10 Things to Know Before Visiting Turkey
Turkey is one of the best travel destinations in Europe with history, culture, cities, beaches and world famous tourists destinations. There are so many reasons you should want to visit this incredible country.
Turkey offers something to everyone, this country is located in Western Asia and Europe, to north it borders the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia.
Whether you fancy a short city break, a longer relaxing beach holiday or fancy going on an adventure, here are our top 10 important things to know before you go.
1. You Might Need a Visa
To enter Turkey, some nationalities are required to apply for a visa. You can find out more information online to see if this is a requirement for you. Visas can take a couple of weeks or longer to obtain, so don't leave this until the last minute. Before booking a trip also make sure your passport has six months validity from the date of entry into Turkey, or you may be refused entry. Be sure to purchase travel insurance too.
Are you wondering if you need any vaccinations to visit Turkey? Some vaccines are recommended including: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, and tetanus.
The official language of Turkey is Turkish, spoken by 90% of the population. There are also minority languages spoken include Kurdish, although this isn't recognised as an official language. We recommend learning at least some basic words and phrases before arriving, these are recommended:
- Hello - Merhaba
- Good morning - Günaydın
- Good evening - İyi akşamlar
- Good night - İyi geceler
- Goodbye - Allaha - ısmarladık
- How are you? - Nasılsınız?
- Thank you - Teşekkür ederim
- What is your name? - Adınız ne?
- My name is (Paul) - Adım (Paul)
4. Currency & Cost
The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira. There are lots of places to exchange cash, but to get the best rates you might want to do it before arriving. Once in Turkey you can get a better exchange rate by going to banks or currency shops, rather than at the airport.
Turkey is very cheap compared to some European countries like France, Italy and the UK, but some places like Istanbul are on the higher scale of prices with luxury restaurants and hotels. Food and accommodation is generally very affordable throughout Turkey. Be sure to always carry cash with you as not everywhere accepts card payments. Be prepared to barter for goods in shops and markets too.
How much to budget for really depends on how long you plan to stay for, the level of comfort and accommodation you want and also how much you want to see and do.
5. Airlines Flying to Turkey
Lots of International airlines fly to Turkey which is the fastest way to get to the country.
From United Kingdom these airlines fly direct: Turkish Airlines, Thomas Cook, easyJet, Pegasus, Jet2, TUI, British Airways, SunExpress and Atlasglobal. Lots of other airlines fly to Turkey from International destinations including KLM, Lufthansa, Emirates, Air Europa and Alitalia, just to name a few.
6. Is Turkey Safe for Tourists?
Turkey is a safe country to visit and you shouldn't encounter any specific problems when travelling here. It's always wise to be a little cautious though especially when visiting the larger cities with pretty crime a small problem. Generally Turkish people are very friendly and will greet you with smiles rather than any malice.
7. Weather & Best Time to Visit
The weather in Turkey is quite varied. The north has an oceanic climate, the south is influenced by the Mediterranean Sea and the interior regions have a continental climate where you can expect 4 seasons in a day. Summer is the most popular time to visit (June - September) but this is also the busiest and most expensive period. We recommend traveling outside the peak months and try to go either in spring or early fall where there are less tourists and prices are cheaper. The weather is still warm during these months. If you plan to visit Turkey in winter beware it can be cold.
8. Where to Go
With a population of around 80 million people and covering an area the size of 783,562 km², Turkey is a huge country and there are so many places you could visit. Where you go really depends on the type of experience you are looking for, you can choose beach, city, culture, adventure or mix all. There is the option to book everything independently, or you could check out Turkey tours if you fancy seeing the highlights with an experienced local guide.
Turkey's most popular cities with international tourists include Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and Ankara. Other popular places to consider visiting include Thrace/Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean and Cappadocia where you can see the amazing sight of hot air balloons filling the sky.
Some of the most stunning natural places to consider adding to your Turkey travel itinerary include Pamukkale Calcium Pools, Butterfly Valley, Patara, Antalya Waterfalls, Lake Van and Mount Nemrut.
Turkey is also blessed with lots of beautiful beaches, these are some of the best ones to check out:
- Kabak Beach, Fethiye
- Mermerli Beach, Antalya
- Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz
- Icmeler Beach, Marmaris
- Patara Beach, Gelemiş
- Cirali Beach, Cirali
- Kaputaş Beach, Kas
- Cleopatra Beach, Alanya
- Butterfly Valley, Ölüdeniz
- İztuzu Beach, Dalyan
Food in Turkey is delicious and there is so much variety available. From fish and kebab restaurants, to seafood and there are also lots of vegan and vegetarian options available with most dishes including yogurt, herbs, hummus and eggplant salad.
We recommend buying bottled water as opposed to drinking tap water, although tap water is safe to drink it does have a strong chlorine taste which has a bitter taste. Also be prepared to drink lots of cups of tea every day, Turkish people love tea and you will likely be offered tea in shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation.
Depending on where you are dress requirements are very different. In cities we recommend dressing formally and respectful of the local culture. At beach resorts most things go and standards are very liberal. At religious sites women will need to cover their heads.
Turkey really is an amazing cultural destination offering so much to tourists. Be open minded to the places, people and culture and you should enjoy a really fascinating break away.
If you have any tips or things people should be aware of when travelling to Turkey let us know in the comments section below.