The provinces of Turkey give great insight into a diverse nation that offers incredible experiences for tourists and those looking to live here permanently. Sitting between Europe and Asia, Turkey has 81 provinces, each with distinct characters, that make the country popular with people from all over the globe.
Here at Spot Blue, it is often confusing for foreign house buyers with little knowledge of Turkey to understand the various provinces and what they offer. Yet getting to know about them all offers exciting glimpses into your new adopted country.
In this article, we will explore famous and lesser-known provinces in Turkey, showcasing their diverse offerings to truly appreciate the charm of this remarkable country. Each province is unique, from villages to the western coast and the other side facing the black sea.
All About Provinces in Turkey from East to West
Western Coast of Turkey and the Aegean
West Turkey covers the Aegean and part of the Marmara region. The Western region’s delicious cuisine and warm hospitality attract many foreigners to live on the West Coast. Famous places, like the Bodrum peninsula, earn fame as part of the Turkish Riviera. But other prominent provinces include İzmir, Balıkesir, Çanakkale, Aydın, Muğla, Manisa, Kütahya, Uşak, Afyonkarahisar, Kocaeli, and Sakarya.
Popular places to buy holiday homes or with large expat communities include Kusadasi, a cruise ship port, and Altinkum, a firm favourite with British expats. The Bodrum peninsula has sizeable expat and foreign property ownership communities, but it is more aligned with luxury living. This is where Saudi royalty holidays, after all. Finally, Izmir, Turkey’s third largest city, has communities of working expats.
Provinces in Southern Turkey and the Mediterranean
South Turkey covering the Mediterranean and South-eastern Anatolia regions, features provinces like Adana, Antalya, Mersin, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, Osmaniye, Gaziantep and Kilis. The cities are centres of industry and commerce, with Adana being one of Turkey’s largest industrial centres. Additionally, sites of interest include Butterfly Valley and Saklikent Gorge. The South Coast also features the famous Lycian Way thanks to significant historical sites.
Prominent places for holiday home sales and for expats are the Antalya region and Fethiye. Antalya, which separates into towns like Alanya, Side, Kemer, and the city centre, is Turkey’s top destination for beach holidays. It makes a roaring trade with foreign house sales simply because of diverse nationalities. Many Brits and Europeans buy there.
Further along the Med Coast, Fethiye separates into Calis Beach, Oludeniz, Hisaronu and Ovacik. In addition, some house buyers head into outskirt districts like Uzumlu and Seydikemer.
Provinces in North Turkey and the Black Sea
North Turkey on the Black Sea coast, includes provinces like Amasya, Artvin, Bartın, Bayburt, Bolu, Çorum, Düzce, Giresun, Gümüşhane, Karabük, Kastamonu, Ordu, Rize, Samsun, Sinop, Tokat, Trabzon and Zonguldak. The region is famous for specialities like cheese fondue and hamsi fish. While important sites of interest include ancient Amasya and Sumela Monastery in Trabzon.
This is where the house-buying trends start to differ. While the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts attract European nationalities because of laidback westernised atmospheres, the Black Sea attracts middle eastern nationalities. Places like Bursa and Trabzon have more conservative ambiences which promote similar cultures.
Provinces in East Turkey
Prominent provinces in East Turkey include Ağrı, Ardahan, Bingöl, Bitlis, Elazığ, Erzincan, Erzurum, Hakkari, Iğdır, Kars, Malatya, Muş, Tunceli and Van. The East region is known for traditional folk music and dance and unique cuisine, like bread made with cornmeal and served with butter and honey. Important historical sites include the ancient Ani in Kars and the Ishak Pasha Palace in Ağrı.
Very few foreigners buy here in the landlocked area because there is no beach lifestyle. In addition, while cultural tourism does exist, the East doesn’t receive even half the income in tourism; other provinces do. The low tourism season means finding someone who speaks English is more challenging, so make sure your Turkish is impeccable.
Need to Know – Ankara Province – Capital of Turkey
You would be amazed how many people still think Istanbul is the capital. Ankara, the capital, sits in the centre, in the central Anatolian region. Ankara is Turkey’s second-largest city centre after Istanbul. The city became the capital in 1923, following the establishment of the new Turkish Republic under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Turkey’s capital city centre has several important historical and cultural landmarks, like Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Provinces With Claims to Fame
Bursa in north-western Turkey, south of the Sea of Marmara, is Turkey’s fourth most populous province. The Bursa province, surrounded by mountains and forests, features Uludağ ski resort making this year-round destination for holiday homeowners an attractive option.
Near the Syrian border, Mardin province in south-eastern Turkey features ancient Dara, ancient Nisibis, and the Monastery of Mor Hananyo, the oldest functioning monastery. Mardin province, with rugged mountains, fertile valleys, and ancient archaeological sites, fascinates everyone. Lastly, Rize province earns fame for tea plantations which are significant sources of income for the local economy.
Lesser Talked About Provinces
While every Turkish province offers something unique, some hidden gems stand out. One such province is Kars, in northeast Turkey, with Russian architecture in the old quarter. Another hidden gem, Amasya, in Turkey’s Black Sea region, is rich with ancient tombs, mosques, and historical sites.
In northeast Turkey, Artvin province is about as much off the grid as possible, with traditional wooden houses and ancient castles. However, the location of Sanliurfa in south-eastern Turkey is famed for its biblical history and ancient ruins. On the outskirts sits the famous Gobekli Tepe, the world’s oldest temple.
Eight Borders of Turkey
To understand the geographical importance of provinces, Turkey is bordered by eight countries, making the country transcontinental with territories in Europe and Asia. The borders with Greece and Bulgaria are in Thrace, in European Turkey. The remaining borders are in Anatolia and Asian Turkey. Countries bordering Turkey are:
- Greece to the west
- Bulgaria to the northwest
- Georgia to the northeast
- Armenia to the East
- Azerbaijan (Nakhchivan exclave) to the southeast
- Iran to the East and Southeast
- Iraq to the southeast
- Syria to the south
Seven Geographical Regions of Turkey
So, we have established 81 provinces, but it is easier to understand their geographical importance if you separate them into the official regions they belong to. Turkey divides into seven regions based on weather and landscapes. The landscapes vary from beaches to mountain plateaus to dense forests, and this matters when grouping areas.
Marmara: In north-western Turkey, this region features the country’s largest city, Istanbul. Istanbul needs no introduction. The city’s iconic landmarks include the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque. Turkey’s major hub of business, finance, trade, education and tourism is the city. Many working expats live in Istanbul.
Aegean: Situated along the western coast, this region boasts sandy beaches and ancient ruins. The area grows olive groves, vineyards, and citrus orchards. Beach tourism is big business here, thanks to ideal weather climates. However, despite the modern vibes, you can still find Turkish culture behind the location.
Mediterranean: In south Turkey, Mediterranean Turkey boasts stunning beaches and picturesque mountain ranges. The med has many expat communities and earns fame for beach tourism, hence the nickname “turquoise coast”. The culture here is typically cosmopolitan, thanks to tourism and foreign house sales.
Central Anatolia: Major areas here are Ankara, Konya, Nevsehir, Kayseri and Aksaray, and the Cappadocia region, Turkey’s second most popular tourist destination thanks to the fairy chimneys and hot air balloon rides. While Cappadocia is entirely laid back thanks to tourism, the nearby cities of Kayseri and Konya are conservative.
Eastern Anatolia: The region features several important historical sites in eastern Turkey, including ancient Ani. Perhaps the most famous city is Van, known for its large lake and Armenian churches.
South-eastern Anatolia: This region of southeast Turkey has hot and dry weather climates, fertile soil, and important archaeological sites such as Harran. Three prominent cities are Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, and Mardin. The old city part of Mardin looks out onto ancient Mesopotamian plains.
Black Sea: Last of the seven regions and sitting in northeast Turkey, this region is characterised by the Kackar mountain range, tea plantations, and regional cuisine. Many say this region resembles the Swiss plateaus of the Green Alps. (More about regions in Turkey.)
Also, Read About
Famous cities: When looking at the long list of cities in Turkey, foreigners soon realise there are many provinces to visit and live in. As the world’s 37th largest country, Turkey comprises many cities. However, some cities in Turkey remain off the grid for foreign tourism and expat circles, while others stand out as the best. This article looks at which cities are ideal places to visit and live.
Are you thinking of buying property in Turkey?
Turkey is famous for property investment, particularly for foreign buyers drawn to beautiful coastlines, numerous provinces, rich cultural heritage, and relatively low property prices compared to other European countries. Various types of properties are available, including apartments, villas, and land for development.
Thoroughly research and seek professional advice before purchasing, as there can be legal and bureaucratic hurdles. Alternatively, call and chat with an agent to ask for our country portfolio with more information about provinces in Turkey.