Turkey is an incredible place to visit and there’s no better way to see Turkey than by taking a road trip around its many amazing cities. Being able to stop off where you feel like and getting to know the many different sides to the country and visit all the best places in Turkey.
Turkey is littered with awe-inspiring historical landmarks, breathtaking natural sights, and, of course, a long and lovely coastline. You’ll continuously be astounded at what you see. One really could spend months if not years driving around all Turkey’s impressive sights!
In addition to this, Turkey has a rich history and cultural heritage for you to delve into, and the Turkish people are very warm and welcoming to foreigners. One of the best ways to explore is to rent a car in Turkey.
A lot of the landscapes you pass between cities are simply stunning; the otherworldly appearance of Pamukkale and the amazing underground caves at Cappadocia are just a couple of the best sights in Turkey.
Istanbul is another highlight, and the beach towns of Bodrum, Kusadasi, and Fethiye are also delightful to check out, with each having its own feel and look. As there is so much to see and do in this great country, we’ve come up with this list of some of the best places to visit on a Turkey road trip to help you decide where to go!
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Turkey check prices on Booking.com, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*
Things To Know When Renting A Car In Turkey
1. Book Online in Advance
Renting a car in Turkey can be really affordable and the best way to explore Turkey and see the best places to visit in Turkey. In order to get the best car rental deals book online in advance.
2. Drive on the Right Side
If you are traveling to Turkey from the USA you’ll be happy to know they drive on the right side of the road in Turkey, which is the same as the USA.
3. International Drivers Permit (IDP)
Do you need an international drivers permit to drive in Turkey? An IDP is only required for those with national drivers licenses printed in non-Roman Alphabet. So if you are from the USA technically you don’t need an IDP. We always have an international drivers permit but we are yet to ever asked to show it. It’s just a peace of mind having one every time we rent a car overseas. It only costs $25 and is valid for a year. It is super easy to get, you can apply in person or via mail with AAA.
4. Must be 21+ Years Old
In order to rent a car, you must be 21+ years old and several rental companies will charge a surcharge for drivers under 25 years old.
Meaning ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, Pamukkale is an extraordinary place to visit, and you can immediately understand how it received its name once you see the spectacular sight before you. With sparkling turquoise pools and hot springs dotted around amongst the blindingly white calcium terraces that cascade down the hillside, Pamukkale looks incredible, and you’ll certainly get some fantastic photos of it.
Located in the southwest corner of the country, the otherworldly landscape is a very popular attraction. The hot springs have remarkably been used since the 2nd Century BC when the Romans discovered their healing powers.
The beautiful waterfalls, pools, and calcium cliffs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and bathing in the warm waters is a soothing experience. Lying right next to Pamukkale is the ancient city of Hierapolis, which is also worth a visit.
Here, you can see many interesting historical sights, such as the delightful Domitian Gate and impressive Roman theater. Offering a lovely mix of history and nature, Pamukkale is definitely worth a stop while on your road trip.
With many different sides to it, the lively seaside city of Bodrum is a fun and friendly place to visit, with lots for you to see and do. Located on the Aegean sea, present-day Bodrum is set on the site of the ancient city of Halicarnassus. Its long and varied history means there are lots of interesting historical and cultural landmarks to check out.
Both the spectacular castle and amphitheater are fascinating to wander around, as are the ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The winding cobbled alleys in the center of town are wonderful to get lost in; while finding your way around, you’ll come across many great cafes, bars, and restaurants that serve up delicious Turkish food.
There is a very welcoming and friendly feel to Bodrum, and just chilling out at one of the beachside bars and looking out over the sea is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Bodrum is one of the best places to visit on a Turkey road trip. It boasts fascinating history and culture, as well as some great beaches and watersports, with scuba diving, snorkeling, and windsurfing all popular.
No visit to Turkey can ever be complete without spending at least some time in Istanbul. The only downside to visiting the amazing city is that you might not want to continue with your road trip!
Straddling the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul is a fascinating place to explore; this is in part due to its unique location between Asia and Europe – East and West. The colossal city teems with life, and with around 15 – 20 million people living in it, you really can find everything imaginable on offer. The mix of different people and cultures is intoxicating.
As it has been ruled by various rulers, empires, and people, there is a lot of incredible history to discover. Two of its most iconic sights are the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, which both lie alongside the Bosphorus. The marvelous Topkapi Palace is another must-see sight; the museum showcases amazing Islamic artwork and architecture, as well as glittering treasures from across the centuries.
If history isn’t your thing, the Grand Bazaar certainly will be. The endless maze of shops and market stalls are mesmerizing to explore. They sell almost everything under the sun, with herbs and spices sold next to amazing lamps, brightly colored textiles, and fine leatherwork.
The most populous city in Turkey, Istanbul also acts as a hub for the country when it comes to finance and culture. Many art galleries, theaters, and museums can be found in the city center. In addition to this, going to watch a soccer match in the city makes for a memorable experience, as Turkish fans are amongst the most passionate in the world!
With an almost endless number of fantastic restaurants, bars, and cafes to check out, you’ll never get tired of Istanbul; the only question is how many days to spend in the city.
Even if you haven’t heard of Cappadocia before, you’ll almost certainly recognize it from Instagram. Lots of people post incredible photos of hundreds of hot air balloons rising into the air above its lunar-like landscapes. Sound familiar?
Well, it’s not without reason that Cappadocia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey and our personal favorite. Make sure to secure your hot air balloon ride in advance, check prices and book online here prices are as low as $144.
Cappadocia is a region in Central Anatolia, so the best way to explore its myriad of amazing sights is to drive from one to the other. We flew from Istanbul to Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport and rented a car in Nevsehir.
Known for its otherworldly rock formations, underground cities, and amazing cave churches, Cappadocia really does have a lot for you to see and do. You’ll ideally want to spend at least a few days here to make the most of it.
The laidback town of Urgup makes for a great base, and you can stay in a cave hotel embedded in the side of a mountain! The scenery surrounding the town is delightful, and from here, you can book to go on an unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the breathtaking lunar landscapes or visit the nearby Churches of Goreme.
The Goreme Valley Open Air Museum is one of the best places to see the spectacular fairy chimneys dotted about the countryside. The fantastic site also has plenty of incredible cave churches for you to check out. As well as being very impressive from an architectural point of view, the churches are home to lots of frescoes that date all the way back to the 10th Century BC.
The town of Goreme has lots of bars, shops, and restaurants, and the surrounding countryside is excellent for hiking or mountain biking.
Other than seeing the cave churches, fairy chimneys, and enjoying a hot air balloon ride, the other thing to do in Cappadocia is to visit one of its astounding underground cities. Found at a number of locations throughout the region, these cities hewn into the rock are incredible to explore; some of them have up to eight stories to them!
With homes, stables, shops, and churches all connected by an endless system of tunnels, they really are an amazing feat of engineering. Unlike any other place on Earth, Cappadocia is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit on a Turkey road trip.
Located on the Aegean Sea in the southwest corner of Turkey, Kusadasi is a popular beach resort destination, and there are lots of gorgeous beaches for you to explore.
The center of town and beautiful beachfront is packed with bars, restaurants, and hotels. In summer, the nightlife scene is the stuff of legends. While it is quite touristy and certainly caters mainly to foreign visitors, there are still some authentic sides to Kusadasi; its historic city walls, the Old Mosque, and Caravanserai are all well worth a visit.
In addition to this, both the fascinating Greco-Roman site of Ephesus and the Dilek Peninsula National Park are just a short drive away if you want to do some sightseeing after a big night out!
A very picturesque place, Fethiye looks gorgeous, as the turquoise waters of its marina twinkle in the sunlight, and the trees surrounding it sway peacefully in the calm sea breeze.
Another popular seaside town, Fethiye has a very chilled out vibe to it, with lots of beautiful beaches and fun watersports for you to enjoy.
Taking a boat trip to some of the nearby islands is popular amongst both locals and tourists alike, and you’ll often see people paragliding above the city.
Two must-see sights are the incredible Amintas Rock Tombs, which lie just outside the city center, and Kadyanda Ancient City – a fascinating archaeological site.
Set on a beautiful stretch of coastline, Marmaris has lots for you to see and do and is definitely one of the best places to visit on a Turkey road trip. With wonderful beaches, coves, and delightful mountain scenery on offer, lots of people take scenic cruises along the coast. You’re sure to come back with lots of fabulous photos from a lovely day out.
The town itself has lots of great bars, restaurants, and shops for you to dive into. In the evening, the city really comes to life thanks to its lively nightlife scene. As lots of tour operators offer trips to spectacular sights such as Pamukkale and Ephesus, Marmaris is a nice place to use as a base if you want to explore the surrounding region.
8. Oludeniz Belediyesi
Although it is quite small, the town of Oludeniz Belediyesi certainly packs a punch with all it contains, and definitely warrants a visit.
Its most famous attraction is its amazing ‘Blue Lagoon,’ which is ringed in by beautiful mountains and lovely beaches.
From the top of Mount Babadag, lots of people go paragliding to take in the stunning views of the lagoon and surrounding coastline from above.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are also very popular activities because of the fantastic underwater conditions and abundant marine life. If you’re looking for a more chilled out vacation, Oludeniz also has a long stretch of sandy beach for you to lounge on.
A very charming town to visit, Kas is full of little white houses that tumble down the hillsides to the jagged cliffs lining the sea below. While there aren’t really any decent beaches in Kas, there are lots of great places to go swimming, and people usually sunbathe on the rock shelves that lie around town.
In any case, people primarily visit Kas for all the exciting adventure activities it offers, with canyoning, sea kayaking, and paragliding all very popular.
‘The adventure capital of the Mediterranean’ is certainly one of the best places to visit on a Turkey road trip, and going scuba diving or snorkeling in its welcoming waters is not to be missed out on!
One of the largest cities in Turkey, Bursa has a number of different sides to it; its sprawling industrial area couldn’t look more different from its beautiful historic center. Once upon a time, it was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and there are still several impressive monuments, mosques, and museums that pay testament to its long and illustrious history.
While there is certainly a lot of interesting history and culture to explore, Bursa is also a great place to visit a hammam, as the city is located on hot springs that pump warm mineral water to the surface. In addition to this, the nearby Mount Uludag makes for some great skiing if you happen to visit Turkey during wintertime.
Traveling around Turkey on our road trip really was an eye-opening experience. The sheer amount of impressive historical sites we came across and the natural beauty everywhere was staggering to see.
Cappadocia, for instance, was out of this world, and exploring the region was a highlight for both of us. In all honesty, you really can’t go wrong; all the cities we visited had interesting sights to explore, delicious food to sample, and warm and friendly people to meet – as well as stunning nature.
An amazing country to visit, Turkey is much more than just Istanbul, so you’ll want to spend as much time as possible exploring all the fascinating different sides to it.This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure