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.
Wines from this tiny Aegean island are gaining prominence.
This massive, dazzling, and cacophonous covered market is the ur-bazaar of the Orient; if you’ve envisioned what it will be like, prepare to have your expectations exceeded.
If you want to bring baklava back home, don’t buy it in the city—you’ll get syrup all over your luggage. Buy it here.
Where: Istanbul, Turkey, spanning the Bosphorus Strait.
Stats: 4,954 feet long; 210 feet above sea level.
Set in a lavish 19th-century mansion overlooking the Golden Horn, the privately funded museum stages exhibitions such as a show of Kutahya pottery and Orientalist portraits from the late Ottoman era.
Beyond the ancient city walls on the south bank of the Golden Horn, this stately mosque—one of Istanbul’s most sacred Muslim sites—is flanked by massive cemeteries.
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 friend of Charlie Parker and his wife, Chan.
A much more manageable affair than the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Market (a.k.a. the Egyptian Bazaar) is the place to find caviar and saffron, honeycombs and coffee, plus fun souvenirs like prayer beads.
Boutique specializing in vintage hand-embroidered scarves and shawls, many from Iran.
Quartz comes in many colors and some of the world’s bluest is mined in the Eskisehir region of Anatolia. Deriving its name from Chalcedon, a district on the Asian coast of Istanbul (now Kadikoy), the stone remains a popular and affordable souvenir at Chalcedony in Sultanahmet.
This is not a luxury spa—don’t expect aromatherapy or an oxygen facial—but it’s a perfectly serviceable salon for basic freshening-up if you’re in need of a shampoo, blow-dry, shave, or manicure.
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 packed with hip types swigging the signature Absinthe Ferrari cocktails.
The art museum in a former customs building was one of the most significant openings in the city's recent history. The collection pales in comparison to the show-stopping views of the city from the café—but that alone makes it worth the trip. The museum shop spotlights cutting-edge creations.
A day trip to Heybeliada, the second-largest and arguably the prettiest of the Princes Islands, feels remarkably refreshing after a few days of Istanbul’s traffic.