Looking for the best hidden gems in Turkey? Discover Turkey’s most underrated spots with this ultimate guide. Embark on a journey to discover Turkey off the beaten track.
Ah, Turkey! A land where East meets West, where the aroma of spices fills bustling bazaars, and where ancient ruins whisper tales of bygone eras. Most travelers are drawn to its iconic wonders: the ethereal landscapes of Cappadocia, the grandeur of Istanbul, and the sun-kissed Mediterranean coast. But what if I told you that beyond these well-trodden paths lies a world of mystery and enchantment? A world where every turn reveals a hidden gem, every vista tells a story, and every moment feels like a discovery.
For the intrepid traveler, Turkey offers a treasure chest of secret spots waiting to be unveiled. From the depths of ancient caves to the heights of Armenian castles, from the serenity of secluded waterfalls to the charm of underrated towns, Turkey beckons with promises of unforgettable adventures.
So, if you’ve been wondering where to go in Turkey beyond the usual suspects, you’re in for a treat. Dive in with me as we embark on a journey to explore Turkey’s most underrated destinations, those places that truly define the phrase “off the beaten path.”
Eager to discover Turkey’s best-kept secrets? As mentioned earlier, this country is brimming with destinations off the beaten path that cater to every style of traveler. Dive deeper to discover some of Turkey’s most overlooked destinations.
Are you looking for secluded beaches to relax? Or would you prefer to discover archaeological gems? Whatever you’re planning, Turkey can accommodate your needs. Dive into this guide to discover the best hidden gems in Turkey.
Nestled along Turkey’s Southern Mediterranean Coast, Kemer is more than just a resort town. Imagine lush pine forests meeting the azure sea, creating a perfect backdrop for adventurers and relaxation seekers alike.
Dive into its clear waters or lounge on sandy beaches, but don’t miss the secluded area of Phaselis. Here, ancient ruins stand tall against a mountainous backdrop, offering a glimpse into Turkey’s rich history. And for those seeking a bird’s-eye view, hop on a 2,365-meter cable car and let the panoramic vistas of the coastline take your breath away.
If you’re pondering what to do in Turkey that combines nature with history, Kemer should be on your list.
Travel Tip: The best time to visit Kemer is during the spring and fall months when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are fewer. If you’re a history buff, consider hiring a local guide when exploring Phaselis to get a deeper understanding of its ancient stories. Some cultural etiquette: While Kemer is a tourist-friendly town, it’s always a good idea to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. A simple gesture of respect can go a long way.
Often referred to as the “Cotton Castle”, Pamukkale is a sight to behold. Located in Western Turkey, this natural wonder offers thermal waters cascading down white terraces, a mesmerizing result of an ancient earthquake. While the terraces are undoubtedly the highlight, don’t stop there.
Venture into the ancient city of Hierapolis, where an amphitheater and a necropolis await. The blend of natural beauty with archaeological wonders makes Pamukkale one of the coolest places to go in Turkey. And if you’re traveling from Izmir, the journey is just 3-4 hours, making it an ideal day trip or a weekend getaway.
The travertine terraces of Pamukkale are best explored barefoot to prevent damage. There are designated areas to leave your shoes before walking on the terraces and lastly remember to bring your swimwear; the thermal pools are not just for viewing, you can take a dip and enjoy the therapeutic waters!
Travel Tip: The most favorable times to visit Pamukkale are during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) when the weather is mild. The summer months can be quite hot, so if you visit during this time, aim for early morning or late afternoon.
Picture a quaint seaport town where the rhythm of waves sets the pace. Welcome to Amasra! This gem, overlooking the Black Sea, is a canvas painted with multi-colored homes, serene beaches, and historical remnants. The town’s charm is best viewed from a cliff-side, offering a panoramic spectacle of the sea meeting the land. For a hidden gem in Turkey like no other, this is definitely it!
A 9th-century bridge connects the mainland to a small island, making for a delightful stroll. As you wander the streets, you’ll find them adorned with unique trinkets, perfect souvenirs to remember your trip. And when hunger strikes, local restaurants beckon with fresh seafood and traditional dishes.
If you’ve been searching for beautiful destinations in Turkey that offer tranquility and history, Amasra is your answer.
Travel Tip: Amasra is a haven for seafood lovers. Make sure to try the local fish dishes, especially the Black Sea anchovies. If you’re visiting during summer, early mornings or late afternoons are ideal to avoid the midday sun.
Wind rustling through your hair, the scent of the sea in the air, and a vibrant town awaiting exploration – welcome to Alacati on Turkey’s Çeşme Peninsula. A paradise for water sports enthusiasts, especially windsurfers, Alacati’s consistent winds make it a hotspot for thrilling adventures. But there’s more to this town than just the waves.
The town center, with its stone houses, vibrant storefronts, and cobblestone streets, is perfect for leisurely strolls. Dive into its history with a visit to Çeşme Castle and the iconic windmills. And as the sun sets, the town comes alive with lively cafes and bars, making it one of the best hidden gems in Turkey for both day and night.
The Alacati Market is held every Saturday. This market is a great place to buy fresh produce, local cheeses, olives, and handmade crafts.
Travel Tip: Alacati is renowned for its wine-making traditions. Consider joining a local wine tasting tour to savor the flavors of the region. And if you’re visiting in April, don’t miss the annual Alacati Herb Festival, celebrating local herbs and greens with workshops, stalls, and festivities. Alacati offers a rich culinary experience. Don’t miss out on trying local Aegean dishes, fresh seafood, and the town’s famous lavender ice cream.
Tucked away in the picturesque region of Mugla, Akyaka is a Bohemian dream come true. The town, with its serene ambiance, invites travelers to relax by the meandering Azmak river, where the cool waters offer a refreshing escape.
Architectural enthusiasts will be delighted by the Ottoman-style houses that dot the landscape, each telling a tale of its own. But Akyaka isn’t just about relaxation; adventure awaits too!
Embark on boat trips to the famed Cleopatra Island or indulge in the local cuisine, where flavors burst with every bite. For a panoramic view of Akyaka and the surrounding bay, head to the Sakartepe Viewpoint, especially during sunset. For those wondering where to go in Turkey for a blend of relaxation and adventure, Akyaka is a top contender.
Travel Tip: The Azmak river is not just for sightseeing. Consider taking a boat tour to explore its full length, and you might be lucky enough to spot some of the unique marine life that calls it home. Also, the town’s proximity to other attractions in Mugla makes it an excellent base for day trips.
If pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters are your calling, Adrasan in Antalya is the answer. This tranquil beach destination is a haven for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle. Dive deep into the blue with scuba diving and snorkeling adventures or set sail on boat trips exploring the coastline’s hidden coves.
But Adrasan isn’t just about the beach; history buffs will be thrilled with a visit to the Roman city of Olympos, where ancient ruins stand as a testament to time. And as the day ends, the Adrasan Gelidonia Lighthouse offers a vantage point like no other, making it one of the most unique places to visit in Turkey.
If you’re into hiking, the Lycian Way trail passes through Adrasan, offering a chance to explore the region on foot.
Travel Tip: While Adrasan is beautiful year-round, visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) offers pleasant weather and few tourists. Adrasan is off the beaten path, making it a peaceful getaway but be sure to consider your transportation options. It’s accessible by road from Antalya, and local buses (dolmuş) run regularly between Kumluca and Adrasan.
When travelers think of hidden gems in Turkey, Amasya should undoubtedly be on their list. Nestled by the Black Sea coast, this city is a testament to time, with a legacy that spans over 7,500 years. Majestic castles, beautifully preserved Ottoman mansions, and the tombs of the Pontic kings carved into cliffs paint a picture of its rich history.
The tranquil Yesilirmak River adds to its charm, with reflections of historical houses creating a mesmerizing scene. For those with a penchant for history blended with scenic beauty, Amasya is a destination waiting to be explored.
Those who appreciate museums should not miss the Amasya Museum, here you can view artifacts from various periods of the city’s history, from the Hittites to the Ottomans. Also, make a stop at Bimarhane – an ancient mental hospital dating back to the 14th century. It’s one of the oldest of its kind and is now a museum showcasing the history of medicine and health in the region.
Travel Tip: To truly immerse yourself in Amasya’s history, consider staying in one of the city’s restored Ottoman mansions, now boutique hotels. It’s an authentic experience that marries the past with present-day comforts.
8. Ayvali, Nevsehir
In the heart of the Anatolian highlands lies Ayvali, a destination that’s a dream for nature and history enthusiasts alike. This village, set against the backdrop of unique rock formations, offers a gateway to the wonders of Cappadocia.
Imagine waking up to the sight of hot air balloons dotting the sky, casting colorful reflections as the sun rises. But it’s not just the skies that enchant; delve deep into the ancient Cappadocia cave dwellings, where stories of civilizations past come alive.
For those pondering places to visit in Turkey that offer a blend of natural beauty and archaeological intrigue, Ayvali is a top contender.
Ayvali is also well located to the nearby underground cities like Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. These ancient cities, built deep into the ground, served as hiding places for early Christians.
Travel Tip: If you’re visiting Ayvali, consider booking a hot air balloon ride. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, offering panoramic views of Cappadocia’s unique landscapes. And for a taste of local life, try the village’s traditional dishes, which are a testament to Turkey’s rich culinary heritage.
Nestled amidst the hills of Ankara, Beypazari stands as a beautiful destination in Turkey that’s steeped in history and culture. This town, with its narrow streets and traditional Ottoman houses, transports visitors to a bygone era. As you wander through its lanes, you’ll discover a rich architectural heritage, from intricately designed mosques to rustic wooden homes.
But Beypazari isn’t just about its past. The town is also renowned for its pure mineral water and the vibrant local market, where artisans showcase their crafts. Attractions like the local museums and the nearby Butterfly Valley add to its allure, making Beypazari a must-visit for those seeking a blend of history, nature, and culture.
The surroundings of Beypazari offer beautiful landscapes perfect for hiking and nature walks. The nearby Inozu Valley is the perfect spot for picnics and outdoor activities.
Travel Tip: Beypazari is famous for its silver craftsmanship. Consider picking up a piece of handcrafted silver jewelry as a keepsake. Additionally, don’t miss trying the town’s traditional “Beypazari kurusu” cookies, a local delicacy that’s sure to delight your taste buds.
If you’re seeking a serene seaside escape, look no further than Cirali. Tucked away on the coast of Antalya, this tranquil destination offers a pristine beach where turquoise waters meet golden sands.
But Cirali’s charm doesn’t end at the shoreline. Venture a little further, and you’ll discover the ancient ruins of Olympos, a testament to the region’s rich history. As night falls, a unique spectacle awaits at Yanartas, also known as the “Chimaera.” Here, natural flames spring from the ground, a phenomenon that has sparked legends for centuries.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, consider exploring the nearby Olympos National Park, home to diverse flora and fauna. For those wondering where to go in Turkey for a mix of beach relaxation, history, and natural wonders, Cirali is a top choice.
Travel Tip: The best times to visit Cirali are during the spring and fall months when the weather is ideal, and very few tourists visit during this time of the year. Rent a bike and explore the scenic paths around Cirali, including the nearby villages and orange groves.
For those on the hunt for unique places to visit in Turkey, the town of Dogubeyazit in Agri offers a blend of history and natural beauty that’s hard to match. Dominating the landscape is the majestic Ishak Pasha Palace, an architectural marvel that combines Ottoman, Persian, and Armenian styles. This palace, perched on a hill, offers panoramic views of the surrounding plains and Mount Ararat in the distance.
But the wonders of Dogubeyazit don’t end there. The town is also home to the Durupinar site, believed by many to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark. With its rich history and stunning landscapes, Dogubeyazit is a destination that promises unforgettable memories.
For those interested in geology, Dogubeyazit is also very closely located to one of the best-preserved meteor impact craters in the world.
Travel Tip: If you’re visiting Dogubeyazit, consider hiring a local guide to explore the Ishak Pasha Palace. Their insights will provide a deeper understanding of the region’s history and cultural significance. Also, the town’s proximity to Mount Ararat makes it an ideal base for trekking expeditions, just note that you’ll need a permit and a guide to climb.
Nestled in the heart of the Izmir province, Birgi is a town where history comes alive at every corner. As you wander through its cobbled streets, the Ulucami Mosque stands as a testament to the region’s architectural prowess, showcasing intricate woodwork and design.
But as you delve deeper into its lanes, you’ll discover why Birgi is one of the best hidden gems in Turkey. The Cakiraga Konak, a beautifully preserved mansion, offers a window into the opulence of days gone by.
With its rich heritage, traditional houses, and the serene ambiance, Birgi is a destination that captures the essence of Turkey’s timeless charm.
Visit local markets to buy handcrafted souvenirs, traditional textiles, and local produce, it’s a great way to interact with locals and immerse yourself in the culture. A simple gesture like greeting locals with a “Merhaba” (Hello) or “Roj baş” (Good day in Kurdish) is highly appreciated in Birgi.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss out on the local delicacies while in Birgi. The town is renowned for its traditional pastries and sweets. And if you’re looking for a keepsake, the artisanal crafts of Birgi make for the perfect souvenir.
Are you searching for more content about where to go in Turkey? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about the most underrated places in Turkey.
Where is less touristy in Turkey?
While Turkey boasts several popular tourist destinations like Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ephesus, there are numerous hidden gems in Turkey that see fewer tourists. Places like Amasya, Beypazari, and Ayvali offer rich cultural experiences without the usual crowds. Exploring these lesser-known spots allows for a more authentic and intimate experience.
What is the underrated city in Turkey?
Amasya, located overlooking the Black Sea coast, is one of the most underrated destinations in Turkey. With a history spanning over 7,500 years, this city offers a blend of natural beauty and architectural wonders, making it a must-visit for those looking to explore beyond the usual tourist spots.
What are some unique places to visit in Turkey?
Beyond the renowned attractions, Turkey is home to unique spots like the flaming rocks of Yanartas in Cirali, the submerged village of Eski Halfeti, and the ancient cave dwellings in Ayvali. Each of these places offers a distinct experience, showcasing Turkey’s diverse landscape and history.
What is the hidden gems of Turkey?
While many travelers visit popular destinations like Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ephesus, Turkey also boasts hidden gems that are less frequented by tourists. Here are some of them:
- Akyaka: Located on the Aegean coast, Akyaka offers unique Ottoman-Aegean architecture, serene river, and beautiful beach. It’s also a popular spot for kite-surfing.
- Amasra: A charming Black Sea coastal town with a rich history, Amasra offers stunning sea views, ancient fortresses, and delicious seafood.
- Şanlıurfa (Urfa): As the “City of Prophets,” Urfa is the birthplace of Abraham. The city’s bazaars, ancient sites, and the Balıklıgöl (Pool of Sacred Fish) are must-visits.
- Mardin: Perched on a hilltop overlooking the plains of Mesopotamia, Mardin boasts stunning stone architecture, ancient churches, and a rich tapestry of cultures.
- Ishak Pasha Palace: Located near the eastern city of Doğubayazıt, this palace is a unique blend of Ottoman, Persian, and Armenian architectural styles.
- Safranbolu: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Safranbolu has preserved Ottoman-era houses and architecture, offering a glimpse into Turkey’s past.
- Kaklık Cave: Often referred to as the “Underground Pamukkale.” This cave is filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and a stream running through it.
- Lake Van: The largest lake in Turkey, surrounded by mountains and home to the medieval Armenian church of Akdamar Island.
- Ani: Once a thriving medieval city, the ruins of Ani, located near the Armenian border, offer a hauntingly beautiful landscape of churches, temples, and fortifications.
Are there any secret spots in Turkey for nature lovers?
Absolutely! Akyaka, with its pristine beaches and proximity to the Olympos National Park, is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Similarly, the Butterfly Valley near Fethiye is a secluded paradise, home to various butterfly species, making it one of the coolest places to go in Turkey for wildlife enthusiasts.
How can I experience Turkey off the beaten path?
To truly experience Turkey off the beaten path, consider visiting towns like Birgi in Izmir or Adrasan in Antalya. Engage with locals, try regional cuisines, and participate in traditional activities. Opting for guided tours in lesser-known regions can also offer insights into the local culture and history.
Which hidden gems in Turkey are suitable for history buffs?
For those keen on history, places like the ancient city of Hierapolis in Pamukkale, the Ishak Pasha Palace in Dogubeyazit, and the ruins of Olympos in Cirali offer a deep dive into Turkey’s rich past. Each site provides a unique perspective on the civilizations that once thrived in the region.
Are there any underrated towns near popular Turkish destinations?
Yes, many popular destinations in Turkey have nearby towns that are less explored. For instance, while Antalya is a renowned spot, nearby towns like Kemer and Cirali offer equally mesmerizing experiences without the hustle and bustle.
Turkey, often celebrated for its rich history and vibrant bazaars, holds mysteries beyond its well-trodden paths. It’s in the silent allure of its ancient ruins, the secluded stretches of its Mediterranean coast, and the concealed alleys of its cities that you uncover its true enchantment. For those willing to venture Turkey off the typical tourist trail, a tapestry of untouched wonders beckons.
From the mesmerizing travertine terraces of Pamukkale to the whispered legends of the ancient city of Olympos, this nation is a treasure trove of hidden tales. And while destinations like Istanbul and Cappadocia are undeniably mesmerizing, there’s a unique joy in unveiling places that remain a secret to most.
So, as you chart out your next Anatolian journey, dare to tread differently. Delve deeper, seek out those clandestine locales, and let Turkey’s concealed jewels etch everlasting imprints on your wanderer’s soul. Because here, every byway is a narrative, every concealed site a moment waiting to be cherished.