15 Best Cities to Visit in Turkey

by Emir Murat
Aerial view of Istanbul, Turkey, a popular tourist destination.

Cities in Turkey never fail to impress, whether you’re looking for picture-perfect beaches and bays or significant historical monuments and magnificent mosques. Turkey’s rich cultural history, combined with its delectable food and kind, inviting people, will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

There’s something for everyone to love about this country’s magnificent cities, from the thronging streets of Istanbul to the peaceful, easygoing lifestyle of Urgup. Tourists visiting this incredible country will have a difficult time squeezing in all Turkey has to offer. Here is a list of the top places to visit in Turkey to get you started on your trip.

15. Fethiye

Aerial view of Fethiye, Turkey overlooking turquoise waters and a marina.

This stunning aerial view shows Fethiye, known for its beautiful beaches and clear waters. Image source: Olena Rublenko/Shutterstock.com

Beautiful Fethiye is located on a natural harbor with clear turquoise waters and forested hills on each side. The wonderful beaches here are great for lounging, and you can easily take a Turkish boat ride around the bay or visit one of the nearby beautiful islands, making this a favorite vacation spot.

Despite the fact that the city was almost wiped out by an earthquake in 1958, it has made a remarkable recovery, with many of its historic landmarks still standing. In addition to the neighboring Amintas Rock Tombs and Kadyanda Ancient City, the nearby ghost town of Kayakoy is also well worth a visit.

14. Cesme

Aerial view of the stunning blue waters and coastline of Cesme, Izmir, Turkey.

the stunning blue waters and coastline of Cesme, a popular resort town on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Image source: Kadagan/Shutterstock.com

This beach resort town is approximately eight kilometers from the Greek island of Chios, and it offers tourists a lovely waterfront promenade, a gorgeous Genoese castle, and much more.

While the castle itself is the most famous landmark, visitors will also find a lively atmosphere in the town’s contemporary marina and the old town’s numerous shops and restaurants. Cesme is a wonderful base for exploring the surrounding region and its many beaches.

13. Bursa

The Bursa Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in Bursa, Turkey, with a beautifully landscaped courtyard in front.

The Bursa Grand Mosque, also known as Ulu Cami, Turkey. Image source: muharremz/Shutterstock.com

The original capital of the Ottoman Empire is now Turkey’s fourth-largest city, which has expanded rapidly in recent years. Now a contemporary city with a little chaotic vibe, the historic center of Bursa is wonderful to roam about in contrast to the unsightly industrial surrounds.

Bursa has a lot to offer, including several great mosques, mausoleums, and museums, and the pious locals are quite kind and inviting. Skiing can be found on Mount Uludag, and if you need to warm up, there are a number of excellent hamams in the area.

12. Ankara

The historic old town of Ankara, Turkey with a mosque and colorful buildings lining the street.

the historic old town of Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. Image source: muratart/Shutterstock.com

Ankara, the country’s capital, may not be high on most travelers’ lists, but it’s chock full of interesting sights and experiences. Atmosphere-wise, it has a vibrant, positive vibe that makes it well worth a visit. Ankara is now a modern, sophisticated city that hosts numerous embassies and has many trendy restaurants and cafés, yet it may still seem like a concrete jungle at times.

The city is full of life and excitement, and visitors should not miss the massive Anitkabir mausoleum of Ataturk or the magnificent Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

11. Urfa

Balikligol (fish lake) in Sanliurfa City of Turkey with the historic Urfa Castle in the background.

This beautiful view shows Balikligol in Sanliurfa City of Turkey. Image source: Nejdet Duzen/Shutterstock.com

Urfa, often called Sanliurfa and “the Prophet’s City,” is renowned for its abundance of stunning historic structures, drawing visitors seeking spiritual renewal or a place to make pilgrimage. The local market has an exotic, Middle Eastern atmosphere that is enticing to explore.

Despite the city’s fast transformation as a result of ongoing urban renewal initiatives, its rich history is preserved in the city’s beautiful Dergah Park and Mosque Complex. Stopping near Urfa? Don’t miss the chance to see the impressive Gobekli Tepe temple.

10. Trabzon

Uzungol mountain village in Trabzon, Turkey

the stunning Uzungol mountain village in Trabzon, Turkey. Image source: Cem OZER/Shutterstock.com

Trabzon, the busiest port on the Black Sea, has seen many wars and rulers come and go due to its vital position on the ancient Silk Road. The city may be developing swiftly, but the historic mosque of Aya Sofya is still the best reason to come.

Trabzon is a city teeming with activity; there are wonderful restaurants and cafés there, and a trip to see the local football club play will be an event you’ll never forget. Enjoy a day trip to the beautiful Sumela Monastery or the scenic Uzungol Lake.

9. Konya

Mevlana Museum in Konya, Turkey

The Mevlana Museum is a popular tourist destination in Konya, Turkey. Image source: Nejdet Duzen/Shutterstock.com

Konya was the capital of the Rum Sultanate and is today renowned for its abundance of gorgeous buildings from that era. In spite of its reputation as a strong, conservative city, the city’s economy and tourism industry continue to flourish.

The surrounding ancient village of Sille and the equally remarkable Mausoleum of Rumi are two of the most popular tourist destinations in the area.

8. Bodrum

Bodrum Castle and Marina in Turkey

The Bodrum Castle and Marina are popular tourist destinations in Turkey. Image source: Luciano Mortula – LGM/Shutterstock.com

Bodrum is a great city with everything a tourist could desire, including a trendy and sophisticated nightlife scene. The city’s Aegean heritage is evident in its beautiful beaches, quaint whitewashed houses, charming small cafés, and winding cobblestone alleyways.

Although Bodrum is home to historical attractions including a gorgeous castle, ancient ruins, and a breathtaking amphitheater, the city’s trendy restaurants, fashionable bars, and buzzing nightclubs ensure that visitors of all tastes will find something to their liking.

7. Edirne

Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, Turkey

The Selimiye Mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Edirne, Turkey. Image source: Kenan TALAS/Shutterstock.com

The city of Edirne, Turkey, was the imperial capital of the Ottoman Empire, and its illustrious history is evident in the many magnificent imperial structures, palaces, and mosques still standing today. There are many wonderful places to visit in this city, such as the Selimiye Mosque and the Old Quarter.

With its closeness to both Greece and Bulgaria, the city of Edirne has a very European vibe, and its restaurants serve up a wide variety of delectable options. In the summer, the city of Kirkpinar has its famous and long-running oil-wrestling festival.

6. Kusadasi

Guvercinada or Pigeon Island in Turkey

Guvercinada is a small island in the Aegean Sea, Turkey. Image source: BearFotos/Shutterstock.com

Kusadasi is a wonderful and exciting place to visit, and many tourists go there for vacation every year because of the abundance of tour groups that operate out of the area. Hotels, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs abound along the shore, and the vibrant nightlife draws many people.

Even if you’re not interested in history or nature, Kusadasi’s closeness to some spectacular natural and historical attractions makes it well worth a visit nonetheless. When in Turkey, it’s worth your time to check out both the fascinating ruins at Ephesus and the lush forests of Dilek Peninsula National Park.

5. Izmir

Konak Square view from Varyant in Izmir, Turkey.

A stunning view of Konak Square in the city of Izmir, Turkey. Image source: Nadir Keklik/Shutterstock.com

The third-largest city in Turkey is located on the Bay of Izmir and is a vibrant, young city with a massive port. Because of its ethnic history, the city offers a wide variety of delectable cuisines, all of which can be found along the beautiful waterfront promenade.

You can spend hours exploring the wonderful bazaar and learning about the region’s history and culture at the excellent history and art museum. Izmir, situated on the Aegean Sea, is home to some fantastic beaches and friendly locals that will make you feel right at home.

4. Alanya

A breathtaking view of the Tersane shipyard and the Cleopatra Beach in the coastal town of Alanya, Turkey.

A breathtaking view of the Tersane shipyard and the Cleopatra Beach in the coastal town of Alanya, Turkey. Image source: Efired/Shutterstock.com

Alanya, a port city on Turkey’s southern coast, is a tourist hotspot because of the low prices of the packages it provides. Because of this, the city is always bustling with tourists in search of some sunlight and a good time on the dance floor.

Alanya is a popular vacation spot because of its beautiful harbor, fascinating historical sites, and picturesque setting. The hills around the city center are covered with traditional buildings.

Therefore, after a day of sun-kissed activities, you can enjoy a boat cruise one minute, the majestic historic Citadel the next, and the noisy nightlife afterwards.

3. Urgup

Stunning view of Tersane and Cleopatra Beach in Alanya, Turkey.

A breathtaking view of the Tersane shipyard and the Cleopatra Beach in the coastal town of Alanya, Turkey. Image source: Efired/Shutterstock.com

Urgup, a little Turkish town in the breathtaking Cappadocia region, is a great home base for your travels. Despite its rural location, the town’s bustling center offers a wide variety of high-quality lodging options, including several very unique cave hotels. The town’s lovely stone houses and old, rocky hillside make it a picturesque destination despite the absence of traditional tourist attractions.

Location in the heart of the wine area means plenty of excellent vintages are readily available. Spectacular hot air balloon rides over the stunning landscape, as well as the nearby churches of Goreme, are also easily accessible from here.

2. Antalya

Charming view of Urgup town in Cappadocia, Turkey.

A charming view of the town of Urgup, located in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. Image source: Delpixel/Shutterstock.com

Antalya’s location on the Gulf of Antalya makes for a breathtaking shoreline, with high cliffs that provide breathtaking views of the distant mountains. Antalya is a fantastic tourist destination because of its rich history and the charming small streets and alleys of its old center, Kaleici.

There are a handful of beautiful beaches in the area, and the nearby Roman-era port is a great location to stop and enjoy the sea breeze. Once considered the entry point to the Turkish Riviera, it is now recognized as a destination in its own right because of its abundance of attractions, high-quality dining, and pleasant climate.

1. Istanbul

Aerial view of Istanbul, Turkey, a popular tourist destination.

An aerial view of Istanbul, Turkey. Image source: Seqoya/Shutterstock.com

Istanbul, one of the world’s most amazing cities, has been a meeting point between the East and the West for centuries thanks to its location on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait. The city’s long and turbulent past has meant that many different peoples and civilizations have left their mark on it. There are many fascinating remnants of the Greeks, Romans, and Venetians all across town.

Merchants came to Istanbul because of its strategic position, bringing their goods and riches, which resulted in the city’s stunning architecture, charming mosques, and great palaces. Istanbul is a fantastic travel destination because of its abundance of historical landmarks like the Hagia Sophia.

The city offers a wide variety of excellent restaurants, bars, and other venues for an exciting evening out. Istanbul is an enchanting city to explore, and its warm and inviting people will have you falling in love with it in no time.

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