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Turkey Travel Guide

Turkey just may be the ultimate holiday destination. In one thrilling, sun-kissed package tourists can discover perfect beaches, ancient ruins, epic religious sites, wonderful food, glorious scenery, and a warm welcome from the famously friendly local people.

Turkey includes tremendous variety in its vast borders: the west and east coast beach resorts offer pristine beaches and gorgeous turquoise-coloured waters, while to the west of the land are the rugged mountains of the Anatolian plateau, with its ancient cities and vibrant tribal cultures.

Turkey's variety is best experienced in the glorious city of Istanbul, straddling two continents across the Bosphorous, and with Ottoman mosques and palaces, Roman ruins and glorious Byzantine churches interspersed with cutting edge nightlife, retail stores and modern developments.

It's easy to get seduced by the picture perfect resorts of Oludeniz, Bodrum and Marmaris, but Turkey has plenty of other world-class attractions. Top draws include Cappadocia's famed rock-hewn houses and churches, set amid a lunar-esque landscape; Gallipoli, a emotionally moving WWI site; the astounding ancient cities of Ephesus and Pergammon; and the thermal waters of Pamukkale.

Turkey offers a curious and exciting mix of ancient and modern; east and west; secular and pious, and visitors seldom find one trip enough.

Best time to visit Turkey

Turkey is best visited during the periods April to June and September to October, when the weather is warm without being too hot, and the bulk of the summer tourist rush is over. Istanbul has mostly mild weather and can be visited year-round. The busiest times are July and August, in addition to early September. Bear in mind that during this time beaches and attractions are at their most crowded and prices at their highest.

What to see in Turkey

-The colour turquoise was named for the luscious blue-shaded ocean of the Turkish west coast.

-Visit ancient Troy, and get bonus views over the Dardanelles and the hills of Gallipoli.

-Ancient Ephesus ranks as one of the world's greatest historical sites and is a better preserved Roman ruin that any found in Italy.

-The Blue Mosque is a global symbol of Istanbul and is famed for its elegant dome and minarets.

-Explore the riches of Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul; then buy some treasures of your own at the famed Grand Bazaar.

What to do in Turkey

-Go hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia's unique landscape at sunset.

-Visit the 'land of beautiful horses' and give horseback riding a try.

-Taste kebab, kofta, and strong coffee in a traditional cafe.

-Try yachting along the Turkish Riviera.

Holiday Resorts in Turkey

Turkey has many popular resorts for sun-seekers looking for the perfect beach holiday. Each resort has its own character, varying from lively nightlife to laidback and secluded, and from singles' heaven to family-friendly holiday.

Getting to Turkey

There are direct, cheap flights to Turkey from most European hubs, including multiple, daily departures from London and US eastern seaboard airports.


Novelists, Orhan Pamuk and Jenny White. Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.


Midnight Express (1978), Topkapi (1964), Gallipoli (1981), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).


Shish kebabs, pide, meze platters, and dolmades.


Raki (an anise-flavoured spirit), strong Turkish coffee, and sahlep (a hot and creamy winter beverage).

What to buy

Turkish carpets and kilims, inlaid woodcrafts, shisha pipes, and ceramic tiles.

What to pack

A jumper or light jacket is useful for the evenings. Clothes are particularly good value in Turkey so leave some room in the suitcase and stock up before returning home.

What's on in Turkey

Experience cutting edge contemporary art Contemporary Istanbul. Witness or particpate in the Bosphorous Swim.

Did you know?

-The world's first church is St. Peter's found in Antioch (Antakya).

-The town of Harran has been continuously inhabited for 6000 years.

-Istanbul is located on two continents.

A final word

Turkey is a fascinating, beguiling country which bridges a gap between Europe and the Middle East. It is bursting at the seams with historical riches, natural beauty, and sunny beaches.


Turkish is the official language, but English is widely understood in the main tourist areas.


The official currency is the Turkish lira (TRY), which is divided into 100 kurus. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange booths, post offices, airports, and ferry ports. Travellers should note that banks have the worst rates but will exchange lesser known foreign currencies. Banks open mainly Monday to Friday, but some are open daily in tourist areas. Major credit cards are widely accepted; the most popular are Visa or MasterCard, but American Express is also accepted in some areas. Some hotels in the most popular destinations accept US dollars as payment.


220 volts AC, 50Hz. The European two-pin plug is standard.


Tipping is a way of life in Turkey and it is customary to give some small change for most services, or a small percent of the bill. In bigger hotels and restaurants if a service charge is not added to the bill, it is customary to tip between 10 and 15 percent. For taxi fares it is enough to round up the bill. Attendants at Turkish baths expect to share between 10 to 20 percent of the total bill if service has been good.


Street crime is low, but visitors should guard their valuables at all times. They should also avoid any public demonstrations and remember that many parts of Turkey lie on a major seismic fault line and are subject to earthquakes and tremors. As in many Western countries, there is a threat from terrorism in Turkey and there have been a number of incidents, including explosions in Istanbul, the capital Ankara, and in the coastal tourist resorts. The Istanbul Ataturk International Airport has been the most recent target. There are also continuing incidents of local terrorism in eastern Turkey, particularly the southeast.


The international country dialling code for Turkey is +90. WiFi is increasingly easily available, and visitors can purchase local prepaid SIM cards for unlocked phones.


There are no vaccination requirements for travelling to Turkey other than that everyone 12 years of age and older should get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before visiting. Mosquitoes can be an irritation in mid-summer but malaria is not considered a risk in the main tourist areas of the west and south-west. Most tap water in the larger towns and cities has been chlorinated, but bottled water is still recommended for drinking. Food from street vendors should be treated with caution unless it is obviously fresh or hot. The standard of healthcare is not high in state hospitals but the private health sector is well-regarded, and modern facilities exist in private hospitals in Ankara and Istanbul. Travel insurance is recommended.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
National Sovereignty and Children's Day23 Apr23 Apr
May Day1 May1 May
Commemoration of Atatürk19 May19 May
Victory Day30 Aug30 Aug
Ramadan24 May14 May
Republic Day29 Oct29 Oct
Feast of the Sacrifice31 Jul20 Jul


In Turkey, business associates are addressed by their first names. If the associate is male, then his name is followed by 'bey', and 'hanim' is used for females. A formal, conservative dress code is observed in Turkey, and women should be careful to dress particularly conservatively. Gifts are common and are usually something the associate would use in business such as a pen or other office stationary. Business hours throughout Turkey are generally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken over lunch.

Passport & Visa

All passports must be valid for at least the period of stay. All travellers to Turkey are required to hold return or onward tickets, documents for the next destination and sufficient funds for the period of their stay. It is highly recommended that travellers' passports have at least six months' validity remaining after the intended date of departure from their travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


While it is difficult to make sweeping statements about a country that runs from Armenia to Greece, the Turkish people are generally welcoming and hospitable. Most visitors will stay in modern Istanbul or in one of the popular holiday resorts, where locals are likely to be fairly open-minded; however, tourists should respect religious customs, particularly during the month of Ramadan. Visitors should dress modestly when visiting mosques or religious shrines; there is a smoking ban on all forms of public transport and in outdoor venues.

Duty Free

Travellers to Turkey do not have to pay duty on the following items: 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 200g tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol over 22 percent volume or 2 litres under 22 percent volume; 120 ml of perfume or eau-de-cologne; and 1,5 km of (instant) coffee and 500g of tea.


Turkish Tourist Office: +90 212 573 4136 (Istanbul) or

112 (Medical Emergency), 155 (Police).

Entry Requirements

US passport holders must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond date of entry. A visa is required.

Passports should be valid for at least 6 months from the entry date. British nationals need a visa to enter Turkey.

Passports must be valid for at least 60 days beyond the duration of stay. Canadian nationals require visas to enter Turkey.

South African passports must be valid for at least six months from the intended date of arrival. South African nationals require a visa to enter Turkey.

Irish nationals require a visa to enter Turkey. Passports must be valid for at least six months longer than the expiry date on the requested visa.

New Zealand nationals require a visa to enter Turkey. Passports must be valid for at least six months longer than the expiry date on the requested visa. Visas are required for stays longer than 90 days.

Embassy Consulates

United States Consulate General, Istanbul: +90 212 335 9000.

British Embassy, Ankara: +90 312 455 3344.

Canadian Embassy, Ankara: +90 312 409 2700.

South African Embassy, Ankara: +90 312 405 6861.

Irish Embassy, Ankara: +90 312 459 1000.

New Zealand Embassy, Ankara: +90 312 446 3333.

Embassy Consulates

Turkish Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 612 6700.

Turkish Consulate, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7391 6900.

Turkish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 4044.

Turkish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 6055.

Turkish Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 668 5240.

Turkish Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 472 1290.


Turkey is a varied destination with plenty to see and do for adventurous travellers. The largest city of Istanbul features some unique and world-class sights such as the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, not to mention the shopping paradise of the Grand Bazaar, the largest and oldest covered market in the world.

Further afield travellers can find the ancient attractions of Ephesus, Troy, and Augustus' Temple. Turkey is a year-round destination although it's at its hottest during the peak summer months of July and August. Getting around the country is a simple matter of hopping on a short-haul flight or scheduled bus service while, in Istanbul, travellers can negotiate the services of a taxi driver.


The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey have very hot and dry summers. Winters, between October and April, are mild and wet, and Turkey's coastal towns more or less shut down. Winter in Istanbul and Cappadocia can be very cold, sometimes with light snow cover.

The peak tourist season is during high summer, roughly between July and September, and this is the ideal time for a beach holiday in Turkey. The spring and autumn months are also a good time to to visit, with warm days, cool evenings, and no mosquitos. Eastern Turkey should be visited during summer as roads and mountain passes may close due to winter ice and snow.

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