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Turkey is a huge country, even larger than France, so don’t think you can see everything in one visit. Most people stick to the coast, Cappadocia, and Istanbul. The Black Sea is much less visited. It’s mostly safe to travel in the east, but check with your embassy before visiting the troubled southeast.

Turkey Cities and Regions

Greater Istanbul

A skyline of domes and minarets silhouetted against the Bosporus welcomes visitors to this lively city where the sleekest cafes and restaurants rub up against the city’s Ottoman past. Nearby Bursa offers similar attractions without the crowds. See our Istanbul Travel Guide


Cappadocia shelters extraordinary “fairy chimney” rock formations, dramatic gorges, underground cities deep beneath the earth, rock-cut, frescoed churches, troglodyte houses, and exquisite boutique hotels carved from caves. Float in a balloon over Goreme, make pottery in Avanos, and go wine-tasting in Urgup.

Northern Aegean

A stretch of coast with many small beach resorts better known to Turks than foreigners. Eyeball the harbor at picturesque Assos, explore the ruins of ancient Pergamum at Bergama, and cruise across to Bozcaada to visit several boutique wineries.

Southern Aegean

Some of Turkey’s mega-resorts – Kusadasi, Bodrum, and Marmaris – are here, as are fine ruins at Ephesus, Miletus, Priene, and Didyma. Low-key Selcuk is the burial place of St. John of Patmos; the House of the Virgin Mary is nearby. See our Bodrum Travel Guide

Western Mediterranean

Glorious azure seas and emerald-green hillsides make this a popular area for yachters. Fethiye and Antalya are sizeable towns with sizeable tourism industries. Smaller resorts include Kas, Kalkan, Oludeniz, Dalyan, and Olympos with its popular treehouses. Father Christmas was supposedly born at Demre.

Eastern Mediterranean

Past the resort towns of Alanya and Side, and the ruins at Perge and Aspendos, this under-visited part of the south coast includes Tarsus, where St. Paul was born, and Antakya, home to a superb mosaic museum and the ancient church where St. Paul preached.

Western Anatolia

Less visited than the coast and not as familiar as Cappadocia, the interior of Western Turkey is home to several major attractions, including the ruins at Aphrodisias and the World Heritage Sites of travertines and ruins at Pamukkale/Hierapolis.

Black Sea

Fewer visitors come to the Black Sea, due in part to frequent rain. In the far east, Trabzon is the base for visits to Sumela Monastery; Ayder for trekking in the Kackar Mountains. Hidden coves beckon the adventurous.

Eastern Turkey

The least visited, least spoilt, and most exciting part of Turkey offers adventure around every corner. Highlights include the historic towns of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, and Mardin, as well as the huge statues atop Mt. Nemrut. Check the latest safety warnings before heading out.

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