The cities of Turkey are where you may see Turkish life at its most vivid.
Many of Turkey’s cities, even those that are now regarded as modern economic and industrial hubs, have ancient roots and have old town districts brimming with exquisite architecture from earlier centuries, whether Ottoman, Byzantine or Classical.
Make sure to include some city time in your travels whether you want to see the majestic architecture of bygone empires, sample some of the country’s best cuisine, or simply get lost in the bustle of the bazaar.
With our list of the top cities in Turkey, you can plan where to find the big-city atmosphere.
Istanbul juggles its huge historical heritage and frantic modern mega-city hum with a deftness that few other cities can match. This is Turkey’s largest city. The city’s most notable big Imperial building projects from both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires can be found here.
If you want to combine sun and sand with city conveniences, Antalya is one of the best destinations to visit in Turkey. Both Konyaalti and Lara beaches offer laid-back beach life, yet the city’s dynamic and diverse café and restaurant culture are still easily accessible.
Bursa, the Ottoman Empire’s first capital, is now a sprawling, sophisticated metropolis with a population of two million people.
The majority of visitors will wish to spend their time in the city’s central areas. The most notable landmarks from Bursa’s imperial time are the 20-domed Grand Mosque, the exuberantly tiled interiors of both the Yesil Mosque and Tomb and the colorfully painted mausoleums of the first Ottoman Sultans within the Muradiye Complex.
Sanliurfa, previously the Byzantine city of Edessa and claimed birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, has always been one of Turkey’s most interesting stops.
As the ancient site of Göbeklitepe has become more accessible to tourists in recent years, a new influx of visitors has arrived. In 2019, UNESCO designated these Neolithic monoliths, which are located on the outskirts of the city, as a World Heritage Site.
With a population of 2.9 million, this provincial capital and Turkey’s third-largest metropolis serve as a big-city base for day trips to the adjacent sites of Ephesus and Pergamum.
Izmir, which stretches along the Aegean Sea, is now regarded as one of Turkey’s most vibrant metropolises. Its youthful, commercial energy and trendy façade conceal a long and illustrious past.
This modest city of 100,000 people is one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations along the Mediterranean coast, thanks to its stunning port front setting.
Fethiye is a popular yachting hotspot. From daily group boat trips to multi-day private yacht hiring, there are a variety of sailing activities available.
With a population of five million people, Turkey’s capital and second-largest city are smack in the middle of the country. Ankara is a large corporate and industrial hub, but there are two compelling reasons to include it in your Turkey itinerary.