Top 5 Things To Do In Turkey: Tourist Attractions

No other country can lay claim to the oldest continuously inhabited region in the world in Anatolia or commonly referred to as Asia Minor.  The Anatolian peninsula (or Anatolian plane) is the location where human kind can trace its earliest settlements (say hi to grandpa).  Turkey is the location where western culture and the Islamic east clash, fortunately for the world this has provided a unique and dynamic land to explore instead of war.  Here are the top 5 things to do in Turkey:


Hagia Sophia, Hagia Sophia in Turkey, things to do in turkey

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

The New York of Turkey, it is the cultural and economic powerhouse of the country.  Similar to Sicily, it has been a major trading route throughout history causing it to be conquered by almost every culture imaginable including the Romans, Greeks, Persians, and even the Byzantines.

You can even find great cheap hotels in Istanbul and there are plenty of hostels in the city as well.  Some of the highlights of Istanbul are listed below, don’t forget to see the Roman Baths and Hipondrome!

  • Hagia Sophia – Built 500 AD by Justinian the Great, this church/museum exemplifies incredible Byzantine and Islamic Art.  It stands as a Mosque today (openly accepts tourists) and stood as a largest enclosed area until modern times.
  • Topkapi palace Built originally for Sultan of Ottoman Turkish Empire, he housed a bevy of concubines behind the walls (thousands during the height of the empire).  Its massive, incredibly gorgeous, and dripping with history.
  • The Grand Bazaar Travelers would cross the roads of Istanbul to get to their destination and commonly stop at one of the world’s most famous spice markets.  You can find anything your heart craves in the popular market!


cappadocia turkey, underground cities, underground city

A view of the planes in Cappadocia

Not on the popular things to do in Turkey list, Cappadocia is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the world.  Some of 36 underground cities once housed upward of 20,000 people.  Unique rock formations can be seen across the planes for great picture opportunities.  They even use to have horse stables and tombs, a very interesting place to visit.


Anıtkabir, Mausoleum in turkey,

Anıtkabir, the Mausoleum to the founder and first president of Turkey

The capital city of Turkey is the 2nd largest city behind Istanbul and the political capital of the country as well.  There are museums galore providing great resources and information about everything Anatolia (you remember, grandpa).

You can feast your eyes on history and architecture all over the city from the Romans, the Ottoman Turks, and Islam.  The city also boasts gorgeous parks and a great shopping district.

The Ionian Coast & Ruins Of Ephesus

The Celsius Library in Ephesus, ephesus turkey, things to see in turkey

The Celsius Library in Ephesus

Ephesus– was a crucial port and strategic location in ancient times and is also located in a very fertile valley.  The first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary is in Ephesus since that legend has it that she died at this location.  A great combination of Greek and Roman ruins throughout the area including a great Greek Theater and the popular Celsus Library also can be seen in here.

The Ionian Coast – The Turkish Riviera is formally part of the Mediterranean and boasts incredible views of the sea and use to be a very Greek in ancient times.

Pergamon (Pergamum or Pergamo):

Pergamon altar, Pergamon altar in museum

The Pergamon Alter in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany

Another very important city in ancient times this city sits on top of a hill providing great views of the Turkish lands.  Pergamon’s library is the 2nd best in the ancient Greek Civilization and houses one of the first spa’s and medical centers in the world.  Take a seat at the Greek Theater that use to house 10,000 people and maybe afterwards see what ancient healing was like!


  1. Istanbul is a fantastic city and I’m looking forward to visiting Cappadocia early next year. One point though, the Hagia Sophia hasn’t been a mosque since the 1930s. It is now a museum.

    1. I agree Shane.. I tried to point out that it was a church at one point, then a mosque, and now functions as a museum. thats why every one is able to go in and see the incredible structure. Normally you are not allowed inside mosques unless you are a practicing Muslim. Did you get to see the Hagia sophia?

      1. I visit mosques all over the world except during prayer times and special ceremonies, and was never even asked my religion,

  2. Awesome recap. My wife and I are contemplating a trip to Turkey in the spring, and this is a great starter for us if we decide to go. Looks amazing!!

    1. Adam you cant miss Cappadocia.. the place is incredible!! Instanbul is a fascinating place as well, I plan on living there for roughly 3-4 months to see it completely and get a good feel for the culture. thanks for the comment!

  3. Awesome recap. My wife and I are contemplating a trip to Turkey in the spring, and this is a great starter for us if we decide to go. Looks amazing!!

  4. Excellent post Marcello. Great to come across this useful and informative post on your travel blog. May I add a few other suggestions to your list of top things to do in Turkey. I’d include a gulet cruise – a trip aboard one of the traditional Turkish wooden boats, mainly handcrafted in Bodrum, that offer you a relaxing and marvellous way to enjoy the country’s beautiful Mediterranean and Aegean coastlines and their turquoise waters. Not only is a gulet holiday a great way to relax and see the landscapes it’s also a perfect way to explore some of the numerous archaeological sites, some of which are only accessible by sea.

    Another recommendation is Antalya, the thriving and sunny Mediterranean city and its environs which include some incredibly well preserved ancient sites, if archaeology interests you. Within a short distance, is Aspendos with probably the best preserved Roman theatre in the world, Perge, a veritable Ephesus which is being excavated by Turkish archaeologists, and a host of other fantastic sites like Termessus, Selge and Phaselis. The city’s archaeological museum also happens to be one of the very finest in the country. Very much worth seeing.

  5. Try the sweets and the local kebab. They’re great!
    Turkey is a great place. I could eat lots of delicacies. It was fun.
    Plus: despite being a Muslim country, they have beer! And the ones I drank were quite good beers…

  6. This is a great list. There are so many amazing things to see and do in Turkey.
    I cannot recommend Kapadocia (Cappadocia), Pamukkale Travertines and the ancient Roman cities of Hierapolis and Ephesus enough, not to mention the underground city of Derinkuyu. Well worth checking out. I absolutely love Turkey and cannot wait to head back there. So much history and culture. Thank you so much for reminding me 🙂

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