After a long, tourist-packed summer, Turkey is still enjoying being at the forefront of international attention.

The country’s ever-increasing popularity was just confirmed in the most recent Monthly Border Bulletin released by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Over 33.4 million tourists entered the country’s borders during the first eight months of 2023, marking a 13.95% increase from last year.

So, where are these legions of tourists flocking to? According to the report, there were five destinations that clearly outpaced the rest of the country.

Below, you’ll find out just why:

5. Artvin

Artvin is a small city in northwestern Turkey known for its quaint feel, gorgeous scenery, and proximity to the Black Sea.

Hot air balloon flying over Savsat, Artvin

If you’ve never been to the area though, you might be wondering just how this off-the-beaten-path destination with just over 25,000 inhabitants has managed to draw in over 1.2 million tourists this year.

For starters, it’s worth mentioning that when I speak of gorgeous scenery, I’m not just talking about a pretty park or a charming forest.

The views you’ll find in Artvin are truly awe-inspiring, comprising pristine rivers, the rugged Kaçkar Mountains, and the famous Karagöl-Sahara National Park.

Savsat Karagol lake, Artvin

Outdoor enthusiasts will find much more than gorgeous views here, though.

The area is known for white-water rafting, trekking, and paragliding, allowing tourists to experience a side of Turkey that can’t be found in famous resort cities.

4. Muğla

Over 2.3 million tourists have visited Muğla this year, a coastal province that meets both the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Göcek Yassıca Islands shot with drone from above - Muğla, Turkey

Once one of Turkey’s most underrated destinations, the region is now gaining mainstream popularity due to its world-class beaches.

It’s safe to say that Bodrum, one of the most famous cities in the area, is mainly responsible for Muğla’s tourism success.

bodrum beach views

While there’s no shortage of cultural and historical attractions here, Bodrum is mostly known for its indulgent all-inclusive resorts that come at surprisingly reasonable prices.

For example, 4-star resorts at less than $150 a night are pretty common in the area. In comparison, the same experience in Cancun will set you back $250 – $550.

3. Edirne

Situated on the banks of the Tunca River, Edirne is one of Turkey’s most historically significant cities.

Selimiye Mosque exterior view in Edirne City of Turkey

Unlike most other destinations on this list whose popularity lies in high-end hotels and gorgeous beaches, Edirne has managed to attract over 3.2 million visitors through its cultural allure alone.

Edirne was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and some of the era’s most remarkable remains can still be found here.

Right in the center of the city, you’ll see the famous 16th-century Selimiye Mosque, an architectural masterpiece known for its classic Ottoman design and centuries-long history.

Selimiye Mosque interior view in Edirne City of Turkey

Inside, tourists can visit The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, a captivating exhibit that features some of the most noteworthy ethnographic displays from the Ottoman era.

The whole experience is pretty cheap, too. Entrance to the mosque itself is completely free, while access to the museum only costs 60 Turkish Liras (~ $2.5).

Other must-see attractions include:

  • Edirne Palace
  • Edirne Grand Bazaar
  • Üç Şerefeli Mosque
  • Complex Of Bayezid II Health Museum
  • Eski Ulu Camii

2. Antalya

Considering that Antalya just recently broke its all-time tourism record, it should come as no surprise that the gorgeous city has claimed the runner-up spot on the list.

View Of The Old Marina In Antalya, With The Kaleici Or Old Town Atop The Cliff, Antalya, East Mediterranean Coast Of Turkiye, Turkey

Over 10.2 million visitors entered its borders during the first eight months of the year alone, and since the vast majority of tourists arrived by air, it’s clear that Turkey’s famous coastal region is turning into a true international hotspot.

Not only does Antalya boast some of the most stunning, historically significant landmarks in all of Turkey, but it also caters to all types of travelers.

This is one of the only places on earth where both budget-conscious backpackers and millionaires looking for the luxury getaway of their lifetime can get exactly what they’re looking for and more.

Aerial view of antalya turkey

Antalya is also one of the most well-connected cities in the country, taking pride in its impressive infrastructure that allows travelers to get around the region without any added stress.

1. Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the most visually and intellectually stimulating cities in the world and, as it turns out, Turkey’s most sought-after destination.

The colorful city of Istanbul

Having welcomed over 11.5 million tourists during the first eight months of the year, Istanbul proudly holds the title of the country’s top international hotspot.

Be it the colorful, picturesque skyline, lively cultural scene, the abundance of cultural landmarks, or world-class cuisine, Istanbul seems to provide everything a traveler could ask for.

The Blue Mosque In Sultanahmet Square, Historical Peninsula Of Istanbul, Turkey, Eastern Europe, Western Asia

My trip to Istanbul was one of the most remarkable of my life.

Between the stunning mosques,  lively atmosphere, and life-altering baklava I had here, it’s difficult to choose just one standout part of the experience.

If you’re itching to see The City on Seven Hills for yourself, though, check out this 3-day itinerary that’ll help you go through as many attractions as possible within a limited timeframe.

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