WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN TURKEY?
Turkey is, without a doubt, a tourist destination with many attractions. The lovers of history and ancient architecture will be amazed by the cultural richness of this country. Among the many Turkish heritages, seven are inscribed on the UNESCO list.
With the four seas that surround it (the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmara and its straits, the Aegean Sea), the Turkish coasts offer a multitude of activities to the regulars of the seaside. Magnificent beaches for swimming, beautiful waves to ride, each tourist will find his happiness in Turkey.
May and June, or September and October are the best months if you want to discover this country in the best conditions.
On this page, you will be able to discover the main experiences not to be missed in Turkey, its must-see tourist sites as well as the activities that must be done.
This selection may be useful for you to prepare an itinerary and organize your trip to Turkey, giving you a taste of the best things to do and places to visit.
As the practical information is evolving rapidly, do not hesitate to leave a comment if there are any points to change or if you want to share good tips for travelling to Turkey.
Here are 10 must-see things to do and see on a trip to Turkey:
Among the monuments not to be missed in Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, as well as the Topkapi Palace. Other things to do: go to the top of the Galata tower, visit the cistern-basilica, take a cruise on the Bosphorus, discover the bazaars and hammams, and visit the archaeological museum.
2. THE UNIQUE LANDSCAPES OF CAPPADOCIA
Göreme National Park and Cappadocia’s rocky sites are located in the heart of central Turkey. A unique landscape of chimney-shaped rock formations or cones can be found here, due to ancient volcanic eruptions. You can discover old churches decorated with frescoes and houses carved in the rock. Do not miss the view from the Ortahisar hill, otherwise you can also admire the landscape from a hot air balloon.
One of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Turkey: Ephesus is an ancient Greek city founded around 1000 BC, where you can see the remains of Artemision, a large temple dedicated to Artemisia, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, as well as the superb Celsius Library, built between 114 and 117.
4. ASPENDOS RUINS AND THEATRE
This former Roman theatre, built around 162 under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, is one of the most beautiful and best preserved in the world. It can accommodate up to 15,000 people and shows are still held there every summer. An aqueduct from the same period is nearby and is worth a visit.
5. THE BEACHES OF THE SOUTHWEST COAST
Among the beaches to see absolutely: Kaputaş beach, Patara (the longest beach in Turkey), İztuzu beach (turtle nesting) near Dalyan, and the beautiful Ölüdeniz lagoon which is one of the best places in the world to paraglide. Most of the beaches are connected by the Lycian route. Seaside resorts attract a lot of people like Marmaris, Bodrum (see the Castle), and Antalya. If you can, take a multi-day schooner cruise to explore the coast and discover places hidden from tourists.
6. PAMUKKALE HOT SPRINGS
One of the most visited natural wonders in Turkey: you can see thermal springs that have formed amazing terraced pools over time thanks to the concretions of white travertine (limestone). The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
7. SUMELA MONASTERY
A monastery on a steep cliff in Altindere National Park. Very impressive to see, it’s located at an altitude of about 1,200 meters and dominates the surrounding valley. It is said to have been founded during the 4th century by two Greek monks. It houses superb frescoes. The monastery is located 40 km south of Trabzon.
8. THE OLD CITY OF TERMESSOS
An ancient city built in the mountains of a natural park 32 km north of Antalya, located at altitude (1050 meters), and whose remains are very well preserved. You have to drive there and then walk to the city. There is a theatre (4200 seats) with a superb view of the valley and tombs carved into the cliff.
Another place to see for archaeology lovers. Pergamos is a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can admire many remains of an ancient city founded by the Greeks in the 8th century. It is located on a hill overlooking the city of Bergama.
10. MOUNT NEMRUT
At the top of this 2134-metre mountain is a collection of gigantic stone heads and sculpted reliefs set in front of an ancient royal tomb. The place is best visited at sunrise.
MORE THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN TURKEY
If you have some time in Turkey, here are some other places to visit that are worth a look:
- The gorges of Saklıkent
- The city of Mardin and its medieval houses
- Selimiye Mosque, located in Edirne
- The archaeological sites of Priene, Milet and Didymes
- The ruins of Arykanda
- The ancient city of Phaselys
- The Lycian tombs of Pinara and Myra
- See the mosaics at the Zeugma Archaeological Museum in Gaziantep
- Bafa Lake
- Lake Van
- The village of Safranbolu
- The ruins of Ani: an ancient ghost town near the border with Armenia
- The Ishak Pasha Palace
- Going in a hamam
- Visit the bazaars
- See a show of whirling dervishes
- In Ankara: the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
- The Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divriği
- Antalya: Temple of Apollo and Athena
- Trekking in the Kaçkar Massif
- Trekking the Lycian Way between Fethiye and Antalya, one of the ten most beautiful hikes in the world
MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS OF TURKEY ON GOOGLE MAP
You will find a list of all the sites mentioned here on this Google Map: