Best places to visit in Turkey

We arrived to Istanbul Ataturk Airport the day after the June 2016 attacks, and surprisingly felt very safe and had a fabulous time!  The people welcomed us with smiles and incredible hospitality. 

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After seeing the top sites in Istanbul, we flew to Cappadocia, and then cruised on Seabourn to Cesme and Bodrum. 

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If you have the chance to visit Turkey, seize the opportunity!  It’s a fascinating country with UNESCO World Heritage sites, pristine beaches, and the food is some of the best in the world.

Sharing some of our highlights from our travels including the best places to visit in Turkey.

HIGHLIGHTS

Istanbul:

We only had one day, and tried to see as many of the top sights as possible – the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Ciragan Palace, a walk along the Bosphorus!  There’s so much to see, you’ll want at least 2-3 days in this city.

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Find out our recommendations for Istanbul at:  click here

Cappadocia:

We flew to Cappadocia for a day visit, and wish we had at least a couple days to explore the valleys and go hiking through Rose Valley.  Don’t Miss!  Goreme, rock formations beyond belief in Devrent Valley, the Pasabag “fairy chimneys” and the Uchisar Rock-Castle panoramic view.

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Also, visit Avanos, center of terra cotta since 2,000 BC and pottery workshops.  If you have time, see the Byzantine art in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings dating back to the 10th century.

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We descended 200 feet into Kaymakli, a 5,000 yr old underground village where nearly 20,000 people lived with livestock and food stores. There are hundreds of these subterranean ancient cities in Central Anatolia, one of the largest cave-dwelling regions in the world.

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Recommend:  Euphrates Tours for tours in the Cappadocia region.  Suat, our guide met us at the Kayseri airport, and we started our day in the Dervent Valley, and continued on to Goreme where the lunar landscapes are out of this world.  Euphrates Tours provided us with a large comfortable van with A/C and excellent driver.

Cesme – Ephesus – Alacati:

There’s plenty to do in Cesme – visit the castle, old city, museum, walk the marina village and shop at the boutiques.

best places to visit in turkey

If you want to see one of the most famous ancient Roman cities in the world, visit Ephesus.  The excavations and restorations of this massive city are impressive.  Spending a day here is like walking back in time to a well preserved 5,000 yr old city.

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Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, several preservation efforts are underway.  Some highlights include walking down the marble road to the Library of Celsus – impressive.

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The intact enormous amphitheater – stunning.  Yeliz, our guide pointed out the elaborate frescoes on the walls depict dancing mythical creatures, flower garlands and vases.   Visit the Terrace Houses that are under excavation and you can see the mosaic floors that are being uncovered, and look down at the terraces of open rooms from the staircase above.

On the return to Cesme, stop by Alacati town to see its windmills and Greek style architecture, and walk the narrow cobblestone streets lined with little boutique shops and cafes.  Charming!

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Recommend:  Our driver and guide were from Greece Turkey Tours – we were impressed with their punctual and professional service, and our guide’s knowledge and insights on Ephesus and the surrounding area.  Excellent Tour!

Bodrum:

Within walking distance from the cruise ship, you can walk the boardwalk and shop, or stop and play in the pristine waters of Bodrum.  There are several beaches to choose from along the waterfront!  Don’t Miss:  visit the windmills, the castle, the promenade where you will find plenty of souvenirs and cafes with views of the water.

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Recommend:  Hire Bodrum Limousine to drive you to your destinations in Bodrum – luxury vehicles with A/C and excellent drivers.

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If you have the chance to stay in Bodrum, there are several options to consider.

Mandarin Oriental: 

About a 30 mins drive from Bodrum, you’ll find this stunning 5-star luxury resort overlooking the Aegean Sea.  We had a delicious lunch of fresh grilled seafood and salads while gazing out to Paradise Bay with two private beaches.

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The suites and villas are beautifully designed and one day, we hope to return and stay!

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Amanruya: 

If you’re looking for seclusion and luxury, you’ll want to stay here.  Sleek and modern designed rooms with windows framing incredible views of the blue green waters of the Aegean Sea.  Located about 20 minutes from Bodrum – the drive is lovely!

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Marmara Hotel:

If you want to be closer to town, then you’ll want to stay at the Marmara Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel with modern art, and a beautiful pool with best views of Bodrum.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank Seabourn for providing our media team with complimentary WiFi.

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Also, we thank Euphrates Tours for hosting an excellent day tour in Cappadocia, and Greece Turkey Tours for hosting the smooth transportation from Cesme to Ephesus, with our fantastic guide Yeliz at Ephesus. 

Big thanks to Bodrum Transportation for hosting our comfortable transfers while visiting the beautiful Mandarin Oriental and elegant Amanruya. 

Finally we thank Mandarin Oriental for hosting a magnificent lunch!

U.S. Department of State Travel Updates

To learn more about travel safety in Turkey, we recommend referring to the U.S. Dept. of State International Travel updates and travel warnings.

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