Heading to Turkey? We share the best places to visit in Turkey so you can plan a contrasting, exciting trip to this unique country.
Thank you to Tom from the Kayak Critic, this guest post gives us a great insight into the amazing places in Turkey that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.
Travelling. It leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.
I heard this quote long ago but got it right last year when I visited Turkey. It was an enchanted vacation. Even after a year, I am still in awe of those beautiful places I experienced. Though, Turkey is a big country and each of its cities are beautiful and amazing but I, unfortunately, wasn’t lucky enough and budget-squeezed to experience all of the beauty of this ancient city.
Here are some of the best places which I visited in Turkey. If you are a historical architecture – lover, then Turkey is the right choice for your vacation.
Best places to visit in Turkey
Once serving as the capital of the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, Istanbul today is the largest city in Turkey and one of the largest in the world.
The only city in the world that straddles two continents Asia and Europe, it is full of colours, verve, and contradiction: a silent clash of tradition and modern; reserve and cosmopolitan; and yes, where East does West.
Istanbul is the modern version of Constantinople, everywhere you go, you’re likely to find archaeological remnants and history. This city is full of Historic Places. From the Basilica Cistern to the world wonder Hagia Sofia, Istanbul itself is flush with history lessons. You can enjoy hiking in Istanbul, shopping in the Bazaar or even try a cooking class to learn about the country’s flavours.
An old worship house that served many religions well over the centuries started out as a Greek Eastern Orthodox Basilica.
It was home to the Patriarch of Constantinople when it was built in 537. Then it remained a Roman Catholic Church for almost six decades in the 12th century.
Later it became a mosque in 1453, remaining that way until 1931 when it was closed. In 1935, it was reopened as a Museum. There was a time when it was said to be the largest cathedral in the world.
The most interesting thing about Haghia Sofia is its floor, yes you read it right, its mosaics depict several religious scenes.
This beautiful Mosque is also called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish. Camii stands for Mosque in Turkish. It was built by Sedefkar Mehmet Aga. It is located on the site of the Great Palace of Byzantium. Its interior is full of blue tiles, more than 20,000 pieces. That’s why it is called Blue Mosque by Europeans. Being the only six minarets Mosque in turkey, it’s another reason for attraction for tourists.
You don’t get to go inside the Mosque during prayer time. I, with my family, waited half an hour because it was mid-day prayer time. The best way to see the great architecture of the Blue Mosque is to approach it from the Hippodrome (West side of the mosque) if you are a non-Muslim visitor; you also have to use the same direction to enter the Mosque.
The Topkapi Palace takes you into the fantastical, incredible world of the sultans. It was from here that the sultans of the Ottoman Era carved out an empire that would extend up into Europe and down through the Middle East.
Topkapi Palace is one of the famous tourist attractions. Rich in the history of the Ottoman Empire, the Topkapi Palace is surrounded by five kilometres (3.1 miles) of a stone wall with 27 towers.
There was a time when It was an official royal residence of the Ottoman Empire Sultans and the seat of the Turkish government, and now it is a museum which is considered one of the oldest places in the world. Its lavish interior with exuberant tiling and magnificent jewels shows the Ottoman’s power. The museum takes care of the harem’s quarter, where the government worked at one time, Sultan’s old weapons, clocks, and jewels. Its architecture is amazing and being on the hill which overlooks the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn makes it a surreal sight.
When you travel with your family, a market is a must-go place. The Grand Bazaar is just as it’s called, GRAND!
It’s a huge labyrinth of almost 5,000 colourful shops, making it one of the largest indoor marketplaces in the world. In this Bazaar, you’ll get every big to a small thing you need at a reasonable price. Be it jewellery, antiques, spices, home interior stuff or hand-painted ceramic, you’ll get what you want along with tasty traditional street foods of Turkey, we tried the traditional kebabs, and yes they were low spiced.
This market is very active and overly crowded. It was so hard to walk through the long, crowded streets with kids.
This indoor bazaar is home to two Mosques, two Hamaams or steam baths, four fountains and the Cevahir Bedesten– an old market, where you’ll find the most valuable and rarest items like old coins, traditional jewellery with precious gems and antique furniture.
Antalya is another large and vibrant city with numerous hotels, restaurants, resorts, and bars. It’s the paradise on earth, the pearl city of the Mediterranean, and the Turkish Riviera considered the fourth most visited city in the world.
In this beautiful city, you get to see breathtaking beaches and green mountains with ancient sites spread over them. From swimming and sailing to mountain climbing, sightseeing and family fun, Antalya offers something for everyone.
A walk around Kaleiçi, the Old Quarter, offers a step back into the city’s ancient past with views of the old city walls, Roman gates, maze-like streets and historic structures that include the Clock Tower.
Aspendos is one of the best-preserved ancient theatres of antiquity. It was built in 155 AD, during the rule of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The theatre could accommodate between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators. Aspendos is considered the most excellent surviving example of a classical age theatre still standing in the world, without losing almost any of its original beauty; it is one of antiquity’s star attractions. It’s just south of Antalya. There are more ruins to explore over a vast hilly area if you have time.
Here comes my favourite place – Cappadocia. Situated in Central Antalya, Cappadocia is best known for its fairytale landscape of unusual formations resembling chimneys, cones, and pinnacles but there are plenty of things to do in Cappadocia. Natural processes such as ancient volcanic eruptions and erosion have all sculpted these odd formations.
It is packed with thousands of rock churches caves and living spaces left by early Christians; a mass network of underground cities also appears on most travel tours. The most popular places to stay nearby are Goreme or Uchisar, both surrounded by beauty and offering a variety of accommodation options. Today, some of the caves in the region are actually hotels to cater for tourists. It feels weird to stay in these hotels, but they are not too expensive to give a try.
For the view, If you don’t feel like hiking, Cappadocia is one of the world’s top destinations to take a hot air balloon ride – it’s expensive though. An early morning sunrise hot air balloon trip is the way to enjoy the beauty of this place and the proper way to see it over. And If it isn’t enough to tempt you, nestled in these valleys are the frescoed rock-cut churches of the Byzantine Era, when this area was an important early Christian site.
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- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.