Travel Guide to Top Attractions in Turkey

Updated on Jun 16, 2024 | Turkey e-Visa

Turkey is rich with historical landmarks and different natural landscapes and vibrant towns, delectable cuisine, and adventure options. Of course, you'll never be able to see everything in one holiday, but here's a list of some of the amazing things to see and do in Turkey to get you started.

Turkey has something to offer visitors, whether sunning on a Mediterranean beach, hiking in rocky mountains, or learning more about the intricate cultural layers put down over thousands of years of history. Turkey, which spans Asia and Europe, is a crossroads between history and nature, packed with ruins left over from the era of emperors and majestic landscapes that never cease to amaze. 

Visitors are captivated by its vibrant culture, world-renowned gastronomy, and rich history. Its stunning landscapes, ranging from the sun-drenched Mediterranean to the massive mountains and barren steppe, are tourist attractions in and of themselves.

In addition, there are many different adventures that you may have with your friends, family, or loved ones in this nation. So, whether you want to bask in the Byzantine and Ottoman splendours of Istanbul on a city holiday, relax on the beach, or immerse yourself in history this country has it all, from historic monuments like Ephesus to some of the world's most unique landscapes in Pamukkale and Cappadocia.

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What is Turkey famous for?

There are several activities in Turkey to ensure that you enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The country's most notable features are the Turkish baths and their history. There are many Greek and Roman ruins scattered throughout the region. There are also some of the best sailing areas in Europe. Turkey's gorgeous beaches are mostly empty due to its remote location

Turkey is also known for using colours in patterns and prints rooted in national culture. Turkish colours can be found in local markets such as the Grand Bazaar where you can find beautiful lanterns, pottery, and textiles. If you prefer eating, Turkey has several delectable delicacies that you must taste. Consider Turkish coffee and a never-ending supply of sweets. Turkish Delight, a confection called 'akide,' and 'baklava,' consisting of pistachios and almond marzipan, are some of the most popular Turkish sweets. Other local favourites include fish sandwiches and pickle juice, which are far more delicious than they seem! One of the best ways to enjoy a fantastic Turkey holiday is to immerse yourself in the local cuisine.

Best things to do in Turkey

Visit the capital of Turkey, Ankara

Ankara, Turkey's most populous city, is home to some of the country's most stunning architecture. It brings together the current and historical aspects of several neighbourhoods. Ankara also has a lot to offer, including the Ankara Castle (Kalesi), a must-see for those interested in ancient history and authentic Turkish culture. After that, go through the 69-acre gardens of Gençlik Park. There's lush foliage, a swimming pool, an amusement park, an open-air theatre, and miniature trains, making it the ideal place to unwind throughout your trip.

Take a dip in thermal hot springs in Pamukkale.

In photographs, the tiered pools filled with milky mineral waters appear surreal, and in person, they are even more dreamy. The white mineral deposits give the impression of walking on a snow-covered slope, but the lukewarm water tells you differently.

This is one of Turkey's most spectacular destinations. Spend a day in these unusual springs, bathing, splashing, and resting. Then, head to the top of the hill to visit the ancient remains of Hierapolis when your fingertips have grown prunes.

How to reach there

Take a bus from Istanbul to Denizli, which will take around 9-10 hours. To make up for a lost time, consider taking an overnight bus. You'll need to take a minibus from Denizli to Pamukkale for the 30-minute journey. The Pamukkale Bus Company and the Metro Bus Company run frequent services between the two cities. Another alternative option is to rent a car in Istanbul and drive the 6 hours there and back.

Visit the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

If you're seeking things to do in Istanbul, make a point of visiting the Grand Bazaar. It is considered as one of the world's largest and oldest covered marketplaces. It has swiftly become one of Istanbul's most popular tourist destinations. Thousands of stores line over 60 covered streets, offering fantastic gifts. Beautiful stained-glass lanterns and lamps, hand-woven carpets, spices, and leather products may all be found here. It's a genuine one-of-a-kind Turkish experience.

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) Mosque

Widely recognized as one of the most striking buildings in the world, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofia) is one of the most popular tourist attractions not only in Istanbul but throughout Turkey.

Built in 537 CE by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it is considered the most significant architectural achievement of the Byzantine Empire. It was one of the largest churches in the world for 1,000 years. 

Filigree minaret, built after the conquest of the Ottoman Empire, surrounds a huge facade. At the same time, the luxurious and spacious frescoed interior is reminiscent of the dignity and power of ancient Constantinople.  This famous landmark is a must-see for all visitors to the country.

Goreme National Park: Explore Limestone Formations

Turkey is known for its diverse landscapes. Göreme National Park is one of them. Walking is the most convenient way to see this place. Cappadocia's stunning sedimentary rock formations, which originate from volcanic deposits, have given it a distinct personality. UNESCO has registered Goreme National Park as a World Heritage Site. Cappadocia is home to some of the world's most unusual places, including underground cities and rock-cut cathedrals. The beautiful lunar scenery in Cappadocia's makes it one of the top things to do in Turkey.

Dervish: Watch The Sacred Dance

Dervish is a spiritual Sufi ceremony where participants dance to music dedicated to Allah. This ceremony entails spiritual activities known as Sama and Dhikr, pioneered in the 13th century by the Sufi mystic Rumi. This ceremony also includes singing calming melodies, playing musical instruments, dancing, and writing emotional poetry to achieve spiritual upliftment. The whirling motions of Sufi dancers in colourful costumes set to peaceful spiritual music can be one of the most soul-refining experiences you can imagine.

A hot air balloon ride above Cappadocia is a must-do.

This cherished Turkish countryside has captivated our hearts and prompted us to add Turkey to our travel bucket lists. Cappadocia is not just a photographer's dream, but it's also one of the greatest sites in the world to take a dawn hot air balloon flight. Cappadocia's rock-shaped scenery has become a major tourist destination and one of Turkey's must-see sights!

Day trip to Cleopatra Island

A quiet island off Turkey's south-eastern coast is well worth a day trip. According to legend, this beach was Mark Anthony and Queen Cleopatra's private retreat, earning it the nickname Cleopatra Island. Sedir Island, surrounded by the most transparent waters, is known for having a beach composed entirely of seashells. The beach is gleaming and under government protection, having taken years to build up this sand. It might be not easy to get there because it is so remote. Fortunately, it's included in Contiki's Turkish Adventure vacation throughout the day so that you can take in the history and the sun all at once.

Mount Nemrut

In eastern Turkey, Mount Nemrut is a major tourist attraction because of its shattered sculptures on the summit burial mound of its mountain.

One of Turkey's most unusual archaeological sites has to be this strange and lonely spot. The giant stone heads of the long-forgotten gods approach the desolate hillside, creating an ominous atmosphere. 

Antiochus I, the monarch of the Kingdom of Commagene, located in the buffer zone between the Roman and Parthian Empires, was responsible for the construction of the summit.

The most common time to go is early morning when you can see the sculptures emerge from the darkness.

Admire architectural splendour in Istanbul

Once known as Byzantium and Constantinople, the city's rulers made a lasting impression. The Hagia Sophia's soaring dome still awes tourists a century and a half after its construction. Likewise, the towering Aqueduct of Valens and the massive underground Basilica Cistern are testament to the Romans' outstanding architectural exploits in supplying drinking water to the city and its inhabitants.

With its excellent location overlooking the Bosphorus, Golden Horn, and the Marmara Sea, Topkapi Palace conjures the Ottoman Empire's majesty at its pinnacle:

  • Magnificently painted apartments
  • A treasury dripping with huge jewels
  • A kitchen capable of feeding 4000 people

The Ottomans were also responsible for Istanbul's minaret-studded skyline. There are several other noteworthy mosques in the ancient city that are worth seeing, including the tile-bedecked Rüstem Paşa Mosque and the pleasant Süleymaniye Mosque, located atop one of seven hills. History lovers may delve deep into Istanbul's cultural periods by visiting one of the city's many museums, which describe the city's exciting history.

Linger over a leisurely Turkish breakfast

It is difficult to imagine a better way to prepare for a day of exploring than with a Turkish breakfast spread (serpme kahvalt). Begin with the savoury bites, such as olives, cheeses, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and perhaps some hot pepper pastes with your eggs. Then indulge in handmade jams and a delicious swirl of honey and creamy cream to satiate your sweet taste (kaymak). Fresh herbs along the Aegean coast, cornmeal fried with melted butter and cheese (called mhlama or kuymak) in the Black Sea area, and fermented cheese with spicy peppers in Hatay are just a few of the regional variations. It is universal to drink endless little glasses of black tea.

Grab a cup of Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee is a must-try for coffee lovers. Turkish coffee is stronger than espresso because it is made using a specific manner and a metal kettle. The Grand Bazaar located in Istanbul is one of the finest places to find Turkish coffee. If you can't find one in Istanbul, there are many other areas in Turkey where you can get one. You'll want to have a cup before your journey ends since the flavour is unlike standard coffee or espresso.

Explore the Ruins of Troy

Troy is more than just a Hollywood blockbuster. Visit the remains of Troy to learn about the 10-year war's history. The location also has a reproduction of the famed wooden horse of Troy, which is a must-see for every tourist. That's all there is to it! Spend time visiting the historical sites and stunning beaches that Turkey offers if the colours aren't enough to inspire you.

Luxuriate in a Turkish bath

When most households lacked indoor plumbing, hamams (also known as Turkish baths in English) were essential as a place to clean and socialise. Today, they're a special-occasion location, with visitors outnumbering residents, but they're still a luxury well worth enjoying.

Scrub and massage by a same-gender attendant is included in the entire treatment, but you may also choose to soak in their steamy rooms. The finest hamams, such as the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam, the Caalolu Hamam, and the Klç Ali Paşa Hamam in Istanbul, are a feast for the eyes the body, with their marble-covered interiors and sky-lit domes.

The unique, bending rock valleys of Cappadocia are a photographer's dream. 

The wavy panorama of undulating rocks and crazy spire has been carved by thousands of years of wind and water activity at the tops of cliffs and hills.

If you don't enjoy hiking for the sights, this is one of the world's best hot-air balloon locations. The frescoed rock-cut churches and cave-cut structures of the Byzantine Era, when this area was home to monastic Christian communities, are nestled in this unusual lunar-like terrain. The many cave-churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum and Ihlara Valley, in particular, have some of the world's most outstanding examples of surviving mid-Byzantine-era religious art.

Go paragliding over Ölüdeniz

Ölüdeniz Ölüdeniz

Impossible turquoise-blue water. A lush green forest cascades down a cliff to a beach of white sand. The secluded cove of Lüdeniz, just a short distance from Fethiye, is Turkey's most renowned beach. With scenery that seems like it came straight out of a postcard, it's easy to understand why. If the beach becomes too crowded, head to the sky for a tandem paragliding drop off the peak of majestic Babada (Mount Baba), which rises behind the beach.

lüdeniz is one of the most popular paragliding locations in the world.

The Seven Lakes National Park and the Abant Lake Nature Park have become two of the most popular nature retreats in Turkey, for tourists searching to lose themselves in the magnificence of mother nature Read more at The Seven Lakes National Park and The Abant Lake Nature Park.

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