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7 best things to do in TURKEY

Turkey is a country in the Middle East. A part of it is positioned in Asia and a part – in Europe. And it is a bridge that links these two continents not only geographically but also culture-wise. 

Turkey has been a popular tourist destination for years already. Especially for the Europeans. Plane tickets from many European cities to Turkey are often cheap, and Turkey is very close to just about any country in Europe.

Turkey is a great destination for all types of travelers. Solo travelers will enjoy shopping and its culinary delights. Families will love the beaches. Culture and history enthusiasts will lose themselves in the streets of Turkish cities and its ancient towns. And hikers will love the Lycian way.

But what to do in Turkey, this amazing country? Which places to see? To help you prepare for your trip, we have created this list of some of the best things to do in Turkey. 

7 best things to do in Turkey

1. Relax in the Turkish Riviera

7 best things to do in TURKEY

One of the best things to do in Turkey is to relax on one (or several!) of its beautiful beaches in the Turkish Riviera. 

The Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast, is what the name suggests – an area with many beautiful beaches and clear turquoise waters.

The Turkish Riviera is an area that encompasses several towns and cities which are situated along the coast of the Mediterranean sea. The most popular of these seaside towns are Antalya, Marmaris, and Alanya.

Most people coming to spend a relaxing time in Turkey have bought a package holiday because often it’s cheaper than booking a hotel and a flight separately. And so many of these travelers do not venture outside the town their hotel is located at, even though there are so many amazing places in the Turkish Riviera!

Kas and Kalkan are quieter seaside towns, especially during the low and shoulder season. These towns boast beautiful tranquil beaches.

Kaputas, a beach between Kas and Kalkan, is among some of the most popular beaches in the Turkish Riviera.

Antalya, a very popular resort town, is not only a great place for those who love to relax by the beach, but also for culture and history enthusiasts. Antalya has a beautiful old town and bustling markets.

What else? Visit the remains of the ancient city of Aspendos, relax in the mud baths, visit the rock tombs, explore Alanya castle, visit Bodrum windmills… There’s so much to do in the Turkish Riviera!

2. Hike the Lycian way

best things to do in TURKEY

The Lycian Way is a long-distance hiking trail in Turkey.

It is approximately 540 km long and goes through many towns and villages. The trail is known for its dramatic Mediterranean views and ancient landmarks that date back to the ancient Lycia.

As the trail passes above valleys, you’ll see a lot of the beautiful Turkish coast.

Other notable sights can be seen when hiking the Lycian way: Lycian rock tombs, the ruins of Xanthos, rock tombs, the ruins of Patera, etc.

3. Indulge yourself in food and go shopping in Istanbul

things to do in TURKEY

Istanbul, the best-known city in all of Turkey, is one of the most visited cities in Europe. It’s not surprising that the city is so famous among foreign tourists. A city that is straddling two continents and is rich with culture and history don’t deserve less than this.

Istanbul is not only an amazing place for culture lovers (read about it below), but also for shoppers and culinary enthusiasts.

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, is the perfect place for every shopper. There you’ll find everything. And I mean everything! Spices, sweets, jewelry, textiles, carpets, clothes, souvenirs, tableware, handbags, footwear and so much more.

Not only you can buy amazing authentic things in this market, but also witness local shopping culture – the way people sell and market their goods, and how they haggle to buy things at a bargain price. The shopping experience is so unlike what we’re used to.

Istanbul is a paradise when it comes to food. Wander around Istanbul old town, and you’ll see plenty of local cafes and restaurants where to try local foods such as kofte, manti, lahmacun, borek, pide, dolma, and of course, the kebab.

Do not try to resist the scent of freshly baked simit (sesame-crusted bread). They are sold everywhere and cost very little.

Stop counting calories for a moment and do try the real Turkish delights. It’s soo worth it! Many local pastry shops around Istanbul sell great sweets, including the famous Turkish delight and baklava.

Do not forget to try Dondurma (Turkish ice cream)! Not only it is made differently from the way the ice cream we are used to is made, but also it is served in such a unique way!

4. Go on a walking tour in Istanbul

Join an organized walking tour or plan your own. Make sure it covers the main highlights of the city such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Süleymaniye Mosque.

Also explore the area around Istiklal Caddesi, one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, which boasts beautiful architecture inspired by the European influence.

Istiklal Caddesi also is a shopping street and has an abundance of trendy restaurants and cafes.

5. Visit the ancient city of Pergamum

Pergamum once was a powerful and rich Greek city, and one of the major cultural centers of the Greek world. Now is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey.

Pergamum is located on the western coast of the country, not far from Izmir. It boasts impressive remains of the monuments of this ancient Greek city.

The main sights are Pergamon Altar, Theatre of Pergamon, Temple of Athena and the Temple of Trajan.

6. Take in the breathtaking views of Cappadocia

Cappadocia, an ancient cave town, is one of the best places to visit in Turkey. 

The town is known for its distinctive rock formations and dramatic landscape. 

The Cappadocia area is quite big and has plenty of impressive sights. Goreme National Park, Cappadocia Cave Dwellings, Fairy Chimneys, Selime Monastery, and the Rose Valley are some of the most famous ones.

If you aren’t on a budget definitely try ballooning over Cappadocia and stay in a traditional cave hotel! 

7. See one of Turkey’s most famous natural wonders in Pamukkale

Pamukkale is a town in western Turkey and home to Pamukkale water terraces, one of Turkey’s most famous natural wonders. Pamukkale water terraces are considered one of the best places to see in Turkey. A must-see, really.

Pamukkale water terraces are sparkling white calcite travertines filled with mineral-rich waters and located on a hill, overlooking the town. The terraces are called the Cotton Castle, and indeed – from a distance, the terraces look like a cotton castle!

The travertines are especially beautiful during the sunset.

If you are traveling to Pamukkale, do not forget to stop at the Pamukkale thermal pools.

Also visit the ruins of Hierapolis, including the impressive Hierapolis theatre.

Turkey travel tips

  1. Many European countries do not require a visa to visit Turkey. Several European nations, however, need to apply for an e-visa prior to arrival. Check with your foreign affairs office as to whether you need an e-visa to enter Turkey. 
  2. The most popular modes of transportation for tourists in Turkey are long-distance buses. And minibusses – for short journeys. As domestic flights are cheap, especially during the shoulder season and low season, flying is becoming more and more popular, even among the local tourists.
  3. If you are interested in culture, history, and shopping, but not beaches, visit Turkey during the off-season. Plane tickets and accommodation then is very cheap. 
  4. Dress code. While the large cities and resort towns are more relaxed, and people are used to tourists in shorts and dresses, but if you are visiting smaller towns and villages, dress modestly. 
  5. When visiting a mosque, wear modest, conservative clothing. Etiquette at a mosque includes wearing loose-fitting clothes that cover your shoulders, arms, and legs.