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Happy woman travels in Greece. Having fun at the stunning view on sea resort and old town of Lindos on the mountain

Turkey or Greece: An Honest Comparison To Help You Choose!

With wonderful weather, beautiful beaches, thousands of years of history, fabulous food, and fascinating cultures, Turkey and Greece stand out as two of the very best vacation destinations in the entire world.

Both of these countries have everything you could hope to find on a family trip, romantic getaway, or solo adventure. They offer countless attractions and activities, majestic scenery, bustling cities, quaint villages, and so much more. 

In Greece, you can feel the echoes of the past all around you, admire the ancient ruins of Athens, relax on picturesque islands, and sample some of the finest examples of Mediterranean cuisine.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, you can enjoy the scents and spices of exotic bazaars, soak your worries away in a Turkish bath, or set off on a magical, memorable adventure, taking a hot air balloon ride over the fantastic “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia.

In short, both Turkey and Greece thoroughly deserve their spots among the world’s greatest travel hotspots, and both are worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. But, if you’re planning a trip soon and only have the time or budget to see one of them, which should you pick?

Well, it won’t be easy, but that’s where this guide comes in! Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at Turkey vs Greece, comparing the two countries’ attractions, beaches, cuisine, and other key factors to help you pick the perfect destination for your next adventure.

CONTENTS:

  1. A Quick Overview
  2. Which Is Best For Activities?
  3. Which Is Better For Beaches?
  4. Which Is Better For Nightlife? 
  5. Which Is Better For Hiking & Outdoor Adventures? 
  6. Which Is Better For Shopping? 
  7. Which Is Best For Food?
  8. Which Is Safer?
  9. Which Is Better For A Family Trip? 
  10. Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons? 
  11. Which Is Better For Backpackers? 
  12. Where To Stay According To Your Budget
  13. Which Is Cheaper?
  14. Which Has The Best Weather?
  15. Which Is The Better Choice?
An infographic pitting Greece vs Turkey and showing some of the key differences that will be discovered later in the article.

A Quick Overview: Turkey vs Greece

Turkey: A Quick Overview

Turkey is a country that stretches across the boundary between Asia and Europe. It’s primarily located in Asia, on the Anatolian Peninsula, but also has a very small section in Europe, with borders to multiple countries like Georgia, Iran, Syria, and Greece.

The capital of Turkey is Ankara, while Istanbul is its biggest city, and its total population is in excess of 85 million.

The history of Turkey is rich and fascinating, going back thousands of years.

In fact, the world’s oldest surviving man-made structure – Gobekli Tepe – is found here, and Turkey has been home to many civilizations and groups throughout the ages, from the Anatolians to the Greeks, Persians, Romans, and Ottomans, all of whom left their mark in differing ways.

Geographically, Turkey is a very diverse country. It’s surrounded by three different seas – the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Black Sea – and features a wonderful array of landscapes, from towering mountains to coastal plains, vast lakes, dense forests, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful beaches. It’s also home to a bounty of wildlife, with more than 80,000 animal species.

With its wondrous wildlife and scenic natural spaces, Turkey is a haven for outdoor adventurers. Kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing, rafting, and more are all on offer here.

But that’s not all. Turkey is also home to extraordinary ancient ruins, grand mosques, delicious cuisine, glamorous coastal resorts, and, in Istanbul, one of the most exciting cities on Earth.

Istanbul with mosque in background and sea in foreground, and with a ferry.
iStock.com/Seqoya

Greece: A Quick Overview

Greece is a country in the southeast part of Europe. It’s comprised of a large mainland section, along with a huge collection of islands, many of which are uninhabited. Countries like Albania, Bulgaria, and Turkey all border Greece. Its capital city is Athens, and it has a total population of 10.5 million people, far smaller than Turkey’s. It’s also about ⅙ of the physical size of Turkey.

Known as the cradle of Western civilization, Greece has an extraordinary past, giving birth to many cultural, scientific, artistic, and political concepts that are still relevant to this day.

It gave us democracy, theater, the Olympics, and so much more. Modern-day Greece doesn’t have the same power or influence, but the impact of Ancient Greece cannot be underestimated.

Greece is one of the most mountainous countries in all of Europe, with towering peaks and dramatic gorges – Mt. Olympus is its biggest and most famous peak, serving as the mythical home of the Ancient Greek gods.

It’s also famed for its vast collection of islands, with endless miles of sandy and rocky coastline for travelers to admire and enjoy.

Like Turkey, Greece offers a myriad of experiences for travelers. Many people come to admire the fascinating ruins left behind from the days of Ancient Rome, especially in and around the capital of Athens.

Others tour the Greek islands, basking on beaches and dipping their toes in the warm sea waters. Whether you want relaxation or excitement, you’ll find it all here.

The beach Agios Dimitrios of Alonissos island from drone view, Greece
iStock.com/Constantinos-Iliopoulos

Which Is Best For Activities?

There are lots of exciting and wonderful experiences to be found in both Turkey and Greece. Whether you’re into history, wildlife, culture, live entertainment, or outdoor adventures, these two countries can make your travel dreams come true.

But they do have a few key differences. Let’s take a look at the main activities in each country.

Turkey: The Activities

Many visitors to Turkey begin their adventure in Istanbul, and it’s no exaggeration to say that this is truly one of the most amazing cities of all.

This diverse, vibrant metropolis has so much history and actually straddles the border between Europe and Asia, boasting iconic buildings like the Hagia Sophia and inimitable experiences, like a walk around the Grand Bazaar.

Beyond Istanbul, Turkey has many more cities and urban areas worth checking out. There’s the historic Ottoman capital of Bursa, with its decorative Grand Mosque, the ancient holy city of Sanliurfa, and the bustling, buzzing hub of Izmir, where old and new combine.

The capital, Ankara, is a super spot to soak up the country’s culture, with many museums and a historic hilltop citadel.

Or, for a more relaxing, resort-style experience, visitors might prefer to head to Turkey’s picturesque coastal cities, like Antalya or Fethiye.

There, you can make the most of the country’s most beautiful beaches and warmest weather, sunbathing and relaxing or enjoying an array of water sports, like surfing and kayaking.

For history buffs, Turkey also has an excellent array of historic sites, like Ephesus, one of the biggest and best-preserved collections of Roman ruins, or the remains of the ancient city of Troy.

There are also otherworldly natural landmarks here, like Cappadocia, with its bizarre rock formations, and the so-called “Cotton Castle” of Pamukkale.

Lycian rock tombs carved out on the cliff at Dalyan, Turkey
iStock.com/Ozbalci

Greece: The Activities

Over in Greece, many travelers will want to visit the historic capital city of Athens. There, you can lose yourself in Ancient Greek history, touring iconic sites like the Acropolis hilltop citadel and ancient Parthenon temple, or admire the stunning collection of artifacts in the National Archaeological Museum.

It’s no secret that history is a big reason why so many people visit Greece, and there are many more ancient sites and ruins to uncover across the mainland and beyond.

Knossos, Europe’s oldest city, is a must-see, while Delphi has some of the best-preserved ruins, like its majestic Temple of Apollo, surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes.

For a different kind of experience, travelers can hop among the Greek islands.

Each island is unique, with party islands like Mykonos, romantic hotspots like Santorini, family-friendly resort havens like Corfu, and large, historic islands with their own unique cultures and cuisines that almost feel like entirely separate countries, like Rhodes and Crete.

For outdoor adventurers, Greece is also a fabulous destination. There are endless hiking trails along the mainland coast and across the islands, along with super mountain climbing spots, like Mt. Olympus.

Sailing among the islands and across the various seas is also a sublime way to spend time, with plenty of kayaking, cycling, and rock climbing opportunities, too.

Overall, Greece and Turkey share a lot of similar activities. They’re both terrific choices for fun in the sun, with lots of super beaches to relax on and vast natural areas.

However, there are some notable differences, as Greece is arguably the better choice for historical landmarks and experiences, while Turkey probably has more thrilling and fascinating cities to explore.

Aerial view of Chania with the amazing lighthouse, mosque, venetian shipyards, Crete, Greece.
iStock.com/gatsi

Which Is Better For Beaches? 

Turkey and Greece both have many miles of coastline – around 5,000 miles for Turkey and over 8,000 miles for Greece – with lots of beautiful sandy spots that easily rank among the finest beaches in the region.

But which destination is best for people who want to relax on the sand, stroll along the shore, or swim in the sea?

Turkey: The Beaches

Most of Turkey’s best beaches are situated on its southern coast, and there’s a nice mixture of options to suit all sorts of travelers, from busy sandy spots littered with sun loungers to more pristine pieces of coastline where you can watch the wonders of nature at work.

Iztuzu Beach, near Dalyan, is one of the very best places to go. Here, if you time your visit just right – July and August are the best months – you may witness freshly-hatched sea turtles taking their first little steps out to sea.

Patara Beach is another Turkish gem, running for many miles, with lots of space to cater to the large crowds that gather here each year. With white sands and fabulous surroundings, it’s a dreamy spot for sunbathing and surfing in summer.

The beaches of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast are typically more glamorous, offering easy access to the hotels, bars, and restaurants of cities like Antalya, like Mermerli and Konyaalti.

Visitors can also head further down the coast to find historic ruins beside the sandy shores in areas like Phaselis.

Ilıca Beach Drone Photo, Aegean Region Cesme, Izmir Turkey
iStock.com/semakokal

Greece: The Activities

With even more coastline than Turkey, Greece has more sandy spaces and picturesque shores to explore, especially among its plethora of paradise islands.

Indeed, the islands are usually the best places to go for a beach trip – the mainland has some nice spots, like Karidi in Halkidiki or Mylopotamos in Pelion, but the island sands tend to be even softer and prettier.

Crete is a super spot to choose for a Greek beach getaway, boasting some of the finest beaches in all of Europe, like the Caribbean-style Balos or the extraordinary islet of Elafonisi. Vai is another Cretan treasure, backing onto the biggest palm forest in Europe.

The Greek islands also have some unusual and quirky beaches. There’s the Red Beach of Santorini, for example, which almost looks like a Martian landscape with its red rocks and sands, or Saint Paul Beach on Rhodes, which sits beneath an ancient Acropolis.

Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Karpathos, and Lefkada are just some of the other Greek islands with beaches that can rival those of any other country on Earth. The sands are soft, the waters warm for large parts of the year, and the surroundings utterly sublime.

Overall, when it comes to beaches, Turkey has some terrific options, but it can’t quite keep up with Greece.

The Greek islands provide the ultimate beach getaway that so many people dream of, with mind-blowing views and powdery sands stretching on for miles.

Colorful panoramia of Oia town in Santorini, Greece
iStock.com/zoom-zoom

Which Is Better For Nightlife? 

If you like to stay out late, long after the sun has set, to drink in bars, mingle with locals, or dance the night away, you can find plenty of night-time fun in both Turkey and Greece.

Istanbul is a particularly super city for nightlife, with districts like Beyoglu filled up with taverns, cocktail bars, and dance clubs galore.

There are also luxury rooftop lounges in many of Turkey’s top cities, along with vibrant coastal resorts, like Marmaris, where the 18-30s dance and drink until the early hours.

Then, there’s Greece, home to some of Europe’s most legendary nightlife destinations, like Mykonos, where the party never ends.

There are plenty of other party islands here, like Ios, Paros, and Kos, along with massive nightlife hubs in Rhodes, Crete, and Athens. In short, Greeks love to party, and you’ll have no trouble finding bars and clubs in this country.

Overall, Greece just about edges ahead of Turkey in the nightlife department, thanks to its broader range of evening entertainment. Plus, there’s nothing in Turkey that can quite compete with Mykonos.

Multiracial friends having fun dancing together outdoor at beach party - Soft focus on left girl face
iStock.com/DisobeyArt

Which Is Better For Hiking & Outdoor Adventures? 

Greece and Turkey also have much to offer for those who like to spend time outdoors, hiking through forests, climbing mountains, or admiring the beauty of nature all around them.

Since both Greece and Turkey both have long coastlines, there are lots of lovely treks to try along the shores, giving you time to gaze out across the water and breathe in the fresh sea air as you make your way along the trails.

Both countries have mountainous areas too, along with some fantastic kayaking, surfing, and scuba diving spots. So, which is truly the best?

Well, it’s hard to call a direct winner in this category. Instead, it all depends on what kind of outdoor adventures and hikes you like the most.

Greece arguably has the more scenic trails with its many islands and long coasts, while Turkey offers more challenging treks among its vast mountains, ideal for seasoned hikers in search of a challenge.

Turkey also has some truly unique outdoor adventures to consider, like a hot air balloon ride over the Cappadoccia region, which is well-known around the globe for its cone-shaped rocks and deep canyons, or a trip to Pamukkale, with its stunning travertine terraces and thermal springs.

Greece also has some striking natural wonders of its own, like the breathtaking lake cave of Melissani, hiking haven of Samaria Gorge, and the mind-blowing Meteora region, which almost looks like it belongs on another planet. So, if you’re looking for unique experiences in nature, you’ll find plenty to choose from in both Turkey and Greece.

Overall, there’s no clear winner or loser here. Greece has the easier hikes and better water-based activities like sailing and snorkeling, while Turkey is superior for mountain climbing and long treks.

Traveler Women enjoying landscape from Porto Timoni viewpoint in Corfu.
iStock.com/Wirestock

Which Is Best For Shopping? 

Shopping is another super way to spend some time during your stay in either Turkey or Greece. Both countries have big cities with malls, markets, and boutique-lined streets. 

In Turkey, Istanbul is the ultimate shopping haven. Not only does it have plenty of designer stalls and malls, but it’s also home to some of Turkey’s most sensational markets, like the aromatic Spice Bazaar and centuries-old Grand Bazaar.

Markets are also commonplace in Turkey’s other big cities, and the prices are surprisingly low for handmade crafts and unique souvenirs.

Over in Greece, Athens and Thessaloniki are two terrific cities for shopping, with lots of stores selling everything you could hope to find.

Designer and luxury brand lovers will find lots to their taste on the glamorous islands, like Mykonos and Santorini, while antique seekers and those who like arts and crafts can find many super stores and artisans on Rhodes, Crete, and beyond.

All in all, there’s no obvious winner here. Turkey is the better choice for markets and bargain buys, while Greece is great for luxury shopping and crafts.

Shops in the Grand Bazaar, hanging lanterns and flags
iStock.com/Darkdiamond67

Which Has The Best Food? 

Food is perhaps the most subjective category of them all.

Some people will adore the light Mediterranean salads and spectacular seafood of Greece, while others might prefer the spicier menus on offer in Turkey.

Some of the best dishes to try in Greece include the delicious moussaka, made up of eggplants and minced meat in a creamy sauce, or the tapas-like mezze, made up of lots of little plates, snacks, dips, and mini salads, perfect to nibble on while looking out across the Aegean Sea from a seafront restaurant.

Mezze is big in Turkey too, along with kebabs, flatbreads, salads, and spicy stews.

In general, many travelers say that Turkish food tends to be richer and more filling overall, with more meat and bigger portions, while Greek cuisine is typically lighter and perhaps even a little healthier, with a big focus on salads and veggies.

Ultimately, you’ll eat well in both of these destinations, but it all depends on the kind of food you like the most. For the best kebabs on Earth, pick Turkey, for soothing salads with olives and feta cheese, opt for Greece.

Mediterranean dishes
iStock.com/los_angela

Which Is Safer? 

Both Turkey and Greece are classed as safe travel destinations in general, with very little crime involving tourists and travelers.

People are generally friendly and welcoming in these countries, and there are very low risks in general, particularly in the most popular touristic spots like the Greek islands, Athens, Istanbul, and the Turkish Riviera.

With that said, statistically, Greece is a little safer than Turkey. Not only that, but a larger percentage of Greeks speak English compared to Turks.

So, for travelers who only speak English, it should be simpler to find someone to talk to if you get lost or need assistance in Greece, as opposed to Turkey.

Scenic Klima village (traditional Greek village by the sea, the Cycladic-style) with sirmata - traditional fishermen's houses, Milos island, Cyclades, Greece.
iStock.com/Gatsi

Which Is Better For A Family Trip? 

Families can have happy vacations in both Turkey and Greece. However, depending on the age and preferences of your children, you may find that one of these countries is a little better-suited to your needs than the other.

Turkey is said to have more of a fast-paced style to it, especially in the cities like Istanbul and Izmir. It’s a good choice for active families who want to fit lots of activities and attractions into their trips, touring the Hagia Sophia one day and flying a hot air balloon the next.

However, it may be best for families with older kids who have the energy for such a fast-paced vacation.

Greece, meanwhile, is terrific for kids of pretty much any age. Little ones can marvel at the historic ruins of ancient temples and enjoy learning all about the mythology of the Ancient Greeks, or simply splash around and have fun on the island beaches.

The more relaxed and laid-back vibes of Greece may also appeal to parents in need of a restful getaway.

Overall, it all depends on what kind of experience you’re searching for. Greece is probably more appealing to the majority of families, especially those with very young children, but Turkey is a fine place for more active and energetic clans.

Family having fun outdoors on Greek streets
iStock.com/Travnikovstudio

Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons? 

For couples, the choice between Greece and Turkey is often a very tricky one to make. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter all that much which one you choose, as they’re both fabulous in their own ways, with lots of romantic spots, scenic landscapes, and fun things to do with a partner by your side.

In Turkey, couples can experience the “wow factor” of visiting places like the Lycian Rock Tombs or Cappadocia, feel the unbeatable buzz and hustle of Istanbul, or enjoy exciting activities like rock climbing and trekking along the coast or into the mountains.

It’s a top choice for active and energetic couples who want a diverse and lively travel itinerary.

Greece, meanwhile, is a haven for couples who love history, while also being more of a relaxing and chilled-out destination.

Couples might like to simply pick an island, or cluster of islands, and book a boutique hotel for a week or more of total relaxation. You and your partner can while away the hours on the beaches or explore the country’s quintessential whitewashed towns.

Overall, it’s all a question of taste. Active couples may find more to keep them busy in Turkey, while those seeking luxury, comfort, and beach-based fun will prefer Greece.

Full length shot of an affectionate young couple sharing an intimate moment at the beach
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Which Is Better For Backpackers? 

What about backpackers and budget-conscious explorers who want to see and do as much as possible during their stay without necessarily spending lots of money? Well, both Greece and Turkey have their benefits for backpacking adventurers.

The big advantage of Turkey is that it’s cheaper. Backpackers should therefore find it easier to get around and do everything they want to do without worrying about going over budget.

And with such a great range of exciting cities and magical natural places to explore, Turkey is a prime location for backpackers of all ages and tastes.

Greece is also a terrific location for backpacking. It’s a little trickier to find cheap accommodation, especially on some of the fancier islands, but there are multiple hostels in the big urban areas, like Athens.

But there are also plenty of extraordinary historic landmarks to visit and thrilling memories to be made.

Overall, for backpackers, Turkey may be the slightly better choice. It’s more budget-friendly, and it’s also easier to get around in general by buses, trains, and cars.

Meanwhile, with so much of Greece being spread out across the islands, tourists have to rely on boats and planes, which can be pricier and less accessible.

Happy woman tourist with backpack and greek flag travelling by the footpath in Greece
iStock.com/frantic00

Where To Stay According To Your Budget

Greece

Budget: Finding a gorgeous hotel complete with pool and seaviews on a budget is hard in Mykonos, but that’s exactly what Hotel Tagoo is. Not only that, it’s situated in a great location too. See photos and rates!

Luxury: Santorini is all about luxury and romance, and what sums that up more than your own suite complete with private pool and gorgeous sea views. That’s exactly what you’ll get at Aqua Luxury Suites where the service is world class as are the views. It doesn’t come cheap, but for a couple this place is hard to beat. See photos and rates!

Turkey

Budget: The lovely Hotel Empress Zoe is centrally located in Istanbul, close Hagia Sophia, and is decked up in traditional Turkish style. It’s photogenic, the staff are friendly, and the breakfast is very good. See photos and rates here!

Luxury: Lara Barut Collection-Ultra is one of the most luxurious resorts in Turkey, yet it’s still not one of the most expensive! This Antalya resort sits right on the beach, has gorgeous outdoor pools, 6 restaurants and even a Turkish spa. It’s the ultimate Turkish Rivera experience. See photos and rates!

beach holidays and travel, relaxation in luxurious hotel, young happy woman tourist resting near swimming pool
iStock.com/anyaberkut

Which Is Cheaper? 

Let’s also look at the average costs and most affordable option between Turkey and Greece. Of course, since there are lots of different places to stay in both of these countries, and many activities to enjoy, the costs of a trip to Turkey or Greece can vary wildly.

You could book a luxury stay at a fancy resort in Antalya, Turkey, for example, and pay less than a city break in Thessaloniki, Greece. Or, you could honeymoon in Santorini, Greece, for a much higher price than a getaway to Ankara, Turkey.

In other words, Greece can sometimes be more expensive than Turkey, and Turkey can sometimes be more expensive than Greece. It all depends on where, precisely, you choose to go and what you plan on doing there.

However, if we look at simple average costs, Turkey is definitely cheaper than Greece. The accommodation rates are usually lower in Turkey, and the cost of food is less, too. This means it’s generally easier to plan a budget-conscious adventure to Turkey, rather than Greece.

Kizil Kule tower in Alanya peninsula, Antalya district, Turkey, Asia. Famous tourist destination with high mountains. Part of ancient old Castle. Summer bright day
iStock.com/Oleg_P

Which Has The Best Weather?

Both Turkey and Greece are popular for their weather, with lots of high temperatures and pleasant, sunny days throughout the year.

In fact, when it comes to climate, these countries have quite a lot in common, with mostly dry and hot summers, comfortable spring and fall conditions, and cool winters.

However, conditions will naturally vary depending on which part of Greece or Turkey you choose to visit. Athens is warmer than Istanbul, for example, but Antalya in Turkey is even hotter still.

You can even find snow among the more mountainous areas of these countries, while the islands and coastal areas, especially in Greece, tend to be quite windy.

Overall, there’s no clear winner in the weather category, as both Greece and Turkey have similar weather for the most part, with idyllic conditions for typical vacation activities, like sunbathing and swimming.

Happy woman travels in Greece. Having fun at the stunning view on sea resort and old town of Lindos on the mountain
iStock.com/frantic00

Turkey vs Greece: Which Is The Better Choice?

Overall, no matter which country you decide to visit, you’re sure to have a terrific time in either Turkey or Greece.

They’ve both got everything that the average traveler could hope for, with rich cultural experiences, fascinating historic landmarks, some sublime natural spaces, and truly world-class beaches, too.

But when we look at the key categories throughout this guide, Greece just about takes the win.

Greece has the better beaches, livelier nightlife, and is arguably a more appealing destination for the average family, too. It’s a really exciting, diverse destination where you can enjoy everything from a romantic island escape to a deep dive into ancient history.

At the same time, Turkey is very competitive in many areas and offers plenty of experiences that are just as good as those in Greece.

Turkey is definitely the better place for big city action, with Istanbul being one of the most exciting places to spend a few days, and many travelers will also fall in love with its spectacular natural scenery. Plus, it’s slightly cheaper, so ideal for budget trips.

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