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20 Best Places to Visit in Turkey

What are the most visited places in Turkey?

Hot air balloon flying over Cappadocia Turkey photo via Depositphotos

List of Top Tourist Attractions in Turkey

What is the most beautiful part of Turkey? Turkey is a country like no other. Aside from being partly European and Asian, its culture is a lovely concoction of varying influences. You will see traces of Greek, Assyrian, and Armenian customs as you drink from Turkey’s cups. All these influences beautifully shaped the Turkey that we know today, which is, at best, a country of diversity, hospitality, and enchanting beauty. Interested in the most enthralling places to visit in turkey? Here’s a list of the most bucket-list-worthy destinations!


Hot air balloon flying over Cappadocia Turkey photo via Depositphotos
Hot air balloon flying over Cappadocia Turkey photo via Depositphotos

This beautiful town in central Turkey is famous worldwide for its fairytale-like scenery. Sights from Göreme are made more enchanting by a 1,000-meter high plateau sandwiched by even taller mountaintops seemingly touching the sky. This town is also beautified by the Monks Valley. Also known as ‘Pasabag,’ this area is full of chimney-like cones carved in tuff stones. Some of these 10 to 15-meter-high cones were split into smaller rock caps, making a perfect hideout among secluding monks. The fascinating peaks, the exquisite fairy chimneys, and the surrounding neighborhood make the ideal 360-degree view for hot air balloon rides.

Up in the Turkish skies, you can see the sun rising against an exhilarating view of the stunning city for an hour, which is more than enough to make your heart melt. Aside from the inspiring natural perspective, seeing one hundred other hot-air balloons floating magically in the sky is a beautiful feeling. From the sky, your skilled guides will go back to the ground with a bang. Trips usually take off early in the morning and end with a toast of champagne, which is a perfect way to conclude meaningful journeys. Even better, after this magical ride, you still have the whole day to explore other best places to visit in Turkey!

Ihlara valley

Ihlara valley
Ihlara valley

This 14-kilometer valley is a breathtaking 100-meter deep canyon where the Melendiz River flows. Here, you will see nature in its purest form as you listen to the soothing sound of the rushing water. You will be welcomed by different trees; the pistachio tree is one of the most inviting. Apart from the wonders of nature, there are also many beautiful churches to see in this valley. The Smelly Church, the Church with the Terrace, the Church under the Tree, and the Church with Crooked Stone, are only some of the many houses of God in the area. Many of these kirks reflect Syria and Egypt’s unique and fascinating architecture, making them historically and spiritually relevant destinations. Going to the valley is a hike, so anyone interested in trekking will truly love Ihlara valley. Although this is an invigorating trip, the climb will eventually tire you. The Belisirma village by this valley has many must-visit restaurants that will truly satisfy your cravings.


Details of Celsus Library, Ephesus Selcuk Turkey photo via Deposit Photos
Details of Celsus Library, Ephesus Selcuk Turkey photo via Deposit Photos

The ancient Ephesus City is not a stranger among Christians. In the New Testament, Ephesus was mentioned multiple times, showcasing its significant role in the spread of Christianity. Many scholars believe that the book of Ephesians, written around 60 A.D., was a letter from Paul to the Christians residing in Ephesus. Christian or not, you will surely appreciate the long journey this area of Turkey has endured. Because of the troubled times the Ephesus has withered, you will see its ruins today as nothing short of magnificent. Time and destruction only made this tourist attraction more beautiful and relevant to the world.

Today, Ephesus is among the best-preserved classical city and is one of the only places left to get a feel of ancient Roman life. Back in the day, amphitheaters were the stage where Romans performed. The Ephesus Theatre is one of the most beautiful you’d see today. Next to the theatre is a public toilet that’s been around longer than a millennium. Undoubtedly, it’s not available for use, but it’s very much open for you to see. There were no cubicles back then, and if you can’t imagine what old loos looked like, you can avail an exciting tour package asap. Many tours would span 3 hours, including visiting the Divine Ceasar temple, Hadrian temple, Odeion, Goddess Rome temple, Pollia, and Trajan fountains.

The House of The Virgin Mary

The House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus Turkey photo via Depositphotos
The House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus Turkey photo via Depositphotos

The Virgin Mary is revered by many religions, such as Islam and Christianity. Her home is believed to be located at Mt. Koressos across the Ephesus, through the reported visions of the beatified Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. This stone home in Selcuk is a must-see shrine today, blessed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI as a place for pilgrimage.

Many Christians believe that Saint John the Evangelist brought the mother of Jesus to this Turkish town, where she spent the rest of her Earth life. Outside the shrine is a Wishing Wall where written prayers can be hung and tied. Every time the wall turns full, the papers and fabrics tied on are burnt for the ashes to reach the heavens. After jotting down your prayer, you can proceed to the water fountain believed to have natural healing properties. If you’re in tip-top shape already, drinking from the well will at least refresh you. It’s one of the purest-tasting drinking waters, according to tourists.

The Temple of Artemis

The ruins of the Temple of Artemis. Selcuk, Turkey via Depositphotos
The ruins of the Temple of Artemis. Selcuk, Turkey via Depositphotos

This fascinating Greek temple in Turkey was built in the 6th century BCE. Its impressive size of 425 feet by 225 feet is twice that of another Greek temple, the Parthenon. Its 18-meter-high columns took 120 years to build, filling everyone’s eyes with amazement. Unfortunately, the fame-seeking Herostratus laid his eyes on this beautiful edifice. He figured setting it on the flame would make him an unforgettable character. Later, he proves to have ruined the temple enough to even gain media attention millenniums later. Apart from suffering arson, this temple also endured flooding and invasion. It was rebuilt twice for these destructive reasons.

Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, the moon, and chastity. Her importance to the inhabitants of Ephesus was dear, causing them to create a temple in her name. The statue of Artemis was originally made of illustrious materials such as gold, ebony, silver, and black stone. The garment covering her legs and hips was adorned with animal remains, while her upper body showcases many breasts. Her beautiful face is topped with a high-pillared headdress, perfecting her divine features.

Looking at the temple, you will see how magnificent the structure is despite having suffered the unkind effects of time. The cultural and historical value of this temple is truly unparalleled. Today, this house of worship is among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, making it one of the best places to see in Turkey!

The Cotton Castle

The Cotton Castle in Turkey photo via Depositphotos
The Cotton Castle in Turkey photo via Depositphotos

Locally known as Pamukkale, this Cotton Castle is a dreamy destination. It derives its cotton-like surface from the mineral-rich thermal spring, the deposits of which produce an attractive limestone flooring. Walking through the waterfall-like cascades of white travertine will make you realize what a unique artist nature truly is. The seeming never-ending soft white surface is both comforting and relaxing. If you want this castle all to yourself, visiting at the earliest time possible is key. You’ll have this boundlessly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site sans the big crowd.

After trudging the magnificence of this castle and dipping into the thermal springs by the area, you can easily slide to the Hierapolis City, a 2,000-year-old kingdom that will wow you. The hot springs in this ancient Greek city have been frequented as a spa since the 2nd century B.C. In this relaxing place also lies the final remains of Philip the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. If you’re up for a meaningful vacation, this castle and the nearby ancient city is a must-visit!


Tourist Boats in Gocek via Depositphotos
Tourist Boats in Gocek via Depositphotos

This small and quaint town in Turkey delivers big. Göcek has six marinas (Club Marina, Skopea Marina, Municipality Marinas, Marinturk Göcek Village Port, Marinturk Göcek Exclusive, and D-Marin Gocek), making it a yachting paradise. Cruising through the waters in Göcek, your voyage will be surrounded by fantastic sights of beautiful coves and bays. Apart from the gleaming waters, this town also has exciting restaurants, must-see cafes, and a panoramic city center that will make you feel like a star of a beautifully-shot movie.

If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, you have one more reason to visit this town. Icarus, the son of a master craftsman, was given wings constructed from feathers and wax. His father, Daedalus, warned him not to fly too close to the ground nor too high near the sun. Unfortunately, Icarus did not heed Daedalus’ warnings and flew high above the waters. When his waxed wings couldn’t hold themselves together anymore, Icarus drowned in the waters of Göcek. Today, the Mediterranean turquoise waters of this paradise can be enjoyed through various boating options, making it highly safe to traverse its waters.

Iztuzu Beach

Iztuzu Beach in Turkey via Depositphotos
Iztuzu Beach in Turkey via Depositphotos

The waters of this 4.5-kilometer Meditteranean beach in Dalyan are multi-award-winning. In 2008, it was hailed as the Best Open Space in Europe, and in 2011, it was considered Europe’s Best Beach Destination. What tourists love about Iztuzu Beach is beyond its fine sand and clear waters. This crystal-clean beach is even more remarkable because it is the nesting ground for many loggerhead sea turtles. These sea turtles are well protected here, which entails closing the beach at certain hours for better conservation. If you love turtles, beaches, and sustainability efforts, this Turtle Beach will fascinate you! You can reach this beach by boat from Dalyan. The trip is not the shortest, but it will lead you to a dreamy destination.


A street in Alacati Turkey by OscarKosy via Wikipedia CC
A street in Alacati, Turkey By OscarKosy – Own work, Public Domain, CC

On the western coast of Turkey, you will find the traditional town of Alaçati. Its beautiful architecture, vineyards, and powerful winds make it a fantastic Turkish destination. This stunning town was initially founded by the Greeks, and Grecian neighborhoods will amaze your eyes. Its narrow streets, fascinating cobblestone pavements, and colored windows as a beautiful contrast to the stone houses are a visual feast to many.

If you’ve read Mehmet Culum’s second novel, Alaçatili, you would’ve had an imagined version of this town. If you are curious about the real-life version, this town does not disappoint. The three main things to do here are taste their world-class winery, experience the unique Aegean Cuisine, and windsurfing. Windsurfing in Alaçati is one of the most exciting. The never-ending wind and stable seas make it heaven among windsurfers. Whether a newbie or pro, this town is a must-visit for you!


Turquoise water near beach on Turkish resort, Bodrum, Turkey photo via Depositphotos
Turquoise water near beach on Turkish resort, Bodrum, Turkey photo via Depositphotos

This beautiful city port in southwestern Turkey is a well-famed holiday destination. It is home to seven exquisite bays that are all worth visiting. The village of Gumusluk at the seaside of Bodrum is also famous for its clear waters, which are home to the freshest sea finds. This village is perfect for you if you love tasty and healthy seafood.

The coastal town of Göltürkbükü is another must-visit in Bodrum. This town came to be after the merging of two coastal villages. Today, you will see a lot of tangerine trees in this beautiful town, which offers illustrious holiday packages. If you want a top-of-the-line club, restaurant, and shorelines, this town in Bodrum is the best pick. Other bays you’d like to visit in this city port are the Yalikavak, Torba, Gündoian, Turgutreis, and Gümbet.

Tomb of Mausolus

The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus via Depositphotos
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus via Depositphotos

Apart from its stunning waters, Bodrum is also the burial place of Mausolus, the ruler of Halicarnassus. King Mausolus reigned from 377-353 B.C. Like other pharaohs, he sought immortality and eternal fame. This is evident through his love for realistic sculptures, even ordering a unique monument to be built to honor him. His memorial was designed by Greek architects who continue to impress today’s populace. They’ve made a stone structure as elegant as Greek temples, as tall as the Egyptian pyramids, and as elaborate as an oriental palace.

Since their king died before the completion of his supposed monument, this intricately designed site became his tomb. It is a multi-level tomb made of gleaming marble that’s adorned by different statues that represent people and animals. The Romans first used the word ‘mausolea’ to refer to burial places, and today, this world evolved to the widely used ‘mausoleum.’ The indispensable beauty and historical relevance of this tourist attraction make it one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Great Mosque of Ayasofya

Hagia Sophia officially the Great Mosque of Ayasofya photo via Depositphotos
Hagia Sophia is officially the Great Mosque of Ayasofya photo via Depositphotos.

Formerly called the Church of Hagia Sophia, this place of worship was the largest during the Byzantine Empire. After the city fell to the hands of the Ottoman, this church became a mosque and then a museum. As of July 2020, the Hagia Sophia is reclassified as a mosque and is still as beautiful as before. The grandeur of the pendentive dome of this mosque continues to pique the interest of many historians, architects, and engineers.

This tourist attraction also contains many notable mosaics, such as that of the archangels Gabriel and Michael. If you thought the dome and the mosaic were creative, wait until you see more of the doors. There are many exquisite doors in this mosque. Some are called Marble doors, Nice doors, and Imperial doors. If you love places that were thoroughly planned and well-built, this grand mosque is a worthwhile place to visit.

Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar, considered to be the oldest shopping mall in history with over 1200 jewelry,carpet, leather,spice and souvenir shops. via Deposit Photos
Grand Bazaar is the oldest shopping mall in history, with over 1200 jewelry, carpet, leather, spice, and souvenir shops. via Deposit Photos

This marketplace is one of the largest and most well-established in Istanbul. Its construction was completed in 1461 by Mehmet the Conqueror. This market was originally called ‘bedesten,’ an indoor arcade full of shops. From one bedesten, this marketplace grew to a complex housing 40,000 shops lining over 60 streets and alleys. Today, this marketplace is a site for many finds. You will see exquisite jewelry, valuable antiques, unique furnishings, elaborately designed carpets and textiles, impressive leather goods, great grabs, and lots of food.

There’s also an available hammam, or Turkish bath, which is essential, especially for Muslims who want to observe their prayers. There are also prayer rooms called mescit around the marketplace. In 2014, this marketplace was hailed as the most visited tourist attraction in the world, having been seen by 91,250,000 visitors by the end of the year. If you want to shop and dine at this covered marketplace, it is inside Istanbul’s Walled city. If you are riding the tram, you can alight at Beyaz’t Kapal’ Car”. There are around 22 entrances and many streets. It’s easy to get lost, so ensure you have your digital map with you for easier navigation.


Amphitheater in Troy Turkey. via Depositphotos
Amphitheater in Troy, Turkey. via Depositphotos

The ancient city of Troy, according to the Iliad, is the setting of one of the most famous battles known to men, the Trojan War. Homer’s Iliad only accounts for the near-ending portion of this war. Legends narrate that once upon a time, gods and goddesses were invited to attend the marriage between a human king and a sea nymph. Almost every God was in attendance except for the goddess of discord, Eris, who was uninvited into the union. In her annoyance, she left a golden apple as a gift to whoever was the ‘fairest of them all. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each want this gift, and a conundrum was since born—who is the fairest?

To resolve this conflict, they asked an impartial person who happens to be a Trojan prince named Paris. Each goddess tried to bribe Paris into calling her worthy of the apple because of being ‘the fairest.’ In the end, Paris chose Aphrodite, who promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Through this promise, his courage was borne. The lovely Helen of Sparta was stolen by Troy, which is the catalyst of one of the world’s most fascinating wars. Since the war had already taken a decade, the wise Odysseus thought of gifting a large and magnificent Trojan Horse to the enemies. Later on, this iconic horse will make headlines for finally ending a long war through a cunning strategy.

Although this war’s being a fact or fiction is debatable, one thing is true—there is a city named Troy in Turkey, and its universal value was recognized as outstanding by UNESCO. A park was created around Troy to protect this historical site and its monuments. Today, the Troy Historical National Park is available for viewing, complete with the memorial of the Wooden Trojan Horse. The archeological site called Troy is located in Tevfikiye. Near the national park is the four-leveled Troy Museum which displays artifacts related to this ancient city. This museum will serve you well if you want to know more about this fascinating city’s colorful past.


Aerial view of Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey photo via Depositphotos
Aerial view of Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey photo via Depositphotos

The ever-calm waters of this blue lagoon are also called the Dead Sea. It has a sandy coastline that creates an idyllic contrast against the deep blue waters. With a towering mountain above its shores and a marvelous landscape to stare at, this beach unfazed by storms has quickly become a favorite destination among paragliders and scuba divers. If you love the sky, sand, sea, and tons of fun from water activities, the Ölüdeniz beach resort is one of the best turkey places to visit.

Butterfly Valley

Butterfly Valley in Oludeniz, Turkey photo via Depositphotos
Butterfly Valley in Oludeniz, Turkey photo via Depositphotos

This valley on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is home to many splendorous butterfly species. It sits at the foot of the 6,480 feet-high Babadag mountain. Apart from the diverse species of around 105 pretty butterflies, this valley also has about 147 species of different flowers, perfect for butterfly pollination and a no less than a stunning view. Various tours provide opportunities for you to camp, hike, canoe, and scuba dive by this valley for a deeper dive into Turkey’s natural wonders.


View of the old town, Cunda, Ayvalik, Turkey via Depositphotos
View of the old town, Cunda, Ayvalik, Turkey via Depositphotos

One of the best vantage points in Turkey is from the seaside town of Ayvalik. The beautiful hilltops are magnificent to look at, especially during sunset as you dine on tasty dishes from Turkey’s best menu. What makes this town even more interesting is the narration of a legend. According to stories, Satan had to look for a paradise on Earth after being cast out of heaven. In Satan’s search, he found the beautiful Balikesir in this northwestern town in Turkey, effectively leaving giant footprints on the rocks by the flat hills. The magnificent view and the fascinating stories behind them make Ayvalik one of the best destinations in the country.


Interior of the St. Nicholas Church aka Santa claus in Demre Turkey photo via Depositphotos
Interior of the St. Nicholas Church aka Santa Claus in Demre Turkey photo via Depositphotos

The enchanting town of Demre is famous for many reasons. Firstly, it is home to the Christian bishop, Saint Nicholas, who is considered by many as the inspiration behind Santa Claus’ character. In this town, you will see a timeline of Saint Nicholas’s life through the Santa Claus Museum and the World Heritage Site that is St. Nicholas Church.

Another reason behind this town’s popularity is that it used to be Myra, an ancient Greek town home to Roman neighborhoods. One of the most fantastic places in then-Myra is the rock-hewn Lycian tombs which are no less than impressive. This tomb is enormous and simply majestic. For a ruin, it is a pretty sight to behold.

Gobekli Tepe

Ancient site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey via Depositphotos
Ancient site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey via Depositphotos

In the southwestern part of Turkey lies the remains of the world’s first temple. It sits on a barren plateau with a long history of quarrying during ancient times. At one of the hill’s edges, a lionlike sculpture was found alongside fragments of flints and limestone, seemingly signifying that the area could’ve been a site for sculpture workshops during the olden days.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises three layers of varying heights. The first layer is believed to be the oldest part of the temple, located on the uppermost hill. The second layer was used to house a sanctuary in rectangular rooms. These spaces are windowless, doorless, and contain many T-shaped pillars decorated with lion images, attracting the name “lion pillar building.” The third layer’s most distinguishing features are the nearly 200 T-shaped pillars that kept the building strong during its younger years. Some carvings in the pillars at this layer showcased headless humans, which may signify unknown supernatural beings.

Being a temple was not the end of Gobekli tepe’s story. Portions of its layers once became a site for agriculture to support the people’s livelihood. At a different time, this site was buried in minerals, human bones, and animal bones for reasons that are yet to be known. Today, this olden temple is an archeological site that describes the jewels of the past and the culture during ancient times. The enchanting temple’s complex is untouched, waiting for scientists and researchers to better understand them.


Stone sarcophaguses in Kekova, Turkey via DepositPhotos
Stone sarcophaguses in Kekova, Turkey via DepositPhotos

Kekova is an uninhabited 2-square-mile island that’s full of natural wonders. Its clear blue waters make life under the sea apparent, making it a sought-after destination in Turkey. Apart from the sea creatures and coral reefs that reside in its sea bed, the ancient city of Simena lies under the gleaming waters of Kekova.

This olden city was sunken by earthquakes during the second century, and today, you can find its ruins on the northern side of this island. In this underwater city, the wonderous inscription of the Lycian alphabet can be found together with their city’s tombs, well-built structures, and magnificent theatre. If you’re yearning for a rare travel destination, this 4,000-year-old city will be a breath of fresh air.

Turkey Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your visit to Turkey, we listed places to visit and other unique activities to do in Turkey. We also listed some of the best Turkey travel and tour packages, as well as excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of cheap Turkey hotels and resorts via Agoda, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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Written by Melo Villareal

Melo Villareal is the Online Publisher of He is an Accountant by profession who left the corporate world at the age of 23 to explore his beautiful country and the rest of the world. Today, Melo works as a part-time Social Media Manager for local and international clients. His full-time work focuses on discovering interesting culture, explore different cuisines and take memorable photos from local and international destinations he's visiting.

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