There are many things to do and see on a holiday in Turkey. From visiting the best beaches and historical places to seeing the most impressive attractions.
There are also many national and religious holidays that Turkish people celebrate each year. Some of these include:
Best Places to Visit
Turkey’s rich history is littered with some of the world’s most dazzling monuments, from the spectacular Ottoman and Byzantine glories of Istanbul to the mysterious landscapes of Cappadocia. And the country’s showcase scenery – from the sun-soaked beaches of the Mediterranean to the rugged mountains and arid steppe – is a definite tourist drawcard too.
The country is crammed with historical sites to discover and explore, many of which are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. While Turkey’s biggest cities, like Istanbul, are worth exploring for their cosmopolitan charm, you can get off the beaten path and find some of its most fascinating attractions in lesser-known places, like Bursa and Sanliurfa.
A trip to Bursa is a must on your list of things to do in Turkey, as it’s the home of a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Grand Mosque and Tophane Park. There’s also the cliff-side Sumela Monastery, which has become a favourite destination for tourists with its views over the sea.
Another place you should consider visiting in Turkey is Goreme Open Air Museum, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encapsulates the unique religious culture of this region. Its neo-classical buildings are well-maintained and offer stunning views over the city.
Alternatively, you can check out the impressive Selimiye mosque in Edirne, which has an awe-inspiring dome and was built almost 500 years ago. In this ancient city, you can also visit a number of ruins, including the Temple of Apollo.
When you’re done exploring, head to the town of Egirdir, an oasis of tranquility where you can relax on a beautiful lakeside peninsula. You’ll find a number of things to do here, such as parasailing and rafting.
This is one of the most secluded, quiet places to visit in Turkey, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and the beach without feeling pressured to keep up with the crowds. Take a hike along the lakeside to get a better look at this tranquil area, or spend a day exploring the inland part of the island.
Turkey’s stunning coastline offers a host of beaches to suit all interests and budgets. The best beach spots have calm waters, a variety of water sports, sandy shores and all-inclusive beach hotels. These destinations are also popular with families as they offer plenty of fun and entertainment.
The Turkish Riviera, or Mediterranean coast as it is also known, features many of the country’s most stunning beaches. These include Oludeniz, a world-famous star of travel brochures, which offers pristine, turquoise waters, a long spit of land, and a number of all-inclusive beach hotels.
Oludeniz’s main draw is the Blue Lagoon, which sits in a shallow lagoon surrounded by a sandy spit and rocky outcrop. It’s a favourite with tourists as well as locals, and is considered one of the best beaches in Turkey for families.
It’s the perfect spot for sunbathing, but the area is also renowned for its crystalline waters and spectacular sunsets. Oludeniz is a great option for families, especially when staying in an all-inclusive resort that offers a full range of activities.
Another popular Turkish beach is Kaputas, which lies between the harbor towns of Kalkan and Kas on the Mediterranean coast. The small bay has become famous for its white rocky cliffs and clear turquoise waters, which are ideal for photo-taking.
This is a great place for families with children as the sea is shallow, so it’s easy to keep an eye on them while they play in the water. It also has a number of beach shacks and loungers for sunbathing, as well as facilities for snorkeling.
For a more adventurous holiday, you could visit Cleopatra Island, an uninhabited island just off the Turkish coast in the Dalaman region that’s famed for its dazzling scenery and rich marine life. You’ll need to take a boat to get there, but the trip is worth it.
The beach is also a great place to spot loggerhead sea turtles, which have bred here since ancient times. Besides the beautiful beach itself, it also has a number of hotels and restaurants, so it’s a convenient choice for travelers who are looking for a relaxing break.
Best Historical Places
Turkey is a land of historic significance and great cultural depth that draws millions of tourists every year. But it can be difficult to sift through the many historical places in this country, especially if you don’t have enough time to explore each and every one of them.
Luckily, there are a number of fascinating historical sites that have been deemed worthy of a place on any tourist’s list of places to see. From ancient temples and tombs, to ruins of a thriving civilization and castles from the Middle Ages, there’s something for everyone in Turkey.
The best way to enjoy these UNESCO World Heritage sites is to sign up for day tours or go on a tour guided by a local specialist guide. In this way, you can learn more about the history of each site and take the time to fully appreciate them.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous tour to Turkey, you can take a road trip along the Lycian Way, which showcases some of the best ruined archaeological sites in Turkey. These include Xanthos, Letoon, Patara, Myra, Phaselis, Olympus and Gemiler island ruins.
Another must-visit for history buffs is Hattusa. This former Hittite capital, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts a wealth of architectural wonders including ornate gateways, royal palaces and ancient fortifications with underground passageways.
There are also several impressive religious buildings in this ancient city, and it’s worth taking the time to explore them. There’s the Temple of Artemis and the House of the Virgin Mary.
Finally, the famous Sumela Monastery is a must-see for Christians and has a reputation as being one of Turkey’s most beautiful religious sites. Its cliff-top location is an incredible sight and it was built on the skirts of Mount Karadag, which rises some 300 meters above the sea.
If you want to escape the crowds, you can visit Kayakoy, a ghost village near Fethiye that was once a thriving trading port. Despite its tragic history, it’s still a fascinating place to visit and there’s a heart-warming cafe in the centre where visitors can sit and sip a coffee while soaking up the atmosphere.
Best Things to Do
There are a lot of things to do in Turkey, from soaking up the sun at the best beaches to exploring ancient ruins. You can also get your fix of adventure with scuba diving, kiteboarding and skiing.
One of the most famous attractions in Turkey is Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, which attracts visitors with its bluish interiors and six minarets. You can take a stroll inside this mosque and explore the inner courtyard, which is paved in marble.
Another must-visit attraction in Turkey is the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which is a unique place where you can learn about the country’s history. It uses modern technology to showcase its exhibits, so you’ll be able to get an elegant introduction to the past of Turkey.
If you love to soak, then head to the Pamukkale travertines in Western Turkey. The terraced pools of milky mineral water look surreal in photos, but in person the tepid waters will make you feel even more magical.
You can enjoy a dip in the travertines before hiking up to explore the ruins of Greco-Roman Hierapolis, which abut the top of the calcite hill. If you want to do more than just stomp around, you can also swim in one of the antique pools that have been filled with therapeutic mineral-rich water.
Bathing in Turkish waters is a culturally significant experience and is often done as a social activity, so you can expect to see many people out at the hamam or at the spa. You can choose from a variety of spa centres, each offering different treatments and massages.
While you’re in Istanbul, you can’t miss out on a visit to the Hagia Sophia Museum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to a number of impressive relics from the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, and it’s easy to get lost in the architecture and intricate details.
There are many other attractions in Turkey that are sure to excite you, so don’t hesitate to explore them when you come for a holiday! You can also indulge in some of the country’s most renowned cuisine and take part in local activities, such as dancing or visiting nightclubs.