There are so many great things to do on a trip to Turkey. From exploring the Kekova Island Sunken Ruins and Topkapı Palace, to admiring the Hagia Sophia and shopping in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, Turkey has something for everybody. Not to mention the amazing beaches through its more than 8000km of coastline and massive mountain ranges, including Mount Arat. Then there’s the food… hello mezze, İskender kebap and Turkish Delight! So, here is what we consider to be the top things to do on a trip to Turkey, certainly worthy of a place on your Turkey Bucket List.
Here’s our pick of the top things to do on a trip to Turkey
The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, it attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily! One of the most visited tourist attractions in Istanbul cannot be missed especially if you plan on bringing some Turkish souvenirs home. Browse the Turkish coffee sets, leather goods, copperware, kilim bags, evil eyes and Turkish handicrafts here. Hone your haggling skills and don’t get lost in the narrow streets.
Cappadocia is an ancient district in east-central Anatolia, in the center of present-day Turkey, (largely in the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces). Best known for it’s unique moon-like landscape, “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations, underground cities and cave churches. When visiting make sure you see the Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers).
Ayasofya (also commonly known by its Greek name, Hagia Sophia) is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires. Built in AD 537 before the Middle Ages, it was the world’s largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. Hagia Sophia served as a center of religious, political, and artistic life for the Byzantine world. It was also an important site of Muslim worship after Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 and designated the structure a mosque.
One of the most popular places to visit in Istanbul, the Topkapı Palace or the Seraglio, is a large museum in the east of the Fatih district of Istanbul in Turkey. This enormous palace was the Imperial residence of Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years. Topkapı is the subject of more colorful stories than most of the world’s museums put together and well worth touring.
Ankara Castle is a popular tourist destination. Dating back to the Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires, Ankara Castle is one of the Turkey’s oldest sights and a beautiful place to visit in the Turkish capital. Ankara castle is also known as Ankara Kalesi and is a fort that dates back to the medieval era. Although no one knows the precise time construction of the castle took place it is believed that it was built sometime during the 7th century AD.
Hierapolis, the “Sacred City,” is in Pamukkale in south central Turkey. Founded as a curative center by Eumenes II of Pergamum in 190 BC. The city thrived under the Roman as well as the Byzantine empires when large Orthodox Christian and Jewish communities populated it. The recurring earthquakes destroyed it, and after 1334 AD the town was finally abandoned. The ruins of Hierapolis are well preserved to this day and the sacred Hierapolis of Phrygia, one of the ancient cities of the Aegean, was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988. If you pay a visit, make sure you see the Agora, the Roman Theatre, and visit the on-site museum.
Kekova Island Sunken Ruins
Discover Kekova Island Sunken Ruins in Kaleüçağız Köyü. Hidden just under the waters around this Turkish island are the ruins of a once great city. In 2000 BCE a peaceful federation was built by the Lycian which surrounded Simena, a sea trading city. In the 2nd century CE, the area got hit by violent earthquakes and as a result, sank under the water. Currently, you can book boat tours, Kayaks or private charters to Kevoka Island Sunken Ruins which are now only a few meters under the clear Mediterranean waters. You will be able to spot shipyards, houses and public buildings and other awesome structures.
Enjoy a private guided tour of Suleymaniye Mosque which crowns one of İstanbul’s seven hills (the Third hill of Istanbul) and dominates the Golden Horn, providing a landmark for the entire city. The huge size of the Suleymaniye Mosque is one of its most distinctive features. Commissioned by Suleiman The Magnificent and designed by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan. An inscription specifies the foundation date as 1550 and the inauguration date as 1557.
Aqua Vega Aquarium
Aqua Vega Aquarium is one of the most extensive underwater aquariums in Europe and located in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. Also home to a large tunnel aquarium, it’s a great place for the entire family to have a fun day out. Check out exhibits like the Seashell museum, the Adrenaline world and the jungle corner where you can get up close to sharks, napoleon fish, koi fish and more.
Ölüdeniz is a small neighborhood and beach resort in the Fethiye district of Muğla Province in South West Turkey. Famous for the ‘blue lagoon’ of Ölüdeniz Tabiat Parkı and the beautiful Belcekız Beach with with sunbeds and umbrellas to rent. Overlooking the village is Babadağ mountain from where paragliders take to the skies. You can also take boat trips and visit the nearby town of Fethiye while here.
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There is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems and awesome things to do on a trip to Turkey.
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