As one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth, Turkey offers a plethora of incredible sights and activities that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The country’s capital city is full of attractions and experiences that should keep anyone busy for at least a week. Take a stroll through the Grand Bazaar, haggle with locals and try local cuisine!
1. Blue Mosque
One of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, the Blue Mosque is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. It’s a wonder of design and symmetry that has made it the envy of the travel world.
It was built by Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I in 1603 CE and commissioned by architect Sedefkar Mehmed Agha. He followed in the footsteps of master architect Mimar Sinan, and created a magnificent building that rivaled the Hagia Sophia.
Its symmetrical design and countless handmade tiles make it one of the most beautiful mosques in Turkey. However, it’s important to respect the rules of this place of worship when visiting. It’s closed during prayer times, so be sure to plan your visits accordingly.
The city of Gaziantep is a major cultural centre in eastern Turkey. Its history is rich and vibrant, and it is a great place to experience Turkish culture and explore the country’s incredible food traditions.
The most famous landmark of Gaziantep is the castle, a fortress perched high on a hill which grants a spectacular bird’s eye view over the old town. The castle also houses a museum that disseminates information about the Franco-Turkish War of 1918-21.
The museum is well worth a visit for its collection of Roman mosaics. There’s an excellent display of sarcophagi from nearby sites including Zincirli and Karkamis, as well as a peaceful garden filled with basalt relief stelae.
3. Duden Waterfalls
Duden Waterfalls is one of the most important and popular tourist attractions in Turkey. They are located in the Duden River, which is a major river in southern Anatolia.
The upper falls are surrounded by lush, well-kept gardens with refreshment options, picnic tables and a natural cave that lets you step behind the cascades. The lower falls tumble from the cliffs directly into the Mediterranean, and are most spectacularly seen from a boat off Lara Beach.
These waterfalls are an incredible sight and a must-see during your visit to Antalya. They are a relaxing retreat from the bustle of the city, and offer a chance to take in the beauty of nature in a beautiful setting.
4. Gulhane Park
One of the oldest and most famous public parks in Istanbul, Gulhane Park is an oasis for nature lovers. It's a huge area with gardens, trees, pools and outdoor cafes offering stunning views of the Bosphorus.
It was once the outer garden of Topkapi Palace and only accessible for royal courtiers, but now it's open to everyone who walks through its stone archway on Alemdar Caddesi (map) near Sultanahmet. It adjoins the Archaeological Museums complex and Topkapi Palace, and is perfect for a long walk and a picnic during your stay in Istanbul.
This historic park also contains one of the most mysterious sights in Istanbul - the Column of the Goths, a freestanding marble column dating back to Roman times. The column was erected to commemorate a Roman victory over the Goths, and is considered to be one of Istanbul's oldest monuments.
5. Ladies’s Beach
Known in Turkish as Kadinlar Denizi (women sea beach), it is one of the most popular beaches of Kusadasi and is often packed with tourists. Back in the Ottoman times, only women were allowed to enter the beach but it has now become open to anyone who wants to enjoy the sun and the sand.
A great place to spend a day, ladies beach has plenty of sand and surf, and a good range of bars, cafes and restaurants. It is also surrounded by shops, so it is very lively and busy during the summer months.
The beach is a good base to explore the city as it is situated in the pedestrian zone, and there are plenty of bus stops nearby. It is also only a short walk to some of the city’s most famous attractions and historical landmarks.