The 12 Best Places for Photography in Turkey: Istanbul, Cappadocia & Pamukkale

The best places for photography in Turkey and general travel tips for Turkey (adventure, luxury, and culture). 

Tips and top things to do in Turkey including a photo guide for Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, and Pamukkale. From the travel blog Travel-Break.net

“This place should be a World Wonder… definitely over Petra.”

Alyssa took the words right out of my mouth. We’d both been booked as speakers for the World Tourism Forum in Turkey and leveraged it to explore Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Izmir, Istanbul and Ephesus.

“Can whole countries be world wonders?!”

Wow. One of the best weeks of my life. But we almost didn’t come to Turkey.

We agreed to disagree with our initial thoughts — we regret our hesitation to visit Turkey. We’d asked ourselves and our American friends, is it safe to travel in Turkey now? Is it safe to travel to Turkey as Americans?

Both Alyssa Ramos and I are solo female travelers. While we intended on meeting up, per usual, we asked ourselves about travel warnings of traveling to Turkey as women.

The answer is that Istanbul is a major city as safe as NYC, Barcelona and Rome. Quite frankly, there is more political unrest and crime against women in the USA than there is most parts of the world that we brand with “dangerous.”

That being said, Turkey and Turkish culture is as delightful as Turkish desserts. We spent over a week exploring Turkey and had the most incredible time!

In this post:

  • What’s in my camera bag
  • Photo guide to the best places in Turkey.
  • How to get around while traveling in Turkey.
  • The best things to do for bucket list experiences in Turkey.
  • When to travel in Turkey.
  • What to pack for Turkey.

 


What to shoot photography with:

First things first, I shoot with a DSLR and an iPhone. Check out these tools to get the best photos on your next trip!

  • Canon 70D, available via Overstock with a free extra battery + memory card.
  • Canon 24-70 mm lens (standard zoom lens) available on Spring (with warranty) which is great for lifestyle photos.
  • Canon Wide Lens 20 mm which is great for wide landscapes.
  • I mostly shoot photos of myself by using the Manfrotto tripod, it folds up nicely.

If this all sounds a bit confusing, check out my Beginner’s Guide to Photography | Which Camera is Right for You post.
I also do a lot of iPhone Only Photography (check out my guide)

 


Here’s all the must-do photo experiences in Turkey:

(They’re fun without the pictures too)

1. Take a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

A bucket list experience for travel in Turkey, sunrise in Cappadocia is magical. Start your pre-morning with a quick (limited) continental breakfast before embarking on a flight with 12 – 26 of your *closest* friends.

Excuse the sass, it really is a perfect experience and you can upgrade from a standard to a private tour when booking in advance! Regardless, you’ll find yourself 4 – 20km above the ground, and love every bit of it no matter who you’re sharing it with.

Tips for the Turkey hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia:

  • If the winds are too strong, the company will delay flights until the following morning — give yourself an extra day or two in Cappadocia as a backup — or to catch the balloons from looking point.
  • If you’d like to get beyond the main town in Cappadocia, you’ll need a car — however, the hot air balloon companies do hotel pick ups.
  • It gets a little cold, so bundle up! You also have to climb in and out of the hot air balloon basket, so wear pants or leggings.

Floating like a butterfly in the magical land of Cappadocia.

Hot air balloon Cappadocia, Turkey with Alyssa Ramos from My Life’s a Movie

 

2. Get aerial photos while paragliding in Pamukkale.

We had just finished strolling the travertine pools of Pamukkale when our driver surprised us with great news: “It’s not too late to go paragliding in Pamukkale.” Within in 15 minutes, we were at the top of a mountain… running off of it with a parachute.

You can book paragliding through your hotel or anywhere in the town. It’s AMAZING a bucket-list adventure for sure!

BTW check out my ultimate guide to GoPro Photography Tips + Accessories

3. Actually, take a walk in Pamukkale too.

If you’re not in a dare-devil mood, the Pamukkale thermal pools are the unicorn of natural national parks. Translating from Turkish to “cotton castles,” these white terraces mirage as snow glaciers, but are actually deposits of calcium carbonate.

During the winter, the park closes at 5:00 PM (which is why we took cheeky photos at 5:15, thus dodging the crowds). During the spring and summer, the park is open until midnight.

You can bring your swimsuit for a swim, but it does get cold during the winter.

 

4. Explore Ephesus

The Greek City of Ephesus holds strong Christian significance in the Book of Revelation. It’s an Ancient World Wonder and a quick trip from the Andan Menderes Airport.

I took on to photographing Alyssa for this part of the trip! Follow her on Instagram @MyLifesAMovie

But the sites stand majestically on their own. 

5. Visit the Blue Mosque

Notoriously, the most popular of all points of interest in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque lives up to the hype! So nice, I visited it twice at sunrise.

It’s free to visit the mosque; however during hours of prayer, you will be asked to respectfully give those in worship due space. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get to parts of the mosque or set down a tripod during prayer.

 

6. Stay in a Cave in Cappadocia

Move over seven star hotels of Abu Dhabi! There’s nothing like living in a cave of an underground city. Volcanoes hollowed out rocks over centuries; these became people’s homes and eventually, Turkey points of interest for a luxe lodging experience.

Enjoy a rooftop meal of your cave hotel in Cappadocia.

And sleep in a restored cave where antique classics meet modern restrooms, electricity and comfort.

We stayed at the Amber Cave Suites (above) and Museum Hotel (cover photo).

7. Tour the underground city.

There are thirty-six underground cities in Cappadocia, with the most popular being the Kaymakli Underground City (pictured below). The cave dwelling boasts an intricate defense against enemies. From ventilation systems, to traps, wineries, churches and nurseries, the engineering of 100 tunnels and eight stories makes this one of the most fascinating cities I’ve yet to visit.

 

8. Find a rooftop in Istanbul.

Istanbul is known for eccentric art and funky rooftops. Indulge in hookah, wine or Turkish coffee with a view of the only mid Euro-Asian metropolitan city.

 

 

9. Chase the blue eyes in Cappadocia

Iconic of Turkey, the blue eyes or “Nazars,” protects against the evil eye — all those with envy wishing bad upon you.

Just up the road overlooking the trees is a restaurant. We asked them if we could take our tea outside to the rooftop, and they concurred.

10. Have a walk within Hagia Sophia

Meaning “Holy Wisdom,” the now museum has evolved as a Christian Church, Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Roman Catholic Cathedral, and Imperial Mosque. Take a walk inside and you’ll appreciate its majestic domes too.

 

11. Goreme National Park, Cappadocia

Goreme National Park describes the entire area, but there are rock sites that have nicknames including Rose Valley, Mushroom Valley and Imagination Valley. Ask your guide or driver to tour you through the fairy chimney and volcanic rock formations.

Best places in Turkey for photography, luxury, adventure and culture. See the full guide on Travel-Break.net

The best places for photography in Turkey including Cappadocia, Turkey via @StephBeTravel | TravelBreak.net

12. Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Great at sunrise or sunset, capture the mosques from afar via Istanbul’s Bosphorus bridge.

How to Get Around in Turkey

  • Fly into Istanbul Atatürk Airport, making the Istanbul tour of your trip the first or last bit of your loop. Next, we flew to Neveshir airport (super cheap… $25 – $40) to see Cappadocia for a couple days. We then flew to Izmir to meet our guide and took an hour drive to Ephesus. Next a three and a half hour drive to Pamukkale. We then drove an hour to the Denizli airport where we flew back to Istanbul.
  • Get a visa online before arriving to the Istanbul airport. You can get one on arrival, although it takes another line and they only take cash. They also seemed to be very upset that I didn’t have my visa ahead of time.
  • Taxis vs Uber: Use an Uber whenever possible in Istanbul. They only have Uber X which seats six, however Istanbul is notorious for over-charging tourists in cabs. Your cab rate will end up being 2 – 3xs it’s actual cost — you’re better off taking an Uber.

When to travel in Turkey

  • The high season is during the summer. The weather is hot and prices shoot up to almost three times the cost.
  • You’ll catch low rain during the winter, but you’ll dodge the crowds.
  • The best time to travel is really during the spring.

 

What to pack for your trip to Turkey

Definitely pack a pashima or scarf to visit the mosques. They also make for an easy way to dress up a much more comfortable outfit.

I wish I would have packed more maxi skirts. Not only are they comfortable and adhering the the conservative needs of the mosques you’ll visit, but they look great in photos!

For photos, I shoot with  an iPhone 7, GoPro 4, Go Pro Session, and Canon 70D.

 

Photography Guides: 

The Ultimate Guide to iPhone Photography: Tips, Accessories, Features, Apps
The Ultimate Guide to GoPro Accessories + Tips
Beginner’s Guide to the Best Photography Equipment

See complete packing lists

Swimsuits for Women
Paradise Attire for Men
Outdoor and Fitness Attire for Women
Outdoor and Active Wear for Men
Snow Wear for Women
Snow Wear for Men


Which spots would you add as the
best places for photography in Turkey?


 

Thank You

A big thank you to the World Tourism Forum for inviting me to speak on behalf of destination marketing. I was able to take cheeky side trips with their help and some planing with Alyssa Ramos of MyLifeIsAMovie.com

World Tourism Forum February 2017, in Istanbul, Turkey

 


 

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2017-10-18T10:16:01+00:00

36 Comments

  1. Bilyana | OwlOverTheWorld February 27, 2017 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    Great post! I’ve been to Istanbul, it’s an amazing city. Cappadocia and Pamukkale are totally on my bucket list, and now I’m adding the paragliding and the hotel cave too. 🙂

    • Stephanie Be March 5, 2017 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks for reading! I had done Istanbul in the past and I’m really glad I went back to add on Cappadocia and Pamukkale! Enjoy 🙂

  2. Berna March 6, 2017 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    Great Post! Love your travel guide! Actually Im living in Istanbul for one year but I didnt visit Cappadocia and Pamukkale. I have to do it!

    • Stephanie Be March 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      You absolutely have to do it! I went to Istanbul in the past and it is an incredible city, but Pamukkale and Cappadocia are also really unique!

  3. Jennifer April 3, 2017 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Hi, this was an awesome blog! I am going to Turkey in June and I am beyond excited! May I ask what the restaurant was called where they allowed you to sit on the roof and drink tea? Thanks! Safe travels!

    • Stephanie Be April 3, 2017 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for reading! I’m not sure of the name of the restaurant, however, it’s the ONLY one above the lookout point with the trees of evil eyes. If it would be helpful, I can connect you to our private tour guide. He’s the one that arranged little things like this along our trip.

  4. darenvishal@yahoo.com April 24, 2017 at 3:47 am - Reply

    Fantastic post steph… u really hadna great time in turkey…we will be in turkey on may next month and would like to some photog also… can i get urrr tour guide contact ..tks

    • Stephanie Be April 26, 2017 at 11:13 am - Reply

      Thanks for reading!

      • Sarah Clark May 2, 2017 at 6:33 am - Reply

        great post! Would also love the contact for your guide!

  5. Sara Figueroa May 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Hi! Wonderful photos.! I’m visiting Turkey in June! Where was the first picture taken, the one in the pool overlooking that amazing view with hot air ballons!??

  6. Crazy sexy fun traveler May 16, 2017 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Wow, amazing photos. I see I should finally visit Turkey 🙂

    • Stephanie Be May 16, 2017 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Yes, it’s so nice — I’ve done it twice! If you go, let me know and I can recommend some people to show you around 🙂

  7. Valerie - Trusted Travel Girl May 30, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Great blog post! This is going to help me so much the next time I visit Turkey!

  8. Sara June 12, 2017 at 5:21 am - Reply

    Great post…I’m visiting Turkey this summer and i would love to have the contact of your guide😇

    • Stephanie Be November 21, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Hi! I am so sorry, I just caught your comment. I’m looking into the exact contact information for future readers! Thanks

  9. Paula Dupree June 17, 2017 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    That is very helpful tips for any traveler. This 12 place is the awesome place. There most interesting place is the Blue Mosque. I 1st time see the Blue Mosque, That is wonderful Mosque.Thanks for sharing your amazing picture.

  10. Sarah Colley June 29, 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply

    Literally did all of these things on my first visit to Turkey. Spent a month there traveling around. But we also went to Troy, Galipoli, and Bodrum and surrounding towns. Will be going back again next summer. My boyfriend is from Turkey so that helps 🙂

    • Stephanie Be July 1, 2017 at 10:01 am - Reply

      Oooh sounds like I have a few spots to add for my next trip! Thanks for sharing and thanks for reading!

  11. Marion H. Alvarado July 12, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    My dance group & I travelled to all these places . Goreme was the best – great food & people . In fact everywhere we went people were lovely & personable . We also went on river cruises in Dalyan- small river boats , ruins , beaches , mud baths & much more . I love turkey more than anywhere else I have travelled . And the shopping !!!

  12. Melody August 7, 2017 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Hi There!

    Awesome photos. Absolutely unique and loved the fact that your outfits fit every location you went to and the colors. Californian here, alumni from UC Irvine and Pepperdine (dont worry, I am a bruin at heart when it comes to football because neither school has a FB team lol). I am going to Turkey on the 14th. Do you have any recommendations for Hotels in Istanbul? Hope you enjoy the travels 🙂

    • Stephanie Be August 15, 2017 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Hi Melody, thanks for reading! I wasn’t ecstatic about my hotel in Istanbul, so I didn’t include it in the roundup. I don’t have a recommendation that I’ve personally experienced, but you should register for my app http://www.Buena.Life and see if any of your other friends have done Istanbul.

  13. Melody Fathi August 16, 2017 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for the info on your blog, Stephanie. I will DL right now. I am actually in Turkey right now. We picked a hotel and its actually been very great. I am not sure if I am allowed to write the name of the hotel because I dont want to solicit. But I recommend it, very good breakfast!

  14. Sahir September 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the wonderful information and amazing photos:) I am a photographer who loves to travel and would like to ask if it is okay to do a fashion style photoshoot with a model in istanbul (outdoors) without a formal permission etc? I am not really a pro just need to make some good images at good locations

    • Stephanie Be September 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks for reading! Regarding permission, you’d have to ask specific destinations. We asked for permission at the Museum Hotel in Cappadocia. The National Parks were okay to shoot and so were the mosques, as long as it wasn’t during prayer. Enjoy!

  15. Julia October 31, 2017 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Sorry if this is off-topic but do you have breast implants? If you do, could be a good blog post to talk about why you decided to do that and perceptions of appearance around the world and things like that? Keep up the great work!

    • Stephanie Be November 1, 2017 at 7:13 am - Reply

      Hi Julia,

      Interesting question. No, I don’t have breast implants and would agree that perceptions regarding appearance varies around the world. Check out Buzzfeed for some great videos and articles on the topic.

      Cheers

  16. Tia November 6, 2017 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Hey Stephanie! Can i know if the first picture under topic 6. Stay in a cave hotel is at the Ambers Cave Suite or Museum Hotel? I am looking for the perfect cave hotel that gives awesome view of the hot air balloons going up but the only one i can find is Sultan Cave Suites and that is completely sold out on the dates im going. Do you have any recommendation?

    • Stephanie Be November 21, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

      That is the Ambers Cave Suites and we loved it. Honestly, I would worry less about getting a good view from your hotel, and more about going to a good spot to capture the experience. Ask the guides/ hotel staff to take you to a good spot for pictures.

  17. Amna November 17, 2017 at 2:08 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful experience with us.
    http://www.lovemytour.com/

  18. Laura Ojeda November 17, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Hello, these are beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing. Would you say it is safe to travel around Turkey right now? I plan to go next year in May. I was also wondering if you can share how is it possible for one to sustain your life style ? Do you work remotely?

    • Stephanie Be November 21, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Istanbul is about as safe as New York city, Los Angeles or any major urban city with conflict. Pamukkale and Cappadocia were SO safe without a doubt. If safety is your concern, I wouldn’t spend too much time at night alone in Istanbul — but the country in general is amazing. I have a few blog posts on how to work and travel — explore the site!

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