11 Reasons Gaziantep Is Worth Visiting & Things To Do In Gaziantep

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

Is Gaziantep worth visiting? Oh my, yes, it is one of the best places to visit. Turkey’s vastness hides gems beyond its popular Western destinations like Istanbul and Antalya. Diving deeper into the country reveals places like Ankara, Cappadocia, and Konya, offering authentic experiences. 

Southeast Turkey, often skipped but actually one of the best places in Turley, is home to Gaziantep, a must-visit, especially for food enthusiasts. 

Gaziantep is notable for its UNESCO-recognized culinary heritage and hosts the world’s stunning mosaic museum. A trip to Gaziantep offers a blend of cultural richness and gastronomic delight, making it a worthwhile addition to your travel itinerary. Explore beyond the usual to discover why Gaziantep is worth visiting.

Turkey Travel Blog_Why You Should Visiti Gaziantep

Gaziantep Türkiye Travel Guide

Gaziantep (sometimes known as Antep) is a large city in the southeast of Turkey, relatively close to the border with Syria (but still around 150 miles away). Now, that alone is often the reason why people choose not to go, but as long as you’re sensible and you don’t venture outside of the city itself, you’ll find an experience like no other – a totally positive one that you’ll no doubt want to repeat.

This region is totally different from what you might be used to if you’ve visited Turkey before. It’s more traditional, authentic, and a little conservative. It’s not hard to find examples of real-life everywhere you look, and that in itself gives you an authentic travel experience.

Gaziantep is a city that captivates visitors with its rich history, delicious cuisine, and warm-hearted people. It doesn’t hurt that Gaziantep is a treasure trove of archaeological wonders. History buffs will be thrilled to explore its ancient sites, including the renowned Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which houses some of the finest Roman mosaics in the world.

Stroll through the bustling streets lined with Ottoman-era buildings that add a certain charm to the city’s backdrop, and don’t forget to visit the magnificent Gaziantep Citadel, offering panoramic views of the city.

Famous for its world-class cuisine, the city is a paradise for food lovers. Indulge in mouth-watering kebabs, spicy lahmacun (Turkish pizza), flavourful mezes, and the iconic baklava. Gaziantep is also home to the unique regional dish Antep Lahmacun, which has gained international recognition.

Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of Gümrük Han, the city’s famous bazaar, where you can sample an array of local spices, cheeses, and sweets, making it a delightful experience for all senses.

Just a word of warning – the delicious food in Gaziantep is quite spicy!

What truly sets Gaziantep apart is its warm and welcoming people. Known for their hospitality, Gaziantep locals take great pride in their city and are always ready to lend a helping hand to visitors. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself engaged in friendly conversations with locals eager to share stories about their culture and traditions. The vibrant street life and the lively café culture make it easy to strike up conversations and make new friends.

10 Reasons Gaziantep Is Worth Visiting

If you’re still on the fence, these reasons to visit Gaziantep will help you move toward booking that flight.

1. Rich History Like The Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Cities In Turkey - Gaziantep_Zeugma

Gaziantep is a city with a deep-rooted history dating back to ancient times (around 10,000 years!). It offers an excellent opportunity to explore historical sites, including the impressive Gaziantep Castle, Zeugma Mosaic Museum, and the historical bazaars.

2. Natural Beauty

Surrounding Gaziantep, there are mesmerizing natural landscapes, including the magnificent Yesemek Open-Air Museum, which showcases ancient stone sculptures. The neighboring Belkıs-Zeugma area also presents stunning views of the Euphrates River.

3. Turkish Hospitality

Gaziantep is known for its genuine and warm-hearted locals. You’ll feel welcome and appreciated as you immerse yourself in the local culture. As mentioned, it’s a great idea if you learn a few words of Turkish. People will see that you’re keen to learn more, and they will really appreciate your efforts.

4. Turkish Hammam Experience

Treat yourself to a traditional Turkish bath experience known as a hammam. Gaziantep offers several authentic establishments where you can relax, unwind, and rejuvenate your body and mind. These are totally different from the tourist hammams you’ll find in beach resorts and are a tradition in themselves.

5. The Pistachio Baklava & Gastronomy Like Nothing Else

Is a bowl of Turkish Soup Beyran with Lamb Meat, Rice, Chopped Garlic and Vinegar Sauce Served with Salad.

Gaziantep is world famous for its delectable cuisine. It is the birthplace of the famous Turkish dessert, baklava, and offers a wide variety of delicious traditional dishes. Food lovers will be in for a treat with the city’s unique flavors and culinary experiences.

There are many food tours you can take, and again, remember that Antep food is naturally quite spicy, so keep some water close by!

Delicious Food To Try When You Visit Gaziantep

  • Baklava: Gaziantep is famous for its baklava, a sweet dessert made of layers of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey. The city’s baklava is so renowned that it received protected status from the European Union
  • Lahmacun: often referred to as Turkish pizza, lahmacun is a thin piece of dough topped with minced meat (often beef or lamb), vegetables, and herbs, then baked
  • Antep Kebabs: Gaziantep offers a variety of kebabs, with the most famous being the spicy lamb kebab known as Ali Nazik, Şiş kebab, and the Patlıcan kebab (eggplant kebab)
  • Yüvarlak: a type of meatball soup unique to the region, made with ground meat, and rice flavored with lemon and mint
  • Katmer: a crispy, flaky pastry that’s often served as a breakfast dish, filled with pistachios and clotted cream
  • Dolma and Sarma: vegetables or grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat, and spices. In Gaziantep, they have their unique twist, often adding sour and spicy flavors
  • Beyran: a spicy lamb soup traditionally eaten for breakfast, made with rice, lamb meat, and a rich garlic broth
  • Menengiç Coffee: made from the roasted and ground seeds of the wild pistachio tree, this coffee offers a unique taste different from traditional coffee
  • Pistachios: Gaziantep is also famous for its pistachios, often called the green gold of the region, used in a variety of dishes, especially sweets like baklava
  • Mütebbel: a spicy eggplant salad, seasoned with garlic, tahini, and yogurt, perfect as a side dish or starter

6. Gaziantep Architecture

Is Gaziantep worth visiting? A hallway with arches and lights in a cave is a unique sight to see.

Gaziantep boasts a unique blend of architectural styles. You can admire the beauty of its elegant mosques, like the Gaziantep Grand Mosque, and the historical buildings, like the Copper Art Museum, exhibiting traditional copper craftsmanship.

7. Gaziantep Culture And Tradition

Gaziantep is an extraordinarily cultural and traditional place, quite different from what you will see in other parts of the country. Locals are more than happy to share their traditions with visitors, and you’ll learn a lot, too.

There are many different events and festivals that take place throughout the year, but simply immersing yourself in daily life here will show you a whole lot more than you could ever expect.

8. Authentic Local Markets & Bazaar

Is Gaziantep Worth Visited: Istanbul's bustling Turkish market is a must-see destination for those seeking an authentic taste of local culture.

Explore the vibrant local markets, such as the Gaziantep Spice Bazaar and Copper Bazaar, where you can find a wide range of traditional items, spices, handcrafted copper products, and intricate textiles. And don’t forget to haggle!

9. Handicrafts And Art

Gaziantep is famous for its traditional crafts, including copperwork, mosaic art, and intricate textiles. You can explore workshops and galleries to learn about these traditional crafts and even take home unique, handcrafted souvenirs.

10.  UNESCO Creative Heritage

Visit a museum in Southeast Turkey featuring a mesmerizing mosaic floor and majestic pillars - Gaziantep, Turkey - April 2022: Zeugma Mosaic Museum
Gaziantep, Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Gaziantep prides itself on being part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for gastronomy, celebrating its rich culinary tradition. But the accolades don’t stop there. The city is also home to the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, one of the largest mosaic collections in the world, showcasing breathtaking ancient artistry.

These UNESCO sites underscore Gaziantep’s unique blend of history and culture, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking to experience the depth of the country’s historical and culinary wealth.

11. Gaziantep Zoo

This is a reason all on its own! Gaziantep Zoo is a perfect place for families and animal lovers to visit. It houses various animal species and offers a chance to observe and learn about animals from different parts of the world.     

You might not expect such a place to be in the middle of a historical and cultural city, but it’s an excellent spot for a day out with the kids and for anyone who loves animals.     

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Things To Do In Gaziantep

Things To See In Gaziantep

  • Zeugma Mosaic Museum: home to an extensive collection of mosaics (in fact, it is the world’s largest mosaic museum), primarily known for the “Gypsy Girl” mosaic
  • Gaziantep Castle: a historical fortress offering panoramic views of the city
  • Historic Bazaar: explore traditional shops and markets for a taste of local life

Things To Do In Gaziantep

Is the display of toys in a glass case worth visiting?
Interior view of the Gaziantep Game And Toy Museum. Gaziantep, Turkey – December 4, 2023.
  • Explore the Old City: wander through ancient streets and discover the city’s rich history
  • Visit the Toy Museum: a unique museum displaying a wide range of toys from various periods
  • Attend a Cooking Class: Gaziantep is famous for its cuisine; learning to cook local dishes is a must-do

Things To Eat In Gaziantep

  • Baklava: Gaziantep is renowned for its baklava, considered the best across Turkey
  • Kebabs: sample various types of kebabs, a staple of Turkish cuisine
  • Menengiç Coffee: a unique coffee made from pistachio, offering a distinct flavor

Is Gaziantep Safe?

Despite its relative closeness to the border with Syria, Gaziantep is a safe city to visit as long as you use your common sense as you would in any large city. It’s also around 150 miles away from the border, so it’s not exactly a stone’s throw.

It is a more conservative place to visit than some more well-known Turkish cities, like Izmir and Istanbul, but locals are incredibly welcoming. As long as you show respect and dress appropriately, you’ll have no problems.

It’s not a good idea to walk around on your own late at night but, again, that’s general advice for large cities. Stick to the main city center and don’t venture too far into the suburbs. It’s also common sense not to flash your valuables when you go out.

If you can learn a few words of Turkish, that will help you get around, as English isn’t as widely spoken here as in other parts of the country.

Of course, you will no doubt have seen the devastating photographs from the huge 2023 earthquake that hit southeastern Turkey. Gaziantep was massive, and many cities were severely affected.

The whole of Turkey is seismically active, and there is no way to predict when or if an earthquake will take place during your visit. It isn’t something that should stop you from visiting any region in Turkey, but knowing what to do during and after an earthquake will help alleviate your concerns.

How To Get To Gaziantep

Is the mosque with a clock tower in Gaziantep worth visiting?

The Gaziantep airport is located around 20km away from the city center and receives domestic flights from all major Turkish cities regularly throughout the day, all year around.

It won’t be easy to get a direct flight to Gaziantep from Europe. You can easily fly to Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, or Antalya and then take a quick 1-1.5-hour flight to Gaziantep from there.


Gaziantep Worth Visiting FAQs


Where is Gaziantep?

Gaziantep is a vibrant city located in southeastern Turkey. It is known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and delicious culinary traditions. With its well-preserved historic sites, lively bazaars, and welcoming locals, Gaziantep offers a unique blend of old and new.

Why should I visit Gaziantep?

Gaziantep has so much to offer visitors! Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or someone interested in exploring a different side of Turkey, this city has it all. From ancient ruins like the Zeugma Mosaic Museum to mouth-watering dishes like baklava and kebabs, Gaziantep guarantees an unforgettable experience.

How do I get to Gaziantep?

Gaziantep has an international airport, making it easily accessible for travelers from all around the world. The airport is well-served travelers airlines offering domestic and international flights. Alternatively, you can also reach Gaziantep by bus or train, as it is connected to major cities in Turkey.

What are the must-visit attractions in Gaziantep?

Some of the top attractions in Gaziantep include the Gaziantep Castle, which offers panoramic views of the city, the stunning mosaics at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, and the vibrant Gaziantep Bazaar, where you can shop for traditional crafts, spices, and more. Additionally, don’t forget to explore the city’s culinary scene and indulge in its famous delicious cuisine.

What should I eat in Gaziantep?

Gaziantep is renowned for its culinary delights. Some of the must-try dishes include lahmacun (Turkish pizza), baklava (sweet pastry), kebabs, Antep katmer (a traditional flaky pastry), and various mezes (appetizers). Make sure to visit local eateries and try the authentic flavors of Gaziantep cuisine.

Are there any festivals or events in Gaziantep?

Yes, Gaziantep hosts several festivals and events throughout the year. The Gaziantep International Film Festival, the Pistachio Festival, and the International Handicrafts Festival are some of the notable events that celebrate the city’s culture, art, and gastronomy. These festivals offer a great opportunity to immerse yourself in Gaziantep’s vibrant atmosphere.

Is Gaziantep safe for tourists?

Gaziantep is generally a safe city for tourists. Like any other travel destination, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions.

Can I find accommodation easily in Gaziantep?

Absolutely! Gaziantep offers a wide range of accommodations, ranging from luxurious hotels to budget-friendly options. The city center and the area around the castle are popular locations for tourists. It is advised to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

Are there any day trips or excursions from Gaziantep?

Yes, there are several day trips and excursions you can take from Gaziantep. You can explore nearby historical sites such as the ancient city of Zeugma or visit the charming town of Halfeti, famous for its stunning views of the Euphrates River and its submerged citadel. Gaziantep is a fantastic base for further explorations of southeastern Turkey.

Conclusion On The City Of Gaziantep

Gaziantep isn’t on the tourist map as much as some of the cities and resorts found in western and northern Turkey. However, that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten. The entire southeastern region is a whole of fantastic history, landscapes, and culture. It’s somewhere that will show you an authentic way of life, and by visiting there and really immersing yourself in the culture, you can say you’ve experienced something extraordinary indeed.

Without a doubt, Gaziantep is one of the street food capitals of the world, and once you’ve tried some of the city’s delicacies, you’ll definitely want to go back!

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