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Located on two continents, Asia and Europe, Turkey has a vibrant and diverse culture. There are strong both Asian and European influences in almost every corner of Turkey, giving the country a unique culture that will be very interesting to see. The Eurasia influence can also be seen in the architecture of the ancient buildings found all over the country. That is why there is an excellent collection of marvelous places to visit in Turkey.
Other than the fantastic culture, Turkey is also blessed with mesmerizing nature settings, from the warm blue sea, lush green highlands, to pristine white snow mountain tops. Just like its culture, Turkey’s nature is very diverse, that you will find there are so many things that you can do during your Turkey travel.
To travel to Turkey, you can take a flight to Istanbul. There are also a few international flights to Ankara, but the choices are insufficient. You can also take a bus to get to Turkey. There is a daily bus service to Turkey from several cities in Europe, such as Bucharest, Constanta, and Sofia. If you have a lot of free time, you can consider taking a train as the journey can take days.
Since the summer can be sweltering, while the winter is freezing in some parts of the country, then the best time to visit Turkey is from spring to early summer, which is from March to mid-June. Visiting Turkey during autumn (September – mid-November) is also a good idea.
Note: Make sure to check the visa rules online for your citizenship as Turkey is quite known for its tightness when it comes to visas and its borders. You can check and apply for your Turkey visa online to see if you need it or not!
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Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Turkey
Although it is not the capital city of the country, Istanbul is the main gate to enter Turkey. Founded around 660 BC, Istanbul has a long, exciting, and important history. No wonder, you will find so many amazing historical sites in the city. The city has changed its name several times.
In the past, the city was called Byzantium and Constantinople. It was named Istanbul in 1930, several years after the Republic of Turkey was declared.
Istanbul has a significant role during the Byzantium and the Ottoman era, making both Christian and Islamic influences are very thick in the air. One great example of it is Aya Sofya. It was built under the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian in year 536 AD. It was initially built as a church, but when the Ottoman occupied the city, it was turned into a mosque. That is why visitors will see a lot of Christian and Islamic ornaments in this impressive building, making Aya Sofya the most famous Istanbul tourist attraction.
Another majestic landmark in Istanbul is the Topkapi Palace or also known as Topkapi Sarayi, which was built in the 15th century under the Ottoman ruler, Mehmed The Conqueror.
One of the most stunning displays showcased in this palace would be the Imperial Treasury that consists of precious gold and gems. Topkapi Palace is very impressively big, and you will need to spend at least half a day exploring this site.
There are still a lot of other fascinating historical sites and museums that you can visit in Istanbul, such as The Blue Mosque, The Basilica Cistern, and the Istanbul Archeology Museum.
To get a token of memory of your Turkey travel, you should go to the Grand Bazaar, or locally known as Kapali Carsi. Kapali Carsi is considered as the world’s first mall due to its size and its varied tenants. Grand Bazaar is so massive that it has 11 entrance. You will find a lot of Turkish souvenirs here at ranging prices.
Even though Grand Bazaar is enormous, you will not need to feel confused when you are trying to browse for certain items there because the vendors are neatly organized in arranged sections.
Not many people know this, but Ankara is the capital city of Turkey. Located in the center of the country, Ankara has transportation lines to take you all over Turkey.
Ankara may not have as many heritage sites like Istanbul, but the city owns a large number of museums that are interesting to see. The most famous museum in Ankara would be the Ataturk Mausoleum. This is the resting place of the Republic of Turkey founding father, Kemal Ataturk.
This mausoleum was built in 1944. Not only does it serve as his resting place, but Ataturk Mausoleum also displays Kemal Ataturk’s properties so that visitors can learn about the life of this Turkish hero.
If you want to see an earlier part of Turkey’s history, then you must head to Ankara Castle. This castle was built in medieval times. If you go here, you will also find a lot of new cafes and gift shops surrounding the castle.
Located in Central Anatolia, Cappadocia is a Turkey attraction not to miss. The area stands on a unique landscape of volcanic rock, making Cappadocia a very distinctive ancient site.
Go to Goreme to experience the uniqueness of this region. Some part of the village is buried into the hill. Here you will find mind-blowing houses made of carved stones.
Do not forget to take the hot air balloon tour to see this one-of-a-kind site from the top as it is one of the top things to do in Cappadocia. Just outside the village, you can see the Goreme Open Air Museum. It was a monastery carved in a massive cliff.
Another site that was built inside a cliff or cave in Cappadocia is Zelve Open Air Museum and Derinkuyu Underground city. You will be astonished by the architecture of these sites.
Having a long, fascinating history that dated from the ancient Greek period, Izmir is a city decorated with astonishing old sites. You can see the remaining of an ancient Greek city called Pergamon. Agora is another interesting ancient site to visit in Izmir. Or, if you do not have much time to visit more than one site, you can sum them up in the famous Izmir Museum of History And Art.
Located on Turkey’s Aegean Coast, Izmir is blessed with an enjoyable Mediterranean climate. To enjoy the sea breeze or to view the mesmerizing sunset, you can head to Kordonboyu, a beautiful marina, equipped with a park and a children’s playground. You can also rent a bike to explore this fantastic spot.
If you want to relax and enjoy some local cuisine, there are a lot of places that you can go to, from street hawkers to fine-dining restaurants.
Situated in the coastal area of Turkish Riviera, Antalya is one of the perfect places to visit in Turkey during the summer. Facing the Mediterranean Sea, Antalya provides a clear blue sea, beautiful sandy beach, and enjoy the warm weather.
The area is dotted with hotels, restaurants, and bars. The scenic Old Harbor can be found near the beach. You can watch luxurious yachts harbor here as you sip some coffee in one of Old Harbor’s cozy cafes. If you want to go shopping, you will also find several boutiques are located here.
Antalya is not only famous for its beach resort, but it also treasures iconic historical legacies, dated from the Roman era up to the Ottoman reign. Some of the Roman ruins that you can explore in Antalya are Perge, Termessos, and Aspendos.
You can also take a stroll to see the Old Town. The Old Town, or Kaleci, is a beautiful neighborhood with Ottoman style houses built on the sides of cobblestones streets. Taking a walk in this maze-like street will make your Turkey travel experience unique and unforgettable.
Another seaside resort that you need to go to when you travel to Turkey is Bodrum. Just like Antalya, Bodrum lies on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Used to be a simple fishing village, Bodrum has turned into a vibrant Turkey destination since the 1940s.
If you are bored of lying around on the beach, go to the marina, which is located in the western part of Bodrum, and enlist yourself to take part in one of the yacht cruises available. You can also go shopping in one of the chic shopping centers located in this part of the city.
A must-visit landmark in Bodrum is the Castle of St. Peter. It was built in the early 15th century by The Knights Hospitallers of St. John. It took approximately 35 years to finish the construction of this castle. Nowadays, The Castle of St. Peter is also the home of the Museum of Underwater Archeology.
Considered one of Turkey’s pride, Pamukkale amazes people from around the world with its unique natural features and incredible historical landmarks.
The most distinguishing part of this Turkey tourist attraction is Pamukkale Travertines. Its white calcite cliffs are so stunning and pristine with its bright blue hot-thermal water. You are required to take your shoes off when you walk here to preserve the formation of the calcite rocks.
If you want to enjoy a hot bath just like the Romans, Pamukkale Antique Pool will be the perfect spot for you. The water is constantly warm at 36°C, giving you the ideal relaxation that you need. Not only is it warm, but it also rich in natural minerals that can provide you with plenty of health benefits.
This ruin of ancient Greek metropolis has to be in your Turkey travel list. Lies in Aegean Turkey, Ephesus used to be the biggest city in the Roman Empire. This massive ancient site is very well preserved that tourists can get a clear picture of how the ancient Greek people used to live.
The most impressive site in Ephesus is The Temple of Artemis, which is one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World. There is also a museum within Ephesus that displays artifacts found in this ancient city.
A strategic port city nestled in the Aegean region, Fethiye gives you the perfect Turquoise Coast experience. The city provides you easy access to both beautiful beaches along the Turkish Riviera and amazing historical Lycian sites inland.
Lycian Site, with its mind-blowing rock-cut Tomb of Amyntas, is a place that you do not want to miss. This mystical site is situated in the southern Fethiye. If you want to learn more about Lycian history and culture, Fethiye Museum is the place where you should be.
When you think you have had enough history and culture to explore, and you need to wind down, there are several pristine beaches that you can visit.
In Patara, you will find the longest sandy beach in Turkey, or if you want something more secluded, then you should go to Butterfly Valley.
If you travel to Turkey, you need to spend some time in Central Anatolia. Other than Ankara and Cappadocia, this region still has a lot of treasures in its chest. This area is dotted with old civilization sites from a different era.
Head to Konya, where you can find some neolithic remnants or go to Hattusa that used to be the capital of the Hittite Empire. If you want to feel the atmosphere of the past that is not too far away from the present during your Turkey travel, Safranbolu is your answer. The Old Town of Safranbolu is lined with idyllic red-tiled-roof houses and cobblestoned streets.
There are so many other old sites in Central Anatolia, making it one of the most interesting places to visit in Turkey.
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Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.