Top 29 Things to do in Turkey
Full of wealth of incredible destinations, sights, flavors, sounds and experiences, Turkey is arguably one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. No matter what tastes and preferences suit you, Turkey is sure to delight any visitor in every way possible. Not only its culture which is one of most refined in the world, Turkey is also blessed with a stunning geography that furnish its landscapes a heavenly look. If you are contemplating a trip to this fabulous country then here’s the guide to make sure that you have one of the best trips of your lifetime. Read on to find our Top things to do in Turkey and begin your journey into this colorful mosaic of cultures, history, traditions and religions in your own way. One thing is for sure, Turkey is a place that can never disappoint you.
Topkapi Palace in Istanbul
One of central and most visited places in Turkey, The Topkapi Palace is a wonderful delight for the eyes. The palace is composed of many beautiful and exquisite pavilions, gardens, kitchens, audience chambers, sleeping quarters, kiosks and barracks.
Topkapi was built in a stages and the first stage of the palace was built by Mehmet, the conqueror in 1453. It is great place to truly savor the cultural extravaganza of Turkey.
Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul
Visiting the wonderful Suleymaniye mosque is doubtlessly one of the top things to do in Turkey. The Suleymaniye mosque is located on one of the seven hills of Turkey, justifying to be a prime landmark for the entire city. The mosque was commissioned by Suleyman I who was also known as Suleyman “The Magnificent”.
Living up to the name of its builder, the mosque is grand in its beauty and dimensions. It was constructed between the years 1550 and 1557. The mosque itself is surrounded by charming attractions. It’s an elegant attraction to view and admire.
Mevlâna Museum, Konya
An extreme ecstasy is experienced and a great spiritual delight is enjoyed when visiting the famous Mevlana museum. The place is a magnet for both Muslims and Non-Muslims. For the former, it is one of the holiest places while for the latter it is a great experience of feeling one with the God. The place is named after Rumi, one of the greatest spiritual and philosophical thinkers of the world.
Jalaluddin Rumi was also named Mevlana, and hence the name. It is through him that the practice and tradition of whirling dervishes came. The museum buzzes with divine energy and visiting this museum is one of the Top Things to do in Turkey to experience unique spiritual energy and aura.
Göreme Open-air Museum
Georeme open air museum is one of the Turkey’s top UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is a great tourist attraction. The area was initially a Byzantine Monastic settlement but later started being revered as a pilgrimage site. The locale is full of enchanting Byzantine artistry. There are rock-cut churches, monasteries and chapels which are located about 1 kilometer uphill from the Gerome center.
The museum is located in the Turkey’s Cappadocia region. The museum is open every day and attracts a large number of visitors as well as historical buffs.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
One of classical museums in Turkey, the site is the home to many exhibits and artifacts of the Topkapi collections that traces Istanbul’s magnificent history. The museum is divided into three parts: The Archeology Museum, The Museum of Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion.
The famous music director, artist and architect Osman Hamdi Bey played an important part in setting up and the development of Istanbul Archeological Museum. It can be easily reached by walking down from the slope of Topkapi’s First Court.
Kariye Museum (Chora Church)
One of the most beautiful and exotic monuments, reminiscent of the exquisite Byzantine Era is this church, converted into a museum. The monument was initially called the Church of the Holy Savior and over the period of time, was reconstructed over five times and was once used as a mosque as well.
Located in the Edirnekapi neighborhood of Istanbul, the structure came to be used as a museum in 1948. Embellished with beautiful frescos, wonderful mosaics and some sterling architecture and a great place to admire some striking art and breathtaking architecture and an amazing dose of history.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
Located on the southern side of the Ankara castle, The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a historical delight, exhibiting items and artefacts as old as 7,500 years. The museum consists of the old Ottoman Mahmut Pasha Bazar storage building as well as the Kursunlu Han. There are wonderful exhibits of gold, silver, and bronze, marble that belong to a period as far back in time as first millennium BC.
The stunning museum was selected as the European Museum of the Year in Switzerland in 1997 and is certainly one of the must-visit places in Turkey for leisure and historical travelers.
Hatay Archaeology Museum
Exhibiting some of the world’s finest collection of Roman and Byzantine Mosaics, extending a period from circa 1st century AD to 5th Century AD, the Hatay archeological museum is an excellent location. The museum has some of the finest mosaics, covering vast subjects like mythology and mystery portrayals. Also there is a wonderful exhibition of numerous artefacts, recovered from various mounds and burial areas.
Most of the items on display were recovered intact and thus provide a great insight into historical legacy and heritage of the country.
City walls & gates
The walls of the city Diyarbakir, one of the largest cities in South Eastern Turkey are made of basalt. The walls are as old as those belonging to the Roman times. They had originally four gates viz. Harput Kapisi (North), Yenikapi( East), Kapisi (South) and Urfa Kapisi (West).
The walls are decorated with most beautiful inscriptions and there are fine decorations embellished on them. The later walls, probably erected during the Byzantine times are approximately 6 kilometers in width. The site furnish a great experience of amazement while visiting.
Museum Of Innocence
The museum was created by the famous novelist and noble laureate Orhan Pamuk in conjunction with his novel of the same name. The museum is housed in a simple 19th century timber house. The museum relies on vitrines, which brings the memories of the work of American artist Joseph Cornell and tells the story of the love affair between Fusun and Kemal, who are the protagonists of his novel.
One of the displays, made up using 4213 cigarettes is the highlight of the museum. Small though exquisite, it is certainly a commendable treasure of Istanbul and one of the top places to visit in Turkey.
Museum of Turkish & Islamic arts
This amazing palace was constructed on the western edge of the Hippodrome and was built in the year 1524. The palace was fashioned originally for Ibrahim Pasha, a childhood friend, brother-in-law and grand vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent.
The palace, converted into a museum, houses many exquisite artefacts and brilliant works of calligraphy as well as a unique collection of antique carpets. These items date from 8th and 9th century well up to the 19th century.
Some great works, reminiscent of a glorious period in Turkish and Islamic arts can be witnessed, understood and enjoyed at this gorgeous and grand site.
Anemurium Ancient City
Surrounded by great city walls, the ruins of this great city are breathtaking and worth visiting for any tourist interested in historical stuff. The city was founded by the Phoenicians in 4th century, but suffered some challenging setbacks which also includes an attack by Cilician Tribe in AD 52. Also it is evidenced that a major earthquake completely destroyed in about 580 AD.
As one explores the ruined city, one comes across many recognizable structures. One of the best preserved structures in Anemurium is the bath complex with colored mosaic tiles that wonderfully embellish the sections of the floor. The ruins again brings back into light the stunning history with which the land of Turkey is endowed with.
A building full of impressive structures and embellishments, Ani’s Cathedral was renamed Fethiye Camii by the Seljuk conquerors. The place was once a seat of the Armenian Orthodox Patriachte. The building nevertheless has many elegant structures such as several porthole windows, other slender windows surrounded by enchanting fretwork, numerous inscriptions in Armenian, triangular niches as well as a blind arcade that have slim columns around the structures.
The building was transformed into a mosque whenever Muslims held the area and was reconverted into a church when Christians came to power. It’s a great place to visit for applauding its wonderful architecture.
It is one of the most famous avenues of Istanbul and is said to be visited by nearly three million people every day. The street is approximately 1.4 kilometers long and houses a number of music stores, galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries, cafes, night clubs, pubs etc., in addition to restaurants, chocolatiers. Most of the buildings surrounding the avenues belong to the late Ottoman Era with Neo Gothic, Neo Classical and Renaissance Revival etc. architectural styles.
The avenues also hosts an elegant tram which is a major attraction. The street is very much popular in the country and majority of visitors love coming here to experience the amazing ambience. It is a great and wonderful place to explore and know more about the exquisite cosmopolitan culture of Istanbul.
Corum museum is arguably one of the best in Turkey and exhibits excellent items and media and films that highlights Anatolian History from the Bronze Age to the Roman period that focuses on the Hittite history. There is an excellent reconstruction of the Alacahoyuk with a number of bull skulls and crumpled skeletons in a crown. Also there are some wonderful artefacts with items such as a Hittite ceremonial jug and a number of Hittite cuneiform tablets.
The museum is located adjacent to the main road from the Otogar and is a frequently visited destination from the travelers from around the world.
Hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia
Cappadocia is one of the best sites to experience and enjoy hot air ballooning in the world. One of the most spectacular sites in Turkey, the ride on the balloon here becomes one of the most enchanting experiences of a lifetime as you gently drift over the stunning landscape.
The rides usually begin in the morning as the crew picks you up from your residence, at the dawn. With the sunrise, you are launched into your journey, flying in the silent early morning breeze over the villages, vineyards, fruit orchids before finally descending down in a farmer’s field in an hour.
Although the excursion can be carried out during any time of the year the best time to undertake the balloon ride in Turkey is from April to October. It’s doubtlessly a memorable adventure that will continue to enthrall you for the rest of your life.
Ishak Pasha Sarayi
Situated in the administrative complex of Dogubeyazit district of the Agri province of Turkey, the Ishak Pasha Palace is an excellent instance of the amazing historical Turkish palaces. Although now in the ruined state, the construction of the palace was started in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha and was completed by his grandson Mehmet Pasha. The palace itself is located in a beautiful location which is 6 km south east of the town and stands on a small plateau flanked by tall cliffs.
The palace has different courtyards and there is a tomb as well which is embellished with a blend of Seljuk carvings and Persian relief styles. As one explore more, one comes across many beautiful structures and spaces, primarily amongst which, is the exquisite dining hall. Besides there is a hamam and incredible windows and fireplaces which are worth searching and admiring.
Orthodox monastery of Sumela
The monastery is one of the elegant highlights of the Black Sea Coast and is located 46 kilometers south of Trabzon. The monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary and was founded in the 4th century AD. However, it was abandoned in 1923 when the Republic of Turkey was created.
One of the most attractive highlights of the place is the main church that highlights wonderful frescos, both on the inside and outside of the structure. Located at an altitude of 1.200 meters above sea level, the monastery is a site of great historical and religious significance.
A tenth century city, located on the coast of Iona, The Ephesus was the site of the former Arzawan capital. One of the twelve cities that came under the Ionian league, the city actually flourished under the Roman Republic in 129 BC.
Ephesus was popular due to the temple of Artemis in far and wide regions across the world. The temple was one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. Also the city is cited in the Book of Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia. The site was attacked as well as destroyed and then rebuilt over a period of time. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most mesmerizing places to visit in Turkey.
One of the most astonishing and wonderful sites in Turkey, The Nemrut Dagi is an artificial mountaintop that is dotted with two colossal temples and a number of many giant statues. The site was lost to antiquity for nearly 2,000 years was only rediscovered in 1881 by a geologist.
The two temples or the hierothesiums are open air shrines while the statues are of Apollo, Zeus, Fortuna, Heracles and Antiochus I Epiphanes, who was the king of the Commagenes. The site appears as much mysterious as it is majestic and greatly enthralls visitors with its enchanting sights.
Roman theatre at Aspendos
One of the best preserved theaters of the Roman world, The Aspendos is located in the Antalya province of the Turkey, about seven kilometers of the central Serik. The history of the city probably goes back to about 1000 BC. It had become one of the most important cities in Pamphylia and was one the earliest places to start the minting of coins.
The majestic theater has a total diameters of 96 meters and has the seating capacity for nearly 7,000 people. It was designed by the Greek architect Zenon and was repaired time to time by Seljuqs, who used it as a caravanserai in the 13th century and then as a palace. The site is a great place to reveal the architectural wonders of the period and enjoy great sights.
Turkey is one of the countries of the World, that offering Visa on arrival to Indian traveling overseas.
One of most popular sites in Turkey, the Mardin is a wonderful city that is home to an amazing diversity of cultures as well as backgrounds. A complex mesh of rambling streets and by lanes, stone houses and minarets that cascade down a hillside, the experience of this fascinating city is unique and different. An impressive castle is located in the old city which is a definite tourist attraction.
Noticing its exclusive charm, the Turkish government has sought to promote the city across the world as one of the major sharers of Turkish identity. Its baked, brown colored buildings and structures is a kind of entry in to a different historical world altogether.
Aya Sofya, Istanbul
Once a grand cathedral, then the imperial mosque and now a museum, The Aya Sofya or the Hagia Sofya is an architectural delight. The building is most famous for its massive dome, which is both flat and wide and is considered to be much ahead of its time as far as engineering feats of 6th century is concerned.
It is certainly one of the most famous and sought after buildings in Istanbul and just as it mesmerized Mehmet the conqueror in the 1453, it never fails to mesmerize tourists even today. Hagia Sofya is one of the top scared sites in the world.
Hittite capital of Hattusa
A city dating back to 2nd millennium BC, Hattusha, the former capital of the Hiitie Empire is a wonderful congregation of urban structures. There are several complexes which have been preserved such as temples, fortifications and royal residences. The embellishments such as the Lion’s gate and Royal gate add to the splendor of the city. Hattusa enjoyed considerable influence in the ancient world.
Hattusha city is divided into two parts-The Lower City and the Upper City. While the remains of the lower city signal towards a civic life, upper city has several temples. The Lion Structures, portrayed on the outer face of the Lion Gates are great examples of Hittite stone carving.
Selimiye Camii, Edirne
Standing in the city of Edirne, The Selimiye mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque designed by Mimar Sinan between 1569 and 1575. It was proclaimed by its architect as one of the greatest achievements of Islamic architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mosque features a stunningly complex architecture, the magnificence of which enthrall the visitors merely on the first glance.
The mosque was constructed during the height of the Ottoman power and supremacy and hence is very much significant from the imperial point of view. The mosque is a not-to-be missed place if one really wants to witness the real taste of Turkish architectural pomp and grandeur.
One of the Turkey’s most fabulous trekking area, the Kacker Daglari makes a strong barrier between the northeastern Anatolian Plateau and The Black Sea coast. The Kacker Daglari is spread in the area of 70 km by 20 km and forms a rough triangular shape that stretches from Rize-ispir Road to the Hopa Artvin Highway.
The name Kacker literally means cross stone and the highest peak of the range rises to a height of 3,973 meters above sea level. The mountains are glaciated but alpine in character with steep cliffs and intermittent lakes. Due to its fragile character, the region was declared a national park in 1994. Most of the popular tourist activities that are carried out here are camping, hiking, mountaineering and also heli-skiing.
Zeugma Mosaic Museum, Gaziantep
Holding the distinction of being the biggest mosaic museum in the world, the museum is one of the great wonders of Turkey. The museum contains a total of 1,700 square meters of mosaics and is focused on Zeugma, which was founded by the army of The Alexander the Great. Spread in vast area of 90,000 square foot, the museum house great treasures, some of which still remain uncovered.
Some of the mosaics such as those of the poignant Gypsy girl and the Birth of the Venus are especially popular. The museum uses modern technology to explore its various exhibits and furnish an elegant introduction to the history of those turbulent times.
Bedecked with a long sandy beach, the Patara Beach is widely referred to as the birth place of the Santa Claus who is believed to have been born here in the 3rd century. The village is situated approximately 3.5 kilometers south of D400 coastal highway and is an ideal beach location for low cost travelers.
The beach is over 20 kilometers long and the best part about it is that it is never crowded, thus it furnishes a wonderful space to spend some isolated time. It is definitely a not-to-be missed place to enjoy vast expanses of sand and water and experience some cool and refreshing breeze.
Cruising the southwest coast
The Turkish coastlines are some of the most beautiful in the world and have a stunning diversity of attractions to enchant every kind of visitor. The cruises on the South West Coast offer some great adventures. You can revel in swimming in clear waters, explore little fishing villages, treat your taste buds in wonderful open air restaurants, search the underwater cities, sunbath on the sand, dance in nightly harbor bars and plenty more.
These cruises are extremely popular and furnish an ultimate experience of this incredible country and hence make sure to include them into your itinerary while enjoying your vacation in Turkey.