At the point where Europe and Asia collide, it is Turkey’s transcontinental culture-clash, its east-west spice-mix of influences, flavours, cultures, religions and histories, that makes this country so intoxicating. This is a land of sensorial richness, in its bazaars and mosques, its food and arts; of exoticism and romance, from its Ottoman palaces to fairy-tale Cappadocia. Its beauty spots are equally diverse. Inland there are otherworldly landscapes and ancient wonders to be explored, once the playgrounds of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Caesar and Alexander the Great, and yet they are little visited compared with similar sites in Italy and Greece. In summer, Turkey's exceptionally beautiful Turquoise Coast is plied by gulets sailing on their Blue Voyages from the Aegean to the eastern reaches of the Mediterreanean, dropping anchor to swim in bays of crystal-clear water, and taking long lunches in fishing villages, at blue-painted tables and chairs framed with canopies of pink bougainvillaea, where life has gone on unchanged for thousands of years. To help you find these spots, we've rounded up the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey.
One of the oldest cities in the world and best known for its remarkable Seljuk architecture and Whirling Dervishes, Konya is a large city in Turkey’s Central Anatolia Region. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Konya prospered as a capital city under the rule of the Seljuk Dynasty. Today, attractive buildings from that era can still be admired such as the Alaeddin Mosque, which houses the tombs of several sultans. Another popular example is the Ince Minare Medrese, now a museum displaying artifacts from the Seljuk and Ottoman eras.
Although in ruins, the Seljuk Palace is also worth a visit. A modern day architectural attraction is the Seljuk Tower, one of the tallest skyscrapers in Turkey, featuring a revolving restaurant at the top two floors.
In the 13th century, Konya was the home of the Persian theologian and Sufi mystic, Rumi. His tomb, the Mausoleum of Rumi, with its neighboring Melvana Museum, is a must-see site in Konya. Rumi’s followers founded the Mevlevi Order, which are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous religious ceremonies in which they spin around and around on the left foot while wearing white, billowing gowns. These ceremonies, also known as Sama, can be observed weekly at the Mevlana Cultural Centre.
Not to be missed, the mighty ruin of Ephesus is a city of colossal monuments and marble-columned roads.
One of the most complete, still-standing famed cities of antiquity in the Mediterranean region, this is the place to experience what life must have been like during the golden age of the Roman Empire.
The city's history dates back to the 10th century BCE, but the major monuments you see today all date from its Roman era when it was a thriving commercial center.
In particular, the Library of Celsus, the complex of frescoed terraced houses, and the Great Theater all point to the wealth and importance of Ephesus during the Roman period.
Cappadocia is another historical site in central Turkey. It’s characterized by unique cliffs, shaped by million-years’ worth of wind and water altering the land.
Cappadocia is famous for its towering rock formations, nicknamed “fairy chimneys” because of its magical shape and unique history.
The rock-cut churches are some of the most well-preserved ones in the world that range in size, from small churches hidden in caves to amazing multi-cave structures.
The specific sites you should visit include the subterranean regions of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu dating back to 2000 BCE, as well as Goreme, Uchisar, and Avanos towns within the heart of Cappadocia.
You can discover this destination on foot, but most visitors also prefer to see this wondrous landscape from a hot air balloon.
4. The Domes of Istanbul
Across the Golden Horn, the more modest Ortaköy Mosque is one of the city’s prettiest, white in marble and stone, with pink mosaics within; located at the water’s edge beside the Bosphorus bridge, it is breathtaking at sunset with the golden light, and in the morning, when the call rings out across the water. Some of Istanbul’s most beautiful places are its mosques. The city’s architectural masterpiece, the Hagia Sofia, began life 1,500 years ago as a Byzantine cathedral, was converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, then in the 1930s became a museum – until, the summer of 2020, contentiously, it became a mosque once again. But all visitors are still welcome, to pray or just contemplate in awe beneath its soaring golden dome, shafts of sunlight piercing its stained-glass windows like the fingers of God. Beside it sits the Blue Mosque, built in the Ottoman era, its interior lined with handmade Iznik ceramic tiles and overhead, painted various shades of blue, and so beautiful that even Pope Benedict couldn’t stay away; when he visited in 2006 thanked ‘divine providence' for it. Built by Süleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century, Süleymaniye Mosque is just that. High on Istanbul’s Third Hill amid gardens and marble colonnaded grandeur, it has magnificent views of the city, too.
Marmaris is one of the pearls of the Turkish Riviera. Surrounded by mountains, pine forests and turquoise waters made for swimming, Marmaris is a popular destination for holidaymakers looking for relaxation, dining, bars and nightclubs. It's the perfect destination for partying and lounging on the beaches.
If you long for nature, treat yourself to a horse safari in Marmaris National Park (no previous experience is required). Do you need a well-being experience? Treat yourself to a traditional Turkish bath in Marmaris and if you are travelling with the kids, visit Aquadream, the largest waterpark in Marmaris.
Book your flights, accommodation, tours and activities in Marmaris for a dream holiday in one of the most beautiful destinations on the Turkish Riviera.