Sparkling seas, ancient architecture, and complex cities: if you’re looking for the most beautiful places in Turkey to visit, you are spoiled for choice.
As the bridge between Europe and Asia, Turkey is a country that has it all.
From bustling bazaars to quiet coastal towns, from snow-capped mountains to sleepy fjords, Turkey is undeniably stunning.
Whether you’re looking to explore ancient historical monuments or picturesque landscapes, there’s no shortage of incredibly beautiful places in Turkey to visit.
Here are 15 of the most mesmerizing destinations in the country to add to your Turkey bucket list!
This guide to the best places to visit in Turkey was written by Turkey travel expert Louisa Smith of The Turkey Traveler. Thanks for joining us, Louisa!
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The Most Beautiful Places in Turkey
Red and Rose Valleys, Cappadocia
Cappadocia is known for its expansive desert landscape and impressive rock formations where visitors glide over the landscape in picturesque hot air balloons.
And, within Cappadocia, arguably the most beautiful places are the Red and Rose Valleys.
The two valleys connect and are often mistaken for each other, but if you’re hiking in Cappadocia it’s likely you will hike through both of them.
Rose Valley is most well known for its cave dwellings and churches.
People have lived in these houses since the 5th Century BCE and it is said they were mostly occupied by Christians who were looking to escape from the Byzantines invading Turkey.
Red Valley also has cave dwellings and churches but is most famous for the color of its rocky landscape, which glows a vibrant red hue, especially at sunset.
The charm of Cappadocia is within its landscape, and the best examples of that are the Red and Rose Valleys.
This jaw-droppingly stunning landscape is what makes this area one of the most beautiful places in Turkey.
Kaputas Beach, Antalya
If you’re looking for beaches in Turkey, then the Antalya region is the place to be.
One of the most beautiful beaches in Antalya–and in Turkey overall–is Kaputas Beach.
It’s known for its turquoise blue waters and soft golden sand beach, wrapped in a landscape of rocky cliffs that offer protection from the wind.
As well as being a gorgeous place to relax, it’s also a popular spot for cliff jumping.
Its unique landscape and tranquil atmosphere mean that it’s often regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Turkey.
The Travertine Terraces, Pammukale
The travertine terraces in Pamukkale are one of the most famous landmarks in Turkey.
Pamukkale translates to “cotton castle” in Turkish, which is so named because of the snow-white limestone pools that lie here.
The pools were created by a calcite-rich mineral that flows through the water from the mountainside and is then deposited here.
The natural pools are also filled with thermal waters, which attracts many visitors here for swimming all year round.
This unique corner of the world is one of the prettiest travel destinations in Turkey, and well worth a visit.
It can get extremely busy, though, so we recommend visiting as early in the day as possible (a tour can help with this) to avoid the crowds.
Amasra is a small port town on the Black Sea that is simply stunning.
With quaint, winding narrow streets lined with bazaars and seafood restaurants, it’s like no other town in Turkey.
It’s so beautiful, that Homer even mentions it in his epic poem, The Iliad.
Similar to most towns on the Black Sea, it has an expansive trade history, dating back to the Ancient Greek, Byzantine, and Roman periods.
While some of its historic remains are still visible and give the town its beauty, Amasra is nowadays seen as more of a beach town.
The beach in the town is rather dirty, but just a few kilometers out of the town is the stunning Çakraz Plajı beach, which has soft golden sand and bright blue waters.
It’s one of the best places to swim in the Black Sea in Turkey.
Topkapi Palace, Istanbul
Another one of the most beautiful places in Turkey is the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.
It was once home to the Ottoman sultans during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Today, it is a museum containing many rooms showcasing the best Ottoman artifacts.
One of the most beautiful rooms is the Ottoman Imperial Harem.
The harem was home to more than 300 concubines at one point and was where female members of the royal family lived.
Here you will find gold-gilded rooms and mosaic tiles creating the most intricate detailing and patterns.
This is one of the finest examples of wealth displayed by the Ottoman Empire in its unique architecture and interior styling.
Without a doubt, visiting the Topkapi Palace is one of the best things to do in Istanbul!
The Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz
The Blue Lagoon of Ölüdeniz is one of the most famous and indisputably one of the most stunningly beautiful places in Turkey.
It also happens to be one of the most famous paragliding destinations in the world, and adrenaline lovers can’t miss enjoying a paragliding experience when visiting Ölüdeniz.
It’s located in the Ölüdeniz National Park just outside the town of Fethiye.
The lagoon is known for its turquoise waters, separated from the ocean by a sandbar with a beach on either side.
Many visitors enjoy swimming in the shallow waters of the lagoon, which is sheltered by the hilly countryside around it.
Don’t miss this incredible natural landscape when exploring the coast of Turkey.
Istanbul is one of the most bustling, unique, and vibrant cities in Turkey, if not the world, and you can certainly appreciate that beauty on a walking tour of picturesque Balat.
This quaint, colorful neighborhood lies in the hills of the Fener district in the European side of Istanbul.
It’s known for being the former Jewish quarter, which was built in 1492.
At the time, Jews were persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition but were rescued by Sultan Bayezid II and granted residence in Balat.
Over the years, it has been home to many ethnicities, cultures, and religions, which has inspired its unique architecture in the area.
The houses are tall, narrow, and vibrant, with huge windows with ornate detailing.
Today it is best known as a quiet neighborhood with many traditional restaurants and cafes (many of them with cats!) and where you can try some of the most delicious Turkish food.
The area was granted UNESCO world heritage status in 1985 and is one of the most historic neighborhoods in Istanbul.
Library of Celsus, Ephesus
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ephesus is one of the most ancient and most important Greco-Roman cities in Turkey.
The ruins date back to around the 10th century BCE and stretch over an area of 6.6 square kilometers.
Today, the most beautiful site in the ancient city is the remains of the Library of Celsus.
Its outer walls are largely well preserved and still display some of the original statues that adorn its facade.
The library is often overshadowed by the Temple of Artemis, which is recognized as one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.
But the temple is largely a ruin now and takes some work of the imagination to see what it looks like.
For this reason, we consider the Library of Celsus to be the most beautiful building that you will see when visiting Ephesus.
Trabzon is one of the most historic towns in Turkey and should certainly not be underestimated for its natural beauty.
This quaint settlement lies in a mountainous valley that connects to the Black Sea.
If you didn’t know it was in Turkey, you might mistake it for a fjord in Norway.
It’s most well known for being the former capital city of the Empire of Trebizond (1204 and 1461) and being the main trade hub between Persia and the Caucasus countries.
Some of the most beautiful sites in the town are the Hagia Sophia (no not a replica of the one in Istanbul), which features many well-preserved fresco paintings, and the Trabzon Museum, which has a rich collection of 20th-century artworks.
The Sumela Monastery is a unique Greek Orthodox monastery nestled on the mountainside in the Pontic Mountains.
The church dates back to 386AD and is said to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Inside the monastery, there is a painting of the Virgin Mary that was apparently painted by the Apostle Luke.
The monastery sits at about 1,200 meters (3,900 ft) and has undergone a lot of damage and restoration over the years.
It is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Turkey and is still frequently visited by monks, Christians, and Muslims alike as part of their pilgrimages.
The Princes Islands are a collection of 4 islands off the coast of Istanbul, known for being the home to exiled Princes during the Byzantine empire.
In 1453, members of the Ottoman sultans’ families were sent there too, which consequently gave the islands the name.
In the 19th century, the islands were transformed into a popular resort spot for the upper-class residents of Istanbul.
As you walk along the streets, it’s possible to see wealthy Victorian-era cottages and townhouses that are remarkably well-preserved.
The roads are flanked by tall trees and there are pretty much no cars on the islands, and visitors can explore by either hiring a bike or by horse-drawn carriage.
The islands are one of the most beautiful places in Turkey and only a quick ferry ride from Istanbul, perfect if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while without traveling too far.
Mount Nemrut is a mountain in the Taurus Mountain range in southeastern Turkey.
What makes this mountain beautiful is not just that it’s the highest peak in the range, but it’s home to a collection of unusual large statues that lay on the summit.
The story goes that in 62 BC, King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene commissioned the site as a sanctuary and a tomb.
Some of the statues reached as high as 9 meters and were built to resemble himself, two eagles and lions, and miscellaneous Ancient Greek and Iranian gods.
At some point, the heads of the statues were removed and scattered across the site, but no one knows why.
Archeologists also believe that Antiochus I is buried there.
The statues have never been touched, and in 1987, were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today, the mountain is among the most interesting things to see in Turkey!
As the largest mosque in Turkey, the Grand Camlica Mosque is a marvel to behold.
It’s one of the three mosques in Turkey to have six minarets, which highlights how important it is to the nation’s Islamic history.
The complex is quite a new mosque, having been completed in 2019.
It can accommodate up to 63,000 worshippers at a time and cost $110 million USD to build, which as you can imagine, explains why it’s such a beautiful feat of architecture.
Each part of the mosque was carefully designed, including the six minarets which represent the six articles of the Islamic faith.
Four of the minarets stand at 107.1 meters tall, in recognition of the Seljuks’ Victory at Manzikert in 1071.
It sits on the Çamlıca Hill in the Üsküdar district on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The mosque is located at one of the highest points in Istanbul and can be seen from most places in the city.
Located just a short distance from Ephesus is the small village of Şirince, which inhabits just 600 people.
The village is nestled on the mountainside and is the perfect example of Hellenistic and Ottoman Christian architecture.
It is believed that people have been living and farming in this area since medieval times, and many of the people who live here have done so for generations.
Today, visitors can walk the cobbled streets, sit in one of the cafes, and admire the mountain views.
It’s also a great place to shop for Turkish souvenirs such as homemade olive oil, wine, and blackberry juice.
Eğridir is a small lake town in the Isparta region of Turkey.
It’s known for its quaint, historic town that lies on a peninsula that juts out into the lake.
The surrounding area is mountainous and ideal for hiking lovers.
The town was built by the Hittites but was conquered by the Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, and the armies of Alexander the Great.
As such, the town has been modified and rebuilt many times, but the history of its former colonies is still present in its architecture and infrastructure.
It was once a populous city flanked by fine bazaars and freshwater streams and orchards, but during a population exchange in 1920 between Turkey and Greece, the town became much smaller.
Today it is most well known for its lake, which is a clear and sparkling blue body of cool, refreshing water.
It’s the perfect place to go swimming under the hot Turkish sun and is a popular spot for camping and family holidays, and definitely ranks among the most beautiful places in Turkey to visit!
Map of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey
Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.