What are the top 10 things to do in Turkey for a tourist? There’s a lot to see and do in the country. You will love to go on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, paraglide at Pamukkale, enjoy sea kayaking, cross the Bosphorus at Istanbul, take the Eastern Express to Kars, take a trip back in time to Troy, see ancient ruins, spend time at the Grand Bazar of Istanbul, stay in a cave hotel, and enjoy your Turkish bath. Turkey is famous for so many things, which is why so many tourists visit the country. Turkey is the 8th most popular tourist country in the world.
Here’s a list of the 10 things you should see and do in Turkey. This list is divided into cities and regions so you find it convenient to plan your Turkey vacation. Get your vacation ideas for Turkey here.
10 Things to Do in Turkey
Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, is a treasure trove of attractions. The city has many palaces, museums, mosques, and vibrant bazaars. Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar are the main sights. Istiklal Avenue has many shops, restaurants, beautiful architecture. Take a ride on the red heritage tram.
- The Bosphorus Strait divides the city into Europe and Asia. There are many viewpoints that give you a unique sight. Take the ferry to cross the strait. You will find many attractions on both sides.
- See the ancient monuments that date back to the Ottoman, Byzantine, and Roman periods, like the Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and the Blue Mosque.
- Visit the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art if you are interested in contemporary Turkish art.
- Go to the Spice Market for souvenir hunting.
- Try the bars and clubs.
- Head out to the Princes’ Islands.
It’s the Turkish Riviera. Make Antalya your getaway to the Mediterranean. It is often called the Turquoise Coast because of the stunning blue water. You will find luxury yachts in the harbor area.
- Walk along the pebbled beaches.
- Visit the Antalya Museum.
- Learn about the local culture.
- Visit Düden Falls and the Perge ruins on day trips.
- Look at fishermen and their yachts at Karaalıoğlu Park.
- Visit the shopping malls and teashops.
Derinkuyu is an incredible underground city that goes up to eight levels deep. There are many rooms and passageways in this unique city. The city is so big that it could shelter more than 20,000 people that too with their food and livestock. There are stables, wineries, churches, storage rooms, and refectories.
- See how people lived to escape from the Roman Empire.
- Look at the kitchens, cellars, storage facilities, rooms, and churches.
- Get a feel of history as you walk through the long and narrow corridors.
A hilly region with stunning natural beauty. Located in central Turkey, this semi-arid region is best known for its cone-shaped tall rock formations, which are called “fairy chimneys”. The best way to see them and appreciate the scenery is from a hot air balloon ride. There are also Bronze Age homes in the walls of the valleys. Early Christians used to live in these caves.
- Look at the unique moon-like landscape.
- Marvel at the rock formations, which were created by winds and eroding rain over thousands of years.
- Look at the lava flows.
- Visit some of the valleys and deep canyons.
- Go to the cave churches and look at the medieval painting.
- Hot air ballooning.
A beautiful coastal town along the Mediterranean. This modern resort town sits over the ancient Greek city of Antiphellos. You can still see the 4th century BC Lion Tomb and its carved lion heads and an ancient theater. You will find many Lycian rock tombs around the city. The modern-day Kas has many beautiful cafes and cobblestoned streets. There are whitewashed houses with bougainvillea om the town center.
- Walk through the cobbled streets.
- Buy souvenirs at the small antique shops.
- Visit the harbor for breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
- Visit the Cukurbag and Saribelen villages.
- Look over from the Gedife Cliffs.
A small village on the Aegean Sea. This is a top destination in Turkey for its white Belcekız Beach and Ölüdeniz Tabiat Parkı blue lagoon. The Babadağ mountain overlooks the village. You will see many paragliders taking to the skies from the hills. There are many secluded bays close to Olüdeniz.
- Relax on the secluded sandy bay at the mouth of the lagoon.
- Take pictures. This is one of the most pictured Mediterranean beaches.
- Walk along the shores and appreciate the stunning turquoise water.
- Paraglide for panoramic views.
Library of Celsus
This is among the best historical attractions in Turkey. The ruins of this 2nd century Roman library is located in ancient Ephesus. Named after a former Roman governor, the library was one of the most impressive structures during the days of the Roman Empire. More than 12,000 scrolls were kept here.
- Look at the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
- See Arete, the personification of virtue inside the library.
- See the huge pillars and columns.
- Find out how the library was beautifully rebuilt in the 1960s and 1970s.
Located in southeastern Turkey, Mount Nemrut is a famous peak where you will find hundreds of ancient sculptures. It is believed that the stone sculptures were carved around an ancient royal tomb. It is breathtaking.
- See the beheaded statues on top of the hill that date back to the 1st century BC.
- Catch the stunning views from the top.
- Visit before daybreak to see the sunrise, and look at the beautiful orange hues on the sculptures with and without the heads.
- You can also go on a helicopter tour.
This is a beautiful seaside resort on the Aegean coast. It is surrounded by many olive groves that make most of Turkey’s olive oil. The Greek island of Lesvos is very close. You can also take the ferry to visit Alibey Island. There are many waterside open-air restaurants. Ayvalık is a top draw for boating, swimming, relaxing, and dining. İzmir is only 94 miles away.
- Walk the cobbled streets of this beautiful town.
- Get amazed as you look at the stunning Ottoman architecture.
- Catch beautiful views of the Aegean Sea from the harbor.
- Spend time at the longest sandy beach in Turkey.
- Spend an entire day at Sarımsaklı Beach.
Fish Markets and Seafood
The Black Sea, Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea surround Turkey from three sides. So fish lovers will have a great time here. The street food is also very good in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey.
- Visit the small fishing villages along the coast.
- Look at their catch as they bring the boats in.
- Visit a fish market to look at the wide variety.
- Try sea food delicacies.