What to do in Turkey | Beaches and Mosques

What to do in Turkey | Beaches and Mosques

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what to do in turkey

Mysterious cities, thousands of years of history and beautiful countryside combine to make Turkey a great spot for a holiday. Turkey is exotic and exciting. Turkey is is a melding of eastern and western culture and it’s a fascinating place to visit. Here are some ideas on what to do in Turkey.

turkey tourism istanbuls waterfront

Turkish Riviera

In Turkey’s southwest region of Antalya, the Turkish Riviera is a hot-spot for beach goers on the Mediterranean without the huge price tag of other beach areas in Italy, France or northern Spain.

Turkey’s sun-drenched coast gets more than 300 sunny days a year.

If you’re already travelling around Europe it’s worth visiting the area as it offers a beach holiday combined with history.

The region has a rich background and there are Roman and Greek historical ruins dotted around the area.

Belek is an area that has seaside resorts and golf courses. It’s a lovely spot sandwiched between the Taurus mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

turkey tourism beach at belek

Nearby, Aspendos was a Greco-Roman city of some note. These days, there’s not much left except for its Roman theatre, which fortunately is well preserved.

The ancient stones reverberate with history and you could easily imagine gladiators clashing swords.

Sometimes, there are events like opera and concerts. It would be amazing to visit during one of these events so if you’re in the area do check out the local event schedule.


Antalya is the largest city in the region. It has an atmospheric old town with streets packed with leather stores, pubs, nightclubs and cafes.

Antalya is also a regular port of call for cruise ships on the Mediterranean.

If you’re after a golfing holiday in Europe, it’s worth considering Turkey too as the cost will be far less than many other European countries. And Belek has some beautiful golf courses.

things to do in istanbul aspendoes theatre

What to do in Turkey – Turkish baths

Istanbul is famous for mosques, souks and Turkish hammams. The most famous hammams are Cagaloglu Hamami, Cukurcuma Hamami (the famous homosexual hammam) and Suleymaniye Hamami (where men and women bath nude together) and Cemberlitas Hamami.

If you’re unfamiliar with the ritual of a Turkish bath, it can be a touch daunting. Laying on a slab in a hall full of strangers while an attendant scrubs you down might seem like a strange thing to do. But it’s a communal experience worth a try and one that has been practiced for centuries in Turkey.

For a more personal experience, you could try one of the luxury resorts. There wouldn’t be a five-star hotel in Turkey that doesn’t offer some kind of Turkish bathing experience.

At the top of the scale Ciragan Palace Kempinski , Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons have beautifully appointed hammams, which are more like luxurious Western-style spas.

turkey tourism hamam

Istanbul’s treasures

Generations of Ottoman and Byzantine history have left a legacy of palaces, churches, mosques and souks in Istanbul.

Istanbul is mysterious and architecturally pleasing to the eye.

It has Ottoman and Byzantine history you could get lost in for weeks and so many monuments you’d be hard-pressed to see them all in one visit.

Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque are worth putting on your list.

Aya Sofya was the biggest cathedral on earth for nearly 1000 years, until it was transformed into mosque. These days, it’s a top tourist landmark.

While Istanbul, cruising along the Golden Horn at twilight provides dreamy vistas of minarets and domes. And you should also visit the Topkapi Palace.

turkey tourism cruising the bosphorus

turkey tourism ayasofya

The Topkapi Palace is full of atmosphere. As you wander the marbled halls, pictures of sultans and harems pop to mind. The tour guides are full of tales of the rulers who once lived in this palace and you won’t be bored.


You’ll be wowed by treasures such as the Topkapi Dagger (with three emeralds studded on its hilt) and the Kasikci (Spoonmaker’s) diamond (a 86-carat tear-drop stone).

Istanbul’s Bazaars

turkey tourism spice market

what to do in turkey
Photos: Christina Pfeiffer

Another place worth spending a few hours is the Spice Bazaar, which is packed with spices, dates, figs and other food.

Wander around and taste cheese and Turkish delights and let the stall holders entertain you with their antics.

turkey tourism turkish coffee in the spice market

Nearby, the Grand Bazaar is a maze of laneways that is a shopaholic’s Mecca. The oldest part of the building was built in the 15th century.

what to do in turkey

Beware of the carpet sellers. They can be extremely persuasive and you wouldn’t be the first visitor to find yourself buying a carpet you don’t want or need.

Discover Turkey

For more ideas in what to do in Turkey, see the official website of Turkey Tourism. April is a good time for Australians to visit Turkey for ANZAC Day celebrations in Anzac Cove.

Sit back and explore Istanbul with me through my video series.

What to do in Turkey