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Some Tips for visiting Turkey

edited December 2011 in - Turkey
I just thought I'd offer some tips for visiting this amazing, beautiful, friendly yet sometimes frustrating country.

Before even booking a holiday check out the entry visa requirements on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
If you have any doubts at all contact the Turkish Embassy where you live.

Things here can change quickly so never assume anything. Also different officials may have different knowledge. If you are friendly towards them they are usually far less officious.

Allow time to buy your visa at the entry point and do not overstay the visa. The penalty is a fine calculated on the days you are over and a ban on entering Turkey for several months.

Be friendly where ever you go and you will get an enormous amount of help.

Change your mney here in Turkey - a better rate of exchange so just bring enough for the first couple of days of your holiday. The currency is Turkish Lira but you will see prices in Euros and most currencies are accepted. Make sure you have a good idea of the current exchange rate if paying in money other than lira.

Transport around is excellent. Great bus services from city to city and within cities dolmus (mini buses) or regular buses and in larger places tram ways. Taxis are plentiful and not too expensive.

Make sure you have adequate health insurance as health care is not the cheapest here in an emergency. However that said denistry is a lot cheaper than for example the UK and of a very high qualty especially for cosmetic work.

Lots of shopping opportunities from designer "fakes" such as clothing, handbags, sun glasses to beautiful leather and of course the gold.

More than anything - enjoy yourself :o)

I will add to this later


  • edited 10:19PM
    The local currency is the Turkish Lira. In most tourist areas many currencies are accepted including GBP, US$ and Euros. Sometimes you can get a good deal with these currencies. Do however be aware of the exchange rate that day which does fluctuate daily. Exchange rate is always more favourable in Turkey so my advice is to exchange a small amount before travelling then exchange here. There are lots of places to exchange. I generally find the Post Office offers a good rate and doesn't charge commission. Look out for the yellow and blue P.T.T. signs. Exchange offices and banks show the exchange rate in the window. Always though have a good idea of how many lira you should receive and demand a receipt. Quite a good idea is to exchange round amounts such as £100 to make quick calculations easier. ATMs are plentiful but do realise your bank may make charges. Most major credit cards are accepted - Visa, Mastercard etc.

    In the South where most of the tourist resorts are the weather is very hot between June and September. Expect temperatures in the 30 degC range. You can get a fairly accurate forecast at Weather Underground ( Don't ever under estimate the strength of the sun as it can be fairly windy and therefore deceptive especially in the South West. High factor sun screen and plenty of water is a must.

    Food and Drink
    Turkey has an amazingly rich cuisine history. Please do try the local dishes - each region has variations and specialities. I'll suggest a few widely available dishes but just try!!!

    Breakfast - can be a simple simit (bread and sesame seed ring) often served with cream cheese, tomato, cucumber and olives. I love menemen which is scrambled eggs cooked with tomatoes and green peppers in it's simplest form. Many places offer a buffet breakfast particularly at weekends for around 10 lira a person. Really sets you up for the day. There is a terrific range of both cold and hot breakfast dishes.
    Snacks - there are some wonderful baklava cafes. Beautiful honey, syrup and nut filled pastries. Try Kunefe a dessert made with cream cheese, served hot with syrup. On the savoury side there are lots of small cafes offering different simits and bread based snacks
    Kebaps - there is an amazing array of kebaps from the traditional doner in a wrap to eat as you walk along to beautiful dishes with yoghurt etc. A durum kebap is one wrapped with salad in a flatbread - if you want it on the plate ask for servis. Kokorec is a lamb based meat dish - sort of a lamb haggis cooked over an open flame. Be brave and try them all. Kofte are meatballs made from minced meat mixed with onion and spices sometimes with the addition of cheese.
    Fish - look out for local fish restaurants which also are fishmongers. Here you choose you fish from the display it is then weighed and cooked for you. Price is usually determined by weight. These restaurants are often called Han.
    Drink- The Turks all love their tea or cay )pronounced chay) served in tulip shaped glasses with sugar. Turkish coffee is served in small cups but order it medium or sweet or no sugar as the sugar is added as it is brewed. Many fruit juices are available. Visne is the cherry juice which is very refreshing. Ayran is made from yogurt mixed with water and salt - wonderfully refreshing and the perfect companion for kebaps and kofte. Salgam (pronounced shalgam) is fermented turnip juice and is available spicy or normal - an acquired taste but starngely addictive. The local beer is Efes and a lager type although there is a dark version available. WInes are palatable. Alcohol is quite expensive and imported even more so.

    Essentials to bring

    I'm not including passport etc here but a few things essential to Turkey

    Sun cream - it's very expensive here for recognised brands such as Ambre Solair and Nivea. There have been case of fake cream being sold in one or 2 places so to be sure bring your own. Remember to pack it in your hold baggage though. If you do run out buy from one of the bigger supermarkets or a chemist.
    Sink plug - sink plugs are not standard equipment here
    Tea Bags - if you can't live without your favourite brand. The only recognisable brand here is Liptons Yellow Label.

    Most other things are easily available.

    As a rule of thumb locally produced food and goods are a lot cheaper than imports.
  • edited 10:19PM
    @clarecg - love your comments and fascinating info - thanks so much for your contributions!
  • edited 10:19PM
    David - you're more than welcome. I do try to give a realistic view having been a tourist in Turkey for over 10 years and now living here.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Clarecg, I noticed on a different post you had said shops show prices in euro, if i was paying in GBP would i give them what they are asking in euro? This may sound really dull but i don't travel often. We are going to Antalya in a few weeks (8th may) and its only our second holiday, we are staying all inclusive 4 adults 2 children. we went to Egypt last year and suffered a little bit with our tummy's, do you think people often have upset tummy's here and if so what tips do you have for avoiding this? thanks in advance for any advice. and must say all your advice to others is fab.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Rosie, which hotel are you staying at?
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Rosie

    People can get upset tummies here - same as anywhere. Even a change in water (clean) can cause an upset. Just be vigilant and if unsure don't eat it! The tap water in Turkey is perfectly safe but often not very palateble as it has a strong mineral content or is very processed. Bottled water is available everywhere and cheap. Make sure anything you eat is cooked fully. Exercise the same caution that you would at home.

    Pharmacies (Eczane) here are an excellent port of call if you are taken ill. The pharmacists are very knowledgeable and helpful. Many medications are available over the counter which yu would need a prescription for in the UK. Loperamide is cheap and is the main ingredient in ?mmodium.

    ?f you choose to pay in GBP the rate of exchange quoted is usually Lira-GBP. ? say usually as there will always be the acception to the rule - check with the trader or ask for the price in GBP and do your own calculations.

    You are coming at a lovely time of year - not very hot and before everywhere becomes crowded and tired. Have a great holiday and don't forget your 10GBP each for your tourist visa :o)
  • edited 10:19PM
    A few myths seem to be very prevelent about Turkey - i'd like to dispel a few!!!!

    Turkey is dirty - Turkey is probably the cleanest country i've visited!! The culture here is very much for cleanliness. You see business owners cleaning the front of their premises every day (often twice). Turkey actually has one of the highest levels of bleach consumption ?n the world.

    You'll get Turk Tummy - No you won't if you excercise the usual caution as regards food and drink you would at home. The tap water here is pefectly clean and safe but not very palatable - it has a high mineral content which can cause upsets. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere.

    'They' hassle you - yes there are (usually) young men paid to get you into the restaurant, bar etc they work for. But many areas have bye laws trying to control this. Usually a polite No thank you is enough - far too often i've heard tourists swear at these people. At the end of the day the boss is watching them and only paying them if people come ?n!!

    'They'll' rip you off - No they won't!! They want your custom again and for you to recommend them to your friends and fellow hol?day makers.

    The men are all sleazy - As all over the world if men are offered something on a plate they will at the very least nibble! A lot of seasonal workers travel to the tourist areas from remote far more conservative areas of Turkey where women are very modest. Of course their eyes are out on stalks when they see to them virtually naked women walking around!! Please show a little respect. While boob tubes and hot pants are absolutely fine around the hotel, on the beach and at the pool a l?ttle more clothing in the supermarket, on the bus and in town is a far better option.

    Turkey is nearly 3rd world - ?t's very modern with all mod cons! There is a well structured education systen, excellent health care and hospitals,

    There are bound to be more misconceptions out there and i will do my best to explain them if anyone cares to ask :o)
  • edited 10:19PM
    Most places benefit from toilet paper not being disposed of in the toilet. There is a nifty little system in place though. All toilets in Turkey have an integral 'bum washer' - for want of a better description :oS - Usually beside the toilet there are 2 taps. One often the top one supplies water to the cistern so better not to fiddle too much with this. The other lower down generally at about the height of the seat supplies a clean stream of water from a little spout just under the rim of the pan. This washes the relevent region. You therefore only have to use the toilet paper to dry. Also saves having a bin with 'dirty' paper in it.

    Also quite a nice cool down on a hot day!!!

    in more remote areas or purely local places you may only find the squat type toilet. Most tourist areas though have the sit on type!
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hello Clare thanks for all the advice we are coming to Cat's Garden apts on 26th May really looking forward to it ... I have euros from a previous holiday and will bring them. I have 2 daughters age 14 with me, not old enough to go out alone, but want to do things which are not too childish. Any ideas?
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Lynne

    Which resort are the apartments in?

    A great day out from most resorts is a boat trip. Most visit out of the way coves and you can swim from the boat. Often snorkelling gear is provided. All that ? have been on have included lunch and tea in the afternoon (usually a cuppa and a biscuit). You generally buy your drinks on board and pay at the end of the trip. My kids always loved the boat trips and we'd often do more than one a holiday. Don't book with your travel rep though - the local guys are a lot cheaper and in most places you can see the size of boat you're going on. ? used to prefer smaller ones where you had more fun etc. Remember though it is unsheltered out there on the water and with there usually being a breeze the strength of the sun can be deceptive. Bring along a high factor sun cream!!

    Some area have water parks - another fun day.

    Otherwise really it depends what your girls enjoy.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Clare Thank you so much for your reply. The apartments are in Side I think ... we fly to Antalya. My husband isn't able to come and I hope we will be OK just me and my 2 daughters. We went to Skiathos last year and felt very safe. He is putting worries into my head!! Would you advise hiring a car to explore, or is it better to stay in the busy tourist areas?

    Thanks again,
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hiring a car is a great idea. Driving here is .......... fun but most roads are dual carriageway. There's lots to visit - Duden Waterfalls, Aspendos, Perge plus other resorts. i used to come as a single mum with 2 daughters and 2 sons and never felt anything but safe. Yes people may comment but usually it is well meant!

    As you are s/c a car would be useful to go to a big supermarket to stock up your fridge in the apartment with fruit juices sodas etc.

    You will have a lovely time ? am sure - check out your apartments on Trip Advisor as you may find people that have stayed there with some recommendations for the area. Don't take too much notice of rev?ews though as people tend to only write about anything they didn't like rather than praise!!!
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Clare Thank you very much for your help. We are really looking forward to the holiday.

    Thanks again,
  • edited 10:19PM
    Planning to visit turkey in July, It is meant to be a business trip.(I have a boutique in Nigeria). Pls can u advise on d best places to do my shopping. Which hotel is near to d shopping centre? Are dia places where they sell wholesale? I v read a lot abt d currency to bring along already.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Which area of Turkey are you intending to visit?
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Clarecg! Or anyone else who may want to comment :)
    My friends and I are going to Bodrum for a week in September. We are coming from the US and have never gone anywhere abroad and are all excited to visit Turkey! After reading some of ur earlier comments I know that we should use liras, exchange mny in Turkey, pay around $20 for visas...but what do you recommend we do for fun in Bodrum? We are staying 5 days on a tight budget. We havent found hotel yet, plan to use public trans/walk, look forward to trying Turkish cuisine and going to beach. Any thoughts? Thanks for your time! Kingsley
  • edited 10:19PM
    Are you looking to party? ?t may be worth looking at hotels in Gumbet if so. Very much the party place.

    You can travel around the area very easily from Bodrum bus station. The Gumbet Bodrum dolmus (mini bus) service operates 24/7 and ? think is around 2.5 lira per person a trip.

    ?n Bodrum itself are some fairly cheap eateries if you take a step back from the main tourist drag! There are some inexpensive small hotels and pensions very central to everything as well. ?t's a long time since ? went partying there but there quite a few lively bars etc. Not much of a beach though but you could cach a dolmus out to other areas for that. Most small hotels do have a pool.

    Best advice ? can offer is have a browse on something like Alpha rooms or lowcost rooms for accommodation. Several years ago ? stayed at the Kavala Hotel and while the accommodation was pretty basic it was clean and central. Also at that time each room had a small kitchenette.

    ?f you enjoy a drink or 2 it is probably best to bring over a bottle of your favourite tipple duty free as alcohol prices have rocketed here. That way you enjoy a cheeky drink or 2 in your own room before going out!! Have a think about looking for a self catering place as well. You get a (very) basic kitchen but a fridge you can stock from one of the bigger supermarkets so you can have snacks and prepare breakfast and lunch there at a fraction of the eating out costs. Also it's the incidental around the pool drinks that rack up your spending. ?f you have sodas and fruit juices in your apartment it's easy enough to nip back for a drink then. Also at the supermarket buy the larger 5 litres of water - much cheaper than smaller bottles at the local shops.

    Lots to see and do around the area from Bodrum Castle to walks along the coast. Boat trips are an excellent value for money day as well - book with the local guys. Do compare prices though first and with anything have a little haggle!
  • edited August 2012
    Hi Clare,

    I have been reading through your posts with interest and want to thank you as they are very informative. I am taking my family on an all inclusive holiday to the Champion Village Hotel in the Beldibi area at the end of October and this is the first time we have travelled to Turkey, first time we have gone anywhere all inclusive come to think of it.

    Now although we are going all inclusive we would still like to get out to try the local cuisine and wanted to ask if the local bus service runs late into the evening or should we be looking at taxis?
  • edited 10:19PM
    I am planning on visiting Turkey late this year. The trip is business matter so i might not get alot of days for sight seeing. Can yo guys suggest some of the best places to visit. I might have a maximum of a week to myself.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Thank you folks to getting the information about these specific places of worldwide. As I am considering the place has so fascinating history to make this beautiful spot better.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Off to historanu in oct any tips of places to visit?
  • Turkey is a beautiful place i love Turkey and also Musandam Dibba ?
  • edited 10:19PM
    Sorry for the delay replying but have just moved home and waited and waited for internet reconnection.....

    Beldibi is in a great area. Lots of local places to eat out at. Buses generally run until around 11.30 or midnight. Worth visiting nearby are Goynuk Canyon - worth a taxi from Goynuk itself as quite a long walk to the Canyon entrance. Also get the bus to Olympos or Cirali from the main road. Beautiful unspoilt places with fascinating beaches, fire coming out of rocks and some ancient ruins. Take a browse at

    David92 - which part of Turkey will you be visiting on business? May be able to give you a better idea of other places once ? know that or others can offer their expertise
  • If you come to Istanbul , firstly u should visit to historical peninsula and then new part of city and theeeen absolutly istaklal street for night times and for some events contact with us . ... A.t Organization.... [email protected]
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Clarecg

    I would like to come and visit Turkey for the first time and I want to come and buy clothes to resell, where can I get good priced quality clothes, shoes & bags for ladies. How much would you recommend one to bring and how many days does one need to go through the markets or malls?
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hmmm interesting one Tonto as in the last week or so regulations have been introduced here banning the fake designer goods and it remains to be seen how rigorously this is reinforced. You could also face confiscation of the goods with or without a penalty fine on entering your own country with them.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi i am planning to visit Turkey on my vacation this August - Sept, which is the nest place to stay where i will be near to all beautiful and shopping areas. Is it safe for single woman?

    Thank you
  • edited 10:19PM
    It seems you have a lot of knowledge about turkey and its round abouts. I am amazed by knowing a lot about turkey.
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Justin

    I have travelled many times on my own to Turkey. Antalya is a great choice as you have the advantages of a city (shopping is great!!) but so close to some fabulous scenery and geographical features plus the ancient historic sites. Maybe look at staying near the beach in a resort for a few days to unwind, then in Kaleici (the old town at the heart of Antalya). I have never really had any problems in Turkey alone - just exercise the same caution as you would at home - e.g avoid lonely areas alone at night, be careful with your money/passport etc.

    Costaless - I don't even claim to know a lot about Turkey - I learn at least one new thing everyday!!! I just give people my view from experience of being a tourist in Turkey for over 10 years and living here for the past 3 and a half years!!!!
  • edited 10:19PM
    Hello Clare,

    I am visiting Istanbul in May this year and was wondering if there are any beach you would recommend near Istanbul. I am visiting Turkey for 6 days and plan to do Istanbul and a beach nearby.

  • edited 10:19PM
    Hi Pulakit

    I am not very familiar with the coastal areas near to Istanbul so would hesitate to recommend anywhere. Hopefully someone more familiar with that area will be able to help.

    Otherwise look at various tour companies ont he internet - those offering tours in Turkey and see where they go then make your choice.

    I hope you find somewhere :)
  • y Hey Clare
    We are visiting bodrum in turkey next week on a all inclusive holiday.
    Just wondered what currency you believe is best to bring and what amounts should we tip the staff in the hotel
    We are also very keen on gang on a day trip to kos
    If you have any hints that would be great :) thank you
  • The Turkish currency is Turkish Lira which can be easily bought in any travel agent, Post office, bank, Money shop etc in the United Kingdom before you go on holiday.

    Cash points (ATMs) can be found in all tourist resorts and large cities just the same as the UK so don't worry Mizzykiitykat you wont have a problem .

    Can't help with your question on tipping as I have never been on an all inclusive or package holiday

    I am sure the 4 day trip on offer by your tour operator to Kos will be expensive. There are lots of ferry boats sailing from Bodrum to Kos for about  17 Euros return (£14)

    You can also visit the Greek Islands Rhodes and Kalymnos. Greek money is the Euro so you will need to buy some Euros if you travel to the Greek Islands.

    You can also visit Marmaris and Datca  in Turkey by ferry from Bodrum.
  • edited September 2013
    in my opinion when we go to turkey, the beautiful place of natural beauty. the gulet is the best options for visiting turkey people enjoy allot here with yacht charter or also able to enjoy excellent quality of food. so a complete trip.
  • Ady11 a gulet is not a suitable holiday for everyone.Being on a boat with complete strangers in close quarters is not everyone cup of tea,
    Many people suffer from motion sickness and are picky eaters preferring to the chips with everything buffets at an all inclusive hotel.
    A gulet holiday does not show you any parts of Turkey that are not on the Aegean or Mediterranean coastlines.

    Each to his own
  • edited December 2015
    Well one area which most travelers ignore is the currency.They tend to delay this important part of travel preparation.You can convert currency online with many currency converters as they provide good authentic and rleaible exchange rates 
  • edited January 2014
    Well! You have shared useful information. I also want to add more more about it. I have two more tips..
    First one is If you are planning to spend holidays  in Turkey for more than a week then you must  convert your money a little at a time. Inflation is high in Turkey (50% in 1999) and you will be surprised by the changes a week in exchange rates can bring. 
    2nd one is If you purchase your visa at your point of entry have cash. They do not take traveler's checks, credit cards or Turkish lira. So, be careful....
  • edited January 2014
    Houston , having recently returned from Turkey I can confirm that there has not been raging inflation for years.As of December 2013 inflation was 7.40 per cent. 
    The Turkish government passed a law in 2003 removing six zeros from the lira paving the way for the New Turkish Lira which came into being in 2005 thus normalising the currency. Consequently there have not been fluctuations in exchange rates as seen prior to 2005.

    Here are last years Turkish Lira to Pound Sterling exchange rates 

    Highest: 3.8472 TRY on 25 Jan 2014.

    Average: 3.3298 TRY over this period.

    Lowest: 3.1403 TRY on 02 Sep 2013.

    Visa Fees payable at Turkish airports are payable in three currencies Pound Sterling, Us Dollars and Euros

    £10 (pound Sterling)

    or $20 (US dollars)

    or 15 Euros

    However after 10 April 2014 ALL visas must be bought in advance on line here

  • Visa fees depend on your nationality. Only purchase from the link given in the previous post. Several "middle man" websites have appeared looking very like the official government site but charging a lot more and a longer delay in receiving your visa. Computer booths have been set up in airports for those that have forgotten but are more expensive. Also if you have a problem or are ineligible for this visa you are stuck!
    At the moment the exchange rate is amazing so could be worth exchanging more money to lira than you normally would as who knows what will happen in the summer. Currently it's around 3.5 to the £ when previously getting 2.5 was considered a good deal.
  • Thanks for your tips :-)
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