“What is your favorite country?”
I get asked this question a lot.
If someone asked me this question a few years ago, I would have found it very difficult to answer. I would have given some fluffy, beat around the bush answer, because I just could not pick one country as my favorite.
If someone asks me this question today, hands down I would say Turkey.
Turkey is a diverse and beautiful country with so much to offer and. There is just so many interesting places to visit in Turkey. From bustling bazaars and historic sites to stunning landscapes and serene beaches, there is something for everyone.
Going beyond Istanbul, there are so many places to visit in Turkey. If you are planning to travel around this large country, to make your time more efficient, I would recommend traveling with a known tour company.
If you are still unsure of where to go, check out my 11 places to visit in Turkey below.
1. Istanbul – where east meets west
If you only have a few days to spare in Turkey, then spend those days in Istanbul, because there is plenty to do.
You have to visit sights such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and Taksim Square. If you do opt to do a tour, then this is the best way to visit some of the main sights of Istanbul. Otherwise you may be stuck waiting in lines just to get into places.
There are so many wonderful cafes, restaurants and rooftop bars in Istanbul. Plus don’t even get me started about how great the shopping is. And if you have more time, do a day cruise along on the Bosphorus.
Trying to get around Istanbul can be a bit of a nightmare by car. Traffic jams are the norm in Istanbul and happens at all times of the day. So take public transport such as the train – trust me, it will save you so much time, and it’s cheap and easy.
If you want more ideas on what to do in Istanbul, check out my 20 things to do in Istanbul.
2. Princes Islands – the islands around the city
Perfect for a day visit, as it is easily accessible by ferry from Istanbul. The ferry stops at a few of the islands, but I recommend stopping at Heybliada.
As soon as you arrive, you’ll notice that there are no cars on the islands (except for emergency service vehicles). So to get around, put on your walking shoes or hop onto one of the horse and buggies.
The island of Heybeliada boasts many lovely seaside restaurants, which prepare some delicious seafood dishes. Stroll through the town and there are some lovely bakeries. I vividly remember the freshly made sweet lokmas from a bakery in Heybliada.
3. Gallipoli – war memorial
Visiting Gallipoli is one of the most moving and emotional parts of the journey around Turkey. No matter how many stories and how much history you read about Gallipoli, it is not until you visit the site that you truly appreciate what truly took place here.
4. Ephesus – ancient Greek city
There are many historical ruins that exist around Turkey, but my favorite was Ephesus. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, which eventually came under the control of the Romans. The library has become one of the landmark icons of Ephesus, and its façade is just magnificent.
Word of caution – try to get to Ephesus first thing in the morning. If that means you’re having breakfast on the go, trust me, it’s worth it. The evening prior to our visit, our tour group voted to head to Ephesus first thing in the morning and I am glad we did. We were one of the first groups to arrive and thank goodness for that, because within the hour buses full of tour groups began piling in.
5. Fethiye – seaside port town
Fethiye is a cute port town and has become a popular holiday destination for many Europeans. Beautiful beaches and landscapes surround Fethiye, with easy access to the resort town of Oludeniz.
6. Kayakoy – preserved ghost town
The village of Kayakoy is surrounded by the Taurus Mountains and a beautiful countryside landscape. It’s just a few kilometers from Fethiye, so if you do visit Fethiye, then consider visiting Kayakoy.
It’s a bit of a ghost town, with abandoned Greek-style homes and churches, but has been preserved as a historic village. Unfortunately a sad history surrounds Kayakoy, where the town was abandoned due to war.
7. Oludeniz – white sand and crystal blue waters
Oludeniz is a resort style town in the south west coast of Turkey. It’s not your atypical Turkish town, because has been built around tourism, but it is still worth a visit.
Oludeniz is known for its white sand and famous blue lagoon. And it is gorgeous… especially if view it up from up above… paragliding. When we told our tour guide that we had just paraglided, he almost had a heart attack. But the view was just spectacular and so worth it.
8. Pamukkale – the Cotton Palace
It’s amazing how much the landscape changes as your travel through Turkey. Arrive at Pamukkale and be amazing by the beautiful white coloured terraces that are filled with mineral-rich waters. Of course you have to take a dip!
UNESCO has added Pamukkale onto its World Heritage List, which has helped to preserve this interesting and beautiful part of Turkey.
9. Antalya – pristine turquoise waters
Picture turquoise coloured waters… that’s what you get in Antalya. Antalya is a big city, but it boasts beautiful views of the coastline and Turkish Riviera. We had easy access to the sea from our hotel, which was perfect for a sunset swim.
10. Cappadocia – fairy tale landscape
Of all the places to visit in Turkey, Cappadocia was definitely one of my favourite spots. The landscape of Cappadocia is just surreal. With scenery filled of rock formations in the shape of what looks like fairy chimneys, the region of Cappadocia is not to be missed.
Sunrise hot air ballooning is simply magical. Watch the skies fill with hundreds of balloons flying around the fairy tale like landscape while the sun rises.
Visiting the underground city is quite a bazaar experience. I just can’t imagine what it was like for the Christians who lived underground back in history.
11. Safranbolu – quaint Ottoman city
The city of Safranbolu is another UNESCO World Heritage listed site that is worth a visit.
This old Ottoman city is so charming. So many of its buildings are of original design and have been so well preserved. It is a bit more out of the way, so you won’t find as many tourists visiting this quaint town.
Known for their saffron, you definitely have to try their saffron Turkish delight and saffron coffee. Delicious!
And do stay the night – the hotel here was my favorite by far. We stayed in an Ottoman mansion home, which was just gorgeous.
Loved this post? Pin it… it’s more fun!