For the past few years Turkey has been in the top 10 most popular holiday destinations, and this is not without reason: few countries are as multifaceted as Turkey. The sun shines in Turkey 300 days a year. The country has lovely beaches, a vibrant nature, rich culture, historic cities, and hospitable and friendly people who follow many ancient traditions. Turkey offers something for everyone!
Turkey is geographically situated in both Europe as well as Asia. Due to its unique location, its culture and traditions have developed into its own unique form. It is important to keep the laws, rules, and cultural norms in mind when traveling to Turkey. With the information on this page, you will be well prepared for your trip to Turkey.
Facts and numbers
|Inhabitants||82827200 inhabitants (2019)|
|Religion||Muslim: 98%, Christian: 0,2%|
|Time difference||3 hours later|
|Electricity||220V (no travel plug required)|
|Life expectancy||Men: 71,33 jaar, women: 75,35 jaar|
|Tap water||Not safe to drink|
|World wonders||Temple of Artemis, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus|
Geographically, Turkey is situated for the most part in West-Asia (97%), and for a small part in Europe (3%). Asia and Europe come together in Istanbul. The nation borders on 8 countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
Turkey used to consist of the peninsula Anatolia (the current Asian part of Turkey) and Thrace (the current European part of Turkey). It was home to many different civilizations, such as the Byzantines, the Seljuks and the Ottomans, giving it a rich cultural history and ancient traditions.
Turkey as part of the Roman- and Byzantine Empire
In the 2nd century B.C, Anatolia was conquered by the Romans and became a province of the Roman Empire. Because of this, many of its inhabitants converted to Christianity. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Anatolia became a part of the Byzantine Empire. In 1453 the Byzantine empire was defeated by the Ottomans. Later, the Byzantine Empire split apart into many different smaller states, and the Ottoman Empire was founded.
Seperation of the Ottoman Empire
During the First World War the Ottoman Empire was on the side of the Germans and Hungarians, which lost the war. Due to this the Ottoman Empire had to relinquish some of its territories. After the first World War and the Turkish war of liberation, Turkey as we know it today was founded under Atatürk.
Modern day Turkey
The Turkey we know today began with the founding of the republic in 1923, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922. After the fall of this vast empire, a constitution was written and the first president of Turkey was elected: Atatürk. Under his leadership many reforms were pushed through: religion was separated from the state, women received voting rights, Islamic schools were transformed into public schools, and the Arabic alphabet was replaced with the Latin alphabet, and usage of Persian words was discourages.
How Turkey came by her name
The name ‘Turkey’(as spelled in Turkish) consists of two words: “Türk” and “–iye”. TTürk means ‘strong’ in Turkish, and refers to the people of Turkey. Later, this word was changed to “Tu-kin”, because this is what the Chinese called Turkey. The word “-iye” comes from the Arab sufix “-iyya”, which means ‘owner’ in Latin. When combined, these two words reveal the meaning of the name Turkey: strong owner.
Language and culture
In Turkey, the official spoken language is Turkish (90.5% of the people speak Turkish). Because of its history, other languages are spoken as well, such as Kurdish, Armenian, Arab, and Greek. Turkey does not have an official state religion, but by far the largest religion in the country is Islam; roughly 96% of its people are Muslim, and there are more than 80.000 mosques in Turkey. The most popular sport in Turkey is football, with its two largest teams, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, frequently competing in the Europa or Champions League.
Hospitality and friendliness
Turkish people are generally speaking very hospitable; you might find yourself invited for a cup of tea during your travels, and accepting it is greatly appreciated. Make sure to remove your shoes upon entering the establishment. Likewise, if you wish to visit a mosque, you have to remove your shoes and wear clothing which covers your shoulders, arms, and legs. Women are expected to cover their heads with a scarf, though this is not always insisted upon. Should you not have appropriate clothes and still want to enter the mosque, then you can often find proper clothing at the entrance to the mosque which you can ask to borrow.
Turkey is home to many muslims, and muslims don’t drink alcohol. This is why nowadays it can be difficult to find alcohol beverages outside of the major cities. Even within the cities themselves it can prove challenging to acquire alcohol, in part due to anti-alcohol campaigns by the government. Aside from that, alcohol is relatively expansive, while other products are relatively cheap in Turkey.
It is important to know that talking about politics in Turkey can be a sore spot. Likewise, talking about the recent events surrounding president Erdogan can prove a sensitive subject. Openly criticizing the history and politics of Turkey is thus not appreciated.
Weather and climate
Turkey is a large country that, from a climatic point of view, lies on a crossroads. In the east there is a pronounced continental climate with very hot summers and ice-cold winters. The area around the Mediterranean Sea has a Mediterranean climate and the north coast a maritime climate. The southeast even has a desert climate with very little rain. Below is the climate table of the Turkish Riviera.
Average min. temperature in °C
Avg. min. temp in °C
Average max. temperature in °C
Avg. max. temp in °C
Average number of days rain
Avg. number of days rain
Inform yourself on the weather
Due to the vast difference in climates, one season in Turkey can hold many different kinds of weather. In the winter it can be scorching hot in the south, while it can be extremely chilly in the east. Always check beforehand what the weather and climate at your travel destination will be like. Prepare yourself well for all the different weather types so you can get the most out of your trip.
Best travel time for weather
Turkey is an extremely popular holiday destination for a reason: you can travel to it throughout the year. Should you travel to the coast, we recommend you travel in spring or fall. April, May, June, July, September and the beginning of October are perfect months to visit Turkey if you are looking for a sunny holiday.
Staying in hotels and hostels is relatively cheap, and traveling in Turkey is likewise inexpensive and possible through the various different methods. If you plan on traversing large distances, it is best to make use of domestic flights, as these are quite cheap. You can also make use of bus rides which are both comfortable as well as affordable. Beware that you don’t buy a bus ticket on the street, but at the bus station. A cheap way to traverse short distances is by bus, taxi, or rental car. Take note if you plan on using a rental car: the traffic rules might differ from those in the UK.
On most highways and on several of the larger bridges, a toll is levied. This toll has to be paid for electronically through the HGS-system. To pay for this toll you buy a vignette for 5 Turkish Lira, or a prepaid card for 15 Turkish Lira which can be used for multiple vehicles.
The Turkish immigration service is very strict in monitoring the export of Turkish objects predating 1918, so be careful what you take with you as a souvenir. Of course the importing of drugs is illegal (beware that some types of medicine can be seen as drugs; always carry a doctor’s letter with you for each of your medicine). If you are 18 years or older, you can carry 1 bottle of 1 litre or 2 bottles of 0,75 litre of liquor with you.
You have to possess a valid passport or identification card if you wish to travel to Turkey. This also holds for children from 12 years on. A passport has to be valid for at least 150 days upon arrival. An ID-card is expected to be valid for the entirety of your stay in Turkey.
A visa for Turkey is mandatory!
Do you wish to travel to Turkey for holiday or business? Then applying for an e-visa is mandatory. The e-visa is the replacement for the old visa for Turkey. Without an e-visa you are not allowed to visit the country, because Turkey has a visa requirement. Even babies and children are required to carry their own visas. Always apply for a visa. This visa is valid for 180 days and will be received automatically by email after approval. You can then print this e-visa or show it on your phone or tablet to the immigration service, should you need to do so.
» Apply for a Turkey visa.
In Turkey, people pay with the Turkish lira. However, many resorts also accept payments in €. The value of the lira fluctuates heavily compared to the euro; make sure to check the current exchange rates before leaving for Turkey. On 11 November 2019, 1 € equals about 6,37 Turkish lira. Also take note that bargaining is very common in Turkey.
While pinning isn’t possible everywhere, there are many cash dispensers in Turkey. If you have a card with the Maestro logo on it, you can generally expect to be able to pin in stores. Take note that you are paying a small fee to be able to pin. Despite the extra costs of pinning, it is generally cheaper than getting currency at an exchange office. Also keep in mind that you might have to activate pinning abroad on your card. Several banks have implemented this safeguard to make banking affairs outside of Europe safer. Contact your bank to learn more.
Credit cards are accepted as normal. Many Turkish people have credit cards themselves.
If you consider giving a tip, larger tips are appreciated; a small tips can even be seen as insulting, and you might have been better off not giving a tip at all. Instead of giving a small fee every day, you could also give a single, larger fee after a few days. Sometimes a fee of 5 to 10% is already included in the bill.
In recent years, the safety situation in Turkey has worsened somewhat, due to a number of terrorist attacks and the attempted coup.
Read more about the safety risks and safely travelling in Turkey in the up-to-date travel advisory for Turkey.
In the tourist centers around Antalya, Alanya, Side, Marmaris, Kusadasi, and Bodrum it is generally safe. Be sure to keep track of your belongings, as pickpockets are known to be active around these areas. Hotels and other accommodations often have their own security for tourists. Should your hotel offer the possibility to rent a safe, we advise you to make use of it.
We advise travelers not to take part in traffic after sunset, because Turkish traffic can be wild and rash, often looking for the fastest lanes on the road, leading to accidents. When a (deadly) accident happens, the police will arrest anyone who was involved, even those who aren’t to blame.
Turkey has greatly increased the battle against terrorism after the attacks in 2015/2016. While the risk of an attack has lowered substantially since then, be extra alert in larger cities.
LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender)
While the Turkish state does not have explicit laws against LGBT people, these concepts are generally regarded with disdain and suspicion in Turkish culture. It is advised not to engage in overt displays of affection while out in public in Turkey.