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Turkey became the Silk Road’s central center because it was the most incredible cultural melting pot. There, Eastern and Western traditions collided and continue to do so now.

Turkey, the Middle East’s portal to Europe, is rich in history and breathtaking scenery. Did we mention the food? Turkey is one of the world’s most visited countries and a top destination on everyone’s list of must-see places.

1. Ephesus

Ephesus, Turkey

The ancient city of Ephesus was an important Roman metropolis and a frequent stop for famous people like Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. Only Rome could rival it in terms of population and cultural importance. Still, it served as the capital of Asia Minor.

This cultural center is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World because it is one of the best-preserved Roman towns in the Mediterranean. You can visit Izmir, Kusadasi, or Selçuk in a day.

2. Cappadocia

Cappadocia, Turkey

This enchanting spot in the middle of Anatolia is well-known for its “fairy chimneys” and the rainbow of hot air balloons that float above.

Locate a comfortable perch on the many stunning terraces overlooking the sandy plains below. Do not procrastinate! Wake up early to see the sunrise and look for hot air balloons.

Don’t forget your camera as the sun goes down over Göreme, and visit the magnificent cave homes in Rose Valley.

3. Kas

Kas, Turkey

One of the world’s top scuba diving spots is found in this Mediterranean port city. It’s a beautiful coastal town with bougainvillea and some impressive historical sites inland.

As a planning note, don’t limit yourself to kebabs when considering Turkish cuisine. Some of Turkey’s most outstanding regional delicacies have never left the country.

4. Bodrum, Gumusluk

Bodrum, Turkey

Bodrum is a must-see summertime destination. Some parts of the city grow crowded, but Gümüşlük is off-limits to tourists and open only to residents.

This coastal community is most well-known for hosting the annual Gümüşlük International Jazz Festival, but it’s beautiful year-round.

5. Pamukkale

Pamukkale, Turkey

The Turkish name for this UNESCO World Heritage site means “cotton castle,” and it lives up to the name in more ways than one.

Since Roman times, vacationers have flocked to the white terraces for a dip in the hot waters. Climb the approximately 200-meter (655-foot) cliff to get a bird’s eye view of this incredible location.

6. Izmir

Izmir, Turkey

It’s easy to understand why CN Traveler called this place “Turkey’s most underrated city.” Travelers tend to avoid this area in favor of Istanbul and other coastal locations, leaving this gem to the natives.

This seaside city, Turkey’s third biggest, has long had its sights set on Europe. As a cultural crossroads, Izmir has an intriguing fusion of European and Middle Eastern elements.

Explore the Roman Empire’s architectural marvels, like the acropolis of Asano, and then people-watch from one of the city’s many sidewalk cafés.

7. Fethiye

Fethiye, Turkey

Originally an outpost of Telmessos, modern-day Fethiye is a bustling resort and a central yachting hub.

Check out the Lycian rock tombs and then relax on the beautiful beach. Enjoy the best of both worlds—excellent culture and relaxing beach life—in this ideal coastal town.

The lüdeniz, also known as the Blue Lagoon, is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

8. Mardin

Mardin, Turkey

This ancient city in Southeast Anatolia is one of the oldest in Northern Mesopotamia.

Mardin is close to the Syrian border and has a fascinating synthesis of Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Seljuk, and Mongol cultures. Both its history and its architecture are entirely unique.

Before your tour, fill in on local specialties like cardamom-infused dibek coffee or pistachio-and-milk-based menengic.

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