Looking for the best places to visit in Turkey? A continent-spanning country, divided between Europe and Asia, Turkey is known for its diverse culture, ancient civilisations and whirling dervishes. Filled with incredible cities and archaeological sites, it can be challenging to know the best places to visit in Turkey. Furthermore, the rich culture and historic sights mean you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to sightseeing! So, if you want to know the most beautiful and interesting places to add to your Turkey itinerary, these are our top picks!
Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul
High on the list of places to see in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia is one of the best places to visit in Turkey owing to its long, complex history. It is, without a doubt, one of the most famous places of worship in the world. It was originally a church, later converted to a mosque and is today, a fascinating museum. The Hagia Sophia is the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It’s easily identifiable by its huge dome and minarets. Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537 CE, you could easily spend an entire day admiring the frescoes and minarets of this world-famous mosque!
Perhaps the most famous destination in the country, Cappadocia is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Turkey. The fairy tale chimneys and honeycomb rock formations of Cappadocia capture the imagination of all who set eyes on them. Situated in the historical region of Central Anatolia, Cappadocia sits on a plateau, interspersed by volcanic peaks, whose eruptions created the rock sediments that formed this weird and wonderful landscape! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cappadocia is a unique place. Furthermore, it’s an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts who can explore the otherworldly landscapes on foot. Alternatively, taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise is among the most sought-after experiences and one of the best ways to see the complete beauty of Cappadocia!
Another natural wonder, Pamukkale is certainly worth a visit if you travel to Turkey. Centuries of limestone erosion formed these incredible natural pools. Furthermore, the mineral-rich water of Pamukkale’s pools has long since attracted visitors thanks to their reputedly therapeutic properties. Situated in the west of the country, the ancient ruins of Roman spa-town Hierapolis are also located nearby. Built to make use of these mythical natural pools, Hierapolis is just another reason to pay a visit to Pamukkale.
A sprawling city, and the capital of Turkey, Ankara is sometimes overlooked in favour of better-known Istanbul. But, this centre of Turkish politics is one of the best places to visit to understand the nation’s history and culture. The legacy of civilisations such as the Persians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines are still present throughout the city’s impressive archaeological sites. Furthermore, many travellers visit Ankara to see Anikabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the much-loved founder of the Republic of Turkey. An imposing structure, combining influences of ancient Anatolian and Turkish design, be sure to spend time exploring the extensive underground museum to learn about Ataturk and Turkish heritage. Other sightseeing highlights include Ankara Castle and Kocatepe Mosque.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, a trip to Turkey would be incomplete without visiting the Grand Bazaar! The go-to place to experience local culture, this enormous marketplace is home to over 4,000 shops! A shoppers paradise, visitors can enjoy bargaining with the locals and admiring an array of Turkish souvenirs and products. Furthermore, its historic architecture and unique layout give visitors a window into Ottoman-era life in Istanbul. Today, the Grand Bazaar is one of the top tourist attractions in the country. Furthermore, it is one of the best places to visit in Turkey to experience local life.
Want a deep dive into Turkish history? Well, you cannot miss a visit to Ephesus! Situated in Turkey’s Central Aegean region, the excavated ruins of Ephesus reveal thousands of years of history, from classical Greece to the Roman Empire, and beyond. Thought to have been founded as far back as 6000 BC, Ephesus was both the capital of Hellenic Greece and, later, the capital of the Roman Empire’s Asian province. The most famous monument here is the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, only fragments of its original ruins remain. Despite this, the ruins of the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre will keep you sightseeing for hours! One of the best places to visit in Turkey, Ephesus is simply unmissable.
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