Turkey is a country that sits on the crossroads of Europe and Asia. There’s lots to explore from the thriving former Byzantine and Ottoman city of Istanbul to the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia, gorgeous Mediterranean beaches and the wild Eastern Anatolia region.
I’ve visited Turkey on multiple occasions while travelling overland between China and the UK. In 2022 I spent over two months backpacking around the country and exploring places far from the trampled tourist trail.
I’ve crossed the entire country by bus three times, from Bulgaria and Greece in the west to Georgia in the east. This large country has many different landscapes from the plains of Mesopotamia to the mountains of Erzurum, the Black Sea and Mediterranean coastlines and a lot more besides.
top cities to visit in turkey
Istanbul sits either side of the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe from Asia Minor. The city has a long history dating back which includes stints as part of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
There’s lots to see in Istanbul from the old city to the Grand Bazaar, the Basilica Cistern and of course the architectural marvels such as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
Bodrum is a coastal resort in the southwest of Turkey famous for its beaches, bars and lively nightlife. Highlights include the picturesque harbour, the many fine restaurants and majestic Bodrum Castle.
Diyarbakir is a city in southeastern Turkey and hopme to the country’s laregst Kurdish population. There are lots of incredible sights from the Roman city walls to the famous Hevcel Gardens and the Ten Eyed Bridge.
Read my complete guide to Diyarbakir.
Mardin is an absolutely gorgeous town high on a hill overlooking the plains of Mesopatamia. Climb Zinceriye Madrasa for the most incredible views, or sip Turkish coffee in one of the many rooftop bars.
Read my complete guide to Mardin.
Erzurum is Turkey’s outdoor playground and home the country’s premiere ski resort at nearby Palendoken Mountain. There’s lots to see and do from skiing and hiking to exploring the citadel and many mosques and madrasas.
Read my complete guide to Erzurum.
The city of Van sits on the shores of Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van. From swimming in summer and hiking, to exploring the ancient castle, there is lots to see and do in this plesant city.
Read my complete guide to Van.