15 Best Things to Do in Turkey

Turkey, the land of aromatic teas, succulent kebabs, and colorful scarves is a transcontinental country sitting on the continents of Europe and Asia. Officially called the Republic of Turkey, its culture and architecture clearly remind you of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was founded in 1923 and is a curious mix of many cultures. 

As for the tourists, there are many places to visit in Turkey! Right from exploring its history in Istanbul to taking early morning hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia, from haggling in its markets in Ankara to learning to make the traditional baklava, there are so many fun and exciting things to do in Turkey.  

Turkey is endowed with dazzling monuments and landscapes that do not fail to impress. Here is our list of some of the top things to do in Turkey:

1. Visit the most celebrated monument of Turkey - the Hagia Sophia 

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

Once the largest cathedral in the world, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) is one of the most impressive points of interest in Turkey. Situated on the banks of the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia goes by many names and has preserved the Byzantine architectural legacy for over 1500 years now. Often considered the eighth wonder of the world, this domed cathedral signifies harmony, peace, and tolerance in Turkey. 

2. Relax in the natural spas at Pamukkale

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

This spa town is best known for its travertine thermal pools. Pamukkale in southeastern Aegean Turkey is one of the must-see things in Turkey. The town’s massive white calcite terraces and its mineral-rich waters are perfect for a spa day! And the surrounding views are spectacular. 

3. Tour the enormously beautiful Sultan Ahmed Mosque 

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Image Source: Wikipedia.org

A distinct Istanbul landmark, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque or the Blue Mosque was conceived as a projected rival to the Hagia Sofia. This breath-taking building is surrounded by six minarets and cascading domes on the outside, and the interiors? Oh, they are spectacular. Its vaulted interiors are fitted with delicate blue tiles, stained-glass windows, and intricate gardens making this one of the most beautiful mosques in Turkey. 

4. Cruise along the Bosporus – A strait that bridges the gap between Europe and Asia

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

Flowing from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait is a quintessential Turkish experience. As you glide past its lovely waters, chance upon seeing some of the most spectacular sights of Istanbul like the Rumeli Fortress, Bosphorus Bridge, Kucuksu Palace, and Dolmabahce Palace. 

5. Navigate through the labyrinth of colorful shops at the Grand Bazaar 

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Image Source: Wikipedia.org

The Grand Bazaar or the Kapali Carsi is your go-to-market to find the best of gifts, souvenirs, essentials and fripperies in Istanbul. Something straight out of Arabian Nights, this market is a visual treat. Walk through its 60 domed alleys and shop for everything from calligraphy, carpets, beaded bracelets, and gold to multi-colored lanterns, ceramics, and even belly-dancing outfits.

6. Listen to the classical Turkish music choir at the Taksim Square 

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Located on the European side of Istanbul, the Taksim Square is bustling with activities, day and night. Originally established by Sultan Mahmud I for the purpose of laying out water lines, today this square has become the main transport hub of Istanbul. A gathering spot for locals, here you can attend public celebrations and parades. As the night draws closer, this entire place is lit with colorful lights. 

7. Walk through the subterranean cisterns at Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

The Basilica Cistern the largest of all the serving Byzantine cistern in İstanbul. Yerebatan Sarayi in Turkish, these underground water storage areas were built by Emperor Justinian in the mid-500s and lay underneath the Stoa Basilica. An experience that will charm all the senses, a visit to this eerie yet magical place is one of the top things to do in Turkey. 

8. See a 360-degree view of Istanbul from the Galata Tower

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Image Source: Pxhere.com

Climbing this 206-foot (63-meter) tower is one of the many fun things to do in Turkey. Each city has its own character, and Istanbul brings forward the best of two worlds. Legends, history and memories, Istanbul will envelop you with an unforgettable experience. The Galata Tower will treat you to the views of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. 

9. Visit the Hippodrome of Constantinople

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was the social center of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Strole around the former Hippodrome, see the Column of Constantine, the Egyptian Obelisk, and the Serpentine Column, and be awe-inspired by the rich Byzantine history. One of the top Turkey attractions, this public square is a must-visit. 

10. Shop for spices and textiles at the Spice Bazaar 

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

Located in the Eminönü quarter of the Fatih district, the Spice Bazaar one of the biggest markets in Istanbul. Make the best use of your haggling skills as you walk past the shops with baskets that are filled with every spice under the sun! Apart from this, you can also shop for many Turkish delights like dried apricots, pistachios, homemade sweets, and walnuts.

11. Tour the 16th-century Ottoman Mosque - Süleymaniye Mosque 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Built by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, this is the largest mosque in Istanbul. One of Sinan’s greatest masterpieces, this mosque stands tall and is a well-known sight amidst Istanbul’s skyline. It is surrounded by an impressive courtyard with columns of marble, granite, and porphyry and four corner minarets. One of the top ten places to visit in Turkey, visit this mosque on your next trip to Turkey. 

12. Tour the Maiden's Tower 

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

Also known as the Leander's Tower, Maiden's Tower is located on a small islet located at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus Strait. A long-standing Istanbul icon, there are many legends associated with the building of this tower. Today, this tower has a restaurant on its first floor and a café at the top.  

13. Take a day trip to Kekova 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Kekova, also named Caravola, is a beautiful Turkish Island in the district of Antalya. This idyllic seaside village is perfect for those looking for some sun and fun! While the island’s fascinating historic ruins will keep you busy during the day, you can relax on its sundeck along the beaches by afternoon. 

14. Explore the Library of Celsus 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

The Library of Celsus is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. Built-in 117 A.D., this library featuring a two-story façade stands tall even today! Known to have housed parchment records of early human civilization, a visit to this library is a must while in Turkey. 

15. Get sporty at Uludağ 

The Uludag Mountain of Turkey is the biggest center place for winter sports. In mythology though, this mountain is said to be a place where gods watched the Trojan war. Today it is best known for the Uludağ Ski Resort and families flock this place to escape the sun. Best time to visit would be Uludağ from December until late March.

Packed with ancient monuments, vibrant bazaars, and culinary delights, Turkey will make you wanna come back again and again!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ever since my first trip at the age of 4, I’ve been fascinated to explore places around the world. Lover of world cultures, food, souls and all things blue; I spend most part of my day writing about travel ...

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