With cities steeped in history, amazing beaches,and a beautiful countryside, a visit to Turkey promises an enchanted vacation.
Diverse offerings such as the ancient ruins of Ephesus to the luxury beach resorts along the Aegean Sea will enthrall and captivate even the most jaded traveler.
Istanbul, once the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, features prominently in most travel plans but there are many more great destinations.
Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Turkey.
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is an unreal landscape in western Turkey, famous for its white terraces. The terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water with a very high mineral content from the hot springs.
People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years. The ancient Greek city of Hierapolis was built on top of the hot springs by the kings of Pergamon. The ruins of the baths and other Greek monumentsc an still be seen at the site.
Perched on a strategic hilltop overlooking the plains of Mesopotamia in southeastern Turkey, Mardin is one of the oldest settlements in the region.
Mardin is best known for its Old City of sandstone buildings that cascade down the hill. The maze of meandering streets in the Old City leads visitors along terraced houses, mosques, churches and mansions.
Many boutique hotels, fashioned from the charming old buildings, have opened in recent years, along with a few upmarket hotels.
One of the oldest cities in the world, Konya prospered as a capital city under the rule of the Seljuk Dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Today, buildings from that era can still be admired such as the Aladdin Mosque and the ruins of the Seljuk Palace. Konya was also the home of the Persian theologian and Sufi mystic, Rumi.
His mausoleum is a must-see site in Konya. Rumi’s followers founded an Order known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their religious ceremonies in which they spin around and around on the left foot while wearing white, billowing gowns.
Nestled along the beautiful Turkish Riviera on the Mediterranean coastline, Antalya is a vibrant city welcoming tourists with numerous resorts, bars and restaurants.
Spectacular scenery frames the city with gorgeous beaches and lush green mountains dotted with ancient ruins. From swimming and sailing to mountain climbing and sightseeing, Antalya offers something for everyone.
A walk around the Old Quarter, offers a step back into the city’s ancient past with views of the old city walls, Roman gates and maze-like streets.
Once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne’s grand past is visible everywhere, as fantastic old imperial buildings, palaces and mosques are scattered around.
The Selimiye Mosque, for instance, is a must-see in this delightful city, and the Old Quarter is lovely to wander around.
Due to its strategic location and its proximity to Greece and Bulgaria, Edirne has a European feel about it and there is lots of delicious cuisine on offer.
A great time to visit is in summer, when the traditional oil-wrestling festival takes place.
A major port in ancient Greece and occupied by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, Side today is a picturesque town of classic ruins and modern day resorts overlooking sandy white beaches.
Located on a small peninsula, Side offers fantastic dining and nightlife. Its star attraction is an excavated site of ancient Hellenistic and Roman ruins that include the remnants of a colossal amphitheater and various temples.
Featuring narrow streets and attractive gardens,the charming town of Side offers many restaurants ranging from delis and pizza shops to upscale dining in a variety of cuisines.
Located in the southern Aegean region of Turkey, Bodrum was once home to the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Today, its intriguing ruins, stunning beaches and cliff-top resorts attract people from all over the world. No visit to Bodrum would be complete without seeing Bodrum Castle.
Built from 1402 by the Knights of St Johnit now operates as a museum. On Bodrum’s eastern side, tourists will find a beautiful beach overlooking brilliant blue water. On the western side of town is the marina, shops and restaurants.
Europe’s most complete classical metropolis, Ephesus is an ancient site located in Aegean Turkey.
By the 1st century BC, Ephesus was one of the largest cities in all of the Roman Empire, boasting one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis.
The ruins of Ephesus are well preserved, making it one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions.
Its attractions include the massive Theater, the Temple of Hadrian and the magnificent Library, a two-story structure that was built to house more than 12,000 scrolls.
Situated in Central Anatolia, Cappadocia is best known for its fairy tale landscape of unusual formations resembling chimneys, cones and pinnacles.
Natural processes such as ancient volcanic eruptions and erosion have all sculpted these odd formations over the ages.
Thousands of years ago, mankind added remarkable touches to the landscape by carving out houses, churches and underground cities from the soft rock. Today, some of the caves in the region are actually hotels and cater to tourists.
Once serving as the capital of the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, Istanbul today is the largest city in Turkey and one of the largest in the world.
Istanbul stretches across a narrow strait that connects Asia and Europe, making it the only city in the world spanning two continents.
Top attractions include the Hagia Sophia that’s been a Greek Orthodox Christian basilica, then an imperial mosque and now a museum,and the 15th century Topkapi Palace, also a museum today.
Get in a little shopping at the Grand Bazaarthat’s been in operation since 1461.