by the flowing water of multiple hot springs. When the Romans happened upon the area they discovered the hot springs were a great place to rest their weary bones and promptly decided to build a city at the top!

Enjoy a visit to Pamukkale on en epic Turkish road trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia.

popular tourist destinations turkey

12. Lake Tuz

Turkey’s second largest lake is the captivating Lake Tuz (Tuz Gölü). Located at the heart of the country, this large but shallow saline lake is home to migratory birds and is a sanctuary for pink flamingos. The lake gets it’s pink/red colour from algae that produce a pigment called beta-carotene when temperatures rise. Flamingos in turn get their pink colour from feasting on pink brine shrimp that live in the lake.

Lake Tuz only develops this pink hue in the summer months and as soon as the rains arrive it returns to a normal blue colour. So, if you want to witness this colourful act of nature be sure to plan your visit during the hot summer months.

Lake Tuz is a magical place in Turkey

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13. Ephesus

Turkey has so many Roman ruins that you could spend your whole vacation hopping from site to site, however the most impressive of them all is the mighty Ephesus. In its day Ephesus was considered the most important Greek city and the most important trading centre in the Mediterranean region, though much of what remains today was built under Roman rule.

Built by the Greeks, the Temple of Artemis was one of the Severn Wonders of the World, although sadly only one column still stands. However, the Great Theatre in Ephesus is enormous, (the largest in the ancient world) the aqueduct system is staggering and the ornately carved Library of Celsus is mesmerising.

Even those with no interest in history will be amazed by the beauty of Ephesus.

Ephesus is a stunning place in Turkey for ancient history

14. Mount Ararat

Revered as the final resting place of Noah’s Ark, Mount Ararat is a dormant volcano in the far east of Turkey. In fact the mountain consists of two volcanic cones, Greater Ararat and Little Ararat, with Greater Ararat standing at 5137m tall.

This natural giant is covered in snow all year around, however it is possible to hike to the summit on one of the guided tours offered from nearby Dogubayazit. Due to the high altitude, climbs often take several days to reach the summit. Will you join the hunt for Noah’s Ark?

popular tourist destinations turkey

15. Gaziantep

Gaziantep is the place to go for all the foodies out there! Gaziantep is famed as being the home of Pistachios and Baklava and is the Gastronomy capital of Turkey. It was even inscribed by UNESCO as a city of gastronomy in 2015.

However, there is more to Gaziantep than just food. The city has roots that date back to the Bronze Age and has been an important regional centre for millennia.

There is a citadel to explore, a thriving bazar to shop around and there are numerous museums to visit, including the stunning Zeugma Mosaic Museum which is home to the famed “Gypsy Girl”.

popular tourist destinations turkey

16. Sumela Monastery

Perched improbably to the side of a huge cliff, Sumela is a monastery that was built in the 4th century by Greek Orthodox priests. The monastery is located in a deep valley of Altindere National Park, not far from the city of Trabzon on the Black Sea Coast.

Gaze in wonderment at how the building clings to the side of the sheer rock face before venturing inside to view the striking frescoes depicting scenes from the story of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Sumela is an inspiring location in Turkey to visit near the Black Sea

The ancient city of Myra once served as the capital city of Lycia and is a unique archaeological site to visit in Turkey. Myra is a relatively small site located just 2km from the town of Demre.

The theatre has intact corridors leading into it which is quite rare to see however, the star attraction at Myra are the rock cut tombs. When they were built they would’ve been painted in bright colours and even though they are now faded, you can still appreciate the delicate carving of the rock which, at first glance, you could be fooled into thinking was wood.

For a guide to visiting Myra and the town of Demre, see this post.

Myra was an important Lycian city in Turkey

18. Saklikent Gorge

Saklikent Gorge is the longest canyon in Turkey and is a great place to cool off in the hot summer months. Upon entering the gorge the water is quite shallow and the gorge is quite wide but the more you venture in, the deeper and narrower it becomes.

For an extra cost you can try some river tubing along the gentle rapids and there are also plenty of restaurants at the entrance to feed your hunger once you’re finished. This is a beautiful place in Turkey to visit for families.

popular tourist destinations turkey

19. Kayaköy

Kayaköy is a large ghost town just a short drive away from Fethiye . It was once a bustling town comprised of Greeks and Turks living happily alongside each other. However, after the rise of the Turkish National Movement, minorities like the Greek Orthodox were forced to flee or face persecution.

What remains, is an open air museum village consisting of hundreds of abandoned Greek houses which have been left to ruin. Wandering around this mountain side village provides an eerie glimpse into Turkeys more recent history.

20. Dolchiste (Kekova Sunken City)

Dolchiste is an ancient Lycian settlement off the island of Kekova which has been engulfed by the sea, curtesy of an earthquake that occurred in the 2nd century. The whole area is now  protected so it’s not possible to swim amongst the ruins, however boat trips and kayaking tours offer visitors the chance gaze through the turquoise waters at the ruins that lie below.

This region of the Turquoise Coast has abundant coves and bays and the hillsides are covered with pines and olives, making it a gorgeous place in Turkey to explore. Kekova is a great place to combine history with adventure as you embark on a kayaking trip over a submerged Lycian city.

Kekova can be enjoyed on a day trip from Kas.

popular tourist destinations turkey

21. Antalya

Antalya is a popular destination on the Turkish Riviera. With red-roofed Ottoman buildings and ancient Roman ruins, the old town of Kaleici deserves some exploring. Wander the maze-like cobbled streets making stops at Hadrian’s Gate, Hidirlik Tower (Roman Fortress) and Yivli Minare (fluted minaret) Mosque.

If history isn’t for you head to the harbour which is filled with yachts waiting to explore the surrounding turquoise waters or to the beaches that are filled with holiday makers relaxing in the Mediterranean sun. Nature lovers should head just outside of the city to view the impressive Duden waterfalls.

For all of the top things to do in Antalya, see this guide.

Antalya is one of the prettiest coastal cities in Turkey

More Turkey Inspiration

  • A guide to driving in Turkey
  • Winter in Cappadocia
  • Things to do in Diyarbakir
  • A guide to visiting Hasankeyf
  • The best things to do in Sanliurfa

The Prettiest Places In Turkey Summary

Turkey is a transcontinental country that is blessed with a stunning Mediterranean coastline, far-reaching mountain peaks and an abundance of historical sites. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Turkey that is can be difficult to choose which ones to visit first. Having lived and travelled in Turkey for many years, I put together this list of the 21 prettiest places in Turkey to add to your travel itinerary.

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Louise is an Adventure Tour Guide & Mountain Leader from South Wales. Through working as a tour guide and snowboard instructor, she has spent the last 15 years travelling Asia, Africa and the Americas. Louise is a published photographer and is currently based in the UK.

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10 of the most beautiful places in Turkey

By Laura Fowler

10 beautiful places in Turkey from Pamukkale to Cappadocia

At the point where Europe and Asia collide, it is Turkey ’s transcontinental culture-clash, its east-west spice-mix of influences, flavours, cultures, religions and histories, that makes this country so intoxicating. This is a land of sensorial richness, in its bazaars and mosques, its food and arts; of exoticism and romance, from its Ottoman palaces to fairy-tale Cappadocia. Its beauty spots are equally diverse. Inland there are otherworldly landscapes and ancient wonders to be explored, once the playgrounds of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Caesar and Alexander the Great, and yet they are little visited compared with similar sites in Italy and Greece . In summer, Turkey's exceptionally beautiful Turquoise Coast is plied by gulets sailing on their Blue Voyages from the Aegean to the eastern reaches of the Mediterreanean, dropping anchor to swim in bays of crystal-clear water, and taking long lunches in fishing villages, at blue-painted tables and chairs framed with canopies of pink bougainvillaea, where life has gone on unchanged for thousands of years. To help you find these spots, we've rounded up the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey.

Balat

10. Balat, Istanbul

Istanbul ’s artsy neighbourhood of Balat, the old Jewish quarter, has colour-popping pockets amid its more down-at-heel residential streets – bright-painted stairs (like those up to Incir Ağacı Kahvesi café), street art, parasol-shaded streets and terraced wooden houses in sugary pastels and rainbow shades (try Kiremit Caddesi). Wind around the steep cobbled lanes to dig out surprises in the rootsy cafés and vintage shops, live music venues and edgy art galleries.

Butterfly Valley

9. Butterfly Valley, Fethiye

One of the greatest rewards for walkers on the Lycian Way is the spectacular view as you pass above Butterfly Valley: a jag of cove sheered out of the land, colossal cliffs rising sheer and scrubby either side of the narrow blue bay, fading to turquoise at the shore. On the toenail of sand-and-pebble beach at the foot of it, accessible only by boat, there’s a campsite with a beach bar serving beers and grilled fish, and yoga classes are held beneath the trees. Heading inland, the valley (used for all eternity as a goods route) leads through lush greenery and waterfalls, and in springtime, is filled with 100 species of butterfly.

Ephesus

Turkey has a great number of ancient sites, most far less visited than similar sites in Italy and Greece; and Ephesus, now UNESCO-protected , is arguably the grandest of them all. The Temple of Artemis which stood in the ancient city of Ephesus was one of the original Seven Wonders of the World . Little remains of it now, but the remains of Ephesus are wondrous nonetheless. Set back from the Aegean coast, the settlement began 9,000 years ago. There Roman, Christian, Ottoman, Hellenistic and Greek monuments: colonnaded streets, temples, a huge amphitheatre, the Celsus library whose carved façade still stands today, archways framing the blue Mediterranean sky.

Kas

Far enough from the big seaside hubs to keep it offbeat, the old fishing village of Kaş remains a hideaway for hippie travellers and boho-chic Turks. Crazy-paved streets are lined by traditional white-washed houses, wooden balconies overhung with billowing bougainvillaea, against a backdrop of mountains. It sits beside the most delicious turquoise sea, rustic swimming terraces and daybeds built over the water, piled with bright cushions and textiles. The village’s Kaputaş beach is a knock-out, all dazzling white and bright blue, surrounded by dramatic cliffs; and nearby, off the island of Kekova, there’s an underwater city to explore with snorkels, visible beneath the crystal-clear water.

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Patara

Stretching more than seven miles, Patara Beach is the longest and most wildly beautiful in Turkey – and also one of the emptiest. Breakers crash along one edge of this deep, wide stretch of pale sand; along the other are dunes and pine trees, marshes and lagoons, now a natural park rich in birdlife, so you are completely surrounded by water and wildlife – most notably, endangered loggerhead turtles. It’s thanks partly to the turtles that the beach remains unspoilt and protected, and also to the ruins of the ancient city of Patara, built – it is said, by Apollo’s son – at the back of the beach. You access the shore via these ruins, which include an amphitheatre, parliament building (found buried in the sand in the 1990s) and the column-flanked remains of the main street. Apollo’s temple is believed to still lie somewhere beneath, as yet undiscovered.

Domes of Istanbul

5. The domes of Istanbul

Across the Golden Horn, the more modest Ortaköy Mosque is one of the city’s prettiest, white in marble and stone, with pink mosaics within; located at the water’s edge beside the Bosphorus bridge, it is breathtaking at sunset with the golden light, and in the morning, when the call rings out across the water. Some of Istanbul’s most beautiful places are its mosques. The city’s architectural masterpiece, the Hagia Sofia, began life 1,500 years ago as a Byzantine cathedral, was converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, then in the 1930s became a museum – until, the summer of 2020, contentiously, it became a mosque once again. But all visitors are still welcome, to pray or just contemplate in awe beneath its soaring golden dome, shafts of sunlight piercing its stained-glass windows like the fingers of God. Beside it sits the Blue Mosque, built in the Ottoman era, its interior lined with handmade Iznik ceramic tiles and overhead, painted various shades of blue, and so beautiful that even Pope Benedict couldn’t stay away; when he visited in 2006 thanked ‘divine providence' for it. Built by Süleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century, Süleymaniye Mosque is just that. High on Istanbul’s Third Hill amid gardens and marble colonnaded grandeur, it has magnificent views of the city, too.

Gumusluk

4. Gümüşlük, Bodrum

Until the 20th century the fishing villages dotted around the Bodrum Peninsula were only accessible from the water, and still today the best way to get around is by boat. Of all these fishing villages, the most charming is Gümüşlük. Ramshackle restaurants, simple driftwood-style shacks, line the water’s edge, some literally set in the shallows, where you can eat meze and just-caught, just-grilled fish with your feet in the water (the smartest spot is Mimoza). Gourd lanterns, handpainted in jewel shades, hang from the trees and canopies, creating sculptural shapes in the sunshine and enchanting at night when all lit up. It’s also the best spot in Bodrum to catch sunset.

Blue Lagoon

3. Blue Lagoon, Olüdeniz

This bay of turquoise water, with its finger of white sand curving around it, is so supernaturally vibrant that it has become a poster child for the Turquoise Coast. The sands of Belcekiz beach slip into the limpid shallows, creating Maldivian-esque swirling seascapes of blue and white, protected by the green-forested promontories which lie around it like sleeping dragons. Overhead, the skies are full of paragliders viewing the whole splendid shebang from the air.

Pamukkale

2. The pools of Pamukkale

The mineral springs that have cascaded down the hillside for thousands of years have created this extraordinary sight – Pamukkale means ‘cotton castle’ – in Turkey’s Büyük Menderes Valley. The series of natural pools of pale eau-de-nil water, cupped in shallow, organic-shaped basins of gleaming-white travertine, are terraced into the hillside, overspilling with the mineral-rich spring water that formed them and which appears to have frozen in time in petrified waterfalls, stalactites of limestone like wedding-cake icing dripping down the hillside. The spectacle gets busy with tourists, but often overlooked are the ancient ruins of the Greco-Roman spa town Hierapolis, built at the very top of the site, around the healing springs. Here you can bathe in Cleopatra’s very own hot bath, said to have been a gift from Mark Antony; once covered by the Roman temple of Apollo, the doric columns now lie in the water, and the pool is flanked with flowers.

Cappadocia

1. The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia

High on the Anatolian plateau, the curious landscapes of Cappadocia resemble a fantasy world. Honey-coloured rocks have eroded into sculptural forms resembling minarets, magic mushrooms and what have become known as Fairy Chimneys, while underground, settlers since the Bronze Age have been busy carving out cave houses, churches and monasteries from the soft volcanic rock – even entire subterranean cities. The thing to do is take a hot-air balloon ride at sunrise or sunset; alternatively, see it on horseback or two wheels – or watch the spectacle from the terrace of your cave hotel in the town of Göreme (try Sultan Cave Suites for its rooftop, Museum Hotel or Kayakapi which all have outdoor pools; rustic-charming Cappadocia Cave Suites; or film-set-like Yunak Evleri) as hundreds of balloons drift overhead and the low sun casts apricot light on this extraordinary land. One of the most romantic spots on earth.

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20 Epic Things to Do in Turkey for a Bucket List Experience!

When I help others build their own Turkey itinerary , the first thing people ask me is what are the best things to do in Turkey that should be on a travel bucket list.

Well, there are quite a lot of activities and attractions as Turkey is huge and rich in diverse experiences. Depending on the region, there is a large number of unique landscapes and cultural offerings that make each area special.

But if you are not going to one particular region and need a general understanding of the best locations and sightseeing spots in Turkey as a whole, it is important to have a plan on where to go and what to see in the first place. With this post, you’ll be able to do just that.

Get inspired and experience all the most amazing activities in Turkey that are the top things to choose for getting to know this country. It is not just a mere inspiration but a full getaway to Turkey with must-do adventures and some hidden gems.

I have traveled around Turkey a lot (and continue to do so until this day) and want to share my knowledge to assist you in discovering as many wonders of this incredible destination as you can!

Best Things to Do in Turkey (Unusual Things & Lesser-Known Activities)  

To make it easier to browse through my list of things to see and do in Turkey, I organized them into three groups of experiences based on their popularity, kind of bucket list status, lesser-known locations, and just beautiful things to do that make Turkey special.

As I continue exploring Turkey, I constantly add more information on the best places to visit and what to do in different parts of the country. I intend to expand upon this guide in the upcoming months, so you’ll have more suggestions for things to do in Turkey.

Meanwhile, if you have other must-do activities in Turkey to add to my list, your suggestions are welcome, share them in the comments below.

Top 10 Things to Do in Turkey (Must Dos)

1. explore istanbul’s historic sights.

one day in Istanbul

Planning a trip to Turkey is impossible without including Istanbul on the list as it is one of the best Turkish cities with centuries-old history. Nowever else in the world will you find a place like it which has been the capital of Christian Byzantium and the Muslim Ottoman Empire, with its own long list of things to do.

Istanbul’s main landmarks like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace (once home to Ottoman sultans), and others are not just beautiful and important. They are living testimonies to the diverse cultures that shaped Istanbul over the years .

Once you go, besides checking out all the famous sights , take the time to go to Istanbul’s best restaurants and cafes, explore its romantic spots together with some hidden gem locations, of course don’t miss the iconic Istiklal Avenue together with Taksim area , and if time permits, check out one of the places not far from Istanbul .

If you’ll be spending in Istanbul 4 days or less, I highly recommend you do a walking tour that lets you visit both sides (European and Asian) like this Two Continents tour or a free tour from Europe to Asia if you are on a budget. In this way, you’ll see all the highlights and decide for yourself which ones you liked more and where you want to return on the following day.

Do you need more inspiration for what to do in Istanbul? I have a ton of posts on my Istanbul travel guide page!

2. Stay in All-Inclusive Hotel

Turkey tourist attraction list

Including a stay in an all-inclusive hotel in Turkey is a must-do for several reasons. #1 reason is that Turkey offers one of the best all-inclusive experiences globally with exceptional hospitality, breathtaking coastal locations, and a wide array of inclusive amenities.

The number of gorgeous properties for different budgets is just huge and there is a chance to stay in luxurious resorts that look more like mini-cities with direct access to the sea or charming boutique hotels, all offering the convenience of all-inclusive packages.

The finest all-inclusive deals are scattered throughout Antalya region, in Bodrum and Marmaris , Cesme, Belek, Kemer, and Side. But there are also smaller all-inclusive hotels in Dalyan for people on a budget.

Check out the majority here to have an idea of what all-inclusive hotels in Turkey are like.

3. Wonder at the Surreal Landscapes of Cappadocia

Uchisar in winter

Going to Cappadocia is going to be one of the best experiences in Turkey as this journey will allow a dreamlike realm that is both visually stunning and culturally rich.

Situated in central Turkey, it is a place with extraordinary geological formations, unique rock-cut architecture, and a landscape that seems to belong to another world.

The primary reason to come to the area is the iconic fairy chimneys created by volcanic eruptions and erosion over millions of years. They are scattered across the region, creating an atmosphere that captivates the imagination. 

Beyond the fairy chimneys, Cappadocia boasts an intricate network of cave dwellings, underground cities, and rock-cut churches. The Göreme Open-Air Museum , for example, showcases those churches adorned with ancient frescoes, providing a glimpse into the rich Byzantine heritage of the region.

Any number of days in Cappadocia is never enough, but if you have limited time in Turkey and traveling from Istanbul, plan to come to this region for at least 2 full days with the all-inclusive package .

4. Visit the Pamukkale Terraces & Cleopatra’s Pool

visiting Pamukkale

Pamukkale is one of the main attractions of Turkey, this is why it should sit high on every itinerary.

From Turkish, Pamukkale translates as “cotton castle” because of its striking appearance, resembling a cascading castle made of cotton. You’ll find it in the southwestern part of the country which is easy to visit on a road trip from Antalya , from Izmir, or when driving from Fethiye . 

One of the primary reasons to explore Pamukkale is the surreal appearance of the terraces that remind a cascade of frozen, cotton-like waterfalls. These terraces are formed by the flow of calcium-rich mineral water from hot springs, creating stunning, terraced pools over time. The sight is not only visually stunning but also unique in the world, earning Pamukkale recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Swimming in these terraces is not allowed anymore but you can definitely put your feet or hands in the water and splash as much as you want.

And then for swimming, go take a dip in the healing waters of Cleopatra’s Pool which is among the best hot spring pools of Turkey . It is in the ancient city of Hierapolis , adjacent to Pamukkale.

Unusual Excursions to Pamukkale

5. Try a Turkish Bath (Hammam) Experience

romantic things to do in Istanbul

Trying a Turkish Bath is a cultural and rejuvenating experience that immerses you in the traditional Turkish way of relaxation and cleansing. A Hamam is a centuries-old practice, deeply ingrained in Turkish culture with a blend of physical and spiritual rinse.

It consists of a real cleansing ritual which includes relaxation in a warm and steamy room, scrubbing, and thorough soap massage, which helps release tension and stress, providing a holistic and soothing experience.

Going to a hammam is a unique thing to do in Turkey which resembles in some ways hammam experiences in Morocco and in Spain .

The number of hammams is big but my favorite ones are in Istanbul, Izmir, and Bursa. In Istanbul in particular you get the opportunity to immerse yourself in history and warm water simultaneously as most hammams are very old historic baths.

6. Explore Well-Preserved Ancient Greek & Roman Ruins in Ephesus

visiting Ephesus

Ephesus is one of the best ancient cities in Turkey and one of the most extensive and best-preserved archaeological sites in the world, that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The significance of Ephesus lies in its role as a major Greek city and later a thriving Roman metropolis , making it a melting pot of cultures, architectural styles, and historical narratives. The city flourished during the Roman period and was famous for its grand structures, such as the Library of Celsus, the Great Theatre, and the Temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World .

Additionally, Ephesus is associated with biblical history , being mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a site where Saint Paul preached. The Terrace Houses, showcasing well-preserved Roman villas with elaborate frescoes and intricate mosaics, offer a glimpse into the lifestyles of the affluent during that period.

So visiting Ephesus provides a tangible link to the roots of Western civilization, offering a profound educational and cultural experience.

Learn more about Ephesus and its history here and if you decide to see it, visit in the first part of the day when going on your own or skip the lines with the guide if coming from the cruise.

7. Relax on One of the Beaches of Antalya

must visit beach in Turkey

Don’t get me wrong, Turkey has many gorgeous beaches. Some of my favorites are beaches in Bodrum , Marmaris, and even a couple of beaches in Istanbul. But Antalya’s beaches are so diverse and breathtaking that not going to at least one would be a huge miss!

Exactly in Antalya, you’ll find beaches near ancient ruins, those with blue waters like in Miami , or hidden beaches with golden sand and recreational activities. Many beaches also have Blue Flag status ensuring high quality standards.

And the best part – all public beaches in Antalya are free and the number of them is so high that you can visit a beach in any town or city you go to in the province! Some are awesome for sunbathing even in winter .

If I could highlight just a few, I’d say don’t miss a swim on Kaputas Beach (between Kas and Kalkan, a hidden gem with turquoise waters and a narrow gorge leading to the sea), Çıralı Beach (known for a mix of sand and pebbles and nesting sea turtles), and Kumburnu Beach in Oludeniz which has the most beautiful color of the water.

But for all beaches, you need to see my guide about the best beaches in Antalya.

8. Dine at a Meyhane (Turkish Tavern)

eating meze in meyhane

Many foodie experiences in Turkey should be on the list of must-have activities, including trying a traditional Turkish breakfast , traditional dinner, or just eating the best kebab. 

But one of the unique things to do is to dine in a Meyhane, a traditional Turkish tavern or pub that typically specializes in serving mezes (Turkish appetizers) along with alcoholic beverages, particularly Rakı (a traditional Turkish anise-flavored alcoholic drink). 

Meyhanes are made in a way that promotes social interaction and lively conversations over small plates of meal (in some way similar to tapas in Spain). Sometimes live music is present too to contribute to a convivial atmosphere.

Every city and town in Turkey will have a meyhane. But if you are in Istanbul, my top tip would be to join this tour that includes street food together with a night of meze and tradition.

9. Go on a Lycian Way Hike (At Least Some Part of It)

must-do thing in Turkey

Lycian Way is a very famous long-distance hiking trail stretching approximately 540 kilometers from Fethiye to Antalya. Established in 1999, it offers a diverse and one of its kind experience with breathtaking coastal views and ancient ruins along the challenging terrains. It is a must do thing in Turkey for hikers.

But not only professional hikers will love it since some parts of the trail are pretty accessible and easy to cover for people who don’t hike a lot, so it is possible to go even with little kids. And when there, you can do two different things – enjoy the scenery and touch upon ancient Lycian civilization.

When I lived in Istanbul , I often visited southern Turkey either to go to one of the quiet villages and coastal towns there or to hike in different locations of Lycian Way.

If I could share my favorite stretches of the trail, I’d say include a hike from Kalkan to Kas (with views of the Mediterranean, less challenging compared to other sections), Demre to Finike (a coastal section with a relatively flat and easy trail with beautiful sea views), and Olympos to Çıralı (known for its archaeological remains, including the Olympos Theater and the Lycian League Tower, and ancient city of Phaselis).

10. Go Shopping For Leather & Fur Clothing

Turkish leather clothes

Another famous thing that Turkey is known for is the production of high-quality leather and fur goods, particularly winter and demi-seasonal coats, including leather blazers , pants, trench coats, and suits. But leather shoes and accessories are of very good quality too.

So if you are going on holidays to Turkey , you may want to include a tour of the factory and adjacent store to see techniques on leather and fur production that are passed down through generations, and of course, buy something for yourself or your family members.

With a wide range of products and the opportunity for personalization, the experience extends beyond just shopping, as every visitor also gets a cultural immersion in vibrant bazaars and historical districts. Turkey’s historical connection to the leather industry adds significance to the purchase, making it a memorable and worthwhile activity for visitors.

Best places where to go to shop for leather and fur clothing are Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, Bursa, and Bergama . But you can also go on a shopping tour in Cappadocia where you’ll have half a day to shop in a small group. 

Unique Things to Do in Turkey for Couples

11. go on a boat/yacht cruise.

best thing to do in Turkey for couples

To appreciate the beauty of Turkey in its fullness, you need to see it from the sea, receiving a unique perspective of its coastline. Doing it is easy from pretty much any big city or small town on the coast of Turkey as it has a myriad of cruise options, catering to different preferences and interests.

Pirate boats, historical excursions, leisurely sailing on a yacht, or vibrant nightlife on the water, there’s a cruise for every type of traveler. The cost of these cruises varies, ensuring flexibility for different budgets.

Turkish seaside, bordered by the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, is adorned with pristine beaches, hidden coves, and small cute islands which are best to visit by boat. Opting for a cruise allows you to explore these coastal gems, each with its own charm and character. 

My favorite routes are those around Bodrum to crystal clear waters , around Marmaris (because they stop at hidden coves), around Antalya , and one to Kekova sunken city from Demre or Kas.

12. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Fairy-Tale Landscapes of Cappadocia

adventurous thing to do in Cappadocia

You have probably seen magical photos of hot air balloons soaring into the sky with the first rays of the sun over fields with whimsical rock formation. They were taken in a beautiful land of Cappadocia known for its unique geological features (that are called fairy chimneys) and cave hotels .

Going on a hot air balloon ride is one of the must-do things in Cappadocia and best thing to do in Turkey which you will remember for the rest of your life. Imagine soaring where the sun paints the sky with hues of orange and pink, casting a warm glow over distinctive rock spires below.

As you float above the ancient cave dwellings, the silence of the morning is only broken by the occasional whisper of the wind. It’s that experience in Turkey that transcends the ordinary, leaving an indelible mark on your memories of this destination.

Flights take place every day but sometimes on winter days in Cappadocia they are canceled due to bad weather. Anyone can experience a hot air balloon ride – you just need to choose one of the numerous companies.

But if you are like me and are afraid to fly, then rent a car in Cappadocia (through my guide find out where is the best place to hire a car ) or go watch air balloons fly close (like in my photo)!

13. Spend a Day in the Beach Club

best thing to do in turkey in summer

Among summer activities to do in Turkey, going to a beach club is one of my absolute favorites because Turkish beach clubs provide a backdrop of crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and scenic beauty, creating an idyllic atmosphere for relaxation and enjoyment.

They are usually set by the stunning coastal landscape on the shores of the Aegean or Mediterranean Seas and have luxurious amenities like  comfortable sun loungers, private cabanas, and exclusive beachfront access. Many clubs offer high-end services such as spa treatments, VIP lounges, and gourmet dining, elevating the overall beach experience.

Every big city in Turkey by the coast will have a beach club. So if you go on a sea vacation to any of them, check on the maps what beach clubs are available in the area and have a fantastic day relaxing in one of them!

Here is my first reel from the very first beach club I visited in Bodrum:

            View this post on Instagram                         A post shared by Anya | Travel Planner (@roadiscalling)

14. Have a Tandem Paraglide Flight Over the Blue Lagoon

paragliding in Oludeniz

Doing a tandem paraglide flight over the Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz is an extraordinary and romantic experience for couples in Turkey , even though it might be considered scary and is not an adventure everyone might choose.

But if you enjoy thrilling experiences then this top tourist attraction in Turkey will be one of the most memorable things.

With it, you’ll be able to soar high above turquoise waters and Fethiye mountains , getting a full birds-eye view of the lagoon, the coastline, and the lush landscapes below.

Every time Mark and I visit Fethiye, we tell ourselves that we are going to do tandem paragliding. But every time I just chicken out and choose to sit on the beach watching paragliders fly above my head. That’s a separate attraction of its own as the entire process is quite mesmerizing and the beach in that area is totally gorgeous!

If you decide to participate in this bucket list Turkey activity, you can always make arrangements on spot in Fethiye. But for summer travel, it is better to pre-book it in advance. Check here the top ten paragliding experiences with prices .

15. Enjoy the Most Scenic Train Route Across Turkey in Doğu Express

most scenic train ride in Turkey

One of my absolute favorite and most scenic things to do in Turkey is to be a passenger of the Doğu Express picturesque train that runs between Ankara and Kars and covers a distance of 1300 kilometers within a 32-hour journey.

A trip seems to be long but in my experience, this much time is not enough to enjoy breathtaking Anatolian landscapes with Türkiye’s cultural richness. It is like a cruise where you explore the country not by ship but by train and make multiple stops in towns and villages along the route to do local exploration.

This train ride is among the top four most beautiful train routes in Turkey and if I had to compare it to other scenic train rides in the world, I’d say that it is as beautiful as train rides found in Switzerland , England, Japan, and Canada.

If you make this trip happen, be ready to ride through the unreal landscapes of Anatolia, where high slopes meet mountain rivers. Sometimes you go through tunnels, other times through gorges or valleys. But every time views resemble Switzerland and Italy which makes it challenging to look away from the window.

There are two ways to do this trip, one by a public train that runs every week throughout the year and on a tourist route that gives service only from December to March . The second option is better as you have more time in towns where train stops which allows some time for exploring the region. For more details, refer to this site .

Other Fun & Secret Turkey Activities (Great for Families, Young Adults & Everyone Else)

16. get amazed with the colossal statues & ancient tombs at mount nemrut.

amazing thing to see in Turkey

Traveling far to Mount Nemrut (located in southeastern Turkey near the city of Adiyaman. ) is going to be another adventurous thing you’ll do in Turkey that will be difficult to forget.

Mount Nemrut is a special place that is both a geographical feature and an archaeological site. It is a mountain with an elevation of 2,134 meters (7,001 feet) where a unique open-air museum sits on the summit with an ancient funerary complex built by King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene around 62 BC. 

This museum is basically an area with colossal statues (that remind me of a similar site in Juta village in Georgia ) and ancient tombs that represent various deities and kings and look as if they’ve been frozen in time. The hike to the statues on the top of Mount typically takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your pace and the specific trail you choose. There are a couple of different paths to the summit that vary in difficulty.

You don’t really come to Mount Nemrut directly just to hike and see the statues. It is quite remote and is located in a region where there are not many things to do. 

The best way to visit this part of Turkey is on a tour through eastern Turkey where you travel to a few locations, including this one. There is for example a 2-night tour available from Cappadocia to Mount Nemrut that also includes a quick trip to Sanliurfa, a must-visit city in Turkey . 

17. See the Most Beautiful Mountains of Turkey – Kaçkar Mountains

hiking in Turkish mountains

In my experience, the Kaçkar Mountains in Turkey offer the most breathtaking mountains in Turkey with alpine landscapes, pristine lakes, and challenging trekking routes. The region is like a haven for people who love hiking, getting away in the wilderness, and seeing high-altitude areas with snowfields even in summer .

So if your main goal to travel to Turkey is to plan a trip for nature and you are all after mountain ranges, then make sure to add Kaçkar Mountains to your bucket list.

Best time to visit is from June to September from Rize or Artvin, both cities in the Black Sea region. If you come to Rize (part of the Karadeniz region), then combine a trip to the mountains with exploring local tea plantations as all Turkish tea you drink around Turkey comes from here.

The mountains area is quite remote and most people there don’t speak English. So you may want to plan a big multi-day trip to Eastern Turkey that will also include a visit to the Kaçkar mountain range. Otherwise, make arrangements with local guides to conquer Kackar Summit once you arrive in Trabzon.

Click here to see all tours of mountainous Turkey with the best tourist attractions and sightseeing spots.

18. Visit the Capital of Pistachios 

Gaziantep nature

One of the unique things to do in Turkey is to go to Gaziantep in the southeast of the country which is known among Turkish people as the pistachio capital of Turkey and celebrated for its pistachio-infused dishes, such as baklava and kebabs.

Culinary culture is enough of a reason to visit this city but besides it, there is much more to experience – a museum of Roman mosaics, a zoo, fortresses, mosques, and one interesting botanical garden.

The area of Gaziantep, one of the most important places of the Anatolian lands, as well as one of the oldest that is still inhabited, has been home to various civilizations, and it has a special place in the history of the Turkish War of Independence too. It was used to be called just “Antep”, but after the war, its name was changed to “Gaziantep”, with the addition of the word “Gazi”, meaning “war veteran” in Turkish. 

19. Witness the Beauty of One of the Most Beautiful Canyons in the World

visiting canyons in Turkey

Did you know that Turkey has some of the most impressive canyons each with its own unique features, geological formations, and opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, and even canyoning?

Yes, it does. And they offer not only breathtaking natural scenery but also opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Just like the renowned canyons in the US, Turkey’s diverse canyons also offer a ‘wow’ scenery with adventure, making them a must-visit place in Turkey for nature and explorations. 

The most popular canyons such as Goynuk, Koprulu, and Saklikent are located near famous resort cities. However, there are those that many may not have heard of like beautiful canyons in Artvin or Kastamonu. 

There is also The Ihlara Valley Canyon in Cappadocia which is often considered a smaller-scale version of the Grand Canyon. While it may not match the sheer scale of the Grand Canyon, Ihlara Valley impresses with its deep gorge, towering cliffs, and winding river, creating a similar sense of awe and wonder in a more compact setting.

20. Visit an Anitkabir Mausoleum in Ankara

lesser-known place in turkey

While there are many notable mausoleums worldwide, the uniqueness of Anıtkabir lies in its specific historical context and its association with a pivotal figure in Turkish history. This is why coming here is one of the unique and less-known things to do in Turkiye. 

The Anıtkabir Mausoleum is the final resting place of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of Turkish Republic. Located in Ankara, the capital city, it is a significant historical and cultural site that serves as a tribute to Atatürk’s leadership in the establishment of modern Turkey.

The mausoleum is a monumental structure and includes various sections, such as the Road of Lions, the Ceremonial Plaza, and the Hall of Honor, where Atatürk’s tomb is situated. The site is not only a place of remembrance but also a symbol of the Turkish War of Independence and the subsequent formation of the Republic.

While Ankara is not a top city to visit in Turkey, the mausoleum provides a great opportunity to learn about Atatürk’s life and legacy and witness ceremonial events held on special occasions. It holds immense importance for Turkish people and is a symbol of national pride and identity.

If you plan travel to Ankara around the following dates, you’ll see a grandiose performance around the mausoleum – April 23, May 19, Aug 30, Oct 29, and Nov 10.

Seeing all these things in Turkey in one trip can be somewhat challenging unless a trip is long or if you will be just hopping from place to place trying to cover it all.

Do not be in a hurry to travel everywhere. Choose your top places and activities and have fun exploring Turkey at a slower pace. 

Bucket List Things to Do in Turkey

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel a lot and live in different countries. At present time, she is based in Spain while waiting for the war in Ukraine to be over to be able to return home. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar places and discover the world while working remotely.

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10 Best Places to Go in Turkey for Families

Turkey is a treasure trove of vibrant culture, rich history, and stunning landscapes, making it an ideal destination for families seeking unforgettable adventures. With a variety of Turkey tours available, you can explore sun-kissed beaches, ancient ruins, and bustling bazaars, ensuring something for every family member to enjoy. Here are the top 10 places to visit in Turkey that promise a memorable family vacation.

Aerial view of the Sultanahmet Mosque with its domes and minarets, surrounded by the cityscape and a stunning sea view in the background.

1. Istanbul: A Fusion of Cultures

Istanbul , the heart of Turkey, is where East meets West. Families can explore the magnificent Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. Don’t miss a boat tour on the Bosphorus, offering spectacular views of the city’s skyline.

2. Cappadocia: Fairy Tale Landscapes

Cappadocia’s unique rock formations and cave dwellings will captivate both young and old. Families can enjoy hot air balloon rides, explore underground cities, and hike through the scenic valleys.

3. Pamukkale: Nature’s Cotton Castle

Pamukkale’s white travertine terraces and thermal waters are a natural wonder. Kids will love splashing in the warm pools, while parents can relax and take in the breathtaking scenery.

4. Antalya: Beachside Bliss

Antalya offers stunning beaches and a rich history. Families can relax on the sandy shores, explore the old town of Kaleiçi, and visit the ancient city of Perge. The Antalya Aquarium is also a hit with kids.

5. Ephesus: Ancient Wonders

The ancient city of Ephesus is a must-visit for history buffs. Walk through the well-preserved ruins, including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Nearby, the House of the Virgin Mary adds a spiritual touch to your visit.

6. Bodrum: Coastal Charm

Bodrum is perfect for a seaside getaway. Families can visit the Bodrum Castle, enjoy water sports, and take boat trips to nearby islands. The vibrant marina area offers great dining and shopping options.

7. Ankara: The Capital’s Delights

Ankara, Turkey’s capital, offers a mix of modernity and history. Visit the Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and explore the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The city’s parks and zoos provide fun for kids.

8. Fethiye: Outdoor Adventures

Fethiye is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Families can hike the Lycian Way, explore the ancient ruins of Telmessos, and enjoy the turquoise waters of Ölüdeniz Beach. The nearby Butterfly Valley is a hidden gem worth exploring.

9. Izmir: Aegean Gem

Izmir, located on the Aegean coast, combines modernity with ancient history. Stroll along the scenic Kordon promenade, visit the historic Agora, and take a day trip to the ruins of Pergamon. The Izmir Wildlife Park is a favorite among children.

10. Konya: Spiritual Journey

Konya is famous for its association with the poet Rumi. Families can visit the Mevlana Museum, dedicated to Rumi, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. The city’s green spaces and parks are perfect for a relaxing family day out.

Adventurer’s FAQ

Q: What is the best time to visit Turkey with family? A: Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are ideal, with pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Q: Is Turkey safe for families? A: Yes, Turkey is generally safe for tourists, including families. As with any destination, staying aware of your surroundings and following local advice is recommended.

Q: Are there family-friendly accommodations in Turkey? A: Absolutely. Turkey offers a wide range of family-friendly hotels and resorts, especially in popular tourist areas like Antalya, Bodrum, and Istanbul.

Q: What should we pack for a trip to Turkey? A: Comfortable clothing, sunscreen, hats, good walking shoes, and swimwear for beach destinations. Don’t forget any necessary travel documents and medications.

Q: Can we use credit cards in Turkey? A: Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in cities and tourist areas. However, it’s a good idea to carry some cash for small purchases or in rural areas.

Top Experiences & Tours in Turkey

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia : Drift over fairy chimneys and valleys in one of the world’s most picturesque landscapes.

Pamukkale Thermal Pools : Bask in natural, terraced mineral baths at this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ephesus Tour : Explore the ancient ruins of one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Mediterranean.

7-Day Istanbul and Cappadocia Tour : Explore the bustling streets of Istanbul and marvel at the unique rock formations of Cappadocia in this immersive week-long journey.

7-Day Highlights of Turkey Tour : Discover Turkey’s major attractions, from Istanbul’s vibrant neighborhoods to the thermal terraces of Pamukkale.

8-Day Turkey Tour Package : A curated itinerary covering Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ephesus for an in-depth exploration of Turkey’s historical wonders.

9-Day Around Turkey Tour : Journey through Turkey’s fascinating cities and landscapes, including Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Pamukkale, on this comprehensive tour.

10-Day Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Antalya, and Cappadocia Tour : Combine the vibrancy of Istanbul with the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the hot springs of Pamukkale, the stunning beaches of Antalya, and the whimsical terrain of Cappadocia.

12-Day Istanbul, Konya, Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale & Ephesus Tour : Travel through Turkey’s diverse landscapes and historical sites, from Istanbul’s bustling metropolis to the spiritual heritage of Konya.

12-Day Turkey Tour : Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale, Ephesus, and Ankara: Discover the iconic sights of Turkey, including Ankara’s modern charm, in this all-encompassing two-week itinerary.

Embark on Your Turkish Adventure!

Turkey offers a tapestry of experiences that will captivate every member of your family. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, relaxing on pristine beaches, or discovering the vibrant culture, an unforgettable adventure awaits in this enchanting country.

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Your ultimate travel guide to Turkey for Indian travellers in 2024

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Your ultimate travel guide to Turkey for Indian travellers in 2024

Visa Requirements

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The Frugal Expat

Top 12 Travel Mistakes in Turkey and How to Avoid

Steve Cummings

May 30, 2024

Alacati, Turkey

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Turkey is an incredible country to visit, especially if you are heading there for the first time. However, traveling somewhere new with unfamiliar rules and customs can be intimidating. However, the best way to avoid mistakes is to learn what to know before traveling to Turkey.

If you have never been to Turkey before, we have put together this insightful guide to the things you need to do before you arrive.

1. Safety First

popular tourist destinations turkey

You should always make sure the place you are traveling to, especially if it is one you are unfamiliar with, is safe. This is usually done by looking at the embassy page for your country or the US government’s website. Given the horror stories you often hear in the news and on social media, you may wonder, “Is it safe to travel in Turkey?” or, more specifically, “Is it safe to travel to Turkey as a woman?”

The general belief is that it is relatively safe to travel to Turkey, regardless of gender, at the moment and for some time. While you should take the same precautions you would anywhere and be aware of some of the customs we discuss later, there is no reason to fear a trip to Turkey irrationally. Around 50 million people travel to Turkey recreationally each year.

It's also important to remember that the Turkish economy relies significantly on the tourism industry's revenue. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the government and the country to ensure visitors are as safe as possible.

2. Don’t Try to Do It All at Once

One of the mistakes people make when they visit Turkey for the first time is trying to do it all during one trip. It is easy to get carried away with the various towns, cities, and other places, like Pamukkale, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Antalya, Izmir, and Istanbul.

Rather than trying to cram your travel itinerary, you should take it easier. That begs the question, “How many days do you have to spend in Turkey?” That depends on where you want to explore. For instance, if you're going to hit all the major cities and popular tourist attractions, you should book at least a week or maybe even ten days to ensure you have enough time to pace yourself. If you would instead just visit one region this time and then go to a different place another, you could easily spend five days or even a long weekend in the country and have enough time to have a memorable holiday.

3. Worrying Too Much About the Dress Code

Many people ask two questions regarding travel to Turkey: “What to wear in Turkey?” and “How strict is Islam in Turkey?” While it is true that Turkey is an Islamic country, the dress code within its borders is more lenient compared to other Muslim countries nearby. A good guideline is wearing shorts and a knee-length dress and covering your shoulders and chest.

More specific rules and guidelines will depend on where you travel in Turkey. The cities that receive many tourists, like Antalya, Izmir, and Istanbul, usually have a more accepting and casual attitude toward casual dress. In contrast, the central areas and places like Konya tend to be much more traditional and strictly conservative.

When visiting mosques and temples, you should cover your shoulders, chest, and legs, as the ground around the buildings and the buildings themselves are considered sacred.

4. Not Learning the Language (at least a little, anyway)

learn a new language

A concern many tourists share is, “Are Turkish people nice? Again, if you just listened to sweeping stereotypes, you may head to Turkey with the wrong opinion of the general population. While there are people you should be on the lookout for, such as pickpockets and scam artists, the average member of the population is likely to be friendly, especially to tourists.

Remember, we said that tourism was essential to the country’s economy. One way to ensure you make the right impression when you visit, and that is so quickly missed out on, is learning some of the language. You will find English is spoken throughout the touristy areas. However, you may find yourself in parts of the country where no one speaks your language. That’s when it’s helpful to have a few key phrases and words at your disposal.

Even if you encounter locals who speak English, you’d be amazed at how nice and cordial they will be to you if you try to speak their language, even if you do it badly.

5. Yes, It Does Snow in Turkey

Snow in Turkey

Another fascinating misconception about Turkey is that it is a summery place for most of the year. While there may be many months of scorching hot weather, sandy beaches, and excellent all-exclusive resorts along the coast, you may not realize it snows in Turkey.

When figuring out what to wear in Turkey, you must ensure you are not traveling when it is snowing. Some places, like Kars in the east of Turkey, even receive around four months of snowfall yearly and experience temperatures as low as -15 Celcius /4 Fahrenheit degrees during winter. The thing to know before traveling to Turkey is to check the climate and make sure you pack accordingly for the weather. If you are interested in experiencing Turkey in the snow, we won’t blame you for going during November, December, January, or even February. 

6. Don’t Drink the Water

drink more water

Finding a decent local water source in your part of the US can sometimes be challenging, but this is even more complicated when you go abroad. This leads many to ask a question you’ve likely pondered, “Can you drink water in Turkey?”

Official sources suggest that Turkish water from the tap is safe. Before you start guzzling it down, you should note that intense chlorination is used to purify the water, which gives it a very unpalatable flavor. This is why most tourists and even locals drink bottled water or use some filtration system.

7. Missing Out on a Delicious Turkish Breakfast

popular tourist destinations turkey

Food is a crucial component of Turkish culture, and one of the most important meals of the day in the country is breakfast. So, one of the things to know before traveling to Turkey is that you should always make time for breakfast. Trust us on this one, but Kahvalti, the name for breakfast in Turkish, is something to behold and marvel at. Think about bread, veggies, hams, cheese, jams, and other dishes prepared and served there. This is all washed down with a cup of cay (Turkish tea) and will leave you ready to face the day and your many adventures.

Make sure you are up early enough and note the time that the eateries you plan to visit serve their breakfast menu. Some will finish at 11 a.m. or midday during the week, but at the weekend, they offer brunch or all-day breakfast menu options.

8. Do You Need a Turkish Visa?

Passport ticket

Although we have noted how friendly and hospitable the people of Turkey are and how crucial tourism is to keeping it in the black, one thing to know before traveling to Turkey is that you may need a visa. The Turkish visa policy is very generous: travelers from over 90 countries can enter Turkey without a visa, while citizens of 28 other countries can apply for Turkish eVisas.

The countries with visa-free access of up to 90 days include the United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Montenegro, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, and the whole EFTA and European Union.

Taiwan, South Africa, Oman, Mexico, China, and Bahrain are among the countries whose citizens need to obtain a Turkish eVisa.

9. Not Booking Accommodation Early Enough

popular tourist destinations turkey

Are you the kind of person who loves planning and creating a detailed spreadsheet for your entire itinerary when you travel? Then you’ll appreciate this tip, and you probably already know it. Even if you are not a big planner, you need this tip.

You see, especially if you want to avoid disappointment while ensuring you can save as much money as possible on your trip, one thing to know when traveling to Turkey is to book your accommodation in advance. How soon? As soon as you know the dates you can travel.

10. See Beyond the All-Inclusive Resorts

Asian woman traveler planning

Turkey is famous for its all-inclusive beach and coastal resorts. Unfortunately, many people think this is all there is to the country. Similar to looking beyond Paris when planning a trip to France, you should do the same when planning a trip to Turkey about Istanbul and thinking you just need to stay at an all-inclusive. 

The country has been central to many exciting events, dramas, and historical events, and its experiences have inspired modern Turkey. There are more than 28 famous ancient ruins, almost 500 museums, and over 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and that’s just scratching the surface. Do you really want to spend your whole time in just one resort?

11. Don’t Underestimate How Big Turkey Is

Turkey

We have already discussed an answer to the question, “How many days do you have to spend in Turkey?” The people who ask this question do not realize how big Turkey actually is.  A drive from the most westerly point, Canakkale, to the eastern Igdir covers around 1,900km/1180m and can take around 24 hours without stopping.

Turkey is 11 times bigger than Ireland and twice the size of California. We feel it is important to reiterate that if you only have a few days to spend in Turkey, it is best to stick to one area or city to get the most out of your experience there. If you are there for over a few days or as many as two weeks, you will have time to spread your adventure across the country.

12. Not Trying to Barter or Bargain with Vendors

Grand Bazar

Another things to know when traveling to Turkey is that you should be prepared to barter, bargain, haggle, or whatever you want to call it with the vendors, shop owners, and salespeople there. You will likely visit at least one of the impressive bazaars around a beautiful city. If you do, make sure you play hardball with the salesperson. Don’t worry about offending them, as they are prepared for this type of behavior and prefer it.

Go in with an ideal price in mind that you are willing to pay and try to stick to it. People often choose to pay half the tagged or suggested price and then haggle as strongly as they can until the vendor accepts. It’s part of the experience, a lot of fun, and often means you get a bargain, even if you are new to the process.

Final Thoughts

So, what have we covered in this post? At The Frugal Expat, we have provided as many tips as possible and things to know before traveling to Turkey so you have the best, safest, and most enjoyable holiday possible. Much of what we have said may seem like common sense, but as we have read in the past of many travelers who didn’t know even the basics, we felt it was worth sharing with you all.

Just try to be polite, use the language, and take the same precautions you would anywhere else, and you should have an excellent time in Turkey. 

If you have any tips, suggestions, rules, or regulations you feel may be necessary to improve our guide, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section below. Thank you. 

popular tourist destinations turkey

I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more.  And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.

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Turkey Soars in Global Tourism Rankings Placing Istanbul as the Crossroads of a Booming Industry

popular tourist destinations turkey

Turkey’s booming travel and tourism industry is shining bright on the global stage, according to the World Economic Forum’s highly anticipated Travel and Tourism Development Index 2024 . The biennial report ranks Turkey an impressive 29th out of 119 countries assessed, skyrocketing 8 places since the previous 2022 index. Turkey’s status as not just a tourism powerhouse is cemented by this stellar perrformance. In particular a premier developing market in travel and tourism across Southern Europe.

The Perfect Storm Driving Turkey’s Tourism Surge 

What factors fueled Turkey’s meteoric rise? A combination of strategic policies, infrastructure investments, and an abundance of natural and cultural attractions have perfectly positioned Turkey to capture an outsized share of resurgent global travel demand in the post-pandemic era.  

“Turkey has been laser-focused on developing its travel and tourism capabilities in a sustainable, competitive manner,” explained Sirzat Cevik, deputy director at Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

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Turkey’s Rising Stars: Aviation and Natural Resources Shine Bright

The  pillars instrumental to long-term tourism growth is where Turkiye saw improvement. Its air transport infrastructure ranked an impressive 8th globally, reflecting major airport investments and expanded route networks by carriers like Turkish Airlines. Turkey’s stunning natural resources like the Turquoise Coast propelled it to 32nd for that category, moving up 24-spots.    

“From our famed Istanbul mosques and Cappadocia’s lunar landscapes to pampered cruise ship passengers enjoying all-inclusive Mediterranean voyages from Antalya, Turkey offers incredible diversity for visitors,” noted Adnan Durgut, chairman of the Hotel Association of Turkey. “We’re working hard to protect these crown jewels through sustainable practices even as visitor numbers soar.”

Work in Progress: Enhancing Pricing, Safety and  Human Capital  

While Turkey’s rapidly ascending tourism trajectory is undeniable, the report highlights areas still needing improvement. These include relatively weaker scores for price competitiveness, tourist service infrastructure, safety/security, human resources, and environmental sustainability.  

“Turkey’s ambitions in travel and tourism are sky-high,” Cevik stated. “We’re prioritizing initiatives like tourism workforce training, carbon neutrality for hotels and airports, and safety protocols to match our world-class attractions and services.” 

As the summer high season kicks off, all eyes are on Turkey to see if its rising star in global tourism can achieve stratospheric new heights.

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Your ultimate travel guide to Turkey for Indian travellers in 2024

W elcome to Turkey, a land where the East meets the West, where ancient history intertwines with modern charm, and where every corner tells a story. As an Indian traveller, you're in for a treat as you explore this beautiful country. From the bustling streets of Istanbul to the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia, Turkey offers a diverse range of experiences that will leave you mesmerised. In this travel guide, we'll take you through everything you need to know to make the most of your trip to Turkey in 2024.

Visa Requirements

Before you go on your journey to Turkey, make sure to check the visa requirements. Indian citizens need to apply for an e-visa online before arriving in Turkey. The process is straightforward and can be done through the official website of the Turkish government. Make sure to apply for your visa well in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles.

Best Time to Visit Turkey

Turkey experiences a variety of climates due to its diverse geography. The best time to visit depends on the regions you plan to explore. For coastal areas like Istanbul, Antalya, and Bodrum, the best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are fewer. If you're planning to visit inland destinations like Cappadocia, the summer months (June to August) are ideal, although it can get quite hot. Winter (December to February) is the best time for skiing enthusiasts to visit the mountains in regions like Uludağ and Erciyes.

Must-Visit destinations in Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, straddles the Bosphorus Strait, blending two continents, Europe and Asia. This vibrant metropolis is a treasure trove of history, culture, and stunning architecture. Start your journey at the Hagia Sophia, a monumental structure that has served as a cathedral, mosque, and now a museum. Its massive dome and intricate mosaics are awe-inspiring. Nearby, the Blue Mosque, with its six minarets and exquisite blue tiles, is a must-visit.

Wander through the bustling Grand Bazaar, one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets, where you can shop for spices, textiles, and souvenirs. Don't miss a leisurely Bosphorus cruise to enjoy breathtaking views of the city's skyline, palaces, and fortresses. Istanbul's rich history, vibrant street life, and culinary delights make it an unforgettable destination.

Cappadocia, located in central Turkey, is famous for its unique landscapes that look like they've been plucked from a fairy tale. The region is characterised by its "fairy chimneys," tall, cone-shaped rock formations that are best viewed from a hot air balloon at sunrise. This surreal experience offers panoramic views of the valleys and villages below.

Explore the ancient underground cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu, which provided refuge to early Christians. These subterranean networks are fascinating, with their tunnels, living quarters, and churches. Another highlight is the Göreme Open-Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring rock-cut churches adorned with beautiful frescoes. Cappadocia's unique geology and historical significance make it a magical place to explore.

Pamukkale, meaning "Cotton Castle" in Turkish, is a natural wonder in southwestern Turkey. It is renowned for its stunning white terraces formed by mineral-rich thermal waters. Visitors can walk barefoot on these terraces, soaking in the warm waters while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. At the top of the terraces lies the ancient city of Hierapolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Explore the ruins of this Greco-Roman city, including a well-preserved theatre, ancient baths, and the Necropolis, the largest ancient cemetery in Turkey. Don't miss the Cleopatra Pool, a thermal pool where you can swim among submerged columns and ruins. Pamukkale's combination of natural beauty and ancient history offers a unique and relaxing experience.

Ephesus, located near the modern town of Selçuk, is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the Mediterranean. This archaeological wonder provides a glimpse into life during the Roman Empire. Walk along Marble Street to the grand Library of Celsus, which once held thousands of scrolls and is a magnificent example of Roman architecture. The Great Theatre, with a seating capacity of 25,000, is another highlight and is still used for performances today.

Visit the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, though only a single column remains. The House of the Virgin Mary believed to be the final resting place of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a pilgrimage site located nearby. Ephesus's historical significance and impressive ruins make it a must-see destination.

Antalya, often referred to as the "Turkish Riviera," is a beautiful coastal city on the Mediterranean. It offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, historical sites, and modern amenities. Relax on the pristine beaches with crystal-clear waters, such as Lara Beach and Konyaaltı Beach. Explore the old town of Kaleiçi, with its narrow cobblestone streets, historic Ottoman houses, and vibrant bazaars. Visit the Antalya Museum, which houses an extensive collection of artefacts from the region's rich history.

Nearby, the ancient ruins of Perge and Termessos offer fascinating insights into the area's past. Perge is known for its impressive stadium and Roman baths, while Termessos, located in the Taurus Mountains, provides stunning views and a sense of ancient isolation. Antalya's scenic beauty, combined with its historical treasures, make it a captivating destination for any traveller.

Cultural Etiquette

Turks are known for their hospitality, so don't be surprised if you're invited for tea or coffee by locals.

When visiting mosques, dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering.

It's customary to greet people with a handshake and a smile.

Remember to use your right hand for eating and greeting, as the left hand is considered unclean in Turkish culture.

Food and Cuisine

Turkish cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavours influenced by various cultures throughout history. Don't miss out on trying these delicious dishes:

Kebabs: Whether it's Adana kebab, doner kebab, or shish kebab, you're in for a treat.

Mezes: A variety of appetisers like hummus, baba ghanoush, and dolma.

Baklava: Indulge in this sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with nuts and sweetened with syrup.

Turkish Tea and Coffee: Enjoy a cup of strong Turkish coffee or fragrant tea served in traditional tulip-shaped glasses.

Safety Tips

Turkey is generally a safe destination for tourists, but it's always wise to exercise caution, especially in crowded areas.

Keep an eye on your belongings and be wary of pickpockets, especially in touristy areas.

Respect local customs and traditions to avoid any misunderstandings.

With its rich history, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality, Turkey offers an unforgettable experience for Indian travellers. Whether you're exploring ancient ruins, relaxing on pristine beaches, or wandering through vibrant bazaars, Turkey has something for everyone. So pack your bags, embark on this adventure, and create memories that will last a lifetime in the enchanting land of Turkey.

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  2. 20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Turkey

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COMMENTS

  1. 10 of the best places to visit in Türkiye (Turkey)

    5. Southeastern Anatolia. Best for culture and food. The often-overlooked southeastern Anatolia region is one of Türkiye's cultural - and culinary - stars. The cities of Gaziantep and Antakya (Hatay) are famed for their food, and both also boast museums with incredible collections of Roman mosaics.

  2. The 15 Best Places to Visit in Turkey (Updated for 2024)

    3. Oludeniz. Dijise/Shutterstock. Oludeniz, meaning "dead sea," is a bustling beach village known as the Blue Lagoon in Southwestern Turkey. Featuring wide, sandy shores in dazzling white and blue shades, this village overlooks Belcekız Beach and features great waterfront recreation and dining options.

  3. 20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Turkey

    19. Göbeklitepe. 20. Sumela Monastery. 1. Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) Mosque. Renowned as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the spellbinding Byzantine glory of the Hagia Sophia Mosque (Aya Sofya) is not only one of the top things to do in Istanbul, but also in Turkey.

  4. 53 Top Destinations In Turkey: Best Places To Visit In Turkey For All

    Experience the intersection of history and natural beauty in Çannakale. 11. Ancient City Of Ephesus. Located near the present-day town of Selçuk on Turkey's southeast coast, Ephesus is one of the world's most magnificent ancient ruins and is one of the top places to go in Turkey for ruins.

  5. 10 Best Places to Visit in Turkey (+Map)

    The ruins of Ephesus are well preserved and contained within a large archaeological site, making it one of Turkey's most popular tourist attractions. Ephesus was declared a Roman settlement in 133 BC, although it did not reach its peak until some 200 years later. At one point, when the city was the capital of Roman Asia Minor, Ephesus housed ...

  6. 26 Top Tourist Attractions in Turkey (+Map)

    5. Pamukkale. Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish, is an unreal landscape in western Turkey, famous for its white terraces and. The terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water with a very high mineral content. People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years.

  7. The 12 best things to do in Turkey

    Hike the Lycian Way. For a more active way to explore the Turquoise Coast, consider taking on part of the Lycian Way, a long-distance trekking path stretching 540 km (335 mi) from Fethiye to Antalya. Best traversed in spring or fall, the sometimes challenging trail winds along spectacular coastal cliffs, through bucolic villages and beach towns ...

  8. 25 Most Beautiful Places in Turkey: Hidden Gems & Must-sees

    19. Mount Nemrut: A lesser-known archaeological site. Well-known among Turkish people but still relatively obscure on the world stage, Mount Nemrut is a true hidden gem. Located in south-eastern Turkey within Mount Nemrut National Park, this 2,100-metre-tall peak is one of the highest in the country.

  9. THE 30 BEST Places to Visit in Türkiye (UPDATED 2024)

    2023. 1. Hagia Sophia Mosque. 45,086. Historic Sites. This architectural marvel displays 30 million gold tiles throughout its interior, and a wide, flat dome which was a bold engineering feat at the time it was constructed in the 6th century. See ways to experience (791)

  10. 17 Top-Rated Things to Do in Turkey

    3. Hike the Lycian Way Hiking the Lycian Way. Highlight: Back-to-basics slow travel on one of the world's top-rated thru-hikes Turkey's most famous long-distance walking trail winds along the Mediterranean Coast from Fethiye down to Antalya.. Along its 540-kilometer length, the way-marked trail passes some of Turkey's most famous Classical-era Lycian city ruins, such as UNESCO World Heritage ...

  11. Turkey Travel Guide 2024 · Itineraries, Top Places, Beaches

    A Travel Guide to Turkey with ️ Travel Itineraries, ️ Top places to visit in 2024, ️ Beaches, and more! ... arguably the hidden gem of the Turquoise Coast and one of the best places to visit in Turkey. Make sure to stop by Ölüdeniz nearby, renowned for its iconic destinations, Butterfly Valley, a natural marvel with a crazy drop to a ...

  12. 18 Top-Rated Turkey Tourist Attractions

    4. Topkapi Palace. Topkapi Palace was originally a luxurious residence, built during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, which the sultans resided at this palace for 400 years. Today, Topkapi Palace is one of the most visited museums in Turkey, and many say no trip to Istanbul is complete without visiting this site.

  13. 33 Best Places To Visit In Turkey (Travel Destinations & Cities!)

    For those who are in search of excitement and relaxation, the Turquoise coast is one of the best places to visit in Turkey. 22. Edirne. Location. Once named Adrianople, Edirne in the Marmar region of Northwest Turkey is one of the most captivating yet non-touristy destinations in the whole of Turkey.

  14. The 13 best places to visit in Turkey

    Where should I travel to in Turkey - The 13 best places to visit in Turkey. 1. Istanbul. It's most likely that you'll begin your trip in the city of Istanbul, a city that straddles east and west, divided by the Bosphorus Strait that splits the city into two separate parts. The only city in the world that can lay claim to residence on two ...

  15. 12 Best Places To Visit In Turkey + Things To Do (2024)

    4 - CAPPADOCIA. Cappadocia is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey. As the rays of the sun push back the night, the towering rock faces of Cappadocia glow with an incandescent splendor. Cut by years of wind and water, half-domed white rocks cling to valley tops.

  16. Best places to visit in Turkey

    Here is a selection of the best destinations to visit during your stay in Turkey in 2024.Istanbul is undoubtedly the tourist capital of Turkey but its real capital, Ankara, is well worth a visit, as are the magnificent seaside resorts of Izmir, Antalya, Bodrum and Marmaris.. If you have time, don't hesitate for a second and plan a real road trip in Turkey.

  17. 19 Best Places To Visit in Turkey in 2024

    Assos is a quiet peaceful beach town in the Canakkale region. The main tourist attraction here is the beach, but on top of the hill you will find the ancient Greek city of Behramkale. Entrance fee: 25 TL. Visiting Behramkale is perfect stop on your Turkey trip if you like to visit another UNESCO world heritage site.

  18. Best Turkey holiday destinations for 2023

    Monday 03 July 2023 14:20 BST. Comments. Cappadocia is one of Turkey's most well-known destinations (Getty Images/iStockphoto) A country steeped in history, Turkey combines lively cities ...

  19. 10 Best Places to Visit in Turkey: Top Travel Picks

    In this blog post, we'll explore Turkey's top 10 must-visit destinations to inspire your next Turkey vacation. Istanbul. As Turkey's largest city and former capital, Istanbul is a vibrant metropolis steeped in history. ... Aspendos, and Termessos. Explore popular Antalya tours offered by One Nation Travel, featuring the destinations ...

  20. The 21 Prettiest Places In Turkey To Visit: 2024 Guide

    The Pamukkale travertines are among the most beautiful places in Turkey to visit. 12. Lake Tuz. Turkey's second largest lake is the captivating Lake Tuz (Tuz Gölü). Located at the heart of the country, this large but shallow saline lake is home to migratory birds and is a sanctuary for pink flamingos.

  21. 10 beautiful places in Turkey from Pamukkale to Cappadocia

    8. Ephesus. Turkey has a great number of ancient sites, most far less visited than similar sites in Italy and Greece; and Ephesus, now UNESCO-protected, is arguably the grandest of them all. The Temple of Artemis which stood in the ancient city of Ephesus was one of the original Seven Wonders of the World.

  22. 15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Turkey

    A lot of Roman influence can be seen throughout Turkey. One of the best places to see this is at the Ephesus ruins in Selcuk. Here are the 8 Best Things to Do in Selcuk and Ephesus. Pamukkale is home to the ancient travertines of Pamukkale, and it is a place you should definitely visit in Turkey. Here is A Complete Travel Guide to Pamukkale ...

  23. 20 Epic Things to Do in Turkey for a Bucket List Experience!

    The best way to visit this part of Turkey is on a tour through eastern Turkey where you travel to a few locations, including this one. There is for example a 2-night tour available from Cappadocia to Mount Nemrut that also includes a quick trip to Sanliurfa, a must-visit city in Turkey. 17.

  24. 10 Best Places to Go in Turkey for Families (2024)

    Here are the top 10 places to visit in Turkey that promise a memorable family vacation. 1. Istanbul: A Fusion of Cultures. Istanbul, the heart of Turkey, is where East meets West. Families can explore the magnificent Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace.

  25. Your ultimate travel guide to Turkey for Indian travellers in 2024

    Turkish Cuisine. Explore Turkey, where history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes await Indian travellers in 2024. Visit Istanbul's iconic landmarks, marvel at Cappadocia's fairy-tale scenery ...

  26. Top 12 Travel Mistakes in Turkey and How to Avoid

    2. Don't Try to Do It All at Once. One of the mistakes people make when they visit Turkey for the first time is trying to do it all during one trip. It is easy to get carried away with the various towns, cities, and other places, like Pamukkale, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Antalya, Izmir, and Istanbul.

  27. Turkey Soars in Global Tourism Rankings Placing Istanbul as the

    Turkey's booming travel and tourism industry is shining bright on the global stage, according to the World Economic Forum's highly anticipated Travel and Tourism Development Index 2024.The biennial report ranks Turkey an impressive 29th out of 119 countries assessed, skyrocketing 8 places since the previous 2022 index.

  28. Cappadocia: The Captivating Destination Everyone's Talking About

    Cappadocia is increasingly becoming a popular travel destination, in 2023 Cappadocia attracted 4.8 million visitors. As this beautiful city continues to be a trendy getaway, continue reading to learn the best time to visit, top things to do, how to get around, and more. ... The best time to visit Cappadocia, Turkey, is during its shoulder ...

  29. Your ultimate travel guide to Turkey for Indian travellers in 2024

    Explore Turkey, where history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes await Indian travellers in 2024. Visit Istanbul's iconic landmarks, marvel at Cappadocia's fairy-tale scenery, relax in ...