Best things to do in Turkey
Find out more about those top places in Turkey
If it’s a taste of authentic Turkey you are after look elsewhere as Marmaris is the Turkish Riviera’s thrillingly modern capital. The city is at its most energetic in the summer, when the city’s population swells to an astonishing quarter of a million people. The city’s beating heart is Bar Street, which is lined with an endless selection of decadent bars and lively nightclubs. Beyond the nightlife, Marmaris’ kordon (seafront) provides breathtaking views towards the Greek island of Rhodes and is packed with picture-perfect cafes. However, the city is most famed as a jumping off point to explore the hidden gems of Turkey’s rugged Aegean coast.
Not many castles that are found in Turkey have museums in them, but Marmaris castle is an exception. The castle was built by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in 3000BC and still housed some locals until 1979. It has about 18 residences and a fountain. In 1991, the castle was officially opened as a museum to the public by the Turkish government.
Even horse riding, it takes not less than 3 hours to fully explore this beautiful park. If the long horse ride is not enough to thrill you, exploring the ancient traditional villages in the park and watching the wild rivers would do the trick. Thousands of visitors come to this park every year to witness the breathtaking scenery of the park for themselves.
A trip to Turkey without experiencing the famous Turkish Bath could be deemed incomplete. The Turkish bath was once said to help Queen Cleopatra to cure some stress illness she had. The Haman, as it is often called in Turkey, would help you to relax and leave you feeling young and clean after the experience.
The reputation of the Turkish waters precede them, and those that actually visit these waters are never disappointed. At the shores of the rivers and lakes, there are many activities, such as fishing. However, that is not the peak of the excitement at these waters. You can get to experience the thrill of scuba diving to see the beautiful scenery down below. These dives are always monitored by watchful professionals and tour guides.
Best known as the gateway to the Turkish Riviera, Antalya is today a thriving destination in its right with palpable history and breathtaking seaside parks. The historic core of Antalya is the walled neighborhood of Kaleiçi (literally meaning ‘within the castle’), which contains a host of labyrinthine streets, charmingly dilapidated Ottoman-era manor houses, covered bazaars and elegant mosques that give visitors a flavor of Turkey’s heyday as the center of a transcontinental empire. However, Antalya’s history goes further back than the Ottomans with a clutch of unrivaled Roman sites – including the evocative Roman harbor and the monumental Hadrian’s Gates. What is more, beyond the history Antalya is a fantastic place to relax with the hidden gems of Mermerli and Karaalioglu parks offering tea bars, shaded gardens and views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Hadrian's Gate was built about 2000 years ago to celebrate the arrival of Emperor Hadrian, and still stands today. This architectural beauty is held up by several columns, forming three arches with a frame of marble. Since it was built, the gate has witnessed the passage of the wealthiest, most popular and most powerful personalities in ancient times.
This beautiful waterfall lies among a fascinating spread of flora. The Kursunlu Waterfall is fed by the Aksu River which then drops off into a plateau in the area. The pool that gathers at the base of the waterfall is home to beautiful creatures like crab, water turtles and fish. It's a nice picnic spot for tourists.
An interesting fact about this museum is that it exhibits artifacts that date as far back as the stone age up to the bronze age and Byzantium. The museum also has halls that have specific artifacts and art pieces for different themes. One of the halls is called the Hall of Gods which has the statues of all 15 Greek gods, while another hall is called the Hall of Regional Excavations and has exhibits from ancient cities, such as Pethar and Xanthos.
Nature has much more to show you at Köprülü than the already mind-blowing canyon that is found at the site. The beautiful Köprülü River is also a magnificent work of nature that attracts thousands of tourists annually. The fast flowing river is not just a beautiful sight to gaze upon, but also a suitable site for sporting activities like rafting.
Those that find themselves at the Cotton Palace often imagine they are in an entirely different world of cascading snow cliffs. There is a river that flows down on one of the higher cliffs and creates a beautiful waterfall at the base of the cliff. At this same site, there are historical monuments that have been since 2nd century BC and are also worth checking out.
Standing astride the continents of Asia and Europe, Istanbul is where East meets West. While the city’s geographic setting on the banks of the Bosporus is spectacular, as the former center of both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires the city also has a plethora of astounding attractions for visitors to explore. Strolling the streets of Istanbul is like walking through history with physical vestiges of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman rule dotted across the city. Chief among them are the vast Byzantine basilica Hagia Sophia, one of the wonders of the medieval world, and the equally impressive Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century to rival the Christian cathedral. While the city is no longer Turkey’s capital, it remains the country’s cultural and economic heart. It is no surprise then that Istanbul is a twenty-four-hour city with tea gardens, coffee houses, Turkish taverns and kebab restaurants open round the clock just waiting to be discovered.
The Hagia Sophia still awes people today just as much as it did in the times of the Roman Empire. The sheer size of the building is enough to make heads turn while the extravagant decorations that adorn the building it a sight of pure beauty. Also, the interior of the structure is in no way inferior to its exterior as it looks just great as well.
Located in the heart of Istanbul is the famous blue mosque, the mosque that has 20,000 blue tiles adorning it. The blue mosque, besides its unique structure and looks, has an amazing history. It is not surprising that the site attracts as many tourists as it does.
The Topkapi Palace Museum is undoubtedly one of the most important museums in Turkey because it has a direct connection with the country's history. The Topkapi Palace was built for 12 years before it was used as the seat of administration for the Ottoman Sultans in Turkey. Also, The museum has a uniquely beautiful architectural design that is different from the other buildings found around it.
The Grand Bazaar used to be the busiest trading center in all of Istanbul, the site has about 4,000 stores where it is almost impossible to not find whatever you need. The most popular wares that are sold here include leather goods, silks, carpets, kilims, ceramics, jewelry, and icons.
The importance of the Basilica Cistern could not be overemphasized in the Byzantine times when it was built to store water for the whole city. The cistern has a capacity of 80,000 cubits and the water is transported out of the cistern by aqueducts that are many kilometers long. This cistern was a great architectural feat when it was built in 432AD, and it still remains a source of marvel today.
The Dolmabahçe Palace was the first European styled palace that was inhabited by the Ottoman Sultans. The palace was built in 1843 with more than 360 rooms and not less than 20 saloons, and it is the last place the Ottoman Sultans lived. Till today, The palace still has traces of the times that the Ottoman Sultans lived there.
The Mevlevi Sema ceremony dates back to about 800 years ago and the whirling dervishes show is one of the most entertaining parts of the ceremony. The Whirling Dervishes dance is used to represent the idea that everything on Earth revolves, starting from things as small as atoms up to the giant planets of the solar system.
Located in the arid heart of Anatolia, the geological wonderland of Cappadocia is likely Turkey’s most iconic destination. The region is best known for its ‘fairy chimneys’, tall cone shaped rock formations that are clustered in the Monks Valley and Göreme that remain inhabited until now. While the region’s topography is undoubtedly the main draw, Cappadocia’s history is some of Turkey’s most fascinating. The ‘fairy chimneys’ have been used as shelter for millennia with the rock-cut churches at the Göreme Open Air Museum and sophisticated underground cities at Derinkuyu and Kaymakli seemingly ripped straight from the pages of a fairy tale. Despite its iconic status, Cappadocia remains one of Turkey’s most remote regions and a real hidden gem.
Since many have not actually been in a hot air balloon before, this is always an exciting experience for most of the tourists that visit Cappadocia. However, the thrill does not just end with being in a hot air balloon. The view of the best features of the city that are spread out beneath you is what makes the hot air balloon ride even more interesting.
This park makes a nice tourist attraction site for lovers of history, nature, and adventure. Those three things - history, nature, and adventure - are what make the park one of the busiest in the country. The Goreme open air museum attracts a great number of visitors due to highlights such as churches and monasteries that were cut out from rocks.
This tour presents a chance to marvel at the caves that were at some point or another inhabited by humans. These caves served a number of purposes including housing churches and serving as public meeting places. A tour of the site will make one understand how intelligent human beings are when it comes to adapting to a harsh environment, in the face of hardship.
Yes, the underground city is just like any other city that is normally found above ground. This underground city in Derinkuyu has a complex network of tunnels that lead to churches, wineries, courtyards, and stables. This underground city is a testimony of the intelligence of man and attracts thousands of tourists annually.
A hike through the Rose Valley would expose you to the many beautiful features present here. The fairy chimneys found here are "cute" while the churches here that were carved out of rocks are awe-inspiring, despite their age. The Rose Valley is a popular site among tourists and even locals who crave a relaxing stroll.
Fairy chimneys are actually a kind of rock formation, and Turkey is one of the few countries in the world where they are found. However, the ones found in Cappadocia are so beautiful that it was adopted as their emblem. Being as beautiful as they are, the three fairy chimneys attract countless tourists all the time.
The fairy chimney of Pasabag is a sight to behold. These rock formations stand tall and beautiful, making you feel like you are walking among giant mushrooms whenever they are passing through. St. Simeon who was known for performing miracles was said to live in one of these fairy chimneys.
While Turkey is packed with world-class ancient treasures, those at Ephesus outshine them all. Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, only 20% of Ephesus has been excavated but even so it claims the title of Europe’s largest classical metropolis. During its heyday, Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire and today many of the city’s finest buildings remain near completely intact. The Temple of Artemis was one of the ancient wonders of the world and its Corinthian columns remain evocative until now. However, the best-preserved building is undoubtedly the Library of Celsus, which was the third largest library of the ancient world, and still stands proud over the city. While many Roman cities are little more than rubble, the ancient world truly comes to life at Ephesus.
This temple is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world as it was the first marble temple to be built. The Westward facing temple was built in 6BC on the order of the King of Lydia. Although the temple lies in ruins today, it still receives thousands of tourists and pilgrims all year round.
According to the Bible, the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, was brought to Ephesus after the resurrection of Jesus. Virgin Mary lived out the rest of her life at this new location, and a long time after she had died a church was erected on the same spot where the house had been. The history backing up this site makes it a favorite spot for not just tourists, but pilgrims as well.
The Library of Celsus was one of the largest libraries of ancient times. Although you might not find it looking as glorious as it used to be, the library still has its charm even in the ruins it lies in. An interesting fact about the library is that it was once rocked by an earthquake before it was set ablaze by invading Goths. Despite all these, the library still attracts a good number of tourists.
After the death of St. John, the famous apostle who was the only disciple of Jesus to escape martyrdom, Emperor Justinian ordered that a monument be built on top of his grave. After, when the Basilica was built, it became one of the biggest monuments. Today, the Basilica lies in ruins but tourists and pilgrims still gather here to see it.
The steam locomotive was a great invention in its time as it greatly reduced the stress of transportation. The Camlik Museum of Steam Locomotives has about 24 steam locomotives displayed. Also, Atatürk was said to have his headquarters in this town and kept his own personal train at this station before he died.