If you’re looking for a unique holiday experience, full of history, adventure and scenic landscapes, Turkey is the perfect destination. Between the stunning cities, mosques, and natural wonders, we had a hard time narrowing down to eight recommendations. But if you’re tempted to fly out and see some truly unique destinations, take a look at this list of our favorites!
Ephesus is rife with beautiful ruins, including the famous Library of Celsus through the Augustus Gate, the Great Theater which was used for gladiator games as well as theater. Then there’s the Artemision, which is a temple to Artemis and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Also consider a day trip to nearby Sirince, a hillside town perfect for trying out Turkish food, sampling some fruit wines and exploring a vineyard or two.
This unassuming city, located in the mountains of Northern Turkey, revolves around the Green River. Whether preserved Ottoman houses are your thing, or you’re more interested in cliff-side tombs, there’s a lot to learn in this town which prides itself on being off the beaten path.
3. Blue Lagoon, Oludeniz
Another gorgeous natural site, the Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz is an oasis of sand, sun and clear blue waters. The waters are calm, warm and perfect for a family day out at the beach. Paragliding is the most popular water sport in the area and shouldn’t be missed.
One of the most famous sites in Turkey is Nemrut, home to the tomb sanctuary of King Antiochus Theos of Commagene. This artificial “mountain” is littered with giant statues of the gods, including Zeus, Heracles and Apollo! Getting there can be tough, especially if you want to catch the sunrise, so booking a tour in advance is the best way to go.
5. Tortum Falls and Erzurum Area
This is one of the longest waterfalls in the world. Eastern Turkey is slightly less developed and the landscape around both Tortum Falls and the town of Erzurum is gorgeous. If you are driving through, stop at some of the Georgian churches and take in the view of famed Mount Ararat.
6. Hagia Sophia
Take a trip to the city of Istanbul itself and you’ll find Hagia Sophia – one of the most famous mosques in the world – which today serves as a museum. The structure, built in 537 AD, is a feat of engineering, but people are most often drawn to the building because of the amazing mosaic tilework inside. It is also within walking distance of the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern. Other stand-out religious spaces in Turkey include the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon and Selimiye Mosque in Edirne.
7. Pamukkale, Denizli
A truly unique attraction, Pamukkale (which literally means “cotton fortress”) is a naturally occurring mineral bath spa. Hot water springs from the earth, forming a myriad of pools out of striking, bright-white calcium. The hardened white calcium gives this location an otherworldly quality that, nonetheless, provides relaxation and fun for visitors.
This city is world famous as a major location in Homer’s epic, the Illiad. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this city is steeped in the legends of Achilles, Paris, Hector, Agamemnon and Priam. Plus, there’s a replica Trojan Horse!