Knowing where to go and the best places to visit in Turkey can be tough because of the distances between towns and cities. But, with a little prior planning, you can pinpoint exactly what you want to see and enjoy every last second. I don’t know anyone who’s been to Turkey and not liked it.
Table of Contents
- 25 Best Places to Visit in Turkey
- 1. Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul
- 2. Ephesus
- 3. Cappadocia
- 4. Blue Mosque, Istanbul
- 5. Pamukkale
- 6. Kordon, Izmir
- 7. Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
- 8. Akyaka
- 9. Duden Waterfalls, Antalya
- 10. Uludağ, Bursa
- 11. Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz
- 12. Kayaköy, Fethiye
- 13. Princes’ Islands
- 14. Mount Nemrut
- 15. Çannakale
- 16. Mardin
- 17. Gaziantep
- 18. Trabzon
- 19. Topkapı Palace, Istanbul
- 20. Side Antik Kenti
- 21. Galata Tower, Istanbul
- 22. Koprulu National Park, Manavgat
- 23. Marmaris
- 24. Anıtkabir, Ankara
- 25. Ankara Castle
- Getting Around Turkey
- Quick Itineraries for Turkey
- Best Places to See in Turkey: FAQs
- In Conclusion
I have something to tell you: Turkey is huge. Most people think it’s just Istanbul and a few beach resorts, but in all honesty, this country is MASSIVE. It’s important to figure out the best places to visit in Turkey ahead of your trip so you don’t waste your time on the road.
I lived in Turkey for a few years – my husband is Turkish, and together, we’ve traveled to several parts of the country. It’s a stunningly beautiful place, full of many amazing beaches, ruins, and cities, and plenty of modern-day activities to enjoy too.
25 Best Places to Visit in Turkey
You might be familiar with some of the most visited places in Turkey, but not know where they are. Again, this is down to the sheer size of the place. But the best places to visit in Turkey aren’t always so far away from one another; you just need to do a little homework and plan ahead.
In the list below, I’m going to tell you about 25 of the best spots to visit based on my personal experience, and the top sights in the country to make sure you get the most out of your stay. Some of these destinations in Turkey you might know, while others are outside of the tourist traps.
1. Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul
Without a doubt, Istanbul is one of the top cities to visit in Turkey, there are so many things to do and it’s packed with some truly amazing sights — Dolmabaçhe Palace is one of them and it blew my mind the first time I saw it. This hugely opulent palace was once the home of Ataturk himself, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic.
It looks beautiful from the outside, but the inside is truly spectacular. Photography is prohibited, but as the guide told me, you can take photographs in your memory. Trust me, you won’t forget this one.
Location: Vişnezade, Dolmabahçe Cd., 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
Getting There: It’s easy to walk to Dolmabaçhe Palace from Taksim or Beşiktaş. Alternatively, you can take the tram from Sultanahmet to Kabataş and walk straight down the road, following the signposts.
Things To Do: Walk around the palace and take in the sights. The gardens outside are also beautiful and offer views over the Bosphorus. Click here for more information.
Where to Stay: Beşiktaş is the closest district to stay in, and the Swissotel The Bosphorus is a fabulous choice of hotel.
Entrance Fee: 650 Turkish Lira/$24
For me, Ephesus is one of the major highlights of Turkey and somewhere you’ll want to see more than once. Located around 40 minutes away from Izmir, and close to the up-and-coming town of Urla, this is a former Greek city and one of extreme importance back in the day. The ruins are in excellent condition, and this open-air museum is huge.
It’s best to visit Ephesus outside of the main summer months as there’s little shade available and a lot of walking involved. I visited in February and almost had the place to myself. This is one of the best places to visit in Turkey for history lovers – make sure you don’t miss the House of the Virgin Mary.
Location: Acarlar, Efes Harabeleri, 35920 Selçuk/İzmir
Getting There: You can take tours from Izmir and other major towns. Alternatively, you can drive from Izmir in less than an hour. Click here for a private tour.
Things To Do: Slowly explore the ancient ruins and read the signs to learn more. Don’t miss the House of the Virgin Mary on the hill — you have to pay extra for this.
Where to Stay: Selçuk is the nearest town to Ephesus. I stayed at the Akanthus Hotel Ephesus and highly recommend it.
Entrance Fee: 700 Turkish Lira/$26
SEE ALSO: 15 Best Things To Do in Izmir, Turkey
Cappadocia is one of the most famous attractions in Turkey – if you’ve ever seen a picture of hot air balloons drifting over what looks like a barren landscape, that’s Cappadocia. Not only is it one of the most famous places to visit in Turkey, but it’s also one of the most historic and beautiful places to stay.
From underground cities to cave hotels, the landscape was born of volcanic activity and weather erosion over the years. You can walk for miles around Göreme National Park and I love tucking into a Turkish breakfast while watching the balloons floating through the sky. The amount of things to do in Cappadocia is almost endless.
Getting There: There are many guided tours from both Ankara and Istanbul, or you can fly to Nevsehir with Turkish Airlines or take the bus. Click here for bus information.
Things To Do: Hot air balloon rides are the number one thing to do, but you can explore underground caves and go hiking around the park too. Taking a guided tour will help you understand the area’s history. Click here for information.
Where to Stay: You simply have to stay in a cave hotel, and Aza Cave Cappadocia is one of my favorites.
Entrance Fee: There isn’t a charge to enter Göreme National Park, but certain sites will have separate entrance fees.
4. Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Known locally as Sultan Ahmet Camii, Blue Mosque is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey. Remember, this is a functioning mosque which means that there will be times when it is closed to visitors for prayers, but it opens again afterward.
The mosque was named so because of the stunning blue tiles on its interior. Whenever you visit Turkey, you simply have to come here. It’s a serene, wonderful experience and the outside is just as incredible as the inside.
Location: Binbirdirek, At Meydanı Cd No:10, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Getting There: You can walk from Sultanahmet very easily, or take the tram Kabataş.
Things To Do: Take a guided tour to understand the history and culture of the area. Click here for details.
Where to Stay: There are countless accommodation options around Sultanahmet, including Henna Hotel Istanbul.
Entrance Fee: It’s free to enter, but donations are greatly received.
If you travel to Turkey you have to add a visit to Pamukkale to your itinerary – a unique landscape that looks like it belongs to another world. These hot springs are linked to the ancient city of Hierapolis with old ruins and plenty of Greek mythology.
The “steps” leading down are white from the calcium deposits that have hardened over the years, and the blue of the water stands out in direct contrast. It’s a real treat for the eyes, but I’d recommend wearing swim shoes as the “ledges” can be a little slippery.
Location: 20190 Pamukkale/Denizli
Getting There: Many tours are available from resorts and towns, or you can drive to Denizli and follow the signs to Pamukkale, around 15 minutes away.
Things To Do: Walk on the terraces and bathe in the bright blue water. Explore the ancient ruins of Heirapolis. You can also take a hot air balloon over the site, click here for details.
Where to Stay: Denizli is the nearest town with a range of hotels, including Venus Hotel.
Entrance Fee: 700 Turkish Lira/$26
6. Kordon, Izmir
Izmir is one of the best places to go in Turkey. It’s a city that’s packed with history and modern-day fun, but one of the best spots is Kordon, which offers an extremely long walk that hugs the Aegean coastline. There aren’t any beaches in this area, but the path shows some beautiful views, and there’s often music and snack carts along the way.
Kordon starts in Alsancak and goes all the way down to Kemeralti and beyond. You’ll need comfortable shoes, but I highly recommend this walk, (make sure you have enough storage to fill up your camera roll!).
Location: Alsancak, Izmir
Getting There: Izmir itself has an international airport, so it’s very easy to get there. Once in the city, simply take a taxi to Alsancak and walk to the water – you can’t miss Kordon.
Things To Do: Walk and enjoy the view!
Where to Stay: Alsancak/Konak is one of my favorite places to stay in Izmir, and I recommend the Renaissance Izmir Hotel.
Entrance Fee: Free
7. Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
Basilica Cistern is one of the biggest hidden gems in Turkey, and it’s somewhere I intend to return to. Here, you go deep under the streets of Sultanahmet, to an underground world built way back in the year 532. Originally designed to store water, it’s the atmosphere of the place that really stood out for me.
You’ll find intricately designed pillars, huge open spaces, and even stone carvings of Medusa; if you visit Turkey, make sure you don’t miss out on this. To me, it felt like the ghosts of the past were all around me; it wasn’t scary, it just felt extremely climactic.
Location: Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul
Getting There: Basilica Cistern is in the heart of Sultanahmet, so simply take the tram from Kabataş and follow the brown signs.
Things To Do: I enjoyed the guided audio tour because I could still explore on my own steam. Click here for details.
Where to Stay: Sultanahmet has a range of accommodation options, but I enjoyed my stay at Rayelin Hotel.
Entrance Fee: 450 Turkish Lira/$16
For me, one of the most beautiful towns in Turkey is Akyaka, located around a 20-minute drive away from Marmaris in the Dalaman region. It’s an off-the-beaten-track in Turkey kind of spot, but one that you’ll be glad you took the time to find.
Akyaka is a traditional Turkish beach resort, one that’s devoid of noise and modern-day tourism, and instead full of delicious local food, relaxation, and stunning nature. The Azmak River runs through the town and is ice cold even in the hottest months; taking a boat trip here is a must-do, as well as swimming in the sea.
Location: 48640 Ula/Muğla
Getting There: You can drive from Marmaris by following the Marmaris Muğla Yolu, or take the local minibus which leaves every hour.
Things To Do: Swim, walk, take a boat trip along the Azmak River, and enjoy delicious local food.
Where to Stay: Although small, Akyaka has some fantastic boutique hotels, such as Villa Marine Hotel.
Entrance Fee: Free
SEE ALSO: 15 Best Things To Do in Marmaris, Turkey
9. Duden Waterfalls, Antalya
Hands down, Antalya is one of the best cities to visit in Turkey in the summer months, and the beaches here have to be seen to be believed. Between Antalya City and Lara Beach, you’ll find the stunning Duden Waterfalls. They’re extremely easy to visit as they’re just off the main road and there isn’t a fee to enter, making it one of the best free things to do in Turkey.
If you’re traveling with children, be careful because there isn’t a fence or barrier between the edge of the land and the huge drop below. Checking out the rainbow over the sea as the water crashes down is something you’ll remember for a long time.
Location: Varsak Mahallesi Düden Şelalesi Parkı içi, Kepez/Antalya
Getting There: From Antalya city center you can simply take a taxi – the journey will take 25 minutes tops.
Things To Do: Enjoy the sight before you, and then walk over to Lara Beach along the water’s edge; it’s very relaxing and if it’s hot enough, jump in the sea.
Where to Stay: I enjoyed the Kalesi area of Antalya, which is a historic district. Check out the M-ODA Hotel for a stylish place to stay.
Entrance Fee: Free
SEE ALSO: 15 Best Things To Do in Antalya, Turkey
10. Uludağ, Bursa
In the winter months, Uludağ is one of the best places to visit in Turkey. Around 90 minutes away from Bursa City Center, you can visit this winter wonderland and ski, snowboard, or simply just take in the scenery. There are some seriously impressive hotels here too, which offer the ideal setting to kick back and relax.
Aside from winter sports, this is one of the most important Turkey tourist attractions because of the diverse nature in the area. You’ll get some perfectly Insta-worthy snaps, and the food available in the best hotels is divine.
Location: Soğukpınar, 16450 Osmangazi/Bursa, Türkiye
Getting There: The best option is to take a taxi or drive from Bursa itself. However, there are many day tours available from Istanbul. Click here for information.
Things To Do: You can ski, snowboard, hike, go wildlife spotting, eat amazing food, or simply relax. I really enjoyed the day tour from Istanbul with a cable car ride. Click here for more details.
Where to Stay: If you want to immerse yourself in nature, I’d recommend staying in the resort itself. Oksijen Zone Luxury Uludağ is a fantastic choice.
Entrance Fee: Prices vary depending on how long you’re staying but a one-hour pass costs 100 Turkish Lira/$3.50, or you can take a day pass for 450 Turkish Lira/$16.50.
11. Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz
If you’re serious about Turkey sightseeing, your trip won’t be complete without a visit to the amazing Blue Lagoon in Ölüdeniz. Located in the Fethiye region, this small but unbelievably beautiful location is famous for its blinding blue lagoon which has calm, shallow waters and is ideal for families who want to swim.
Be mindful if you’re visiting in peak season as I’ve spotted some small jellyfish toward the end of August before. On the whole, this is one of the best places to visit in Turkey for relaxation and keen photographers.
Location: Ölüdeniz, 48340 Fethiye/Muğla
Getting There: If you’re staying in Ölüdeniz itself, simply walk along the beach to your right, and you’ll see the signs. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk. If you’re in Fethiye, take a taxi or the local bus, which shouldn’t take more than half an hour.
Things To Do: Swimming and relaxation are the best things to do here, but you can also head up Babadağ Mountain and paraglide if you’re feeling adventurous. Click here for more information and to book.
Where to Stay: There are some amazing hotels in Ölüdeniz – I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Tonoz Beach Hotel.
Entrance Fee: It’s free to enter, but you’ll need to pay for sun loungers and parasols.
12. Kayaköy, Fethiye
Just 20 minutes away from Fethiye you’ll find the ghost town of Kayaköy. A word of advice: don’t wear flip-flops or sandals here! You’ll need sneakers or walking shoes as the path is quite uneven. However, visiting here is a real eye-opener and provides an interesting window into the past.
Kayaköy was a thriving village until the Greco-Turkish War in 1919 when, at the end of that war, a population exchange took place between Greek Orthodox Christians and Muslims. All inhabitants of the area left, and the village has been abandoned ever since. It’s a strange yet beautiful place and perhaps the best place in Turkey for standing in the middle of real history.
Location: 48300 Fethiye/Muğla
Getting There: You can take a taxi or drive from Fethiye in about 20 minutes. Alternatively, there are many local tours that take place from both Fethiye and Ölüdeniz.
Things To Do: Walk around and explore the amazing history and nature of the area.
Where to Stay: You can stay just outside the village, but I recommend staying in Fethiye if you’re looking for more entertainment in the evenings. Sundia Exclusive by Liberty Fethiye is a fantastic choice.
Entrance Fee: 40 Turkish Liras/$2
13. Princes’ Islands
Istanbul is amazing, but after even just one day you’ll likely crave some peace and quiet. In that case, hop on the ferry over to the Princes’ Islands, to be transported to another world. If you look in any Turkey tourist guide you’ll see these amazing and peaceful spots, where cars aren’t allowed and people get around by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.
The largest island, Büyükada, is one of the most beautiful places in Turkey and is ideal for walking or simply kicking back and relaxing. It’s a spot I always love to go to in the summer.
Location: Adalar/İstanbul, Türkiye
Getting There: Regular ferries leave Beşiktaş throughout the day, all year around, and the crossing only takes just over an hour. Alternatively, you could take a day tour from Istanbul, to make life a little easier. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Walk, cycle around the island, and visit the Hagia Yorgi Church, from the 6th century.
Where to Stay: There’s very little accommodation in Büyükada, but Ada Palas is a beautiful spot.
Entrance Fee: Free
14. Mount Nemrut
For history fans and those seeking sheer jaw-dropping moments, Mount Nemrut is one of the best places to visit in Turkey. It’s one of those spots that you need to see with your own eyes to believe and, even then, you’ll be blown away. It’s still somewhat of a mystery how and why the statues dating back to the Commagene Kingdom are there.
It’s pretty easy to climb up the mountain, but it does get a little rocky as you reach the top, so watch your step and take your time. It goes without saying but, make sure you wear comfortable hiking shoes. It should take about 40 minutes in total.
Location: 02402 Kayadibi/Kâhta/Adıyaman
Getting There: Take a domestic flight from Istanbul to Adiyaman and then drive or take a bus (local bus) to Mount Nemrut, which takes about 2 hours.
Things To Do: Hiking up the mountain and exploring the mystical statues is a must-do in Turkey. You can also take a tour from Cappadocia, which also encompasses nearby Urfa. Click here for information.
Where to Stay: Adiyaman is a large city that’s home to plenty of accommodation options. I enjoyed my stay at Ramada by Wyndham Adiyaman.
Entrance Fee: 240 Turkish Lira/$9
If you’ve ever seen the movie Troy, you might be surprised to hear that the location of that famous battle in real life is actually in Turkey, and not Greece—these days, at least. It’s also where you can see the famous wooden horse from the film. But that’s not the only amazing thing about Çannakale; it’s also one of the prettiest towns in Turkey by far.
The Trojan horse might be one of the best things to see in Turkey, but this coastal town is a great place to try authentic food and enjoy beach time in the summer too.
Location: Çannakale Merkez/Çannakale Türkiye
Getting There: It’s around a 4.5-hour drive from Istanbul to Çannakale, and the Pamukkale bus service also runs regularly. Click here for bus information.
Things To Do: Visit the Trojan Horse and walk around the seafront. Try local food, and soak up the authentic atmosphere. You can also take a guided tour of Troy and Gallipoli. Click here for more information.
Where to Stay: Central Çannakale has plenty of accommodation options to choose from, including the highly-rated Buyuk Truva Hotel.
Entrance Fee: The entrance fee to the ruins of Troy is 330 Turkish Lira/$12
Located in the south-east of Turkey, Mardin is a little out of the way, but it’s certainly one of the most beautiful towns in Turkey and is brimming with history. The ancient architecture forms part of the main city, and is extremely well preserved; it’s essentially an open-air museum.
You’ll also find the best of Turkey in terms of food here, as well as hospitality. Mardin Castle is a must-visit, as well as Zinciriye Medresesi, with a stunning view over the countryside beyond.
Location: Artuklu/Mardin Türkiye
Getting There: Mardin is very far away from the main tourist attractions in Turkey, so you’ll need to take a domestic flight from Istanbul with Turkish Airlines or Pegasus Airlines, which will take around 2 hours.
Things To Do: Take your time exploring the fantastic architecture, but don’t miss out on the food: taking a food tour is a great idea. Click here for information and to book.
Where to Stay: Fairouz Konak Otel is a great hotel and offers fantastic hospitality in a central location.
Entrance Fee: Free
Not only is Gaziantep extremely historic and cultural, but it’s also one of the best places to visit in Turkey if you love street food. Here, you’ll find dishes you’ve likely never tried before, but be warned: it’s spicy!
I highly recommend Lahmacun, Katmer, and Kunefe, so if you only try three things, make it those. But it’s not all about food: the central bazaar is a great place to shop, for things such as spices to take home. The architecture is impressive, and simply walking around will give you a sense of history.
Getting There: Take a domestic flight from Istanbul with Turkish Airlines or Pegasus Airlines in about 2 hours.
Things To Do: Walking around and eating are the best things to do in Gaziantep. This is one of the best cities in Turkey to explore on foot, and you can just keep stopping to fuel up with snacks along the way.
Where to Stay: Central Gaziantep has some great hotel options. My favorite was Anadolu Evleri, which gave me a real home-from-home experience.
Entrance Fee: Free
Located in the north of Turkey, on the Black Sea Coast, Trabzon is a unique city and is one of the best places to see in Turkey if you like tea. This is the part of the country where the famous Turkish Çay is grown – the high hills and endless mist offer the perfect conditions.
The area is also known for the famous Sumela Monastery, located high in the mountains for more than 1600 years. Make sure you also try pide ( baked flatbread with various combinations of toppings or stuffings) while here; Trabzon executes this Turkish delicacy particularly well.
Getting There: It’s quite a long drive from any major city, so your best bet is to fly from Istanbul or Ankara, again with Turkish Airlines or Pegasus Airlines.
Things To Do: Walk around the city and try out different foods, visit Sumela Monastery, and take the Uzungol Tour to see the very best of nature. In terms of the best place to go in Turkey, this is it. Click here for details.
Where to Stay: The Sera Lake Resort Hotel & Spa is one of many fantastic spa hotels in the region.
Entrance Fee: Free
19. Topkapı Palace, Istanbul
If Dolmabahçe Palace is opulent, Topkapı Palace takes it a step further. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing, and once you learn the history, you’ll understand why. This palace is the former home of the Ottoman Sultans and with its sprawling location on the top of the hill, overlooking the famous Golden Horn, it’s a jaw-dropping sight to behold.
This is the best place to visit in Turkey with family if your little ones love history because you can walk around and touch everything. Just behind the palace, along the main road, you’ll see Gulhane Park, which is a great place for kids to run off some steam.
Location: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul
Getting There: Topkapı Palace is located in Sultanahmet, so take a taxi or the tram from Kabataş.
Things To Do: Make sure you get in line early as it can get very busy, but take your time walking around the palace to soak up the opulent history. It’s a good idea to take a guided tour to learn more. Click here for more information.
Where to Stay: Ottoman’s Life Hotel Deluxe might not be as opulent as the palace, but it’s not far off.
Entrance Fee: 750 Turkish Lira/$27
20. Side Antik Kenti
The Antalya region is one of the top must-see places in Turkey during the summer months, but it’s also packed with history. Side is a seaside town in itself, but it has an ancient area which you can walk around and take in the whispers of years gone by. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes as you’re sure to rack the steps up.
For me, this is one of the best places to visit in Turkey for history in the summer months because the wide open spaces invite plenty of sea breeze. Make sure you pay the extra money to go into the amphitheater – it’s well worth it.
Location: Selimiye Mahallesi, Çağla Sk., 07330 Manavgat/Antalya
Getting There: Side is a one-hour drive from Antalya city center, where there’s also an international airport.
Things To Do: Walk around the old city and peruse some of the shops. Visit the amphitheater and pretend you’re a gladiator, about to go into battle.
Where to Stay: I really enjoyed my stay at Aura Boutique Hotel; waking up to a sea view every morning was amazing.
Entrance Fee: Free to enter the ancient city, but 50 Turkish Lira/$2 to visit the amphitheater.
21. Galata Tower, Istanbul
If you’re a lover of amazing views, Galata Tower is one of the best places in Turkey for you. Although the elevator to the top of the tower is a little small (maybe not for those with claustrophobia), and walking around the edge of the old structure requires a single file, the views are jaw-dropping. You can stand in Europe and see right over to Asia – it’s amazing.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most popular Turkey destinations, so it’s no surprise that you’ll need to queue to get in; however, it’s worth it. This beautiful former watch tower dates back to the 5th century and is visible from most parts of the city. A quick tip: make sure you stop for coffee and cake at the restaurant next door.
Location: Bereketzade, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
Getting There: Galata Tower is located in Beyoğlu, right in the heart of Istanbul. Simply take the Metro to Tophane and walk up the hill, following the brown signs.
Things To Do: Take plenty of photos and look right over to another continent. You can eat at the small restaurant at the top, but it’s wildly overpriced; I’d recommend the cafes and restaurants around it instead. A guided tour is a good idea if you want to learn more about the history. Click here for details.
Where to Stay: Frame Galata Hotel is the perfect place to stay if you want to be steps away from Galata Tower.
Entrance Fee: 650 Turkish Lira/$23.50
Located in the Antalya region, Koprulu National Park is a huge canyon with welcoming, cool temperatures during the hottest summer months. It’s one of the best places to go in Turkey for walking, fauna and flora, wildlife spotting, and generally being at one with Mother Nature.
Of course, Antalya is one of the best places in Turkey for holidays, so you can easily combine your beach trip with a day here. It’s only around 90 minutes away from Antalya city and is close to Manvagat, with its stunning beaches.
Location: Köprülü Canyon National Park/Türkiye
Getting There: You can drive from Manavgat or Antalya quite easily, but it’s better to take a day tour as you don’t have to worry about driving. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Walking, swimming, zip-lining, and kayaking are all fantastic activities here. Or you could just chill out like I did. A whitewater rafting tour is a great option for adrenaline junkies. Click here to book.
Where to Stay: Manavgat is the best place to stay around this area. I highly recommend Paradise Manavgat.
Entrance Fee: Free entry but activities are priced independently.
I love Marmaris – it’s one of the best towns in Turkey to visit if you want fun in the sun, chill time, and fantastic shopping. The nightlife in Marmaris is varied and vibrant, and the food is divine. You’re also very close to many local attractions, such as Atlantis Waterpark and the beautiful Incekum Beach. Click here for directions.
Most people choose to visit Marmaris for the beach, but I recommend heading 15 minutes down the road to Icmeler Beach instead. It’s a golden sand beach and is much wider, with more privacy away from the main road.
Getting There: The easiest way to reach Marmaris is to fly to Dalaman Airport and then take a private transfer, with a journey time of 1.5 hours. Alternatively, the Havas Bus runs several times throughout the day and is a cheaper option. Click here for details.
Things To Do: Enjoy beach time, visit Marmaris Castle, and shop for some souvenirs in the Grand Bazaar. A private boat trip is also a great way to cool down in the summer. Click here for details.
Where to Stay: For a stylish and sophisticated place to stay with plenty of facilities, book into TUI Blue Grand Azur.
Entrance Fee: Free
24. Anıtkabir, Ankara
If you’re looking for places to visit in Turkey other than Istanbul, Ankara is the best place. This is the capital city, and the final resting place of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic. Anıtkabir is where Atatürk was laid to rest, and it’s a stunning building from the outside.
You can visit the museum and learn more about his life, while also paying your respects. This is an extremely important building in Turkey and one you have to visit if you get the chance.
Location: Yücetepe, Akdeniz Cd. No:31, 06570 Çankaya/Ankara
Getting There: Anıtkabir is only a 7-minute drive out of Ankara city center, so simply take a taxi for ease.
Things To Do: Explore the huge building and visit the museum to learn about the life of Atatürk. You could also take a guided tour of Ankara to expand your knowledge. Click here for details.
Where to Stay: I highly recommend Occidental Ankara for a comfortable place to stay after a long day.
Entrance Fee: Free
25. Ankara Castle
Dating back to the 7th century, Ankara Castle was built to look out for invaders and protect the city, but these days it stands proud and offers some stunning views. If you’re looking for places to visit in Turkey to take Insta-worthy snaps, I’d recommend this place, for sure.
Visiting the castle will only take an hour or two at most so you can easily combine this with a day of sightseeing in the capital or shopping if you prefer. Don’t forget to try some delicious local food, such as baklava.
Location: Kale, 06240 Altındağ/Ankara
Getting There: The easiest way to get to the castle is to take a taxi from the city center – the journey takes around 10 minutes.
Things To Do: Walk around the castle and enjoy the scenery, taking plenty of photos. Ankara is one of the top places to visit in Turkey, so spend some time just walking around and stumbling upon your own hidden gems.
Where to Stay: Central Ankara has plenty of fantastic hotels to choose from; The Wings Hotels Neva Palas is just one of them.
Entrance Fee: Free
Getting Around Turkey
The best places to visit in Turkey are all linked by a high-quality road network. Driving in Turkey is very easy, and you can hire a car from any of the major airports or a car hire office in the city/resort you’re staying.
The train network around Turkey is high quality but doesn’t cover the whole country, so if you don’t want to drive, it’s best to use the long-distance bus network or take a domestic flight between major cities. Pamukkale buses run country-wide and offer comforts including TVs, snacks, and extra legroom if you book the ‘Jumbo’ service.
Quick Itineraries for Turkey
The best places to see in Turkey may be quite a distance away from each other, but the longer you stay, the more you can see. Let’s take a look at some sample itineraries to whet your appetite for more:
3 Days in Turkey
If you have three days in Turkey, I would recommend staying in Istanbul and immersing yourself in everything it has to offer. Even three days in this huge city won’t be enough, but you’ll get to see the top sights.
On your first day, head to Dolmabahçe Palace and spend half a day there; it’s best to get there as early as possible. Next, take the tram down to Sultanahmet and visit the Blue Mosque in the afternoon.
On your second day, visit Basilica Cistern and Topkapı Palace. Your third day could either be spent exploring Istanbul in a more leisurely manner, or you could take the bus or drive to Çannakale, which is 3.5 hours away by road.
One Week in Turkey
A week in Turkey gives you a lot more freedom to see and do more, so begin your trip in Istanbul and spend two days seeing the major sights before taking a domestic flight over to Cappadocia and spending three days there.
Whether you take a hot air balloon ride or you walk around the area, exploring the underground cities, you’ll certainly feel like you’ve been to another planet after the hustle and bustle of life in Istanbul.
Your final two days could be spent in Ankara, visiting Ankara Castle and Anıtkabir, before flying back home from the capital itself.
10+ Days in Turkey
Ten days in Turkey means you can get around a lot of the best places to see on this list, but certainly not all. The good news is you can make use of domestic flights to see as much as possible.
Start your break in Istanbul and spend two days seeing the main sights, such as the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Dolmabahçe, and Topkapı Palace. Then, on your third day, take a domestic flight from Istanbul Airport with Turkish Airlines to Mardin. The flight will take just under 2 hours.
Take your time exploring the architecture and views over the Tigris River and on your fourth day, take the overnight bus to Gaziantep. Click here for bus details. Spend the day exploring delicious street food and culture, and spend the night before taking a flight to Izmir with Sun Express – the flight will take just under 2 hours.
Once in Izmir, enjoy walking on the Kordon and the great nightlife in the city, before heading to Ephesus for the day. It’s a good idea to stay in Selçuk as you can then head over to Denizli the next day and visit Pamukkale. Ironically, Pamukkale is also the name of the bus company.
You’ve covered a lot of ground, and you’re sure to be tired, so for your last few days, head to the beach and relax. Take the same bus company to Marmaris, with a journey time of around 2 hours 45 minutes. On your final day, take a domestic flight from Dalaman Airport, which is 1.5 hours away from Marmaris, back to Istanbul.
Best Places to See in Turkey: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the best places to see in Turkey:
Yes! Turkey is an amazing country that’s full of many different sights and amazing food. It’s a melting pot of culture, history, and modern-day life.
It’s hard to pinpoint, but Istanbul is a heavily visited city each year. The southern beach resorts are also extremely busy in the hottest months.
If you want beach time, visit from May to the end of September. If you’re more about sightseeing and city life, Turkey is a year-round destination.
All of Turkey is pretty in different ways. The south coast is home to some of the best towns to visit in Turkey and when the sun is shining, it’s blindingly beautiful.
Turkey is famous for its food, amazing beaches, its history that dates back centuries, music, and a warm welcome to all guests.
Yes. Turkey is the same as any other country; as long as you’re sensible, you’ll be fine. Avoid the border areas with Syria and Iraq, and watch your belongings in crowded spaces. Don’t walk with too much cash and avoid flashing valuable items.
The four must-see cities in Turkey are Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, and Ankara.
Most British tourists go on vacation on the south coast. Marmaris, Bodrum, Fethiye, and Kuşadası are popular choices.
Both Dubai and Turkey are beautiful countries, but Turkey has a lot more to see and do, thanks to its sheer size.
Compared to the rest of Europe, Turkey is a cheaper country.
Now you know the best places to go in Turkey, which one are you going to choose first? This is a country that has more history in just one city than most countries have in their entirety, and it’s somewhere that’s sure to captivate you with its culture and general hospitality. Of course, the food is pretty amazing too.
For me, Turkey is my second home and somewhere that I adore. I hope you feel the same after visiting some of my recommended spots, and I can guess that visiting Turkey isn’t going to be something you only do once.