15 Best Places to Visit in Turkey (Türkiye) | The Ultimate List
Updated: Sep 13
If you want a chill beach vacation, an adventurous holiday, or a vacation full of culture and history, Turkey is the place to be! Turkey has beaches, mountains, beautiful cities, and amazing weather, which is why it is the favorite travel destination of many people. The country has a rich history which saw many civilizations and empires thrive at different times. It was officially established as an independent country in 1923 and has a population of about 85 million people as of this year (2022). We found the people in Turkey to be very caring overall and it was clear that they wanted us to feel welcome everywhere we went. In this article we will highlight the 15 best places to visit in Turkey!
Check out our video about Turkey to get a sense of what it's like there.
The best places to visit in Turkey
We recommend visiting Turkey for at least two to three weeks. This will give you enough time to visit the places we're going to mention in this article, but if you want to see more places you might have to add a couple of days. We also recommend visiting Turkey during the late spring or early fall because the weather is just perfect at that time and there are less crowds.
Table of Contents:
15. Istanbul: A BUSTLING place to visit in Turkey
Istanbul is located in the northwest of Turkey and is the largest city in the country. It’s not the capital city of Turkey, but is known as the country’s economic, cultural and historic center. It is one of the 10 most visited cities in the entire world for a reason. Its history goes back to 5,500 BC and was a world hub of trade and commerce during the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods. On the “Golden Horn”, you can find historical structures such as the Hagia Sophia, which was built about 1,500 years ago and changed architecture forever around the world. In addition, you can soak in the best Istanbul view from the Galata Tower, marvel at the Ottoman architecture in the Topkapi Palace, or shop at the Grand & Spice Bazaar. One of the things we enjoyed most in this bustling city was the Turkish cuisine. If you want to enjoy the Turkish cuisine as much as we did, we highly suggest doing a food tour in Istanbul. Try to stay at least 3 to 5 days in this bustling city to be able to enjoy the many things to do.
14. Köprülü Canyon: Adventure in Turkey
At number14 we have the Köprülü Canyon. This canyon is a National Park in the Province of Antalya, located about 100 kilometers or 62 miles from the city of Antalya itself. The canyon is 400 meters or 1,300 feet deep in some places. It stretches for 14 kilometers or 9 miles along the Köprü River, which makes for beautiful vistas. And with its rapids, this canyon is famous for white-water rafting. It’s also a great place for hiking, biking, or just taking a boat tour from the Roman Stone Bridge upstream.
13. Olympos National Park: Nature at its best in Turkey
Olympos National Park is a destination you have to visit when in Turkey. It lies to the west of Antalya and to the southeast of Kumluca. It stretches for about 90 kilometers, or 56 miles, along the coastal highway. The park is made up of the Taurus Mountains, which are mainly limestone and serpentine rocks. This rugged landscape makes for mesmerizing canyons and tons of outdoor activities, such as the beautiful Göynük Canyon and the entrancing Chimaera ‘Eternal Flame’. But besides that, you can also find some ancient cities and beautiful beaches in the area, such as Phaselis, Olympos, and Çıralı.
12. Lake Tuz: A fading miracle
Lake Tuz is one of the largest salt lakes in the world. It’s known for its vibrant pink color and is home to a variety of birds. When we visited at the beginning of November, the lake wasn’t very pink, it was mostly dried up, with one area being covered in water that made for amazing reflections. Climate change has had drastic consequences here. Extreme drought over the last years has resulted in the receding of the lake and the perishing of flamingos and other birds. Lake Tuz is very beautiful and worth it if you want some epic pictures!
11. Antalya: A perfect mix of culture and nature
At number 11 we have the city of Antalya, which is the 5th most populated city in all of Turkey. Located on the southwest coast and tucked underneath the Taurus Mountains, Antalya has beautiful weather all-year-round and offers tons of exciting things to do. From natural attractions such as the Kursunlu and Düden waterfalls, to the famous Konyaalti beach, and the historical Old Town, you can find any type of adventure here. But what we liked most about Antalya is its proximity to incredible places to visit right outside the city. The ruins of Perge, Aspendos, and Termessos are all must-visits. Make sure to dive into the surrounding nature with a hike in the Taurus Mountains or a boat ride in the Green Canyon. Watch our video about Antalya to learn more about this beautiful city.
10. Pamukkale: Bathing with a STUNNING view
Pamukkale is another incredible Turkey travel destination. This natural site is located in the Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. It’s known for its mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside. These pools are absolutely stunning and like nothing we had ever seen before in our lives. They are the perfect place to swim, relax, and watch the sunset from. We recommend visiting the pools two hours before sunset for minimal crowds and a gorgeous sunset. But Pamukkale is more than the limestone terraces. There’s an entire ancient city behind the Thermal Pools, which is called Hierapolis. This ancient city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 and has since enjoyed more protection to keep its beauty and history intact. Definitely a place worth visiting! If you want to learn more about this breathtaking place, watch our Everything You Need To Know about Pamukkale video on YouTube or read our blog about Pamukkale.
9. Lake Salda: The Maldives of Turkey
Lake Salda is a two-hour drive from Lake Eğirdir and lies within the boundaries of the Burdur Province in southwestern Turkey. Also called “the Maldives of Turkey”, this crater lake has white sand beaches and clear, turquoise blue waters. But one of the most interesting things about Lake Salda is its unique geology. It’s one of the only places in the world where ancient stromatolite algae still grow. The lake is also rich in minerals and depositional features similar to those found at Jezero Crater on Mars. Some of these minerals are believed to offer remedies for certain skin diseases. Since 2021, Lake Salda has been protected by Turkey’s environmental authority. The national park facilities were brand-new when we visited. However, this protected status also means that you’re not allowed to swim in certain spots of the lake anymore.
8. Lake Eğirdir: The hidden gem of Turkey
The Anatolian Lake District is tucked away within the Taurus Mountains in Southwestern Anatolia. It’s truly one of the most beautiful travel destinations in Turkey, but also a bustling center of activities for those who love the outdoors. The town of Eğirdir is at the heart of the area and the perfect base for hiking, climbing, and exploring the regional sights. In addition to Eğirdir’s very own lake and mountain activities, it’s worth visiting the nearby Yazili Canyon, Lake Kovada, and Sagalassos Ruins.
7. Ephesus: A Greek paradise in Turkey
Ephesus is the most impressive ancient ruin in Turkey in our opinion, and therefore we rank it at number 7. The ruins are located right outside the town of Selçuk, about 80 kilometers or 50 miles from Izmir. Once a port city, Ephesus was considered the most important Greek city and trading center in the Mediterranean region. Throughout history, Ephesus survived multiple attacks and changed hands many times between conquerors. But what’s truly special about this site is how well the ruins are preserved. You can find ancient toilets, a library, two theaters, and much more. We highly recommend combining this ancient city with a visit to Izmir and its nearby beach towns.
6. Izmir: Authentic Turkish culture
Izmir is located in western Turkey along the Aegean Sea. It’s the third-largest city in Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara, with over 3 million inhabitants. It’s a popular university town in Turkey, so much of the population is made up of young students, giving the city a youthful and vibrant feel. The city offers a mix of cultural, historical, and archeological sites. You should definitely pay a visit to the bustling Kemeralti Bazaar, the iconic Konak Square, the youthful Alsancak Square, and the ruins of ancient Smyrna. If you want to find out more about what to do in Izmir watch our video or read our blog of the 6 Best Things To do in & around Izmir.
5. Green Canyon: a serene place to visit in Turkey
The Green Canyon sits in the heart of the Taurus Mountains and close to the town of Manavgat. It's a popular place to visit in Turkey, especially during the summer months when you can do a boat tour into the canyon. With its beautiful and natural scenery around, you can also walk along the shore and admire the bright green waters. There are several cafes and restaurants on the shore, offering Turkish specialties with a beautiful view. However, the best way to see the canyon up close is on a boat tour. Unfortunately, this place was heavily affected by the wildfires in the summer of 2021.
4. Kaş: A Greek feeling in Turkey
Traveling around Turkey isn’t complete without a visit to Kaş. This beautiful seaside town lies on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey in the Antalya Province. It’s located about 188 kilometers or 300 miles to the west of the city of Antalya and is known for its whitewashed houses, relaxed atmosphere, and coastal views. Kaş is not as commercialized as Antalya, which means it attracts fewer crowds and maintains its charm. The old town and harbor are stunning, but the nearby Patara beach, Kaputaş beach, ancient Myra, and Kekova Island are also an absolute must-visit! Read more about this coastal town in our blog about the Absolute Best Things To Do In Kaş.
3. Dalyan: An otherworldly looking place in Turkey
Dalyan is home to beautiful lakes and a winding river, dramatic Lycian tombs hewn into the rocks, and a unique stretch of beach. We highly recommend driving up to the Radar Hill viewpoint. It’s absolutely otherworldly looking and especially stunning at sunset. Dalyan is a true hidden gem and we believe it will become more popular in the next few years as hotels emerge in the area.
2. Ölüdeniz: Adrenaline combined with an extraordinary view
Ölüdeniz is another beach town in the southwest of Turkey. Ölüdeniz is known as one of the world's best places to go tandem paragliding because of its breathtaking panoramic views of the aquamarine sea and a blue lagoon. From here you can also visit some other towns but paragliding was hands down our favorite activity in Ölüdeniz. In fact, it’s one of our favorite travel experiences together in our lives so far. You can watch our special moment in our YouTube video about the Best Things to do in & around Ölüdeniz, Fethiye.
1. Cappadocia: Turkey's most romantic place
Cappadocia is our favorite travel destination in all of Turkey. It’s located in the center of the country, about 300 kilometers from the capital city of Ankara. It is a region mainly within the boundaries of Göreme National Park. It’s world-famous for its fairytale scenery, cave dwellings, bizarre rock formations, and hundreds of hot air balloons that float in the sky during sunrise. It’s no surprise that this area is filled with amazing hikes and an intriguing history. Explore the Underground Cities, the Göreme Open-Air Museum, and Uchisar Castle and hike through some of the amazing valleys.
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More Helpful Info About Turkey
If you still need more information about things to do when visiting Turkey, make sure to check out these other great articles below:
15 Epic Places to Visit In Turkey + Itinerary by Two Wandering Soles
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