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Things to do in Turkey

Whether you're interested in learning about Turkey's history and culture, viewing contemporary art and design, or just relaxing on the beach, there are plenty of places to go in Turkey. In Istanbul, first-timers can't miss Hagia Sophia, a thousand-plus-year-old church-turned-mosque and museum, or the 17th-century Rüstem Pasha Mosque (or Blue Mosque), famous for is azure-hued tiles and six minarets. At the Topkapi complex, you'll wander though 6 million square feet of Ottoman-era palace grounds, then find your own precious goods among the stalls of the Grand Bazaar.

More shopping can be enjoyed in sophisticated Nisantasi, with its international luxury brand boutiques, upscale malls and departments stores. A short flight away in Cappadocia, explore the region's towering rock formations, known as "fairy chimneys," as well as the vast network of caves, tunnels, and ancient dwellings forming the UNESCO World Heritage underground "cities."

The 13th-century Caravansary of Sultanhani, the Byzantine frescoes at the Rock Chapels of Goreme, and the troglodyte village of Avcilar are also among the key spots to visit in Turkey. History buffs shouldn't miss a stroll around the ancient ruins at Ephesus—one of the top places to go in Turkey—while those interested in the natural beauty of Turkey will love the national parks, as well as the beaches and warm blue-green waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.

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  • A la Turca

    The rapidly gentrifying side streets between Cihangir and İstiklâl Caddesi are lined with shops selling antiques, furniture, and weird-but-wonderfu... More
  • Abdulla

    Responding to complaints from villagers throughout Turkey about large-scale textile production, Metin Tosun opened Abdulla in the center of the Gra... More
  • Ali Güven Sandalet

  • Anjelique

    A sultry waterside club set against the glowing Baroque Ortaköy Mosque. More
  • Antique de Scalanova

  • Archaeological Museum

    The world-class museum's garden alone begs a look. Inside, there are outstanding ancient sarcophagi, Byzantine sculpture, and Roman busts.   More
  • Artisan

    If Istanbul’s romantic rooftop views work their customary magic, you may suddenly find yourself needing one of costume designer Bilge Mestci’s opul... More
  • Asmalı Mescit

    Lining the narrow, labyrinthine streets behind the Çiçek passage off İstiklâl Caddesi are hundreds of bars, taverns (called meyhane), and outdoor c... More
  • Atasay

    Jewelry has a distinctive Turkish sensibility at this duty-free shop. The designers employ historical Anatolian jewelry-making techniques and motif... More
  • Aviation Museum

    If you have a few hours to kill and feel adventurous, take a five-minute taxi ride to military-aviation paradise: the Istanbul Aviation Museum in t... More
  • Babylon, Istanbul

    The live-music venue that sparked the area’s renaissance. The live acts range from Cuban rap to Turkish folk music—but the club will definitely be ... More
  • Barok Jewellery

    This family-owned Turkish chain sells lovely and unusual pieces that reflect Turkey’s cultural heritage. The designers use precious and semipreciou... More
  • Basilica Cistern

    What Lies Beneath: Eighty-two feet below Istanbul is a 450-foot-long, 213-foot-wide former royal reservoir. This Byzantine engineering feat has 336... More
  • Basilica of St. John

    Built by Justinian in the 6th century A.D., the Basilica of St. John the Apostle and his reputed final resting place is a ruined yet spectacular ed... More
  • Bebop

    Locals flock to Bebop to sit in the garden and listen to jazz, handpicked by the charismatic owner (and Keith Richards look-alike) Kadri Balagzi, a... More
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