Now that you have decided to visit Turkey. Next is to decide where to go in Turkey. Indeed, with so many places to visit in Turkey, this decision isn’t always easy.
Turkey is a diverse country, full of archeological sites, snow top mountains, religous attractions, dramatic landscapes like Cappadocia, blue Mediterrean and Agean Seas, amazing waterfalls, wonderful national parks, and beautiful-historical vibrant cities like Istanbul.
Turkey offers various things to do and see. We’ll give you a short overview of each sites and attractions in order to help you choose your destination in Turkey. Or let us help you to plan your trip to Turkey – then visit Plan My Trip page.
Best Places to Visit in Turkey
Istanbul is the biggest city of Turkey and was the capital of 3 big empires. So, it offers a lot in terms of history, archeology, architecture, religons, nature, shopping, culture and more.
Istanbul’s fate has been sealed by its vital strategic location and its enchanting natural beauty. For more than 1500 years it was the capital of three empires: Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. It was beautified accordingly with magnificent monuments and became a metropolis where diverse cultures, nations and religions mingled.
Cappadocia is a region in Central Turkey and famous for hot air balloons, valleys, cave churches, underground cities and Volcanic Rock formations such as fairy chimnies
Due to beautiful landscaping and interesting looking rock formations, Cappadocia offers great panaromic views that you can see nowhere in the world. Underground cities in Cappadocia were in use from the times of Hitites. Cave Churches have beautiful frescos that depicts the stories from bible.
The most famous holiday resorts in Turkey are in Antalya and it is known as Turkish Riviera because of its turquiso colored sandy beaches.
It is located along side the mediterrean cost of Turkey and surrounded with snow capped mountains. There are 5 national parks, more than 30 archeological sites, 13 waterfalls, a ski resort and more in Antalya. One of my favourite destination to travel with kids.
Izmir is just located by the Aegean sea and famous holiday resorts of Cesme, Alacati and Foca are located in the boundary of Izmir Province.
Also ancient cities of Ephesus and Pergamon are in Izmir
Resort (Beach) Holiday Destinations in Turkey
Turkey has been surrounded by three seas, Mediterranean , Aegean Sea and Black Sea. So, there are plenty of Holiday Resorts in Turkey with beautiful sandy beaches.
Mediterranean Sea Coastal Resorts
Mediterrenaen Sea is at the south of Turkey. The lenght of the coastline of Turkey at the mediterranean Sea is about 1600km. There are 4 cities are located on the Mediterranean Cot of Turkey. These cities are Antalya, Mersin, Adana and Hatay. Majority of the Holiday Resorts are in the boundry of Antalya.
There are charter flights to Antalya through from Europe and Russia. Also, there are regular flights to Antalya from other Turkish Cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
Here is the avarage water temperature of Mediterranean Sea;
- January – 16,4 °C / 61,5 °F
- February – 15,7 °C / 60,2 °F
- March – 16,4 °C / 61,5 °F
- April – 18,0 °C / 64,4 °F
- May – 20,6 °C / 69,1 °F
- June- 23,8 °C / 74,8 °F
- July – 26,6 °C / 79,9 °F
- August – 27,9 °C / 82,2 °F
- September – 26,9 °C / 80,4 °F
- October – 24,3 °C / 75,7 °F
- November – 21,1 °C / 70,0 °F
- December – 18,3 °C / 65,0 °F
It is at the east of Antalya and about 75 minutes away from International Antalya Airport and Alanya is about 30 minutes away from Gazipasa Airport.
Alanya is one of the most popular Holiday Resort especially for Northen Europeans. There are lots of 5 star sea front resort hotels alongside the beaches. The famous Cleopatra Beach in Alanya city center has fame with its silky sands. Alanya offers what a holidaymaker needs. Natural Caves, Cable Car, National Parks, Restaurants, Night Clubs, All Inclusive 5 Star Hotels and its beautiful promenade attrack visitors from all around the world.
Because of the life standards of the town and living cost, Alanya became the home of many European expats mainly from Scandinavian Countries, Germany and Russia.
Must do activities in Alanya
- Visit Damlataş Cave
- Join a daily Boat Tour
- Have a Jeep Safari and Visit Sapadere Canyon
- Visit Castle and Red Tower
- Ride the Cable Car
- Enjoy swimming at the Cleopatra Beach
Here is the map of Alanya;
Manavgat has an important tourist industry with 64 kilometres (40 mi) of hot, sunny coastline, much of it sandy beaches, with a long river and the waterfall, well-protected countryside including mountains and forests. There is plenty of accommodation on the coastline and many places to explore including historical sites, rivers, streams and caves. And there is the sea itself including the odd experience of swimming from fresh water into the salt sea at the rivermouth. Predictably the cuisine includes fish from the Mediterranean.
Must do activities in Manavgat
- Visit Side Town and eat in a fish restaurant
- Visit the ruins of Side and Archeology Museum
- Enjoy Manavgat River Cruise
- Trekking at the Tazı Canyon
- Do snorkelling and diving
Here is the map of Manavgat;
Belek is one of the centers of Turkey’s tourism industry and is as such home to more than thirty four-star and five-star hotels and many other accommodation, services and entertainment facilities. It is about 30km drive away from Antalya Airport.
Also its the home of some international golf courses. So, in the recent years, one of the biggest theme park of Europe is opened in Belek, Land of the Legends
Must do activities in Belek
- Play Golf
- Spend a Day in Land of Legends
- Enjoy Water Sports
- Visit the Archeological Site of Perge
- Do rafting in Koprulu Canyon
Here is the map of Belek;
Kemer is a seaside resort and 40 km (25 mi) at west of the city of Antalya, on the Turkish Riviera. Following to thaht, One of the major attractions of Kemer is its natural environment; including the sea, mountains and pine forests. The shore from Beldibi to Tekirova consists of a number of beaches in bays of various sizes, mostly stoney rather than sand.
The town of Kemer has a number of clubs, bars and restaurants, blue flag beaches and a 320 capacity yacht marina.Coastal villages of Beldibi, Kiriş, Çamyuva, Göynük, and Çıralı are near Kemer and each of them can be considered as Holiday resort because of the numbers of touristic attractions and 5 or 4 star sea front hotels.
Must do activities in Kemer
- Visit Phaselis
- Join a daily Boat Tour
- Go up to Olympos (Tahtali) Mountain with cable car
- Visit Ancient city of Olympos and have a swim break at the beach
- Trekking in Goynuk Canyon
- Visit Adrasan and have lunch in Ulupınar (trout in cassarole)
Here is the map of Kemer;
Kaş is a seaside town on the Mediterranean coast in southwestern Turkey. And the town center has whitewashed houses and buildings covered in bougainvillea. So, It is a small tiny mediterrenean town with small boutique hotels, restaurants, gift shops and pubs. Definetly it is a slow and quite town
Dalaman Airport is about 1,5 hour away from Kaş and Antalya Airport is about 3 hours away.
In terms of history, The modern town occupies the site of ancient Antiphellos. Therefore, You can visit the ruins of theatre and the 4th-century-B.C. Lion Tomb, with 2 carved lion heads. Also, The Lycian Way, a marked trail, passes by the town.
Must do activities in Kaş
- Canoe over the ancient Sunken City of Kekova/Simena
- Join a daily Boat Tour
- Visit ancient Theather and Lycian Tomb in the city
- Hang around the Uzun Bazaar
- Walk the Lycian Way
- Watch the Sunset
Here is the map of Kaş;
Aegean Sea Coastal Resorts
Aegean Sea is at the west of Turkey. The lenght of the coastline of Turkey at the Aegean Sea is about 2800km. Majority of the Holiday Resorts are in the boundry of Mugla province.
The main airports to Aegean Resorts are Bodrum Airport, Dalaman Airport and Izmir Airport.
Here is the avarage water temperature of Aegean Sea;
- January – 13,7 °C / 56,7 °F
- February – 13,2 °C / 55,7 °F
- March – 13,9 °C / 57,0 °F
- April – 15,8 °C / 60,4 °F
- May – 18,7 °C / 65,6 °F
- June- 22,0 °C / 71,6 °F
- July – 24,1 °C / 465,8 °F
- August – 24,5 °C / 473 °F
- September – 23,1 °C / 447,8 °F
- October – 20,7 °C / 404,6 °F
- November – 17,9 °C / 354,2 °F
- December – 15,4 °C / 309,2 °F
Bodrum Peninsula is stretching from Turkey’s southwest coast into the Aegean Sea. Addition to this, The city features twin bays with views of Bodrum Castle. Also, This medieval fortress was built partly with stones from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, completed in the 4th century B.C. The city is also a gateway for nearby beach towns. Since 1980’s it became popular first between the Turkish Celebrities.
All the peninsula have whitewashed houses and those typical houses also are known as “Bodrum Houses”.
Bodrum Airport is about 30km away from town center. There are direct flights everyday from Istanbul and Ankara. Also, charter flights come from different parts of Europe and Russia during the summer time.
Bodrum is also popular with its night life. There are 2 bar streets, one in Bodrum city center and one in Gumbet – nearby town.
Bodrum Town is just across the Kos Island, a greek island. Also, there are regular ferryboats running from Bodrum to Kos everyday and journey takes about 45 minutes.
Must do activities in Bodrum
- Join a Blue Voyage or at least to a daily Boat Tour
- Visit Bodrum Castle and Ruins of Mouselium
- Hang around the Bar Street
- Join the village tour and shop for Bodrum-Milas Carpets
- Walk at the ancient Lelegian Way
- Have a dinner at Gumusluk’s Fish Restaurant
Here is the map of Bodrum;
Fethiye is one of the prominent tourist destinations in the Turkish Riviera. Also It is about 45 minutes driving away from Dalaman Airport.
Fethiye offers alot to the travellers. It is a mountainous area covered with pine forests. It is untouched bays attract the boats and blue voyages. Göcek Marina is a hidden jem for sailors and it is one of the starting points for Aegean Blue Voyages. In conclusion, it is a tourist paradise.
Approximately 5 km to the south-west, lie the towns of Kayaköy and Ölüdeniz. Kayaköy is an old abondened Greek town. Oludeniz (or death-sea), the latter being world-famous for its beach spit and associated Blue Lagoon. The opportunity to para glide is available from the mountain of Babadağ next to Oludeniz.
In terms of history, Fethiye is a real treasure. Fethiye Town Center itself occupay the territories of ancient Telmessos, the ruins of which can be seen in the city, e.g. the Hellenistic theatre by the main quay. Unesco’s World heritage site of Xhantos is about 45 minutes drive away.
Saklıkent Canyon is a natural wonder. The cliffs valley of the narrow valley is about 120 meters high and it has several cold natural water springs. Those springs form the Eşen River.
Most popular touristic towns of Fethiye are: Ölüdeniz, Calis Beach area, Hisaronu and Ovacik. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, pubs are in those touristic towns.
Must do activities in Fethiye
- Join a Blue Voyage or at least to a daily Boat Tour
- Visit the ruins of ancient Xhantos
- Hang around the Bar Street
- Stroll in the streets of Kayakoy – Old Greek Village
- Paragliding from Babadag to Oludeniz
- Visit Saklıkent Canyon
- Join Dalyan & Caounos Daily Tour
Here is the map of Oludeniz;
Marmaris is a Mediterranean resort town along the Turkish Riviera (also known as the Turquoise Coast) with a busy, pebbly beach and long seafront promenade. It’s known for its lively nightlife on Bar Street, which is home to open-air clubs and music venues. Marmaris sits in a valley between pine-forested mountains and clear waters, which are popular sailing and diving destinations.
Must do activities in Marmaris
- Participate Jeep Safari
- Join Dalyan River Cruise & Caounos Tour
- Hang out in Bar Streets at Night
- Join a Boat Tour that goes Sedir Island
- Watch the Sunse
Here is the map of Marmaris;
Çeşme is a Turkish resort town west of Izmir, on the Aegean Sea. Overlooking the harbor is Çeşme Castle, a restored military fortress. It now houses the Çeşme Archaeology Museum, with displays of marble busts, metal coins and artifacts from nearby excavations. On the east side of the Çeşme peninsula is sandy Ilica Beach, with warm thermal sulfur springs. Around Çeşme are clear waters and accessible dive sites.
Izmir Airport is about 1 hour away from Ceşme. Cesme became very popular summer holiday destination especially for Turkish Jet-Set.
Çeşme is one of the best surfing resorts in the world. Alaçatı, a town located here, offers the ideal location for surfing, and this is where all the surfing schools are located. Surf Festivals take place here every year. Alaçatı is unique as the depth of the water does not go deeper than 1 meter for over 700 meters off shore and the area receives heavy winds.
Must Do Activities in Çeşme
- Swim at the Ilıca Beach
- Visit Cesme Castle and Archeology Museum
- Eat Ice-Cream at Rumeli Patisserie
- Stroll in the streets of Alacati
- Eat Kumru Sandwich
- Dine at the fish restaurant in the Cesme Marina
Here is the map of Çeşme;
Black Sea Coast Resorts
Black Sea is located at the north of Turkey. Blacksea coastline of Turkey is about 17oo km. Especially at the eastern part of the Black Sea cost, there is a high mountain rage right after the sea. Therefore the numbers of beaches and holiday resorts at the eastern part is limited. Beaches for swimming and holiday resorts are mainly located in the central and western part.
Water temperature is not high as Mediterrean and Aegean Seas. The best season for Black Sea resorts are from May to end of October. Here is the avarage water temperature of Black Sea;
- May – 13,7 °C / 56,7 °F
- June – 18,9 °C / 66,0 °F
- July – 22,8 °C / 73,0 °F
- August – 24,1 °C / 74,1 °F
- September – 22,4 °C / 72,3 °F
- October – 18,9 °C / 66,0 °F
- November – 15,1 °C / 59,2 °F
Beaches & Holiday Resorts in Istanbul
Black Sea Coast of Istanbul has nice sandy beaches. The most famous resort town for swimming is in the Asian Side of Istanbul and it is called ŞİLE. This small town is just about 1 hour drive away from city center in the normal traffic.
The district of Şile, a Black Sea fishing village that evolved into a popular holiday spot for residents of Istanbul, is serving another purpose nowadays. It has become a haven for those escaping the bustling city life. Therefore, public beaches can be over crowded especially at the weekends. There are plenty of hotels in Sile. It is better to check booking.com If you prefer to stay in luxurious accommadations then it is better stay in the city center of Istanbul and go there for a daily activity.
KILYOS is another popular holiday spot for residents of Istanbul. It is in the European side of the city and about 1 hour drive away from city center. Number of the hotels are less in Kilyos versus to Sile. There are private and public beaches that serves to Istanbuliates.
Sinop – Blacksea Town and Resort
Sinop is one of my favourite city along side the Black Sea. It is full of history. The city was established on an peninsula where has sandy beaches on both side. The history of the goes back to 5th century BC. It was the hometown of Philosopher Dionysos. Because of the strategic location on Black Sea, it was an important city through the history. There are ruins from Greek Colonists, Romans, Seljuks and Ottomans.
Also, the only fjord of Turkey -called Hamsilos- is about 20 minutes drive away from city. There are small tea houses, cafeterias, restaurants along the promenade. Sandy beaches and small hidden bays specially are on the west of the city.
Scheduled flights are available from Istanbul to Sinop.