- Ancent City of Ephesus
- Hagia Sophia Museum / Church (Avasofya)
- Topkapia Palaceus
- Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Camii)
- Yerebatan Sarayi (Underground Cistern)
- Kapadokya Balloons
- The Bosphor
- Help Beach Bar
- Sultanahmed, District
- Goreme Open-Air Museum
While not as impressive as Istanbul, Ankara is still a worthwhile stop on your tour of the region. The main draw is the Hisar which is a hilltop Citadel from the Byzantine era which overlooks the city. Ankara was an important city during the Roman rule so there are a number of small Roman ruins scattered around the city. Many travellers also like to visit Ephesus (formerly Ionia), which had been inhabited by both the Greek and Roman Empires, leaving a significant number of well preserved ruins. Of primary importance is the Temple of Diana, which was one of the seven wonders of the Greek world and is still an incredibly impressive sight. You could easily spend a day here exploring all of the various ruins that the city has to offer.
This charming and popular resort town is perched on a cliff promontory on the Mediterranean coast. It boasts a picturesque walled old town and harbour, Kaleiçi, the monumental Hadrian's Gate, Kesik Minare and Yivli Minare mosques and Hidirlik Kulesi, the round Roman tower, and a superb Archaeological Museum. Dont miss Turkey's finest Roman aqueduct north of the city.
Bodrum, the birthplace of Herodotus, known as the father of history, is one of the finest resort towns on the South Aegean coast. Dominating the town from its position between the two harbours is the magnificent 15th century crusader Castle of Saint Peter. It now houses a fascinating Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Another Bodrum attraction is the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the crumbling remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Experience the historically and symbolically significant Bosphorus, the narrow strait that divides Europe from Asia. From here you see the Istanbul skyline, one of the most dramatic in the world. Two massive suspension bridges now span these bustling waters, in which tour boats, ferries, and fishing vessels vie for space. Tours up the Bosphorus stop at several notable buildings, including the Sultans' 19th-century Dolmabahçe Palace. On the far Asian shores lie Uskudar (Scutari), where Florence Nightingale nursed the wounded during the Crimean War; the charming Ottoman summer palace of Beylerbeyi; and a whole series of delightful villages full of fresh fish restaurants and fine old mansions, built by the 19th-century aristocracy. Looming at each other across the water are several Byzantine and Ottoman castles, including Anadoluhisar and Rumelihisar.
A visit to Cappadocia, southeast of Ankara, is a must. Marvel at the spectacular, almost surreal landscape of rock and cones, capped pinnacles and ravines where dwellings have been hewn from the soft, volcanic rock since 400 BC and the elaborate cave systems have sheltered generations of persecuted settlers. Check out the impressive UNESCO site of Gö?reme National Park, with over thirty magnificently frescoed Byzantine rock churches. There are over 400 underground cities in the area; two of the biggest and most enthralling are Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, with up to eight floors and complex systems of apartments, public rooms and streets that could house hundreds of people.
These narrow straits leading through to the Mediterranean were the site of the infamous Gallipoli landings during World War I. Inland, the cities of Edirne, in Thrace, and Bursa, in Marmara, are both fascinating historic towns with a wide range of magnificent architecture, such as the Selimiye Camii in Edirne, said to be a masterpiece of Turkish imperial architect Mimar Sinan. Make a short trip south from Gallipoli and discover the multi-level ruins of ancient Troy.
The only city in the world to span two continents, Istanbul is a lively, cosmopolitan place. Its illustrious past has left a rich legacy of magnificent palaces, mosques, churches and museums, coupled with bustling bazaars and a vibrant street life.
Istanbul is made up of three distinct cities. The old city of Istanbul is adorned with parks and gardens. Amongst hundreds of fascinating sights, the main attractions include Topkapi, the lavish palace of the Ottoman sultans overlooking the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus; the delicately decorated Blue Mosque, the only mosque in the world with six minarets; the vast dome of Aya Sophia, built in 536 as a Byzantine cathedral, later a mosque and now a museum and, underground, the Yerebatan Sarayi, a vast Byzantine cistern supported by 336 Corinthian columns.
Nearby, the commercial heart of the city, the Grand Bazaar, is still a captivating sight for shoppers and browsers alike, while further along the narrow inlet of the Golden Horn, the Kariye Camii has some of the finest Byzantine mosaics to survive today. Across the Golden Horn, 'modern' Istanbul, Beyoglu, dates back to the foreign cantonments of the 13th century. This is where you find the restaurants, hotels, and modern shops, while the truly modern areas around Taksim are home to cultural centres and exhibition halls.
The birthplace of Homer, Izmir is Turkey's third city and an important port on the Aegean coast. It is a modern metropolis set in a curving bay surrounded by terraced hillsides. As a result of earthquakes and a great fire, there are only a few reminders of old Smyrna - Kadifekale, the 4th century fortress situated on top of Mount Pagos. The fortress bestows a splendid view of the city, and of the Gulf of Izmir, the Roman agora with some well-preserved porticos and Statues of Poseidon and Artemis.
South from Ankara, past the vast salt lake of Tuz Gö?lü, the ancient city of Konya is one of the great spiritual centres of Turkey. The town is home to the Mevlana Tekkesi, the monastery and mausoleum of Mevlana Celâddin Rumi, one of the worlds most celebrated poets, mystics and founder of the Order of Whirling Dervishes. It is here where you can watch a ceremony of the renowned Whirling Dervishes. It is a mesmerizing ceremony, reflecting how all life revolves. Explore the 13th century Alâeddin Mosque, the Karatay Medrese (now an excellent Ceramics and Tile Museum) and the Iplikci Mosque, Konya's oldest structure. South of the city, Catalhö?yük is the second-oldest town in the world, dating back to the sixth millennium BC.
Take in the grandeur of the remains of the Hellenistic and Roman city of Ephesus (modern Selçuk). Alleged to have been founded in the 13th century BC, it has been carefully restored and is now one of the most spectacular ancient cities in the world. Top sights within the huge archaeological area include the Grand Theatre, where Saint Paul preached to the Ephesians, the 2nd century Temple of Serapi, the elegant façades of the Temple of Hadrian and the grand Library of Celsus. Also visit the site of Meryemana, reputed to be the house of the Virgin Mary and located very close to Ephesus in the small vale of Mount Bulbul Dagi (Nightingale Mountain).
Top Things to Do
Attend the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival
During the months of June and July, the city of Aspendos hosts this elegant festival held in the spectacular 2nd century amphitheatre.
Be Mesmerized by the Whirling Dervishes
Inspired by the 14th century mystic poet, Rumi, the Mevlevi Order performs the famous whirling dance (Sema). It is an amazing ceremony, reflecting how all life revolves, and can be seen in Konya, where the Order originated, or in Istanbul.
Buy a Carpet
Turkish carpets are famous all over the world. There are carpets available for every budget throughout the country. You will find them at bazaars, on the streets, in factories and showrooms. During your visit to Turkey, you will most likely be invited to visit one of the carpet showrooms or factories. Here, you will get the opportunity to learn about the process of creating carpets, from the beginning of dying the wool or silk, to the final stage of hand weaving. At the end of the tour you are presented with a dazzling carpet show, making it hard to resist a purchase. Hand-woven carpets gain value with age.
Climb a Mountain
Turkey is great for mountaineering, containing a number of mountain ranges with peaks ranging from heights of 3250m (10,660ft) to the 5165m (16,945ft) of Mount Agri (Ararat), the highest mountain in Anatolia, which provide excellent climbing possibilities for both novice and expert climbers. Make sure you get the required permission from the Turkish Mountaineering Club. For more information, visit www.climbararat.com/
Cruise the Bosphorus
Experience the historically and symbolically significant Bosphorus, the narrow strait that divides Europe from Asia. From here you see the Istanbul skyline, one of the most dramatic in the world. Two massive suspension bridges now span these bustling waters, in which tour boats, ferries, and fishing vessels vie for space. Tours up the Bosphorus stop at several notable buildings, including the Sultans' 19th-century Dolmabahçe Palace. An exotic journey not to be missed!
Enjoy your favourite water sport in the Mediterranean
The coast, particularly Izmir, has very warm waters and the water sports on offer are virtually unlimited, from simply swimming and diving to windsurfing, water skiing, sailing, and beyond.
It is not very well known, but Turkey has some excellent rivers for white-water rafting. The Coruh River is rated by professional rafters as one of the top ten in the world. Other rivers that are commercially rafted include the Dalaman River, the Kö?prü River and the Zamanti River.
Turkey's vast interior of unspoilt nature, mountains, plateaux, villages and ancient ruins is perfect for exploring on foot. Try the long-distance footpath, the Lycian Way, which stretches for 500 kilometres between Fethiye and Antalya providing a months walking through some of Turkeys most spectacular scenery.
Soak in the Soothing Waters at Pamukkale
The ancient Romans considered this site sacred for its magical healing waters, and the spa has been used for its therapeutic benefits ever since. Roman architecture dominates the city, including the ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis, a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
Treat Yourself to a Turkish Bath
Turkish baths are famous the world over. Known as hamams, a visit to one of Turkeys historical hamams is an unforgettable experience. In Istanbul, the most popular are the historic Galatasaray Hamam in Beyoglu and Cagaloglu Hamam in Sultanahmet, though local baths are often just as good.