Welcome to our list of travel tips for Turkey. The diversity of culture, a historically rich timeline, and more than 700,000 square kilometres of land make Turkey an exciting country to visit and enjoy Turkish holidays every year. It often attracts repeat visitors, lured by Turks' friendly nature and the beauty of various destinations, and indeed first-time visitors may find themselves overwhelmed by the unique ambience and vibes. So, to help you enjoy a stress-free holiday, keep to a budget, as well as adhere to social and culture protocols, here is our travel advice. We should also say don't be concerned about making a social or cultural faux pas in Turkey. Turks have welcomed foreign visitors for decades and love to interact where possible. Mistakes made by holidaymakers and international travellers in the country, do not offend but are more ignored so relax and enjoy yourself.
10 of the Best Travel Tips for Turkey
1: Before You Leave
Travel regulations frequently change especially during the COVID pandemic, so check official government websites. Still, you will always need a passport with at least 60 days validity on it, a tourist visa from the official government website, and travel insurance because serious accidents can incur costs of thousands. Don't forget to check your credit cards and ATM cards can be used within Turkey because it is not part of Europe. Although some overseas government websites advise vaccinations, most people don't bother unless travelling to Turkey's East. Rabies is also not a problem, and mosquito bites don't carry malaria. Check with your phone provider as to wi-fi roaming costs, and whether your sim-card will work. Some Turkish providers sell prepaid tourists sims, especially for those who plan to be here a while.
2: What to Pack
Don't forget a power adapter. Turkey operates on the round 220 volts with two prongs. Regardless of what you plan to do, if you visit between April to October, pack the sun cream. Many a beach tourist has underestimated the power of the rays and ended up burnt. Mosquitos also appear during summer, so a spray, room plug or cream will keep them at bay. Although most hotels have room safes, we advise keeping valuables at home. When it comes to luggage, western coastal resorts have relaxed women's dress codes, and bikini-clad women lay on beaches or wear shorts and T-shirts in the streets. However, the East is entirely different. Both sides of the country have immensely different cultures, and the East is conservative and reserved. In this region, women should wear long skirts, keep their shoulders, midriff and cleavage covered. Women do not need to cover their head unless entering a mosque.
3: Money Exchange
The first budgeting trick is to avoid exchanging money in your home country or at the airport. Obtain a small amount of currency to see you through the first couple of days, then shop around when you arrive, because local establishments offer better exchange rates. Avoid hotels, and instead, look for jewellers shop or the nearest bank. When it comes to exchanging rates, smart thinking often nets hundreds more Turkish lira, depending on how long you stay.
4: Choosing Accommodation
Save lots of money on bookings, by altering the time of year you plan to travel. Typically, high season for the Turkish hotel trade is July, August, and September. These are the busiest times when prices often double. Travel out of high season and look around for package deals before leaving because hotels do not offer a cheaper walk-in customer rate. Where you travel to, also plays a large part in the price factor. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts and Istanbul promote affordable hotel rates but head East, and prices rise because there is no mass tourism in those areas. Meanwhile places like Cappadocia and Istanbul that host many backpackers offer a plentiful choice of hostels.
5: Tips on Eating out and Tipping
Eating out can be expensive or cheap. In many coastal resorts, beachfront restaurants pay higher rents, and this reflects in their menu prices. Traditional Turkish or foreign restaurants, situated away from beachfront offer dramatically lower costs to help families save money. When it arrives, always check the bill, and never eat somewhere that does not display prices on the menu. One question first time visitors may ask is how much to tip. The answer is 10% of the bill, depending on how happy you are with the service. If you just ordered drinks, no tip is needed.
- Is Turkey expensive for food and drink?
- Beginners guide to Turkish food and customs
- Strange Turkish dishes you should try when travelling
6: Common Scams in Turkey
Unfortunately, unsuspecting travellers soon find their budget blown if they become a scam victim. Scams happen all over the world, including Turkey, and the aim is to get your money, with as little hassle as possible. Any budget-conscious solo male traveller will need to pay careful attention, especially in Istanbul's large metropolis. They may be invited into clubs where women dance. However, these clubs massively over-inflate prices and even a bowl of peanuts costs as much as 20 USD. Attempt to leave without paying, and the bouncers step in. Known as Pavyons, one night spent in these establishments breaks your bank balance. More about common scams to avoid when travelling to Turkey.
7: Getting Around: Easy Budget Travel
Getting about is easy by car-rental. This method of transport does have benefits, especially for an exciting road-trip, but petrol is expensive. Instead, if you want to drive, opt for a diesel car; otherwise use public transport, like the local and cross-country buses. Locals ones are small and called a dolmus, while the money-saving cross country, large buses are frequent, and clean, often getting you from A to B with no hassle. Taxis are yellow, and firms have stands on most major street corners; otherwise, your hotel or hostel will call one for you. Domestic airlines like Sun Express or Turkish Airlines offer excellent value for money for easy travelling across the country, especially during low season. Turkey has also invested billions into their airports, to get you through quickly comfortably, and smoothly.
8: Bargaining on Prices
Although bargaining helps every tourist stick to a budget, some people get this cultural aspect drastically wrong. Egged on by holiday reps to bargain everywhere, some people attempted to do it in restaurants and at the local market for a few pennies. Cultural bargaining is kept to items with no displayed price or a large amount of money, i.e., gold or carpets, or buying in bulk. Anyone travelling from the western world may be hesitant at bargaining because it has disappeared in those countries, but shrewd bargaining saves money in Turkey. Once the seller confirms the price, go back with a 50% discount. Of course, they won't accept this, and the only response will be a lot of huffing and puffing, but this is an act, and eventually, a price will come back. Continue the discussion until you both reach a price you are happy with. Bear in mind, once the buyer and seller shake hands, social etiquette dictates the transaction is a completed deal that neither party backs out of. (Read tips to help you haggle like a local while travelling.)
On the same subject of bargaining, it is worth discussing the intense hassle while walking past shops, restaurants, and bars in tourist districts. Do not get angry or take it personally because it is just the Turkish way of doing business, and in recent years, authorities have stamped down and lessened the practice. This tradition stems from the Ottoman period when Turkey was an important trading route of the International Silk Road. The perfect solution is to smile, walk on, and do not engage in conversation.
10: The Social Greeting of Hello
When you travel, you will learn a lot about social greetings and making new friends is the norm in Turkey. Locals think nothing of asking strangers questions about their lives and often invite them into their home immediately after meeting them. If a friendship is formed, even saying hello becomes a joyous occasion, signified by both cheeks' kissing. Read more about unspoken Turkish rules that you might not know about when planning your trip.
Best Places to Visit: Whether you like sightseeing cruises, national parks, museums, historical sights, or avoiding the crowds by trekking off the beaten path, this list of top attractions to visit during your trip will make the difference. From the Bodrum Peninsula, the rolling green hills of the Kackar mountains, these stunning places of beauty will satisfy anyone with a travel wanderlust.
Souvenirs from Turkey: When you plan a trip to Turkey, no doubt, you will also think about what souvenirs to take home. Whether they are keepsakes or gifts for friends and family, they remind us about where we have been and our experiences during the trip. In this article, we listed the most popular souvenirs to put in your suitcase to finish our list of travel tips for Turkey.
Enjoying stunning panoramic sea views over Cikcilli, this Alanya penthouse is a very good buy at a very low price considering all that is on offer with this home. Situate yourself just minutes from the sea in one of Turkey's top destinations for tourism every summer.