If you want to take a trip to a place that is both naturally beautiful and ripe with history, you cannot beat Turkey. The country is home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations and was once the center of both the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Many relics of these ancient civilizations still remain. In addition to history, the country also has some beautiful exotic beaches where you can relax. Read on for the best places to visit in Turkey.
Istanbul is located in the northwestern part of Turkey on a strip of land that connects Europe and Asia. It has the distinction of being the only city to be located in two continents. It is also the largest city in Turkey, so there is much to do there. The city abounds with cultural shopping and dining experiences. Istanbul was once the capital of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, so the area is full of history and ancient architecture. Make sure to go to the Old City to see the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. To see a great overview of the city and some of its major sites, consider taking a cruise along the Bosphorus.
Konya is one of the world’s oldest cities and is located in the Central Anatolian region in the western part of the country. Konya is known for its whirling dervishes. These members of a Muslim Sufi religious sect are known for their wild spinning while in deep prayer. There are several places to see the whirling dervishes in Turkey, but Konya is where their order was founded. To learn more about their founder, Rumi, you will want to visit the Mevlana Museum, which houses his tomb and many other ancient artifacts. Konya is also known for its architecture from the Seljuk Dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Aziziye Mosque is enchanting in its beauty and definitely a must-see.
Ephesus is located in the western part of Turkey, along the Aegean Sea coastline. If you want a picture of what life was like during the Classical Period, Ephesus is perfect, because it is the most complete city left over from the Roman Empire. It was one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire and home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. While you can no longer see the Temple, the ruins of Ephesus are remarkable and well-preserved and you can visit the Theater, the Temple of Hadrian and the Celsus Library, which is an impressive library that was constructed to hold over 12,000 scrolls.
If you are looking for natural beauty mixed with archaeological marvels, Cappadocia will enthrall you. Cappadocia is located in Central Anatolia, right in the middle of Turkey. Geological processes such as volcanoes and erosion have sculpted odd formations there that resemble chimneys, cones and pinnacles. Ancient civilizations then used these formations to carve out houses, churches and even underground cities. The Hittites created caves and tunnels to hide from the Persians and Greeks, who were invading their lands. Today, you can explore these caves or even spend the night in a cave hotel. Cappadocia can also be explored by hot air balloon.
Bodrum is located in the southwestern part of Turkey on the Aegean Sea. If you are wanting to visit the beach while in Turkey, Bodrum is the perfect seaside getaway. If you want to include some history with your beach visit, you should see the Mausoleum, which was once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is now in ruins and all that is left are some stairways, entries and drainage systems, but it is still impressive. You will also want to check out Bodrum Castle, which was built in the early 15 century by the Knights Hospitaller. The Castle is home to an underwater archaeological museum and was built using some of the pieces of the Mausoleum. You can wind down after your day exploring by visiting one of Bodrum’s many restaurants for a meal and glass of wine.
Side can be found in southern Turkey, on the Mediterranean Coast. It is a quaint fishing village, a seaside resort town and home to archaeological marvels from the Roman and Hellenistic periods. It is made up on ancient winding streets with fun food and shops. While the city has become a popular spot for tourists, it still exudes a feeling of the ancient city it once was. You will definitely want to see the recreation of the Temple of Artemis, Appollo’s Temple and the ancient amphitheater. If you are looking for some natural beauty, check out the Manavgat Waterfall. It has a wide area of flow and shaded gardens where you can picnic.
Marmaris is a port located in the southwestern part of Turkey along the Mediterranean Coast. This city has a bit of everything, from beautiful white sand beaches to turquoise waters to stunning ancient architecture, all surrounded by pine trees. Marmaris is a port for cruise ships and is one of the most popular places to visit in Turkey. The city is busy and crowded, with a bustling night life. You will want to be sure to see the castle of Süleyman the Magnificent where you can overlook the sea. The city also has a covered bazaar where you can buy a range of fun souvenirs. If you want to get away from the hustle of the marina, try the Old Town area for a quiet walk through historical architecture.
Antalya is located on the southwestern coast of Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea. The city is part of the Turkish Riviera and features beautiful beaches with a backdrop of green mountains. If you are into water sports, you can find plenty to do on the beach. Or wander in to the city center, known as the Kaleiçi, or Old Quarter, where you can see the ancient ruins, the clock tower, a bazaar and the Roman Harbor. You can also visit Hadrian’s Gate, which consists of three triumphal arches and was built to honor the Roman emperor when he visited the area in 130 CE.
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You will find Mardin in the southeastern region of Turkey on a hilltop that overlooks what was once Mesopotamia. You will find many fascinating cultures in this area, including Kurdish, Christian, Yezidi and Syrian. In the Old City, the buildings are made of sandstone and are built on the side of the hill. Another must-see is the Monastery of Saint Ananias, which was founded in the fifth century and is one of the world’s oldest monasteries. Make sure to see the Sultan Isa Medresesi a monument from the medieval period that was an astronomical observatory. If you travel a little outside the city, you can see the Dara Mesopotamian ruins, for a view into even more ancient history.
Ankara is located in the middle of Turkey and is the capital city. It is the most modernized city in Turkey and serves as a hub for many travelers to make their way to other destinations. Ankara has the amenities of a modern city, including upscale hotels, nice restaurants and an exciting nightlife. If you are looking for history, a visit to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a must. There are also many other museums to visit. You will also want to see the Anit Kabir, a mausoleum built to honor the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Within the walls of the Citadel, you can find homes made from ruins from the 9th century and many families live there.
Izmir can be found on Turkey’s Aegean Coast, and is the country’s third largest city, after Istanbul and Ankara. Izmir is a perfect city to visit if you are planning a trip to Ephesus and want to see some natural and historical landmarks along the way. You can visit the Clock Tower and take in some incredible Roman ruins. The Pamukkale Water Terraces are a one-of-a-king geographical phenomenon where underground hot springs have flown over a plateau, creating travertine pools that are said to have healing qualities. You can also wander around the Kemeraltı Market, a bazaar that spans many blocks and sells wares of all sorts, from foods to arts to crafts and more.
Uzongol is located in the northwester Black Sea region of Turkey. It is the ideal spot if you are looking for some rest and relaxation outside of the hustle and bustle of the larger cities. Many of the accommodations have been built with wood from the neighboring forest and the city has an entirely different feel from the Roman-influenced west and the Muslim-influenced east. The town is situated around a lake of the same name, and is the perfect starting point if you want to take hikes into the nearby Soğanlı Mountains and Haldizen Mountains. The Sarikaya Yaylasi is a beautiful nature reserve rich with wildlife and is a must-see for travelers hoping to see the natural wonders of Turkey.
Sanliurfa, also known as Urfa, is situated in the southeastern part of Turkey, near the border of Syria. Here you can find the Pool of Abraham, or Balikli Gol, where Nimrod through Abraham into the fire in the Biblical story. The city also plays an important role in the story of Job. Because of its Biblical significance, Sanliurfa has become a pilgrimage site for Christians. The town’s bazaar dates back to the 16th century and you can buy nearly everything there. Of special note are the caravanserai selling silk items, including colorful handmade scarves. If you want to see some incredible art, visit the Edessa Mosaic Museum for beautiful mosaics dating back to the Roman era.
2. Inozu Vadisi in Beypazari
Another great spot to get in touch with nature is the Inozu Vadisi in Beypazari, which is located in the northwestern part of the country. The area is a birdwatcher’s delight and is home to many species of birds, including the hawk and the bald eagle. The wildlife has made the area a protected landmark. As the valley is located about an hour out of Ankara, it makes a great day trip if you are staying in the city. Visit the nearby town of Beypazari to see some excellent examples of Ottoman architecture as you wander the cobbled streets. If you are looking to try some traditional Turkish cuisine, there is much to sample in Beypazari, including many dishes featuring carrots.
1. Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley can be found in the Fethiye district of southwestern Turkey. If you are looking to get up close and personal with nature, Butterfly Valley is perhaps the best place in Turkey to visit. The area is still untouched by the tourism industry and must be reached by water taxi. It is situated on a beach in the valley of a canyon. The area is best known as a breeding ground for butterflies, and in the late summer, you can see over 100 species on display. The canyon and nearby mountains are perfect for exploring by hiking, of if you prefer to explore the water, you can snorkel in the clear blue waters.