Best Places to Visit in Turkey
Its vibrant culture, famous gastronomy and rich history astound those who come here, while its magnificent landscapes, from the sun-drenched Mediterranean to majestic mountains and arid meadows, are tourist attractions in their own right.
Whether you want to indulge in Istanbul’s Byzantine and Ottoman splendor during your city tour, laze on the beach, explore history in ruins like Ephesus, or admire the world’s most surreal sights in Pamukkale and Cappadocia, the panorama this country offers to tourists can do all kinds of things.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey and make your trip enjoyable.
Top 13 Best Places to Visit in Turkey
Here are the top 13 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Turkey:
1. Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) Mosque
Hailed as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the stunning Byzantine splendor of Hagia Sophia is one of the top attractions not only in Istanbul but also in Turkey.
Constructed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 AD, the structure is considered the greatest architectural achievement of the Byzantine Empire and was the largest church in the world for 1000 years.
Delicate minarets added after the Ottoman conquest surround much of its striking exterior, while the ornate, cave-like frescoed interior evokes the power and power of ancient Constantinople. This famous monument is a must for every tourist visiting the country.
Not to be missed is a city with huge Ephesus ruins, huge monuments and marble columned roads. One of the most complete and oldest famous cities in the Mediterranean, this is where you can experience life in the golden age of the Roman Empire. The city’s history dates back to the 10th century BC, but all of the major monuments you see today date back to Roman times when it was a thriving trading center.
Especially the Celsus Library, the frescoed terraced complex and the Great Theater show the richness and importance of Ephesus in the Roman period. Sightseeing tours here take at least half a day to cover the main highlights and longer if you really want to explore, so be sure to plan your visit so you don’t feel rushed.
The surreal rocky valleys of Cappadocia are every photographer’s dream.
Cliff ridges and peaks host undulating panoramas of undulating rocks or oddly shaped peaks created by the movement of wind and water over thousands of years. If you don’t want to hike and enjoy the scenery, this is one of the best balloon tours in the world.
In this unique moon-like landscape are frescoed rock churches and cave buildings from the Byzantine period, where the area was home to a monastic Christian community. In particular, the Göreme Open Air Museum and the multiple cave churches in the Jihlara Valley are home to some of the best surviving examples of Middle Byzantine religious art in the world.
Cappadocia’s semi-open hillside villages, where tourists can explore the surrounding countryside, are an attraction in themselves, and its boutique hotels allow you to lie in caves and enjoy full modern comfort.
4. Topkapı Palace
Incredibly luxurious, Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace will transport you to the dreamy and rich world of the Sultan. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Ottoman sultans established an empire that stretched from here to Europe and the Middle East and Africa. Decorated with ornate tiles and flamboyant jewellery, the interior offers an unforgettable glimpse into the power base of the Ottoman Empire.
In particular, do not miss the Imperial Parliament Building, where the Imperial affairs were handled by the Grand Vizier, the weapon collection exhibited in the treasury, the world-class miniature painting collection, and the Harem room. The surrounding public gardens were once the sole grounds of the Royal Court, but are now open to the public and provide a peaceful, green respite from the city streets.
The white travertine terraces of Pamukkale (“Cotton Castle” in English), one of Turkey’s most famous natural wonders, spill down the slopes and look like an outdated snowfield in a green landscape. While the travertine itself is the highlight of a Turkey trip, the sprawling and rambling ruins of the ancient spa town of Greco-Roman Hierapolis mark the summit of this calcite mountain.
Explore the old theatre, see the rural landscapes and ruins of the city fair, gym, cemetery and gate, and swim in the quirky swimming pools and mineral-rich waters that have made this ancient spa town world-famous.
Next, walk along with Travertine Hill, passing the pools of the upper terraces leading to the modern hamlet of Pamukkale below. For the best photos, the travertine glows at dusk when the sun drops below the horizon.
There is something for everyone in this lively Mediterranean center. The two main beaches outside the city are a summer sunbathing paradise that attracts vacationers from all over Europe. And right in the heart of the city, the Old Town, with its cobbled streets lined with Ottoman-era mansions, is a great place to explore.
Known as one of the best museums in the country, the Antalya Museum has a stunning collection of marble sculptures from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and there are many attractions outside the city for those who want to settle in Antalya.
Antalya, in particular, is a convenient starting point for day trips to the town of Side, which has some of Turkey’s most famous Greco-Roman ruins, such as Aspendos and Perge, just outside the city, and the many ruins.
7. Cruising the Mediterranean
Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline has tons of ruins and lots to do, but for many, it’s all about basking in the sun while enjoying the beautiful coastal scenery.
Yacht cruises are the number one activity for visitors to Bodrum and Fethiye, and for good reason. Steep forested slopes, hidden coves and tiny white sand beaches and hundreds of scattered islands are ideal for sea exploration. Even stubborn landowners will be impressed.
One of the most famous tours is known as the Blue Cruise, which travels south from Fethiye along the coast until landing near Mount Olympus, home to the famous Chimera natural phenomenon.
8. Mount Nemrut
One of the top tourist attractions in eastern Turkey, Mount Nemrut’s hilltop cemetery is filled with the remains of mammoth statues that once guarded it. This strange and lonely place must be one of the strangest archaeological sites in Turkey. Long-forgotten megalithic rocks peek out from the summit, creating an eerie atmosphere on the barren summit.
The construction work of the summit was the work of Antiochus I, ruler of the kingdom of Komagen, located in the buffer zone between the Roman and Parthian empires.
I dedicated this magnificent tomb to Antiochus to demonstrate its importance by building a 50-meter-high man-made hill on the summit of Mount Nemrut and then using his own statues and various gods.
Incredible blue-green water. Check. Lush forests roll from cliffs to white-sand beaches. Check. Just a short distance from Fethiye, Ölüdeniz paradise is Turkey’s most famous beach and its scenery is postcard-perfect and it’s not hard to see why its popularity has not waned.
If the beach gets too crowded, it’s time to take to the skies and experience the stunning aerial views with a tandem paragliding dive at the summit of the mighty Babadag (Baba Mountain) towering behind the beach. Oh, did we mention that Ölüdeniz is one of the best paragliding destinations in the world? Check.
Just south of the resort town of Antalya, the jaw-dropping audience of the Aspendos Roman Theater celebrates the splendor and solemnity of Marcus Aurelius’ reign.
Considered the best surviving example of classical theater in the world, this highly restored 15,000-seat theater is one of the star attractions of antiquity.
While the theater is the main reason to visit (the theater is what most tourists see on a half-day trip from Antalya or Side), the ruins of Aspendos offer much more than a plethora of ruins to explore. There are ruins of an aqueduct, bazaar, stadium and a Byzantine-era cathedral scattered around the vast slopes surrounding the theatre.
With such a long Mediterranean coastline, Turkey has beaches for all kinds of sun worshippers, but Patara is one of the most famous. Stretching along 18 kilometers of coastline, the beach offers plenty of space, so even during peak summer times, you can find a quiet spot away from the crowds.
Adding to the experience, right behind the sand are the colossal ruins of ancient Patara, which includes a colonnaded street, a restored bouleuterion (town hall), and a 5,000-seat theater. After enough sun, sand and swimming, wander behind the dunes and discover the dilapidated ruins of the once-thriving Lycian city. Patara can be easily reached from Kaş and Fethiye.
Turkey is home to a wealth of Greco-Roman relics, but none quite as romantically placed as ancient Pergamum in modern Pergamon. Once home to one of the ancient world’s most important libraries (rivaling that of Alexandria) and the famous medical school run by Galen, Pergamon’s remaining temple ruins now occupy a significant hill.
An incredible place to explore the atmosphere. The theaters in the Acropolis area are carved into the hillside, the theaters with the most ruins offer panoramic views of the countryside. Below, the Asclepion area is home to the ruins of the city’s famous medical center. If you really want to feel what life was like in the classical age, this is a great place to visit.
The ruins of the mighty Silk Road city of Ani sit on the plains and rub up against Turkey’s modern border with Armenia. Once the capital of the Armenian kingdom, Ani’s golden age ended in the 14th century as Mongol raids, earthquake damage, and wars over trade routes played a role in the city’s decline.
The beautiful red-brick buildings still sway in the prairie grass and make a fascinating impression on anyone who visits.
Don’t miss the Church of the Savior and St. Gregory of the Savior, whose fine stonework and frescoes can still be seen, the gigantic Ani Cathedral building, and the Manuçehr Mosque, built by the Seljuk Turks when they occupied the city in the 11th century. It is believed to be the first mosque in the country that would later become Turkey.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Turkey. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Turkey, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.