Turkey is a unique country filled with astonishing combinations: it is where the West meets the East, Europe meets Asia, and Christian and Muslim civilizations coexist. Once a formidable Ottoman Empire, it has transformed into a significant cultural, financial, and tourist hub of the region. Washed by four seas simultaneously, Turkey attracts hundreds of thousands of travellers from around the world each year. We will present the finest cities of the country that every holidaymaker should consider visiting.
The largest and most renowned city in Turkey — so famous that it is sometimes mistakenly considered the country’s capital — is Istanbul. It is situated on the picturesque shores of the Bosphorus, with the city serving as the geographical border between Europe and Asia. Numerous magnificent mosques are located here, with the Blue Mosque and the Suleymaniye Mosque being the most iconic. The latter, built in the 16th century, can accommodate around five thousand people! Istanbul is also home to one of the largest Christian sanctuaries in the world — Hagia Sophia, where you can find not only Christian frescoes but also quotes from the Quran.
Additionally, Istanbul is rich in luxurious palaces that once belonged to Turkish sultans many centuries ago. Be sure to marvel at the grandeur of Topkapi Palace or visit the splendid Dolmabahce Palace. Built in 1853, this palace astonishes with its exquisite architectural designs and incredible interiors. The Basilica Cistern is another intriguing place to visit, possessing a rather mystical atmosphere. And a beloved destination for all tourists has long been the Grand Bazaar — one of the world’s largest markets, resembling a fairytale labyrinth. Carpets, antiques, souvenirs, ceramics, jewellery, spices, sweets, street food — the abundance of goods here is simply astonishing, so be sure to add this location to your list!
For beach enthusiasts, it is worth experiencing the colourful landscapes, parks, beaches, and attractions of Antalya at least once. The nature here is breathtaking: azure sea waters, pristine white sand on the beaches, plenty of trees, and the vibrant ridges of the Taurus Mountains. First and foremost, we recommend visiting Kaleici, the historic quarter of Antalya, where the architecture and culture of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras blend. On your way to Kaleici, you will likely come across the Hadrian’s Gate — an ancient Roman structure erected in the 2nd century AD.
Another intriguing location is the Yivli Minaret, a tower standing almost forty metres tall — it was built nearly eight hundred years ago. Highly popular among tourists is the Saat Kulesi — a majestic clock tower in the Old Town that has become a symbol of Antalya. In the evening, take a stroll or a bike ride through the picturesque Karaalioglu Park — it is abundant with greenery, tea gardens, beautiful alleys, and fountains. The park itself is situated along a cliff, offering wonderful views of the sea.
This is a whole region in the central part of the country that will undoubtedly appeal to nature enthusiasts. The remarkable rock formations, mysterious underground cities, deserted and uninhabited valleys all contribute to giving Cappadocia a unique and even slightly mystical atmosphere. Tourists here have the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride to appreciate the scale and beauty of this breathtaking region. The underground cities of Cappadocia were created even before our era; there are also many cave monasteries from the early Christian period. In the temples of later epochs, astonishing frescoes dating back to the 12th century are still preserved. Among the cave sanctuaries, the most popular ones include the Snake Church, the Curved Church, and the Church of St. Basil.
To immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Cappadocia, we recommend visiting the village of Goreme in the eponymous national park. This is where tourists are drawn by the ancient dwellings in the rocks, whimsical landscapes, and the genuine underground city of Kaymakli. And if you feel like relaxing in less “wild” conditions, head to the town of Urgup – there the infrastructure is well-developed, with plenty of hotels, museums, restaurants, and nightclubs. The city is also known for its wine festival, which attracts tourists from different corners of the world every year.
Another distinctive and charming Turkish city, washed by the Aegean Sea, sprawls along the country’s western coast. From the nearest airport to Izmir, you can reach by car rental in Turkey, in which case the journey will take just half an hour. Izmir is located on the bay’s shores at the foot of Mount Pagos, making it one of Turkey’s most popular resorts. However, the city is renowned not only for its beaches: it boasts numerous landmarks, parks, museums, and beautiful structures.
Previously, the territory was home to the ancient city of Smyrna, which was built during the reign of Alexander the Great and subsequently became one of the region’s largest ports. Be sure to visit the mysterious ruins of this ancient city: the majestic Acropolis, Agora, and the Kadifekale Fortress. Among the museums, the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museums are perhaps the most interesting. Also, like in Istanbul, Izmir has a vast bazaar where you can purchase souvenirs and sample local delicacies. For enthusiasts of religious architecture, a visit to the Hisar Mosque, Bet Israel Synagogue, and the Church of St. Polycarp is highly recommended.
This is truly one of the finest resorts in Turkey! Bodrum is located in the southwest of the country, washed by the Aegean Sea, and attracts tourists with its crystal-clear waters, comfortable beaches, exquisite cuisine restaurants, and elite yacht clubs. Life in Bodrum is vibrant both day and night, as the city is also home to many bars, pubs, and nightclubs, making it a popular destination for young Europeans to come and unwind. Among the beaches, the most popular are Bitez Bay, Bodrum’s city beach, and the coast near the nearby village of Torba. This place also appeals to enthusiasts of active leisure and water sports, including diving, windsurfing, and sailing.
There are also many interesting historical landmarks in Bodrum. Head to the northern part of the city to see the ancient amphitheatre with your own eyes. Near the port stands the majestic Castle of St. Peter, dating back to the 15th century, and on a cape not far from the bay, tourists are drawn to the famous Castle of St. Peter. We also recommend visiting the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, where an impressive collection of ancient artefacts and ancient ships that were found off the coast of Turkey is displayed. However, perhaps the highlight of Bodrum is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – it is here that you can see the ruins of the once-magnificent Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which was destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century.
Another splendid resort town where you can enjoy luxurious beach relaxation, sample local dishes, and witness unique attractions is Alanya. Situated in the southern part of Turkey, along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Alanya offers a delightful experience. Begin by taking a stroll through the town’s streets – here, you will encounter numerous historic houses and the mighty walls of the ancient citadel. The sea bay is adorned with yachts, fishing boats, and dhows – some of which tourists can embark on for a sea voyage. The city’s highlight is the Alanya Fortress, within which an open-air museum is located. The fortress walls stretch over six kilometres – the grandeur of this structure is truly breathtaking!
Visit the ruins of the 13th-century ancient castle of Ic Kale, the Byzantine Church of St. George, the remains of the city mint Darphane, and the nearby complex of ancient monasteries. The Medjuddin Cistern is another site worth seeing for travellers: in ancient times, it was used to collect water. Delving into the centuries-old Islamic culture can be done at the Suleymaniye Mosque, also known as the Fortress Mosque. This mosque stands out for its incredible acoustics and intricate interior, so be sure to admire it from within.
Bursa is one of the major cities in western Turkey. Here, you can try the authentic Iskender kebab, one of the most famous dishes in Turkish cuisine. However, gastronomic tourism is not the only reason to visit Bursa. The city is located twenty kilometres from the Sea of Marmara, and nearby are mountain ranges, which means you can find not only beach lovers here but also ski enthusiasts. The most convenient way to get here is by private car. For example, a trip from Istanbul will take no more than two hours. Cars in Turkey can be rented on the website of a car rental service.
The historic mosques of Bursa attract the most tourists, captivating with their architectural beauty and grandeur. Visitors should explore the Yesil Mosque, Muradiye Mosque, Grand Mosque (Ulu Cami), and the Green Mosque — the latter is notable for housing the tomb of Sultan Yesil-turbe. This city is also renowned for its thermal springs and ancient hammams, or Turkish baths. Most of them are located in the Çekirge area, with some dating back to the 14th century. Koza Han is Bursa’s oldest market: during the mediaeval times, Chinese silk was traded here, and now you can find numerous souvenirs, natural fabrics, products, clothing, and spices.
The last on our list but the most significant city in Turkey is the capital, Ankara, located in the central part of the country. Thanks to its abundance of parks, museums, and historical landmarks, Ankara will be interesting for every traveller to visit. The main streets of the city are adorned with luxurious hotels, exquisite restaurants, towering buildings, and governmental structures. However, one of the most important locations here is the Mausoleum of Atatürk, dedicated to the first President of the Turkish Republic. In the summer evenings, this place often hosts light and music shows.
In the old part of the city, there is also the well-known citadel of Kalecik, these defensive structures were built during the Byzantine Empire era. Among Ankara’s museums, the Anatolian Civilizations Museum is of great interest, showcasing collections of artefacts from ancient Hittite civilization. Representations of Roman culture are also prevalent in Ankara: the city features many monuments, columns, and temples with centuries-long histories. To delve deeper into Turkey’s history during the Roman era, you can explore the Museum of Archaeology and Art at Erimtan. Of course, as in any Turkish city, mosques are present in Ankara — do not miss the opportunity to visit Hacı Bayram Mosque, as it holds special reverence among the locals.
These are just a few of the wonderful cities in Turkey that you should consider visiting during your time in this country. Each of these cities possesses a unique atmosphere and a list of exceptional landmarks. Therefore, we recommend visiting as many Turkish cities as possible to witness all the vibrant aspects of this remarkable country.
Block 2: Comfortable Vacation in All Cities of Turkey
If the time of your journey is limited, visiting all the cities of Turkey might pose a challenging task. However, the magnificent nature, interesting history, and unique charm of each city are definitely worth it. Here are a few pieces of advice that will help you explore Turkey’s main attractions with ease and comfort.
- Create a list of cities. Determine the Turkish cities you would most like to visit and compile a list. do not forget to include Istanbul, Antalya, and Bodrum. Learn as much as you can about other interesting cities like Marmaris, Kemer, and Belek. This list will aid you in planning your trip and allocating your budget.
- Develop a detailed plan. The more details you consider, the fewer unpleasant surprises you will encounter. Plan activities for each city: select attractions, study optimal routes between cities, and account for distances between points of interest. Remember to allocate time for visits — exploring all the exhibits in some museums might take several hours. Additionally, include time for meals, beach relaxation, walks, shopping, and other activities in your daily schedule.
- Opt for car rental. This is the most optimal solution, as it enables you to swiftly move between different cities and attractions. Cars in Turkey can be rented on the website of https://localcarrents.com/. This will allow you to travel to locations faster than public transport and at a lower cost than taxis. Car rental in Turkey is well-developed, with local services ensuring quality. You can pre-book a car online and pick it up from a convenient location. You will receive a car with a full tank of fuel, and the rental process itself will be swift and easy. Furthermore, you can avail of additional services, such as requesting a child car seat if you are travelling with your family.
- Pre-book accommodation. This will help you save time and money without compromising on your comfort. You will not need to hurriedly search for a hotel or rental apartment in each city if you pre-select lodging that suits all your needs and preferences. Additionally, some accommodation options will be cheaper if you make your reservation well in advance of your trip.
- Immerse yourself in Turkish culture. While Turkey remains a popular beach destination, do not neglect the opportunity to learn something new about this country’s rich and distinctive culture. Visit museums, historical cultural landmarks, galleries, and national parks to discover Turkey from a different angle.
- Try local cuisine. Turkey has numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants serving familiar European dishes that everyone knows. However, you will miss out on a lot if you do not try traditional Turkish cuisine. Authentic dishes and beverages impress with their flavours and unique combinations. Make sure to visit a local cuisine establishment — try dolma, kebab, baklava, soup, gözleme, cacık, and other original dishes.
- Learn a few phrases in Turkish. Obviously, mastering Turkish within the short duration of a vacation is unlikely. Nevertheless, if you learn even a few phrases, it will aid in your communication with local residents. For example, learn how to ask for directions to a specific location or inquire about the price of an item. This will help you better understand Turkish culture and demonstrate respect for locals.
- Be prepared to be flexible. You arrived in a certain Turkish city, and there is an interesting festival happening that you would like to attend for a bit longer. Plans for a beach relaxation are ruined by rainy weather. The museum you spent a while getting to is closed today. Unfortunately, unforeseen situations do occur. The key is not to let them ruin your vacation. do not hesitate to improvise and change plans — such situations often come with pleasant surprises.
- Respect local rules and customs. Turks hold their cultural and religious traditions in high regard — remember this regardless of which city you find yourself in. Be polite, use appropriate forms of greeting and farewell, follow etiquette rules, show respect for local residents, fellow tourists, and service industry employees.
- Enjoy your journey! The last but possibly the most crucial rule for a fantastic vacation. do not turn your holiday into a race — try to savour every moment. Feel the unique atmosphere of each Turkish city, treat yourself to delicious dishes, admire the sunset by the sea coast, and store warm memories of your wonderful journey.
Turkey is a country that everyone should experience. It has a wealth of interesting and distinctive cities with beautiful nature, delicious cuisine, rich history, and captivating attractions. To make your stay as comfortable as possible, endeavour to plan your journey in advance, consider car rental in Turkey, book suitable accommodation, show an interest in local culture, and above all, relish every moment!