A lot of countries are a mix of two or more cultures, but imagine blending the cultures of two continents into one! Turkey takes the term melting pot of cultures to a whole new level. A country straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey takes the best of both in a fusion that spans its glorious history. Going on a trip to Turkey is akin to a whirlwind tour of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Asia all in one – isn’t that efficient?

From its religious tolerance to distinctive Turkish tea and coffee, this country leaves no stone unturned to make its mark on the bigger world stage. Check out some of the best cities in Turkey for international students to study in:

Top Cities in Turkey

1. İstanbul

Istanbul may not be the capital of Turkey, but it is the biggest and most iconic. This otherworldly city is the only one that spans two continents, separated by the Bosphorus Strait. If you want to hop over, 20-minute ferries shuttle people back and forth across continents daily. This port city acts as the country’s economic and cultural center, with the European side taking the former.

Istanbul plays a pivotal role in the rise and spread of Christianity in ancient times, which later on turned into an Islamic state. Interestingly, this dichotomy of religions in most countries seems to mesh into one cohesive society in Istambul – featuring Christian, Jewish, and Islam monuments and places of worship side by side. Hagia Sofia, for example, has been a cathedral, museum, and now a mosque whose interiors remain preserved up to today. Other iconic monuments include the Blue Mosque.

Istanbul is among the best cities in Turkey for international students as it houses top institutions that assure students of quality education on its shores. A multicultural pot that is both ancient and modern, its society is a buzzing metropolis full of bazaars and lifestyle hubs to engage the wandering traveler. See if an Istambul education is one for you:

  • İstanbul University
  • Koç University
  • Boğaziçi University
  • Sabanci University
  • Marmara University

2. Ankara

Ankara is the official capital of Turkey, serving as the country’s political powerhouse. From the preserved fortified walls of Ankara Castle to the Atatürk Mausoleum, this city gives much reverence to political greats that have made significant strides in the country’s history. Take a walk in the Citadel neighborhood and immerse yourself in the ruins of history. This is also seconded by Ankara’s colorful past as collected by its Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the preserved Roman Baths and Roman theater, and the Aslanhane mosques.

Despite its centrality as a capital, Ankara has many green spaces which make it easy to get away from it all. The Gençlik Park is the most popular green space in the city where families and friends gather on weekends. The Eymir Lake – a pine tree forest located outside the city center – is also frequented by locals for a more quiet pause. Whatever your path may be, have a relaxing and immersive stay in this city through the following institutions:

  • Bilkent University
  • Ankara University
  • Middle East Technical University

3. Izmir

Izmir is Turkey’s top 3 metropolitan city and is built for travelers looking for a slower pace of life. It is also a top city in Turkey for international students. While the city is not as economically competitive as its more prominent counterparts, it more than makes up for it with its rich historical sights. A city with strong Greek and Roman influences on the European side of Turkey, Izmir offers many ruins and historical monuments to immerse yourself in.

You don’t even need to look far to start – the Izmir Agora is a monument right in the city center, the ruins signifying the city’s significance in the past as a stop on the Silk Road. It even has an adjoining museum to learn more about the site. The Pergamon Acropolis ruins are another monument, a demonstration of Greek power in the past. Given its location along the Aegean Sea, Izmir is blessed with beautiful beaches and promenades along the coast. The quaint Kemaraltı Market is also frequented by those wishing for a taste of Izmir goods and culture.

Find a good balance between school and play here at Izmir. Check out their school options below:

  • Ege University
  • Dokuz Eylül University
  • İzmir Institute of Technology

4. Antalya

Antalya is a Turkish city with a Mediterranean spirit. Located in the southern region of the country, its landscape consists of blue waters and beautiful beaches. It is also home to the biggest international sea resort on the Turkish Riviera, making it a hit for tourists and locals alike. Relax on weekends at the city’s famous beaches such as Konyaalti Beach and Lara Beach. But if you’re looking for adventure, white water rafting at Köprülü Canyon National Park would do the trick.

Antalya also features some remnants from its time as a major city across different empires in the past. For wiling explorers, check out the Karain Cave and the Termessos, Phaselis, and Perge ruins which were left largely untouched. The Yivli Minare and mosque are also well-preserved examples of Seljuk architecture, with the Ottoman-era clock tower just nearby. Or visit the Aspendos – the best-preserved Roman theater in the world.

If you love the water and appreciate living history, Antalya might be the place for you. Get started with their top universities:

  • Akdeniz University
  • Antalya Bilim University
  • Alanya HEP University
  • Antalya Akev University

5. Bursa

Don’t let this low-key city fool you, Bursa is among Turkey’s best cities for international students and a place of vast historical significance. As the original capital of the Ottoman Empire, Bursa has always been a center for commerce and government. Its legacy as a Silk Road trading route continues today at the massive Covered Market and the Koza Han areas – showcasing a collection of silk shops they are world-famous for. Its preservation of the Ulu Cami mosque, the Yeşil Mosque and tomb, and the mausoleums of the first Ottoman Sultans within the Muradiye Complex also attests to the city’s glory days.

For more present-day travelers, Bursa has got you covered. Spend your weekends going up via cable car and skiing down Mt. Uludag, the country’s most popular ski resort, or binge on the world-famous kebab at any of the city’s restaurants, or head on to the Kebapçi Iskender for the original.

This historical city continues to be an industrial giant attractive to student travelers. Check out the universities available below:

  • Bursa Uludağ Üniversitesi
  • Bursa Technical University


I hope that you found this article on the best cities in Turkey for international students informative and helpful. To know more information like this, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

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