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Turkey is full of bustling cities, fantastic markets and turquoise seaside escapes. As a country spanning across both Europe and Asia there are so many cities to see. Below is a list of the top 10 places to visit in Turkey.

1. Ankara

Often overshadowed by Istanbul, Ankara is the capital of Turkey! It is full of culture, markets and steep cobblestoned streets. Enjoy exploring the many historic museums and the Kalesi (Ankara Castle). The Roman baths of Ankara are an extension of the castle. Spend some time walking through this open-air museum to get a feeling of what the 3rd century was like.

Get high above the city in the Atakule tower and admire the views. Roam through the huge green area of Genḉlick Park and find your way past the swimming pool, Ferris wheel and miniature trains! After a different museum? Head just outside of Ankara to visit the Upside Down House!

Ankara Castle

2. Antalya

Spend the summer cooling off on the beachfront and the winter skiing in the mountains above! In this unique city you can visit waterfalls, ancient ruins and find markets scattered throughout the winding streets.

Enjoy a stunning coastal walk from Antalya port to the Konyaalti beach. Here, soak up the Turkish rays at one of the dedicated beach clubs. Take a boat trip to discover waterfalls or enjoy a cable car ride to the peak of the mountain and admire the views.

Antalya beach and mountains
Photo by Shelley Doherty
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3. Bodrum

Bodrum is a bustling town found on the coastal Aegean region of Turkey. Meander through the laneways, admire the street art, plants and blue framed windows. Enjoy the shopping in the Bodrum Bazaar and relax with a Turkish tea. Take in history at the Bodrum castle and look out upon the blue waters.

Climb uphill to find the restored ruins of 7 wooden windmills. Be sure to admire accompanying panoramic view overs Bodrum. Once you have worked up a sweat, take a dip in the crystal clear coastline. Well known for the annual sailing competition, the Bodrum Cup, enjoy the expertise on a sailing trip! Anchor on quiet islands to swim, snorkel or even a kayak around.

Bodrum harbor

4. Canakkale

Home to the iconic Trojan Horse that Brad Pitt once mastered in the movie Troy, this cute seaport town is well worth a visit. Canakkale is full of quirky shops, delicious Lokma (a fried sweet dough) and plenty of seafront bars. It is the perfect mix between history and small city life.

A local Dolmuses (minibus) will take you to the grounds of the ancient city of Troy. Here lies the first known replica of the infamous Trojan Horse. Spend a morning exploring the preserved grounds of the ancient city. In the evenings, soak up the atmospheric waterside markets and watch the sunset over Kilitbahir Castle.

Canakkale
Photo by Shelley Doherty

5. Cappadocia

Cappadocia is famous for its unique rock formations. Frequent volcanic eruptions, small earthquakes and years of erosion formed one of a kind, cone-shaped chimneys. The locals referred to these formations as ‘Fairy Chimneys’. Networks of homes and churches carved into the rock faces formed the underground cities we see today.

There is no better way to witness the Fairy Chimneys than a Hot Air Balloon ride over the valley. At sunrise every morning, the sky is flooded with coloured balloons. This magical experience can be witnessed from every rooftop and hill point around!

Throughout the day, quad bike around the valleys, crawl in the underground cities and enjoy the sunset overlooking the valleys. Splayed with unique pottery and handmade markets, Cappadocia is a must-see when visiting Turkey!

Cappadocia at sunrise
Photo by Shelley Doherty

6. Çeşme

Ḉeșme is a historic town surrounded by white sandy beaches. The old town is home to a stunning restored fortress and castle. Filled with markets and good food, it is a great place to soak up the local atmosphere.

Enjoy time swimming in the turquoise waters of Lica beach and feeling the sand between your toes. The surrounding hot springs ensure the water is a little warmer than elsewhere! Boat trips can be taken to the surrounding islands for more swimming and snorkelling adventures.

Beaches in Cesme

7. Ephesus

Ephesus was once the trade centre of the ancient world. Wander back in time through the brilliantly preserved ruins of temples, amphitheatres and historic gates. Ephesus is home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. This spectacular temple is well preserved and can’t be missed.

Within easy reach of Selçuk and Izmir, the Ruins of Ephesus are a perfect day trip. Be sure to save time to explore the surrounding markets and lunch stops.

Ephesus
Photo by Shelley Doherty
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8. Izmir

Izmir is full of street markets, many spots to enjoy a Turkish Tea and fresh air by the seafront. Kermeralti is a bustling market area for both tourists and locals. Wander through the town to admire the Konak square and a beautiful clock tower. Continue along the promenade to the Konak Pier, a great place for food, drinks and a great view.

Find the Agora amongst the Open Air Museum of Izmir and walk through the well preserved historic site. Furthermore, Izmir is the perfect base for exploring other small historic cities such as Ḉeșme, Alacati, Ephesus and Pamukkale.

Izmir
Photo by Shelley Doherty

9. Pamukkale

Pamukkale is the natural ‘Cotton Castle’ where Mineral-rich waters drip down the white mountainside to create stunning blue-filled terraces. Legend has it these thermal pools have healing powers, so why not test it with a quick dip? Be sure to remove your shoes when visiting the area to avoid unnecessary erosion of the historical site.

Climb up the hill to explore the Hierapolis. It is arguably one of the best-preserved and most impressive amphitheatres in Turkey and often free of other tourists!

Hierapolis, Pamakkule
Photo by Shelley Doherty

10. Istanbul

Istanbul is full of scenic rooftop restaurants and bars surrounding the many mosques. Spend the day getting lost in busy street markets and taste hundreds of local teas and herbs at the spice markets. Soak up the culture inside the 17th Century Blue Mosque. And don’t miss the Hagia Sophia, an impressive cathedral built in AD 537.

Istanbul is separated by the Bosphorus Strait which splits the Europeapean side from the Asian side. Enjoy a scenic boat tour along the Bosphorus while looking out across Europe and Asia! Istanbul is a must-see when visiting Turkey.

Istanbul skyline

Shelley Doherty

Writer and traveller for www.adventure-travelist.com
Shelley is a traveller originally from Queensland, Australia, but now based in London. She spends her weekends and spare time travelling the world and then sharing her travels on her blog. [Read full bio]

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