When looking at the long list of cities in Turkey, foreigners soon realise there are many metropolises to visit and live. As the world’s 37th largest country, Turkey comprises 81 official cities and annually, more join the list as towns boost their population and Turks flock in to find work and live. However, some cities in Turkey remain off the grid for foreign tourism and expat circles, while others stand out as the best and most popular. This article looks at which cities top the list of ideal places to visit and live.
9 of the Best Cities in Turkey
1: Istanbul City
This vibrant city counts itself as one of the world’s most prominent and ranks alongside Rome, Milan, and Paris. The population of nearly 16 million people makes Istanbul Turkey’s most populated and most significant city. As Turkey’s most popular tourist destination, millions of foreign holidaymakers arrive to see the main sights and attractions of places like the Sultanahmet district.
In addition, Istanbul has a large expat community that enjoy Turkey’s best shopping, nightlife, art, culture, and gastronomy scenes. Istanbul separates into two continents, Asia, and Europe. However, much development has taken place on the outskirt European districts in recent years, making Istanbul a hotbed for international real estate investors.
2: Izmir in Aegean Turkey
Heading down the western coast from Istanbul, we arrive at Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city. Previously called Smyrna in history, this gem, nicknamed the Aegean pearl, has a long-standing reputation for leading the way in modern trends. Izmir’s roots started in the old Konak district, and sights like the agora, Asansor, Kadifikale, and old clock tower attract tourists. Next, they head to outskirts districts like Alacati and Cesme, the best windsurfing spots in Turkey.
Although the expat population is not as large as Istanbul, a collective foreign community lives, works, and enjoys Izmir city. They enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene in places like Konak, where the locals hang out to admire the sea view, stroll the promenade and eat in the famous fresh fish restaurants.
3: Mediterranean Antalya
Formerly known in history as Pamphylia, modern Antalya is now the top-visited beach destination in Turkey and a popular place for foreigners to buy holiday homes. Antalya’s renowned reputation stems from many reasons. The city has two of Turkey’s best beaches; the Lara and Konyaalti districts. The shopping and nightlife scenes are the best in Mediterranean Turkey. The old part known as Kaleici reflects its colourful history, and these days, it is the first port of call for tourists who want to see and explore.
Antalya is Turkey’s fifth-most populous city in Turkey, the largest city on the Mediterranean coast and a central Turkish riviera hub. Backed by the Taurus mountains, the scenery lures in many expats of various nationalities who live in Antalya, including Brits, Russians, and Germans.
4: Ankara – Capital of Turkey
Despite being the capital city of Turkey, Ankara remains largely off the grid for mainstream tourism, although some people include the city on their tours around Turkey. The main sight is the Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish republic. The other major landmark, the castle, gives off fantastic views over the city. Naturally, being the capital of Turkey, Ankara is a hub of politics, business and finances but stands tall and proud for its university education. The population of nearly 6 million people makes Ankara Turkey’s second-largest city, and a significant expat population live and work there.
5: UNESCO Bursa
Welcome to the Ottoman empire’s first ruling capital city before they invaded Constantinople. The main city centre joined the UNESCO World Heritage site list thanks to the many historical buildings, including the Kozahan and main city mosque. Most tourists are interested in art and culture or visit during winter because Bursa city is close to Uludag, one of Turkey’s top skiing spots.
For a long time, Bursa remained off the grid of foreign house buyers in Turkey. Still, once they started investing in their housing market, foreign buyers, including Middle Eastern nationalities, came flocking because they enjoyed the similarities in culture. So, whether you choose to visit or want to find somewhere to live in Turkey, Bursa should be on your list of places to consider.
6: Bodrum Center
Belonging to the peninsula of the same name, Bodrum city centre in Aegean, Turkey, is a time-honoured hub of sailing, pleasure, non-conformity, and the pursuit of leisure. Bodrum does a stellar job of attracting luxury house buyers and holidaymakers through the five-star plus hotels. Indeed, celebrities like Kate Moss and Tom Hanks and Saudi royalty are often spotted.
Yet Bodrum also attracts budget holidaymakers. The large expat community enjoy a vibrant shopping and nightlife scene and good connections to the rest of Turkey via the central bus station. Most people recognise Bodrum city through its prominent landmark, the castle of Saint Peter, standing on the coastline. Bodrum town was also home to the Halicarnassus mausoleum, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
7: Fethiye in southern Turkey
This region was once a small town, but an influx of expats and Turks has turned Fethiye into a bustling Turkish city without typical urban vibes. Indeed, Fethiye is a pleasure to visit and live in, with significant landmarks like the city’s Lycian tombs, amphitheatre, and new Fethi bay park that acts as a green space and meeting point for locals to hang out.
One reason to visit Fethiye is that the city serves as an excellent base to visit surrounding attractions like Kayakoy ghost village, Butterfly Valley, and the famous Blue Lagoon. In addition, various nationalities live in Fethiye all year round, and anyone looking for a new home in Turkey will find settling in and making friends in Fethiye is easy.
8: Gaziantep in Southeast Turkey
Few tourists or expats venture to Gaziantep in southeast Turkey, yet the city’s cultural importance deserves mentioning. The city is known for two things. First, they grow the best tasting pistachios in Turkey thanks to the soil and weather conditions. Additionally, Turks always say the best baklava comes from Gaziantep.
For the tourists that do venture there, they see vast differences in daily life compared to Aegean and Mediterranean holiday coastal resorts. Holidays are more about the history and cultural attractions since Gaziantep is a landlocked city. Additionally, everyday life is more conservative. While in Gaziantep, be sure to extend your visit and see Sanliurfa city and Mardin old town known for historical architecture.
9: Trabzon in North East Turkey
We love visiting Trabzon, and lately, increasingly more independent travellers put the city on their list of places to visit. In addition, similarities in daily life and culture often attract Middle Eastern house buyers. The city centre has a few attractions like the Mustafa Kemal house and the Hagia Sophia (not to be confused with the landmark building with the same name in Istanbul.) But while in Trabzon, we use the city centre as a base to explore the surrounding attractions and head off into the Kackar mountains. Places like Sumela monastery, Ayder plateau and Uzungol should be on everyone’s list of places to visit in Turkey.
Regions of Turkey: Whether you plan to travel or buy a property and live here, the seven geographical regions of Turkey are a perfect introduction to the country’s diversity. The world stereotypes the country, yet Turkey cannot be labelled or packaged into a tidy cliché for good reasons. A quick look at its geographical facts explains why.
About Us: We are Spot Blue International and since 2003, have specialised in selling property in Turkey. We are an award-winning company and are often quoted by leading international newspapers and news channels. We pride ourselves on our unbiased and expert knowledge that we pass on to our clients in a professional and caring manner. So if you are interested in purchasing property in any cities in Turkey, get in touch with us today. Alternatively, we have also taken our team’s local knowledge to form our blog that will interest anyone looking to live in Turkey.