Turkey is one of the world’s largest tourism country. Offering many different experiences to travelers, things to do in Turkey are too many to fit into one visit.
It is possible to see the traces of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires in Turkey. In addition, it is possible to swim on the blue flag beaches and make an unforgettable Mediterranean cruise.
In this article, we have prepared a selection of must-see places in Turkey. On the list are places where you can enjoy thousands of years of history, Mediterranean beaches and trekking.
Best Things to Do in Turkey 2021
There are 10 topics on the list of the best things to do in Turkey in 2021. If you are a first time visitor in Turkey, you can especially consider the first three titles.
However, if you want to go deeper, you should add places such as Mount Nemrut, Sumela Monastery and Troy, which are among the most mysterious places to visit in Turkey.
If you come to Turkey for sea and sun, you can choose magnificent holiday destinations such as Bodrum, Antalya and Oludeniz. However, these places also have a very rich historical and cultural heritage. Each of them is surrounded by ancient ruins.
As a tourist guide living in Istanbul, I would like to introduce you to the most beautiful spots of Turkey. Let’s share our list of the best things to do in Turkey in 2021, hoping to be useful.
Istanbul has the most visited tourist attractions in Turkey such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque. Being one of the largest metropolises in the world, Istanbul draws attention not only with its historical and cultural heritage, but also with its food and nightlife.
Street food tours are very popular in Istanbul in recent years. After visiting Istanbul’s world-famous museums, mosques and churches, you can also go after the local tastes of Istanbul.
The official history of Istanbul goes back to 700 BC. In this way, it is possible to trace civilizations such as Ancient Greece, Rome and Byzantium. There are many artifacts from late antiquity and middle ages. You can also visit churches from the Byzantine period and mosques from the Ottoman period.
It should be added that Istanbul has a very important place in the history of Christianity. Because one of the five patriarchs of Christendom since the reign of Emperor Constantine has been in Istanbul, ie Constantinople.
Ephesus has the best preserved Roman heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean. One of the three most important places to visit in Ephesus is the legendary Tempe of Artemis, another is the Library of Celsus, and the last is the House of Virgin Mary.
When you consider these three places, you see different periods of history. Temple of Artemis offers you clues about ancient Greek history, while Library of Celsus represents the peak period of the Roman Empire.
Ephesus has a rich early Christian heritage just like Istanbul in the top lines. House of Virgin Mary is a place on the Christian pilgrimage route. Ephesus was one of the most important Christian centers in Turkey during the late antiquity and Byzantine period.
Mediterranean Cruise ships will return to Turkey this year. Millions will visit Ephesus again, which accepts visitors from Istanbul, Bodrum and Kusadasi. For this reason, visiting Ephesus is among the most popular things to do in Turkey in 2021.
Cappadocia draws attention with its landforms formed over millions of years. Taking a hot air balloon flight and photographing the unique geography of Cappadocia is a great experience.
Cappadocia was a shelter for those who escaped from Roman persecution in the early Christian period. The settlers built houses, churches and underground cities by carving the spongy rocks of Cappadocia.
Cappadocia, the center of medieval monastic life, had many unique features. All rock churches and underground cities from this period can still be seen.
Trekking in the mysterious valleys of Cappadocia, staying in cave hotels and taking a hot air balloon in Cappadocia are among the best things to do in Turkey.
Pamukkale has one of the most interesting natural formations in Turkey. Walking on the white travertines in Pamukkale and taking pictures are among the best things to do in Turkey.
Pamukkale, which means Cotton Castle, was known as Hierapolis in ancient times. As you can see in the picture above, Hierapolis Ancient City has a very well preserved theater and ancient artifacts.
Those who visit Pamukkale can experience both the natural wonders of Turkey and its historical and cultural heritage of thousands of years. One week will be enough to see Istanbul, Ephesus and Cappadocia, which is the golden triangle of Turkey, as well as Pamukkale.
5. Mount Nemrut
Mount Nemrut is the most beautiful place to watch the sunrise in Turkey. Welcoming millions of visitors every year, Mount Nemrut is an ancient site on the UNESCO world heritage list.
Antiochus I, king of Commagene, wanted to build a monumental temple that blended ancient Greek gods with local faith. For this purpose, he placed huge sculptures on the top of this mountain.
Mount Nemrut, a treasure from antiquity, has recently become the subject of one of Netflix’s world-famous series. The Gift took place in two of the most mysterious places to visit in Turkey, such as Mount Nemrut and Gobeklitepe.
Going to the top of Mount Nemrut, watching the sunrise and photographing ancient sculptures are among the best things to do in Turkey in 2021. Because Mount Nemrut promises a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
6. Sumela Monastery
Sumela Monastery was founded where two monks having the same dream met while following the vision of the Virgin Mary. Visiting the monastery with such a mysterious story is one of the must-do things in Turkey.
Sumela Monastery is located at the foot of a mountain and it is not easy to reach it. In order to visit the monastery, it is necessary to climb slopes and stairs. But the result is definitely worth all the trouble.
Sumela Monastery is located in the city of Trabzon, north of Turkey. While going to the monastery, you visit the Black Sea region, which is famous for its natural beauties and forests.
The reason why Soumela Monastery was so famous in history is that it has the icon of Panagia Soumela, believed to have been made by Luke the Evangelist. For this reason, Sumela is a must-see place for those who follow the history of Christianity in Turkey.
Troy is the place where Trojan War, one of the most famous legends in history, took place. This ancient city mentioned in the Iliad written by Homer is one of the oldest places to visit in Turkey.
Troy has also been the subject of movies and TV series just like Mount Nemrut. In fact, the original horse used in the movie Troy, starring Brad Pitt, is on the coastal road in Canakkale.
When adding Troy to the list, I wanted to highlight the city of Canakkale that hosted it. Because the ancient city of Assos, famous for its scenery, and Gallipoli, the battlefield of the first world war, are also located here.
In short, in Canakkale, you can sunbathe and swim on the beaches of the Aegean Sea, as well as trace this cultural heritage. For this reason, Canakkale city is among the hidden treasures to be discovered in Turkey.
Antalya is Turkey’s most visited holiday city. Antalya, which has the most beautiful beaches and touristic facilities in Turkey, attracts tourists from all over the world. However, this is not all that Antalya offers to its visitors.
Antalya hosts Aspendos, one of the best preserved ancient theaters in Turkey. The theater, which is the pearl of Aspendos Ancient City, still preserves its architectural features from the ancient times.
Antalya has districts that are almost like holiday paradise. For example, Kaş (pronounced as kash) is one of Turkey’s unique holiday resorts. Kaş, a protected historical region, has boutique hotels, an aquarium-like sea and a fun nightlife.
Olympos, a protected historical place just like Kaş, has an ancient city by the sea. In order to swim in Olympos, you pass through ancient ruins and swim on the beach next to them.
On the other hand, Antalya has very luxurious holiday hotels. Most of them are in Kemer. If you like huge holiday villages that contain everything, Antalya offers you this opportunity.
Bodrum is the most popular holiday destination among locals in Turkey. Bodrum, which was named Halicarnassus in history, was known for the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the most famous architectural works of antiquity.
Today, Bodrum has some of the most luxurious holiday hotels in Turkey. Bodrum, which welcomes high-end guests, stands out with its blue flag beaches, restaurants and popular beach clubs.
Bodrum is located in the center of many places to visit on the western coast of Turkey. For this reason, you can join day trips from Bodrum to top tourist attractions such as Ephesus and Pamukkale.
Bodrum is also a port visited by the world’s most luxurious yachts. One of the best things to do in Turkey is to experience a Blue Cruise and you can do it in Bodrum. Local agencies in Bodrum offer cruise tours to the Greek Islands.
Oludeniz has the most magnificent beaches of Turkey. Oludeniz, which is a wonder of nature, provides you the opportunity to swim next to giant turtles. Oludeniz lagoon is a place where you can see sea creatures without equipment.
Oludeniz has blue flag beaches like Belcekiz that stretch for kilometers. You can jump with paragliding from Babadag Mountain and see this unique view from a bird’s eye view. Paragliding here is one of the most adventurous things to do in Turkey.
Oludeniz and its surrounding natural beauty are among the most photographed places in Turkey. Professional photographers definitely add the breathtaking views of this region to their portfolios.
Boat tours departing from Oludeniz allow you to explore the surrounding virgin bays. Thanks to these boat tours, you can swim in the most beautiful bays of the Mediterranean and see sunken ancient cities.
Best Things to Do in Turkey by Serhat Engul