This list of places to visit in Turkey will inspire many more repeat visits to this beautiful country. As travellers have attested, stepping on Turkish soil is like tiptoeing through living museums, exciting tourist attractions, incredible views, and natural places of stunning beauty like Pamukkale. Turkey never disappoints with significant ruins, interesting museums, natural beauty, misty mountains, and quirky landscapes.
From Istanbul’s minarets to Ephesus ancient ruins and Pamukkale pools, the stunning west and southern coastlines, and everything in between, this guide features various tourist attractions, and places from east to west that are popular with previous guests and readers, as well as the best things to do.
Before we start, you can also get inspiration for places from our travel tours of Turkey. We hand-pick our hotels & guides and use modern tour vehicles for comfort. In addition, we operate small group Turkey tours with boutique hotels. The official Turkish Tourism Ministry website has also listed our tours.
25 Amazing Places to Visit in Turkey
1: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul
Also called Sultanahmet Camii, the highly respected Blue Mosque portrays life for Muslims in Turkey’s largest city. However, this place is about much more than a tourist attraction. Open to everyone outside prayer time, the mosque is an iconic landmark in Turkey, reflecting brilliant Ottoman architecture. It is one of many places in Sultanahmet that make up Istanbul’s UNESCO World Heritage collection and the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Construction was completed in 1619 by Ottoman Sedefhar Mehmet Aga, and impressive features include 260 stained glass windows.
2: Hagia Sophia in Sultanahmet
The Hagia Sophia was once the world’s largest domed building and functioned as a church, mosque, and museum before Turkey converted it back into a mosque a few years ago. As a result, the Islamic plague calligraphy and Christian mosaics are prize gems. Large Islamic engravings adorned tall stone columns while natural light streams through 40 windows. The Hagia Sophia is prime Byzantine architecture, and because of additions over the years, it is one of Istanbul’s and Turkey’s most iconic tourist attractions.
3: Topkapi Palace in Istanbul – Turkey
Walking up to Topkapi palace gatehouse is unimpressive, yet behind the stone walls sit stunning courtyards, rooms, and imperial places that portray the Ottoman sultans’ colourful lives in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace was the Ottoman Sultans’ first home, used until the 20th century when they moved to the new Dolmabahce Palace featuring western architectural themes of that time. Topkapi Palace is one of Istanbul’s best things to do, so take your time on this trip to ensure you don’t miss anything. As well as the main sights, be sure to visit the harem. After relax in Gulhane park next door, which is a stunning green place in Istanbul and not to be missed.
4: Places along Istanbul’s Bosphorus Shores
Most attention about the Bosphorus in Istanbul talks about its role in separating east and west. The stretch of water divides the exotic city of Istanbul into two continents, defining the land mass as either Asian or European. Many wars and battles occurred here as powerful rulers aimed to gain cultural control of this strategically important strait of Turkey. These days, the tourist attraction cruises along the Istanbul shoreline pass several historic sites, including castles and palaces.
5: The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
People who love shopping will delight in the Grand Bazaar, Turkey’s oldest and largest covered market. It dates to the 15th century and boasts 5000 shops. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is an essential part of Turkey’s heritage and a popular tourist attraction. Non-shoppers also have a great time admiring exquisite paintwork and architecture. Aside from shops, there are restaurants, cafes, fountains, hammams and a couple of mosques. In addition, this Istanbul landmark is a great place to shop for souvenirs.
6: An Adventure into Incredible Dalyan
The golden sands and shallow waters of Iztuzu Beach make perfect day trips from Turkey’s surrounding Aegean and Mediterranean coastal places. However, what makes Iztuzu beach special are loggerhead sea turtles. This endangered species sparked Turkey to conserve Iztuzu Beach and prohibit building. Other famous areas on this stretch include hillside Rock Tombs dating from 400 BC. Tourists often indulge in therapeutic baths where they bathe in rich sulphur mud—the combination of sulphur and high temperatures (reaching 40 degrees Celsius) ease ailments.
7: Explore the Ancient City Ruins of Ephesus
Tourists often take a road trip to Ephesus UNESCO World Heritage site. Sitting on Turkey’s west coast, near Izmir, Ephesus features a 24,000-person theatre, once the ancient world’s largest. Constructed at the time of Emperor Claudius, Ephesus also features the Celsus Library, which could hold 12,000 scrolls and was a monumental tomb for Asia’s governor. Famed for the Temple of Artemis, visitors stroll by temples and explore Roman Terraced Houses with their marvellously intact mosaics. If time allows, extend your trip to visit the Virgin Mary’s house and Saint John’s Basilica, two other famous places in this area of Turkey.
8: Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia
The Picturesque Goreme Museum, the top place to visit in Cappadocia in Turkey’s central Anatolian region, displays historical monasteries and cave churches with ancient Byzantine frescoes. Over 600 churches made from soft rock dot the Cappadocia landscape, and there may well be much more undiscovered, but the Goreme museum brings in visitors from around Turkey. To enhance your experience, sign up for tours in Cappadocia because guides give valuable information about this place and other tourist attractions.
9: Derinkuyu Underground City in Cappadocia
Conspiracy theorists say aliens built Derinkuyu underground city in Turkey’s Cappadocia region of Turkey. Nevertheless, mass networks of rooms and tunnels with an eery atmosphere make this tourist attraction worth visiting. Sitting 18 miles away from the massive city of Nevsehir in Cappadocia, Derinkuyu, meaning “deep well”, is the biggest of roughly 35 underground cities. However, significant historians say there are hundreds of these places throughout Cappadocia. The eight-level compounds were linked via tunnels to another similar settlement in Kaymakli. The discovery of Derinkuyu underground city happened accidentally when a cave wall collapsed. From there, experts in Cappadocia were amazed at the large city they saw.
10: The Best Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia
Cappadocia’s most popular activity is an early morning balloon trip with stunning views. As the sun rises, 20 or more balloons rise above the horizon for views of green valleys and fairy chimneys. Romantic proposals have been made in hot-air balloons, while birthday celebrations are popular. Balloon rides last roughly 60 to 90 minutes, leaving the rest of the day to explore other places in Cappadocia.
11: Aegean Pamukkale and Hierapolis: Spas and Ancient City
Meaning “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, Aegean Pamukkale offers unique landscapes of travertine terraces deposited by high mineral content water. Once an ancient Greek city, Pamukkale springs contained therapeutic qualities. The adjacent Hierapolis city ruins nearby feature ruined landmarks, but the best to see within Pamukkale is the grand theatre with a marvellously intact façade. Other places to visit are Pamukkale Museum and Cleopatra’s pool. Pamukkale often ranks as one of Turkey’s most visited tourist attractions proving its worth and uniqueness.
12: Come to Antalya Old Town in Mediterranean Turkey
The best place to experience the Antalya region is Kaleici’s old town. The Roman emperor built the most famous ancient landmark, Hadrian’s Gate. These imposing triple arches mark the entrance to Kaleici, a destination that stands out. Kaleici is predominantly from the Ottoman period, but the walls surrounding the old city date from Roman times. Also in the old centre are the Korkut Mosque remains. This structure was initially a 2nd-century Roman temple. Still, the place was later converted into a Byzantine church, Seljuk Mosque, a crusade church, and an Ottoman Mosque. Hidirlik Tower, an ancient fortification and tourist attraction looking over Kaleici’s harbour, stands along the city walls.
13: Visit Bodrum: Castle and Turkish Riviera Hub
This tourist destination of western Turkey is renowned for white-washed homes, an imposing castle and port, golden sands, and expert restaurant culture. Once the home of Halicarnassus Mausoleum, the monument was destroyed by earthquakes. Bodrum Castle houses the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, highlighting journeys of ancient mariners and sunken shipwrecks. A trip to Bodrum also gives an insight into how rich and famous people of Turkey party.
14: Places and Views on The Lycian Way Coast
Hikers and trekkers should put the Lycian Way on their holiday list in Turkey. This 500km-long walking trail runs along the southern coast from Fethiye to Antalya, is home to amazing views and places and follows the tracks of bygone ages. Trace ruins of Byzantine, Greek, Persian, and Roman civilisations, admire beautiful landscapes and visit tourist attractions like Kayakoy ghost town, an abandoned village with Greek-style houses and churches. Also, stay overnight in the best towns of Kas, Kalkan, and Patara, which boast Turkey’s longest beach.
15: Travel to Ankara – Capital of Turkey
Ankara, Turkey’s capital city, attracts travellers on around the country trips. Presenting an informative look into Turkey’s history, the best place to visit is Anitkabir, the Mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. With its 360-degree panoramic views, Ankara Castle is the other top visited place. Otherwise, museums and historical mosques open daily for those who don’t like shopping or partying until dawn. On the outskirts, Beypazari Ottoman village offers different vibes from Ankara’s urban city landscape and is famous for the local mascot of a carrot.
16: Visit Beautiful Olu Deniz in Fethiye
Another enduring image of tourism in Turkey, Mediterranean Olu Deniz, has a secluded bay dominated by its blue ‘jewel’ lagoon. The famed Beach is protected by law to avoid construction that would ruin its pure beauty. The best way to see Oludeniz town is from the air by signing up for tandem paragliding rides that head out from Babadag mountain. Also, catch the morning water taxi ride to Butterfly Valley, a scenic gorge with waterfalls where butterflies breed. From Oludeniz, you can also visit other places in Turkey on day trips like Pamukkale.
17: Izmir in Aegean Turkey
Dating from 3,000 BC, when the Trojans arrived, Izmir in western Turkey has combined primaeval structures with contemporary architecture, fusing history and modernity. Previously called Smyrna, past civilisations include the Lydians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans. This tourism and business hub of Turkey consists of a city centre and several small coastal towns with more relaxed paces and lifestyles. Visitors adore the city centre, while retired Turks often flock to surrounding seaside resorts and places like Alacati, Foca, and Cesme.
18: The Ottoman Hub of Bursa
Apart from being the Ottoman Empire’s first ruling centre, Bursa in Northwest Turkey is famous for green spaces, making the city environmentally friendly. Bursa’s vibrant history includes modern city buildings alongside remarkable ancient structures. So admire designs, glimpse Bursa’s history, or better yet, visit fascinating museums. Plenty of mosques are scattered throughout, but the 14th-century Ulu Cami is the most remarkable. After touring Bursa, tourists ride cable cars up Uludag mountain, Bursa’s most prominent attraction and one of Turkey’s famous skiing resorts during winter.
19: The Lush Ayder Plateau of Rize
Turkey is blessed with spectacular plateaus, and one is Ayder Plateau, in the Camlihemsin region of Rize. The Ayder Plateau of Turkey is fondly referred to as the “honey forest” because of its delicacy and uniquely features hot and cold clear springs. The Ayder Plateau used to be Turkey’s best-kept secret, although the area has slowly gained popularity with travel crowds. However, the tourist boom has not fazed friendly locals. Expect traditional black sea culture when you visit this part of Turkey.
20: Scenic Places in Uzungol Plateau
Uzungol Plateau in Turkey’s Black Sea region attracts thousands of local and foreign tourists because of its astounding beauty. With a lake amidst lush, green forests and a cooler climate, thanks to the Kackar Mountains destination, the plateau looks even more spectacular when fog descends and promotes mysterious vibes. Popular activities are camping, trekking, fishing, and tasting local delicacies like trout.
21: Take a Trip to Mediterranean Kas
Kas in southern Turkey still pays homage to a traditional Turkish fishing village. Belonging to the Antalya district, pink bougainvillaea sprawls over walls of white-washed houses. Before 1923, there were many Greek residents, and evidence of their presence appears in the architecture of brown wooden balconies and window shutters. Buildings and streets sit around old Lycian tombs and Hellenistic theatre, preserving them as timely reminders of past civilisations that occupied this area of Turkey.
22: Sumela Monastery and Museum
There is nowhere else like Sumela. Located 1200 meters up the Macka cliffs, how people built places at such an altitude, manoeuvring through cliffs and forests when technology was non-existent, is unbelievable. Sumela’s intricate frescoes depict scenes of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Sumela also sits within Altindere National Park, the most famous tourist attraction in Turkey’s Trabzon region. Known for exceptionally verdant forests, trees like oak, chestnut, Scotch pine, black pine, and forest rose grow in abundance. Various fruits, flowers, and plants make the park a perfect habitat for animals like foxes, wolves, lynx, and wild goats.
23: Visit Delightful Places in Eastern Van
Van, an Eastern Turkey city, offers unique quirks, including a rare breed of cat with different-coloured eyes – one amber and one blue that like swimming in Lake Van. Van prides itself in its deep-rooted history that goes as far back as 5,000 BC. Different civilisations shaped Van’s history – Urartian, Armenian, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman. Each era left remarkable structures, like Van Fortress (Urartian) and the Holy Cross Church (Armenian). Nature has also blessed Van with Turkey’s largest body of water.
24: Harran Beehive Houses in Southeast Turkey
Man has always turned to landscapes for resources. The beehive homes of Harran perfectly reflect this. Although most are tourist exhibitions nowadays, they still give great insights into life. Traditional construction methods with bricks and mud made them cool in summer yet warm in winter. Although the beehive homes in Turkey are specific to the Harran region, they are found worldwide, including in Africa and Scotland.
25: Impressive Places in Southeast Mardin
Near the Tigris River and overlooking the Mesopotamian plains, Mardin is the homeland for the Syriac people. Ignore the bland new part, and look to the old town that dates back 700 years. Narrow, cobbled alleys certainly provide great insights into Mardin. Notable places worth visiting include Kasimiye Medresi, an old Islamic school. The two-story landmark leads the way to an astonishing view of old Mesopotamia. On the outskirts of Mardin, visit the ancient Deyrul Zafaran monastery. Relics inside include an old Bible, and services are still held in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
More About Travel in Turkey
Top Ten Beaches in Turkey: Out of many places to experience glorious warm days and cool evenings, the coastlines in Turkey entice everyone. Whether you choose the Mediterranean or Aegean, Turkey’s coastline promise beauty in abundance. Everyone loves a day spent seaside because they can rent water sports and enjoy the stunning scenery. Turkey is a top holiday package destination in the world, and for good reasons.
Best Souvenirs to Buy in Turkey: We have plenty of suggestions for souvenirs to take home from Turkey. So whether you want a memento or gifts for friends back home, holidaymakers will be delighted to know there is a wide choice.
Best Time to Visit: Along with the best places to visit in Turkey, you might wonder which month is ideal. Our answer depends on two factors. Firstly, your preference for activities, whether beaches, historical sites, or adventure sports, and secondly, which place you want to go. After all, Turkey is the world’s 37th biggest country, so weather climates are incredibly diverse depending on the region. This article helps plan visits so you can experience memorable times in Turkey.
About Us: Turkey Travel Centre is the proud winner of the Trip Advisor Excellence Award four years in a row. We know and love Turkey and want to ensure that you have fond memories of your Turkish experience. Our highly trained staff members can help you with your enquiries seven days a week, 365 days a year. All our staff know Turkey very well and have travelled extensively, so contact us today for help to plan a trip to the best places to visit in Turkey.