Two days in Istanbul is enough for an introduction to a city that has witnessed the rise and fall of empires and continues to be a confluence of past and present. After a tour of Sultanahmet’s major touristic sights such as the Hagia Sophia or the Topkapı Palace, check out our 24-hour guide for some alternate ideas for seeing the city. Of course during these two days make sure to check out some of the city’s best Turkish restaurants, from classic taverns to the more upscale venues that are experimenting with traditional Turkish recipes and ingredients.
Often overlooked, Mardin is one of Turkey’s most beautiful cities rich with history and architectural spectacle. Located on a hill overlooking the flat expanse, Mardin’s old city is full of Artuqid architecture that stands out with ornately decorative stone facades. We recommend grabbing your camera and getting lost among the many winding cobble-stoned streets that always lead you somewhere entirely new. Before you book, check out our Mardin guide for tips about the best restaurants, sights, and hotels in this mysterious old city.
Everyone knows about the spectacular fairy chimneys of Cappadocia and this is one of the most important places to visit during a trip to Turkey. Before you make your plans, make sure to read up about the history of Cappadocia’s magical landscape including the rock formations (called fairy chimneys due to their shape) and the many ancient underground cities. Of course, one of Cappadocia’s most iconic experiences is to book one of the many hot air balloon tours that take off before the sunset so you can watch the many colors of dawn illuminated on the stunning landscape.
Formerly inhabited mostly by Greeks before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923, Bozcaada is one of those classic Aegean islands with burgeoning Bougainvillea, stone houses with colorful window shutters, and the sparkling turquoise sea. You can get all the essential tips with our Bozcaada guide, but do make sure to make your hotel and restaurant reservations before you go to the beautiful summer island. Bozcaada is also known for its wine and Corvus, one of Turkey’s best boutique vineyards, is a great place to visit for wine lovers who want to become acquainted with the local grape varieties.
Izmir is a great place to visit not only because it’s one of Turkey’s most liberal cities, but also because of its proximity to the sea and all the great small towns around it. Check out our 48-hour guide to make the best of Izmir’s city center such as taking a stroll by the sea or wandering through the famous and historic Kemeraltı Open Air Market. Of course, Izmir’s food (especially the fresh seafood) is amazing so make sure to eat a few of the best dishes. While you’re in Izmir, a day trip to Alaçatı or the off-the-beaten-track village of Şirince is very much recommended.