15 Great reasons to visit Turkey for your next vacation
If you don’t already have your own list of reasons to visit Turkey, you will after reading this.
Truly one of my favorite things about Turkey is the diversity within such a small space.
And by small space I mean that Turkey is roughly 1.25 times the size of Texas. So comparatively speaking, fairly small.
Compared to other countries, however, it is similar in size to Chile and just over 25 times the size of Belgium. So size is quite relative.
While I do live in Turkey, this list can’t possibly be exhaustive but I hope it will help you see just a little of the beauty of this country.
I know for many Turkey seems like it is a third world country or part of the Middle East. Okay, well technically it is but it doesn’t feel anything like the Middle East.
If you don’t know anything about this country, this post will help you understand why you should definitely add it to your bucket list of places to see!
1. Turkish Hospitality
Turks are known for their hospitality. You can see it no matter where you are but it feels the most genuine precious when you get away from the touristy hubub.
If you ever get a chance to do a cooking class in a small town, do it!
You can also stop by a local shop. If you have any Turkish it will help you even more. I have a blog on Turkish for tourists to help you get started.
Their hospitality looks like things such as:
- serving you food and tea when going to someone’s house
- being offered tea by your local pastry owner across from the street while you wait for your taxi
- not leaving you to figure it out on your own but making sure you are taken and helped
2. Delicious Food
Turkey is also known for delicious foods and desserts and drinks.
One of my favorite things to do, espeically if you are traveling around the country a little bit, is to try the same food in different regions.
For instance, Manti, a handmade Turkish ravioli type dish, is so different depending on the region.
If you go to Istanbul you will typically see it covered by some yogurt and a bit of a chili sauce. If you go to Kayseri, Cappadocia, it will be more like a soup.
And my favorite, if you go to Sinop, it’s simply got some butter and walnuts on it.
You will be able to get a feel for the flavors in different parts of the country.
3. UNESCO Sites throughout the country
Another reason to visit Turkey is the long list of UNESCO sites. There are 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout Turkey.
This incredible architectural feat was originally a Greek Orthodox Christian Cathedral built in the 500s. It is still standing to this day.
Through the years it was converted to a mosque then a museum and now back to a mosque.
That being said, make sure you know what to where when you go to the mosque as well as when to go, i.e. not during the 5 prayer times. Th
One of the most well known ancient cities in Turkey.
Though it is only one of the 7 churches from Revelation in the Christian bible, its the only one on the World Heritage List.
You can easily spend a few hours wandering around and places where Paul walked or what ancient construction was like.
One of my favorite spots is the terraced home exhibition. It is an extra fee that was well worth it in my opinion.
There you can see these ancient terraced houses built into the hill. Fascinating!
This ancient site is believed to provide insight into religious beliefs and lifestyles of people who lived in Upper Mesopotamia some 11,500 years ago.
That’s a long time. It is located in the mountains of southeastern Anatolia region and is known for it’s distinctive T shaped pillars that are covered in carvings of animals.
If you have some extra time on your hands or love seeing really old places, this is probably up their on the age scale.
4. Stunning beaches
The beaches along the Turkish Riviera are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
If you are along the Mediterranean, the water is typically warmer than that of the Aegean Sea.
It is also interesting to see that not all beaches are the same in Turkey. Some are white powdered sand and some are tiny pebbles and some are bigger rocks.
Google maps is helpful for figuring out if it is the type of beach you want to go to.
Some of my favorites are below. You can’t go wrong with these!
- Çeşme in İzmir
- Ölüdeniz in Fethiye
- Konyaaltı in Antalya
5. Istanbul – Ancient city that spans two continents
This is such a fascinating ancient city that spans two different continents. You can even take a private cruise through the Bosphoros and explore from the water!
It is the city once known as Constantinople and carries with itself, even now, the rich history in its ancient ruins left from long ago.
You can wander buildings hundreds of years old, drink Turkish coffee and chat with the local shop owner or simple wander around and see the interesting mix of modern mingling with the ancient.
There is so much to say about this incredible city! Learn more about where it is located.
6. Ancient sites and cities
Besides the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there are also other ancient places.
There are places like like Kayaköy that were deserted in the great exchange following the first World War.
This is one of those ancient sites that is so worth seeing. It is tucked up in the mountains in Trabzon in the Black Sea region.
This monastery is believed to date back to the mid 300s.
If you head up here, don’t miss it but make sure you call ahead of time because there is often a lot of reconstruction and repair as it is truly and ancient site.
If it is closed, you can still go up to it, you just won’t be able to enter it.
This is another one of the seven churches of Revelation. This is personally my favorite. It will take you a few hours to walk around as well if you see all the things.
If you’re into ancient and old churches, the restoration of this one is stunning. You can see the mosaics on the floor and the general structure of how it was built. It’s quite enjoyable.
7. Quaint towns
There are always quaint towns tucked just off the beaten path.
What comes to mind especially is all the small mountain towns you can find in the Black Sea region over in Rize.
If you get to visit a small town, it is truly like stepping back in time. The time moves even slower and things are a bit more natural. It is a genuinely enjoyable experience.
There is also Sirince close which is close to Ephesus. It is a small town known for their sweet wine.
If you’re into spas, you absolutely must try a hamam before you go! There are often a hamam at the bigger and nicer hotels.
There are also stand alone hamams. This is probably one of my favorite reasons to visit Turkey.
My favorite and the one I frequent monthly is located in Kadikoy, called the Aziziye Hamam. The important thing to note is this is a place many locals go.
The prices are incredibly reasonable and they give a great scrub down.
I like a good strong massage so their light massage didn’t do it for me but if you like something light and soft it might be for you.
If you prefer something more upscale but still reasonable you can check out the Cağaloğlu Hamamı.
And a truly incredible experience check out the Hürrem Sultan Hamam which located conveniently in between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
9. Natural Beauty
For all you nature lovers out there, there are some incredible natural beauties throughout Turkey. There are so many mountains and lakes and parks. You’re going to love it!
This is such an interesting place. It is technically on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list but it is a natural formation of terraced basins.
You’ll see petrified waterfalls and can feel the warm calcite-laden waters that have formed this unique and natural beauty.
While you’re there, don’t forget to check out Cleopatra’s pool which you can read more about below.
There are so many national parks and mountain ranges here as well. There are places for skiing, hiking, camping and more.
Make sure that if you head to the National Parks or mountains that you rent a car. It will make life so much easier!
You can find the different National Parks on google maps but there are some in Fethiye, Black Sea, Cappadocia, outside of Istanbul and more. Find one that suits you and enjoy.
10. Hot Springs
There are many different places that you can go for hot springs in Turkey.
There are ones that are well maintained and then others that are more natural. Either way you will be able to experience the relaxing atmosphere and warm water.
Cleopatra’s pool is located up by Pamukkale. If you are thinking to do one or the other, they are both worth seeing.
One of the fun things about Cleopatra’s pool is that there are ancient ruins in the water that they have left there.
So as you float in the warm water and let your body heal a bit with all the minerals, you also get to see some history below your feet!
Yalova Hot Springs
Over in Yalova there are more hot springs. We went to the Yalova Thermal Hotel while were there to swim in the hot thermal water.
We didn’t stay here just did a day pass but you can stay there and the thermal pools are included.
What I loved specifically about this places was they had this pipe over in the corner with really cold water.
You could just stand in front of it and almost cool down a bit before you were back in the warm water again.
There are other places for hot springs in Yalova as well if you’re looking for something a bit different. Happy hunting.
11. Unique Beauty
There is so much unique beauty here in Turkey. Places like Pamukkale. Like the cliffs of the Black Sea region. Or even the abandoned cities throughout the country.
There is also Cappadocia. With it’s fairy towers and caves carved into the side of the mountains, you will see something truly unique.
As you wander through the sites of Cappadocia you will be transported back in time to a different world.
There are even multiple underground cities where entire people groups built out for themselves these homes to escape the terrors of the time.
To this day you can see their ingenuity and innovation.
Cappadocia is also home to epic hot air balloon rides where you’ll get to see so much this incredible landscape from the most epic view.
I am not a huge shopper but if you are, you will find some incredibly shopping in Turkey. In fact, people come from surrounding countries do shopping here in Turkey.
People from around Turkey come specifically to Istanbul to spend a weekend shopping then go back home.
While there are not as many international options in a lot of ways, there is quite the selection still. There are two main places I would say that people shop.
The Grand Bazaar was built in 1455 A.D. and spans a massive 61 streets and has over 4,000 shops! It is considered the world’s oldest and biggest covered market.
The prices you’ll find inside are nearly double sometimes of what you can find if you step just outside but it is still worth seeing.
If you need some ideas for gifts or want a few tips on how to haggle, don’t miss this blog.
My preference is to shop outside of the grand bazaar.
You go outside toward Eminonu and all the way to Eminou ferry port you will see the same types of shops as you saw inside just with better prices. It is afterall where the locals shop.
Then there are the many malls that are littered throughout Turkey. There are some incredible ones that include a mini theme park inside like the Mall of Istanbul.
There are others that are just nice and big. Then there are some that are brand new and small.
You won’t tired of places to shop until you drop. If you want to look for them on the google map, my recommendation is that you use AVM Istanbul to start.
That simply means alisveris merkezi. The literal translation is essentially the center for taking and giving.
For all the adrenaline junkies out there, you can also do a variety of adventure sports and activities like kayaking, scuba diving, paragliding, jet skiing and so much more.
There are many different places for all the things.
Fethiye has some of the best paragliding so I have been told. I was down there showing a friend around Turkey and there happened to be a massive paragliding event.
People had come from all over the world and they would take off one after another off the top of the cliff. It was so incredible to observe.
Regardless of where you are going in Turkey, you will be able to find something to suit your need for adventure.
14. Budget Friendly
The economy in Turkey has been strong for a while but in recent years between the pandemic and other factors, the economy has taken a strong hit, just like everywhere else really.
This means your dollar will go farther than it would in the states, though maybe not as far as you might think because of inflation.
You can check the current exchange rate to get a feel for what to expect.
15. Rich History
If you are a history buff, you will love the variety of history this place holds. So many different cultures settled in Turkey and it still bears the marks in many ways from each one.
There are places from ancient Christian times, Ottoman days and different parts of Turkey that were under control of the Roman and Byzantine empires. I’m not a history buff but it is all still quite fascinating.
Come and enjoy a tour led in English and soak up all the historical facts. I live here and I am still discovering all the time!
If you’re thinking of your next vacation, you won’t run out of reasons to visit Turkey. I highly recommend it!
There isn’t a shortage of things to be done, experiences to be had or food to be eaten.