12 Best Cities & Towns To Visit in Turkey

Must-visit Cities to Visit in Turkey

You are here

Last updated:
10.03.2021

Set off to explore the wonders of multifaceted Turkey and enjoy the picture-perfect views, exciting experiences, mouth-watering delicacies, and comprehensive tours in the destination. Take a look at some of the must-visit cities and towns in the country and start working on your Turkey itinerary!

1. Istanbul

One of the most popular cities in Turkey as well as a popular destination worldwide, Istanbul is a treasure chest full of authentic architecture, cultural and historical heritage, and much more waiting for you to be discovered on your next visit. Istanbul is a unique amalgam of different influences that have shaped the city throughout its history, including the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, the Romans, the Greeks, and even the Venetians.

It allows you to travel through time while exploring the unparalleled cultural scene of Istanbul on a small group or a private tour to Turkey. Some of the city's must-visit sights include the iconic Hagia Sophia Mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Galata Tower, and the Topkapi Palace. Don't miss the chance also to go shopping in the bustling Grand Bazaar!

Istanbul

Quick Turkey facts:

  • Location: Southeastern Europe & Western Asia
  • Capital: Ankara
  • Official language: Turkish
  • Size: 785,347 sq km (303,224 sq mi)
  • Population: 84,339,067 (2021)
  • Currency: Turkish lira (TRY)

2. Ankara

Located in the northwestern part of the country, the capital of colorful Turkey, Ankara, attracts visitors with its long-lasting history and an abundance of architectural monuments as well as bountiful cultural heritage. It houses a unique blend of ruins and ancient landmarks as well as modern-day wonders and buildings nearby.

Ankara is also home to the government of Turkey and a major industrial hub, producing goods ranging from foods to construction materials. In addition to that, it is a significant part of the infrastructure in the area and an important rail junction, providing connections to people using trains in Turkey as their preferred method of transportation. Ankara also houses an abundance of museums, which should not be missed while touring the city.

Ataturk Mausoleum

3. Urfa

Located in the southeastern part of the country, Urfa is another one of the Turkey cities worth exploring. Also known as Şanlıurfa, it is home to several different ethnic groups, which add up to a marvelous melting pot of exceptional culture and heritage. In addition to that, it houses examples of authentic architectural heritage as well, such as ruins of an ancient citadel and the city walls or the Halilurrahman Mosque dating back to the 13th century.

Another must-visit in Urfa is the lively bazaar, where you can find local goods as well as livestock from the area. The bazaar offers all sorts of produce, including the city's main exports - butter and wool.

Halilurrahman Mosque

4. Konya

One of the best cities to visit in Turkey and one of the oldest urbanized centers in the world, Konya is definitely a unique stop on your Turkey itinerary. It is part of the renowned Silk Road, providing visitors with an insight into its authentic history and significance. Located in central Turkey, the city dates back to the 3rd century BC and houses ruins, monuments, and exceptional pieces of architectural and cultural heritage that allow you to travel back in time and explore its history.

Some of the must-visit sites in Konya include the unique Alaeddin Tepe, the Selimiye Mosque, and the Aziziye Mosque. Make sure also to explore the museum scene in the city and visit the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Wooden and Stone Carving, the Tile Museum, or the museum at the archaeological site of the Çatalhöyük settlement. In addition to that, Konya is one of the best cities in Turkey to enjoy an authentic Dervish performance, which is undoubtedly a must-see show while touring the country.

Devishes performance

Must-visit sites in Turkey:

  • Hagia Sophia Holy Grand Mosque;
  • Cappadocia's Fairy Chimneys;
  • Roman Theater of Aspendos;
  • Alahan Monastery;
  • Sumela Monastery;
  • Topkapi Palace;
  • Tortum Waterfall;
  • Pamukkale;

5. Bodrum

Located on the Bodrum Peninsula, the city of Bodrum is another excellent contender for the title of the best city to stay in Turkey. It is home to numerous spectacular sights, such as the Bodrum Castle, set picturesquely on the waterfront overlooking the marina, or the Mausoleum of Mausolus, listed among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In addition to that, you can also stop by the awe-inspiring Theater of Halicarnassus, hike around the ancient settlement of Pedasa, or visit the postcard-like Windmills of Bodrum.

In addition to authentic sites, Bodrum also houses numerous museums worth paying a visit to as well as picturesque beaches for unwinding after active sightseeing. Some include the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, the Maritime Museum, and the Zeki Müren Arts Museum. As for the beaches, some of the best ones include but are not limited to the Kadikalesi beach, the Yahsi beach, and the Karaincir beach.

Bodrum

6. Alanya

Visiting Alanya while touring Turkey is definitely a must. Fitted with beautiful beaches, natural wonders, authentic monuments, a bustling cultural heritage, and plenty of shopping and dining opportunities for local delicacies, the city ensures a lovely stay for its every visitor. It is one of the best towns in Turkey for those seeking the perfect amalgam of exploring and relaxing amid scenic surroundings.

While in Alanya, don't miss the chance to visit the Alanya Castle and the Red Tower or take a Pirate Ship Cave Tour for a unique sightseeing experience. Another must-visit in the area is the Damlatas Cave, where you can marvel at the thousands-year-old stalactites and stalagmites.

Alanya

7. Side

Another one of the must-visit Turkey towns, Side, is a gem on the Mediterranean coast, housing numerous marvels of nature as well as man-made wonders. Fitted with charming restaurants, hotels, and cafes alongside archaeological sites and authentic architectural heritage, the town provides all the comforts you might need as well as a rich culture and history to get acquainted with while in the area.

Make sure to add the Temples of Apollo and Athena to your Side itinerary, as well as the State Agora, the ruins of Selge, and the awe-inspiring ancient Theater. For a nature escape, pay a visit to the Manavgat Waterfalls, embark on adventures in the Köprülü Canyon National Park, or relax at one of the picturesque beaches.

Side, Turkey

8. Ephesus

Set off to discover the exceptional sites in Ephesus and delve deeper into its authentic ancient past and the one-of-a-kind Greek heritage. The town is scattered with ancient ruins and must-visit monuments, such as the Temple of Artemis, the Temple of Hadrian, and a well-preserved ancient Theater, allowing you to wander around and feel as if traveling back in time.

In addition to that, the site that was once a bustling metropolis is home to the ruins of the mammoth library, the Gymnasium of Vedius, the Great Baths, and a stadium with a wrestling hall nearby. It is advisable to dedicate at least several hours to tour the site or to join one of the group or private guided tours for the best experience.

Ephesus

9. Cappadocia

Housing the iconic Fairy Chimneys, Cappadocia is a destination in Turkey that no longer needs an introduction. The rock formations scattered all over the area add up to a truly unforgettable view, attracting thousands of visitors to marvel at it with their own eyes. One of the unique ways to soak up the views is taking a hot air balloon ride over the site and enjoying the views from a bird's eye perspective.

In addition to the Fairy Chimneys, the area is also home to valleys and caves for you to explore, as well as ruins and traces of the Byzantine and Islamic periods from thousands of years ago. These include unique underground passages as well as impressive pieces of architectural heritage, such as rock-cut churches carved in the imposing Taurus Mountains.

Cappadocia, Turkey

10. Izmir

Another stop to add to your Turkey itinerary is one of its largest ports and the third-largest city in the country, Izmir. Located in western Turkey, it is a bustling hub on the Agean Sea, attracting visitors with its authentic charm and bustling lifestyle.

While touring the city, don't miss the chance to visit the lively Kemaralti Market for a glimpse of the local lifestyle and local goods, as well as the Izmir Agora for an insight into the city's past. In addition to authentic sites and landmarks, Izmir is also a great location to get better acquainted with local specialties, such as the unique Turkish coffee.

Konak Square

11. Antalya

Visit Antalya and soak up the picturesque views on every step of your city tour. Whether it is authentic heritage, bustling local lifestyle, history, or nature you enjoy, there is undoubtedly a little bit of everything mixed into the Antalya itinerary for your next voyage to Turkey.

Start your city tour at Republic Square in the very heart of the city and make your way then to wander the streets of the old town boasting an authentic ever-present ambiance. For a quick coffee break with some picturesque views, make sure to visit the old harbor and unwind at one of the on-site cafes. Make sure to also include the Hadrian's Gate, the Antalya Aquarium, and the Antalya Archeological Museum before setting off to explore the must-visit sites located just a short drive away, such as Termessos, Aspendos, Perge, and the Duden Waterfalls.

Antalya

12. Fethiye

Located on the Turkish Riviera, Fethiye is a place where the comforts of a resort go hand in hand with authentic ancient heritage creating the perfect holiday destination. It is one of the best locations to get better acquainted with the authentic Lycian culture and a number of its heritage sites, as well as to visit the picturesque beaches or UNESCO-listed sights.

One of the must-visits on your Fethiye itinerary should undoubtedly be the unparalleled Lycian Rock Tombs. Carved into rock formations overlooking the marina, the tombs are a truly spectacular sight to witness. For a glimpse at the history of the area, visit the Roman Theater, the ruins of the religious center of Letoön, or the Fethiye Museum. Those seeking to marvel at the wonders of nature will surely enjoy visiting the Saklikent Gorge, the Ölüdeniz Lagoon, and the Butterfly Valley.

Fethiye

Turkey is without a doubt a destination brimming with wonders waiting to be uncovered! From scenic nature escapes to colorful cultural experiences, one-of-a-kind heritage, and unparalleled sites, you can be sure to find it all during one unforgettable Turkey travel experience.

Related tours

The Very Best of Europe