Turkey is one of the most visited countries in the world, receiving over 30 million visitors per year at the last count, many of whom visit with a Turkey eVisa. It has a dazzling array of landscapes and activities to offer travelers, from ancient historic sites to bustling markets and pristine beaches. The climate also means that there is no bad time of year to come. Here are some of the best cities to visit in Turkey. Some are coastal, others are inland, some are ancient and others modern. All are charming and fascinating!
Ankara, More Than Just Ministries
Turkey’s capital, and second most populated city, Ankara has much more to offer than just government buildings. It is also home to some of the country’s finest museums including the museum of art and sculpture and the museum of science and technology. Visitors can also see the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey’s founding father. But arguably Ankara’s best attraction is the citadel. This fortress with its thick walls and winding streets has been enchanting visitors for centuries.
Istanbul, the Bridge Between East and West
Turkey’s most famous and iconic city has changed hands more times than just about any other on Earth, with each new wave of rulers leaving their mark. East meets West in Istanbul and this gives the place energy and contrasts which few can rival. Apart from enjoying the history and breathtaking skyline, visitors can also dine at the best restaurants in the country. Top attractions include Hagia Sophia, once a church and then a mosque, and the Grand Bazaar with all its potential bargains.
Izmir, Aegean Charm, and Ancient Ruins
Turkey’s third most populous city sits on the Aegean Sea. Highlights include the enchanting Roman/Greek agora marketplace and the Acropolis. There are white sandy beaches within easy reach. The city also boasts an impressive collection of museums covering the founding father Ataturk, the sea, archaeology, art, and sculpture and a children’s museum.
Antalya, Great Beaches, and Waterfalls
Antalya is a Mediterranean gem with a well preserved old town complete with a castle. There are 2 great beaches nearby and other impressive natural sites like the Duden Waterfalls. It makes a great base for those looking to do outdoor adventure activities like quad biking and rafting. The city also has one of the best aquariums in Turkey.
Edirne, Home of the Selimiye Mosque
Close to the border with Greece and Bulgaria, Edirne’s main attraction is the magnificent Selimiye Mosque, seen by many as one of the finest examples of Muslim architecture. The Grand Bazaar is also a must. The town is also known for its oil wrestling contests. There are also a couple of quality museums dedicated to archaeology and Islamic art.
Bursa, Ottoman Architecture, and Parks
Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and as such is home to many iconic and impressive old buildings like the Ulu Cami mosque. The city has lots of charming parks and is close to Mt. Uludag, one of Turkey’s most popular ski resorts. You can go up the mountain on a cable car and enjoy breathtaking views as well as great skiing when there’s snow.
Cesme, Turquoise Seas, and Windsurfing
On a peninsula in the Aegean Sea, Cesme’s major draw is its beaches with their turquoise waters. It is the windsurf and kite-surf capital of Turkey and one of the best destinations to practice these sports in the world. Other attractions include its hot springs. Nearby are the incredible Ancient Greek ruins at Ephesus, with its library and huge amphitheater.
Bodrum, Greek-style City Overlooked by a Castle
Bodrum is an elegant port city whose whitewashed streets have a clearly Greek influence. It is best known for its imposing castle built by the Knights Hospitaller. A short distance from Bodrum is the ancient city of Halicarnassus. Its mausoleum was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and it was the birth famous of the legendary travel writer Herodotus.
Konya, Coffee, and Dervishes
Konya is a proud and traditional city with a rich history. Here you can see a performance by the world-renowned whirling dervishes, appreciate Ottoman architecture at the Aziziye Mosque and savor delicious Turkish coffee and pastries in the Alaeddin Hill district. For design enthusiasts, there are two museums worth visiting, one dedicated to tiles and the other to wood and stone carvings.
Urfa, Multiethnic Place of Pilgrimage
Urfa, on Turkey’s southern border, has a Middle Eastern feel. The city is home to Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arab residents and is a place of pilgrimage. It was believed to be the town of Abraham. For lovers of prehistory, nearby Gobekli Tepe offers neolithic megaliths believed to date back to 10,000 BC.
Whichever of the above cities you wish to visit, make sure that you have sorted out your visa first. The easiest option is the Turkey eVisa, which is available to citizens of over 100 countries. Just fill in the simple application form, get your visa and enjoy Turkish delights!