From the stunning coastlines to the ancient ruins, Turkey has something for everyone. And with a population of over 80 million people, it’s no wonder that this country is one of the most visited in the world. In 2019, Turkey welcomed almost 45 million tourists and the number is only expected to grow in 2020. If you’re planning on adding Turkey to your travel itinerary, here are 10 top tourist attractions that you cannot miss.
Istanbul, the most populous city in Turkey, is home to some of the country's most iconic attractions. From the soaring minarets of the Blue Mosque to the labyrinthine streets of the Grand Bazaar, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant metropolis.
Top attractions in Istanbul include:
The Blue Mosque: This world-famous mosque is a must-see for any visitor to Istanbul. Built in the early 1600s, the Blue Mosque is distinguished by its six minarets and beautiful blue Iznik tiles. Visitors can enter the mosque for free, but should dress modestly (no shorts or tank tops) and remove their shoes before entering.
The Grand Bazaar: One of the largest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar is a true labyrinth with over 4,000 shops selling everything from Turkish delights to handmade carpets. Haggling is expected, so be sure to brush up on your bargaining skills before heading in!
Hagia Sophia: A former Byzantine cathedral turned mosque turned museum, Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul's most popular tourist attractions. Its massive dome and beautiful mosaics are not to be missed. Admission is around 30 TL (about $5 USD).
The Topkapi Palace: Once the home of Ottoman sultans, the Topkapi Palace is now a sprawling complex of museums chronicling Turkish history. highlights include treasury rooms filled with priceless gems and artifacts
Ankara is Turkey's capital city, and is full of historical landmarks and tourist attractions. The most popular tourist attraction in Ankara is the Anitkabir, which is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic. Other popular tourist attractions in Ankara include the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the Roman Theater, and the Temple of Augustus.
Izmir is one of the busiest and most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. It is renowned for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and rich history. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities in Izmir, from exploring the ancient ruins of Ephesus to soaking up the sun on the sandy beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday or an action-packed city break, Izmir has something for everyone. Here are just a few of the top tourist attractions in this vibrant city:
– The ancient city of Ephesus: Explore the ruins of this once-great city and learn about its fascinating history.
– The Pergamon Museum: Home to a collection of ancient artifacts from across the world, including the famous Pergamon Altar.
– The Kemeralti Market: Browse stalls selling everything from fresh produce to handmade goods.
– The Asansör: Take a ride on this historic elevator for panoramic views of the city.
– The Kordon: Walk along this promenade and take in the spectacular views of the Aegean Sea.
Antalya is a city on the Mediterranean coast of southwestern Turkey. It is the capital of Antalya Province and has a population of over one million people. The city is a major tourist destination, with many resorts, hotels, and restaurants.
Antalya is known for its beautiful beaches and clear blue waters. The city also has several ancient ruins, such as the Aspendos theatre and the ruins of the ancient city of Termessos. Other popular tourist attractions include the Kursunlu Waterfalls, the Perge ancient city, and the Alanya Castle.
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a natural site in southwestern Turkey. The area is famous for its hot springs and travertines, a type of limestone formed by mineral deposits. Pamukkale's travertines have been used as a spa since the Roman Empire and are a popular tourist destination today.
The travertines at Pamukkale form terraces on the hillside above the hot springs. The water in the springs is heated by geothermal activity beneath the Earth's surface. As the water flows over the travertines, it deposits calcium carbonate, which forms the white travertine terraces.
Pamukkale's hot springs have been used as a spa since antiquity. The Roman emperor Hadrian had a pool built here in 129 AD. Today, there are several pools on the site, including an open-air pool where visitors can soak in the therapeutic waters.
In addition to its pools and travertines, Pamukkale is also home to the ancient city of Hierapolis. The ruins of Hierapolis include a theatre, baths, temples, and a necropolis (city of the dead). The best time to visit Pamukkale is from April to October when the weather is warm and dry.
Cappadocia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. It is famous for its unique landscape, which is characterized by high, cone-shaped rock formations called “fairy chimneys.”
Cappadocia is located in central Anatolia and covers an area of approximately 5,000 square kilometers. The region has a temperate climate, with hot summers and cold winters.
There are many things to see and do in Cappadocia. Some of the most popular attractions include the Goreme National Park, theDerinkuyu Underground City, the Uchisar Castle, and thePasabag Monastery.
Goreme National Park is home to many of Cappadocia's fairy chimneys as well as several important historical sites. The Derinkuyu Underground City is the largest and deepest of the many underground cities in Cappadocia. It was used as a refuge from invading armies and as a place to hide during religious persecution.
Uchisar Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cappadocia. It is situated atop a large rock outcropping and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The Pasabag Monastery is another must-see attraction. It consists of dozens of beehive-shaped dwellings carved into the rocks.
Ephesus is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. Located in the Aegean region, Ephesus was once the largest city in the Roman Empire. Today, it is an archaeological site that is home to some of the most well-preserved ruins from the ancient world.
Some of the must-see sights at Ephesus include the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Artemis, and the Great Theater. The Library of Celsus is particularly impressive, with its ornate facade and marble columns. Visitors can also see where St. Paul preached to the citizens of Ephesus in the Great Theater.
A visit to Ephesus is not complete without seeing some of its other famous ruins, such as the House of the Virgin Mary and the Cave of Seven Sleepers. The House of the Virgin Mary is a pilgrimage site for Christians, as it is believed to be where Mary spent her final years. The Cave of Seven Sleepers is another popular sight at Ephesus, as it tells a story from Christian mythology about seven men who slept for centuries inside a cave.
Troy was a city located in Asia Minor that was captured and destroyed by the Greeks in 12th century BC. Troy was made famous by Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, which tells the story of the Trojan War. Today, the archaeological site of Troy is a popular tourist destination in Turkey. Visitors to the site can see the ruins of the city, including the remains of the Trojan Horse, and learn about its history.
Nemrut Dağ is a 2,134-metre-high (7,001 ft) mountain in southeastern Turkey, notable for the summit where a number of large statues are erected. The name Nemrut is used for the mountain and the nearby national park.
The peak of Mount Nemrut is the highest point in the immediate vicinity and dominates an area that includes much lower ranges to its north and south. Because of its height it commands views over a vast area of countryside and has been an important communications link since ancient times. It also forms part of the international border between Turkey and Syria.
In Turkish mythology Mount Nemrut was once home to Nimrod, who was slain by Gilgamesh. His body was cut into pieces and buried on the mountain top.
Goreme National Park
Goreme National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. The park is home to a variety of natural and historical features, including the Goreme Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Goreme Valley is known for its fairy chimneys, which are cone-shaped rock formations that were created by erosion over time. The valley is also home to a number of churches and monasteries that date back to the early days of Christianity in Turkey.
Visitors to Goreme National Park can explore the valley on foot, or take a camel ride through the desert. There are also a number of caves in the park that can be explored, and many of them contain ancient frescoes.