Land cover/use change information is a very important and useful source for planners in land use studies. Moreover, determination of land use potential by considering capability of the land and other characteristics provides an important data source for regional planning studies. Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are widely used for this purpose. This study aims to determine land use/cover changes in the Sivas city and its surroundings using Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems, and to create the land use potential map that shows the optimal land usage of the study area. Landsat satellite images from 1987 and 2002 were used to determine the changes and to follow the development of residential areas in the Sivas city. By revealing the existing environmental characteristics of the study area (topography, geology, soil, climate, hydrology), optimal land usage (settlement, agriculture, forest and meadow-range) was determined according to the data. The land use potential map of the study area was created using suitability maps for the optimal land usages. By assessing the land use/cover change information and optimal land usage together, it was determined that the city was developed in the northeast, south and southwest direction. The settlements were founded on the most appropriate areas from the agricultural point. As a result, suggestions for the appropriate land use in the Sivas city and surroundings were made for the future. (C) 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V.