Turkey offers a wealth of different kinds of destinations to travelers. This country is one of the most perfect countries to visit whether you want a short break or a longer backpacking trip. We warn you that you can have trouble deciding where to go 😊
Here is the top 15 must see places in Turkey:
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If you look at a map, Istanbul is the collision point between continental Europe and continental Asia. Its Middle Eastern meets European and it all comes together right here and it’s a city unlike any other.
Visit the neighborhood of Balat and take a short venture outside the city center to the funky and colorful art district of it. Walk the hipster streets, check out the vintage shops and stop to grab a coffee or a freshen cocktail.
Staples of the Istanbul tourism scene, the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are probably the most famous buildings in all of Istanbul. Built around 500 AD the Hagia Sophia was and still is a modern architectural wonder. The Blue Mosque is probably the most famous mosque in the whole city.
Sumptuous beyond belief, Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace takes you into the fantastical appeal and world of the Sultans. It was from here during the 15th and 16th century that the Sultans of the Ottoman era carved out an empire that would extend up into Europe and down through the Middle East and into Africa.
The interiors with their decadently exuberant tiling and leveraging decor are an unforgettable peek into the Ottomans power base in particular.
Don’t miss the Imperial Council Building where the Empire’s business was conducted. The arms collection displayed in the imperial treasury the world-class collection of miniature paintings and the dazzling harem rooms which were designed by the famous Ottoman architect.
So, the next thing you can do is to go to the Asia Side of Istanbul and find a cool place to watch the sunset.
Ankara has been the capital city of Turkey since 1923. It’s a very cosmopolitan city and there’s around 5 million people that live here which makes it the second biggest city in Turkey after Istanbul.
It’s well-known as a center of commerce, embassies, banks, and government buildings. It’s an important education center with huge universities. There is a huge metro subway system with 56 stations.
So this is the new railway station with a high speed train that goes straight through to Istanbul. And also you can visit Eskisehir from here which is 146 miles away in one hour and 26 minutes.
There are dozens of statues around the city and many are in the lovely parks. Kuğulu Park is a lovely place to just sit, relax and see the swans. You don’t have to go far in Ankara to find a nice quiet spot away from the traffic.
Abdi Ipekci Park and Genclik Park are the most popular parks in Ankara. If you want a bit of fun, you can always come to the Amusement Park (Luna Park). Also there is Kurtulus Park, where you can actually hear the birds singing.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk known as the Father of the Turks. This highly respected man changed so much in Turkey, and saved Turks from being carved up by Britain, Greece, and Europe after the First World War. He was the founder of modern Turkey, and still held in high regard even now, 83 years after his death.
When he died in 1938, Turkish people built a modern mausoleum for him. It has thousands of visitors every year, and his legacy still lives on even today, 94 years after his death. The most famous place in Ankara has to be Anitkabir, Ataturk’s mausoleum.
There’s lots of shopping centers around Ankara, but one of the most well-known is Atakule. Also you can find some really good restaurants here.
Kizilay is also renowned for its shopping area. Finally you can find probably the best nightlife and the best restaurants are in the Cankaya region.
Izmir could be one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Türkiye with over 4 million residents. It was known as Smyrna for thousands of years, until the name was changed to Izmir in 1930.
A big portion of the population here are young people, not only for the university but also because of the new modern developments. Visit the famous Clock Tower in the center of Izmir, Konak.
Konak is so popular and cultured place it was over a hundred years ago, with many Greek and Turkish Ottoman, and also French-styled buildings, like the Konak Pier, which was designed by a Frenchman and that was Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who designed and built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
There is Asansör or in English the Old Lift. So there’s a nice little cafe on the top, and a fantastic view of the city. This lift is in regular use. Lots of people from around here use it every day and it’s free.
For nice bars and restaurants, Alsancak is one of the best areas, and Kıbrıs Şehitleri Caddesi is particularly popular. It has a busy shopping, restaurant, cafe, and fast food street.
Also here in Izmir, Liberation Day, is taken to another level. For a week around that date, there is an International Fair starting in the Culture Park. There are hundreds of stores from companies, schools, and market sellers showing their goods.
The tramway is really useful for traveling around in the city center. That’s because it’s above ground, it’s a really cheap way to see the city. For bigger journeys, we recommend you rent a car from Yolcu360.
The ancient site of Ephesus, one of the most important sites in the world is only an hour’s drive from Izmir and also Pergamon, which is not much further.
Ephesus is a city of colossal monuments, marble column groves and one of the most complete still-standing famed cities of antiquity in the Mediterranean region.
This is the place to experience what life must have been like during the golden age of the Roman Empire. The city’s history dates back to the 10th century but the major monuments you see today all date from its Roman era.
When it was a thriving commercial center, in particular the library of Celsus, the complex of fresco terrace houses, the great theater all point to the wealth and importance of Ephesus during the Roman period.
Antalya is without a doubt an exceptional tourist destination. The nearby Taurus mountains are covered with fine forest and extend down to the sparkling sea. Antalya is sure to provide you with lifelong memories of a fantastic trip.
Visit Antalya Aquarium, one of the biggest aquarium complexes in the world. It offers inspiration, entertainment, and education all at once.
Konyaalti is on the Mediterranean coast on the west side of the town center. Konyaalti is a great spot if you are looking for a little more than just plunging on the beach. There are also plenty of water sports you can enjoy including parasailing, jet skiing, diving, and many more.
While on holiday in Antalya, don’t miss the wonderful experience of the Olympos Teleferik Cable Car from sea to sky. Enjoy amazing views from the top of Tahtali Mountain which stands 2.365 meters above sea level.
Duden Waterfalls exist in two separate places in Antalya and they both are cascades of the same underground river. You can see the falls from above, walk in the gorge and even walk in a hidden cave located behind the water cascade.
Last but not least, Kaleiçi is a must-visit historical place in Antalya which takes in Adrian’s Gate, Hydraulic Tower, Liberty Minaret, and many more.
If we’re speaking about Kaş, you’ll first meet with the huge hills in the background, and the mountains. You’ll also be visiting Kaş through some valleys, mountains, and the beaches and the waters along the way. Kaş also offers you a lot of boat tours, trekking tours, scuba diving and paragliding tours as well.
Kaputaş beach is one of the most famous beaches here in Kaş. You could bring some drinks with you if you want and just enjoy the day in Kaputaş. You’ll find umbrella rentals and lounge rentals here as well.
There is a restaurant up above the beach, as well as changing rooms and showers, if you need a shower or changing room down here.
Black Sea Region
Black Sea region offers you green mountains that look like the European Alps and you’ll see how green it is compared to the rest of the country. Trabzon is one of the most beautiful cities in the Black Sea region. It is located on the historical silk road and has been an important trade gateway to Iran and the Caucasus regions.
Not only is it a beautiful city, but Trabzon also has many treasures such as the Sumela Monastery. Built on the edge of a steep cliff, this Greek Orthodox monastery is believed to have been built in 386 AD when it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Another beautiful region on the Black Sea is the highlands of Artvin which is located right next to the Georgian border, and has one of the endless green mountains.
Olympus is situated in a river valley on the Mediterranean coast. It’s also a backpacker’s paradise only an hour and a half away from Antalya.
You can live like a Hippie as you stay in bungalows and tree houses alongside one of the best beaches in Turkey which is lined with ancient ruins. From here you can take affordable boat tours to Sulu Ada and Kaş.
That’s because Olympus has so much natural and historical importance, this area is protected which means there are no big resorts or luxury hotels making it a perfect hideaway in paradise.
If you want to visit Olympus Beach a couple times during your stay, make sure to buy a ticket that is good for your group of travelers and gives you 10 entries over 10 days.
This weird and lonely place has to be one of Turkey’s most peculiar archaeological sites. The giant stone heads of long forgotten gods stare out from the summit casting an airy atmosphere over the barren mountaintop.
The summit’s building works or the work of Antiochus the first ruler of Commagene Kingdom which lay him in the buffer region between the Roman and Parthian Empires. Antiochus first dedicated this great funerary mount to himself as a showcase of his importance raising 50 meter high artificial peak on Nemrut summit and then decorating it with statues of himself and various gods.
Aspendos Theater is one of the best preserved ancient theaters of antiquity. The theater of the Aspendos was built in 155 AD during the rule of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and could seat between twenty thousand spectators. That’s because the stage area was later used as the caravanserai in times.
This theater has been able to survive to this day without losing almost any of its original qualities.
Ölüdeniz is one of Turkey’s most famous spots and with scenery that might as well have fallen off a perfect postcard. Ölüdeniz Beach has stunning turquoise blue water and lush green forest tumbling down a cliff to a white sand beach.
If Ölüdeniz Beach gets too crowded, you can experience the stunning aerial wheels on tandem paragliding, diving off the summit of Babadağ (Baba Mountain) which rises up behind the shore.
Pamukkale is one of the Turkey’s most famous natural attractions. The pure white travertine terraces of the Pamukkale is looking like an autoplay snowfield. The Travertines are themselves a highlight of a Turkey trip. Rambling ruins of the Greek Roman Hierapolis, an ancient spa town, lie scattered across the summit of its calcite hill.
You can swim in the mineral rich water which made this ancient spot-on famous in the antique pool. Afterwards you can walk on the travertine hill wading through the pools of water in the upper terraces to the small modern village of the Pamukkale below.
The surreal swooping rock valleys of Cappadocia are a photographer’s dream. Cliff ridges and hillcrest are home of rippling panoramas of wave-like rock or wakey-shaped panicles that have been formed by millennia of wind and water action.
If you don’t feel like hiking for the wheels, this is one of the world’s top destinations to take a hot air balloon ride nestled in this unique lunar-like landscape.
This area was home to Monastic Christian communities. That’s why in particular the multiple cave churches of the Gorium open air museum in Lara valley are home to some of the best examples of surviving mid Byzantine era religious art in the world.
Mardin is a unique offbeat southeastern city. The city shows the rich architecture of the dynasties with old madrasas, mosques, churches and monasteries, the city is definitely a must see.
Van is famous for its distinctive odd-eyed domestic white cats. However it’s also a great place for sightseeing a short boat right away to Akdamar Island in Van Lake where a 10th century church sits among beautiful almond trees.
Other attractions in Van include a castle, historic sites and waterfalls.
Fethiye is known more as a summer getaway spot and has a lovely beach parallel to lots of outdoor restaurants. Make sure you watch the sunset, visit the trendy Umbrella Street with lots of cafes and restaurants.
To choose from the weirdly fascinating Lithian rock tombs that date back to the 4th century are also worth visiting. The Lithians believe the dead were carried to an afterlife if left in high places from the top of the hill. You can also see some amazing views back over the city to the sea.