The beautiful and unique country of Turkey offers travellers many opportunities for relaxation, unforgettable experiences, and interesting discoveries. Its rich history, magnificent resorts, delicious cuisine, and unique natural reserves can often make it challenging to choose the attractions to see first. Our guide to interesting places will help you explore Turkey from various perspectives.
The largest city in Turkey, rightfully regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world. This is the meeting point of Europe and Asia, Christian and Muslim cultures. Here, there is an incredible number of religious sanctuaries, architectural monuments, historical museums, and picturesque landscapes. One of the city’s most famous symbols is the Blue Mosque – a magnificent building constructed by the order of Sultan Ahmed. The mosque impresses with its scale, colour palette, and unique atmosphere.
Hugely popular among tourists is also the Topkapi Palace, which served as the residence of Turkish sultans for several centuries. It is located on a vast territory where, in addition to the palace itself, there are many beautiful gardens, stables, baths, pavilions, and other structures. In the same area of Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia – one of the city’s main religious sanctuaries, which, over its history, has been both a Byzantine church and a Muslim mosque. You should also explore the Galata Tower, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Turkish Grand Bazaar, stroll along the waterfront along the Sea of Marmara, and visit the mystical Basilica Cistern.
A natural wonder located in the southwest of the country. The Pamukkale region is most famous for its geothermal springs and unique landscapes. This place resembles a real castle made of white cotton: the resort area boasts 17 mineral springs known since ancient times. They formed on the outskirts of a volcanic plateau that rises above a vast plain.
The Pamukkale complex is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For millennia, hot water from the thermal springs flowed over the plateau, forming the stunning travertines that now resemble small pools created by nature itself. Thanks to the limestone deposits, the travertines have a brilliant white colour, adding even more beauty and uniqueness to this place. But you can not only enjoy the scenery but also improve your health: thousands of tourists come to Pamukkale for baths in healing water and special courses.
Turkey is indeed full of unique places that captivate at first sight. Cappadocia is one of those places. It is a natural reserve known for its extraordinary landscape. Cappadocia is situated at an altitude of over one kilometre above sea level, surrounded by the Hasan and Erciyes Mountains. Historically, Cappadocia emerged in the first millennium BCE. Among the beautiful valleys, whimsical rock formations sprawl, and both adults and children will find it interesting to explore the local caves and underground chambers.
Arguably, the main attraction of Cappadocia is the Goreme National Park. It is a whole open-air museum complex. In addition to rock formations, there are underground settlements, caves that once served as dwellings for ancient peoples, as well as monasteries and churches. Archaeologists have discovered six underground cities in the Cappadocia region, some of which are open for tourist exploration. The highlight of this reserve is the hot air balloons. Anyone can take a hot air balloon ride to appreciate the beauty of Cappadocia from a bird’s-eye view.
Located in the western part of Turkey is Ephesus, one of the country’s oldest cities, founded over two thousand years ago. The ruins of this city are situated near the town of Selçuk. The journey by car from Izmir will take about an hour. If you do not have personal transportation, cars in Turkey can be rented on the website of a specialised service, for example, https://localcarrents.com/.
Ephesus is considered one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world and the largest archaeological site in Asia Minor. You should definitely experience the unique atmosphere of this place at least once. Here, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Seljuk cultures have intertwined. Once, Ephesus was one of the largest trading cities. One of the main attractions of Ephesus is the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Library of Celsus, the Roman theatre, and the Basilica of St. John are also of great historical value. The latter is an early Christian church built in honour of John the Theologian, who once lived and preached in Ephesus.
But Turkey is famous not only for its archaeological treasures. It is also home to one of the most remarkable straits that separates the European and Asian parts of the country. The Bosphorus is a narrow strait that every traveller should gaze upon. The view of the strait is simply incredible! At its widest point, the Bosphorus stretches to 3.5 kilometres, and its length is approximately thirty kilometres.
This is the heart of Istanbul, as the Bosphorus is one of the most popular places for strolls in the city. You can watch the massive ships, embark on a several-hour cruise, or visit local attractions. The shores of the Bosphorus are connected by several beautiful bridges, but pedestrians are not allowed to enter them. If you will be using car rental in Turkey, keep in mind that there is a toll for crossing these bridges. In the narrowest part of the strait on opposite banks stand two old fortress towers, Anadoluhisar and Rumeli Hisarı.
A trip to Turkey is incomplete without a fantastic beach vacation. This country boasts numerous excellent resorts, and Antalya is one of the most popular cities on the Mediterranean coast. The climate here is very mild, so the resort season lasts quite long, from April to October. The infrastructure is well-developed, with many shopping centres, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, historical attractions, parks, children’s playgrounds, and sports facilities.
But Antalya’s highlight is its pristine pebble and sandy beaches washed by the azure sea. The beaches are equipped with everything you need, including sun loungers, lifeguard towers, shower cabins, and snack bars. If you want to sunbathe while enjoying magnificent landscapes, head to the Konyaaltı or Kundu areas. There are also many beautiful spots along the coast, so take a bike ride along the promenade in the evening or breathe in the sea air in a local park. If you are travelling with children, you can visit a water park, an amusement park, an aquarium with an underwater tunnel, a cable car, the Land of Legends theme park, or the zoo. Culture enthusiasts in Antalya will appreciate the city theatre, the ruins of the ancient cities of Aspendos and Olympos, as well as local museums.
Even if you have never been interested in Turkey before, you have surely heard of Troy at least once in your life. Yes, this is the ancient city that Homer mentioned in his “Iliad.” In the second millennium BC, the famous Trojan War took place here, during which the Trojans used cunning to send a massive wooden horse to the enemy’s gates. Over the centuries, Troy has been destroyed and rebuilt many times – now you can see the ruins of this city and valuable archaeological finds with your own eyes. Today, they are located in the northwestern part of Turkey, not far from the town of Çanakkale.
Within the archaeological complex, there is a museum surrounded by a picturesque garden. Here, you can see clay pots, water pipes, and other artefacts found during excavations. Unfortunately, most of the Trojan structures are poorly preserved, so it is best to visit this place with a guide – they will share interesting insights and show you the main attractions of ancient Troy: the fortifications, the altar of Athena, and the exhibits found during the excavation of the Temple of Apollo.
Another ancient city worth visiting. Pergamon was once the capital of a kingdom on the Aegean coast. Many ruins of Pergamon and ancient monuments have survived to this day. You should definitely see the ancient temples, the amphitheatre, and the acropolis. Despite the fact that the city of Pergamon was founded in the 12th century BC, archaeologists have found artefacts here that date back to the Stone Age.
Pergamon’s library once contained over two hundred thousand scrolls, and nearby are the ruins of the Temple of Trajan with magnificent white columns. Another important attraction of Pergamon is the theatre, which is located on a steep cliff. At one time, this amphitheatre could accommodate about ten thousand spectators! Also, be sure to visit the Sanctuary of Athena and Asclepius – the highlight of Pergamon, which has become one of the most exciting objects for research. This structure served as a sanctuary dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius. The walls of the building were decorated with stone snakes – they are now a symbol of healing.
A journey to Mount Nemrut is an excellent way to combine a tourist trek with the exploration of historical landmarks. Mount Nemrut is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is located in the Asian part of the country, 50 kilometres from the city of Adiyaman. If you make use of car rental in Turkey, you can easily reach the location. Mount Nemrut’s height exceeds two kilometres, so you will need proper physical preparation to reach the summit.
However, the local artefacts are well worth the effort. At the top of Nemrut, you can see ancient monuments built in honour of the ancient king Antiochus I. The main attraction of the mountain is the burial mound of this ruler, dating back to the 1st century BC. The mound is a massive earthen cone, even included in the Guinness World Records, with a height of nearly 50 metres! On the eastern slope of Nemrut, you will find statues of four gods: Apollo, Tyche, Zeus, and Hercules. Each statue reaches a height of nine metres. After visiting the sanctuary, you can enjoy a breathtaking sunset as the summit offers magnificent views.
The small but highly atmospheric resort town of Oludeniz is located in the southwest of Turkey. Travellers come here for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear sea, and active recreation. Oludeniz is home to the Blue Lagoon National Park, one of Turkey’s most beautiful places, surrounded by picturesque mountains. The infrastructure here is well developed, with numerous shops, bars, cafes, clubs, and comfortable hotels.
Life in Oludeniz is very vibrant, with an annual air acrobatics championship taking place here. If you want to attend this colourful event, plan your trip to Turkey in October. Tourists are also attracted to the stunning Butterfly Valley, the Kidrak Nature Reserve, and the mysterious ghost village of Kayakoy, once inhabited by a Greek community. If you are travelling with children, be sure to have fun in the water park or go for a horse ride in the surroundings. Oludeniz is especially appealing to lovers of active leisure, with excellent opportunities for surfing, parasailing, rafting, and diving.
Certainly, Turkey has many more wonderful places worth visiting. It is a country of contrasts capable of surprising even the most experienced traveller. Therefore, you should plan your trip to make it as diverse and fulfilling as possible.
Block 2: How to Make Your Trip to Turkey as Productive and Enriching as Possible
Turkey is a country with a rich history, fascinating traditions, beautiful architecture, delicious cuisine, stunning beaches, and unique attractions. To make your trip to this country as productive and enriching as possible, it is necessary to visit various places, as each region and even city in Turkey has a unique atmosphere. Here are several important pieces of advice to help you:
Create a list. In advance, find out about the interesting places in Turkey and compile a list of attractions that you most want to visit. It would be helpful to categorise them into museums, national parks, archaeological complexes, and resorts. This will allow you to diversify your trip and ensure that you do not miss anything important. Additionally, it will help you manage your time effectively.
Purchase tickets and book accommodation in advance. To avoid wasting time searching for a place to stay, select and reserve accommodation in the cities you plan to visit beforehand. Furthermore, some hotels offer discounts for early bookings. It is also a good idea to purchase tickets to visit attractions online, if that option is available. This way, you will not have to spend time waiting in lines.
Rent transportation. Car rental in Turkey is well developed, making it the most convenient and efficient way to travel around the country. Cars in Turkey can be rented on the website or mobile app of a car rental service, such as https://localcarrents.com/. You can choose your car model in advance, specify rental dates, and pick up the vehicle from a convenient location. If you are travelling with small children, do not forget to request a child car seat. This mode of transportation is certainly more cost-effective than taxis and more convenient than public transport.
Consult local guides. They will not only share interesting information but also help organise your itinerary, provide valuable advice, and introduce you to the local culture. Turkey has many archaeological complexes and ancient city ruins, and visiting such locations is much more fascinating when a professional guide can explain the significance of each artefact and share its incredible centuries-old history.
Check the opening hours of attractions. It would be disappointing to spend hours travelling to a specific attraction only to discover that it is closed that day. Prior to visiting any location, make sure to check its operating hours to avoid unpleasant surprises and last-minute changes to your plans.
Prioritise your visits. Visiting all of Turkey’s attractions in one trip is nearly impossible. Therefore, you should have clear priorities. When arriving in each new city, start by exploring the places that you most want to see. In case of time constraints, you will not regret missing an attraction that was not your top priority.
Do not turn your trip into a race. While you may want to see as many interesting places as possible, it is important not to overload your itinerary. Having too many locations on your list can lead to less enjoyment during your trip, as you will constantly feel rushed. Ultimately, you can always plan another trip to Turkey and discover something new each time.
Show interest in local culture. Turkey is very rich in fascinating traditions, so we recommend immersing yourself as deeply as possible in the local culture. Be sure to try local cuisine, including baklava, kebabs, kokorec, dondurma, and, of course, authentic Turkish coffee. Visit museums, exhibitions, and temples, try to learn a few phrases in Turkish, and interact with local residents to gain a better understanding of the Turkish people, their way of life, culture, and traditions.
Do not forget to relax. Fortunately, Turkey offers plenty of opportunities for leisurely and high-quality relaxation. Sunbathe on local beaches, attend a theatre or cinema, take a leisurely walk in a park, or simply enjoy a colourful sunset on the seaside.
Do not be afraid to change plans. Unexpected situations can arise during any trip. Bad weather, a museum’s closure, or traffic jams may occur, but there is no need to get upset. The primary goal of your journey is to have an enjoyable experience. So, stay calm and do not hesitate to adjust your plans as necessary. In fact, such situations may provide some of the most memorable experiences.
Seeing all of Turkey’s best places in one trip is quite a challenging task, especially if you have time constraints. However, by following these pieces of advice, you can make your trip as productive and enriching as possible. Prepare a list of attractions in advance, plan your route, secure accommodation, utilise car rental in Turkey, and you will be able to create a trip that is truly fulfilling!