Travel Tips for Turkey



General Information About Turkey



Official name: Republic of Turkiye


Location: Turkey is located in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia. European (or Balkan) Turkey is relatively small compared to the Asian part, the Anatolian Plateau, which is a large peninsula.


Area: 780,580 sq. km (301,382 square miles) with a total coastline of 8,430 km (5,238 miles)


Population: 82,579,000 (December 2020 est.)   


Capital: Ankara (5.445 million inhabitants)


Landscape: The Asian part of the country - Anatolia is a high hilly plateau with narrow coastal plains. Its northern part is covered by the Pontic and Koroglu mountain ranges, the southern by Taurus Mountains. Eastern Turkey has a more mountainous landscape. The rivers Euphrates, Tigris and Aras spring there. Anatolia is surrounded by the Black Sea to the north, Aegean Sea to the West and the Mediterranean sea to the south. The European part is covered by parts of Eastern Thrace plane and Strandzha mountain. It is separated by Anatolia (Asia Minor) by the Black Sea, Bosphorus, Marmara, Dardanelles and Aegean Sea. The biggest town in Turkey is Istanbul, which steps on both continents.


State Government: Turkey is a republican parliamentary democracy. Turkey is the only country with a Muslim majority population (99.8%) that operates under a secular constitution and a democratic government.


Official Language: Turkish


Religions: Islam is the largest religion of Turkey, with 99.8 % of the population being registered as Muslim (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews).


Time Difference:


Turkey is in the Eastern European Time Zone. Eastern European Standard Time (EET) is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). Like most states in Europe, Summer (Daylight-Saving) Time is observed in Turkey, where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour; 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+3).


After the Summer months, the time in Turkey is shifted back by 1 hour to Eastern European Time (EET) or (GMT+2)


Weather: Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas enjoy the typical Mediterranean climate. There is hardly a drop of rain during the sunny and hot summer (May to October). The water temperature in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is warm and fluctuates between 23° and 28°C from north to south. The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has a transitional climate between Oceanic climate and semi-Mediterranean climate. The water temperature in the Sea of Marmara is also colder than the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas reaching only between 20° and 24°C during the summer (June, July and August). The Black Sea region has an oceanic climate (thanks to the protective shield effect of Caucasus mountains) with the greatest amount of precipitation throughout the year.


Most of the coastal areas have a high level of relative humidity during most of the year which makes hot weather feel hotter and cold weather feel colder than it actually is.


Country dialing code: +90


Measure units: degree Celsius (ºC), meter (m.), litre (l.).



Turkish language belongs to the Altay branch of the Ural-Altaic linguistic family, same as Finnish and Hungarian. It is the westernmost of the Turkic languages spoken across Central Asia and is generally classified as a member of the South-West group, also known as the Oguz group. Until 1928, Turkish was written with a version of the Perso-Arabic script known as the Ottoman Turkish script. In 1928, as part of his efforts to modernize Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk issued a decree replacing the Arabic script with a version of the Latin alphabet, which has been used ever since.




Travel Basics  



With such a large landmass, Turkey enjoys a variety of climates, earning the country the nickname ‘the land of four seasons’.


In Istanbul and around the sea of Marmara the climate is moderate. The average temperature in winter is 4°C and in summer - 27°C (39- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit). In Western Turkey there is a mild Mediterranean climate with average temperatures of 9°C in winter and 29°C in summer. The climate of the Anatolian Plateau is a steppe climate (there is a great temperature difference between day and night). Rainfall is low but in winter there is more snow. The average temperature is 23°C in summer and -2 in winter. The climate in the Black Sea area is wet, warm and humid (summer 23, winter 7). In Eastern and South-Eastern Anatolia there is a long hard winter and sometimes the snow falls from November until the end of April (the average temperature in winter is -13 and in summer 17°C).


Food & Drinks  


Fully justifying its reputation, Turkish Cuisine is always a pleasant surprise for the visitor. It combines Mediterranean, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Arabic influences, and is extremely rich. Beef is the most important meat (lamb is also common while pork is forbidden & extremely hard but not impossible to find). The most common preparations are roasting and grilling, which produce the famous Turkish kebaps, including döner kebap and köfte. Kebabs are dishes of plain or marinated meat either stewed or grilled. Almost every district of Anatolia has its own kebap specialty. Eggplant (aubergine), onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber are the primary vegetables. An abundance of spices is also used. The main staples are rice (pilav), bulgur wheat and bread, and dishes are typically cooked in vegetable oil or sometimes butter. In the Black Sea region of Turkey they make a great dish with rice and small fish called "Hamsili pilav". Snacks, side dishes and street foods include gözleme (fresh-baked flat bread folded over savory ingredients) and börek (pastry filled with cheese and vegetables or meat). Turkish sweets are famous throughout the world and many of these have milk as the basic ingredient such as "sütlac", "tavuk gögsü", "kazandibi", "helva", "asure", but the best-known are "baklava" and "kadayif" pastries.


Among the national drinks, Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, ayran, shira, salgam, sahlep and boza should be mentioned. Turkish coffee comes thick and dark in a small cup and may be served with or without sugar. If you like alcohol you can try "Raki" (clear grape brandy flavored with anise and diluted with water).




By plane:


You can find contact information of Turkey's major airports below.














KAYSERI (Cappadocia) -


NEVSEHİR (Cappadocia) -




By train:


You can still travel from Europe to Turkey by train, although these days this is more of historical or perhaps even romantic interest than fast or practical. The famed Orient Express from London now travels no further than Vienna, but you can take the daily Trans Balkan from Budapest (Hungary) via Bucharest (Romania), a two-night journey with a scheduled 3-hour stop in Bucharest. 1st/2nd class sleepers and couchettes are available, but the train lacks a restaurant cart so stock up on supplies. From/to Greek stations there are two daily services, from Istanbul to the border station of Pythion every morning and from Istanbul to Thessaloniki every night. (Due to budget cuts by the Greek government, the services to/from Greece has been suspended indefinitely.) There are also daily trains to Istanbul from Sofia (Bulgaria).   



By bus:


Turkey has a very good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good-quality service, at least with the major operators. Buses are often crowded, but smoking is strictly prohibited.



By taxi:


All taxis are required to have digital meters (taksimetre), and to run them. This doesn't mean they always do. If your driver doesn't start the taksimetre or tries to haggle at the start of the trip instead of running it, just point to the meter emphatically and say Taksimetre! (TAHK-see-MEH-treh). It'll probably be cheaper.


(The exception is for inter-city trips, when a set fee—usually posted or printed somewhere—is the rule and ends up being cheaper.) Taxis may also travel between cities or from cities or airports to resort towns. For these longer trips of, say, 10 or 20 km (6 to 12 miles) or more, set rates may have been established. If not, you may want to haggle for an agreeable rate before you begin your journey.


Border crossing


As of April 17, 2013, electronic visa (e-Visa) replaces “sticker visa” which was issued at the border crossings. Applicants just need to log on to, provide the requested information, (after the application is approved) make an online payment and download their e-Visa.


Please note that e-visa is only valid when the purpose of travel is tourism or commerce. Other purposes, such as work and study, require regular visa given by Embassies or Consulates.


The term "official passports" covers diplomatic, service, special and official passports.

You are kindly advised to have a travel document/passport valid for at least 6 months as from the date of your arrival in Turkey.


Regardless of the visa regime applied towards the citizens of a country, the travel document holders of that country need to obtain visa from Turkish missions beforehand.

If you have a valid visa, you do not need a residence permit up to 90 days. On the other hand, foreigners who shall reside, work or study in Turkey, should register themselves at the nearest local police department upon their arrival in Turkey, regardless of the validity of their visa. When obtaining visas at the border or airport, seek out the separate visa sales desk before getting in the line for passport control.

For UK passport holders, American or Canadian tourists the visa is valid for 3 months, so if you're planning regular visits to Turkey you won't necessarily need to pay for each visit.


Free import:

  • Tobacco products (for travellers aged 18 and over): 200 cigarettes and 5 cigarillos (not exceeding 3g each) and 10 cigars and 200 grammes of tobacco (with 200 cigarette papers) or 200 grammes chewing tobacco or 200 grammes of water-pipe tobacco or 50 grammes of snuff tobacco.
  • Alcoholic beverages (for travellers aged 18 and over): 1 bottle of 1 litre or 2 bottles of 700 ml./750ml. of wine and/or spirits;
  • 5 bottles of perfume (max. 120 ml. each);
  • Gifts up to the value of EUR 300.- (EUR 145.- for those aged under 15);
  • 1 kg of coffee, 1 kg of instant coffee, 500 g of tea, 1 kg of chocolate, 1 kg food made of sugar; 
  • Medications for personal use.


Free export:

  • 2 kgs/3 cartons of local tobacco products, 5 kgs. of alcoholic beverages/12 bottles of Raki/local drinks and foodstuffs up to a total value of TRY 100.-, each commodity not to exceed 5 kgs.;
  • Gift articles up to a value of TRY 5,000.-. If more is exported, proof is required that foreign currency has been exchanged to the amount in excess of TRY 5,000.-. Prohibited: antiques, grain products, tea, cacao, coffee and spices.


Turkish airports with customs facilities are: Adana (ADA), Ankara (ESB), Antalya (AYT), Bodrum (BJV), Bursa (YEI), Dalaman (DLM), Denizli (DNZ), Elazig (EZS), Erzincan (ERC), Erzurum (EZR), Gaziantep (GZT), Hatay (HTY), Istanbul Ataturk (IST), Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (SAW), Izmir (ADB), Kayseri (ASR), Konya (KYA), Malatya (MLX), Nevsehir (NAV), Samsun (SZF), Sanliurfa (GNY), Sivas (VAS) and Trabzon (TZX).



Money / Banks / Credit Cards


The unit of Turkish money is the Turkish Lira (Türk Lirası, TL or TRY). It's usually best to obtain your Turkish liras in Turkey rather than before you leave home, as the exchange rates outside Turkey are usually not as good as those inside the country. Sterling, Euros, and Dollars can be easily changed into Turkish Lira at all banks, post offices (PTT) and change offices.


There are legal exchange offices in all cities and almost any town. Banks also exchange money, but they are not worth the hassle as they are usually crowded and do not give better rates than exchange offices. You can see the rates office offers on the (usually electronic) boards located somewhere near its gate.


At change bureaus always shop around for the best exchange rate. Make sure the commission rate is no higher than 3%.


Tourism-oriented industries in tourism-oriented towns, as well as shops where big amounts of money change hands, like supermarkets, in most parts of the country, generally accept foreign currency (usually limited to Euro and American Dollars only), but the rates they accept the currency are usually a little lower than those of exchange offices. Ask first if they accept foreign currency.


The majority of the banks have ATMs and there are a huge number of free-standing ones at strategic points. They operate in the same way as those throughout the USA and Europe. There is an option on most to choose the language and in some cases to choose Turkish Lira, Dollars, or Euros. Be careful in the free-standing air-conditioned booths - sometimes groups of men tamper with these - they can hide each other in the booth. It's often safer to use those in bank buildings!


On your trip to Turkey, you can use your major credit card to pay for most purchases; however, please note for example if you make a reservation and pay in advance online with a credit card for some travel services such as airline flights, car rentals, etc., you may be required to provide the exact same credit card at boarding time!


Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, American Express much less so.


You can see Turkish notes and coins in circulation at:


Central Bank of the Republic Of Turkey Official Website



IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you plan to use your credit/debit card in Turkey, please inform your bank on your intention before departure! Otherwise, it is very possible that your bank will block your account/ card for security reasons when you try to use it abroad! Unblocking your card, when abroad, may cost you lots of phone calls and troubles!



Post offices

Post offices are recognizable by their yellow-black PTT signs. Letters and cards should be taken to a post office since the postboxes on the streets are rare (and there is no guarantee that they are emptied at all, even if you spot one). Major post offices are open from 08:00-00:00 Monday to Saturday and from 09:00-19:00 on Sundays. Smaller offices are open from 08:30-12:30 and from 13:30-17:30 and may be closed at weekends.


For more details please visit:




Internet: Although not as widespread as they used to be in the last decade with more and more Turkish households tuning in DSL connections, internet cafes or net cafes are still available in reasonable numbers in cities and towns. In fact, any major town has at least one. All of them have good DSL connections, and price for connection is about more or less 1.50 TL/hour. Free wireless connections are available at some airports, hotels and restaurants/cafés (especially in big cities).


Phone calls: While not as common as they used to be, possibly because of the widespread use of mobile phones, public pay phones can still be found at the sides of central squares and major streets in towns and cities and around post offices (PTT), especially around their outer walls. With the phase-out of old magnetic cards, public phones now operate with chip Telekom cards which are available in 30, 60 or 120 units and can be obtained at post offices, newspaper and tobacco kiosks. (However, emergency numbers can be called without card or anything from these phones.)


Pre-paid mobile phone SIM cards can be purchased for approximately 60-70 TL. These can be purchased at the airport on arrival or from the many outlets in Istanbul and other large cities. Providers include Vodafone, Turkcell and Turk Telekom.




The mains voltage for electricity is 220V and 50Hz.

Central European type wall socket (two-pin plugs) is standard in Turkey.


Business hours

Government Offices  : 8.30 to 12.30, 13.30 to 17.30 (Closed Saturday and Sunday)

Banks                           : 9.00 to 12.30, 13.30 to 17.00 (Closed Saturday and Sunday)

Shops                           : 9.30 to 19.00 (closed on Sunday)

Covered Bazaar          : 8.00 to 19.00 (closed on Sunday)

Shopping Malls          : 10.00 to 22.00 (everyday)



There is no guarantee that any English will be spoken on any of these emergency and helpline telephone numbers. Calls to the following emergency numbers are free of charge; the lines are available 24 hours a day.  




Police: 155


Fire: 110