Interrail in Turkey: a country guide 🇹🇷

Interrail in Turkey: the ultimate country guide 🇹🇷

Wonderful beaches

Excellent food

Fascinating history

Great nightlife

Perfect for sailing

Table of contents 🇹🇷

Turkey overview

Turkey is a captivating destination that blends rich history, diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cities, making it a must-visit for travelers.

One of Turkey’s most compelling features is its historical significance. As the bridge between East and West, Turkey is home to a plethora of ancient sites. Istanbul, the former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, boasts landmarks like the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque. The city’s unique position on two continents adds to its allure, offering a mix of European and Asian influences in its architecture, cuisine, and culture.

Beyond Istanbul, Turkey’s historical treasures continue to amaze. Ephesus, an ancient Greek city, contains some of the best-preserved ruins in the Mediterranean. The fairy-tale landscapes of Cappadocia, with its unique rock formations and ancient cave dwellings, offer a mystical experience. Meanwhile, the ancient cities of Troy and Pergamon provide deep dives into early history.

Turkey’s natural beauty is equally enchanting. The turquoise coast, with its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, is perfect for relaxation and water sports. The travertine terraces of Pamukkale, with their mineral-rich thermal waters, create a surreal, snow-like landscape that’s ideal for wellness seekers. Mount Ararat, the legendary resting place of Noah’s Ark, attracts adventurers and mountaineers.

Cultural experiences in Turkey are abundant. Traditional markets, like Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and the spice markets, offer vibrant shopping experiences. Turkish cuisine, known for its rich flavors and variety, includes dishes like kebabs, baklava, and mezes, providing a gastronomic delight.

Additionally, Turkish hospitality is renowned. The friendly and welcoming nature of the Turkish people makes visitors feel at home, enhancing the overall travel experience.

The top 5 places to visit in Turkey


We can’t start a guide to Turkey without beginning with the mesmerising city of Istanbul. Straddling Europe and Asia, it’s a city where ancient traditions meet modernity. Its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture make it a must-visit destination. One of the city’s most iconic structures is the Hagia Sophia, originally a cathedral, then a mosque, and now a museum. It showcases stunning Byzantine architecture and mosaics. Nearby, the Blue Mosque, known for its six minarets and beautiful blue Ä°znik tiles, stands as a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture. The Topkapi Palace, once the residence of Ottoman sultans, offers a glimpse into the opulence of the Ottoman Empire with its lavish rooms and priceless treasures. Another fascinating site is the Basilica Cistern, an underground wonder with its eerie, column-filled chamber and serene pools of water. For those interested in shopping, the Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets, offering everything from spices to carpets.

To experience the city from the water, take a Bosporus cruise, which provides views of palaces, fortresses, and the city skyline. Culinary enthusiasts will delight in Istanbul’s local dishes like kebabs, mezes, and baklava. Don’t miss trying a traditional Turkish breakfast or savouring a cup of Turkish coffee. For relaxation, visit a historic Turkish bath, or hammam, which is an essential part of the local culture.

Getting around Istanbul is convenient with its extensive public transport system, including trams, buses, and ferries. Purchasing an Istanbulkart provides easy access to all modes of transport. The best time to visit is during spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) for pleasant weather and fewer crowds. When visiting mosques, dress modestly and bring a scarf to cover your head if you’re a woman.

Istanbul’s blend of history, culture, and modernity offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Whether exploring ancient landmarks or enjoying contemporary delights, Istanbul promises to captivate every visitor.

Photo by Anna Berdnik on Unsplash


Cappadocia, located in central Turkey, is a surreal and enchanting destination known for its unique landscapes, ancient history, and cultural richness. The region’s most striking feature is its otherworldly terrain, characterised by fairy chimneys, towering rock formations, and vast underground cities. These geological wonders were formed over millions of years by volcanic eruptions and erosion, creating a landscape unlike any other in the world.

One of the best ways to experience Cappadocia’s beauty is from above in a hot air balloon. Floating over the region at sunrise offers breathtaking views of the valleys and rock formations bathed in golden light. This unforgettable experience is a highlight for many visitors and provides a unique perspective on the area’s natural splendor.

On the ground, the Göreme Open-Air Museum is a must-visit. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features a complex of rock-cut churches and monasteries adorned with ancient frescoes, offering insight into the region’s early Christian history. Nearby, the town of Göreme itself serves as a convenient base for exploring the area, with its charming cave hotels and local eateries.

Cappadocia is also famous for its extensive underground cities, such as Derinkuyu and Kaymakli. These subterranean complexes, carved into the soft volcanic rock, were used as shelters by early inhabitants and provide a fascinating glimpse into their ingenuity and resilience. Exploring these underground labyrinths reveals hidden chambers, tunnels, and living spaces that once housed thousands of people.

For outdoor enthusiasts, hiking through the region’s valleys, such as the Rose Valley and the Ihlara Valley, offers stunning scenery and a chance to discover hidden churches and caves. The landscape is dotted with trails that wind through vineyards, orchards, and picturesque villages, making it a paradise for nature lovers.


Ephesus, located near the modern town of Selçuk, is one of the most spectacular ancient cities in the world and a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travellers alike. This ancient city, once a thriving centre of commerce and culture in the Roman Empire, boasts remarkably well-preserved ruins that provide a vivid glimpse into life over two millennia ago.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Ephesus is the Library of Celsus. This grand structure, with its intricately carved facade, was built in the 2nd century AD to honor the Roman Senator Celsus and once housed thousands of scrolls, serving as a monumental testament to the city’s scholarly significance. Nearby, the Great Theatre of Ephesus is another awe-inspiring site. Capable of seating up to 25,000 spectators, this enormous amphitheater was used for gladiatorial contests, public meetings, and dramatic performances, showcasing the social and cultural vibrancy of ancient Ephesus.

Walking through the Marble Street, you’ll encounter other impressive ruins, including the Temple of Hadrian, with its beautifully restored arch and reliefs depicting mythological scenes. The terraced houses, also known as the “houses of the rich,” offer a fascinating peek into the luxurious lifestyles of Ephesus’s elite, featuring intricate mosaics and frescoes that adorn the interiors.

Ephesus is also home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Although only a few remnants of this once colossal temple remain, its historical significance and the grandeur it once held continue to captivate visitors. The site is a powerful reminder of the city’s former glory and its importance in the ancient world.

Beyond its architectural marvels, Ephesus is surrounded by lush countryside and the nearby Aegean coast, providing scenic beauty that complements its historical riches. The Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selçuk is worth a visit as well, housing artifacts and sculptures discovered in the ancient city, offering further insights into its storied past.

Ephesus’s combination of extraordinary ruins, rich history, and beautiful surroundings make it an unforgettable destination. Whether exploring the majestic Library of Celsus, wandering through ancient streets, or contemplating the grandeur of the Great Theatre, a visit to Ephesus is a journey back in time, offering a profound connection to the ancient world.

Photo by Matthew Waring on Unsplash
Photo by Bhumil Chheda on Unsplash


Pamukkale, located in southwestern Turkey, is a natural wonder and a historical treasure that captivates visitors with its unique landscape and ancient heritage. Known as the “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, Pamukkale features dazzling white travertine terraces formed by mineral-rich thermal waters that cascade down the hillside, creating a surreal, otherworldly scene that looks like a frozen waterfall.

The thermal waters of Pamukkale have been renowned for their therapeutic properties since ancient times. Visitors today can still enjoy a relaxing soak in these warm, mineral-rich pools, experiencing the same healing benefits that people sought thousands of years ago. The contrast between the sparkling white terraces and the azure blue pools is breathtaking, making it a photographer’s paradise and a must-see natural wonder.

Adjacent to the travertines lies the ancient city of Hierapolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded as a thermal spa in the 2nd century BC, Hierapolis flourished as a prominent cultural and religious centre. The well-preserved ruins of this ancient city offer a fascinating journey through history. The Roman Theater, with its impressive size and ornate reliefs, once hosted thousands of spectators and remains a striking testament to Roman architectural ingenuity. Walking through the city, you’ll also encounter the ancient Necropolis, or “City of the Dead,” which is one of the largest and best-preserved cemeteries in Turkey, containing a vast array of sarcophagi and tombs.

The Sacred Pool, also known as Cleopatra’s Pool, is another highlight of Hierapolis. This ancient thermal pool, filled with submerged Roman columns and other antiquities, invites visitors to swim in its warm, healing waters while being surrounded by relics of the past. It’s said that Cleopatra herself swam here, adding a touch of legendary allure to this unique experience.

Pamukkale’s blend of natural beauty and historical significance extends beyond the terraces and ruins. The surrounding landscape is dotted with greenery and offers stunning views of the Menderes River valley. The modern town of Pamukkale provides a base for exploring the area, with its array of accommodations and dining options catering to tourists.


Antalya, nestled along the stunning turquoise coast of southwestern Turkey, is a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and modern amenities. With its picturesque beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant city life, Antalya offers something for every type of traveller, whether seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural exploration.

The Old Town is the heart of Antalya’s historical charm. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with Ottoman-era houses, boutique hotels, and charming cafes, creating a nostalgic ambiance that transports visitors back in time. Stroll along the ancient city walls and through the Hadrian’s Gate, a beautifully preserved Roman triumphal arch that serves as a gateway to the past.

Antalya is home to a wealth of archaeological treasures, including the Antalya Museum, one of Turkey’s finest museums. Here, visitors can explore exhibits showcasing artifacts from the region’s rich history, including sculptures, ceramics, and mosaics from ancient civilisations such as Lycia, Pamphylia, and Pisidia.

Nature lovers will be enchanted by Antalya’s natural wonders, from its pristine beaches to its rugged mountains. The Düden Waterfalls, just a short drive from the city centre, cascade dramatically into the Mediterranean Sea, offering a breathtaking backdrop for picnics and photos. For panoramic views of the coastline, take a cable car ride up to the summit of Tahtalı Mountain, where you can admire the sweeping vistas stretching from the Taurus Mountains to the sea.

Adventurous souls will find plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Antalya, from water sports like sailing and diving to hiking and rock climbing in the nearby mountains. The surrounding countryside is dotted with ancient ruins and picturesque villages waiting to be explored, providing endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.

At the end of the day, unwind in one of Antalya’s many beachfront resorts, where you can relax on the sun-drenched shores and indulge in delicious Mediterranean cuisine. As the sun sets over the horizon, casting a golden glow over the sea, you’ll understand why Antalya is known as the “Pearl of the Mediterranean” – a gem waiting to be discovered on Turkey’s breathtaking coastline.

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Greece 🇬🇷

Ferries connect Turkey with Greece to 10 different Greek Islands with routes between Kos or Rhodes and Bodrum being the most popular.

Bulgaria 🇧🇬

The Sofia-Istanbul Express night train runs daily between Sofia and Istanbul, taking around 13 hours. Seat reservations can only be made locally.

Which Interrail pass do I need to travel around Turkey?

Interrail Global Pass

The only travel pass that lets you ride on trains in 33 different countries and discover over 40,000 destinations. Available in 1st or 2nd class.
Our choice

Interrail Turkey Pass

The easiest way to travel by train to Turkey's top destinations. Get a pass with 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8 travel days in 1 month.

Do I need to make train or ferry seat reservations in Turkey?

With your Interrail pass, you get full access to the Turkey’s rail network, operated by TCDD.

Seat reservations for domestic and international trains in Turkey are only possible at a Turkish train station. Seat reservations aren’t generally required for domestic trains, but they are required for international trains and sleeper trains.

Where to stay in Turkey

Cheers Hostel - Istanbul

The most popular and highest rated hostel in Istanbul. Cheers Hostel is located in a perfect location in the very heart of the Old City of Istanbul, in Sultanahmet. Situated only a 1-minute walk from some of the most famous sights such as the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Underground Cistern and Topkapi Palace, not to mention the Grand Bazaar, and many other sightseeing attractions of oriental Istanbul.

Coco Cave Pension - Cappadocia

Stay in a cave room at Coco Cave and experience the authentic Cappadocia. With only 11 rooms, this place books up quickly so be quick if you fancy an affordable stay in Cappadocia.

Ephesus Hostel - Ephesus

Ephesus Hostel is modern, luxurious, comfortable, and affordable. At Ephesus Hostel, they offer the best of both worlds: a comfortable, clean, and personal space to stay and a place where you can share a room, share a kitchen, meet new people, and have fun.

Ozenturku Pansiyon Hotel - Pamukkale

Located only 50 metres from the travertines and the ancient city of Hierapolis. There are restaurants, markets, bars and a nature park nearby. Newly renovated in 2022, this place gets excellent reviews from fellow travellers.

Be Bold Hostel - Antalya

A newly designed hostel in the heart of Antalya. You will be just steps away from top attractions like Hadrian's Gate, Old Town, Old Marina, Karaalioglu Park, plus restaurants, and nightlife.

Read more about Turkey on our blog

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