Things not to miss in Turkey

updated 8/31/2021
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Invaded and settled from every direction since the start of recorded history, Turkey combines influences from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Central Asia. Find out more in our feature on facts about Turkey

. In the meantime, enjoy these highlights of things not to miss in Turkey.

#01 Hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia

A lighter-than-air float gives an unrivalled perspective on the “fairy chimneys” and other features of the landscape.

© Shutterstock

#02 İshak Pasa Sarayı

Strategically set astride the Silk Route, this architecturally eclectic seventeenth-century palace is one of eastern Turkey’s most emblematic sites.

© YoncaEvren/Shutterstock

#03 Monastery of Sumela

Dramatically built into the side of the Pontic mountains, this Byzantine monastery is adorned with beautiful frescoes.

© MehmetO/Shutterstock

#04 Whirling Dervishes

Members of a sect founded by the Konya-based Sufi mystic Celaleddin Rumi conduct “turning” ceremonies to effect union with God.

© Shutterstock

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#05 Ancient Ephesus

This ancient city, addressed by Saint Paul in one of his epistles, is the best preserved of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Celsus Library in Ephesus, Turkey © muratart/Shutterstock

#06 Nemrut Dağı

Extraordinary mountain-top temple-tomb complex that’s the outlandish legacy of an obscure, ancient kingdom.

Nemrut Dagi in Turkey © Waj/Shutterstock

#07 Shopping in a bazaar

You may not get a bargain, but you can’t beat the banter, especially at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar


Grand Bazaar, Istanbul © Berke/Shutterstock

#08 Roman Theatre at Aspendos

Anatolia’s largest and best preserved Classical theatre hosts an opera and ballet festival in summer.

Ancient amphitheater Aspendos in Antalya, Turkey © Ryzhkov Oleksandr/Shutterstock

#09 Mardin

Medieval houses, historic mosques and churches, and boutique hotels mingle in this hilltop eyrie, high above the Mesopotamian plain.

© akimov konstantin/Shutterstock

#10 Haghia Sophia, Istanbul

The seemingly unsupported dome of Haghia Sophia is one of the architectural marvels of the world.

Haghia Sophia interior at Istanbul Turkey © Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock

#11 Hittite capital of Hattusa

The ancient capital of the Hittites still impresses, with its extensive perimeter walls.

© Nejdet Duzen/Shutterstock

#12 Selimiye Camii , Edirne

This sixteenth-century mosque is the masterpiece of the greatest Ottoman architect, Mimar Sinan


© MDOGAN/Shutterstock

#13 Kaçkar Dağları

Lying just inland from the Black Sea, this glacially sculpted granite mountain range, spangled with dozens of lakes, is Turkey’s premier trekking venue.

© UBC Stock/Shutterstock

#14 Zeugma Mosaic Museum , Gazıantep

A fabulous collection of mosaics from ancient Zeugma, a Hellenistic/Roman frontier city now under the waters of a reservoir on the nearby Euphrates


Roman Floor Mosaic from Zeugma, Turkey © bumihills/Shutterstock

#15 Visiting a hamam

One of the traditional sensual comforts of Turkey, hamams (Turkish baths) make a wonderfully relaxing (and cleansing) way to round off a day’s sightseeing.

Interior of Turkish sauna, classic Turkish hammam © Mr. Tempter/Shutterstock

#16 Patara beach

This unspoiled beach, one of the longest in the Mediterranean, is the perfect coda to a visit of the nearby, eponymous ancient city.

Aerial view of an untouched Patara Beach in Antalya, Turkey © proslgn/Shutterstock

#17 Kariye Museum , Istanbul

The finest collection of Byzantine mosaics and frescoes in Turkey, adorning an attractive church near the city’s land walls.

© Teo Stuivenberg/Shutterstock

#18 Baklava

The favourite dessert of the sweet-toothed Turks, rich, buttery baklava, in which thin layers of filo pastry are stuffed with pistachio or walnuts, is best enjoyed with a strong, black Turkish coffee.

Baklava © korkut kazcin/Shutterstock

#19 Gallipoli cemeteries and memorials

Moving and unexpectedly beautiful legacy of one of the fiercest campaigns of World War I.

© Sadik Gulec/Shutterstock

#20 Cruising the southwest coast

The deeply indented coastline between Bodrum

and Finike is the venue for multi-day cruises on a gulet, or traditional wooden motor-schooner.

© nexus 7/Shutterstock

#21 Acropolis of Ancient Pergamon

Pergamon was one of the chief Roman cities of Anatolia, and extensive ruins remain; shown here is the sanctuary of the restored Trajan temple.

Temple of Trajan at Acropolis of Pergamon or Pergamum in Turkey © OPIS Zagreb/Shutterstock

#22 Lycian Way

This well-marked path, suited to all abilities, follows some of the most scenic portions of the Turquoise Coast


© Quinn Martin/Shutterstock

#23 Byzantine frescoes, Cappadocia

Cappadocia's many rock-hewn churches contain superb early Christian frescoes.

© Jan Miko/Shutterstock

#24 Museum of Anatolian Civilizations , Ankara

Home to finds of native cultures from the Stone Age onwards, this superb museum is the capital’s one must-see attraction.

© zebra0209/Shutterstock

#25 Ani ruins

Medieval Armenian capital in a superb setting at the Turkish border, scattered with fine churches.

© Fat Jackey/Shutterstock

#26 Churches of the Georgian valleys

The medieval churches northeast of Erzurum

are among northeastern Anatolia’s most striking monuments.

© zaferkizilkaya/Shutterstock

#27 Lake Van

The cobalt-blue expanse of Turkey's largest lake is at its most scenic in late spring or early summer.

Last light at The Armenian Church, Van, Turkey © B Studio/Shutterstock

Travel advice for Turkey

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updated 8/31/2021
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