+90.384.341.40.44 Monday - Friday: 09:00 - 18:00 (GMT+3) / Saturday - Sunday: CLOSED

All About Turkey

Step by step guide to plan your dream trip

Local Time (GMT+3)

Population
83,836.040

Capital
Ankara

Currency (₺)
Turkish Lira: TRY or TL

Turkey is a unique country that offers thousands of years of history, some of the most delicious recipes that have been cooked for centuries, people with extravagant hospitality, hundreds of unspoiled blue flag beaches, maybe the top qualified tourism employees on the planet, and the list goes on…

Once you blend these elements, it is nearly impossible to have a bad trip! However, first-time travelers often leave their country with questions and worries in mind about how it will be alike.

This is exactly why we created this page: to be a bit of better help to let you make the most of it; here, we prepared a complete guide that you can follow step by step to plan your dream trip. Read on to learn more about this beautiful country and the beauty it holds for visitors of different ages and interests.

Concierge Pin

Planning a trip to Turkey soon? Answer this trip planner and get your FREE quotation within 24 hours.

Turkey is a unique country that offers thousands of years of history, some of the most delicious recipes that have been cooked for centuries, people with extravagant hospitality, hundreds of unspoiled blue flag beaches, maybe the top qualified tourism employees on the planet, and the list goes on…

Once you blend these elements, it is nearly impossible to have a bad trip! However, first-time travelers often leave their country with questions and worries in mind about how it will be alike.

This is exactly why we created this page: to be a bit of better help to let you make the most of it; here, we prepared a complete guide that you can follow step by step to plan your dream trip. Read on to learn more about this beautiful country and the beauty it holds for visitors of different ages and interests.

Concierge Pin

Planning a trip to Turkey soon? Answer this trip planner and get your FREE quotation within 24 hours.

1. Get to Know

The word “Turkey” has been used and recorded in diplomatic archives since the 13th century. The Old French word Turchia meaning “the land of the Turks” was formerly used by the Europeans to name Magyars (Uralic-Ugric-Turkic tribes), which later on was adopted by the Anatolian Peninsula. After the declaration of the republic, the name was then officially transformed into The Republic of Turkey.

What was Turkey called before it became Turkey?

Turkey (the land of the Turks) was known as the Ottoman Empire from the 1300s to 1922 when the capital city of it was Istanbul (prev. Constantinople), and the republic was officially proclaimed on 29th October 1923 in the new capital city of Ankara.

Turkey Europe Map
Turkey Asia Map

Geographical Location

The Republic of Turkey is a vast country spread over a surface area of 814,578 kilometer square (314,500 square miles) with a coastline with a beautiful coastline of 8333 km (5178 miles). Since Turkey is more of a transcontinental country; it is located in both the continents of Europe and Asia. The absolute location of the country is at latitude 38.9637451, and longitude 35.2433205, where only %3 is in Europe (Thrace), and the remaining %97 is in Asia at a large peninsula called Anatolian Plateau.

Stretching from the beautiful Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe to the historical Anatolia in Western Asia, Turkey borders Georgia and Armenia on the northeast, Azerbaijan, and Iran on the east, Iraq, and Syria on the southeast, Bulgaria and Greece on the northwest.

The Beautiful Landscape

Turkey is majorly a mountainous country, and the Asian side of the country; high plateaus of Anatolia is somewhat confined to the coastal edges. Around %20 of the surface has an elevation above 4.000 feet (1.200 meters), while %40 lies below 1.500 feet (460 meters).

The Koroglu and Pontic mountain ranges surround the northern part of the country, and the Taurus Mountains lie through the southern region. The highest peaks exceeding 7.500 feet (2.300 meters) are instead in the Eastern part of Turkey bordering Armenia and Iran. Mount Ararat (16.945 feet or 5.165 meters) remains as the highest mountain of Turkey.

In the southeast, Uludoruk reaching 15.563 feet (4.744 meters), Demirkazik Peak 12.320 feet (3.755 meters), and Mount Aydos 11.414 feet (3.479 meters) are the next highest peaks of the country.

The European area is surrounded by Thrace plane and Strandzha mountain, separated by Anatolia (Asia Minor) by the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Bosphorus Strait, Dardanelles Strait, and the Aegean Sea on the west.

Regions of Turkey

Turkey is divided into seven geographical regions considering each region’s topography, climate, location, flora & fauna, agriculture, and some other factors. These are; Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia, Central Anatolia, Black Sea, Marmara, Mediterranean, and Aegean.

Local Time

Time in Turkey had been standard since 1910, Eastern European Time (EET), and observed Daylight Saving Time (DST) until 2016. Today, Turkey observes Turkey Time (TRT) year-round, which is always 3 hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Climate of Turkey

Bordering all these beautiful neighbors with different mountain ranges and climate, Turkey also enjoys different weather conditions in each region, some of which also have a shore of different seas. So, it is hard to make a fixed list for average temperatures for the country as a whole.

Still, if it is to summarize or generalize regions; since Marmara and Aegean regions enjoy the Mediterranean climate while Central Anatolia enjoys a desert climate. Eastern Turkey has sunny summers, and some cities are similar to Central Anatolia for its cold winter.

Northwest of Turkey (Marmara Region)

The inland sea that divides Asia and Europe (home to the largest city of Istanbul) is a beautiful connection between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. Due to this beautiful location, the area enjoys a continental climate that can be considered as the chillier days of the Mediterranean.

Western Turkey (Aegean Region)

Covering %11 of the country; the Aegean Region enjoys a lush spring, hot and humid summers, warm autumns and mild winters. With such soft weather conditions, this region allows you to enjoy the area throughout the year.

Southern Turkey (Mediterranean Coast)

If you are heading further down to the south along the coast, the Mediterranean climate will take over with its natural weather conditions of pretty hot summers with mild and rainy winters. Antalya, located in the center of the coastline, is home to some crystal clear beaches and is the most visited destination of the region.

Central Turkey (Anatolia)

Except for some cities, the majority of the region has pretty cold winters and continental climate in both summer and winter. The temperature changes between day and night drastically, and unlike other areas of the country, the inland is less foresty. It does not support the vegetation growth as also the moist air from any coastal areas gets blocked by the mountains.

Northern Turkey (Black Sea)

The beautiful 1700 km of coastline is pretty fertile with a humidity of %72, which might confuse one before traveling there. It is better to check the latest updates before packing. The year-round rainfall is higher than anywhere else, reaching up to 780 mm some years. So, the best time to visit the area is inevitably summer when it is the peak time for tourism. If you don’t like crowds like many of our guests, then it might be ideal for keeping in touch and seeing if the weather conditions are good enough to visit in late Spring or early Autumn.

Eastern & Southeastern (Anatolia)

Both regions have almost similar temperatures with an average of -13 Celcius degrees during harsh winters with heavy snow and 17 Celcius degrees of hot, dry summers. Several dam projects to help with the irrigation changed the climate a bit, but still protecting its main character. The highest temperatures experiences were around -43 Celcius degrees in winter and approximately 46 Celcius degrees over the banks of the beautiful rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

Average Monthly Temperatures

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 6 43 100 14
Ankara -1 30 60 6
Cappadocia -3 27 30 10
Ephesus 8 46 126 12
Pamukkale 3 37 112 10
Antalya 10 50 180 11
Bodrum 12 53 73 10
Trabzon 7 45 90 13
Erzurum -7 19 29 11
Gaziantep 3 38 98 12
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 6 43 70 12
Ankara 1 34 40 6
Cappadocia -1 30 27 9
Ephesus 9 48 95 11
Pamukkale 4 39 84 8
Antalya 11 51 130 10
Bodrum 12 53 70 8
Trabzon 7 45 66 12
Erzurum -6 22 33 11
Gaziantep 5 40 79 12
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 8 46 50 13
Ankara 5 41 30 9
Cappadocia 5 41 33 12
Ephesus 11 52 77 10
Pamukkale 6 43 76 7
Antalya 13 55 80 9
Bodrum 6 43 64 6
Trabzon 8 47 58 14
Erzurum -1 30 42 13
Gaziantep 8 47 79 13
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 12 54 60 11
Ankara 10 50 60 12
Cappadocia 10 50 48 13
Ephesus 15 59 47 9
Pamukkale 10 50 43 5
Antalya 16 60 80 8
Bodrum 17 63 30 6
Trabzon 12 53 56 15
Erzurum 5 42 62 15
Gaziantep 13 56 51 13
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 16 61 40 9
Ankara 13 55 50 12
Cappadocia 14 57 48 10
Ephesus 19 66 29 6
Pamukkale 14 57 33 4
Antalya 20 68 20 6
Bodrum 21 70 12 5
Trabzon 15 60 58 13
Erzurum 10 50 77 17
Gaziantep 18 65 31 11
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 22 72 30 6
Ankara 17 63 40 9
Cappadocia 17 63 33 8
Ephesus 24 75 11 4
Pamukkale 19 66 15 2
Antalya 25 76 10 3
Bodrum 25 77 14 1
Trabzon 20 67 57 11
Erzurum 14 57 49 11
Gaziantep 24 75 6 3
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 24 75 30 3
Ankara 20 68 20 5
Cappadocia 20 68 6 3
Ephesus 26 79 6 7
Pamukkale 21 70 5 0
Antalya 28 82 10 1
Bodrum 29 83 10 3
Trabzon 22 72 42 8
Erzurum 18 65 24 7
Gaziantep 28 82 1 1
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 24 75 20 4
Ankara 20 68 10 4
Cappadocia 20 68 7 3
Ephesus 26 79 5 6
Pamukkale 21 70 5 1
Antalya 6 43 10 1
Bodrum 28 82 10 1
Trabzon 22 72 57 9
Erzurum 18 65 17 6
Gaziantep 28 82 2 0
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 21 70 50 8
Ankara 17 63 20 5
Cappadocia 17 63 6 5
Ephesus 23 73 15 5
Pamukkale 18 64 20 2
Antalya 25 76 10 2
Bodrum 26 78 10 1
Trabzon 20 67 85 9
Erzurum 14 58 20 5
Gaziantep 24 75 3 4
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 16 61 60 10
Ankara 11 52 30 8
Cappadocia 11 52 30 9
Ephesus 18 64 41 6
Pamukkale 13 55 53 4
Antalya 20 68 90 6
Bodrum 21 69 30 4
Trabzon 16 60 120 13
Erzurum 8 47 48 10
Gaziantep 17 63 32 9
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 12 54 100 13
Ankara 5 41 40 9
Cappadocia 5 41 36 7
Ephesus 14 57 84 9
Pamukkale 9 50 84 6
Antalya 15 58 180 8
Bodrum 16 60 79 7
Trabzon 13 55 109 12
Erzurum 2 35 44 9
Gaziantep 10 51 56 7
Destination ☀ °C ☀ °F ☂ (mm) ☂ Days
Istanbul 8 46 100 17
Ankara 1 34 50 9
Cappadocia 0 32 27 10
Ephesus 10 50 144 13
Pamukkale 5 41 122 10
Antalya 12 53 210 12
Bodrum 13 55 108 10
Trabzon 9 49 93 13
Erzurum -4 25 31 11
Gaziantep 6 42 95 11

Flora & Fauna

If you are after a wildflower or birdwatching tour, or you are a nature lover, Turkey should definitely be on your list, too!

The country’s unique landscapes immediately reveal its richness in flora, home to more than 19,000 invertebrate species, of which 4,000 are endemic to Turkey, which means you will not see them anywhere else in the world.

The richness in fauna is even more sweeping than its flora. While the number of species throughout Europe is around 60,000, Turkey alone has 80,000 species, and if we count subspecies, this number will rise to over 100,000.

Rivers

Turkey has numerous water sources around the entire country, thanks to its diverse geography and landscape. Two of the most important historical and biblical rivers are called Euphrates and Tigris. The Euphrates is the longest river, originating in the Armenian Highlands of eastern Turkey, and the Tigris defines Mesopotamia, originating in Lake Hazer. The two rivers eventually join, emptying into the Persian Gulf in an area named Shatt Al-Arab.

Another great river is Kizilirmak (ancient: Halys or today Red River) is the longest river that flows only within the country.

River Length (km) Drainage (km²) Outflow
Euphrates River 2800 500,000 Shatt-Al-Arab
Tigris River 1850 375,000 Shatt-Al-Arab
Kizilirmak (Red River) 1182 78,000 Black Sea
Aras River 1072 102,000 Kura
Sakarya River 824 56,000 Black Sea
Kura River 1515 198,300 Caspian Sea
Buyuk Menderes (Meander) 548 24976 Aegean Sea
Asi (Orontes) River 571 23,000 Mediterranean
Seyhan River 560 20,600 Mediterranean
Meric (Maritsa) River 480 53,000 Aegean Sea

Lakes

Among numerous freshwater lakes, there are also few with salty water or some formed as crater lakes. The largest natural one is called “Lake Van” located in eastern Turkey and known for its Akdamar Island, Van Cat, and Tushpa, the Urartians’ ancient capital.

Salt Lake (Tuz Golu) is another great visit: the biggest salt lake and the main source for more than 65% of the country’s salt.

Check this post for the most beautiful lakes in Turkey to see if your trip is en route to any of them.

Animals

Historically, Anatolia has been the main homeland of various endangered species such as Eurasian brown bear, black vulture, wild boars, Anatolian leopard, mouflon, loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta Caretta), mountain goats, Mediterranean monk seal, Northern bald Ibis, chevrotain, gray wolf, Eurasian lynx, caracal, and over 400 species of birds.

Turkey’s national animal is the gray wolf, which symbolizes the independence in the ancient Turkish culture. In contrast, the cats of Istanbul, Kangal (shepherd dog), Turkish Angora (national cat), and Van Cat are other special Turkish species animal adored internationally.

Economy

Turkey has a free-market economic system driven by the industry, agriculture, service sectors, and textile products. Since the Republic’s earlier years, agriculture made %75 of the GDP, while today’s percentages are: agriculture: 10%, industry: 25%, services: 65% (est. 2021).

GDP per capita has grown rapidly until 2013, recorded at $12,614, but since then, it kept dropping and estimated as less than $8000 today (est. 2021).

The minimum wage is TRY 2,825, while the hunger limit was recorded as 2,516 TRY, and the poverty line is around 8,197 TRY (est. 2021).

Tourism has been one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing sectors in the country, sustaining 8% of the employment (around 3 million people) that directly supports more than 60 other sectors.

Resources

The natural resources include antimony, mercury, gold, iron, copper, coal, chromium, borate feldspar, celestite, magnesite, marble, perlite, emery, barite, pyrites, clay, limestone, and pumice.

Agriculture

Turkey is a renowned producer of wheat, sugar, tomato, barley, potato, grapes, maize, watermelon, and apple. Apricot, cherries, hazelnuts, fig, quince, and poppy seed are among the most produced agricultural goods.

Industry

Turkey’s main industries include machinery, tourism, textile, electronics, construction, shipbuilding, mining, and food processing.

Istanbul is the largest city employing 35% of the country’s industrial labor population, producing cotton, silk, olive oil, tobacco, leather, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, glass, automotive, paper, and its related products in addition to the major assets noted above.

Trades

Turkey exports $175 billion worth of goods annually and is currently ranked the world’s 26th largest economy. With the annual imports of $202 billion, it has a negative trade balance of -$27 billion.

Top exports: vehicles & vehicle parts, machinery, iron, steel, clothing & accessories, jewelry, petroleum, and plastic

Major trading partner countries for exports: Germany, the UK, Italy, Iraq, and the USA

Top imports: vehicles & vehicle parts, broadcasting equipment, propylene polymers, refined petroleum, medicaments, gold, coal briquettes, and scrap iron

Major trading partner countries for imports: Russia, China, Germany, and the USA

Government and Politics

Turkey has a parliamentary political system of government based on the separation of constitutional powers. Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers, selected by the President, and the legislative power is vested in the Grand National Assembly (TBMM or Parliament). The judiciary consists of constitutionally independent institutions that are responsible for assuring the implementation of the law.

For the first time in history, a constitutional referendum throughout Turkey was held on 16 April 2017 to replace the traditional system with the presidential system raising the seats in Parliament to 600 and allowing more power for the executive presidency.

Education System

The Turkish education system is divided into three levels of 12-year compulsory education. The first level is a four-year primary school (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades), the second level is a four-year secondary school (5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade), and the third level is a four-year high school (9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade).

People

The Turkish population consists of Yoruk (Nomads), Native Turks, Tahtaci Turkmen Alawis, Chepni (Alawi), Cretan Turks, Balkan Turks, and Lesbos Turks. Other ethnic groups are Pomaks, Bosnian, Albanian, Circassian, and Kurdish. Except for Kurds, all ethnic groups are indigenous.

According to Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution: Turkish Citizenship is defined as “everyone bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship is a Turk.”

Ethnicity ratios are 80% Turks, 13% Kurdish, 2% Arab, and 2% Circassian. The remaining 3% are Bosnian, Albanian, and other ethnic groups.

Also, read this epic story of Turkish origins in Central Asia.

Language

Turkish is a member of the Altaic branch of the Ural-Altaic linguistic family, which also covers Finnish and Hungarian languages. Turkish is the official language of Turkey spoken by more than 90 million people, majorly in Turkey by 85-90% of the population as their mother tongue. Followed by North Cyprus, Germany, Bulgaria, USA, Uzbekistan, and other countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania, Greece, and Iraq as a minority language.

The other Turkic languages closely related include Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Turkmen, Uighur, Uzbek, and many others are spoken around the Balkans across Central Asia, northwest of China, and the south of Siberia.

Kurdish, Zazaki, Arabic, Kurmanji, Laz, Circassian, Armenian, Caucasian, Greek, Jewish, Coptic, and some other minority languages are also spoken in Turkey.

Finally, English is a primary foreign language of which education is officially starting from primary school. So, don’t be surprised if you see kids around you trying to practice their English in a shy manner. Almost any tourism employee, street vendors, taxis, and many other people speak English, some with a greater level, but majorly basic.

Customs, Culture and Traditions

Turkish people are well-known for being remarkably generous, kind, and hospitable. If you are invited into a local house by your Turkish friend to meet his/her family, follow some of these extra bonuses to win the hearts as a first impression.

  • Take your shoes off while going into a house. Turkish people like their home clean and the majority leave their shoes off at the entrance.
  • If possible, buy a little gift, be it a box of chocolate, baklava, or anything specific to your home country.
  • If you are traveling on public transportation, it is common to offer seats for the elder, a woman traveling with an infant or child, or a pregnant woman. Use common sense, as this is something that should be done in any country actually.
  • Turkish people like to greet each other, shake hands, hug, and kiss on the cheeks if with closer friends. Don’t be surprised when you happen to experience a lesser personal space, as this is one of the best ways we express our love and respect to each other.
  • If you are having an official meeting or job interview, it is important to be punctual. But, if it is a social event, meeting at a cafe or somewhere with no time restrictions, don’t expect a Turk to be there at the exact time or don’t feel bad if you are 10 minutes late.
  • Pointing your finger at someone is considered rude, but if you really need to point to someone, you can describe his/her apparel.
  • Direct eye contact with the same sex is expected; however, it might be misunderstood when it is the opposite sex. This is not the case for most places, but rural areas still follow this rule.
  • Kissing in public is something you would avoid in rural areas, but it is ok and not uncommon in big cities.
  • Sitting properly is a good sign of showing respect to others. For exp. when you put your feet up while sitting, follow your usual etiquette of a modern gentleman/lady.
  • During Ramadan, avoid eating and drinking in small cities and towns. If in doubt, follow other tourists/locals before taking action, and you should be fine.
  • As you might know, Turkish tea is drunk throughout the day, and you will be offered to join this custom pretty often, visiting places. If you are not used to drinking so much tea, you can kindly lay your spoon across the glass to say, “thank you, no more.” Otherwise, you have a higher chance of getting another glass without being asked.
  • Blowing your nose, picking your teeth during a meal is considered rude.
  • Finally, if you are about to leave a place and say goodbye to hosts after a day or more staying, they might traditionally pour a big cup of water behind your vehicle, which means “go and come back soon and smooth like water”.

All in all, you are not expected to follow any of these customs or traditions. Still, it is always good to know a few Turkish words, follow some of the public traditions of many years as it will always make people smile and teach you some other tricks to make you feel even more Turkish.

Turkish Superstitions

With centuries of history and passed to the next generations from the ancestors, the modern Turkish culture still follows some of its most amazing superstitions.

From seeing a black cat to a broken mirror, walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors, handing a knife or scissors to someone, cutting your nails in the late evening are all signs of bad luck.

However, there are many good luck signs as well; the most popular one as one of the major items that Turkey is famous for is the “evil eye” amulets. Hanging an evil eye inside the house, in your car, or attaching a tiny little one on a new-born baby will protect it from the bad eye, and it is indirectly considered as good luck.

Social Roles of Men and Women

Coming from a cult of the mother goddess dated back as early as 6000 BCE, women have been highly respected in these lands of Anatolia. However, this did not last for a long time when the Roman Empire drew strict lines for women’s role in society. The same continued until pre-Republic times until the reforms of Ataturk included better roles and more equality.

Nonetheless, even the super-effective reforms of Ataturk — such as the right to vote and run for elected office, which was in 1934, meaning far more ahead of Europe — most previous generations were raised by a man-dominant culture.

Today, it is far better than history, but in rural areas, the man is still considered the chief, while the woman is in charge of operating the housework, taking care of the farm, animals, and the children.

Marriage

In Turkey, the only legal marriage is a civil ceremony that every Turkish citizen has the right to get married at age 18. At the same time, some couples also get married in a religious ceremony led by an Imam, which does not take longer than 10 minutes. However, this is not counted as a legal marriage again, rather done traditionally.

The process is pretty long, yet if it is to summarize, the first step to marriage is to get permission from the parents, which can be described as a pre-engagement. The groom’s family gets invited for a Turkish Coffee to meet in person at the bride’s house. Since each parent gets notified before this event, the couple will get the approval, kiss the elders’ hands to congratulate each other, and wear the pre-engagement rings.

If this first event is completed with success, families will agree on an engagement and wedding date, and the rush for arrangements, shopping, and invitation will start and never stops till the wedding day.

While each geographical region has different customs and traditions, hosting a wedding is a serious business for Turkish parents. And it should be performed without any glitch in the most honorable way.

Family Life

The average number of households in Turkey is around 4.3 persons in big cities, mostly 4 members, while in rural areas, it can be 5 or more. Around 5% are single-person households, while more than 25% of the households have 5 or more family members.

Some of these beautiful big mansions (konak) that you will see throughout your trip were turned into hotels or restaurants today used to hold 8 or more family members living mostly 3 generations. But eventually, the nuclear family with the rise of industrialization and urbanization displaced the traditional families.

Food

From olive-oil based dishes of the Meditteranean and Aegean coasts to pasta-based pastries in Central Anatolia and the best meat in its Eastern region, Turkey is a haven for foodies.

Turkey is well-known for its doner kebab and other kebab types, but there is more than that for any food lover. Thanks to its geography, you can grow and consume almost anything freshly.

Cuisine

Listed in the top 5 cuisines in the world, Turkish Cuisine gained its richness thanks to the vast geography, different climates, soil types and other conditions that Turks has experienced for centuries.

Desserts & Sweets

Don’t be surprised to see giant cooking pots when visiting the sumptuous Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The Ottoman Sultans loved desserts that are sweetened with syrup or honey.

Dessert culture is still shared today as a social ritual among friends and families when they get together for a cup of Turkish coffee or tea.

The Turkish saying “Tatli yiyelim, tatli konusalim” meaning “let’s eat sweet and talk sweet” perfectly fits this culture.

Turkish Baklava

Turkish Baklava is one of these desserts, made with dough (phyllo) super-thin layered with pistachios or walnuts in between, butter, baked, and then dressed with boiled syrup. Once cooled enough and syrup is soaked by these 30 to 40 layers, it is ready to serve.

If listed on your itinerary, try to go for the best ones in Istanbul or Gaziantep. Check with your guide as they will know where the best baklava is made.

Lokum (Turkish Delight)

The recognition of ‘lokum’ dates back to the 15th century, and it became a popular bite of daily life from the 17th century. Its international popularity goes as far as the 18th century when European travelers started to bring boxes of lokum back home as a souvenir.

Today, almost all travelers treat themselves, friends, and families, to Turkish Delight before flying back home.

Beverages

Don’t miss out on these traditional Turkish beverages that are paired perfectly with its amazing food. Depending on the season you are traveling, some will freshen you up, while some will keep you warm. Either non-alcoholic or alcoholic, each will leave a great memory, if not the most favorite drink of your life.

Turkish Coffee

The soil of Anatolia is pretty much fertile for almost anything, yet Turkish coffee is not grown in Turkey. Everything had been tested, but no chance…

The first coffee grounds were brought to Istanbul back in 1555 by two merchants from Syria, presented to the palace, and soon became a favorite among the Ottoman sultans.

Today, it is registered to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List and still plays a key role in culture as the best late morning sip. It is hard to get used to at first, but we bet it is far better than a fine-brewed Espresso.

Turkish Tea

The history records tell us that the earliest time that the Turks consumed the tea was 400 BCE. However, it is not until the 1900s it became that popular. Turks still hold the record in hand for consuming an average of 1000 cups per capita per year. Considering its health benefits, it is not a bad habit, but ours is more of an addiction, to name it better.

You will be offered a classical thin belly glass of Turkish tea during your visit to almost anywhere.

Turkish Raki

Also called “the lion’s milk”, Raki is the national drink of Turkey that has its own culture and rules. This anise-flavored liqueur is quite strong (diluted with water by many), but here are some tips and tricks to make it relatively easier for first-timers.

Turkish Wine

Turkey is home to one of the oldest winemaking cultures, but Turkish wine has recently started to be recognized internationally. Like Italy, many indigenous grape varieties are grown most around the country and blended with international varieties.

Turkish Arts

The term “Turkish Art” is used to define all the visual artworks of Turks starting from the pre-Islamic era to the present-day. Dating back to 4,000 BCE, the traditional art covers any aspects of metal, wood, stone, glass, textile, miniatures, marbling, calligraphy, and ceramics.

Handicrafts

Traditional Turkish Handicrafts: carpets and kilims, paper marbling, sumac, fabric weaving, handwriting, tile making, ceramic-pottery making, embroidery, needlework making, leatherwork, musical instrument making, stonework, coppersmith, basketry, saddle making, metalworking, felt making, knitting, wood, and woodworking, coaching, etc. can be listed.

Miniatures

The miniature is multi-colored, finely-processed, small-sized paintings made to facilitate the text’s expression in handwritten books and decorate the books. Vivid colors are used, while unlike a painting, there is no perspective, shadow, or lights used in miniatures. People and objects Just like frescoes and carpets, root dyes were also used in miniatures.

Ebru (Paper Marbling)

Ebru (paper marbling) art is a traditional decoration art made using various dyes on the water concentrated with tragacanth, and once ready; these patterns are transferred to a special paper. Ebru art was mostly used to decorate the covers and inside hardcover books in the Ottoman period.

Calligraphy

Calligraphy is a type of visual art developed using writing systems and elements, often used for decorative purposes. A contemporary definition of this art branch is; it is the art of forming signs in a meaningful, harmonious, and skillful way. It was of great importance, especially before printing became available.

Glass Art

The historical archives advise that Turks have used glass since Central Asia. Pieces of colored-glass unearthed from Artukid and Seljuk’s imperial palaces precisely explain the presence of stained glass in these structures. During this period, engraving, cutting, and molding techniques were also used in glass vessels decorated with inscriptions, plant and animal figures. Eventually, glasswork has become an industry and art in itself in the hands of the Ottomans, who centralized the art in Istanbul after conquering the city.

Jewelry

The history of jewelry making goes as far as the history of human beings. Since Anatolia is rich with gold, silver, metal, copper, and some precious stones, starting from the Neolithic Era, numerous civilizations contributed their styles and traditions to their accessories. Thanks to Byzantines, Armenian artisans, and the Ottoman Empire for the milestones in jewelry making, today, Istanbul became the primary center of jewelry production in Anatolia.

Wood Carving

The art of wood carving has progressed an important development in Anatolian Seljuks since the 11th century. During this period, geometric, herbal, sealed motifs and embossed old script phrases are used. The geometric and ornamentation techniques of the Seljuks were inherited in the 15th-century Ottoman art in a simpler style blended with rich floral design. As the tree is inlaid with different colors and types of trees, mostly mother-of-pearl, ivory, gold, silver, bone, and precious stones were used.

Leather

Looking at Central Asia’s cultural history, one can easily recognize that leather played a primary role in the daily life and clothing of ancient Turks. Wool, leather, and fur were the basis of Turkish clothes. Trousers, boots, and belts were also made of leather. The saddles and harnesses and bush veterans (bag) were also items used daily, making leather actually an absolute must for the Turks. Today, not many of those are produced, while you can find a relatively significant number of leather workshops to buy accessories and clothing.

Stone Carving

Stone carving is the aestheticization of stone that is suitable for processing by hand with some traditional tools. The art was used in various structures and building elements in military and civil architecture, such as mosques, theological schools, fountains, bridges, tombstones. It is possible to see the most sophisticated samples of stone art in the architecture of the Seljuk Turks, Anatolian Beyliks, and the Ottomans.

Tiles and Ceramics

The Anatolian ceramic art progressed a unique development in the Ottoman period, inspired by other Turkish ceramics outside Anatolia. Soon, the art got all the attention and became a highly-preferred and exported good. Inkpots, bowls, goblets, oil lamps, mugs, plates, tiles, and many other objects were made with a mixture of white clay, quartz, and underglaze technique.

Iznik, a ceramic center during the Byzantine period, maintained its superiority from the 14th century to the 18th century as the most important tile center of the Ottoman Empire (e.g., Topkapi Palace and Tiled Kiosk). After the 19th and 20th centuries, the value of this art was not recognized as during its golden ages, and most of these workshops started to shut down one after another.

Today, Kutahya is the central city of producing modern and decorative items by imitating the colors and patterns of Seljuk Turks. If Cappadocia is on your itinerary, don’t miss out on one of the pottery workshops to get an idea of the complete process and the basics of this art.

Porcelains

The first genuine porcelain company was the Yildiz Porcelain Factory, which was established towards the end of the 1800s. During this period, “Turkish Land” is stamped for the first time under porcelain products. Yildiz Porcelain Factory, which could not reach the desired level for a long time due to the dethronement of Abdulhamid and the First World War, was given to Sumerbank in 1959 years later. Since then, the museum has been used as a factory.

Turkish Rugs

Hand-woven carpet is an art that emerged in the regions where Turks lived in Central Asia. The earliest weavings known as kilims were colored-wool threads knotted, and carpets had simpler designs imitating animal skin. Threads in Turkish rugs, which showed great development in the Seljuk and Ottoman periods in Anatolia, were dyed with madder extracted from leaves, fruits, or various plants’ roots.

Textile

Textile production in Anatolia has been an important trade sector for over 3,000 years. With the rise of the Ottoman Empire, Anatolia became the center of the empire’s textile production. Today, very few of these centuries-old practices survive, among which carpets, cotton products, unique fabrics, and lightweight towels sell like hotcakes.

Clothing

Turkey is home to some top clothing brands, offering better quality products than other top countries like China, Bangladesh, or Vietnam. Among international brands that are 100% Turkish are Koton, Roman, Vakko, Mavi, Ipekyol, Colin’s, and LC Waikiki.

Turkish Towels

Turkey is renowned for its towels as well, with a history of 1600 years. The Turkish Bath (Hamam), which has its own history in Turkish culture, brought the need for towels with it, and the towel emerged as an internal cultural interaction. Bursa, which is at the forefront of silkworm cultivation and silk weaving, is considered the first place where towels were produced, and today, it is at the top in terms of the patent, branding, and production volume.

Embroidery

Embroidery is one of the most beautiful examples of traditional handicraft and Turkish culture that has been carried to the present day. The term has more than 20 different styles and techniques, but basically known as needlework art. Thanks to the tradition of having embroidery work in every young girl’s dowry, especially in Anatolia, it has contributed to its survival today.

Dance

Turkish folk dances, which are rhythmic, colorful, and sometimes dramatic, are folk dances depending on each region’s cultural structure in Turkey’s various ethnic types.

Folk Dances

Folklore is the most common one known as a dance type played by women and men together, holding hands with traditional clothes and where foot movements are mostly used. Other popular traditional Turkish dances are Ciftetelli, Folk Dance, Zeybek, Bar, Halay, Kasik Oyun, Horon, and Hora.

Whirling Dervishes

Formed and developed under the inspiration of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), Sema symbolically expresses the formation of the universe, the resurrection of the human in the realm, the act of love with the Supreme Creator, and his orientation towards humankind. Whirling around the heart from right to left, this religious ritual embraces all humans, all creatures, with love and love with all their hearts.

Turkish Cinema

The first story of motion pictures began on December 29, 1895, when the Lumière brothers filmed Arrival of the Train to La Ciotat Station and presented to the audience for the first time in Paris. About a year after this date, the cinema met with the Ottoman audience.

In Turkey, the first film was a film screening at the palace by a Frenchman named Bertrand during Abdulhamid II in 1896. Later, the French firm Pathé’s representative, Sigmund Weinberg, a German Jew with Romanian nationality, started by showing a movie to the public in a pub in Galatasaray near Beyoglu. With the first film screening (again with the film about the Arrival of the Train to Le Ciotat Station), the Turkish people’s inseparable association with cinema began. These films are generally short-length documents and comedy films.

Due to the public’s interest in the cinema in 1908, Weinberg was built by the Pathe Cinema, the first cinema in Turkey.

Theater

Turkish theater refers to the theater activities that started with some ceremonies and imitation shows when Turks lived in Central Asia. The development of theater art accelerated with the Turks’ arrival to Anatolia, especially after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. Following this, the Turkish theater started to evolve into a great blend of the traditional theater and a theater that developed under western influence.

The traditional Turkish theater, mostly developed in the urban area, the main narrative genres include the meddah, puppet, Hacivat and Karagoz, and Ortaoyunu. Turkish puppet, of an ancient oriental origin, remained under the influence of European puppet art and continued its development until the 19th century.

Architecture

Home to numerous civilizations, Turkey has been gradually influenced by Eastern and Western architectures since ancient history. The achievement of new synthesis by combining different architectural styles has marked the country’s vast architectural background. The country, where Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Seljuk, Arab, Turkish, Ottoman, German, and American architectural influences can be clearly seen, presents the impact of architecture on art branches and life.

Roman, Byzantine, Seljuks and Ottoman

One of the most magnificent works in Anatolia is the magnificent Sumela Monastery, built on the slope of a mountain in the 4th century. But undoubtedly, the most developed and magnificent examples of Roman architecture are in Istanbul. Among the most important works are the great Hagia Sophia, Basilica Palace, Valens Aqueduct, the great Hippodrome, which is the center of Rome’s sports activities.

On the other hand, Ottoman architecture was notably influenced by Roman and Seljuk. The dome structure and general architecture of Ottoman mosques bear traces from the Roman architecture embodied in Hagia Sophia, Seljuk Architecture, known as the most developed examples in Central Anatolia.

Caravanserais

During the Seljuk period, caravanserais also called “sultan hani”, were built on the commercial road network for caravans to shelter, rest for the night, and meet their needs. The distances between the Seljuk caravanserais were determined by a camel’s daily walking distance (i.e., nine hours or 40km). Defended by the high walls around them, these caravanserais, which also served as a marketplace in times of peace, were also used as fortresses during the war times.

The Silk Road

Approximately 20,000km of the Silk Road lies in the geography where the Turks live. The major trade route that unites China and Byzantium was in the Turks’ hands in its most active period. The Silk Road, the oldest and longest highway in history that preserved its importance from the 2nd century BCE to the 1800s, played the most effective role in ensuring the interaction between East-West and North-South.

Traditions

Turkish culture constitutes an important cultural mosaic that includes many different traditions and customs that might seem surprising for first-time travelers. Although many of these traditions are now found only in rural areas, some (e.g., weddings, circumcision, funeral, birth, and religious holidays) still bear traces in cities.

Religion

Turks have adopted various religions such as Shamanism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam throughout history. Since the transition of people or societies from one religion to another requires a certain process, it is not easy to break away from old beliefs and adopt new beliefs. The same is true for the Turks. For example, Turks did not completely abandon their old customs or beliefs while converting from Shamanism to Islam. It continued to keep the old beliefs alive in the new religion with new forms.

Learn more about the customs and tips here: https://madeinturkeytours.com/religion/

Sports

Sports in Ancient Turks; It made great progress in Huns, Gokturk Khaganate, Khwarazmian Dynasty, Seljuks, Ottomans, and other Turkish states. These sports are briefly: wrestling, hunting, shooting, horse riding, sword, archery, running, jumping, jereed, polo, football, and skiing.

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Turkey, and if you’re a sports fan, you’re in luck! The three most successful Turkish soccer teams, Besiktas, Galatasary, and Fenerbahce, are all based in Istanbul. The atmosphere at our stadia is unlike any other soccer matches globally, particularly if you can catch a local derby.

If you’re interested in seeing a distinctly Turkish sport, you will need to seek out oil wrestlers! This form of wrestling is Turkey’s national sport and is well worth watching.

Tourism

Once the Republic was established, Turkey’s rich history and natural beauty made it a tourism gold mine waiting to happen. After World War II, the Turkish government went all-in on tourism, putting legislation that would see the industry’s growth. Almost eight decades later, the results are there for all to see; Turkey’s tourism industry is one of the most thriving in the world. Here is a look at the supporting infrastructure that has made this possible.

Guinness

Guinness world records can be as inspiring as they are weird, and Turkey has its share of entries in the world book of records. Some of these are quite interesting, like being the country with the first female pilot, the oldest bridge, producing the first coin, and being the largest bread consumer.

On the other hand, there are some that others would consider bizarre, like Turkey’s obsession with large images. The country built the largest animated phone mosaic, has the world’s biggest poster, largest floating logo, largest outdoor exhibition, largest painting ground, and so on.

In total, Turkey and its citizens hold over 80 records in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Facts

Records aren’t the only intriguing facts about Turkey- there’s a lot more.

  1. Santa Clause (St. Nicholas) was born in the 3rd century AD in Patara, Turkey.
  2. The first Christian church- the Cave Church of St. Peter- was built in Antioch, Turkey.
  3. During the Byzantine dominance of the region, Istanbul was known as Constantinople and served as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.
  4. Istanbul is the only city in the world spanning two continents; Europe and Asia.
  5. Mt. Ararat, the highest point in the country, is the purported docking location of Noah’s Ark.
  6. Turkey’s national sport, grease wrestling, is the oldest sporting event in the world.
  7. With 14 million Facebook users, the country is home to the 3rd largest user base of the popular platform.
  8. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the oldest and maybe the largest outdoor market globally.
  9. Responsible for around 80% of hazelnut in the export market, Turkey is the world’s largest hazelnut grower.
  10. Surnames weren’t a thing amongst the Turks until a law passed in 1934 made having one a requirement.
  11. The legendary Greek city of Troy sits on the Aegean coast of Turkey.
  12. With 82,693 mosques, the country has more mosques per capita than any other nation in the world.
  13. Europe’s first contact with coffee came from the 16th-century Ottoman raids into Eastern and Central Asia.
  14. Turkey also introduced the cherry tree, one of the earliest domesticated plants, to Rome and then Europe in 69 BC.
  15. Turkish Delight (Lokum) is one of the oldest sweets in human history, dating back to around 500 years ago.
  16. Hammams (Turkish Baths) are derived from ancient Roman, Greek, and Byzantine bathing traditions.
  17. The Turkish resort city of Antalya has the world’s highest number of “Blue Flag” certified beaches.
  18. The world’s most valuable silk carpet can be found in Konya’s Mevlana Museum in Turkey.
  19. Tea is a beloved drink in Turkey, with the average Turk managing up to 10 cups of tea a day.

Military

As of 2020, Turkey had 335,000 active military personnel (the 15th highest number of active soldiers worldwide) and 380,000 reservists (the 17th highest number of reservists globally). Being a NATO member, Turkey contributes the 2nd highest number of troops to the organization after the US.

History

Before traveling to Turkey, you might want to learn a bit of its history to understand better the sites you are visiting. That will help you connect the dots as you go.

Read more here: https://madeinturkeytours.com/history/

Important Milestones

In terms of civilizations, Turkey has one of the wealthiest histories of any country. The first civilizations to settle in this magical land were the Hatti and Hurrian people between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. They thrived in Anatolia and enjoyed prosperous trade relationships with the neighboring kingdoms. At around 1750 BC, the Hittite took over the region until its collapse in 1,200 BC. Then came the Balkans, quickly followed by the Urtatu civilization, which fell with the Phrygians’ rise in 750 BC.

Independent city-states like Lydia, Caria, and Lycia also rose during this time, while the Ionian enjoyed nearly 700 years of prosperity along the Turkish coast. In 545 BC, the Persians conquered the region and ruled until 333 BC, before they were kicked out by the rising Hellenistic and Roman civilizations.

The Greeks came first, spreading their language and culture across Southwest Asia, Northeast Africa, and the Near and Far East. They then fell to the Romans in 146 BC, and by 245 CE, the Romans had spread their empire deep into Turkey.

At around 330, the Empire Constantine designated a small fishing village on the Bosphorus’ banks into the new capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This small village turned city (Constantinople) marked the rise of the Byzantine civilization, an empire that remained the powerhouse of the region until 1453. During this time, Christianity was the official religion of the empire.

Between 1071 and 1300, the Seljuks established a foothold in the region, much to the dismay of the occupying Byzantine. The Mongols also enjoyed a brief period as the dominant force, but Byzantium’s last days came at the Ottomans’ hands in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople. Constantinople became Istanbul and was the seat of the Ottoman empire until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Then came the Turkish war of Independence led by commander Mustafa Kemal, and with its success, Turkey rose as a republic.

Coups

Turkey has experienced three successful military coups and a failed one in its century-long history as a republic.

  • The first coup was on the 27th of May 1960, resulting in the arrest and trial of the president, prime minister, and other government officials.
  • In 1971, the military intervened once again after an economic downturn resulted in widespread unrest in the country.
  • In 1980, clashes between right-wing and left-wing groups resulted in another military coup, with arrests numbering in the hundreds of thousands and dozens executed in the following years.
  • On July 15th, 2016, the country was on the verge of another coup, but this attempt was thwarted before it could be deemed successful.

Historical Characters

Naturally, such history comes with a lot of privileges and hosts numerous heroes and legends. Here are some of those who put their seal on history.

Strabo (63 BCE – 23)

Strabo was a Greek philosopher, geographer, and historian born to a wealthy family from Ameseia, Pontus (present-day Turkey). Throughout his life, Strabo traveled a lot, journeying throughout Asia Minor and, as far as Egypt and Kush. He also stayed in Rome for a while, and his scholarly travels are accredited to the relative peace that came with the reign of Augustus. Strabo’s most popular work is Geography, a book that tried to describe the economic, cultural, political, geographic, and social state of the Mediterranean region and most of Europe.

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207 – 1273)

Simply referred to as Rumi, this Persian poet was born to Persian-speaking parents, either in present-day Tajikstan or in present-day Afghanistan. He was also an Islamic Scholar, Sufi mystic, Matarudi Theologian, and Hanafi faqih.

Best remembered for his poems, Sufi left a strong spiritual legacy that is still appreciated by the Turks, Greeks, Iranians, Pashtun, and even Muslims from the Indian subcontinent. He died on 17th December 1273 in Konya. He was laid to rest at the Mevlana Mausoleum, commissioned by the Georgian Princess Gurju Khatun, a close friend of Rumi.

Haci Bektas-i Veli (1209 – 1271)

Not much is known about Haci Bektas-I Veli’s origins, but it is assumed that he was of Persian or Turkish descent. He spent most of his life in Anatolia, where he lived as a Muslim mystic, Sayyid, and philosopher. His teachings were inspired by Ali ibn Abu Talib and reflected a spiritual, rational, and progressive understanding of Islam. During his lifetime, he had a significant influence on the Turkish Nomads in Asia Minor, and today, he is a revered figure among the Alevis.

Yunus Emre (1238 – 1328)

Yunus Emre was a 13th-century Turkish poet and Sufi Mystic. Also known as Dervis Yunus, his poetic works written in Old Anatolian Turkish (an early stage of modern Turkish) greatly influenced Turkish literature. During his day, many poets wrote in either Persian or Arabic, and he was amongst the first to break this cycle and write in Turkish. His style of poetry follows the tradition of Anatolian folk poetry, and his works were mainly about divine love and human destiny.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet (1432 – 1481)

Also known as “Mehmet the Conquerer”, Fatih Sultan Mehmet was born on 30th March 1432. He went on to rule the Ottoman Empire on two separate reigns, from 1444 to 1446 and 1451 to 1481. Pursuing his dream of creating a world empire like the Romans before him, Mehmet the Conquerer successfully conquered Constantinople from the Byzantines and rebuilt it into Istanbul.

He then expanded his empire into Eastern Europe, defeating Serbia and Morea in 1459 and 1460. By 1461, he had Anatolia as far as the Euphrates firmly under his grasp. Still, he was stopped from expanding further by collaborating with the Mamelukes of Syria and White Sheep Turkmen of Iran.

As he made plans to capture Rhodes and southern Italy, he died suddenly in 1481, and his son, Bayezid II, succeeded him.

Piri Reis (1465 – 1553)

Piri Reis was born Muhissin Piri in the lovely coastal town of Gelibolu (Gallipoli) in 1465. He was the son of Haci Mehmet and the nephew of the famous Admiral Kemal Reis. At age 12, he joined his uncle at sea, and for fourteen years, Kemal Reis led a naval career that is well described in Piri’s book Bahriye. It was mostly one of piracy, and Kamal Reis eventually became a considerable power at sea until he accepted a position from the Ottoman government in 1494.

It was after his uncle’s death in 1511 that Piri rose to prominence in the Ottoman Navy. In 1516, he was the captain of a ship in the Ottoman fleet. He took part in the conquest of Egypt in 1516-1517 and the Siege of Rhodes in 1522.

In 1547, he rose to the rank of Reis and was the commander of the Ottoman fleet in the Indian Ocean, where he led successful campaigns against the Portuguese. He retired aged 90 and was later killed by beheading when he refused to participate in another campaign against the Portuguese.

A prominent figure in Ottoman naval history, Piri Reis is best known for the Bahriye (Book of Navigation). This great book contains maps and charts describing the ports and cities of the Mediterranean and detailed information about early navigation techniques.

Mimar Sinan (1490 – 1588)

When it comes to Ottoman architecture, the first thing that comes to mind is Mimar Sinan, the most advanced example and one of the few architects who lived in history.

Even though Mimar Sinan, who created the most important works of the empire and exceeded his age with his engineering knowledge and understanding of aesthetics, is known for his Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, his most developed work considered as his mastership period is the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne.

Compared to Michelangelo in the West, Mimar Sinan is the greatest value Ottoman architecture has brought to the world with his use of semi-domes, his use of robust columns, his placing the circular dome in square, hexagonal and octagonal shapes, and the artistic sophistication of the interior decorations he uses.

Evliya Celebi (1611 – 1682)

Also known as Dervis Mehmed Zilli, Evliya Celebi was born on March 1611 in Istanbul. He was the son of the chief court jeweler. During his Islamic education, Evliya Calebi excelled as a Quran reciter and was shown favor by Sultan Murad IV- allowing him to join the Ottoman palace school and greatly develop his Arab, music, and calligraphy skills.

With the court as his patron, Evliya Celebi started his travel, which took him all over the Ottoman Empire and the surrounding lands. These journeys made him famous, and he used his vivid imagination to describe all the places he visited and even those he didn’t. He was an explorer who used a charming writing style and anecdotes to record his travels on the Seyahatname (the Book of Travels).

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881 – 1938)

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the founder of the Republic of Turkey and served as the country’s first president from 1923 until 1938. He was born in 1881 in the city of Salonica (Thessaloniki in present-day Greece) to a middle-class Muslim family with Turkish roots. Starting as a soldier stationed in Syria and Palestine, Mustafa rose through the ranks, and in 1915, distinguished himself in the Gallipoli Peninsula campaign.

He was then promoted to brigadier-general, fighting in Syria, Palestine, and eastern Turkey. As the allied forces stripped more territory from the already declining Ottoman Empire in 1920, Mustafa organized an independence movement that would end the foreign occupation in Turkish-speaking areas.

Using his extensive military and popular support, Mustafa Kemal led a revolution that defended and saved a nation and marked the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The Independent Republic of Turkey rose from the ashes with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as the president. Throughout his reign, Islam’s influence on the state greatly diminished, and Turkey was rapidly secularized and westernized. He remained president until his death in 1938.

2. Ready to Plan?

Health and Safety

Before you plan your trip to this magical and historical country, here is everything you need to know about health and safety.

Safety

Traveling to Turkey is usually a safe experience for Tourists, and millions finish their holiday without dealing with an ugly encounter. There may be a couple of security concerns here and there, but you can easily avoid them by taking the correct precautions during your travels.

For one, check in with your home country’s embassy as they will have specific recommendations for their citizens’ travel to Turkey. The US, for instance, has the STEP program and will caution their citizens against traveling near the Syrian and Iraq border. Canada has ROCA, while New Zealand generally advises against joining in demonstrations and protests.

Generally, the Syrian and Iraqi borders pose the highest threat to travelers’ safety, while the cities in eastern Turkey closer to the borders pose a moderate threat. Otherwise, touring the rest of Turkey should be entirely safe.

Read more: https://madeinturkeytours.com/safe-travel-turkey/

Health

Like your typical country, Turkey has a couple of infectious diseases and viruses within its borders. These include Hepatitis A, Leishmaniasis disease, and Typhoid. Luckily, these diseases cannot really be categorized as epidemics, and your chances of contracting any one of them are meager. However, you still need to exercise caution and practice basic hygiene during your travels in the region.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are your best protection against contracting an infection while in Turkey. Therefore, make sure that you receive the necessary vaccines before traveling to Turkey. Mandatory vaccines include varicella, MMR, and the polio vaccine.

Learn more: https://madeinturkeytours.com/viruses-infections/

COVID-19

In 2020, Covid 19 was a real show stopper, and the danger still posed by the virus shouldn’t be ignored. And since Turkey’s borders remain open to international visitors, there are stringent measures to ensure the virus doesn’t strike again. All visitors will have to follow the Covid regulations that have been put in place by the government and the tourism industry.

Learn more: https://madeinturkeytours.com/complete-guide-safe-travel-turkey-covid/

Medical Services

Compared with countries like the UK, Germany, and the US, Turkey is a low-cost health provider. However, this doesn’t mean that the quality of medical services is poor; Turkey’s healthcare system is a leading healthcare provider in the region. In case of anything during your tour, you can be sure you are in the right hands.

Laws in Turkey for Tourists

  • Tourists should avoid all political demonstrations and leave the area as soon as possible if a protest occurs.
  • Sneaking marijuana and other narcotics into Turkey is forbidden by the law and subject to heavy punishment. The same applies to their consumption within Turkey’s borders.

Street Food

Street food is a beloved indulgence amongst tourists in Turkey. However, you need to be very careful when buying food from vendors on the street. Watch what you eat and from where you eat if you want to avoid cases of food poisoning.

Alcohol

During your tour of the country, you may visit cities with nightlife like no other. Alcohol will be available in abundance, but you will have to drink responsibly to avoid compromising your safety, especially if you travel alone.

Water

Water can be an avenue for contracting all sorts of infections. While a minority population still drinks tap water (especially if the region has clean water sources), we recommend travelers drink bottled water and avoid tap water (brushing teeth, boiling water, or similar usage is fine). If there is nothing but tap water, make sure to boil the water. You can also carry water purification tablets and a water filter as extra precautions.

3. Let’s Plan it!

With so much valuable and interesting information about Turkey, you can now plan your tour- with our help, of course.

Turkish National Holidays

There are several religious and national holidays celebrated in Turkey throughout the year. And while these holidays call for celebrations and create a vibrant atmosphere amongst the locals, they are not the best conditions for tourists to enjoy Turkey.

For one, tourist attractions and shops are either closed or open for a couple of hours.

Banks and government offices are also closed, restaurants and most shops stay open but are usually very packed.

Also, traffic during religious holidays is at its worst, and you’ll likely go nowhere if you attempt a road trip.

For a better understanding of the best days to visit Turkey, check out our “Best Time to Visit – Month by Month Guide” section below.

If your travel calendar coincides with any of these days, double-check with us before signing up for any day tour.

2021 Public Holidays

Jan. 01 – New Year’s Day
Ap. 23 – National Sovereignty and Children’s Day
May 01 – Labor Day
May 19 – Ataturk Commemoration and Youth & Sports Day
Jul. 15 – Democracy and Solidarity Day
Aug. 30 – Victory Day
Oct. 28 – Republic Day – Eve
Oct. 29 – Republic Day

2021 Religious Holidays

May 12 – Ramadan – Eve
May 13 – Ramadan – Day 1
May 14 – Ramadan – Day 2
May 15 – Ramadan – Day 3
Jul. 19 – Sacrifice Feast – Eve
Jul. 20 – Sacrifice Feast – Day 1
Jul. 21 – Sacrifice Feast – Day 2
Jul. 22 – Sacrifice Feast – Day 3
Jul. 23 – Sacrifice Feast – Day 4

Opening & Closing Times

Another thing to consider when planning your trip is the opening and closing times of the museums and attractions you plan to visit while in Turkey.

For most museums and sites in Turkey, you can follow this as a guide:

From 1 April to 1 October, the museum is open every day between 08.00 and 19.00hrs.
From 1 October to 1 April, it is open between 08.00 and 17.00hrs.

In summer, the ticket counters close at 18.30, while in the winter, they close at 16.15.

  • Grand Bazaar: Open from 10 am-6 pm.
  • Topkapi Palace: Open from 10 am-4 pm.
  • Dolmabahce Palace: Open from 9 am- 4 pm.
  • Beylerbeyi Palace: Open from 9 am- 5 pm.
  • St. Sophia Museum: In winter, open from 9 am-5 pm, while in summer, it opens from 9 am-7 pm.

Best Ways to Travel

As a tourist, there will be many travel options at your disposal; rental cars, yachts, buses, bikes, trains, and even luxurious seaplanes. If you plan on touring different regions, air travel is the fastest way to do so. Various air carriers ply the local route, each offering a relatively comfortable flight experience.

Road travel (hired cars and vans) is generally suitable for moving between neighboring regions. Its main advantage is that it allows travelers to enjoy any highlights they encounter along the way.

When camped at a particular location or town, hired bikes make an excellent way to explore the surrounding areas.

Travel by sea via yacht is the best way to explore the coastal regions of Turkey and enjoy the numerous sandy beaches and calm coves along the way.

Travel via train and tram is not exactly popular amongst tourists, but ongoing upgrades and enhancements of the existing infrastructure mean that it may just make a comeback.

Best Time to Visit Turkey

Month by Month Guide
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Cildir Lake, Kars in Eastern Turkey in January

Visiting Turkey in January

As a mountainous country, Turkey offers numerous skiing activities in January for those who travel this month specifically for this activity. Uludag in Bursa, Kackar Mountains for heliskiing, Erciyes in Cappadocia, and Kartalkaya near Istanbul are among the most popular ones. The rates will be way lower than peak season, and you will be able to enjoy free upgrades and almost no lines at all museums and sites. Too cold? It depends on the year, but a Turkish Bath (Hamam) experience is always available to warm up, and why not enjoy a nice hot Sahlep during the day with the beautiful snowy views and wine in the evening by the fireplace in your room?

Events & Festivals

  • New Year’s Day – 1st January is a public holiday; however, shops, museums, and other touristic activities will still be available and less crowded.
  • Orthodox Christmas – Celebrated on 6th January (Armenian) and 7th January (Greek); most churches in Istanbul get visited by religious travelers and Patriarchs blessing the crowds.

Spice Market, Experience Turkey in February

Visiting Turkey in February

February is similar to January but will get a little colder, especially around central and Eastern Turkey compared to the coastal destinations. While packing, be prepared with warmer clothing and always check the updated weather forecast. While February is not a peak time for events & festivals, there are still some fun activities you can benefit from.

Events & Festivals

  • Valentine’s Day – It is not something historically traditional to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Turkey, but enjoyed pretty much all around the country now with a dining-out, classically a jewelry gift for the loved one and so on. When it is about romance, Turkey has numerous things to offer.
  • International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival – International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival, organized by the Cooks and Chefs Federation of Turkey (COCFED), aims to combine the cuisines of Turkish and the world. Bringing all the world’s beautiful tastes to Istanbul, chefs from different cultures compete for over 70 different categories.
  • !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival – Since 2002 and lasting for about ten days, the festival aims to showcase the best contemporary film based on various themes hosting renowned filmmakers and thousands of film buffs from all over the world.
  • Datca Almond Blossom Festival – This brand new, activity-oriented festival offers almond-made delicacies as the main theme, then wine tastings, photo tours, and many others in Datca’s beautiful town, known as “the city with two seas” in ancient history.

Lake Salt in Turkey in March

Visiting Turkey in March

March is a perfect time for those who don’t like it too cold or too hot. While it is the coolest period of the early spring, most of the month will still be warm enough to enjoy the day. As it will not be as cold as other winter months, make sure you bring some waterproof coats and boots. Include some warm sweats as well so that you can layer your day and evening clothing.

It is also a  pleasant month for hikers and cyclists interested in exploring the coastal routes. Depending on your arrival time, you can enjoy watching dolphins on their way to the northwest towards the Black Sea region.

Events & Festivals

  • Canakkale Victory and Martyrs’ Day – 18th March is an important date for Turkey commemorating the heroes of Canakkale who lost their lives to defeat the Allied battleships for her freedom. While it is not considered a public holiday for the country, many will still share their feelings by hanging a flag or visiting memorials of the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War, which took place from 17th February 1915 to 9th January 1916.
  • Akbank Short Film Festival – Organized by Akbank Sanat, aims to inspire and support filmmakers to deliver better short film productions. The event also has other highlights such as workshops, interviews, master-classes connecting cinema professionals and the audience. The festival is FREE to the public and organized at the Akbank Sanat Art Venue in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul.
  • Camel Wrestling – While it is known to be a two-centuries-old tradition, some acclaims that the first-ever camel wrestling was done during Mahmut II, an Ottoman sultan, in Tire and its neighborhood. Either way, the Turkic tribe tradition today is organized in Selcuk, Kusadasi, on the west coast near Ephesus, and the most recent wrestling had over 120 camels hosted around 20.000 audiences. The wrestling involves two male camels fighting for the female, as this is their mating time. Organized in 4 different categories; foot, middle, under the head and the head; a camel can win if they can make the other retreat, scream, or fall.

Istanbul Tulips in April

Visiting Turkey in April

Well-worthed some light or heavy rain depending on the region you are in; April is a great month to see the blossom of the wildlife when you can also enjoy the Tulip Festival at various parks of Istanbul decorated with millions of tulips with different colors.

If you are in the coastal areas such as the Aegean or Mediterranean, you will be able to see that the swimming season is already on, and this is the time where you can get reasonably rated hotels, resorts, and blue cruise.

Compared to Marmara and the south coast, it will be fairly cooler in the Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Southeast, or Eastern Turkey. Depending on how much it snowed already within the winter months, April might feel like already spring or still too early for eastern areas.

Events & Festivals

  • International Film Festival – The 11 days long film festival, organized by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), offers a chance to see the best art-house films in one place where the industry is boosting and amazing movies from all around the world. Other highlights include various activities and workshops throughout the city.
  • Istanbul Tulip Festival – Starting from 1718, the Tulip Era of the Ottoman Empire was a cherished time that the sultans and public enjoyed for over 12 years of festivals and ceremonies. It was not anymore about conquers or defeats, but tulips and streets lits with thousands of lanterns. Today, to celebrate both the arrival of the spring season and the Tulip Era, every April, millions of tulips are planted at Gulhane Park, Emirgan Park, Fethi Pasa Grove, Sultanahmet Square, Yildiz Park, Camlica Hill, Cubuklu Hidiv Grove and Beykoz Park on the Asian side. In addition to tulips, some other activities also occur, such as live music performances, painting, sculpture and glass-furnace, which is a great alternative for travelers with children.
  • Anzac Day Dawn Service – On 25th April each year, the Anzac Day Dawn Service is hosted by New Zealand and Australia at the Anzac Commemorative Site on the Gallipoli Peninsula as an anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915.
  • Istanbul Half Marathon – First organized in 1987; The Istanbul Half Marathon is one of Europe’s most popular marathons, running majorly around on the Marmara Sea coast and the European side of Istanbul. Promising perfect weather in April, the start-finish lines are at Golden Horn in Balat.
  • The Orange Blossom Carnival in Adana – Located on Turkey’s Mediterranean edge, Adana welcomes the early spring in April with this astonishing carnival named after the scent of the orange blossom. Also famous for its kebab, Adana opens its door wide open for millions of people from all around the country to entertain the beautiful crowd with hundreds of events and activities.
  • Spring Flowers in Cappadocia – After the snow melts and the beautiful wildflowers of Cappadocia starting to blossom, it creates beautiful backdrops while hiking or enjoying some sightseeing.
  • Birdwatching – Turkey is located on the migration route of numerous bird species that enjoy their journey between Europe and Africa. Manyas National Park, Lake Bafa, Lake Kuyucak, Cappadocia and the Black Sea are among the top-listed ones. Pack your best camera and book your private birdwatching tour led by experts.
  • Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey – First organized as a national Marmara tour in 1963; the international road cycling competition gained a special interest and declared a presidential tour in 1965. Today, the full week race welcomes hundreds of professional cyclists from all around the world. The main cities on the race map include Istanbul, Cappadocia, Konya, Alanya, Fethiye, Marmaris, and Selcuk.
  • National Sovereignty and Children’s Day – Following the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, opening after all the struggles began on 19th May 1919, Ankara was declared the Republic of Turkey’s capital city on 13th October 1923. On 23rd April 1929, Ataturk proposed the date to be dedicated to the children as 23rd April. Since 1979, the day gained an international value and recognized as an international event and the world’s children’s day by UNICEF.

Wonderful View of Cappadocia in May

Visiting Turkey in May

Pleasant weather, lots of festivals, city sightseeing, outdoor activities, and beautiful clouds… Yes, this is May, which is considered one of the best months to visit Turkey. When it comes to weather, as mentioned earlier, it is quite sunny, yet cool enough to wander around and explore it all in little details.

Events & Festivals

  • Labor and Solidarity Day (1st May) – Also known as International Worker’s Day, different parties of workers will celebrate the day dancing to traditional folk music, organizing demonstrations for better conditions for all workers. These groups mostly are not welcomed by the policemen, and it is advised to stay away from any demonstrations in general.
  • Ramadan (12th – 15th May) – The Ramadan Feast is an official and religious holiday that mostly lasts 3 to 4 days. During this holiday, most people will take their time off to visit their home city to see family members, relatives, or friends. While most museums will operate in the afternoon on the first day of the feast, other places might get closed for a longer time, such as Grand Bazaar or Spice Market. Please check with your travel advisor before sealing your travel dates.
  • Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth & Sports Day (19th May) – This public holiday commemorates Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s landing at Samsun on 19th May 1919, which led to the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence.
  • International Istanbul Theater Festival – Consisting of independent and classical productions, this theater festival exhibits some foremost global and local theatrical events and hosts free-to-attend workshops.

Beach Time Turkey in June

Visiting Turkey in June

June is the time when the summer sun takes over the spring and shines over the beautiful Mediterranean and Aegean regions. This is the beginning of the perfect time for the most beautiful beaches, sunbathing, delicious Mediterranean cuisine by a seaside restaurant, chartering a private yacht, or strolling around the beautiful streets of Alacati that is also an excellent location for windsurfing. As the first half of the month is warming up with one or two days of rain (maybe more in the Black Sea), the second half might get very hot. For this reason, it makes touring the ancient sites a little harder than other months, yet it allows you to enjoy the half-day touring when it is cooler yet and spend more time at the beach or poolside and enjoy the quality time with your family.

Events & Festivals

  • Istanbul Music Festival – June is a great time for music lovers to visit Istanbul. You can enjoy the events with cultural venues, historical sites, concert halls, parks, and gardens hosting around 600 local and international artists, including some celebs in classical, opera, and bullet.
  • One Love Festival – This is a weekend-long festival held annually in mid-June at Life Park Istanbul, featuring performances of alternative local and international bands.
  • Cappadox Festival – Started in 2015, the event offers attendees a great mixture of contemporary art, music, gastronomic experiences, and outdoor activities at various valleys and other beautiful locations of Cappadocia. Cappadox Festival had a break for the moment, but it is planned to be available soon.
  • Bozcaada Wine Festival – Bozcaada, somewhat locally, but pretty famous for its wines that have its door wide open for those interested in wine tasting. The festival is organized every June on the last four days of the month by four wineries on the island: Talay, Camlibag, Ataol, and Gulerada. In addition to this, Corvus and Amadeus welcome guests interested in wine, either amateur or professional.
  • Istanbul Jazz Festival – The first festival was organized in 1994, and soon after, it became one of the most popular events in the city. Held for 3 weeks long between June and July, the festival features classical and modern jazz, Latin and Nordic jazz, combining electronic music and jazz, and other genres such as rock, reggae, pop, funk and world music.

Lavender Kuyucak Turkey in July

Visiting Turkey in July

July is regarded as the mid-season, just like June and August when the temperatures peak around most historical sites, yet even more beautiful on the coastal destinations where you can enjoy lots of activities such as a boat ride around the Dalyan Delta, sea kayaking around the sunken city of Lycia, afternoon naps on a hammock on the beach and many more. You can enjoy the delicious Mediterranean food in the evenings by the beach and stroll around the bars in Bodrum known for its nightlife.

If a beach vacation is not among your usual favorites, visiting Cappadocia for two nights to enjoy the ballooning in the early morning, driving up to the peaks of Kackar Mountains to enjoy the wonderful breeze at the plateaus of the Black Sea region, and discovering some of the hidden gems of Eastern Turkey might work the best for you.

Events & Festivals

  • Electronica Festival – Gathering an audience of 150,000 each year, the Electronica Festival is organized explicitly for electronic music lovers in addition to its sub-genres of both popular names and some younger talents.
  • Maritime Day – Celebrated on July 1, the Maritime and Cabotage Day indicates our independence at Turkish sea borders. Almost any ship line up on Bosphorus and other coastal cities have different celebrations and activities.
  • Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim – A traditional open water swim with challenging conditions, welcoming more than 2000 competitors and a limited number of supporters. Operated by SwimTrek, you can also apply through the Turkish Olympic Committee to join this iconic event.
  • Festa 2200 Bicycle Festival – Welcomed more than 300 cyclists from all around Turkey to cycle up to Mt. Erciyes; the festival seems promising that offers camps for lodging at an altitude of 2200 meters at the second-highest mountain in Turkey.
  • Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival – The ancient sport was first organized in 1346 and became one of the traditional sports of Turkey. Today, it is held in Edirne in the northwest, and wrestlers from all around the country are welcomed to the event. More than 2000 candidates at different age groups compete to get the golden belt along with $20,000 to $100,000 cash.
  • Chill-Out Festival – Called “happiest weekend of the season,” the festival is organized in Istanbul, Bodrum and Cesme, offering a blissful ambiance, extensive and great quality of different music genres, workshops, activities, tasting, and some other joyful activities.
  • Feast of the Sacrifice (20th – 23rd July) – Celebrated in fellowship by slaughtering an animal (typically a cow or a sheep) to thank God and share 2/3 of the meat with the poor. Like Ramadan as another public holiday, museums and sites on the first half-day of the holiday, some bazaars, banks and any other official services will be closed for 3-4 days. Since the majority of Turkish people will use this time to travel out of big cities to their hometowns or beaches, make sure to plan your trip well and, if possible, pick a less popular spot till this traffic is over. 

Gulet Trip in Turkey in August

Visiting Turkey in August

Unless you are visiting the Black Sea region, which gets cooler by the end of August most of the time, this is still a peak month of the summer season and temperatures will remain or slightly be higher compared to June and July. If you are traveling to coastal cities, plan ahead of time and make sure you get high-quality sun protection packed and ready before leaving home.

Gokceada might be another great option for those looking for some peaceful moments away from the city crowd.

If there is almost nothing appeal to you, then planning a trip from the northwest down to the Mediterranean and then finally back to Istanbul might be a better plan.

Events & Festivals

  • Victory Day – Commemorating the victory of the Turkish Army against the Greek forces at the Dumlupinar Campaign in 1922.  The day signifies the Turkish nation’s victory, which led to the end of The Turkish War of Independence and the beginning of The Republic of Turkey.
  • International Ballet Festival – Bodrum has always been one of the first choices for art lovers and this number has been growing rapidly. The first, yet still the only ballet festival in the country, has been recognized globally and has some of the greatest ballets of all time performed at the historic castle of the Knights of St John.

Sunken City, Kekova in September

Visiting Turkey in September

Autumn still does not arrive in Turkey in the most recent years, and the early weeks of September can still be hot and humid. However, starting from mid-September towards October, it will get even more pleasant, especially to travel to historical sites.

The temperatures will be around 25°C to 30°C for most around the country, and if you are traveling to the coast, the beaches will be less crowded.

Events & Festivals

  • Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival – Being the first and only festival awarded the “Best Quality Management Certificate,”; Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival was first organized in 1994. Performed at the stunning 2000 years old Aspendos Theater, the audience enjoys the same quality of sound from every corner thanks to its impeccable design.
  • Antalya Film Festival – Previously known as Antalya Altin Portakal (Golden Orange) Film Festival, is one of the most important film festivals first held in 1963 and became an international event in 1978.
  • International Istanbul Biennial – Organized every two years since 1987, Istanbul Biennial is the meeting point of contemporary art exhibitions of artisans from different cultures and the audience. The IKSV brings new trends following a different model rather than a national representation model.
  • Akbank Jazz Festival – Since it was first launched in 1991, it has been home to not only the leading jazz figures but also next-gen artists performing at astonishing venues in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul.

Cultural Tours in October

Visiting Turkey in October

Among some other destinations such as Portugal, Croatia, and Italy, Turkey is another option to travel in October. The temperature is pleasantly warm, around 20°C to 30°C, which makes the conditions perfect for exploring the ancient sites without any rush.

For beach lovers, the Mediterranean coasts, such as Marmaris, Fethiye, or Antalya offers great resorts with fewer crowds compared to peak months of the summer season.

Events & Festivals

  • Republic Day (29th October) – Following the War of Independence, the founder father of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, proclaimed the Turkish Republic in 1923. The official public holiday starts on 28th October afternoon, and the ceremonies will take place on the same day of 29th October throughout the day till late evening. As a traveler, to share the excitement of this event’s anticipation, you can join one of the ceremonies during the day or opt for a Bosphorus cruise to enjoy the fireworks or book a dinner table at a nice restaurant in Besiktas or Ortakoy.
  • Istanbul International Book Fair – If you are a book lover, this is a great opportunity to get books from over 900 exhibitors from Turkey and other countries. The event is held every year, sometimes also by early November, at the TUYAP Fair Convention and Congress Center.

Nemrut Sunset Turkey November

Visiting Turkey in November

November is a perfect time to visit Turkey for those who do not like to travel during too hot or cold weather. The average temperatures will be around 15°C to 20°C, which is warm enough for most places with a bonus of much fewer crowds. The coastal cities, especially Antalya, still welcome those who would like to enjoy the last days of the beach.

Events & Festivals

  • The Commemoration of Ataturk – Annually, on 10th November at 09:05, sirens wail across Turkey to mark the exact moment of Ataturk’s commemoration. The flags fly at half-mast and life will stop for the moment of silence to remember modern Turkey’s founder.
  • Istanbul Intercontinental Marathon – This is another unique event in Istanbul, thanks to its geographical location that cross from Asia to Europe over the Bosphorus Bridge and span into the beautiful streets of the European part of Istanbul. Over 4000 participants worldwide aim to complete a distance of 42 kilometers at any pace they want.
  • Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix – After a long break since 2011, the Formula One motor race was brought back to Istanbul in style with a transcontinental trip across the Bosphorus Bridge. The latest event of 2020 was held at Intercity Istanbul Park on a 5.3 km track with over 58 laps.

Bursa Uludag, Turkey in December

Visiting Turkey in December

Reckoned as one of the coldest months of Istanbul, December is generally pretty quiet except for the Christmas travelers and those coming to Istanbul, especially for the New Year’s celebration. Central and Eastern Anatolia will be even colder while the Mediterranean will be rather rainy but warmer than anywhere else in the country.

Towards the last two weeks of December, you can expect rain and chill days around Istanbul and the Western coast, while it might be snowy and colder around inland and eastern cities.

Events & Festivals

  • Rumi Festival – Hundreds of people gather to commemorate the life and teachings of the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic Rumi, aka Mevlana (our master). The event is held in Konya between 7th-11th December, offering a great opportunity to see the whirling dervishes, a form of active meditation practiced in many other countries.
  • Istanbul International Short Film Festival – Organized since 1988, the festival is served to the public for free, displaying four different sessions daily where each film is shown more than once at different times of the day. The films, fictional, covering fictional, experimental, and animations, should be 33 mm or 16 mm with the optical sound that does not exceed 20 minutes.
  • Christmas Markets – Christmas isn’t celebrated in Turkey culturally. However, especially Istanbul makes it an excellent Christmas getaway when the city gets ready for the New Year celebrations with all the decoration, yet with almost no commercial components.
  • New Year’s Eve – Whether you are in Istanbul throughout the entire holiday, or you even decide to crown this trip with Cappadocia and Antalya, Turkey offers a lot of things to do during the New Years’ vacation.

Average Costs

How much does it cost (per day) to travel to Turkey?

Student € 40
Camping € 50
Self-guided € 80
Solo-traveler € 170
Budget € 120
Basic € 200
Deluxe € 350
Luxury € 500
*Out of more than ten samples of different destinations and mixed variables we tested, we estimated the total costs based on the same standard service quality, including hotels, guided tours, airport transfers, admissions, and lunches.

Turkey vs. Other Destinations

Ignoring the fact that major currencies are pretty strong against TRY, the below are the average costs of a day trip/per person supports the idea that Turkey is not an expensive country to travel to.

# Country Avg. Cost
1 Vietnam € 140
2 Thailand € 150
3 Morocco € 180
4 India € 180
5 Turkey € 200
6 Portugal € 220
7 Sri Lanka € 220
8 China € 250
9 Jordan € 265
10 Argentina € 290
11 Croatia € 290
12 Dubai € 300
13 Mexico € 340
14 Russia € 340
15 Japan € 380
16 South Africa € 400
17 Brazil € 430
18 Peru € 450
19 Austria € 500
20 France € 550
21 UK € 575
22 Kenya € 580
23 Israel € 600
24 Denmark € 640
25 Sweden € 700
26 Canada € 750
27 USA € 855
28 Iceland € 900
29 Italy € 950
30 Maldives € 1.000
31 Australia € 1.200
32 Switzerland  € 1.200
33 Tanzania  € 1.200
34 Norway  € 1.300

Travel Documents

  • Visa
  • Passport
  • Driver’s License or ID
  • Travel Insurance

*Don’t forget to get a photocopy of the passport’s signature page just in case.

4. Plan Your Perfect Trip

How many days?

Turkey has a lot to offer, and it’s practically impossible to exhaust everything within a single trip. So, how many days will it take to make the most out of your trip? Most people book itineraries- specially crafted tour packages that can last anywhere from a single day to a whole month. How long an itinerary lasts usually depends on your destination.

For instance, a full exploration of Istanbul’s highlights will take you at least two days. Exploring the wider country like Bodrum, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia takes well over a week. You can even combine two or three itineraries if you can’t get enough; Turkey is so big and will take you around two months to visit the top highlights, let alone the hidden gems.

Destinations

Depending on what you want, there are lots of places to go to in Turkey. You can visit any one or two or all coastal, historical, cultural, and natural attractions spread out through the country. Follow the link below to learn more about destinations in Turkey.

Learn more: https://madeinturkeytours.com/destinations/

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey

Given its rich history, Turkey was home to 18 World Heritage Sites as of 2018. Of these, sixteen are cultural while two are mixes. Here is a complete list:

  1. Xanthos- Letoon
  2. Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
  3. Pergamon
  4. Neolithic Site of Catalhoyuk
  5. Nemrut Dag
  6. Historic Areas of Istanbul
  7. Hierapolis (Pamukkale)
  8. Hattusha (the Hittite Capital)
  9. Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi
  10. Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
  11. Gobekli Tepe
  12. Ephesus
  13. Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscapes
  14. City of Safranbolu
  15. Bursa and Cumalikizik
  16. Archeological Site of Troy
  17. Archeological Site of Ani
  18. Aphrodisias

Map of Turkey

Map of Turkey and surrounding countries –ideal for multi-country combinations (Greece, Morocco, Israel, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Jordan, Lebanon, Georgia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Azerbaijan)

Turkey Map

5. Booking Process

Purchase Plane Tickets

The fastest and most convenient way to get to Turkey from your home country is via a direct flight. Depending on your country, the following airlines offer direct flights to Turkey; Turkish Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Ukraine International, Pegasus Airlines, SAS, Anadolu Jet, SunExpress, and Air India.

Domestic Flights

Beyond standard not only internationally, but also domestically, Turkish Airlines remains the best. Some other companies such as Onur Air, Pegasus, Atlasjet, and Sunexpress offer lower rates and might have direct flights to less-preferred but important routes.

While we recommend our guests the best connections and flight details and let them book all their tickets in one place, we can assist with this service on request.

Accommodations

Those who do not prefer the booking engines go for the easier way: cheat the system by sticking to big brands like Four Seasons or Hilton. If Istanbul is the only destination on the itinerary, this might work without a single glitch!.

However, if your itinerary includes other top destinations such as Cappadocia, Ephesus, and Bodrum, there are some even better hotels that you highly probably never heard of their names.

This is exactly where a travel agency’s expertise is needed, simply because the team will be way more updated on what is going on at each of these hotels, what promotions they offer recently, what amenities and upgrades they can get for free, and so on.

Thus, we prefer to include accommodation in the total package cost and save your life by keeping all payments in one bill.

Private Guided Tours

The adventurer spirit in you will probably want to plan a self-guided trip, but if you’re going to make the most out of your journey, private guided tours are the way to go.

Guides know everything there is to know about a particular destination- where to get the best food or view, how to avoid crowds- things you would have otherwise have ignored if you were to take yourself on tour.

Also, planning can be pretty difficult to execute by yourself; the hustle of buying museum tickets, making reservations, and dealing with opening/closing times are a real pain.

So why not let someone else do it for you? It will save you a lot of time and cash.

Learn more: https://madeinturkeytours.com/reasons-for-hiring-tour-guide-turkey/

Activities & Experiences

Whichever destination you visit in Turkey, you can be sure that you are getting a unique experience, whether it’s a taste of royalty, architectural art, history, scenery, or just a chilled atmosphere. And while some sites there isn’t much to do but watch in awe, others present you with a myriad of exhilarating activities.

Depending on where you are, you can paraglide, hike, take a balloon flight, enjoy some cycling, horse riding, swim, snorkel, dive, and so much more. In Turkey, there is an experience and activity for everyone.

Learn more: https://madeinturkeytours.com/search/

6. Prepare Yourself for Travel

Now that you know what Turkey has to offer, what you need to get in, and have probably planned your trip, it’s time to prepare yourself for travel. Here is everything you need to know about this vital part of your planned visit to Turkey.

Making a Phone Call

Turkey’s country code is 90, and the telephone numbers have ten digits, beginning with a 0, followed by a 3-digit city code and a 7-digit local number. With Istanbul, the city is divided into the European and Asian Zones, each having a different code; 0216 for the Asian side and 0212 for the European side.

Turkish Sim Card

If your Turkey tour will take a significant amount of time, having a local SIM card is pretty important. This is especially the case if you need to make and receive calls and enjoy internet access during your trip- which most people do. Luckily, getting a Turkish sim card isn’t that hard, and how much it costs you will depend on how long you plan to stay in the country.

The country has only three GSM providers, Turk Telekom, Vodafone, and Turkcell, all with good coverage and speed in the major cities. Whichever one you choose, the law requires every purchased SIM card to be registered using a valid passport. Within these, you will have two options at your disposal; Prepaid and Pay-as-you-go SIM cards.

With PAYG, you pay upfront for your usage and will not be tied into a commitment. These sim cards are best if you are traveling for a short time and won’t use your phone that much. On the other hand, Prepaid plans charge you in advance for a specific amount of internet, minutes, or SMS, valid for a month. Once you exhaust your quota or at the end of the month, your SIM is disconnected from service. If you are a heavy user, these plans are the best for you.

The best place to purchase any one of these SIM cards will be in Istanbul. There are many GSM operator shops in the city, and you will only be required to produce your passport. Not that your phone will need to be unlocked to work with our local carriers. Luckily, foreign phones generally stop working after 120 days, so the average tourist doesn’t have to worry about buying a local mobile phone.

Internet Access

For tourists, internet access while in Turkey is not a big deal; free WiFi is almost everywhere. You can find it in the hotel or hostel you will be staying in, in restaurants, bars, and cafes for free. The airport also offers it for free, and it is even available on some trains, intercity buses, and airports. So, unless you are staying in a luxury hotel (they charge for their WiFi), you can enjoy at least a couple of hours a day of free internet.

However, the connection and speed may not impress you, and you will have to take measures for your online safety. Since most Wi-Fi networks will be public, we advise that you use a Virtual Private Network to protect sensitive information from hackers.

Another way you can access the internet is at your hotel, inn, or pension. Most of these have an internet-connected computer in every room.

For your safety, don’t store any passwords or usernames on the computer or access sensitive servers like your online banking account. Once you’re done, make sure that you close every tab on the computer.

While on the road, you can rent a mobile WiFi Hotspot. This gives you a private internet connection anytime, anywhere and is cheaper than buying mobile data using your local sim card. Also, it is relatively more secure than free public WiFi and hotel internet.

Turkish News in English

Most readers go online to read the news, and newspapers are also getting less popular in Turkey. If you would like to read national English-language newspaper publications in Turkey, the below brands cover both national and international news about politics, finance, sports, culture, and more.

  • Hurriyet Daily News
  • Turkey Herald

Credit Cards

While in Turkey, you can use any major card to finance your purchases, from hotel rooms, dinners, and rental cars, to airline tickets and even some taxi services. VISA or MasterCard is welcomed at many places, but Amex is not due to higher commissions.

However, you should watch out for the following complications:

  • Notify your home bank that you are traveling abroad and check with their fraud department. This will ensure that the bank will not stop payments thinking that your card was stolen and being used illegally when your charges suddenly show up from Istanbul.
  • If you make a reservation for a travel service like a ferry service, car rental, or airline flight using your credit card, make sure you show up with the same credit card when boarding. Some travel companies require to see the card physically as an extra security measure to deal with bank fraud and terrorism.
  • Turkey follows the European credit card system, and thus, you must input your credit card PIN when placing a charge. However, some older credit cards from North America lack a PIN and instead use a magnetic stripe and the holder’s signature for authentication. This creates a conflict since you will be required to input your PIN during a purchase, but your card only supports signature.
  • Commission taken by merchants for credit card payments, usually 2% to 4%, may have been outlawed in 2003, but it is still in practice in some shops.

Taxes

  • Value Added Tax (VAT): %18 (transport, guiding service, museum tickets, and most other services)
  • Restaurants & Hotels: %8
  • Accommodation tax: %1 of the room rate (payable at check/in)
  • Other taxes that you might pay: Generally, all prices include the tax. Please check your bill to make sure, as some hotels might exclude this in some cases.

Useful Apps

When planning your trip to Turkey, technology will come in handy in the form of apps.

To boost your communication with the locals, download and install translators like Sesli Sozluk.

Google image search will also come in handy when looking for specific locations, and apps like Moovit will help you understand the public transport system of any city you’ll visit.

Also, don’t forget a VPN or similar app for your online security when using public Wi-Fi at airports, cafes, and other shared networks.

In general, there is a helpful app for almost everything when traveling, and most of them can easily be found with a quick search over the internet.

Currency

The Turkish Lira (TRY) is the official currency of Turkey and the most common unit of exchange in the country. As a traveler, you will quickly notice that EUR and TRY are the most preferred, but USD and GBP are pretty common.

Learn more about Turkish Lira here: https://madeinturkeytours.com/turkish-lira/

Banks & ATMs

Turkey has an extensive banking network and lots of working ATMs in place. Local banks are either retail, private, or offer customized services like the Sharia-compliant banks. And while the largest of these banks have subsidiaries operating outside the country, there are also foreign-owned banks in the larger cities of Turkey.

The most common Turkish banks include:

  • Turkiye Is Bankasi
  • Akbank
  • Ziraat Bankasi (Agricultural Bank of the Republic of Turkey)
  • Halkbank
  • Vakifbank

International banks with branches in Turkey include:

  • Citibank Turkey
  • Societe Generale Turkey
  • HSBC Turkey
  • Deutsche Bank Turkey
  • Societe Generale Turkey

When using ATM services, go for those attached to banks rather than the free-standing booths found on the street. ATMs attached to banks are less prone to tampering and, thus, safer than ATM booths.

You will find that many tourists use ATMs in Turkey to withdraw money in the local currency. This is usually a good idea if you don’t want to walk around with lump some cash in your pocket.

However, there is a catch; the withdrawal will be subject to a higher exchange rate than the traditional way of walking into an exchange bureau with your local currency in cash. Your home bank will also charge some fees for a foreign withdrawal.

If you are comfortable with shouldering these extra costs, banks and ATMs in Turkey should serve you quite well.

Tipping

In Turkish hotels and restaurants, tipping is customary, but customers are only expected to tip small amounts. Bars, restaurants, and cafes expect you to pay a 5-10% tip of the total bill. In most cases, you should tip in cash and hand the money directly to whoever served you. They will probably prefer to be tipped in the local currency, but most won’t mind bills and notes in a foreign currency. It is not common practice, but some hotels may include a tipping fee on the bill.

At the airport or bus stations, potters will probably help you with your luggage, and although there is an official tariff for potters, you should tip about TL3 per bag. There is also the housekeeping staff at hotels, who work hard to ensure that everything in and around your room is as expected. On average, they require a TL5 to TL7 tip per day. Hotels will also have a Tip Box, where you can leave a small amount to show your appreciation for their excellent service.

Tipping taxi drivers isn’t a practiced habit in Turkey; most people round the fare upwards. For instance, if your cab fare is TL24.60, you give the driver TL25. Tips for guides on organized tours are also not compulsory as they are already paid for their service. You can still do it, and around TL30 per day from the tour group (not individual) should be enough to keep the guide satisfied. Your tour driver will be happy to settle for a lesser amount than this.

You will be expected to tip around 15% of the total price to the attendants of a Turkish Bath (Hamam). On the other hand, if a guardian of an archeological site performs a special service, they will appreciate a small tip worth a couple of dollars. There are no tips for minibus (Dolmus) drivers.

The general rule is- you should only tip if you are happy with the service. If it happens to be quite disappointing, you can lower the tip or skip giving it entirely. Note that it is practically impossible to exchange foreign coins for the Turkish Lira. Therefore, avoid using them when tipping in your local currency.

Recommended Tipping Guidelines:

  • Tour Guide: from $40 per day
  • Driver: from $15 per day
  • Restaurants: 8% to 10% of the bill
  • Housekeeping: from $2
  • Porters: from $2 per bag
  • Gulet yacht crew: from %7 to %10 of the total yacht fee
  • Bosphorus cruise crew: from $10 for 2 hours ride
  • Turkish Bath: 10% of the bill

Shopping

You might be here for the sights and sounds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore the country’s magnificent shopping options. There are lots of things you can buy in the numerous shops and bazaars spread throughout the country.

The best of these include; gold, Turkish carpets and rugs, mosaics and lamps, Turkish delight, ceramic, copper, spices, Turkish wines, and so much more.

If you’re all about designer labels, the big malls in the city won’t disappoint- you will find Gucci, H&M, Marks and Spencer, Prada, Louis Vitton, and so on.

Unless you are buying a product of some international brands, shopping in Turkey is far from expensive. There are so many shops in the bazaars where you can bargain and compare the prices of different sellers before making your decision. So, you can be sure that your Turkish shopping experience won’t break the bank.

Overall, gold and jewelry are pretty expensive wherever you go, but the price is relatively lower in Turkey due to the lower labor costs. However, this also means you are just as likely to buy a counterfeit product as you are to purchase genuine ones. To avoid getting scammed, make sure to look for the maker’s hallmark and as for a certificate of guarantee just to be sure.

Souvenirs

As you shop, you will be surprised by the sheer number of beautiful Turkish souvenirs available at your disposal. On average, what you grab largely depends on where you are visiting, although some, like Turkish delight, can be found everywhere. The Nazar Boncugu or Evil Eye is another famous souvenir and can be easily found in Nazarkoy, western Izmir.

Traditional Turkish rugs and carpets are a must-buy for some tourists, and you will find these beautiful works of art in most markets and bazaars. However, watch out for cheap Chinese copycats that have flooded the market in recent years. While in Cappadocia, you can buy beautiful pottery pieces in the small town of Avanos.

Although most Turks love their tea black and strong, apple tea is another popular souvenir. You will find sachets of apple tea in many shops across the country. For exotic spices, the Spice Market and Grand Bazaar are the places to be.

Other popular souvenirs include Nargile pipes, leather and gold, mosaic and gourd lamps, ceramics, and copper.

7. Purchase Key Items

For a smooth tour experience, you will need to purchase a couple of crucial items.

Essentials

You should buy:

  • If your itinerary includes hiking, a pair of sturdy shoes, and a backpack.
  • Sunscreen if you will be spending some time on the beach.
  • Garment bags for your quick-change clothes and a computer bag to carry your electronics.
  • If you’re coming from America, a European power outlet adapter.

Laundry

While traveling, clothing is your biggest liability, and dirty laundry will only slow you down. Therefore, effective laundry management is key to enjoying an inconvenience-free tour.

Generally, jeans are the best fabric for travel since they don’t demand a lot of washing. On the other hand, clothing from merino wool won’t stain easily and does an excellent job of hiding odors if you sweat. It also makes for warm and comfortable clothes that don’t wrinkle easily and are fast drying. If you can match the price, clothing made from merino wool will do your travel laundry needs lots of justice.

Managing underwear can also be a challenge because undergarments require regular washing. To counter this, most people just pack lots of underwear during their travels. Another way to go about it is to buy three or four pairs of travel underwear. These are specially designed for the road using quick-drying and moisture-wicking material that makes for a comfortable fit.

As a general travel rule, never pack white clothing and avoid cotton clothing as it is difficult to keep them clean and wrinkle-free.

Dressing

As you worry about the laundry, don’t forget about what to wear during your trip, i.e., the dressing code and recommended attire by season. What you wear depends on the locations you intend to visit, the activities you will be engaging in, and the season of your travel.

The good news is, Turkey is fairly liberal- so there won’t be that many restrictions on what you can or can’t wear. However, things become a little different when visiting mosques and religious places. For instance, men and women touring a mosque should cover their knees and shoulders, with women additionally required to cover their hair.

The dress code in cities varies. In Istanbul, especially in the summer months, you will see all manner of outfit. In the conservative cities of central Turkey, Anatolia, and Eastern Turkey, the atmosphere is more conservative, and people dress modestly.

Seasonal Considerations

Although people typically associate Turkey with a sunny climate, the country experiences different distinct seasons. You will have to adjust your tour wardrobe based on the time of the year that you’re visiting the country.

Spring (April-May) and Autumn (October-November)

Rain is not uncommon, and the weather ranges from cool during the day to chilly at night. Therefore, bring a warm jacket or windbreaker.

Summer (June-September)

Pack light clothing, sunscreen, and a hat. The evenings are cool so bring along a light sweater.

Winter (December-March)

The weather is warmer near the coast and gets significantly colder as you advance inland. You will need heavy clothing and rain gear.

8. All Packed! Read & Watch

With everything set in place and ready, you can now entertain yourself with books, movies, and shows that have a connection to this magical land.

Best Books & Movies

Books are the easiest way to familiarize yourself with the culture and history of your holiday destination. Luckily, there are many books out there talking about Turkey. Some, like John Freely’s Istanbul, explore the beautiful Istanbul while others, like Philippa Scott’s Turkish Delights, talk about the art that decorated Turkey.

Here is a quick list of other books that you should read before your trip:

  • Istanbul: City of Majesty at the Crossroads of the World- Thomas F. Madden
  • Portrait of a Turkish Family- Ifan Orga
  • Ataturk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey- Andrew Mango

Learn more: https://madeinturkeytours.com/10-books-to-read-before-traveling-to-turkey/

When not inspiring writers, Turkey has attracted producers and cinematographers to shoot their movies in its picturesque scene, blockbuster action films like Skyfall and Taken 2 were partially shot in Turkey, similar to the last installment of the adventure film series, Indiana Jones. Other popular movies filmed in Turkey include; Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Winter Sleep, Times and Winds, Crossing Bridge, A touch of Spice, and so much more.

Follow this link https://madeinturkeytours.com/top-10-popular-movies-filmed-in-turkey/ to discover more movies shot in and inspired by Turkey.

What is on Netflix?

Today, Netflix is the easiest and most convenient way to watch hit shows from around the world. Here are a few Netflix shows that you should watch before traveling for a quick glimpse of Turkey.

  • The Protector
  • Black Money Love
  • Dirilis: Ertugrul
  • What Happens to My Family
  • The Gift
  • Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Follow the link below to discover a couple more Netflix shows set in or featuring this magnificent country.

Link: https://madeinturkeytours.com/top-netflix-shows-before-traveling-to-turkey/

9. Transportation

For those who are planning a self-guided trip, here is everything you need to know about transportation in Turkey.

Train

The popularity of bus travel has made trains in Turkey a very underrated experience, and Savvy travelers know this. Long-distance routes like Istanbul to Ankara or Konya and Ankara to Izmir or Kars provide a fantastic unspoiled scenery that you would otherwise have missed if you had traveled by road. Even better, these routes are high-speed rail and will get you to your destination in no time.

Bus

Bust travel is widely considered the easiest and most convenient way to move around Turkey. It is also the cheapest mode of transport, providing a considerable level of comfort (air conditioning, free WiFi internet, and even stewards).

The fare is quite reasonable- a 7-hour journey from Istanbul to Ankara may cost you as low as TL40 and a maximum of around TL80. Unless it’s during the busy holidays, you won’t need to make any reservations before your journey.

Subway

The metro network of rapid transit trains in major cities has rapidly developed over the years. All the major cities have a subway system, and you will need a smart ticket to travel by metro.

Rental Car

Rental cars are a popular option amongst self-guided tourists in Turkey, as it provides a relatively convenient and flexible mode of transport.

Finding a rental car isn’t that hard; there are a few rental car companies operating at each international airport in the country.

If you need to familiarize yourself with the surroundings first, you can have your rental car dropped off at your hotel or visit their offices in the city.

There is also the option of a one-way rental, which relieves you of the obligation of having to travel back to your point of entry to return the car. However, you will have to pay a small extra fee to enjoy this service.

Driving

Driving in Turkey is generally safe. Tourists and foreigners can use their home country’s driving license for up to 6 months after entering the country. After this time elapses, you will have to obtain a local driving license. While driving around, you are required to carry your passport at all times.

Most Dangerous Roads

If you are a thrill-seeker, one of the most dangerous roads in the world can be found in Turkey’s black sea region- The Derabassi Bends. The road traverses the Soganli mountain and has such sharp bends that it is impossible to beat any of them in a single maneuver. The stretch also experiences rain, fog, landslides, and avalanches, making it even more dangerous.

Best Self-drive Itineraries

Let us know if you would be interested in a road trip with your beloved one(s).

10. Prepare Your Home for Travel

Before your trip, make sure that your home won’t deteriorate while you are away. Here is how to go about it:

  • Cancel all your mail and newspaper subscriptions for the duration of your trip.
  • Turn off electrical appliances.
  • Dispose of any food that will spoil while you’re away
  • Turn down the thermostat (NOT off, esp. during winter, as the pipes may freeze)
  • Make arrangements for the feeding of your pets and watering of plants during your absence.

11. Arrival in Turkey

After a fun and safe flight, welcome to Turkey! Unless you fly to coastal cities such as Antalya or Izmir directly, you will arrive at Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) or Istanbul Airport (IST).

If you did not have the time to get some Turkish Lira cash, you could use the ATMs, but most probably, you will be fine with your own currency till you make it to an exchange office or bank nearby your hotel.

Both Istanbul airports are around 45min drive to central hotels. Enjoy the ride and don’t try to squeeze in any visits on the arrival day. Just check/in and if you arrive early enough, don’t forget to get a Hammam session to relax and get ready for the first day of the trip.

Airport Procedures

Upon arrival, you will follow the classical order: passport control, e-Visa (please submit a copy of your submission), baggage reclaim, and customs. If you have nothing to declare, you can head to the gates for the exit.

Money Exchange

Usually, visiting tourists exchange their cash into the Turkish Lira while in Istanbul as it gives them better rates than they would if they exchanged it at home. The Euro and Dollar may be accepted in some tourist restaurants and shops, especially in urban areas. In such cases, the merchant selects the exchange rate.

Here are some valuable tips on currency exchange in Turkey:

If you are coming from a country that doesn’t use the Euro or the Dollar, you should exchange your local currency for euros or dollars before going to Turkey. This is because other currencies face a higher commission for their exchange against the Turkish Lira.

Stay up to date with the mid-market exchange rate.

When exchanging cash, avoid tourist rip-off spots like hotels and airports- they have a notoriously high exchange rate. If you want a better deal, look for an exchange office in the city.

Only bring clean and undamaged bills to the exchange bureau as torn or marked bills are likely to be refused.

Public Transportation

The public transportation system in Turkey is well developed, including buses, trams, minibusses, and trains/ the subway system in major cities.

If you are used to solo traveling or self-guided trips, you will get used to the system after couple of mistakes, yet this is not recommended inexperienced travelers.

Personal Belongings

Once in a million, but still, thieves and pickpockets are a constant danger in major cities. Therefore, you should keep your belongings close and safe at all times, as in any other destination.

Practice your Turkish

Practicing a couple of Turkish words and phrases will come in handy during your tour. Here are a couple of words:

  • Hello- Merhaba- Meh-rha-bah
  • Please- Luften- Lewt-fehn
  • Thank you- Tesekkurderim- Tesh-ek-kerr-eh-deh-rim
  • No- Hayir- Hah-yur
  • How much?- Ne kedar?- Neh-ka-da

Hamam (Turkish bath)

After a tiring flight, the Turkish bath is the best way to relax and get over jet lag.

Link: https://madeinturkeytours.com/hammam-turkish-bath-culture/

Hospitality

Many Turkish citizens are very friendly and willing to help anyone, even total strangers. Don’t be surprised if you are invited over for a cup of tea, especially in the small villages of the Turkish countryside.

Photography

Turkey has a lot of photogenic sites, and it’s pretty impossible to keep your camera pocketed. But when taking photos of people, always ask for permission and avoid taking pictures of military bases. Some sites also restrict photography within their premises. So, always ask your guide or the curator if there are any restrictions in place before pressing the shutter.

Scams

Scams targeted at uninformed tourists are common in almost every country, and Turkey is no exception. Fortunately, scammers make less than 0.01% of the Turkish population- most citizens are a hard-working and friendly populace eager to help tourists.

Watch out for people offering free shoe clean services, the solo male traveler scam, fake coins and artifacts, and fake carpets.

Do's & Don'ts

Here are some behavioral tips:

  • Spend at least a day or two exploring Istanbul
  • If you want to save some cash, learn how to bargain
  • Dress modestly to avoid attention
  • If someone invites you to their house, take off your shoes at the doorstep
  • Avoid discussing politics with strangers
  • Don’t refuse food or tea if someone invites you to their house
  • Don’t engage in an excessive public display of attention
  • If you are alone, don’t drink excessively
  • In Turkey, certain hand signs can be interpreted offensively. For instance, the OK-sign (circle with thumb and index finger) is considered offensive in conservative regions of Turkey.

Dining

Another exotic experience tourists enjoy in Turkey is dining; this melting pot of culture has one of the sweetest cuisines in the world. Prepare to have your taste buds tingled by local dishes like Baklava, Doner, Kebab, Kofte, Pide as most common, but it is way more than that.

12. Rest of the Trip

Follow the steps above, and the chances are you will fail pretty low.

If you are booked with us already, from the moment you touch the ground till you fly back home, we will be taking care of the rest.

Happy Traveling All!

The Imperial Capital
Unique Landforms
An Ancient Port City
Curative Waters
St Tropez of Turkey
The Legend

Turkey Tours

More Travel Inspirations?

Would like to join the other happy travelers?

We go beyond what is possible for 100% guest satisfaction!