The Most Beautiful Road Trips to Take in Turkey

Butterfly Valley is a must-visit for beach-lovers in Turkey
Butterfly Valley is a must-visit for beach-lovers in Turkey | © Tetyana Kochneva / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
3 September 2021
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With a diverse landscape that stretches from the sea to the mountains, not to mention a slew of historic ruins littered throughout, Turkey is a great place to explore by car. We’ve selected some of the best car trips you can take in this varied, dazzling country.

Interested in visiting Turkey but not sure where to start with planning your itinerary? Consider joining Culture Trip’s specially curated small-group Turkey adventure, which includes visits to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ankara and numerous other fantastic destinations.

The Aegean Coastline

Probably one of the most beautiful road trips in Turkey, the Aegean coastline is stunning in every season, but in summer there’s the added bonus of stopping off at one of the many coves for a refreshing dip. Explore the small villages, historic ruins, and beaches that dot the entirety of the Turkish coastline. Start in Izmir and continue south to visit former Greek islands like Cunda, Bozcaada and Gökçeada. You can also decide to drive north along the coast and visit Kuşadası, Bodrum (as well as Ephesus) Datça, Marmaris and Fethiye. We recommend breaking these trips into a few days, stopping at every island or town for a day or two to really enjoy each destination.

Bodrum, with its handsome harbour, has long been a magnet for tourism | © Marina Pissarova / Alamy Stock Photo

Antalya to Fethiye

The road from Antalya to Fethiye is a big favourite thanks to the stunning turquoise-coloured coastline. You can either do this trip on its own or make it part of a larger Aegean coast road trip. However, definitely make sure to stop by the Butterfly Valley, one of the area’s most beautiful beaches wedged between two mountains with white sands and clear blue waters. Another great beach is located in Çıralı, where you can also visit the ruins of the Lycian town of Olympos.

Butterfly Valley is one of Turkey’s best small beaches | © Tetyana Kochneva / Alamy Stock Photo

Antalya to Cappadocia

Cappadocia, with its dramatic landscape of fairy chimneys that seem to unveil themselves out of nowhere, is a breathtaking sight. Having a car in Cappadocia is beneficial since a lot of the sights, such as the underground cities, are well outside the main regional city of Göreme. From Antalya to Cappadocia, watch the landscape change from dark blue beach to mysterious mountains, a profound and somewhat surreal experience.

Cappadocia’s so-called fairy chimneys are a unique sight | © Mariano Garcia / Alamy Stock Photo

Istanbul to Ephesus

Seeing Istanbul is an essential experience when it comes to visiting Turkey, so starting your road trip after spending a few days in the endearingly chaotic Turkish capital is a great way to start your vacation. The trip from Istanbul to Ephesus takes around seven hours and you’ll love how the landscape shifts from bustling urbanity to calming nature. Make sure to make a stop in Şirince before you begin exploring the historical wonders of Selçuk and Ephesus.

Ephesus is one of Turkey’s key ancient sites | © Aliaksandr Mazurkevich / Alamy Stock Photo

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