Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that spans more than one continent. It is full of colorful cities, bustling markets, attraction-packed resorts, and turquoise seaside escapes. There are beautiful mountains, lakes, waterfalls, forests, and even thermal hot springs for you to explore if you are a fan of nature. You can find ancient structures, archaeological sites, and religious monuments in historical cities and learn stories of Turkey’s rich history. The nightlife there is never dull, and you will meet many tourists eager to share experiences of their home countries with you. Also, when you have completed your Turkey tour or just want to sit back and relax, indulge in a cup of delicious traditional Turkish tea or coffee!
Have you watched the Turkish global blockbusters Diliris Ertugrul and Kurulus Osman? The costumes, cuisines, and places that you see in the dramas provide an in-depth context of the glorious Muslim past. Istanbul, once the capital of the mighty Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, is among the top cities on most bucket lists, but there are many other destinations you should visit. You can stay in boutique hotels inside caves or go on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. Or, why not spend a quiet day soaking up the sun at the luxury beach resorts along the Aegean Sea?
Are you thinking of visiting Turkey with your family or friends? We have you covered. Read on for more ideas on the most amazing Turkish sights or cool places to travel in Turkey!
Known as the modern capital of Turkey, Ankara is home to government buildings, commercial businesses, research centers, foreign embassies, and prestigious universities. Located in the heart of the country and the Anatolia region, Ankara is a transportation hub that connects locals and tourists alike to other destinations.
This busy city is rich in arts and culture with several museums and theaters. Do not miss out on the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations where you can find around 200,000 interesting objects and the Kalesi (Anara Castle) with Roman baths. If you are after an altogether different experience, go and see Turkey’s first Upside-Down House!
Make your way to the Atakule tower and enjoy the view of the city from high above. Bring children for a fun day out at Genclik Park that houses an amusement park, a swimming pool, a Ferris wheel, and miniature trains. Shop from state-of-the-art malls or traditional markets to get the best buys, including fresh produce, spices, carpets, electronics, and souvenirs.
Vast and powerful civilizations such as Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Byzantine, and Hittite once inhabited Ankara. It is no wonder that the city is full of ancient architecture and ruins that reflect its history. Among these, the Citadel, the Temple of Augustus, and a Roman theatre are the most famous. Also, ask your tour guide to take you to the Anitkabir mausoleum, a prominent 20th-century landmark that houses the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first President.
Are you guessing which city is located on two continents? It is none other than Istanbul. It is the most populous city in Turkey and the country’s cultural, economic, and historic center. One of the most ancient cities in the world, Istanbul overshadowed ancient Rome and was the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The Bosphorus Strait serves as a border that divides the city into two halves, namely Asian and European. Istanbul is the center of Turkey’s famous television and film industry. It comes as no surprise that directors make many telenovels there, such as Kuzey Guney.
The Ottoman Topkapi Palace, Suleymaniye and Blue Mosques, and Hagia Sophia dominate the city’s skyline. The Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya Cathedral), in all its Byzantine glory, earned the status of one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The intricate details of the Aya Sofya Cathedral are proof of Turkey’s reputation for excellent workmanship. Architects added the delicate minarets that make up the bulk of its exterior after the Ottoman conquest. On the other hand, the spectacular frescoed interior is a grand reminder of Constantinople’s power.
Do you need a break? Enjoy at one of the scenic rooftop bars or restaurants surrounding the mesmerizing mosques. Taste local herbs and teas at the spice markets. There is always something for everyone in Istanbul!
Cappadocia makes our list of cities to visit in Turkey for all the good reasons. This place is renowned for its unique rock formations. Locals refer to these formations as ‘Fairy Chimneys’. These cone-shaped chimneys are a direct result of small earthquakes, erosions, and volcanic eruptions. There is no better way to get a full view of the Fairy Chimneys than to go on a hot air balloon adventure over the valley. At sunrise every morning, you will see the sky full of vibrant, colorful balloons. Witness this surreal experience from the hill points or rooftops around the city, and you won’t regret it!
If you are a fan of photography, then the magical, swooping rock valleys in the city are a must-see. Home to the rippling panoramas of wave-like rock and pinnacles that wind and water actions form, the hill crests and cliff ridges are a photographer’s paradise. Also, if you deep dive into the valleys, you will find frescoed-cut churches of the Byzantine Empire nestling there.
What are the other attractions? You have the scenic Goreme village and the Kaymakli and Derinkuyu Underground Cities with networks of tunnels. Don’t forget the Ihlara Valley at the bottom of a gorge in the southwest region, Avanos, the provincial town beside the Kizilirmak River, and Hacibektas, a pilgrimage center.
A quiet city nestling along the Turkish Riviera on the Mediterranean coastline, Antalya welcomes tourists with beautiful resorts, bars, and restaurants. The crowning glory of this city is its breathtaking scenery with lush green mountains and gorgeous beaches. If you enjoy sports, participate in mountain climbing, sailing, and sightseeing with your family and friends. The main beaches are Lara and Konyaatli that you can easily distinguish from their white sands, resorts, bars, restaurants, and a variety of water sports.
If you want something quieter, check out the award-winning Antalya Museum that exhibits several relics and artifacts. Another option is the Roman Theater of Aspendos just south of Antalya. This celebrates the pomp of the greater Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius’ rule and is one of the finest examples of classical theaters worldwide.
Or, why not go for a walk around Kaleici, the Old Quarter? This takes you on a journey into the city’s past with grand Roman gates and historic structures like the famous Clock Tower, ancient mosques, churches, and temples. Cumhuriyet Square at the center of the Old Quarter is a place where you will find many cafes, shops, street performers, and relaxing Turkish baths.
A popular seaside resort, Marmaris is a picturesque resort town along the Turquoise Coast in Southwest Turkey. It rests on a valley between clear waters and pine-forested mountains with multiple diving and sailing destinations. You cannot miss Marmaris with its trademark turquoise waters, sandy white beaches, and historic structures. This city is a heaven on earth for tourists especially those who enjoy the waters. Pamper yourself with fantastic dining experiences and make the most of the lively nightlife. Walk along the cobblestone streets of the Old Quarter and feast your eyes on the spellbinding architecture. Go on boating tours and explore the picture-perfect bays and neighboring villages. Discover unspoiled nature and the beautiful countryside by going on a horse safari. Whether you are a first-time or experienced rider, there will be experts to teach you the basics and ensure your safety.
If you are interested in an adrenaline-rush activity, go for the jeep safari that will take you on track adventures to the remote areas of Marmaris. This typically lasts around 7 hours, and you will head up to the mountains where you can catch a stunning glimpse of Marmaris and nearby villages. Tour operators often stop at pristine beaches and waterfalls for breaks and serve lunch consisting of traditional Turkish cuisine and delights. Don’t forget to bring your camera because certain legs of the journey involve proceeding inland through thick pine forests and climbing atop gorgeous hills with breathtaking views.