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 Turkey Travel Guide

  Best Places to Visit in Turkey

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                                      Best Places to Visit in Turkey  Detailed Map  Additional Resources

 

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Private Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

From Viator Tours

 

 

 

 
Private Tour: Ephesus Day Trip

From Viator Tours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Private Overnight Tour to Cappadocia

From Viator Tours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey is truly where East meets West and it is precisely this mixture that makes travel in Turkey so interesting.  Although its culture is imbued with a deep and reverent respect for Islam, Turkey is a country that until recently attempted to separate the secular and religious beliefs of its citizens.  While it is uncertain what the future holds for Turkey,  it appears that the country is rapidly leaving the fold of secular states.   While the country remains an excellent vacation destination and one of our recommended best places to visit, it is likely that Turkey will not be as inviting location in the future as it is today.

Many travelers think there is little to Turkey outside of Istanbul and Istanbul is a hard act to follow.  Crossing the Bosporus into Asia Minor, however,  leads you into an exotic and exciting country.  Read our recommendations on the best places to visit in Turkey and then make your reservations to explore this most alluring travel destination. 

If touring outside of Istanbul, we recommend hiring a professional guide at your destination.  Turkey's cities can be confusing and a competent guide will show you the best attractions and explain to you the significance of the location.  Most of Turkey's cities and attractions do not have official tourism websites and it is difficult to find comprehensive information online about many of these destinations.  While a good quality guidebook can help,. it is usually much more efficient to hire a competent, local guide.

 

A view across Istanbul

 

Best Places to Visit in Turkey Top of Page

Names in Teal are regions of the country.

 

       The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey is a beautiful sight.

  • Istanbul   Click for a chart showing the annual ranges of precipitation and temperature in Istanbul

    • Istanbul is one of the world's most interesting cities.  Its unique location, literally bridging the gap between 'East" and "West", and unique history as a Christian and then Islamic city, is precisely what attracts tourist to the shores of the Asian Continent. 

    • Across time, Istanbul (once named Constantinople and previously Byzantium)) has served as the capital of the Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman Empires: the city's impressive heritage is on display and has been magnificently preserved. 

    • From its famous mosques and churches (the Blue Mosque, Süleymaniye Cami, and Hagia Sophia), through palaces (The Topkapi and Dolmbahce), and on to the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul is one memorable excursion after another.

    • See Our Istanbul Travel Guide for details and photos of the many attractions in this spectacular city.


  • Aegean Coast

    • The Aegean Coast of Turkey contains fine archaeological sites, beautiful beaches, great scenery, and a number of towns that are excellent vacation destinations. The Aegean Coast is an area of Turkey you should visit, as it is an enjoyable and rewarding travel destination.

    • Ephesus 

      Ephesus, an ancient city in the process of being explored, excavated and restored, is a must see.  Dating from the seventh century BC (and possibly earlier) Ephesus provides a detailed, authentic view of  ancient life: the city's ruins illustrate how ancient cities worked and how the people played. 

      • Ephesus is a site that should interest anyone but it holds special reverence for Christians who believe that the Virgin Mary lived in the area at the end of her life.
      • Ephesus is also known as the location of the Temple of Artemis (also called the Temple of Diana), which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 
        • Like all of the Wonders, except the Pyramids at Giza, there remains no trace of the temple dedicated to Artemis, the Greek goddess.
        •   It is believed that the building was partially destroyed by fire and later  by an earthquake.
    • See our Ephesus PhotoGuide for photos of what you will see in Ephesus, as well as additional details on this important destination.
    • Izmir ( historical Smyrna)

        Click for a chart showing the annual ranges of precipitation and temperature in Izmir

      • Izmir, known in the ancient world as Smyrna, surrounds a large bay and is working city that serves as a convenient base to explore the Aegean coast: many  prime archaeological sites are relatively close to Izmir. 
      • The city has limited attractions of its own, but offers a number of reasonable hotels and good food (including local dried figs).  The city has an interesting archaeology museum (the Izmir Archaeology Museum) and another dedicated to Ataturk, the "Father of Modern Turkey."


    • Kusadasi

      • Kusadasi (Bird Island) is a resort town with great restaurants, good hotels,  numerous beaches and pleasant hosts. 
      • Known for its nightlife, Kusadasi is a good place for anyone interested soaking up the sun and relaxing at the beach.  You may want to see the Byzantine Castle on the actual Bird Island (for which the city is named), as its museum is interesting, though not spectacular. 
      • The city's harbor  is the gateway to Ephesus for many  cruise lines.

       

    • Bodrum

      • Bodrum is a scenic town whose center is the famed Castle of Saint Peter (built by the Knights of Saint John - The Hospitallers).  Bodrum has much to offer and should be considered as a base to explore the surrounding countryside. 

        • In the past, Bodrum was known as Halicarnassus and the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The tomb was destroyed by a series of violent earthquakes in the distant past.  It is said that its building materials were used to fortify the Castle of St. Peter and the city's defensive walls.


  • Anatolia

    • Anatolia runs across  southern Turkey and contains numerous first-class archaeological sites.  Get a quality guidebook and "dig up" the places of interest to you.  Anatolia is a wonderland!

      • Anatalya

        • A quality resort town, Anatalya is a good starting place for your explanation of Anatolia.


  • Cappadocia

    • Most travelers have seen pictures of the mystical, rock chimney dwellings and man-made cave homes in eastern Turkey.  Cappadocia is the area of Turkey known for these dwellings and is a very interesting place to visit.

     

     


    • Ürgrüp is a good town to base your exploration of  the area because of its size and the quality of the facilities offered. The Goreme Valley, which is the center of the cave homes, is a must see. Take a tour or hire a guide to  benefit from the cultural richness of this area


  • We have additional recommendations for you that might be just the ticket if you are considering a second visit to Turkey, or are just the adventurous type.

     

    • Pamukkale in Denizli Province in southwest Turkey is an extraordinary area of hot springs awash with calcium carbonate that has created a unique area of  limestone and travertine. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and noted tourist attraction.  For more information, see the Pamukkale official website. 

                  The unusual hot springs and calcium deposits at Pamukkale are incredibly interesting.

                 

  • Aizanoi Zeus Temple

    The site (see photo on the right) is comprised of a stunning, well preserved Roman temple in Anatolia, featuring an ancient market built in a Greco-Roman Style.  It is an amazing treasure, but one that is remote and hard to find .

  • Nemrut Dagi

    • Located in eastern Turkey, Nemrut Dagi (photo on the right) is considered by many one of the most remarkable monuments in Turkey, if not Asia Minor. 
    • Built in the 1st century B.C. as a burial mound accompanied by incredibly huge, but lifelike statues.  It is thought that the site reflects both Greek and Persian heritage. 
    •  If you want to explore this site, we recommend a guided tour as this location is very remote.  See this non-official website for a great video recreating the original plan of Nemrut Dagi.

  • Ankara  Click for a chart showing the annual ranges of precipitation and temperature in Ankara 

    • Ankara, the capital of Turkey, is a gateway to the surrounding region.   Ankara and its surrounding area are not  prime tourist attractions but are worth a look if you are touring the country for  a second or third time.

Additional Resources

The official tourism website for Turkey is GoTurkey.com, where you can find additional details on the places we recommend visiting, as well as information on places we do not cover.

For country facts on Turkey, as well as information of value to travelers (visas, traffic safety and road conditions, medical facilities and health information), see the U.S. State Department's page on Turkey.

See our new, detailed map of Turkey showing the locations of the cities and attractions we recommend.  The satellite imagery for Turkey is of high quality in Istanbul, but lower through much of the rest of the country.  In addition, we found the road network shown on the map to be unreliable and chose not to provide routing, since most of the routes we tested were incomplete. Please note that driving in Turkey can be very dangerous, as the accident rate is unusually high through most of the country.

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index or Googling ThereArePlaces.


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Many visitors to Turkey prefer to travel as part of a tour  or a cruise and leave the difficulty of planning vacation travel to an agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Celsus Library at Ephesus, Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aizanoi Zeus Temple is one of the best preserved in all of Turkey

 

The amazing statues at the mysterious Nemrut Dagi in eastern Turkey

 

 

The Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara is one of the largest in the world

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