More than the cliché image of a bridge between East and West, Turkey is better known for its eclectic mix between the mysterious and familiar. Through out history it has been touched by great civilizations, each leaving a piece behind creating a country of contrasts.
In the end, Turkey’s vast landscape, filled with small towns, big cities, mountains and beaches, makes it a destination worth visiting. These Turkey Travel Tips will help you plan your next vacation.
- Turkish power voltage is 220 V 50 Hz; Power sockets C & E
- The local currency is Turkish Lira (TRY) and is around 1.5 TRY to 1 USD
- The easiest currencies to convert to TRY are US dollars and Euros; change offices offer the best rates. It is advisable that travellers carry a mixture of cash (in small denominations), an ATM card and a major credit card to avoid problems.
- Since 2014, travellers can not get a visa upon arrival in Turkey. Last year, a new visa system was implemented, which now requires travellers to apply for a tourist visa or “e-visa” online at the official Turkish government website.
- Make sure to book your hotel along the T-1 Tram for a hassle free stay in Istanbul. This line takes you to all major areas in the city, such as Sultanahmet for the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, the Galata Bridge.
- Haggling is a way of life in Istanbul, especially in the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. Always negotiate as prices can be double or even triple the original price – rule of thumb is immediately halve the original asking price and start from there!
Budget – Turkey provides cheap accommodation for as low as $7 per night with free continental breakfast.
Mid Range – Mid-range hotels range around $79 per night. They provide cloth racks, free toiletries, hairdryer and minibar with other facilities too.
High End – High-end hotels start from $120. They provide a private beach, private balcony, flat TV screen, safe, VIP room facilities and much more.
- Corba – This is a very simple yet delicious soup dish that is also very popular in Turkey. Most of the Turks have it for breakfast too. Black cabbage soup is traditional in the black sea region.
- Kumpir – This is a Turkish street food mostly found on beach resorts. These are potato jackets with an outer crispy skin and soft inside skin mashed up with butter.
- Pide or Lahmacun – This is a popular dish in a cheap traditional Turkish restaurant. The top of the pastry is topped with cheese, egg, chicken or diced meat. It is an ideal option for vegetarians and is used as fillings.
- Baklava – This is a popular Turkish sweet that is perfect for people with a sweet tooth. The pastry is fulfilled with nuts and syrup.
- Mezes – These are eaten as appetizers, which are snacks before meals. It consists of a hot paste made from peppers, yogurt, garlic, and cucumbers.
- Meatballs (Kofte) – These are sold as street food in wraps and served with rice and salad in restaurants. There are various kinds of meatballs depending upon the region they are being made.
- Street Kebab – These are popular street foods and are held in large skewers.
Flights: There are many direct flights from Europe to Turkey as well as cities in North America such as New York and Los Angeles.
You can check for the best flights to Turkey on Skyscanner.
Buses: Modern buses in Turkey costs TL8 per 100km.
Taxis/Uber: All the yellow cabs contain meters. They start at a standard rate of 3.20 Turkish Lira and charges are 2 TL per km.
Car Rental: You can rent a car for as low as 50 Turkish lira per day. Although these rates keep changing with cities.
You can also compare prices here.
Places to Stay
- Titanic Mardan Palace – This hotel is situated on the shores of the Turkish Riviera. It is one of the most luxurious resorts in the Mediterranean. The hotel has a pool, mini bar, and room service.
- Rixos Downtown Antalya – This hotel is set in the exotic gardens of Ataturk Culture Park. It also offers a lagoon-style pool, shuttle to the beach and a spa where the guests can enjoy a relaxing massage and a Turkish bath.
- Celsus Boutique Hotel – This hotel has a free Wi-Fi connection all over the hotel with a pool and a sauna along with free breakfast.
- Dress conservatively. Outside tourist areas women should be dressed conservatively (long pants, shirts with arms and shoulders covered) while men are recommended to keep their shoulders and legs covered. Travelers visiting mosques need to have their legs, arms and shoulders covered while also removing their shoes – some mosques, like the Blue Mosque, provide clothes for tourists to cover up with.
- Sarongs – I think we have sarongs in every packing list. From covering up when visiting mosques, being used as a towel or keeping cool on a hot night.
- Pack loose clothing with breathable fabric – cover up with fabric you know will breathe, especially if you plan on heading into the Sahara desert or to one of the coastal regions. Tunics are a great option as they can be dressed up or down, are lightweight and offer good coverage.
- Kleenex/toilet paper – be prepared for squat toilets by always carrying around toilet paper and small coins with you as many public toilets are not free. Handy wipes are also highly recommended.
- Water bottle – Water is not potable in Turkey – do not drink or even brush your teeth with tap water. Consider taking a portable water bottle or a Steripen on your trip
See our packing tips: packing tips
When to Go
Turkey is a country of polar opposites, the most important climate distinctions within the country are between the coast with its moderate winter temperatures and hot, humid summers and the inland areas with their extremely cold winters and excessively hot summers.
In fact, the farther east you travel in Turkey, the more pronounced these extremes become with much of Eastern Turkey covered in snow from December to April while summer time temperatures in that region can peak at 45 degrees Celsius.
Along with temperature extremes, Turkey’s east meets west fusion mentality means that while some cities can be quite cosmopolitan, rural communities have still retained their old customs and traditions.
Things to Do
- Get lost in Istanbul – Shop at the Grand Baazar, take pictures from the top of Galata Tower, take in the nightlife in Ortakoy or sip Turkish coffee. Istanbul is your oyster ready to be cracked open and devoured!
- Explore the other Istanbul– When one travels to this ancient city they think of The Bosphorus cutting through Europe and Asia, the Galata Tower looking towards the old city at Hajia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, but there is another side to Istanbul away from the top tourist stops and it begins with staying as a local.
- Hot air balloon ride – If you ever get a chance to visit Turkey, make sure to take a hot air balloon ride. Cappadocia is every photographer’s dream.
- Mount Nemrut – This is a top sightseeing viewpoint. You will want to visit this place during sunrise to watch the breathtaking view.
- Pergamum – This ancient site consists of the remainder of old temples. If you want to relive the Roman era, this place is a must-visit.
- Enter the Blue Mosque – explore the outside and inside of one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks: The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more famously known as the Blue Mosque.
- Go back in time at the Goreme National Park – the Goreme valley and its surroundings contain dwellings, troglodyte villages, underground towns and remains of traditional human habitats that date back to the 4th century. After you finish exploring why take a hot air ballon ride and catch the sunrise while flying over the Fairy Chimneys.
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies.
We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices, not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling you should always have travel insurance. We do.