With cities steeped in history, amazing beaches, and a beautiful countryside, a visit to Turkey promises an enchanted vacation.
Diverse offerings such as the ancient ruinsof Ephesus to the luxury beach resorts along the Aegean Sea will enthrall and captivateeven the most jaded traveler.
Istanbul, once the capital of the Byzantineand Ottoman Empires, features prominently in most travel plans but there are many moregreat destinations.
Here’s a look at the best places to visitin Turkey.
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” inTurkish, is an unreal landscape in western Turkey, famous for its white terraces.
The terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentaryrock deposited by water with a very high mineral content from the hot springs.
People have bathed in its pools for thousandsof years.
The ancient Greek city of Hierapolis was builton top of the hot springs by the kings of Pergamon.
The ruins of the baths and other Greek monumentscan still be seen at the site.
Perched on a strategic hilltop overlookingthe plains of Mesopotamia in southeastern Turkey, Mardin is one of the oldest settlementsin the region.
Mardin is best known for its Old City of sandstonebuildings that cascade down the hill.
The maze of meandering streets in the OldCity leads visitors along terraced houses, mosques, churches and mansions.
Many boutique hotels, fashioned from the charmingold buildings, have opened in recent years, along with a few upmarket hotels.
One of the oldest cities in the world, Konyaprospered as a capital city under the rule of the Seljuk Dynasty in the 12th and 13thcenturies.
Today, buildings from that era can still beadmired such as the Aladdin Mosque and the ruins of the Seljuk Palace.
Konya was also the home of the Persian theologianand Sufi mystic, Rumi.
His mausoleum is a must-see site in Konya.
Rumi’s followers founded an Order knownas the Whirling Dervishes due to their religious ceremonies in which they spin around and aroundon the left foot while wearing white, billowing gowns.
Nestled along the beautiful Turkish Rivieraon the Mediterranean coastline, Antalya is a vibrant city welcoming tourists with numerousresorts, bars and restaurants.
Spectacular scenery frames the city with gorgeousbeaches and lush green mountains dotted with ancient ruins.
From swimming and sailing to mountain climbingand sightseeing, Antalya offers something for everyone.
A walk around the Old Quarter, offers a stepback into the city’s ancient past with views of the old city walls, Roman gates and maze-likestreets.
Once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne’sgrand past is visible everywhere, as fantastic old imperial buildings, palaces and mosquesare scattered around.
The Selimiye Mosque, for instance, is a must-seein this delightful city, and the Old Quarter is lovely to wander around.
Due to its strategic location and its proximityto Greece and Bulgaria, Edirne has a European feel about it and there is lots of deliciouscuisine on offer.
A great time to visit is in summer, when thetraditional oil-wrestling festival takes place.
A major port in ancient Greece and occupiedby Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, Side today is a picturesque town of classicruins and modern day resorts overlooking sandy white beaches.
Located on a small peninsula, Side offersfantastic dining and nightlife.
Its star attraction is an excavated site ofancient Hellenistic and Roman ruins that include the remnants of a colossal amphitheater andvarious temples.
Featuring narrow streets and attractive gardens, the charming town of Side offers many restaurants ranging from delis and pizza shops to upscaledining in a variety of cuisines.
Located in the southern Aegean region of Turkey, Bodrum was once home to the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Today, its intriguing ruins, stunning beachesand cliff-top resorts attract people from all over the world.
No visit to Bodrum would be complete withoutseeing Bodrum Castle.
Built from 1402 by the Knights of St Johnit now operates as a museum.
On Bodrum’s eastern side, tourists willfind a beautiful beach overlooking brilliant blue water.
On the western side of town is the marina, shops and restaurants.
Europe’s most complete classical metropolis, Ephesus is an ancient site located in Aegean Turkey.
By the 1st century BC, Ephesus was one ofthe largest cities in all of the Roman Empire, boasting one of the Seven Wonders of the AncientWorld, the Temple of Artemis.
The ruins of Ephesus are well preserved, makingit one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions.
Its attractions include the massive Theater, the Temple of Hadrian and the magnificent Library, a two-story structure that was builtto house more than 12, 000 scrolls.
Situated in Central Anatolia, Cappadocia isbest known for its fairytale landscape of unusual formations resembling chimneys, conesand pinnacles.
Natural processes such as ancient volcaniceruptions and erosion have all sculpted these odd formations over the ages.
Thousands of years ago, mankind added remarkabletouches to the landscape by carving out houses, churches and underground cities from the softrock.
Today, some of the caves in the region areactually hotels and cater to tourists.
Once serving as the capital of the Ottomanand Byzantine Empires, Istanbul today is the largest city in Turkey and one of the largestin the world.
Istanbul stretches across a narrow straitthat connects Asia and Europe, making it the only city in the world spanning two continents.
Top attractions include the Hagia Sophia that’sbeen a Greek Orthodox Christian basilica, then an imperial mosque and now a museum, and the 15th century Topkapi Palace, also a museum today.
Get in a little shopping at the Grand Bazaarthat’s been in operation since 1461.