How to Plan a Trip to Turkey: Everything You Need to Know for the Perfect Trip

Feeling stressed or overwhelmed about planning a trip to Turkey and have no idea where to start? No worries, this guide was made just for you!

Whether it’s your first trip to Turkey or your tenth, this guide will break down everything you need to know about traveling to Turkey in a simple and easy-to-understand way. We’ll go over some practical basics before diving into the best places to visit in Turkey, transportation and getting around the country, hotels and accommodations in Turkey, and much more. 

Along the way, we’ll also present some of the best Turkey travel tips so that you can stress less and enjoy your trip to the fullest. 

We know what it’s like traveling to a new country. In fact, we’ve traveled to Turkey dozens of times before finally taking the plunge and moving here permanently — and now we want to share our years of knowledge with you. 🙂 

If you’re ready to see the best attractions in Turkey and feel the magical atmosphere of this country, grab a notebook and let’s get planning! 

THE BASICS: All About Turkey

Let’s get acquainted with Turkey by learning more about its location, the 7 regions that make up Turkey, and the culture.

Where is Turkey? 

Let’s start with one of Turkey’s most famous features: its location! Turkey is a country thats located both in Europe and Asia, which gives it a certain atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else. 

Turkey is located in southeast Europe, and is bordered by Bulgaria and Greece from the west; the Black Sea, Georgia, and Armenia from the north; Azerbaijan and Iran from the east; and Iraq and Syria from the southeast. 

Nearly 1,600 kilometers (950 miles) of Turkey’s southwestern region borders the Mediterranean Sea, which makes it one of the most popular destinations in the country!


The 7 Regions of Turkey

Like many countries around the world, Turkey has geographical regions, each with its own culture, cuisine, and sights. In fact, there are 7 distinct regions in Turkey! 

You can see all seven regions on the map above, as well as the following list (in alphabetical order):

🏖️ Aegean Region
🍃 Black Sea Region
🏜️ Central Anatolian Region
🗻 Eastern Anatolian Region
🌃 Marmara Region
🌴 Mediterranean Region
🕌 Southeastern Anatolia Region

Here’s a quick overview of each region, what it’s famous for, and the biggest cities:

🏖 Aegean Region: Taking up most of Turkey’s eastern coast, the Aegean is known for its charming fairytale villages (Alacati, Cesme, and Şirince), the ancient ruins of Ephesus, and dozens of picturesque beaches. 

The capital of this region is none other than Izmir, which rightfully earned its nickname as the Gem of the Aegean Coast

The Aegean Region is also known for some of the most popular resort towns in Turkey, including Bodrum, Mugla, and Kusadasi, as well as a short drive to the turquoise travertines of Pamukkale

🍃 Black Sea Region: Where do locals go when they want to enjoy some nature? Anywhere in the Black Sea region is a good answer! This region spans across most of Turkey’s northern coast and is bordered by (no surprise) the Black Sea. 

The region is characterized by its lush green forests, mountainous terrain, lakes, and even glaciers. Thanks to the high precipitation and humidity, the Black Sea region is also famous for being Turkey’s main tea-growing region, with Rize being the heart of this industry. 

The capital of the region is Trabzon, a charming and colorful city that was uniquely built on a hill between two ravines. Other popular attractions include the Sümela Monastery, Amasra, and the well-preserved Ottoman city of Safranbolu. 

🏜 Central Anatolia Region: If the Aegean is characterized by beaches and the Black Sea by unspoiled nature, then Central Anatolia’s claim to fame is its barren steppes. 😅

However, that’s not to say that there’s nothing to do here! In fact, the country’s capital, Ankara, is located in Central Anatolia, as well as the otherworldly fairy chimneys and valleys of Cappadocia; the country’s spiritual capital, Konya; and the impressive castle in Afyon. 

🗻Eastern Anatolia Region: The mystical and far flung lands known as Eastern Anatolia is one of the least-visited regions in Turkey — yet is highly worth the trip! 

First and foremost, this region is home to Turkey’s tallest mountain, Mt Ararat, which is an impressive 5,137 meters (16,850 ft). That’s not all: the largest lake in the country, Lake Van, is just a few hours away, and so is the city of Kars, which is known for its snowy landscapes and beautiful architecture. 

🏙 Marmara Region: The Marmara Region, located at the northwestern part of the country, served as an important area throughout history. Thanks to its location on the Çatalca Peninsula, the Marmara Region provided a vital bridge from the Balkans to Turkey and beyond, and it’s no wonder why three empires (Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman) based their capital in the region. 

Because of its importance, there are thousands of Byzantine and Ottoman remnants that can still be found here, and the region is perfect for travelers who are history fans. The biggest city of the region is none other than Istanbul (which has dozens of dedicated articles on this site!), but it doesn’t stop there — other interesting cities include Edirne (a former Ottoman capital), Troy (the site of many Greek legends), and Bursa (the first Ottoman capital and a thriving winter resort). 

🌴 Mediterranean Region: Ahh, the Turkish Coast — where else can you swim in gorgeous turquoise waters, explore Lycian ruins, and go from the mountains to the beach in under 2 hours? Only in the Turkish Mediterranean!

This is the region where travelers go to relax, and the numbers don’t lie. There are more than 200 all-inclusive resorts across the region and the Turkish Riviera spans more than 1,000 km (620 miles) of beautiful beaches, hidden coves, and intrepid hiking trails! 

The biggest city (and capital) of the region is none other than Antalya, although other popular options include Alanya, Fethiye, Marmaris, and Adana, which is also known as the ‘gateway to the east.’ Speaking of which… 

🕌 Southeastern Anatolia: Last but not least, we have the southeastern part of Turkey — although it’s the smallest region by area, it’s big on history, gastronomy, and endless steppes!

The region is home to the famed Nemrut Dagi (Mt. Nemrut), as well as Gaziantep (known as the gastronomic capital of Turkey), Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, and Mardin. This region is especially known for its extraordinary Middle East architecture, ancient cities nestled atop peaks, and unique flavors. 

As you can see, Turkey is extremely rich in natural features — rugged mountains, vast plains, bustling cities, desert-like landscapes, historic quarters, and azure seas are just a few stars on the constellation of the country’s tapestry. 


BEFORE YOUR TRIP: Practical Tips & Things to Keep in Mind

Before it’s time to travel to Turkey, there are some very important practicalities that you should know about: 

Passports and Visas

Turkey is fairly generous with its visa policy, and allows travelers from more than 90 countries to enter the country visa-free, plus citizens of 28 countries to apply for the super simple electronic visa.

Countries with 90 days of visa-free access include the entire European Union and EFTA, plus Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine, the United States, and the United Kingdom, among others. 

Likewise, cities of the following countries can apply for the electronic visa: Bahrain, China, Mexico, Oman, South Africa, and Taiwan.

The application takes only 15 minutes and will ask you a few basic questions (personal details, passport information, travel itinerary). After paying the fee, you’ll typically get instant approval for the Turkish eVisa, and will need to show the PDF copy when you pass through immigration control. 

Since this blog post is already quite long (and would be even longer if we wrote all the countries!), you can visit iVisa to see the full list of eligible countries and apply for your Turkish eVisa.

Money 

The official currency of Turkey is called the Lira and is typically written as TRY, TL, or the ₺ symbol (a curved L with two lines). 

There are seven banknotes, which come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 denominations, plus six coins (called kuruş) in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50, plus a 1 lira coin. 

Don’t worry too much about coins, as anything less than 50 kuruş and 1 Lira coins are rarely used. 

TRAVEL TIP!

If you’re planning to exchange money, be sure to avoid the airport and do it in the city, as there are much better rates. If you really need money (i.e. to take the airport shuttle), try to exchange the bare minimum at the airport and do the rest when you’re in the city. 

SIM Cards

There are three main telecom providers in Turkey: Turkcell, Turk Telekom, and Vodafone. To be honest, there’s really not a huge difference in service across the three companies, although most tourists choose Turkcell because their sales kiosks can be found everywhere (and their mascots are cute little aliens, but that’s a different story :)). 

In terms of coverage, Turkcell and Turk Telekom are nearly equal and have availability across most of Turkey (except super remote areas and in the mountains). 


Plugs & Electricity 

In Turkey, the power plugs and sockets are either Type C or Type F, which both have two round pins. If you’re traveling to Turkey from any country in Europe (including Eastern Europe), the Middle East, and central Asia, you’re in luck and probably won’t need to bring an adapter. If not, these Type C plug adapters are excellent.

Turkey has 230V voltage and 50 Hz. 


When to Visit Turkey

One of the most important parts of any trip is figuring out when to visit, so it’s no surprise that many people constantly ask us, When is the best time to visit Turkey? 

The short answer is either spring or autumn, but it also really depends on what you want to do and where you plan to go. Let’s take a closer look:

Spring | March, April, May

Best for: Sightseeing, Museum hopping, Festivals, Road trips

The best time to visit Turkey weather-wise is spring, especially during the later part of the season (end of April to May). During this time, the weather is a pleasant 24C (74F) with skies that alternate between clouds and sunshine. 

Spring is an ideal time to visit popular tourist attractions in Turkey like Istanbul, Ephesus, and Izmir — and best of all, there are virtually no crowds! 

If you’re traveling to Turkey’s coasts, however, it may still be chilly. The Aegean and Mediterranean regions don’t start to really warm up until mid-May, and many resorts and restaurants may still be closed. 

Similarly, Turkey’s Black Sea region will be even chillier, as it’s further north. The coast typically starts coming alive towards the end of Spring, and cities like Trabzon and Samsun will be nice and green. If you plan to go up to the mountains (i.e. Rize or one of the plateaus), be sure to bring a warm jacket and an umbrella, as it gets quite rainy! 

Travelers who are into culture and arts should plan a trip to Turkey in spring. There are tons of festivals and events, including the Istanbul Tulip Festival, International Film Festival, Herb festival in Alacati, and more. 


Summer | June, July, August

Best for: Relaxing at the beach, visiting the Black Sea coast 

Ahhh, summer. Most people typically associate Turkey with summer, beaches, and sunny weather — and they’re not wrong!

Summer weather in Turkey is warm, dry, and with clear days, while the temperatures hover in the 30 to 35 C (85 to 96 F) range. Thanks to Turkey’s popularity as a summer resort, you can expect crowds along the entire Mediterranean coast (also known as the Turkish Riviera).

While most people are hanging out in the south, you can beat the crowds and experience Turkey’s stunning nature in the north. Summer is the perfect time to visit the 50+ plateaus along the Black Sea, stop by charming villages, and enjoy fun summer activities like hiking, kayaking, and rafting. 

If you’re planning to travel to Turkey in the summer, we highly recommend booking your accommodations, transfers, and activities far in advance, as they sell out quickly. 


Autumn | September, October, November

Best for: Sightseeing, Hiking, Leaf peeping

We like to call autumn Turkey’s ‘golden season,’ and not just because of the beautiful orange and yellow leaves — but because it’s the perfect time to visit without the crowds! 

Indeed, autumn in Turkey comes with many bonuses, including fewer crowds, cheaper hotels, and pleasant weather. 

Besides Istanbul and other major cities, be sure to visit southeastern Turkey if you get the chance. Mount Nemrut is especially perfect during the late summer to early autumn period, as there are less crowds and cooler weather to make the trek up. However, be sure to research the weather beforehand, as it may start to snow in early October and cover the path up to the mountain. Other excellent destinations include Mardin, Sanliurfa, and Gaziantep.

Cappadocia also offers less crowds and pleasant conditions to go on a hot air balloon ride, visit the underground cities, and take day trips through the valleys.

Finally, the Black Sea region is another great choice, especially if you want to enjoy a cozy fall atmosphere. Trabzon, the region’s capital, turns into a gorgeous paradise of fall colors, while plenty of cabins along the plateaus have crackling fireplaces, warm blankets, and panoramic windows to take it all in. 


Winter | December, January, February

Best for: Shopping, Winter sports, Cozy atmosphere

Winter is the cheapest time to visit Turkey, but also the coldest. If you can brave the chilly winds and rainy days, you’ll discover an entirely different side to Turkey!

The temperature in Istanbul starts to drop in the beginning of December, but the coldest month is usually February. If you’re lucky, your trip might even coincide with the one week in the entire year when it snows in Istanbul. 😉

Besides snow and a cozy atmosphere, winter in Turkey is also famous for its sales. If you walk along Istiklal Avenue, you’ll see storefronts covered with sale signs and discounts up to 70% off. Winter sales typically start in December and end in February — just in time for Christmas shopping. 

Speaking of shopping… Many malls, shopping centers, and pedestrian streets are decorated in sparkling lights and festive displays. Definitely visit Sekerci Cafer Erol in Kadikoy to see the most flamboyant display, complete with moving toys and colorful garlands. 

Of course, we can’t have winter without winter sports, right? Turkey has some of the most up-and-coming snow resorts on this side of the hemisphere, with favorites including Uludag, Kartepe, and Ergan Dağı. The ski season in Turkey runs from December to April, although dates usually vary depending on the temperature and first snowfall.

Get inspired to visit Turkey’s winter wonderland with these posts:
❄️ The Winter in Istanbul Guide: 20+ Cozy Things to do
❄️ Winter in Turkey Bucket List: 15+ Things to See, Do, and Places to Visit During Winter

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As you can see, there really is no best season to visit Turkey (and no ‘wrong’ season either!) — some places are better visited during summer, like the southwestern coast, while others come alive during winter… And some are good for every season! 


TRAVELING TO TURKEY: How To Get Here

Before you can enjoy Turkey, you’ll need to get here first! Here are some of the best ways to get to Turkey: 

By airplane

If you’re like most travelers, flying into Turkey will be your best option. There are plenty of modern airports all around the country with excellent connections to Europe, Asia, the Americas, and beyond. 

However, if it’s your first time visiting Turkey, we highly recommend flying into Istanbul and going from there. There are a few reasons why: it has the most connections from other countries, Istanbul is an excellent city to start your trip, and will most likely be your final destination anyway. 

There are actually two airports in Istanbul: Istanbul International Airport (on the European side) and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (on the Asian side). 

You’ll most likely fly into the new Istanbul airport (IST) because it’s the country’s largest airport and a global hub. If you’re going to take a domestic flight, then you’ll most likely be flying from Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) — but more on that in the next section. 😉

If you’re flying during the summer, you might be able to book a great deal on a direct charter flight to Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir, Dalaman, or Kayseri (Cappadocia) from your country. 

You can check airline tickets, price, and availability using our favorite website’s widget:


By bus

There are dozens of ways to travel to Turkey by bus. Here are some of the most popular routes:

WEST:
Sofia (BG) to Istanbul — 9 hours 
Thessaloniki (GR) to Istanbul — 9 hours
Bucharest (RO) to Istanbul — 11 hours
Skopje (ME) to Istanbul — 13 hours
Kyiv (UA) to Istanbul — 15 hours

EAST:
Batumi (GE) to Trabzon — 5 hours 
Tbilisi (GE) to Trabzon — 13 hours

Typically, you’ll need to buy tickets from your departure city — Check bus tickets to Turkey here.


By train

The most popular way to travel to Turkey by train is via the Istanbul – Sofia Express. This overnight sleeper train leaves Sofia Central Train Station and arrives at Halkalı Station on the outskirts of Istanbul. From there, you can take the Marmaray (an urban rail line) to the center of Istanbul and continue your trip. 

The Sofia to Istanbul train has two seasonal schedules: in the summer (May to November) the train leaves Sofia at 18:30 and arrives in Istanbul at 5:35 in the morning. During the rest of the year, it leaves Sofia at 18:30 and arrives in Istanbul at 6:00. 

You can choose from a few options, including 1- and 2-bed sleeper, or a room with 4-berth couchettes. Each compartment comes with an outlet to charge your electronics, but unfortunately there’s no food wagon (bring your own snacks!). The price is between 32 EUR (in a 4-person couchette) to 70 EUR (for a 1-person private room).

There should be an Ankara (TR) – Kars (TR) – Tbilisi (Georgia) – Baku (Azerbaijan) train line route soon, but there are no official announcements yet. The railway has been built, but there are no trains yet — keep checking back here for more information. 


By boat

There are ferry routes between Turkey and nearby countries like Ukraine and Georgia. However, this isn’t very tourist-friendly, as it takes longer (24+ hours) and is more expensive (minimum $100/person) than other options. 

The following routes have ferry options:

Chornomorsk (UA) – Karasu (TR)

There were also ferries between Turkey and Georgia, although they’ve been suspended for some time. 


HOW TO GET AROUND TURKEY:
Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and more!

Now that you know how to get to Turkey, let’s talk about getting around the country! 

The easiest and most common method of traveling around Turkey is by plane, since it’s convenient, budget-friendly, and covers the entire country. You can also opt to travel by inter-city bus or train if you prefer slow travel, or rent a car and enjoy an epic road trip across Turkey. 

Plane

Although most people think that domestic flights can be pricey and not worth it, that’s actually quite the opposite in Turkey — you can often find domestic flights in Turkey for as little as 600 Lira! 

Traveling around Turkey by plane is also quite convenient and fast, especially if you plan to visit a lot of places during your trip. 

To put it into perspective, it takes almost 22 hours to drive from Izmir (one of Turkey’s westernmost cities) to Van (easternmost city). If you opted for a direct flight, it would only take you a little over 2 hours!

There are four domestic airlines in Turkey, including Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, AnadoluJet, and SunExpress. 

Turkish Airlines is the biggest airline (domestic and international), and has hundreds of flights across Turkey every day. Although it might cost more than other companies, Turkish Air offers excellent service, complimentary baggage (incl. a 22 kg bag!), and other full-service amenities. 

On the other hand, Pegasus is Turkey’s budget airline and usually has the cheapest airline tickets. While the prices are budget-friendly, flying on Pegasus comes with less amenities, and it’s somewhat similar to Ryanair: you’ll need to pay for onboard food, there is less space, and baggage allowances are limited. 

Finally, there’s AnadoluJet and SunExpress. To be honest, both airlines aren’t too different from each other, except for the fact that AnadoluJet is Turkish Airlines’ low-cost spin-off. Both airlines serve secondary markets (like Izmir to Antalya) and have standard service. 

Bus

Turkey has hundreds of bus companies, both big and regional, that will get you where you need to go.

In fact, intercity buses in Turkey are very comfortable and have an excellent price-to-quality ratio. Most major companies use a modern fleet of buses that have air conditioning, spacious seats that recline, and plenty of baggage storage. Some higher-end companies and routes also have buses with in-seat entertainment, meal and drink service, and bathrooms! 

Bus departures are typically frequent and are cheaper than other methods of getting around (i.e. flying or renting a car). 

Here are some of the major bus companies in Turkey, as well as their regions:

Metro Turizm — Entire Turkey 
Kamil Koç — Entire Turkey, this is the most popular bus company in Turkey 
Pamukkale Turizm — Western coast (Aegean) and central Turkey, mostly popular routes 

Other popular bus companies in Turkey include Nevsehir Seyahat (Cappadocia and central Turkey), İstanbul Seyahat (Istanbul area and Black Sea), Efe Tur (entire Turkey), and Has Turizm (southeast Turkey). 

Most Turkish bus seat configurations are either 2+1 or 2+2. Another interesting thing to note is that when you’re booking a bus ticket, the system will ask you to specify your gender. On Turkish buses, unrelated men and women (i.e. strangers) can’t sit next to each other. However, don’t worry if you’re a couple or traveling with your opposite-gender friend — as long as you know each other, you can book adjacent seats. 

Likewise, long-distance buses stop frequently at gas stations for snack and toilet breaks.

Click here to see bus routes and check prices

Train

The national railway company of Turkey is called TCDD (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları) and covers about 12,500 kilometers (7,800 mi) of routes across the country. 

Traveling by Turkish rail is quite an interesting adventure, as most of the trains are modern, comfortable, and convenient. Trains are a great choice if you want to save money (especially on overnight trains), see the country like a local, and/or want to reach a regional destination.

There are a few different types of train routes in Turkey:

  • High-Speed Trains (YHT / Yüksek Hızlı Tren) — There are currently three high-speed train routes that connect major cities in Turkey: İstanbul – Eskisehir – Ankara, Ankara to Silvas, and Ankara to Konya. You’ll cover the 450-km journey from Istanbul to Ankara in only 3.5 hours!
  • Mainline Services (Anahat) — These are the typical long-distance trains that you’ll see in Turkey. They come in two types — Express and Blue Train — and offer day and overnight services. Each train has passenger wagons and a dining car. Examples include Ankara to Izmir or the famed Taurus Express (Konya to Adana).
  • Regional Trains (Bölgesel) — There are super local trains, like İzmir to Pamukkale (Denizli). 



Although you can’t go to every major city in Turkey by train (like Antalya or Cappadocia), there are plenty of other places to visit — and it’s quite a fun experience! If you have a little extra time and want to travel like the locals, hop on a train. 🙂 

Likewise, we highly recommend the Rail Turkey website as a resource to plan your train travel — it’s written in English and has all the information you need about popular train routes in Turkey. 


Car rental

Renting a car in Turkey is a great idea if you really want to get off the beaten path and travel at your own pace. You can stop at all the cute fruit stands on the side of the road, take a detour to an interesting-looking village, or visit hard-to-reach attractions. 

In fact, traveling by car in Turkey is very enjoyable and safe — as long as you don’t drive in major cities like Istanbul or Ankara (they have excellent public transport as-is! 😉)

Car rentals typically start at $20 USD/day and go up depending on the car model, transmission (automatic costs more than manual), and season. There are plenty of well-known car rental companies in Turkey like Sixt, Enterprise, and Budget, as well as local chains. 

The most popular road trip routes in Turkey include… 

🚗 The Turkish Riviera — The Turkish Riviera road trip is the most well-known route in the entire country, and it’s no surprise why: between Izmir and Antalya, you’ll see tons of beautiful beaches, idyllic towns,and the rugged coastline. 

🚗 Datça Peninsula — An offshoot of the Turkish Riviera road trip, the Datça Peninsula is a shorter 80-kilometer (50 mi) route that offers peaceful villages, leafy olive groves, and boutique hotels. It’s an excellent option if you’re limited in time but still want to explore. 

🚗 Istanbul to Sinop —  For something a little different, the Istanbul to Sinop road trip is just what you need. It’s a great way to see the most famous sites along the Black Sea. Click here to read our 2 Week Black Sea Roadtrip Itinerary post →

🚗 Istanbul to Izmir — If you want to go the other way, Istanbul to Izmir is also an excellent choice. There are many historical sites along the Northern Aegean, such as Cannakale and the ruins of Troy. You’ll also be spoiled for choice with cute and colorful villages like Bozcaada and Ayvalik.

🚗 Turkish Lakes Region — Besides kilometers of beaches, Turkey also has more than 50 natural lakes! For a unique road trip, visit the Turkish ‘Lake District’ in the southern-central part of the country and see Lake Salda (the ‘Turkish Maldives’) as well as Acıgöl, Burdur, and Eğirdir.

🚗 Ankara to Konya — For those who want to get acquainted with the history and culture of Turkey, this route offers museums, mosques, and excellent infrastructure. 

🚗 Istanbul to Cappadocia — Last but not least, we have the  road trip that connects two of Turkey’s most famous destinations: Istanbul and Cappadocia! While the road is fairly long (760 km / 470 mi), it passes through many interesting cities and towns. 


Boat

Turkey is surrounded by water on three sides, so it’s no wonder that traveling around the country by boat and ferry are popular options. 

The most well-known boat trip in Turkey is the Istanbul to Bursa route, which crosses the Sea of Marmara and takes about 2 hours. Of course, there are also local ferry trips across the Bosphorus, or as we like to say, the cheapest way of getting from Europe to Asia. 🙂 

In the southern part of Turkey, there are a few routes between Turkey and Greece, such as Bodrum to Kos or Marmaris to Rhodes. Most ferries take an hour or two, and you can visit the islands on a day trip. 

Around Antalya, there are daily boat trips around the bay, which are called gulet cruises, or gulet charters if you want to take a multi-day trip.

Overall, if you’re near a body of water, there’s probably a ferry or boat tour 🙂


Taxi & Shuttle Services

For everything else, there are taxis and shuttle services.

Shuttles are especially popular around resort towns, such as the Izmir to Cesme shuttle or a transfer between Dalaman Airport to Marmaris. Transfer shuttles come in many different options, including shared and private rides. 

However, we’d also like to add a small warning about taxis: make sure to read our Common Taxi Scams blog post before your trip!


The King Suite at Erenbey Cave Hotel

ACCOMMODATIONS IN TURKEY: Where to Stay in Turkey

Types of Accommodations

You name it, Turkey has it! Seriously, there are hundreds of accommodation types, ranging from hostels to hotels to guesthouses, luxury resorts, cabins in the woods, traditional stone houses, actual caves (in Cappadocia!), riverside bungalows, and so much more!

Turkey has more than 5,000 hotels across the country, as well as thousands of hostels, aparthotels, vacation rentals, and more. 

Most major hotel chains have at least one or two properties in the country, such as Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental, Hyatt, Wyndham, and so on. There are also plenty of chic and unique boutique hotels as well! 

Best of all, accommodations in Turkey are typically much more budget friendly than in other parts of the world (i.e. the United States or Western Europe), so you can easily stretch your budget further — or live it up in luxury without breaking the bank! 

Most travelers usually opt for hotels (especially for short stays), but Airbnbs, apartment rentals, and vacation homes are quickly becoming more popular thanks to their amenities (like washing machines, kitchenettes, and more space). 


Where to Book Accommodations in Turkey

The most popular websites for booking accommodations in Turkey are Booking.com and Hotels.com.  

One word of warning: we highly recommend reserving your hotels in advance, for two reasons. 

First, Turkey is a very popular destination for tourists (it welcomed more than 50 million tourists in 2019!) and, therefore, good accommodations get booked up very quickly.

Secondly, Booking.com is banned inside Turkey. You can book accommodations in Turkey when you’re outside of the country, i.e. you’re in Australia and you book a hotel in Istanbul.  

However, once you’ve arrived and are in Turkey, and try to book accommodations in Turkey, you’ll be given an error message. Of course, you can use any VPN to bypass this block, but it’s easier to have everything ready beforehand, right? 🙂 


WHAT TO DO IN TURKEY:
Top 15 Highlights of Turkey  

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering where to go in Turkey — and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about next! 

IstanbulIs there any other way to start a list of the most popular cities in Turkey? We think not! In fact, we could write hundreds of blog posts about Istanbul and still never run out of things to say. This timeless city, split between Europe and Asia, has seen thousands of years of history, empires being built and destroyed, and several civilizations leaving their mark. 

No matter where you go, this city is sure to charm you — but for starters, the most famous attractions in Istanbul include the legendary Hagia Sohpia, Topkapi Palace, the Galata Tower, and a walk along the Bosphorus. 

AntalyaKnown as the gateway to the Turkish Riviera, Antalya is the place where colorful Ottoman houses, Roman ruins, and world-class beaches seamlessly blend together. Whether you’re relaxing in an all-inclusive resort or staying at an idyllic boutique hotel, there’s no wrong way to do Antalya — just bring your sunglasses and let your worries melt away!  

IzmirAs the capital of Turkey’s Aegean Region, Izmir has a lot going for it. While it’s considerably much calmer than its big brother, Istanbul, there’s a reason why it’s called the ‘Turkish Miami.’ Izmir really shows itself off with its 8-kilometer seaside promenade, laid back atmosphere, and enough restaurants to charm any foodie. 

While Izmir deserves at least two or three days to itself, the city is also an excellent starting point for trips to nearby cities. The ancient ruins of Ephesus and the colorful cobblestone streets of Alacati are both less than an hour’s drive.


CappadociaLocated in central Turkey, Cappadocia is famously known for its otherworldly landscapes, fairy chimneys, and countless hot air balloons soaring in the sky. 

But that’s not all! The region also has sprawling valleys, mystic underground cities, unique cave hotels (yes, they’re real caves!), and rock fortress castles. 

Pamukkale — If you’re after some of the dreamiest landscapes in the world, Pamukkale should be on your itinerary. As one of Turkey’s 19 UNESCO sites, Pamukkale is nothing short of beautiful turquoise pools, snow-white travertine terraces, and mineral-rich waters. In fact, there’s a popular rumor that Cleopatra once bathed here! 

Bodrum — In a nutshell, the Bodrum peninsula is the place to go for vibrant nightlife, endless indulgence, and to rub shoulders with the jetset crowd. Despite its fairly small size, Bodrum is chock full of luxurious boutique hotels, spa and wellness centers, and exquisite dining. 


Ephesus — History buffs, here’s your chance to be amazed! While Ephesus may be one of the best-preserved ruins now, back in the day it was the second-biggest city in the Roman Empire and is a treasure trove that’s teeming with historical wonders and artifacts.

The most popular attraction in Ephesus is the Library of Celsus (the two-storey ruins that grace nearly every guide to Ephesus), as it was the third-biggest library in the ancient ruins. Don’t miss other amazing attractions like the Temple of Hadrian, the Ancient Theater, and a walk along the main boulevard. 

Oludeniz — While many people have heard of the popular seaside town of Fethiye, its nearby neighbor, Oludeniz, also deserves a special mention. The area started off as an off-the-grid campground many years ago, and still retains some of its charm to this day — albeit, with a few boutique hotels and local resorts in the mix.

Popular activities in Oludeniz include paragliding above the stunning landscapes, visiting the blue lagoon, and enjoying a day trip to Butterfly Valley, which can only be reached by boat or hiking. 

Mardin — This southeastern gem has enough history to rival that of Istanbul! Mardin saw the rise and fall of civilizations like the Sumerians and Babylonians, and still retains many of its traditional charms. The city itself is built into a steep hilltop and is a melting pot of Arabic, Kurdish, and Turkish culture, which is evident in the gorgeous architecture, food, and atmosphere. 

While traveling to Mardin, don’t miss the sand-colored courtyards of the Zinciriye Medresesi, wander around the Old City, and take a day trip to the ancient Roman city of Dara. 


Eskişehir —Eskişehir is an interesting juxtaposition of old and new: the city’s history goes back more than 4,000 years (it’s even in the name: Eskişehir translates to Old City!), but the city is filled with a youthful vibe thanks to its status as a university town. 

That’s not all: Eskişehir is constantly compared to a typical European city thanks to its cobblestone streets and canals, and its nickname is ‘Little Venice.’ If you’re visiting during the summer, be sure to take a gondola ride! 

Trabzon — In our humble opinion, Trabzon is one of the most underrated cities in Turkey. Seriously, it’s awesome — and we’ll explain why! 

The city makes for an excellent base if you plan to go on day trips around the Black Sea region, such as Rize (the country’s biggest tea-growing region) or Sumela Monastery. Speaking of which, Trabzon is a delightfully cozy city, and has plenty of natural landscapes and highlands within reach.  

Van — Nestled between the biggest lake in Turkey and cradled by rugged mountain ranges, Van is truly a heaven for fans of nature. Many of Vans attractions are concentrated around Lake Van: start off your acquaintance with a scenic ferry trip around the lake, before stopping at a small island and making the short hike to the ancient Armenian church at the top. 

Psst — the city is also famous for the adorable and aptly-named Van cat, which is famed for its unique two-colored eyes and ability to swim (just don’t expect them to make laps around the lake 😉). 


Bursa — Bursa’s claim to fame is its status as the first capital of the Ottoman empire. Besides that, Bursa is a destination for all four seasons: the city’s local nickname is ‘the Green City’ thanks to its verdant parks and outdoor spaces. During the winter, the city turns into a winter wonderland, and the nearby Mount Uludag becomes a premier ski resort.

Gaziantep — We’ve covered the best cities in Turkey for history, nature, beaches, and culture… and now it’s time for food! Foodies and gourmands should definitely add Gaziantep to their itinerary, as this southern city is humbly called the ‘Food Capital of Turkey.’ Locals take their food seriously — so much so that there’s even a pistachio museum in the shape of, well, a pistachio!

Besides stuffing your face with delicious dishes, popular attractions in Gaziantep include the gorgeous Mosaic Museum; the Gaziantep Kalesi (Gaziantep Castle), and the Coppersmith Bazaar.  

KonyaLast but certainly not least, we have Turkey’s religious soul: Konya!  The minaret-filled skies of the city give it a certain ethereal quality, while museums open their doors to curious tourists. Konya is also famous for being the home of the Sufi mystic Rumi, and his belongings can be seen at the Museum of Rumi. If you’re looking to see an authentic whirling dervish show, Konya is the place to be. In fact, there’s even a festival every December (to coincide with Rumi’s death) where dervishes take part in dances and festivities for eleven days. 

Finding and Booking Tours and Activities 

While there’s no shortage of knowledgeable tour guides, day trips, and tours in Turkey, you can conveniently find them all in one place either on Get Your Guide or Viator. 

In fact, GetYourGuide is our absolute favorite resource for booking activities (even when we travel ourselves!) for a few reasons. it has the most tours available (including exclusive activities you won’t find anywhere else!); the website is user-friendly; the cancellation policy is flexible in case something comes up; and the customer support is top-notch.

Click here to check out Get Your Guide, or click the widget below:


WHAT TO PACK FOR TURKEY

Last but not least, here are some essential tips on packing for a trip to Turkey.

First off, the weather in Turkey is similar to European capitals: warm summers and chilly winters. And yes, it snows in Turkey! In some places much more than others (especially eastern cities like Kars!) 

While Turkey is a Muslim country, the dress code is much more relaxed than neighboring countries. As a guideline, it’s best to wear knee-length dresses and shorts, and cover your chest and shoulders. Some parts of Turkey, such as the central areas and Konya, tend to be more conservative, while those along the coast are casual and laid-back in terms of dress codes. 

Perhaps the most important packing advice for Turkey is to bring comfortable walking shoes. Seriously, your feet will thank you, especially as you try to tackle the high-incline hill when making your way back to your hotel. 

Likewise, it’s a good idea to pack a light hat and sunscreen (Turkish sunburns are no joke). Ladies should keep a small scarf in their handbag in case you want to visit mosques, as you can easily use it to cover your hair. 

Pssst — if you forgot to pack something, don’t worry! Turkey has amazing clothing store that carry the latest and greatest, as well as modern stores where you can replenish your creams, deodorant, face masks, and anything else. 


Merhaba and welcome to Let’s Travel to Türkiye!

This website was created by locals to help travelers plan their trip to Turkey (Türkiye) from start to finish. You’ll find everything you need, from city guides to road trip itineraries, resources on transportation and accommodations, and so much more.

Iyi yolculuklar (happy travels)!