Istanbul may have been your first stop in your plan to explore some of the most mesmerizing sites in Turkey. As there are many historical places to see in Turkey, it may be confusing to know how to travel to any of those places from Istanbul.
We have prepared this guide to not only give you some information about the most famous tourist attractions in Turkey but also give you an idea as to how you can travel to these places.
Ephesus is an ancient Greek city that was built in the 10th century BCE. Ephesus was built by Greek colonizers and it reached its peak when it was ruled by the Romans. Ephesus is famous for the Temple of Artemis which is chosen as one of the Seven Wonder of the Ancient World by UNESCO. There is also a library called the Library of Celsus and a theater that are attracting many visitors in Ephesus. It is also thought that the Gospel of John might have been written in Ephesus. Ephesus was destroyed in 263 by the Goths. After being rebuilt, it was destroyed once more by an earthquake.
There are a few different options that you can go to Ephesus. The fastest and the best option is to fly to Izmir from the Istanbul Airport and than take the train which takes you to Ephesus in around 3,5 hours time for a reasonable price. The cheapest option would be taking the bus however it would last almost 12 hours for you to get there which may not be ideal if you don’T have the time. You could also opt for taking the car ferry across the Marmara Sea and then get on a bus to reach there. This option would take around 6,5 hours for you to go to Ephesus.
Cappadocia is located in a volcanic area that was once active with three mountains. The volcanic activity was quite strong that over the years -by years we mean millions of them- along with harsh weather conditions, the “fairy chimneys” were formed as we know them now. In time, these “fairy chimneys” were started to be carved by men as well to build houses and even cities.
Cappadocia is a lot closer to Istanbul in terms of location. Therefore it takes much less time to reach there. The only thing you need to do is fly from the Istanbul Airport which will take around 2,5 hours for you to reach Cappadocia directly. Another way to reach Cappadocia directly would be taking a bus. While this is the cheapest option, it takes the longest which is around 10,5 hours. Yet it would be a good option if you wish to see other cities along the way and have a good long road trip.
Pamukkale is located in Denizli and it looks magical to those who see it for
the very first time. In fact, it remains magical even if you have seen it before. What makes this area so white and looking so mesmerizing is literally carbonate mineral coming from the flowing water. Hierapolis which is an ancient Greek city was built right here over Pamukkale. The beneficial nature of these minerals and thermal springs were known since the time of ancient Greeks and it was a cause of attraction to the place similar to today. Alongside the “cotton castle” if we were to directly translate the name Pamukkale, the area is home to Roman ruins as well as a museum that is worth the time to explore.
Pamukkale is also relatively closer to Istanbul. You can easily find flights from Istanbul to Pamukkale. It directly takes you to Pamukkale in around 3 hours time. Keep in mind that the price range may be reasonable or expensive depending on the airline you choose to travel with. You could also take a bus to directly reach Pamukkale which would last around 12 hours. You could also take the ferry and then the train to get there which would be the cheapest and probably the most fun option.
Aspendos is an ancient city founded by the Greeks in the Asia Minor. Aspendos is famous for presenting the best-preserved theatre that belongs to the antiquity. The theater is thought to be built in 155. The theater of antiquity is kept alive by the Turkish state since 1994 through annual Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival for the antiquity and art enthusiasts to enjoy this unique experience.
You can directly fly to Aspendos from Istanbul inbetween 2,5 and 4,5 hours depending on which airport and airline you choose to travel with. Similarly, the price range may differ accordingly. If you are fond of long road trips, you can take a bus and then train and then a bus again to reach Aspendos in around 11 hours time. You could also get on a bus only however it would take between 13 to 14 hours to get there. The bright side of long road trips is that you get to see the other cities you are passing by.
Sumela Monastery was built in 386 AD by two monks who were Athenian. The monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery and famous for the Virgin Mary icon as the monastery itself was also dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The monastery is functioning primarily as a tourist attraction. It is also a significant structure in terms of religious and historical value.
Going to Sumela Monastery directly is possible by two ways. You can either fly from Istanbul to Trabzon which would take around 3 to 5 hours depending on the airport and the airline you choose or you could take a bus which would take around 18 to 19 hours. While taking the bus is the cheapest option, going by plane is also not expensive and actually very reasonable in this case.
Mount Nemrut is the tomb of the king Antiochus I of the Commagene Kingdom as he was the most important and powerful ruler of the kingdom. The tomb is located at the highest peak of the mountain in the region of the Commagene Kingdom and is a symbol of the greatness of the king who presumed himself to be equal to the gods. The 50 meter rock surrounded by 8-9 meters high rocks in the shape of many Greek gods such as Apollo, Zeus and Hercules, depicts the king being surrounded by the gods.
Going directly to Mount Nemrut is only possible by bus and by flying. Flying to Adiyaman from Istanbul would take around 4 hours with a reasonable price range. You could also take a bus which would get you there in around 20 hours with the cheapest price range amongst other travel options.
Gobeklitepe was built around 10,000 BC which makes the structure very much unique because it is though to be the oldest religious structure out there in the whole wide world. It is strongly believed that the circular structures built on this hill were used for religious purposes and not for domestic use, even though there are some who think that it might have been a burial place as well. In fact, there are a few different temples located in this area, by a few we mean around 20. There are many carving on the pillars including animal shapes such as snakes and foxes. Yet, there are also detailed sculptures of what seems to resemble a lion. What is incredible about this particular site is that the builder made sure that it lasted for centuries while building it with all the materials that they used. What is even more appaling is the question of how this structure was built in the first place as the pillars in Gobeklitepe weigh between 20 to 60 tons. How these pillars were carried, placed upright and placed on top of each other is still a huge question mark for the archeologists. From which ever perspective you look at it, Gobeklitepe seems to be ahead of its time both by its architecture and artistic qualities.
In order to reach Gobeklitepe from Istanbul directly, you can either fly or take a bus. Flying directly to Sanliurfa which is where Gobeklitepe is located, take around 3 hours and it is a more expensive trip compared to the ones mentioned before. You can also get on a bus and be there in around 19 hours. Taking the bus is the cheapest option in this case yet it takes a very long time to get there.
We have listed some of the most important sites that attract tourists every year. Even though you may not be able to visit them all, we highly recommend you to visit at least some of them to learn about history and feel it deep in your soul in the lands that it took place.