Written by Rikki Lee Roath

National Parks of Turkey

Turkey is home to nature more diverse than most visitors to the country realize. From snow-capped mountains to rainforests and wetlands, Turkey is more than just its popular Mediterranean coastline. During your next trip to Turkey, consider visiting a few of the countries national parks, a great way to experience unique landscapes, traditional culture, and history.

1. Kackar Mountains National Park

The name of this scenic park: Kackar, or Khachkar, refers to carved steles bearing a cross and other motifs, characteristic of Medieval Christian Armenian Art. Found extensively on the historical churches in the region, it’s difficult to deny the park’s Armenian past; traces of the area’s old culture are still present in the local languages spoken by villagers near the Kackar Mountains. In addition to an interesting cultural history, the park is also home to gorgeous alpine lakes and high mountain vistas. The freezing streams running throughout the park keep the entire landscape bright green throughout the summer, this fresh grass in turn feeding the seemingly endless herds of cows led by local shepherds across their highland pastures. A diverse mix of local villagers and mountaineering enthusiasts preparing to climb the park’s highest peaks, the Kackar Mountain National Park is a popular destination and one of the gems of the entire Black Sea.

1. Kackar Mountains

2. Mount Nemrut National Park

The single peak of Mount Nemrut is known not for its stunning views or beautiful nature, but for the mystical collection of large stone statues perched atop its peak. The mysterious busts of various animals and Greek, Armenian, and Persian gods were built by King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene during his short reign over the area in the 1stcentury BCE. Still in good condition sitting at over 2000m, the drama of the mountain and surrounding landscape combine with the rich history and beauty of these statues to create an unforgettable, dramatic setting. The Mount Nemrut National Park, declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987, is truly a must-see destination.

2. Mount Nemrut National Park

3. Aladaglar National Park

Home to the highest peaks in the Taurus Mountain range, Aladaglar National Park is also home to the most dramatic views of endless rocky peaks and deep valleys in the region. The sheer number of its peaks and hiking or technical climbing options make it one of the most popular places for mountaineering in Turkey. Its picturesque mountain lakes and stunning waterfalls are attractions popular among the less climbing-centric crowd. Traditionally, the region was the summer home of semi-nomadic herders, who led their flocks to higher ground during warmer months in search of fresh fodder. Many of these shepherds still continue these traditions, although the opening of the national park and a rising influx of tourists have led to their slow decline. Whether you love adrenaline packed mountain pursuits, are fascinated by traditional ways of life, or simply appreciate a good view, the Aladaglar National Park is one of our favorite parks and a perfect summer destination.

For tours featuring Aladaglar National Park, please click the link below. 

3. Aladaglar National Park

4. Goreme Historic National Park

No list of National Parks in Turkey is complete without mentioning Goreme National Park in Cappadocia. Home to otherworldly rock formations, Byzantine frescos, and rock-carved churches, the area is rich in both natural landscapes and historical monuments. The rock formations that make Cappadocia famous were formed by the acts of flowing water and wind over its layers of soft volcanic rock. These steep towers and cone-shaped formations line Cappadocia’s many popular valleys, making for exceptional hiking easy enough for beginners and exciting enough for experienced backpackers. This soft rock is also easy to carve, making a perfect medium for locals of the past to carve their homes, colorful churches, and production facilities into. With a traditional economy based on fruit farming, wine production, and pottery, there are lots of culinary delights to explore as well. Whether you enjoy nature, history, or cultural exploration, Goreme National Park has something for everyone.

For tours featuring Göreme National Park, please click the link below. 

4. Goreme Historic National Park
Kumlubuk Bay as seen from the ruins of Amos near Marmaris

5. Lake Kovada National Park

Our favorite lake in Turkey’s lake district, Kovada is just a couple hours away from popular destinations like Antalya, making it a perfect refuge for when the heat and crowds of summer become too much. Full of shady forests and without much human disturbance, the wildlife around Lake Kovada has had the chance to flourish, and it’s especially popular among birdwatchers. The region surrounding Lake Kovada is full of apple and cherry orchards, rolling hills, scenic lakes, and wild flowers; a wonderful place to experience the peace and quiet that nature provides.

For tours featuring Kovada National Park, please click the link below. 

5. Lake Kovada National Park
Map of Destinations

6. Termessos Gulluk Mountain National Park

Famous for its namesake, the ancient city of Termessos, this national park is also home to rich forests typical of the Mediterranean and a stunning mountainous backdrop. It’s quiet, natural setting adds even more drama and mystery to some of the Lycian region’s best preserved ancient ruins. Perched high in the mountains at over 1000 meters, the stately ruins of Termessos’s cisterns, theatre, gymnasium, and ancient roads are peppered throughout the mystical woods. Separated into three sections, the ruins are extensive and shouldn’t be explored in a hurry. In addition to the ancient city itself, the park is home to mountain goats, deer, and eagles now rarely seen in the rest of the region. It’s easily accessible location and impressive ruins mean that the popularity of this park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on the rise among tourists, and we certainly can’t blame them. 

6. Termessos Gulluk Mountain National Park

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National Parks

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Photographs © Altay Özcan

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