Istanbul is a popular travel destination for many reasons; it’s at a crossroads between Europe and Asia, a unique meeting of the East and the West.
While it’s easy to plan a stopover in Istanbul on a flight with Turkish Airlines on the way to another destination in Europe or the Middle East, it’s worth staying in Turkey a bit longer to explore some other incredible cities around the country.
Antalya is a beautiful coastal city that is well known as a resort town. There are plenty of places to stay with a view of the ocean and lots of sandy beaches from which to enjoy the Mediterranean Sea.
Hadrian’s Gate is an important historical site here and is a must-visit spot in addition to the Old Harbor.
Located further East in the country than Istanbul, Cappadocia is an otherworldly place with stunning rock formations, unique cave-like accommodations, and one of the best sunrises in the world.
The white rock formations in places like Monks Valley are known as Fairy Chimneys and are the result of hardened volcanic ash from past eruptions.
One of the top reasons people visit Cappadocia is to witness the magical sunrise over the dramatic landscape when thousands of hot air balloons take to the sky.
Travelers should plan to stay in Cappadocia for at least two or three nights, so they can spend one morning enjoying the view of the hot air balloons and a second morning taking a ride in one.
Bodrum is a Turkish city on the Aegean Sea and is home to the architectural marvel, Bodrum Castle. It’s a great jumping-off point for visiting many of Turkey’s popular resort towns and offers plenty of historical sites for history buffs to explore.
Travelers can visit the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the nearby Theatre of Halicarnassus, which is built in the traditional Greek style.
Urfa, or Şanlıurfa, is located in the southeast of Turkey, east of the Euphrates River. Because of its location and terrain, the city experiences hot, dry summers and cold, damp winters.
The city has historical significance to the Turkish people and is sometimes called the Prophets' City because of the legend that the Patriarch Abraham was born there.
As a spiritual center and popular pilgrimage site, Urfa offers a different perspective on Turkish culture than more common tourist destinations like Istanbul and Cappadocia.
Located in Turkey’s central Anatolia region, Ankara is the ideal destination for travelers who appreciate the performing arts.
This city is home to Turkey’s Opera and Ballet company, theater companies, and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra. Ankara is Turkey’s capital city and the second-largest city in the country, with a population of around 4.5 million.
It was previously called Angora until the 1930s when its name was changed to Ankara.
Travelers who want a relaxing coastal getaway in Turkey can consider spending time on the Turkish Riviera, in Marmaris.
Besides being a gorgeous destination on the water, Marmaris is known for its vibrant nightlife and bar scene. It also boasts historical landmarks to explore, like Marmaris Castle.
Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and is located on the western side of the country. Izmir is an industrial center and is known for being an important seaport for exports.
Besides being a critical part of the country’s trade industry, Izmir has a phenomenal gastronomy scene, making it an ideal destination for travelers who love to try local cuisine and soak in coastal views.
Fethiye is another Turkish port city; it is located in the Turkish Riviera on the Turquoise Coast and has a notable natural harbor. Oludeniz Beach is a must-visit spot with stunningly clear waters and pristine golden sands for laying under the sun.
Travelers who want to learn about the region’s history should visit the Amyntas Rock Tombs and the Tlos Ruins while in Fethiye.
Ephesus is an important historical site in Turkey that travelers should make an effort to visit while exploring the country.
It’s possible to take a bus to Ephesus from Istanbul or those visiting Izmir can simply drive to Ephesus in less than one hour.
Once an important Greek city and trading port on the Mediterranean Sea, Ephesus suffered multiple attacks throughout history and its ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located west of Izmir on the picturesque Aegean Sea, the town of Çeşme is known as a resort town. In addition to being a popular holiday destination, Çeşme boasts plenty of Turkish historical sites.
A former military fortress called Çeşme Castle looks out over the harbor and is home to the Çeşme Archeology Museum where travelers can learn about artifacts found in excavation sites near Çeşme.
This is a great place to spend a few days relaxing on the beaches, swimming, and learning about Turkish history before traveling to larger cities like Izmir or Ankara.