15 Best Places To Visit In Turkey

by Emir Murat
"Morning view of Uzungol lake in Trabzon, Turkey"

As a tourist destination, Turkey more than delivers in terms of size and beauty. Yet, if this is your first trip to Turkey, you’ll soon come to appreciate the country’s abundance of must-see attractions.

One thing is certain: this is the kind of location where everyone can find something to their liking. Turkey is a very varied nation, with everything from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul to quiet coastal towns like Gocek.

Having been to Turkey on many occasions, I feel qualified to recommend some of my favourite and most essential stops along the way. Some are convenient to travel to, while others are located away from the main tourist areas; either way, I’m certain that you’ll find at least a few that interest you.

In this section, we will highlight a few of Turkey’s most noteworthy tourist destinations. Enjoy your time away to the fullest.


"Amasya Turkey 2016 - Ottoman's prince city with river and Clock Tower"
Amasya Turkey 2016 – Ottoman’s prince city with river and Clock Tower Image source: Bulent EKER/Shutterstock.com

Amasya, situated on the coast of the Black Sea, is a must-visit destination when in Turkey.

Located in a valley on the Yesilirmak River and surrounded by mountains, this is a picturesque and historically significant city. Visit the old Ottoman-style homes, take in Amasya Castle, and look out for the Kral Kaya Tombs while you’re here.

Driving (or taking a prearranged shuttle) from Ankara, the capital, to Amasya will take around 4 hours.

Not to mention, Anadolu MantI Evi serves up delicious meals during lunch.

2. Pamukkale

Natural travertine pools and terraces in Pamukkale, Turkey - Cotton castle in southwestern Turkey
Pamukkale, Turkey – Natural travertine pools and terracesImage source: muratart/Shutterstock.com

Pamukkale, with its travertine terraces and hot springs, is now located near Hierapolis. It took me around 20 hours to travel between Pamukkale and Hierapolis, but the time spent there was definitely worth it.

Take a soak in the well-known terraces, see the Antique Pool (with Roman columns), and investigate the Kaklik cave while you’re here. It is, indeed, a unique location.

3. Tenedos (Bozcaada)

The Castle of Bozcaada Island, Turkey - Ancient fortress overlooking the sea
The Castle of Bozcaada Island, Turkey – Ancient fortress overlooking the seaImage source: Nejdet Duzen/Shutterstock.com

Tenedos (or Bozcaada in Turkish) is a tiny island off the coast of Turkey that is widely regarded as one of the country’s top tourist destinations. In particular, if you’re planning a trip to the Aegean Sea,

The island has been inhabited for about five thousand years, so it has a deep history. What this implies is that there will be a plethora of activities available to you once you get there. See the castle, built in the 15th century, take a walk along the shore, and learn about the history of Bozcaada while you’re there.

Presently, the most convenient method to arrive is via boat from Geyikli Harbour. Just remember that there aren’t many choices available during off-peak periods, so be sure to prepare ahead of time.

4.) Goreme (Cappadocia)

Fairy Chimneys in Pasabagi Cappadocia, Turkey - Unique geological formations
Fairy Chimneys in Pasabagi Cappadocia, Turkey – Geological WondersImage source: Sener Dagasan/Shutterstock.com

Goreme, in Turkey’s Cappadocia area, is a must-visit destination for every traveller. In fact, if you’re in the area, it’s always a good idea to stop by.

This town’s location is a big part of why it was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is ideally situated among the breathtaking granite formations that give this area its character. Many hundreds of these fairy chimneys protrude from the ground and intervene between the structures.

The churches in this area, especially the Apple Church, Ortahane, and Bezirhane, are breathtaking and should not be missed. Visit the fairytale chimneys and the Pigeon and Love Valleys thereafter to round off your day. Indeed, its beauty is too stunning to be ignored.

Don’t miss the sun setting over the horizon at Sunset Point, as the name suggests. The climb to the summit is a rewarding 20–30 minute investment of your time.

Inci Cave Restaurant, located inside the caverns, serves delicious Turkish food in a stunning setting.

5. Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey - The City Where East Meets West
Istanbul, Turkey – The City Where East Meets WestImage source: Seqoya/Shutterstock.com

Istanbul is a unique travel destination since it spans two continents. Also, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Istanbul since there are so many amazing attractions to choose from.

Be sure to visit the Blue Mosque and take in the sights of the Suleymaniye Mosque while you’re in town. You won’t find anything like this. Visit the Rahmi M. Koc Museum or Kapali Carsi to get out of the noon sun. There’s a good chance you’ll become disoriented in the latter, but hey, that may be part of the fun!

6. Ephesus

Celsus Library in Ephesus - Selcuk, Turkey
Celsus Library in Ephesus – Selcuk, TurkeyImage source: muratart/Shutterstock.com

Explore the amazing ruins of Ephesus, located on the western outskirts of the nation. It has a history dating back thousands of years.

You may spend a whole day (or more) just exploring the immediate vicinity. Also, it’s important to know that Ephesus is a popular tourist destination; therefore, it’s best to avoid going there on weekends or holidays.

From either Izmir or Bodrum, you may take advantage of several day excursions; just be sure to set up a full day for each. Plus, you may still visit on a lengthy day trip from the beautiful Greek island of Samos.

7. Kas

Town Kas, Mediterranean Coast, Turkey
Town Kas, Mediterranean Coast, TurkeyImage source: Dmitry Pichugin/Shutterstock.com

Kas, a historic fishing hamlet on the Mediterranean coast, ranks high among Turkey’s top tourist destinations. Not only does it have a stunning coastline, but it also has a lot to offer inland.

Several artefacts from the ancient city of Antiphellos may be seen in the town that was built on top of it. Make sure you look for any surviving Lycian rock tombs as well.

When you go to Kas, don’t miss out on seeing the Hellenistic Theatre, walking around Kas Marina, and relaxing on Kaputas Beach. Indeed, it is a sight to see.

8. Hierapolis

Roman Amphitheater in Hierapolis, Pamukkale, Turkey
Roman Amphitheater in Hierapolis, Pamukkale, TurkeyImage source: Skilful/Shutterstock.com

Hierapolis, Turkey, is one of the greatest ancient towns in the world, and it also happens to be perched above some historic hot springs. The nicest aspect of seeing Hierapolis is that it can be combined with a trip to Pamukkale and the area’s famed thermal springs.

Visit the Nymphaeum at the Apollo Temple and the amphitheatre (built by Hadrian) while you’re here at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, a day trip to Hierapolis is feasible from places like Marmaris and the southwestern coast. In either case, you’ll be on the road for a minimum of three hours.

9. Mardin

Winter Sunset in Old Mardin, Turkey
Winter Sunset in Old Mardin, TurkeyImage source: daphnusia images/Shutterstock.com

Among the many attractions of Mardin are the amazing Artuqid architecture and structures that appear like little fairy tale castles perched on top of the surrounding hills. To give you a sense of how significant and lovely this old city is, UNESCO has classified the whole city as a World Heritage Site.

There are a number of historical structures in the gorgeous setting. There is a fortified city atop the hill that looks rather formidable. A military no-go zone prevents you from doing anything except looking.

Historical churches and mosques abound throughout the metropolis. The Great Mosque dates back to the 12th century and is recognisable by its soaring minarets that can be seen from miles away. The Deyruz-Zafaran Monastery, one of the oldest in the world, should also be visited.

The Turkish city of Mardin is barely 5-10 kilometres from the Syrian border. This presents its own set of difficulties, which is why the British government has cautioned against all but absolutely necessary travel to the region.

10. Gocek

Aerial View of Gocek, Turkey
Aerial View of Gocek, TurkeyImage source: voloshin311/Shutterstock.com

Gocek, located in the Fethiye region, is a great destination to visit in Turkey for some R&R on the coast. We stayed in Gocek for around five days, during which time we visited the nearby islands, strolled along the coast, and marvelled at the breathtaking Mediterranean shore. The scenery is stunning.

Visit Caunos, the Fethiye Museum, and Patara while on the Gulf of Gocek. We also stayed at the Rixos Premium Göcek, which was a stunning hotel (which was amazing).

11. Safranbolu

Traditional Ottoman Houses in Safranbolu, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Traditional Ottoman Houses in Safranbolu, UNESCO World Heritage SiteImage source: M.kaankaymaz/Shutterstock.com

Safranbolu, Turkey, is a historic town that was an important trade station between the East and the West and is thus filled with Ottoman architecture.

Visit Yoruk Village, take in the sights at Bulak Cave, and end your day with a cup of authentic Turkish coffee at Arasta Kahvesi 1661. If you’re in northern Turkey, this is a must-see.

12. Side

The Ancient City of Side in Turkey with a view of the port, peninsula, Mediterranean Sea, and the largest amphitheater in Turkey
The Ancient City of Side in Turkey with a view of the portImage source: S.Tatiana/Shutterstock.com

If you’re flying into Antalya, one of the easiest and greatest destinations to visit in Turkey is Side.

One of Side’s most remarkable features is its ancient Roman and Hellenistic ruins. The actual Roman amphitheatre is conveniently positioned in the middle of this historic town, making it a must-see landmark.
The Temple of Apollo, which is located near the water, is especially beautiful when the sun is setting. However, if you’re not interested in history, you may spend the 50 minutes travelling there and back exploring Tazi Canyon, which is similar to the Grand Canyon in the United States but in Turkey.

From Antalya’s downtown, the trip will take around an hour in a vehicle. If you’re tired of the beach, this seems like a great place to spend the day.


Uzungol lake in Trabzon in the morning with mountains in the background.
Uzungol lake in Trabzon, Turkey.Image source: daphnusia images/Shutterstock.com

You may not think of Uzungol as one of the top tourist destinations in Turkey, but you should definitely check it out.

When at Uzungol, you could think you’ve accidentally stumbled into Norway, such is the beauty of the area’s landscape. Since it’s located in the extreme northeast of the nation, Uzungol is probably not on your itinerary if you’re planning to visit the more popular locations in the southwest and Istanbul.

You should visit the mosque, go along the lake’s edge, and take in the stunning scenery if you do.


Balikligol (The Fish Lake) in Sanliurfa, Turkey. Panorama of the Pool of Abraham or Pool of Sacred Fish.
Balikligol (The Fish Lake) in Sanliurfa, TurkeyImage source: Mitzo/Shutterstock.com

Located in the southeast, Sanliurfa is rich in history. Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Alexander the Great have all dipped their wicks here throughout the years, leaving their mark on the city.

Visit Balikligol and the Cave of Abraham while you’re here, as well as the Halil-ur-Rahman Mosque. The Harran beehive dwellings are also worth seeing if time permits.

You should double-check the FCO website since this city is quite near to the Syrian border. In this manner, before venturing out, you can find out whether the area is secure.

15. Oludeniz 

"Morning view of Uzungol lake in Trabzon, Turkey"
Uzungol Lake in Trabzon, TurkeyImage source: daphnusia images/Shutterstock.com

Located not far east of Gocek, Oludeniz is a popular tourist destination. As I was saying previously, the whole coastline is beautiful. However, the Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly the crowning achievement of this region.

It’s important to keep in mind that the beach, particularly in the summer, may get quite busy. If that seems like a problem, you can either go there really early or visit one of the other beaches in the Gocek area.

Hikers may also go on the Lycian Way, which begins at Oludeniz and continues down the coast.

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