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 whose government, until
the last decade, 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's leadership is
intent on rapidly
leaving the fold of secular states and returning to the worldview of the Ottoman
Empire. 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 to exotic and exciting destinations. 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.
Names in Teal are regions
of the country.
We find Istanbul to be 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
center, are 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
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
Our Istanbul Travel Guide for details and photos of the many attractions in
this spectacular city.
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, 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
- 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, 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." Note that the
role of Ataturk in Turkey's history is being downplayed by the current
- Kusadasi (Bird Island) is a resort town with great restaurants, good hotels,
numerous beaches and
- Known for its nightlife, Kusadasi is a good place
for anyone interested in 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). Its museum is interesting, though not
- The city's harbor is the gateway to Ephesus for many cruise
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!
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.
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.
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,
must see. Take a tour or hire a guide to benefit from the cultural
richness of this area
- 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 this Pamukkale government website.
The official tourism portal 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
See our detailed map
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
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.
Many visitors to Turkey prefer to travel as part of a tour
or a cruise and leave the difficulty of planning vacation travel to