Turkey awaits! If you’re planning your trip and on the hunt to find the best places to visit in Turkey (whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with your family) you’ve come to the right place.
Best Places to Visit in Turkey for Couples
Traveling to Turkey with your significant other and looking for the most romantic spots? Places you both can relax and enjoy, together? There are many amazing places for couples to visit in Turkey, but what sets these three places apart are their charm and ambiance.
Bodrum is a Southwestern, coastal city in Turkey that’s been the go-to summer destination for tourists from all over the world for at least the past 15 years. It has centuries-old castles and mausoleums, crystal clear turquoise beaches with warm water and no sharks, and a ton of restaurant and nightlife options.
Not only can you explore some of Turkey’s rich history, but you can also just as easily step into the beach and resort life. There’s delicious food, lots of choices for entertainment, a bustling nightlife, and fun beach clubs with comfy seating and endless cocktails. If you want to explore even more, you can book a spot on a sailboat and go on a day-long adventure to nearby pristine bays to swim and snorkel, while in between enjoying an authentic Turkish lunch served by the captain.
Bodrum is a 40-minute drive from the nearest airport (Milas-Bodrum Airport) and there are both connecting flights from Istanbul and direct flights from several major cities around the world.
And with an abundance of taxis and hotel transportation options in Bodrum, you won’t need to rent a car unless you want to travel outside of the city.
(Turkish: Datça – pronounced Datcha)
Datca is a small, charming town in the Southwest of Turkey, along the coast. It’s just a 1-hour ferry ride away from Bodrum and is known for its authentic stone and bougainvillea-covered streets, rock-climbing, and the fact that it’s a less crowded (and cheaper) tourist destination.
It’s home to many small, pristine beaches and relics from the Romans, Byzantines, and the Ottoman Empire, so there’s rich history to explore and nice beaches to sit back and relax.
For couples, you can enjoy romantic evenings right beside the water at restaurants with hanging lights, greenery, and delicious, fresh food and drinks. Datca is perfect if you and your significant other want to get away from crowds and aren’t into a bustling nightlife scene. There are several nightclubs around the town, but it’s nothing like Bodrum.
Datca is reachable via the Milas-Bodrum Airport or the Dalaman Airport. Both airports are major hubs and about a 2.5 to 3-hour drive away from Datca. You can also reach Datca with a bus if you prefer. There are bus routes to Datca from several Turkish cities. If you’re booking flight tickets, be sure to compare flight prices from both airports.
Cappadocia is perfect for couples who love to adventure together. It’s a region in the middle of Turkey and full of interesting sights and fun things to do.
You’ll explore multiple valleys of fairy chimneys (tall, slender rock formations) and gorgeous hiking trails, thousands of years old houses and churches carved into the sides of tall rocky hills, and you’ll be able to hop into an air balloon and experience the hot air balloon ride of a lifetime.
There’s also two notable open-air museums (the Goreme Open-Air Museum and Zelve Open-Air Museum), an underground village, ATV rentals, and two historical castles.
To make your stay even more romantic, be sure to book a cave hotel and watch the sunset together. You’ll make lasting memories as a couple and be glad you enjoyed this unique place together.
Traveling by plane, there are two options: Kayseri Erkilet Airport and Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport. Both are a 1 to 1.5-hour drive to Cappadocia, but if you don’t want to rent a car, there are plenty of buses that can also transport you from the airport to your hotel in Cappadocia.
Best Places to Visit in Turkey Other Than Istanbul
Sometimes you want to get out of the big city and experience other, equally amazing places. If that’s how you’re feeling, there’s no shortage of great places to visit in Turkey other than Istanbul. In fact, there’s so many options that it’s hard to choose from all of them. These three places each have their unique attractions and you’ll never run out of fun things to do.
Izmir is one of Turkey’s largest cities and is known as Turkey’s most open-minded city. If you’re LGBTQ+ and really want to visit Turkey, Izmir would be your safest bet. Apart of Izmir are also fun and small towns like Urla, Cesme, and Alacati. These are all super popular tourist destinations and are always crowded, year-round.
Between Izmir and its nearby small towns, there’s an endless amount of fun activities, experiences, and excursions. Not to mention there’s amazing food wherever you go, whether it’s authentic Turkish, Italian, or another cuisine. You can be traveling solo, as a couple, or with your family – you’ll definitely find things to do to make everyone happy.
Getting to Izmir is a breeze. The Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport is only a 20-minute drive away from Izmir downtown and it’s a clean, modern, and efficient airport. There are buses to take you from the airport to wherever you want to go, if you’re not renting a car and don’t want to get a taxi. And because Izmir has grown as a tourist destination, there’s lots of international flights into Izmir’s airport so you don’t have to go to Istanbul first to connect.
Pamukkale is a town slightly inland from Turkey’s western coastline. It’s mainly known for its white travertine pools of mineral-rich water that cover a nearby hillside. Maybe you’ve seen the millions of Instagram shots taken at Pamukkale, but if not, it’s a very popular destination for tourists and Instagrammers because of its uniqueness and impressive beauty.
You can get your feet wet at the travertine pools and then walk over to Cleopatra’s Pool for a swim. In the pool are column ruins from Roman times that fell into the pool after an earthquake. If you go to Pamukkale, definitely don’t miss swimming amongst the Roman ruins! However, don’t stay very long in the pool because the smell of algae might end up upsetting your stomach.
Right next door, you’ll find the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum and will want to explore that before moving on. There’s one main area with very well-preserved ruins and then outside there are tons of well-preserved sarcophagi.
To explore an even greater historical marvel, you can walk 5 minutes to Hierapolis, a Roman city from 190 B.C. with well-preserved ruins and signs explaining interesting historical facts. This city is right next to the travertine pools, the museum, and Cleopatra’s Pool.
The nearest airport is Denizli Cardak Airport, a 1-hour drive to Pamukkale. If you don’t want to rent a car or pay for a taxi, there are regular buses that can take you from the airport to Pamukkale.
(Turkish: Kuşadası – pronounced Kooshadasi)
Kusadasi is located along Turkey’s Western coastline and is a popular destination for European tourists and cruise ships. When I visited in August 2022, there was at least one cruise ship visiting every single day, often two ships in one day. And 90% of the people in my hotel were European.
The town is full of beach resorts and affordable, good quality shops and restaurants. It’s also a popular destination because it’s right next to one of Turkey’s most popular historical spots and what was the Roman Empire’s fourth largest city, Ephesus (or Efes). At different points in time, Ephesus was home to the Ancient Greeks, Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, and a couple of short-lived civilizations in between. That’s a lot of interesting history and stories waiting to be heard and kept alive.
The town is about a 1.5-hour drive from Izmir and a 2-hour drive from Bodrum. In August 2022, the cost of getting a taxi from Kusadasi to the Izmir airport was 700 Turkish Liras, but prices are fluctuating so be sure to ask the price before booking a taxi from/to the airport.
Kusadasi has everything you could want on a vacation. Pristine beaches, amazing authentic food, a ton of activities, affordable shops, and nightclubs (if that’s your thing).
Best Places to Visit in Turkey for Families
Traveling as a family, you might want to avoid an intense nightlife, loud and obnoxious tourists, and alcohol-driven activities, right? That’s why these three places would be perfect for a family. Of course, there are pockets within these cities of nightlife, loud tourists, and alcohol-driven activities, but you can very easily avoid all of that. There’s so many options for families, you definitely won’t run out of things to do during your trip.
In addition to couples, Bodrum is also an amazing place for families. Because Bodrum is such a popular tourist destination for all kinds of travelers, there’s something for everyone. There are a ton of great, family-friendly hotels, resorts, and beaches to choose from. For over 15 years now, both Turkish and foreign tourists have enjoyed Bodrum with their families.
Whether your family wants to stay at the resort for the entire trip or is excited to explore the city, there are bus tours, bicycle rentals, and walking tours. There are also boat tours you can take with your family to explore nearby bays with beautiful swimming and snorkeling water.
Depending on your hotel or resort choice, most hotels and resorts offer banana boat, paddle board, and jet ski rentals if your family likes the thrill of water sports. A lot of hotels and resorts also offer daycare if you have very young children and would prefer to spend some alone time with your significant other.
Of course, Istanbul is not to be missed as a destination with your family. If your children would enjoy visiting large beautiful palaces, culturally rich historical sites, chic fashionable streets, and The Grand Bazaar, then you should definitely spend at least 3 days in Istanbul.
Your kids might also love riding the ferry across the Bosphorus and sitting on the outside if the weather is nice, or if it’s within your budget, taking a boat tour along the Bosphorus. But if the weather’s bad or if your kids prefer indoors, I’d recommend visiting the Istinye Park Mall. It’s hands down the biggest, most fun mall in all of Istanbul. There’s even free internet, stroller services, and 3 nursing rooms.
Much further south than Bodrum, Antalya is a smaller coastal city in Turkey. It’s known as a bustling summer destination and attracts a lot of European, Russian, and Middle Eastern tourists.
Antalya has the same resorts and beach access as other summer destination spots, but it doesn’t feel as crowded or busy. Some resorts in Antalya even have the kind of water slides you’d find at water parks! But if your kids want something extra, there’s awesome theme and water parks around like The Land of Legends.
Aside from all of the fun activities at resorts, you can wander into town and stroll along cute stone streets, catch a sightseeing cable car ride to the summit of Tünektepe and grab lunch, visit Sandland (perfect for kids!), or tour the Alanya Castle or any number of interesting archeological sites.
There’s honestly so much to do in Antalya for families!
Best Places to Visit in Turkey to Experience Its History
Are you (and your traveling companions) into history and culture? Because if so, these three places are perfect for you (and anyone you’re traveling with). They’re chock-full of ancient history, well-preserved ruins and art, and interesting stories.
Constantinople (what Istanbul used to be called) was first settled in 7th century B.C. and, at different times in history, it was the capital of the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. On top of that, for over 1,500 years, Istanbul was THE gateway connecting the Middle East, Asia, and Europe through The Silk Road trade route. So you can understand why it’s a must-see!
If you want to explore all of Istanbul’s main historical sites, I’d recommend booking your trip for at least 7 days to have enough time to explore. Here are the main places you’ll want to check out:
- Basilica Cistern
- Topkapi Palace & Museum
- Dolmabahçe Palace
- The Blue Mosque
- Hagia Sophia Mosque
- Suleymaniye Mosque
- Galata Tower
- Beyoğlu District
- The Grand Bazaar
- Istanbul Archeological Museums (3 museums in one)
I visited Ephesus (or Efes) just 2 months ago, and wow – it was such a fun and interesting day! Before the Romans, Ephesus was actually occupied by ancient Greece. You can even see stone ruins where the Romans tried to erase any mention or depiction of Greek Gods.
What makes Ephesus unique is it was once the 4th largest Roman Empire city. And it only faded away because the water in the city’s port began to recede. So without a functioning port bringing and taking out goods, people were forced to leave.
That’s something I learned from our tour guide! If you decide to check out Ephesus, I’d recommend booking a tour (either with a group or private) so you really get the most out of visiting the ruins. Tip: Ask Leyla at Fonte Turizm which tours she’d recommend.
Ephesus is a 1-hour drive from Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport and you can stay in nearby Kusadasi (a 30-minute drive away) if you’d like to stay in a more bustling city with nicer hotels.
Did you know Gobekli Tepe is the oldest temple in the world? It’s over 12,000 years old, built during the later parts of the Stone Age (before writing was even invented)! In comparison, it’s much older than Stonehenge and Egypt’s Great Pyramids.
Archeologists are still excavating parts of the area. If you want to see how ancient peoples used to live or feel closer to ancient ancestors, Gobekli Tepe is a must-visit spot. There’s a shuttle service, shaded walkways, gift shop, and café.
There’s also an accompanying museum Şanlıurfa Archaeological Museum in the nearest city Şanlıurfa that’s a 30-minute drive from Gobekli Tepe and has the oldest known authentic sculpture.
Because Gobekli Tepe is in southeastern Turkey, the best way to get there is by flying to Şanlıurfa GAP Airport. You can get there in 1 hour and 40 minutes from Istanbul, 1 hour and 45 minutes from Izmir, or 1 hour and 15 minutes from Ankara.