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Planning a trip to Turkey? In this post you will find some of the best places to visit in Turkey in no particular order. Are you ready?
Turkey is a fascinating country with so many things to do and some of the most amazing places to see. It is a country worth revisiting since it is difficult to see all that it has to offer in a short amount of time. You truly need to visit for a few months (which I did) but that still wasn’t enough. There you will not only find two of the seven original ancient wonders of the world, but also sites like Hagia Sophia, which is one of the new 7 wonders of the world, along with many other world heritage sites.
Turkey is just simply magical and, despite the media frenzy that’s often reported, it’s a country that I totally recommend for you to visit. Is it safe? For me, yes, but of course things can happen anywhere in the world (as we see almost daily in the news). But I would say that if you go, Turkey will steal your heart, make your stomach happy and much more than that, will allow you to create unforgettable memories. This is why I not only recently created a post about the best Turkish foods to try but, in this post, I want to cover the best places to visit in Turkey, not only recommended by yours truly, but also by frequent fliers that are also top travel bloggers like myself.
Get ready to be inspired to visit Turkey!
Let’s start with my two recommendations:
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Cappadocia
- 2 Istanbul
- 3 Alanya, Turkey
- 4 Amasya, Turkey
- 5 Antalya
- 6 Dogubayezit, Turkey
- 7 Ephesus, Turkey
- 8 Fethiye, Turkey
- 9 Kas, Turkey
- 10 Kemer
- 11 Olympos, Turkey
- 12 Pamukkale, Turkey
- 13 Pergamon, Turkey
- 14 Sagalassos, Turkey
- 15 Saklikent Canyon, Turkey
- 16 Şanlıurfa, (Urfa) Turkey
- 17 The Black Sea Coast in Turkey
- 18 The Gallipoli Peninsula
Cappadocia is the region in central Turkey that stole my heart and soul. I mean, Cappadocia is not only magical, it’s like visiting planet mars at times. It just doesn’t feel real for some reason. I don’t think that mere pictures or words can do it justice.
For one thing, Cappadocia is known for its unique “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley, Göreme and other places. For another, in Cappadocia, you can find amazing underground caves, Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by cave dwellers, which at some point in history where used for refuge by early Christians.
You’re sure to be captivated by every inch of Cappadocia. I personally loved the experience of going on a hot air balloon ride above Cappadocia. It’s actually one of the sites for the best hot air ballooning in the world. If you cannot go on one, simply wake up for sunrise and observe them from one of the hills, viewpoints or from a hotel terrace. If you can’t experience a ride for yourself, it’s an amazing site to behold. Just ask a local about some of the best vantage points.
One of the other most memorable experiences I had in Cappadocia, which I totally recommend, was a horseback riding tour during sunset through the Red & Love Valley. You will thank me for this tip! Another thing I recommend is that you attend one of the Turkish nights shows. It is very entertaining with great music, traditional dances and tons of food and drinks.
Also, do not forget to talk to locals, try some of their homemade wine, and eat a lot. You will see how Cappadocia is sort of like a small family, where everyone knows each other. With less than 5,000 habitants, most locals were raised with each other. The more time you spend there, you will definitely notice it.
Cappadocia definitely promises to be an adventure through a region that has a deep historic and cultural heritage, which is very fascinating to learn about and experience firsthand.
You might also like: Solo Females Can Travel To Turkey: What You Need To Know Before You Visit
and you know I could not leave Istanbul behind…
Istanbul is not only the largest city in Turkey, but also a capital of culture, culinary arts, architecture, and probably one of the most famous cities in Turkey. What many don’t know is that Istanbul has two sides: The European side (more touristic) and the Asian side (more local). Both sides are fantastic to visit, but to see some of the main sites, especially if you are visiting for a short amount of time, I would suggest for you to stay on the European side, since then you won’t have to commute as much. Keep in mind, Istanbul has lots of congestion on the road, so good planning is critical to avoid wasting time while stuck in a car or on a bus.
Istanbul is a very interesting city, and you can find a little bit of everything, something for everyone. That includes the choices of places to eat in Istanbul, which are plenty. I would definitely recommend for you to try some of the traditional Turkish foods and snacks when there. Better yet, if you have time, take a food tour around Istanbul.
Also, don’t limit your visit to the main sites such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, etc, but find the time to simply wander around the streets for some people watching. Listen to the music of the streets, observe the daily lifestyle of the locals, go on a bosphorus boat tour, visit Ortakoy and buy a kumpir (tuskish baked potato) to enjoy by the water, visit Karakoy close to the Galata Tower, cross to the Asian Side (if time permits) and go to the Kadikoy neighborhood.
There’s just so much to do, so try to take it all in. I know you will love Istanbul and will want to return again for more.
Fellow Travel Bloggers Recommendations:
Contributed by Daisy from Beyondmyborder.com
Alanya sits along the Turkish Riviera in the south of Turkey. After visiting hundreds of countries, this vibrant town remains one of my favorite places.
Although it is known for beautiful beaches and a vibrant nightlife, there is so much more to Alanya than meets the eye. The city has a rich historical background and preserves a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which dates back to both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire. The Alanya Castle is located on top of the cliffs that overlooks both the township and the Mediterranean Sea. The views are absolutely magnificent and the atmosphere is extremely relaxed. Restaurants and bars line the streets. Cafes and markets make common appearances. The warmth of the Turkish merchants and the coastal sun are some of the many reasons why this city is beyond charming.
Aside from the historical castle, there are many things to do in Alanya, including the Damlatas Caves and the Red Tower. The former is a cave-space filled with stalactites formed in 1500 years while the latter has nearly a century’s worth of history.
I visited Alanya in August when the weather was quite hot. I was backpacking along the Mediterranean when I stumbled upon the city by accident. Thankfully, Alanya is known for its beaches and water. I spent a few days soaking up the sun and swimming in the ocean. For beach-lovers, summer is definitely the best time for Alanya!
Contributed by Lydia Yang from Lydiascapes.com
I hardly visit the same place twice, but I must say Amasya in the Black Sea region of Turkey was one of the cities that really captivated by heart, and the 2nd time I was there, I was still impressed and amazed by the lovely river with a backdrop of the row of old Ottoman houses and rock tombs in the distance with the tombs of the Pontus kings carved into the fascinating rock cliff formations and structures.
I visited in May, which was just the end of tulips blooming season, but nice and warm to still explore the Black Sea region. I would recommend spending a day walking along the river and enjoy a delicious Turkish ice-cream to cool down the heat (best flavour to recommend is Chocolate and Pistachio). If you have a bit more stamina, climb up to the Amasya Kalesi (or Castle), which is a fortress now in ruins at the top of Mount Harsena, with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains, valleys, lakes and town of Amasya. When it turns dark at night, make it a point to do another stroll along the river to catch a glimpse of the night light up of the cliffs and rock tombs, that changes colours every minute. It is too beautiful and surreal and you can sit at the benches and watch it for hours.
Contributed by Inna from the Executive Thrillseeker
Antalya is one of the most popular destinations in Turkey and is considered to be the country’s tourism capital.
The holiday season lasts about nine months of the year. During the cold season, resorts continue to work at much lower prices. I visited Antalya in June and it was lovely! I believe the best time to visit is starting from the end of spring and till mid-autumn.
So why Antalya?
- I found the service there to be exceptional as I stayed in an all-inclusive hotel (and there is really a wide range of such hotels to choose from) and besides that, there are numerous apartments and villas for rent as well. Yet, I found that many tourists that come to Antalya opt for an all-inclusive.
- There is an international airport that accepts flights from all over the world.
- Perhaps Antalya is not only a tourism capital but also a shopping one. A lot of people are interested in shopping there, as you can buy high-quality things for affordable prices and the selection is great.
- A lot of places for party and entertainment.
- Last but not least – the reason why everyone comes here! It is an amazing destination for a beach holiday! Moreover, I can assure you that the city itself and the beach are clean and constantly maintained.
Besides beach and water activities, there is plenty of sights. Make sure to see Kursunlu Waterfall, Upper and Lower Duden Waterfalls which I found to be the most impressive sights of Antalya. Other sights include the Old Town (Kaleici quarter), the Clock Tower, The Arch of Hadrian, Yivli Minaret.
If you are traveling with children, you can buy tickets to waterpark “Aqualand” and spend a whole day there.
Contributed by Ellis from Backpackadventures.org
Dogubayezit is a town in the isolated northeastern part of Turkey. Few visitors make it this far inside Turkey, not knowing what they are missing out of. If only they knew more people would make the adventurous journey. Dogubayezit may be an off the beaten path destination in Turkey, but this is one of the most beautiful regions of the country.
Dogubayezit itself is a pleasant town full of friendly people that welcome tourists with open arms. The main attraction is the Ishak Pasa palace with its spectacular location on top of a hill with great views. I went in April when there was still snow on the mountain tops around the town.
Although the palace is reason enough to put Dogubayezit on your bucketlist it is what lies beyond the city that really makes it among the top places to visit in Turkey. Dogubayezit is the gateway to famous Mount Ararat on the border with Armenia and Iran. Legend tells that this is where Noah’s Ark landed.
The easiest and most amazing way to get to Dogubayezit is by taking the Dogu express. It is the longest train ride in Turkey from Ankara to Kars. Even though it takes 24 hours you will enjoy every minute as you pass through the incredible mountain sceneries of the Anatolian highlands. From Kars it is another scenic bus ride to Dogubayezit. Both the journey and the destination will be a highlight of your trip to Turkey.
Contributed by Henry Wu from Thislifeoftravel.com
If you’re visiting Turkey, one of the highlights that you should see is the Library of Celsus in Ephesus. It was built in 135 AD by Gaius Julius Aquila in honor of his father Celsus, who was the governor of Asia at the time. His tomb was also located in a sarcophagus under the main floor.
At it’s peak it held up to 12,000 scrolls, which meant it was the third largest library of ancient times. A single hall faces east so the morning sun can shine in. The library was also decorated with many colorful paintings, carvings, and statues.
The actual Library of Celsus was destroyed over time with invading armies, fires, and earthquakes. But it has been faithfully rebuilt to what all the records show it looked like.
If you want to have the Library to yourself, it’s best to go early in the morning at open or visit during low season in November. In the summer, it does get quite hot and crowded, so remember to bring sunscreen and water.
After seeing the Library, you should walk around the UNESCO listed city of Ephesus and
see the other highlights such as the Amphitheater, terraced houses, and
main harbor street. Some other places nearby include Isa Bey Mosque,
Ayasoluk Castle, Ephesus Archaeological Museum and Temple of Artemis.
Contributed by: Elaine & David from Show Them The Globe
Located on Turkey’s stunning south-west Turquoise Coast, the bustling marina town of Fethiye is one of the best places to visit in Turkey.
Fethiye, and the surrounding area, has some amazing sights which are worthy of any Turkey itinerary. Fethiye itself has a beautiful waterfront and Old Town and its turquoise waters are lined with restaurants, bars and yachts. The Lycian Rock Tombs, where the Lycian people buried their dead, are carved into the Fethiye hillside and are one of the most incredible sights we saw in Turkey. The beautiful Ölüdeniz Lagoon is a mesmerising mix of lush green forest, white sand and turquoise waters and well worth the short trip from the town. The nearby Kayakoy Ghost Town, a once thriving town of 10,000 until the Greco-Turkish War, is fascinating and eerie in equal measures. Although a little further away, the joint UNESCO World Heritage Site of Xanthos and Letoon is of huge historic significance: the ancient city of Xantos was the capital of Lycia and Letoon was a cult sanctuary and one of the most important religious centres in the region.
Spring is a great time to visit Fethiye. We loved the low season vibe and the sites were relatively quiet during our April visit.
Recommended: Paragliding over the blue lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey
Contributed by Erin from Curiouslyerin.com
Unlike other beachside locations in Turkey that are built up with large resorts, Kas is a true Turkish seaside town. This charming town will steal a piece of your heart. The town centre is full of narrow cobbled alleys that are covered with bougainvillea in varying colours.
I travelled to Kas at the beginning of November. As this is the offseason, I was able to find an incredible deal on Airbnb and stayed in my own villa overlooking the ocean for only a fraction more than a bed in a hostel. Summertime in Kas can get quite busy but the chances of sunshine and hot weather are almost a guarantee. The best time visit would be either side of the busy summer months for the most enjoyable time and best deals.
In Kas, you’ll find cafes and boutique clothing stores spilling into the streets and restaurants with locals and tourists alike enjoying the alfresco dining. In addition to the town centre, Kas has some of the prettiest beaches and ones that even have sand! Kaputas beach is famous for its dramatic cliff drop from the road down to the ocean. Other beaches are reached purely by a cheap water taxi ride. If you are interested in hiking, Kas has you covered. The Lycian Way is a 540 km long-distance trail that runs through Kas. There are plenty of opportunities to hike a short distance of this during your stay.
Contributed by Šárka from Plzeňguide.com
Kemer is a small seaside town at Turkish Riviera, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The clean blue sea, small harbor, a beautiful panorama of Taurus Mountain and delicious Turkish food create the excellent place for your holiday.
Kemer, which used to be a quiet rural village, has been developed to a popular tourist resort. No wonder. Kemer is situated only 40 km west of the city of Antalya, where you can find an international airport.
When is the best time to visit Kemer?
It depends what kind of activity you want to do. The main season with the highest temperatures is from May till October. We usually go to Turkey in September, daily temperatures are still high up to 30°C and the water is pleasant warm: 26°C. We love bathing and swimming.
Unlike Alanya where you find mostly sandy beaches, beaches in Kemer are mostly pebble, occasionally covered with coarse sand. I would recommend bringing water shoes.
The highest season is in July and August here and Kemer can be little bit overcrowded in this time, temperatures can touch also 45°C and the high humidity may not be pleasant for someone.Turkey is a country with a rich history and a beautiful nature. Kemer can serve as your base for exploring historical monuments in Antalya and places as Goynuk Canyon or National Park Olympos.
Contributed by Wendy from Thenomadicvegan.com
Olympos sits in a fabulous position on Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline, looking out towards Cyprus to the east and the Greek island of Rhodes to the west. It was once an ancient city that was probably founded around the fourth century BC and later became part of the Roman Empire.
The ruins of the ancient city are well worth visiting and include the remains of ancient bathhouses and stone sarcophagi. Compared with the ever-popular Ephesus, not that many people visit the Olympos ruins, and parts of the site are rather overgrown. I visited in April, and it was already quite warm. In summer the heat can be quite oppressive, so be sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen with you on your explorations.
The other thing you should definitely do when visiting Olympos is to hike up Mount Olympos, after which the city is named. This is best done at night, so that you can see the Eternal Flame of the Chimeras. There are actually multiple flames, which are jets of natural gas that have been spurting out of the side of the mountain for thousands of years.
Olympos is popular with the young, partying backpacker crowd, most of whom stay at Kadir’s Tree Houses or one of the other treehouse accommodations. A paved road was recently extended to Olympos, so it is now becoming popular with families too.
Contributed by Alex from the Swedishnomad.com
Pamukkale has to be one of the coolest places to visit in Turkey, not only is it beautiful, but it also has a historical point of view that goes all the way back to Cleopatra.
The meaning of the name in Turkish is “Cotton castle” and that’s what it looks like from a distance. It’s a well known thermal area that is famous for its white limestone and calcium rich hot springs.
In total, there are 17 hot water springs in the area with temperatures from 35 to 100 degrees Celcius. The best time to visit is in May or September when there are fewer tourists and the temperatures outside will be more comfortable. During summer it can get very hot outside, and it tends to be crowded as well in July and August.
There are many stories of famous world leaders during the antiquity who supposedly came here to relax and enjoy the hot springs. It has been declared as a world heritage site.
Nearby, visitors can also admire the ruins of Hierapolis, which is fantastic as well if you like history. You can get to Pamukkale quite easily on a guided tour or buses from all over the country.
Contributed by Kelly from wONEderlust.com
Imagine driving up a steep incline in the Turkish countryside. High up on the hill you see the jagged, preserved ruins start to rise up. You’re seeing the acropolis at Pergamon, an ancient city that was once home to one of the largest libraries in the world. A library raided by Marc Antony to give as a present to his new bride, Cleopatra. Pergamon lies along the east coast, about a 90 minute drive north of Izmir, on the road to Çanakkale. The site is often overlooked but is absolutely worth a stop. Wander through the remains of the temple of Trajan. Climb the steep steps of the theater and look out over the Turkish countryside. The best part? You’ll have large sections to yourself. While the nearby site of Ephesus is often overrun with tourists, Pergamon is lesser-known and therefore can be enjoyed (and photographed) in relative peace and quiet.
I visited in August, when the winds at the top were a welcome respite from the oppressive late summer heat. However, the site is accessible year-round. You can visit Pergamon on your own by car or taxi. Alternatively, you can book a tour from İzmir, which will stop at the acropolis as well as a few other sites in town. Another option is staying downhill in the village of Bergama and hiring a local tour guide to give you historical insight. This small town has affordable boutique accommodations and also hosts a fantastic market on Mondays.
Read about my destinations and find trip itineraries geared towards the solo (or solo at heart) traveler at wONEderlust.com
Contributed by: Pascale from Slowtravelguide.com
Sagalassos in Turkey is one of those places that make you wonder why so few people know of its existence. There is only one word to describe this ancient site: spectacular! Still, chances are you will be the only ones there, should you decide to visit it. And trust us, you really need to consider it. Read why.
Even if you’re not into ancient sites, Sagalassos enjoys a stunning setting. This eagle’s nest up in the Taurus Mountains used to be Pisidia’s most significant city. Walking around Sagalassos today, expect to be wowed by the views and by its ruins, some of which have been meticulously restored.
The showpiece at Sagalassos is, without a doubt, the working Antonine Fountain. The restoration of this monumental fountain was carried out by a Belgian team of experts and local artisans. You reach the fountain after an enjoyable walk past the antique food market and the Agora, and you’re blown away by how amazing it is. The fact that it is working gives you an incredibly accurate impression of how cities like Sagalassos looked like in their heydays.
Other than the Antonine Fountain, Sagalassos has a remarkably well-preserved theatre, Colonnaded streets, a Roman Baths complex, and much more. From the theatre, you have a good overview of the layout of the city and its major landmarks. It is the perfect place for a break when exploring this stretched-out site. Just enjoy the views and imagine what life must have been like back in a city like this one.
One word of advice: due to its altitude, Sagalassos gets snowed in over winter. It is best to plan your visit accordingly.
Saklikent Canyon, Turkey
Contributed by Raluca from Whisperwanderlust.com
I visited Saklikent Canyon on a road trip on the Turkish Riviera, on my way to Bodrum. The name means the hidden city. The Canyon is located in the Fethiye – Mugla area, it is 18 km long and 300 meters deep. It’s the deepest canyon in Turkey, and a place you should visit because it’s truly spectacular.
In 1992, the Canyon has been declared a National Park, and since then, more and more people came to visit. To step inside the canyon, you will have to go through extremely cold water. Even during the summer because the canyon is so narrow that the sun can’t reach the bottom. The best time to get here after is after April when the snow in the Taurus Mountains melts and temperatures are much higher. Wear appropriate shoes because the terrain is pretty slippery, and take a waterproof bag to protect your stuff. Inside the canyon, there are 16 caves. Surely you won’t have time to discover them all in one day, but it’s worth trying. At the entrance, there some very beautiful floating restaurants, where you can have your lunch or you can smoke a hookah.
Şanlıurfa, (Urfa) Turkey
Contributed by from Amateur Traveler
Şanlıurfa (Urfa) is a bit far from the normal tourist track in Turkey. It is in the eastern half of the country not far from the border with Syria. For the Turks it is a special place because they claim that it is the Ur referred to in the bible as the origin of Abraham (while many other scholars would put Ur somewhere in modern Iraq). In Şanlıurfa you can see a cave complex with a mosque built around it that the Turks say is the birthplace of Abraham.
Around the cave complex is a lake filled with fish. According to Turkish tradition the king in the area, Nimrod, tried to burn Abraham to death but God turned the fire into water and the coals of fire into fish. So while you can take a rowboat out onto the lake today, the fish are considered sacred. This area of Turkey has a greater percentage of Kurds, Arabs and Armenians so it can have quite a different feel than even nearby Gaziantep. Climb the hill above Şanlıurfa to get a great view of this city of 2 million people in this desert region. There are two large corinthian columns on the hill called Nimrod’s throne.
The Black Sea Coast in Turkey
Contributed by: Audrey from Gumnuts Abroad
Far from the all-night parties, bikini clad women, and super yachts of the Mediterranean, Turkey’s Black Sea coast is one of the most enchanting secrets in Turkey. Filled with stunning natural scenery it’s a wonderland just waiting to be discovered. And it’s the ideal destination for people who like to avoid the usual tourist traps
The Black Sea region is a fascinating part of Turkey with heaps of things to see and do. The most famous sight-seeing attraction is Sumela Monastery that seems to poke out of the sheer cliff face surrounding it. Less dramatic, but just as enchanting are the charming harbourside hamlets boasting ancient fortifications, deserted beaches and seaside villages.
For nature lovers this is a real paradise with mountains, alpine pastures and glassy lakes surrounded by dense forests. The souring mountains are a lush backdrop to the seaside villages speckled along their base. And the hinterland is home to some of the country’s most tantalising and authentic villages.
People seem to be more relaxed in this part of Turkey, and you won’t find any hard-nosed carpet sellers here. Women keep an eye on soccer playing kids, while the men till the fields and have endless conversations in the local tea house.
A journey along the Black Sea coast is a trip to one of the best Turkey destinations that you never knew existed.
The Gallipoli Peninsula
Contributed by from ASocialNomad.com
We visited the Gallipoli Peninsula in the hot, sweaty heat of August, as we were travelling overland from Istanbul to Kathmandu. There are two reasons to visit this area, the first was to pay respects and understand what happened here during World War I. War raged here for eight long months during both the heat of summer and the frigid winter weather. The museum here helps you to understand what happened before you tour around the peninsula and visit the various cemeteries and view the spots where both the Allies and the Turks were dug in for months. ANZAC Cove is perhaps the most famous place.
The second reason to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula is to taste wine. The Suvla winery on the outskirts of Eceabat is a great place to explore the variety of wines available here. The vineyards are found in the Gallipoli Historic National Park and there are a huge variety of grapes used here. The owner is an ex Silicon Valley IT Professional and it’s easy to see hints of Napa Valley here. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon on the Gallipoli Peninsula!
As you probably realized by now, Turkey is just a magical and special country, full of wonders, things to do, see, and eat. The locals will welcome you with warm and open arms. It is a place to go and experience adventure, beauty, spiritual connection, a happy belly and a full heart. If you are not convinced by now, and already adding it to your bucket list, then I’d be very surprised. Hopefully, this post will help you to plan and make the most of your visit!
Are you planning a visit or have you ever visited Turkey before? Share with us your experience below.
Did we miss any of your favorite places to visit in Turkey within this post? As you know there are so many things to enjoy in Turkey, why you don’t share it below, so that we can add it to our list and visit in the future.
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