September 29 , 2020
When you travel, there’s nothing better than discovering something that feels like a hidden gem. Scrolling through Instagram is a great way to stumble across such places you can add to your travel wishlist. Turkey is a goldmine for these photogenic finds – there’s so much to discover, most people only really scratch the surface. While the country is mostly recognized for its magnificent Ottoman-era mosques and bazaars, or relics from ancient civilizations, there’s a lot more to capture! Along with an impressive sweep of historical lineage, Turkey’s unique beauty is ultimately found in its diverse natural and cultural treasures.
The beautiful blush-pink mosque of Ortakoy seems like the queen of the Bosphorus, overlooking Istanbul’s sparkling waterway and the First Bridge that connects Europe and Asia. Head down to this little seaside neighborhood to snap your obligatory shot in front of the Bosphorus, then take a break at a café along the waterfront.
Photo credit: @cristinaandree.s
The old Spice Bazaar, known as the Mısır Çarşısı (Egyptian Market) in Turkish, is one of the most colorful places in the city. Take some shots of the stalls overflowing with loose tea mixes, nuts, dried fruit, honey, lokum (Turkish delight), herbs, and spices from near and far.
Photo credit: @cristinaconstantin
The resident street cats of Istanbul give an essential dose of personality and heart to the city. You’ll see bowls of cat food and little feline shelters in every park and neighborhood, and find happy cats snuggled up on walls, bus stop benches, café tables, tea garden stools, window displays and stacks of books. To be sure, one thing you won’t see much of in Istanbul are mice!
Photo credit: @kubes.tereza
Cappadocia’s balloon-filled skies are certainly no hidden gem, but where can you go to get one of the best views? If you capture the hot-air balloons taking off at sunrise – bonus points for including a cozy rooftop breakfast spread – then congratulations, you’ve scored the most Instagrammable Turkey travel photos of all time!
Photo credit: @sultan_cave_suites
The turquoise-and-white spectacle of Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s greatest wonders. The thermal pools of the area served as centers for healing in ancient times, and a great city was established at Hierapolis, whose ruins are situated just above the famous pools. These days, to preserve the delicate natural beauty of Pamukkale’s cascading white travertines, only certain pools are open for walking around and wading in the mineral-rich waters. This is one of those sites you’ll want to visit early, before the crowds take over, and before it gets too hot!
Photo credit: @annbezina
A regular boat trip from the resort town of Ölüdeniz will take you to the stunning beach and shady hiking trails of the Butterfly Valley. To get the most stunning views, you have to go up above to the town of Faralya. There is a steep rope-assisted hiking path that will take you down into the valley, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The Butterfly Valley is part of the Lycian Way hiking route that runs from the Fethiye area south to Antalya, so you can expect to mingle with backpackers, campers and daytrippers alike, a very youthful and energetic vibe.
Photo credit: @chrismarcwinter
This pretty town in the Black Sea region is the best place to immerse yourself in elegant Ottoman architecture and traditions reflecting daily life during the 18th and 19th centuries. If the name reminds you of something, that’s because the area is also known for its local saffron, a flower used to add a distinct flavor and color to the cuisine.
Photo credit: @deniz.blut
The ancient Greek and Roman city of Ephesus is a must for your trip to Turkey. Even if you’re not generally one for visiting antique ruins, we promise this old city is worth it! Out of all the impressive marble remains, the one that gets the most love on social media and travel brochures is the magnificent façade of the Library of Celsus. The golden rule for taking excellent photos at Ephesus is to get there early or late to avoid the crowds!
Photo credit: @monapernisco
The charming old Greek village of Şirince is tucked up in the hills about 6 miles away from ancient Ephesus. We often advise guests to overnight here or include it in day trips around the area. Admire the uniform architecture as you stroll on cobblestone streets free of cars. The town is known for its fresh produce, fantastic Turkish breakfasts, friendly local vendors selling their handmade wares all along the streets, and also local fruit wines.
Photo credit: @cemileuzg
The city of Urfa will transport you back to ancient times. After you visit the cave where it is said the Prophet Abraham (İbrahim) was born, you can spend a relaxing time feeding the sacred carp at the beautiful oasis of Balıklıgöl, framed by mosques and peaceful tea gardens, a tranquil holy site that everyone can appreciate.
Photo credit: @shahzepp
When you visit the southern seaside town of Kaş – and we highly recommend you do! – you won’t want to miss Kaputaş Beach, about 20 miles away. Tucked into a small cove at the bottom of a rocky cliff, a slice of pebbly shore meets the remarkable blue of the water to equal a real Mediterranean dream. This beach has gained more fame in recent years, so there is now a cafe for your convenience.
Photo credit: @cansingiden
Each summer, the small village of Kuyucak welcomes flocks of visitors who are drawn by the photogenic fields of lavender. The rows of violet shrubs really pop when captured against the hazy blue hills and Burdur Lake in the distance. After the photo op, you can pick up some lavender-based goods such as honey, tea, soap, oil and bunches of dried lavender.
Photo credit: @y_asemin_s
Set in the green paradise of Artvin province in the northeastern Black Sea area, Borçka district’s Karagöl (Black Lake) might be the most beautiful lake in the country. This area offers a different perspective on Turkey – rent a boat, go for a hike, enjoy a picnic or even go camping – as well as a different climate, so remember to always be prepared for a rain shower.
Photo credit: @t.borakoc
Not so many international tourists are clamoring to visit these fairly remote mountaintop ruins in eastern Turkey’s Adıyaman province, but for those who do, it makes a spectacular impression. At sunrise and sunset, the colossal statues of the funerary sanctuary seem to glow with the secrets of gods and kings.
Photo credit: @christravel100