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When we speak about western Turkey, most of us think of the Aegean coast. But western Turkey covers a large part of the country, encompassing Istanbul, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Antalya, the Lycian Way, and more. With a vibrant and mixed landscape, there are plenty of things to do in western Turkey. From the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul to the ruins and temple at Ephesus to the sun-soaked beaches of Antalya, this part of Turkey has something for everyone. The best times to visit western Turkey are April-May and September-October when the peak summer crowd is low. Read on to find out what your holiday to Turkey in the west can look like.
- Ricardo Ramirez
- From USA
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider visiting western Turkey for your next vacation:
- Beaches: The Aegean coast is easily one of the best summer destinations. Western Turkey has everything from sandy outcrops to well-maintained private beaches with sun loungers to natural hidden coves. Head to Fethiye or Antalya for world-class beaches.
- Water sports: With huge Mediterranean and Black sea coastlines, there are plenty of opportunities for water sports in western Turkey. Many major resorts around Antalya offer diving lessons and gear hire services as part of your stay. It is also one of the best places to scuba dive worldwide.
- Culture and history: Western Turkey is home to some of the best examples of ancient civilizations worldwide. From the ruins of Ephesus to the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, western Turkey is brimming with culture and history.
- Cruise: When there is a long beautiful coastline, it deserves to be explored by boat. Luckily, plenty of multi-day boat trips leave coastal towns like Bodrum. Ranging from party boats to nature tours to historic trips, there are all kinds of western Turkey cruises to strike your fancy.
Here are our picks for the best destinations to visit in western Turkey.
- Izmir: If you are into history, culture and archeology, you should not miss heading to Izmir. The history of this city goes back to antiquity. It was passed between the Greeks and Romans before being finally reclaimed and rebuilt by Alexander the Great. Enjoy the open-air museum of the Roman Agora of Smyrna, which allows you to explore a marketplace that has been around for over a millennium. And if you are looking to explore Izmir and its natural beauty, hike up to the Velvet Castle.
- Bodrum: Once a sleepy fishing village, Bodrum has transformed itself into a beachside hotspot. Brimming with resorts, restaurants and nightlife, this is the place to be if you want to be somewhere more lively. You can explore the medieval fortress that has kept Bodrum safe for centuries. Head to Bodrum for a day cruise of the beautiful Aegean coastline.
- Pamukkale: Celebrated by the Romans for the healing and soothing powers of the thermal waters, Pamukkale is a popular tourist spot. Come and take a dip in the warm waters, explore the ruins of this former spa town, or learn more about the submerged Roman pillars on your Pamukkale tour.
- Ephesus: As one of the best-kept examples of ancient communities, Ephesus is home to ancient temples, amphitheaters, baths, winding streets and more. A favorite spot for the Romans, Greeks and Ottomans, Ephesus is a remarkable blend of different cultural influences that you can experience as you wander around its ancient ruins and city streets. Do not forget to tour the awe-inspiring Temple of Hadrian, and the outstanding Byzantine Fountain on a holiday to Ephesus.
- Istanbul: What can be said about Istanbul that has not already been said? As the only city that spans two continents, Istanbul is a melting pot of cultures and influences. With ancient sights like the Hagia Sophia and the vibrant Grand Bazaar next to modern hotels and food chains, a trip to Istanbul is the perfect starting point to explore western Turkey's modern and ancient sides.
- Antalya: Located on western Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, Antalya has long been a favorite among tourists looking for a calming and sun-filled beach getaway. The city is filled with resorts and cafes, with the Old Harbor teeming with gorgeous cruise vessels. It is a historic region with plenty of ruins and remnants of years gone by, from Hadrian’s Gate to the gorgeous Lower Duden Waterfalls. Check our tours to Antalya for more information.
- There is an extensive train and bus network in western Turkey and regional airports in Izmir, Antalya, and Bodrum.
- Turkish cuisine is quite heavy on meat, so vegetarians and vegans may struggle to fit in. However mezze culture is huge in western Turkey, so if you love hummus and olives you will be in good hands.
- You can find ATMs pretty easily in all major cities. Still, it is advisable to carry cash for small cafes, taxis and tips.
- Pickpocketing and street scams are pretty common, so be sensible and do not make yourself an easy target.