Best Places to Live in Turkey

Best Cities for International Students in Turkey

Turkey is a popular destination for students traveling from around the globe to pursue higher education at renowned institutions, colleges, and universities in a unique location. But it’s more than just academic opportunities that makes Turkey an exciting location for international students. The country has some of the most welcoming and diverse settings for higher education studies, as well.

With over 180 institutions spread across the country, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you don’t have a particular school or program in mind from the beginning, maybe the best thing to do is learn about the top student destinations in Turkey.

Here are our Top 5:

  1. Istanbul

Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city with a history dating over thousands of years and a wide range culture to match. Today, it continues to flourish as a global city with a constantly expanding skyline and growing population. Home to over 14 million people, Istanbul was named the world's fourth-most-popular tourist destination, having welcomed approximately 12.5 million tourists in 2015, five years after it was named a European Capital of Culture. The cultural heritage of the city is a big appeal for tourists, alongside the clubs, bars, and markets.

It has many diverse neighborhoods within its city limits: the Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled from this bridge between East and West. Another area, the Sultanahmet district, boasts the open-air, Roman-era Hippodrome, which was for centuries the site of chariot races, and Egyptian obelisks, which also remain standing here. The iconic Byzantine Hagia Sophia features a soaring 6th-century dome and rare Christian mosaics.

If you’re interested in Istanbul, you might begin your search with schools like Uskudar University or Sabanci University.

  1. Ankara

Ankara isTurkey’s cosmopolitan capital, sitting in the country’s central region. It is a center for the performing arts, home to the State Opera and Ballet, the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, and a myriad of popular national theater companies. Overlooking the city is Anitkabir, the enormous hilltop mausoleum of Kemal Atatürk, modern Turkey’s first president, who many say put the country on the map in modern times.

Turkey’s second largest city, Ankara is a busy commercial and political center with a large student population and a significant community of international diplomats. Its most popular visitor attractions include Ankara Castle and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

If you’re interested in Ankara, you might begin your search with schools like Middle East Technical University or TED University.

  1. Izmir

The third largest city in Turkey, İzmir is known as the “Pearl of the Aegean” for its awe-inspiring views afforded to it by its location overlooking the Aegean Sea. İzmir has a more liberal, laid-back feel than much of Turkey, and the Kemeraltı market, beaches, and many events and exhibitions the city hosts make it difficult for students to be bored here.

The city has a vast and multicultural history of around 4000 years and was founded by the Greeks, taken over by the Romans, and rebuilt by Alexander the Great before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Today, its many archaeological sites include the Roman Agora of Smyrna, now an open-air museum and the hilltop Kadifekale, or Velvet Castle, built during Alexander’s reign.

If you’re interested in Izmir, you might begin your search with schools like Yasar University.

  1. Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus is the Turkish-ruled portion of the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which was divided between Turkey and Greece since the late–20th century after gaining independence from the UK. It is famous for its beautiful beaches, ancient Byzantine castles, and stunning ruins. The capital, Nicosia, consists of an old town enclosed by Venetian walls, which is divided between the Greek and Turkish parts of the island.

The island has been attracting tourists for decades, and universities have begun to increase in quality and popularity in the northern portion, much like in the rest of Turkey. Though smaller than the Greek portion of Cyprus, Turkish Cyprus maintains a deep relationship with its culture and history.

If you’re interested in Northern Cyprus, you might begin your search with schools like Near East University or Eastern Mediterranean University.

  1. Mersin

Mersin is a large port city on the southern border of Turkey along the Mediterranean coast. It is part of an interurban agglomeration – the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area. The city was named after the aromatic plant Myrsine, a myrtle that grows in abundance in the area.

Mersin is an important hub of Turkey's economy, and Turkey's largest seaport is located in the city. Mersin's nickname within Turkey is "Pearl of the Mediterranean," drawing a direct parallel to its kinship with Izmir, the “Pearl of the Aegean.” The city is known for its hosting of the 2013 Mediterranean Games.

If you’re interested in Northern Cyprus, you might begin your search with schools like Middle East Technical University, which has a campus in the city.