Konya is Turkey’s sixth most populous city and an economic and cultural powerhouse in Central Anatolia. Not on many foreigners’ radar, here are the top attractions and best places to visit in Konya, Turkey.
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Welcome to Konya: Turkey’s Most Conservative City?
Konya has thousands of years of history but rose to prominence in the 12th century.
The Seljuks – and later the Ottomans turned Konya into a local powerhouse with majestic structures and flourishing industries.
Today, Konya is one of the “Anatolian tigers” (cities in central Turkey that saw immense economic growth in the last 30 years). As such, Konya is a well-polished city that blends historic charm with modern embellishments.
Located in Central Anatolia, many Turks refer to Konya as the country’s most conservative city. And whilst it’s more religious than Izmir and most of Istanbul, I didn’t find it overly conservative.
Overall, Konya is a great place to visit if you have been to some of the more famous locations of Turkey like Istanbul and Cappadocia – and want to see something more offbeat.
The Best Places to Visit in Konya
There are lots of historical and cultural attractions in Konya. But also science and nature-related locations. Here is a list of the best things to do in Konya.
For hundreds of years, the whirling dervishes have been performing a mystical dance that is part of the Sufi branch of Islam. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed the dervish dance part of “the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.”
Today, a large dervish festival happens in December every year in Konya, but you can also see the dervishes every Saturday at 7 pm inside the Mevlana Cultural Center.
Completed in 1558, the Selimiye Mosque is one of the largest Ottoman mosques in Konya. It’s a prime example of 16th-century Ottoman architecture and one of the top places to visit in Konya.
Aside from Selimiye, the Aziziye is another mosque you shouldn’t miss in Konya.
Aziziye Mosque was built in 1874 and is famous for its distinctive architecture, complete with a columned balcony on the minaret, a rare feature in Ottoman mosques.
Mevlana, or “Rumi,” lived in the 13th century. He was one of the most influential poets in Islam. Originally from modern-day Iran, he moved to Konya and composed some of his most famous works here.
Today, his burial site is inside the Mevlana Museum, a stunning religious complex where you can also marvel at some of his personal items.
The Mevlana Museum is not just a mosque and cultural center but also a pilgrimage site for people – especially Sufi Muslims from around the globe.
Around the Selimiye Mosque, you can head into the bustling market streets and explore Konya’s central bazaar area.
You can find everything from food, spices, and textile to kitchen appliances here. The area is authentic and an excellent place to mingle with locals in tea houses.
The Panorama Museum is home to various miniature versions of Turkish and international landmarks.
Next to it, there is also a stunning miniature exhibition of some battles that occurred during the Turkish War of Independence.
Konya Science Center
Thanks to Konya’s staggering economic growth, the city has become a hub for research and development companies.
The Science Center is a great place to visit in this regard, as it features the largest planetarium in Turkey.
Konya Tropical Butterfly Garden
Home to a total of 20,000 butterflies belonging to 15 species, the butterfly garden is one of the best places to visit in Konya if you’re into nature and wildlife. The site also has around 100 exotic plant species and relaxing walkways.
Where to Stay in Konya
You can find many local and international hotels for different budgets in Konya. Look for a place around the Selimiye Mosque or Mevlana Museum. In this area, you’ll be within walking distance of many of the top places to visit in Konya.
I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn close to Mevlana Museum – and I 100% recommend it. The price/quality ratio was excellent.
Find more places to stay in Konya here.
Places to Visit in Konya: Know Before You Go
To conclude our guide on the top Konya tourist attractions, here are some FAQs.
How to Get to Konya
Konya has a small airport with daily flights to Istanbul and some international charter flights.
Depending on where you are, the easiest way to get to Konya is by long-distance bus. Turkey has an extensive bus network, and companies like Kamil Koc offer comfortable and affordable bus journeys all over the country.
Check out my vlog below to see what bus travel in Turkey is like.
How to Get Around Konya
The center of Konya is walkable, but if you need to get further out, there is a growing tram network. Besides, you have bus routes covering the city and affordable taxis.
Is Konya Safe to Visit?
Yes. Konya is not a touristy city, and crime rates are low. Common sense will easily suffice to stay safe in Konya.
Bottom Line: is Konya Worth Visiting?
I loved my time in Konya.
The city isn’t yet on the popular tourist trail, but its fame steadily rises.
The cultural attractions – and the fact that it’s a different world from Izmir or the Turkish Riviera – make it a fascinating city to visit in Turkey.