What to see in Turkey: cities and attractions not to be missed

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Turkey is a truly vast country with such a varied territory that ranges from the sea to the mountains to beautiful cities, passing through valleys, rock formations, natural pools and much more.
Defining the most beautiful attractions and cities is not easy at all yet, given that Turkey deserves several days, having few available, in a territory of over 780.000 sq km what would you choose to visit?

Here's a little one for you guide on what to see in Turkey, cities and attractions not to be missed!


  1. Istanbul
  2. Ankara
  3. Smyrna
  4. Pamukkale
  5. Bodrum
  6. Göreme
  7. Marmaris
  8. Konya
  9. Uçhisar
  10. Antalya
  11. Bonus - Manavgat
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Istanbul

Always a must for those visiting Turkey, Istanbul is particular and fascinating, with a long imperial history behind it. Its peculiarity is the position between two continents: the city is in fact defined global as its territory belongs half to Europe and half to Asia, divided by the banks of the Bosphorus river.

The tall columns of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque stand out in the landscape of Istanbul, sacred places with an impressive Byzantine style. Also not to be missed are the Basilica Cistern and the Topkapi Palace, but the most popular attraction is certainly the Grand Bazaar, the largest oriental market in the world where to get lost among a thousand objects, colors and scents. In addition, Istanbul is very cheap, contrary to what you might think, for example you can find accommodation from € 15,00, you can eat for only € 5,00 and transport costs a few cents.

2 - Ankara

It has been surpassed by Istanbul in terms of tourism, but the Turkish capital Ankara is no different and still deserves to be visited. It has different characteristics from the previous city and is the ideal destination if you are fascinated by ancient history and music.

Ankara is in fact the seat of the Opera, the State Ballet and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra. The attractions not to be missed in the city are the Anitkabir mausoleum, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations which exhibits archaeological finds from the Palaeolithic to today, the Roman temple of Augustus, the Kocatepe Mosque and the Ankara Castle inside which there is a real and its own Ottoman village with ancient alleys. Also Ankara is famous for the production of angora wool and a myriad of handicrafts can be found in the shops along the street called "dei tessitori".
Ankara is too very economical, for some things, such as food, even more than Istanbul!

3 - Izmir

Also known as Izmir, Smyrna is the third city of Turkey by number of inhabitants and tourist influx, immediately after Istanbul and Ankara. Izmir is mostly a place of industrial and commercial interest given its port position on the Aegean Sea, but thanks to its historic center represented by the Konak district and other places of interest, many tourists arrive every year.

Do not miss the Alsancak district, a small Turkish Italy, the Agora of Marcus Aurelius, the Church of San Policarpo, the Clock Tower, the Kemeralti covered market, and many museums, mosques, synagogues and parks.

The surrounding villages are also interesting to visit such as Philadelphia, Sardis and Laodicea which together with Smyrna they form the Seven Churches mentioned in the book of Revelation by St. John.
In terms of prices, Izmir also respects the economic standard of the whole of Turkey and here even the prices are even lower than the first two cities listed.

4 - Pamukkale

What words to use to describe the wonderful landscape of Pamukkale? In the southwest of Turkey there is a natural site that is a real paradise, with a shape reminiscent of a staircase, white and blue colors, e with limestone rocks and very hot thermal waters. After all, Pamukkale means "cotton castle"!

Visiting Pamukkale means indulge in a day of well-being between visiting the site and a dutiful immersion in the natural pools which can only benefit health. The complex opens at 8:00 am and admission costs just € 10,00. The visit includes the limestone pools and waterfalls, the ruins of Hierapolis located in the park, and any muds for those who want to do it.

To reach Pamukkale the nearest station is Denizli, connected only to Izmir but not to other major cities. If you want you can opt to stay a couple of days staying at the average cost of € 15,00 per night in one of the many family-run accommodations nearby.

5 - Bodrum

Bodrum is one of the main seaside resorts in Turkey, in the southwest. The strength of this town are precisely the long beaches distributed on the two bays that characterize the territory. On both bays there are many resorts in which a night costs around € 80,00 with breakfast and various services included. Here the prices of everything are higher than the Turkish standard as it is now one very popular tourist spot.

However, Bodrum is also a beautiful city to visit! The main attraction is the Bodrum Castle, a medieval stone fortress inserted among the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Following the Museum of Underwater Archeology inside the castle where wrecks and historical artifacts are exhibited. But that is not all! As Bodrum has been built on the old city of Halicarnassus, still preserves the remains of many Greek buildings such as the Myndos Gate and the Amphitheater currently in use for concerts. And to make Bodrum really complete is the busy Cumhuriyet Street, also called Bar Street, on which there are numerous night and night clubs. Finally Bodrum is the point of arrival and departure of various cruise ships!

6 - Göreme

In the famous Cappadocia region, considered the most beautiful in all of Turkey, Göreme is a small village of just 2.000 inhabitants but with an incomparable charm given to it by its lunar landscapes, wonderful to the point of being defined as fairytale. Not surprisingly the famous rock formations around Göreme are called the Fairy Chimneys! We are talking about the Göreme National Park, a World Heritage Site since 1985 and open air museum testimony of Byzantine life.

Although the main attraction of Göreme is the park, also famous for the balloon flights that can be seen in all the photos of Cappadocia proposed by each local agency, this village also has several churches and mosques such as the most characteristic Tokali Kilise carved into the rock . But what makes Göreme truly extraordinary is hers tranquility despite being now a very popular tourist destination. As for the costs of a stay, the rooms must be calculated starting from € 15,00 and possibly the balloon tour at no less than € 180,00.

7 - Marmaris

From the rock formations we return to a seaside destination: Marmaris, on the Mediterranean coast! Also called the Turquoise Coast, this town boasts an enviable position in a valley between the mountains and on a long pebble beach washed by very blue waters.

But Marmaris is also a great place to visit! Its streets are mostly narrow and steep alleys that give a sense of ancient to which are added historic buildings, inns and markets. The main attraction is the Marmaris Castle, a stone fortress inside which is the Archaeological Museum and a truly suggestive panoramic point.

Also from Marmaris it is possible take boat trips to the inlets of the coast and to the nearby Sedir islet, or treat yourself to one fun day in the numerous water parks present on the territory.
Finally we mention his energetic nightlife along Bar Street, a street full of clubs of all kinds, from quiet pubs, to discos, to live music. How much does a stay in Marmaris cost? You have to take that into account here prices are higher than Turkey's standards!

8 - Konya

Konya is among the ancient Turkish cities, another of those places that preserve history and culture. It is located on the central plateau, in the homonymous region which today is the largest in Turkey, but in Roman and Byzantine times it was located along the road that connected Constantinople to Antioch. Of that time they remain extraordinary testimonies such as the Mevlana Mausoleum, the Alâeddin Mosque and the Selimiye Mosque, built according to the Ottoman architecture of 1500.

Also in Konya is located the largest tropical butterfly garden in Europe with many species of butterflies and tropical plants in their natural environment created especially for them.

Despite its characteristics Konya keeps one fairly cheap price standard. In fact, you can stay with an average of € 15,00 per night, eat with a few euros and move around with a few cents.

9 - Uçhisar

If you have visited Göreme and been fascinated by it, then you should also consider Uçhisar, just 5 kilometers away from Göreme, in the immediate vicinity of the National Park. It is a bizarre monument, a rock fortress 60 meters high, which in ancient times housed a particular citadel in tuff with defensive purposes, today it has become another important tourist attraction.

Inside were discovered several churches and rooms carved into the rock and it is possible to enter it and go through an intricate system of tunnels and alleys until you reach the top where a beautiful landscape, especially at sunset when Cappadocia glows with warm colors.

To reach Uçhisar from Göreme and thus combine the visit of the two destinations, there are shuttles every half hour but some daredevils set out on foot and along a path of about two hours, better admiring the beautiful surrounding landscapes. Furthermore, Uçhisar is cheaper than Göreme and you can stay from just € 12,00.

10 - Antalya

Last, but not least, the city of Antalya, also known as Adalia in Italian, one of the best known places in Turkey. Located on the southern coast, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, it is considered the pearl of the Turquoise Coast. a cross between east and west, between antiquity and modernity, this is Antalya. In addition to the beautiful beaches, you will find mosques and interesting museums.

In your visit to the city, you certainly cannot miss the beautiful old port, which during the sunset offers a spectacular and evocative landscape. And just behind the harbor is the picturesque Kaleiçi district. obviously get lost in walking around the Old Town, you will feel like taking a step back in time. And finally, you will find several beaches ready to satisfy the needs of anyone, whether it is those in search of relaxation, those on holiday with the family or those in search of nightlife.

Being the tourism capital of Turkey, the prices and costs that you will have to face will be a little higher than the average of the rest of the country. For example, a room will cost you a minimum of € 40,00 per night.

Bonus - Manavgat

Manavgat is another city overlooking the Turkish Mediterranean coast from which it is only 4 kilometers away place where nature has given its best, in fact, it rises on the slopes of the Taurus Mountains and extends into the plains surrounded by expanses of meadows and agricultural land where cotton is grown. It is crossed by the river of the same name which in some places turns into beautiful waterfalls, and finally includes a long and bright sandy coast. Not surprisingly the city ​​name means "Temple of Mother Nature"!

The main places to visit in this wonderful place, in addition to its beaches of course, are the Külliye Camii Mosque, the Manavgat Falls and the Köprülü Canyon National Park, perhaps extending the visit to the nearby village of Side located a few kilometers away.

The beauty of Manavgat is that here mass tourism has not yet arrived and this makes it a place not for everyone! Nevertheless, average prices per night have already reached quite high figures by Turkish standards, such as € 35,00 per room, while the cost of food and transport is still quite low.

Where it is

Turkey is a vast state between Europe and Asia whose territory belongs partly to both continents. Lying between the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey borders to the west with the European states and to the east with the Asian states.

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 77.695.904
  • Capital: Ankara
  • Languages: Turkish
  • Local currency: Turkish lira (TRY) / € 1,00 = TRY 6,40
  • Weather: mild on the coast, continental in inland areas (average temperatures: 13 ° / 22 °) - more info on when to go to Turkey
  • Time zone: + 1h compared to Italy during the summer, + 2h during the winter
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Security, visa and necessary documents

    • Entry requirements: identity card valid for expatriation, paper or electronic, in perfect condition and with residual validity of at least 5 months or the passport always with at least 5 months of residual validity; visa not required for tourist reasons for a maximum period of 90 days within 180 days
    • vaccinations: no vaccination required
    • Restrictions: for temporary visitors there are no particular customs and valurary restrictions except the prohibition on the purchase of corals, fossils and antiques outside the main and most common tourist and commercial circuits
    • Safety: in terms of public order, Turkey is no longer in a state of emergency since 2018, however terrorist attacks sometimes occur; however, the Turkish authorities adopt high security measures, always monitoring the situation; the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis and Sanliurfa have been declared "areas of particular protection": the whole country also has a high seismic risk; before leaving, always consult the official website of the Farnesina in the Turkey section
    • Useful Tips: choose carefully the areas to visit and limit the trip to the main tourist attractions such as Istanbul, the Cappadocia region, the capital Ankara and the various seaside areas - find out more about how to organize a trip to Turkey

    Tours and excursions in Turkey

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