This country offers many attractions, including the Byzantine, Ottoman glory of Istanbul, relaxing on the beach, exploring history through ruins like Ephesus and seeing some of the most amazing panoramas in Cappadocia and Pamukkale. Check out our top-rated tourist attractions in Turkey for more ideas.
The Aya Sofya Museum (Hagia Sophia), a Byzantine masterpiece, is a landmark in Istanbul and Turkey.
Its massive exterior is framed by delicate minarets that were added to it after the Ottoman conquest. The interior, with its rich and intricate frescoed interior, is a powerful reminder of the power and might of Constantinople. The famous monument is a must-see for any tourist to the country.
The mighty ruin at Ephesus, a city with colossal monuments as well as marble-columned streets, is not to be missed. This is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Mediterranean, and it’s the perfect place to see what life was like during the Roman Empire’s golden age.
To cover the main highlights, a sightseeing tour here takes at least half a full day. If you want to really explore, it will take you longer.
Cappadocia’s surreal rock valleys are a photographer’s paradise. The rippling panoramas made of wave-like rocks or bizarrely-shaped pinnacles are found on hill crests and cliff ridges. These formations have been forged by wind and water over millennia.
This is a great place to go hot air ballooning if you don’t want to hike for the view. The lunar landscape alone is enough to entice you. These valleys also contain the frescoed, rock-cut churches from the Byzantine Era. This area was once an important Christian site.
The Topkapi Palace is a luxurious, extravagant palace that transports you to the world of the sultans. The Ottoman Era’s sultans built an empire from this place, which would reach across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
The Ottoman Empire’s interiors are a stunning glimpse into their power base with their extravagant tiling and rich jeweled decorations. Although once the exclusive domain of the Royal Court, the surrounding public gardens are now available to the public. They offer a peaceful and green oasis from the bustling streets.
The famous natural wonder of Turkey, the Pamukkale’s pure white Travertine Terraces (“Cotton Castle”) in English, cascade down the slope like a snowfield in the green landscape. The travertines themselves are a highlight of any Turkey trip. However, the Roman Hierapolis, an ancient spa city, lies on top of this hill of calcite. This gives you another reason to go.
The star attraction on the Black Sea Coast is Sumela Monastery, the Monastery of the Virgin Mary. Its stunning and isolated setting, nestled into a cliff, makes it a unique place to visit. It is worth the effort to wander around this abandoned religious site, which boasts stunning frescoes in its interior churches.
It was first built during the Byzantine era. It was closed in 1923. It’s easy to imagine today the lonely lives of the monks who lived in these empty cells.
Mount Nemrut, the top tourist attraction in Eastern Turkey, is scattered with the remains of mammoth statues that once guarded its summit funerary mound. This strange and isolated spot is one of Turkey’s most unusual archaeological sites. The summit is dominated by the massive stone heads of long-forgotten gods, which cast an eerie aura over the barren mountaintop. You can see the statues rise from the darkness at sunrise so that you know when to go.
On the border of Turkey and Armenia, the abandoned buildings of Ani, the strong Silk Road city, lie abandoned. Ani was once the Armenian capital. However, the city’s golden age ended in the 14th Century after Mongol raids and earthquake destruction caused the city to fall.
It is a beautiful sight to see the red-brick buildings that are still crumbling in the steppe grass. You must see the Church of the Redeemer and the Church of St. Gregory with their intricate stone masonry, fresco remnants, and don’t forget the Church of the Redeemer.
The jaw-dropping bulk of the Roman Theater in Aspendos, located just south of Antalya celebrates the pompe and ceremony of Marcus Aurelius’ rule. It is considered the best example of a classical-age theater that remains in existence and one of antiquity’s most popular attractions.
The theater is the main reason to visit this place, and for most people who come here on a half day trip from Antalya or Side. However, even though the theater is their primary focus, there are many other ruins that can be explored over large hillsides if they are not too busy.
Cruising the Mediterranean
The Turkish Mediterranean coast has many ruins and activities, but many people just want to enjoy the beautiful coastal views while they soak up the sun.
For good reason, Cruising on a yacht has become the most popular activity in Bodrum and Fethiye. You can explore by sea from the steep, forest-covered slopes and hidden coves with tiny white-sand beaches. There are also hundreds of islands scattered around. Even the most ardent landlubbers will be amazed.
The “Blue Cruise”, one of the most well-known trips, travels south along the coast to Fethiye and ends near Olympus. This is where you will find the Chimaera natural phenomenon.
Turkey is home to many Greco-Roman ruins. However, none are as romantically located as the ancient Pergamum in modern Bergama. Pergamum was once home to one the most important libraries in the world. Today, Pergamum’s temple remains are dramatically located on a hilltop.
The Acropolis and theater are both located on the hillside. From its highest seating tiers, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. If you’re looking for a true sense of Roman life, this is the place to go.
It is impossible to find turquoise-blue water. You can check it. A lush green forest tumbles down a cliff to reach a white-sand beach. Check. Check.
If it gets too crowded on the beach, it is time to get up and take off. You will enjoy the breathtaking aerial views from a tandem paragliding flight off the Babadag Mountain summit, just behind the shore.
This vibrant Mediterranean hub offers something for everyone. Two beaches are located outside the town and attract tourists from all over Europe.
The Old Town is located in the heart of the town and has cobblestone alleyways lined with crumbling Ottoman-era homes. It’s a great place to explore. Antalya Museum, which is home to an impressive collection of Hellenistic, Roman, and marble statuary, is well-known. There are many attractions around town, including Perge and Aspendos, which make it a great base for exploring the region.
Turkey’s most photographed Ottoman town is stunningly photogenic. It features narrow winding alleys lined with beautifully restored wooden mansions that were once home to wealthy merchants.
There is very little to do in the town. This is a place where you can just stroll the streets and enjoy the old-world vibe. You can also find unique souvenirs in the cute shops and traditional sweets. This is a great place to stop for the night if you are traveling inland from Istanbul and want to experience the historical atmosphere.
There are many beaches along Turkey’s long Mediterranean coast. Patara is one of the most popular. The beach runs 18 km along the coastline. This gives you plenty of space so that even in peak summer you can find a peaceful spot away from the crowds.
The vast ruins of Ancient Patara are located just behind the sand. They include a colonnaded street and restored bouleuterion (the city’s parliament), as well as a theater that could seat 5,000 people.
After you’ve enjoyed sun, sand and swimming, go behind the dunes to explore the crumbling remains of this once prosperous Lycian capital. Both Fethiye and Kas can easily reach Patara.