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  • Writer's pictureAyda Salduz

The Most Touristic Places to Visit in Turkey

You may know Turkey as a touristic country, or maybe you have never heard about the places worth visiting. It is an amazing choice if you want to have a wonderful vacation. Do you prefer visiting historical places? Come to Turkey! Do you want to spend your time on the finest beaches? You are welcome to do so here. You can find so many choices to have a satisfying holiday in Turkey, whether you prefer to have a cultural break or just a sea-sand-sun vacation. If you are ready to decide on a new direction for your next trip, you will enjoy Googling all these places! Let’s start our digital journey. Who knows, you may arrange this tour really soon!

This is a picture of a woman riding up an escalator with a rolling suitcase in her hand.
Discover all of the amazing places that Turkey has to offer.

I will make a list that includes both cultural and beach vacation alternatives in the same cities. That way, you can choose which cities are the best for you. Feel free to ask if you have some questions in the comments below!

1. İzmir

I want to make a start with my hometown, İzmir. The center of İzmir is already an excellent place to visit, but I will talk about a historical place named Ephesus (Turkish: Efes Antik Kenti), which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. Greek colonists built Ephesus in the 10th century BC. In the Classical Greek era, it was the most famous city in the 12 cities of the Ionian League.

It has the Temple of Artemis, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It was built around 550 BC. The city has so many famous compositions, such as the Library of Celsus and a very large theatre.

The Goths destroyed it in 263 AD, but it was rebuilt. Then, an earthquake in 614 AD and the Küçükmenderes River destroyed some parts of it. Still, it is a fantastic place to visit for both local and international tourists. A must-see point if you visit İzmir.

Here is another great recommendation for you: Çeşme is an admirable location if you find the meaning of life in swimming. Turkey has so many wonderful beaches, and it is impossible to say which one is the best. Çeşme is one of them, and similar to the other touristic places, such as Bodrum, Muğla, Antalya, and more, it has a quite historical value. The Castle of Çeşme and the museum are excellent choices to visit if you decide to go to Çeşme, even if you just want to swim in one of the many incredible beaches!

Also, there is Alaçatı, a very touristic point in Çeşme. If you like stone houses with colorful windows, Ottoman-style balconies, narrow streets, vineyards, historical windmills, and cute cafes and restaurants, it is a perfect location. Alaçatı is so windy all the time, so if you want to surf, visit this charming town.

2. İstanbul

Istanbul is an amazing choice if you decide to go on a historical trip. It is the biggest city in Turkey, and every corner of this city is full of history. Palaces, mosques, churches, historical towers… It’s impossible to write about every place you have to see if you visit İstanbul because there are many! Istanbul has landed on two continents, in Europe and Asia, so Bosphorus connects these lands and creates one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Let’s look at only a few of the must-see places.

Topkapı Palace (Turkish: Topkapı Sarayı)

The Topkapı Palace was built by order of Mehmet the Conqueror. Ottoman emperors and their families lived in that palace for almost 400 years until the building of the Dolmabahçe Palace. During this time, 4000 people lived there. It is a very authentic palace with an impressive museum. If you visit Istanbul, you will see lots of structures from the Ottoman Empire, and this is one of them.

Dolmabahçe Palace (Turkish: Dolmabahçe Sarayı)

Here is my favorite place in İstanbul. Whenever I go, I try to visit Dolmabahçe Palace. It is another Ottoman palace with a wonderful design from 1856, but it has a different meaning for all of us. The founder of the Republic of Turkey, and first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, used that palace from time to time as a presidential residence, and he spent his last days there until he died. It is a great opportunity to see his room and learn more about him. I am sure you will respect him as much as we do. To sum up, it is a glorious palace with the best view, but it has a deeper meaning for millions of Turkish people.

Basilica Cistern (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarnıcı)

Yerebatan Sarnıcı is one of the most mystical places in İstanbul. It is near Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), and you should visit both of them. Yerebatan Sarnıcı was built between the 3rd and 4th centuries during the Early Roman Age. According to researchers, 7000 slaves worked during the construction process of the cistern. It is a big place with little water these days, and very popular with its columns, especially with the Medusa column.

Galata Tower (Turkish: Galata Kulesi)

Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower that was built in 528 AD during the Byzantine Empire. It is almost 63 m (205.3 ft), and it was the highest structure of its building time. It has a splendid view of İstanbul, especially Bosphorus. Thousands of tourists visit it every day, and you can go to the upper level in the elevator. According to the legends, if you visit Galata Tower with your boyfriend/girlfriend for the first time, and it’s the first time visiting for both of you, you will get married. Well, I can say that it doesn’t work this way, but it’s worth visiting and enjoying the view of Istanbul, no matter what.

Here are the other places you must visit when you are in İstanbul: Sultanahmet Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque, The Maiden’s Tower, Rumelian Fortress, and islands, especially Büyükada. I can make a list with 100 new spots you must visit in İstanbul if you are a history lover!

3. Nevşehir

Here is a famous city full of its exceptional natural wonders: Nevşehir! Cappadocia (Turkish: Kapadokya) is a fantastic place to visit fairy chimneys. It has a strong historical and cultural heritage too, so if you visit Kapadokya, you will enjoy seeing unique geological features and learning history. It was the homeland of Hittites, and even the name of Kapadokya comes from the Hittites language. In Hittites language “Katpatuka” means “a land of beautiful horses.” Now, we still call this place a pretty similar name!

Ürgüp, Göreme, and Üçhisar are the most famous touristic towns to visit. You can even see the amazing view with a hot-air balloon tour! You may also enjoy trekking in these areas. The rocks in these places eroded into pillars, and the people who lived there in AD 300-1200 carved out the soft rocks. There are very spectacular monasteries, churches, and chapels built from carved rocks.

There is also Derinkuyu Underground City. It’s one of the most popular places in Turkey, and even some people from the other side of the world know it and put their bucket lists. It has a depth of 85 meters and is large enough to live in there with 20,000 people. Can you believe it? People can visit almost half of it, and you can see there are lots of rooms, storage rooms, chapels, an old-time school, a ventilation shaft and more. According to the Turkish Department of Culture, the Phrygians built this place in the 8th-7th centuries BC. Until the 20th century, people used it to escape from wars. I have never had a chance to visit Nevşehir, and I am kind of claustrophobic, but I want to visit this place, no matter what.

4. Muğla

Now, let’s talk about swimming a bit. If you love swimming, you will thank me later. Turkey has so many options if you are crazy about swimming, and I am not sure which ones I should write about. There are many!

This is a picture of a sunset on a beach.
Turkey has plenty of options for swimming.

Let’s talk about my favorite: Ölüdeniz. Ölüdeniz is a small neighborhood in Muğla. The exact translation of Ölüdeniz is “the Dead Sea” because it is so calm. It has a sandy beach on the lagoon. You can be surprised to see how clear the water is with aquamarine and turquoise shades; it’s one of our Blue Flag beaches. Because of the natural opportunities, it is one of the best places if you want to paraglide with a breath-taking view! Scuba diving is another good option if interested in underwater activities.

Bodrum is another outstanding district of Muğla. You may just enjoy swimming on its perfect beaches or visiting historic places; you will enjoy a lot in both options. Bodrum is famous for its traditional houses. They have white walls and blue parts, like their doors. Bodrum Castle is the first place you should visit, and then you should see the Antique Theatre, museums like Underwater Archaeology Museum and Sea Museum.

If you skip the historical part and just go swimming in the perfect sea, it’s okay too! Then you should explore the bays like Aquarium Bay or just go to Yalıkavak, Gümüşlük, or Bitez. Well, there are over 65 Blue Flag Beaches, so it’s kind of a “sky is the limit” situation!

5. Adıyaman

Mount Nemrut is the most famous spot to visit in Turkey. It’s 2,134 meters high, and at the peak, there are many colossal statues from the 1st century BC. UNESCO declared Mount Nemrut as a World Heritage Site in 1987, and from the day on, there have been lots of tourists visiting this unique place.

In 62 BC, King Antiochus built a tomb and sanctuary with 9-meter-high statues of himself with two lions and eagles, as well as Greek gods like Zeus, Apollo, Ares, and more. Now, the heads of the statues are not connected with their bodies. These heads are just taller than humans. With the passing of time, it damaged their noses, but it’s still an incredible heritage to visit.

6. Denizli

Denizli is famous for one place the most: Pamukkale! Pamukkale means Cotton Castle in Turkish, and you will understand why we say that. When I saw Pamukkale’s photograph for the first time as a child, I thought the reason for its appearance was snow. A common mistake, but it’s not!

Pamukkale has been visited for thousands of years because of its thermal pools and the tremendous Hierapolis, those snow-white travertine terraces. The Ancient Greek city, Hierapolis, was built on travertines on the 2700-meters-long mountain. Calcite-rich springs shaped over millennia and helped to create those magnificent thermal pools with the hand of nature.

This is another magnificent spot to visit, full of history and natural beauty. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site too, by the way!

Turkey offers you so many wonderful memories with its popular touristic places! This list is a very limited, and I could write about at least another 20 places. My country is a gem if you enjoy visiting historical places and swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. I tried to make a list for both, and I hope these places make you research a bit about Turkey. I promise you won’t regret it if you visit it!

This is a picture of a woman sitting in an airplane, looking at her cell phone.
What are you waiting for? Come visit Turkey!

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