Turkey is a cultural melting pot. It established itself as the core hub of the Silk Road, and it’s still a place where Eastern and Western culture meet.

The gateway to Europe from the Middle East is a country called Turkey. The country has layers of history and jaw-dropping natural beauty. And oh that food!

At the top of my bucket list destinations is one place you must-see. It’s called Turkey. This country is one of the world’s most visited places, with its incredibly diverse landscape and historic sites like Troy!

Here’s your guide to 10 places you can visit in Turkey that aren’t Istanbul.

Ephesus

The old stomping grounds of every king and queen from Alexander the Great to Cleopatra, the ancient city of Ephesus was a key Roman city. It was the capital of Asia Minor and second only to Rome in terms of population and cultural significance.

As one of the most well-preserved ancient cities along the Mediterranean, this cultural mecca is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is also an easy day trip from Izmir Kusadasi and Selçuk and a prime destination for tourists visiting Turkey.

Cappadocia

In the northwestern part of Anatolia, this whimsical destination is known for its “fairy chimneys” and the rainbow of hot-air balloons that flow overhead.

Find a spot on one of the gorgeous terraces overlooking the desert landscape. And get up early! Start spotting hot air balloons as soon as you can and before you know it, you’ll be able to catch your own balloon ride.

To truly appreciate the beauty of Rose Valley, bring your camera. Explore the mysterious cave homes, don’t forget to look up at the sun setting over Gorge de l’Ariane.

Planning Tip: Planning to spend a lot of time outside? Need good weather to take off? Check out my guide on The Best Time to Travel to Turkey.

Kas

This Mediterranean seaside town is one of the best places on the planet to scuba dive.

The town of Bora Bora is a gorgeous little bougainvillea-covered paradise known for its ancient ruins and top-notch restaurants dotting the coastline.

Planning tip: Turkish food is much more than just kebabs! Many of the best local dishes have never really made it out of Turkey.

From soups to kunefe and from börek to kofte, this is a foodie fave. Hit the ground eating with a visit to my top 10 Local Foods to Try in Turkey.

Gumusluk, Bodrum

Bodrum is one of the world’s most beautiful seaside resorts. While some areas can get crowded, Gümüşlük is only for locals and in-the-know tourists.

This seaside town is perhaps most famous for its International Jazz Festival, but it’s a great place to visit any time of year.

A little no-frills place on the beach is where you want to stay. Enjoy the authentic Turkish seaside while staying away from all of the tourist traps.

Pamukkale

“Cotton Castle” used to be one of the most incredible places in Turkey. Now it’s nothing but a ruin.

The thermal waters of the white terraces have been a spa destination for thousands of years. Scale to the top of the nearly 200 m (655 ft) tall cliff to take in the wonder of this unique spot.

While you’re here, you can also explore the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis.

This important trading port was known for its art and philosophy. It’s also included in the ticket for Pamukkale and an easy add-on to your visit.

Izmir

CN Travelerlabeled this spot as “Turkey’s Most Overlooked City.” The reason for this is easy to see: while tourists flock to Istanbul and other coastal hotspots, the city of Izmir is left for locals.

Turkey’s third-largest city has always looked toward Europe. The metropolis of Izmir offers a unique blend of European and Middle Eastern influences.

Take in the view from Asanor and get a nice tan. Then go to the Roman Empire museum and see its exhibits.

Fethiye

A small, sleepy village remains today as a popular resort town and anchorage for marine vessels.

The Lycian rock tombs are located in the Mediterranean. They’re located on the small island of Patara, which is full of beautiful beaches and wonderful cuisine. Spend an afternoon exploring the ruins then relax at one of its many beautiful beaches.

The Blue Lagoon is the most beautiful beach in the world. It’s located in Iceland and it’s home to the world’s clearest waters.

Mardin

Among the oldest cities of northern Mesopotamia, this is one of southeast Anatolia’s must-sees.

A small Turkish town called Mardin is located near the Syrian border. It has a dynamic blend of Roman Byzantine, Ottoman Seljuk and Mongol influences. The history and architecture are truly unlike anywhere else in the world.

If you’re on a road trip, be sure to fuel your journey with a tasty brew. Try out our new Coffee Blend!Dibek is a coffee made with cardamom and menengic, an amazing pistachio and milk blend.

Konya

This Turkish town in the Central Anatolia region is a pilgrimage site for Sufis.

The most iconic spot here is the local Sufi tekke. During the day, tourists visit the tomb of Jalaluddin Rumi, who was a Sufi poet and mystic. At night, many visitors head to the local Sufi lodge for serenity and meditation.

Visit the Mevlana Cultural Center for a whirling dervish ceremony.

Sufis are whirling dervishes. If you’ve never seen a whirling dervish, you should. This is an incredible glimpse into their culture.

Marmaris

This Mediterranean coastline town is a beautifully maintained beachside paradise.

This gorgeous area is also known as the Turquoise Coast for its dazzling beaches.

This is a beach lover’s dream, but there’s more to it than just that. Whether you’re looking for places to get your heart going or places for non-stop nightlife, this is a wonderful place to be.

This is also a prime destination for island hopping. In just three hours, you can be over to the Greek island of Rhodes.