Top events in Turkey

September
05

Istanbul's main arts festival takes place in a variety of historic buildings and venues across the city. The aim since its foundation in 1987 has...

September
23

A touring programme of blues events in 14 Turkish cities that include Istanbul.

October
23

A jazz festival with a number of big international names performing.

Capaddocia, Turkey
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Capaddocia, Turkey

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Turkey Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

783,562 sq km (302,535 sq miles).

Population

81.6 million (2014).

Population density

104.2 per sq km.

Capital

Ankara.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2014.

Head of government

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu since 2014.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.

For sheer diversity, Turkey is hard to beat. The country is best measured in multitudes – of people, natural landscapes and cultures. It is a land of vast open spaces and massive mountain ranges, fertile valleys and rugged coastline, fast-growing cities and sleepy villages, seaside resorts and remote beaches.

Countless waves of invasion, rebellion and immigration have forged a country whose cultural depth and breadth may surprise visitors as they venture not just through major cities, but across the country.

Turkey overflows with historic sites and archaeological wonders, all set in a varied and beautiful landscape. The Mediterranean coastline is punctuated with well-preserved Greco-Roman cities like Pergamom and Ephesus, while the otherworldly landscapes of the Cappadocia region harbour cave churches and underground cities.

Though capital status eludes it, Istanbul is very much the beating heart of the nation. The city is an archive of cultural influences throughout the centuries, playing host to Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques and palaces. Yet it’s no relic. Cafes, bustling bazaars, hammams (public baths), and nightclubs all buzz with activity.

Still, Istanbul is just one piece of the vast Turkish puzzle. Beach-lovers can while away lazy sunny days at the ever-popular Bodrum, Marmaris and Izmir resorts along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.

The unlikely capital city, Ankara, may be less frequented, but its location in central Anatolia makes it worthy of a few days’ visit, if only to witness the contrast between the city’s modernity and the surviving citadel. Away from the more European sensibilities of Istanbul, Ankara also presents an opportunity to gain insight into other facets of Turkish culture.

However deep its roots are, Turkey is today a thrusting and dynamic society, navigating cultural, economic and political change while seeking to retain the best of its multicultural heritage and time-honoured traditions. And that's arguably what makes it so rewarding. 

Travel Advice

Last updated: 29 August 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners.

On Monday 18 May, the local offices of the political party HDP (People’s Democratic Party) in Adana and Mersin (both in southern Turkey) were attacked with explosive devices. On 5 June, two people were killed and many injured by an explosion at an HDP rally in Diyarbakir. On 9 June, four people were killed in attack in Diyarbakir. On 10 August, 2 assailants opened fire outside the US Consulate-General in Istanbul.

Turkey shares a long border with Syria. Thousands of foreign nationals, including some British nationals, have recently used Turkey as a transit route with some joining terrorist groups like ANF (Al Nusra Front) and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in Syria. ISIL, although based in Syria and Iraq, have the capacity to carry out attacks in neighbouring countries, including Turkey. Media reports suggest that terrorists could target areas throughout Turkey, including Ankara, Istanbul and areas close to the Syrian border.

Extremist groups in northern Syria have recently targeted border crossings and nearby locations on the Syrian side of the border, including a roadblock leading to the Bab al-Hawa crossing near Reyhanli in Hatay province (in Turkey). On 20 July, a suicide bomber killed 28 people and injured over 100 others in Suruc, Sanlurfa near the border with Kobane. In May 2014, a car bomb was detonated at a garage on the Syrian side of the border near the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing point between Turkey and Syria. In March 2014, a Turkish police checkpoint between Adana and Niğde provinces came under fire from a group of foreign extremists who had been based in Syria. Three Turkish nationals were killed.

There’s a domestic terrorist presence in the south east of the country including in Van, Bitlis, Bingol, Elazig, Mus, Batman, Erzincan, Diyarbakir and Agri provinces. Following the launch of talks in December 2012 between the Turkish Government and the PKK (proscribed as a terrorist group in the UK), there was a marked decline in terrorist activity in Turkey. A significant number of PKK terrorists left Turkey as peace talks continued, though the group froze its withdrawal in September 2013.

Following the ISIL-attributed Suruc bombing on 20 July, which killed 33 people (mostly Kurds), the ceasefire has ended. The PKK killed 2 Turkish police officers on 22 July. The government responded with arrests in Turkey and airstrikes on PKK positions in northern Iraq. The PKK have since claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Turkey in which members of the security forces have been killed.

15 August is the anniversary of the first PKK attack against Turkish government installations. Historically, this anniversary date has prompted an escalation of violence by the PKK and other splinter groups.

The anti-western, proscribed terrorist group, THKP/C-Acilciler (Turkish People’s Liberation Party/Front) and the linked DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front) remain active. In 2013, a DHKP/C suicide bomber targeted the US Embassy in Ankara killing himself and a Turkish security guard.

Between approximately 30 March and 20 April, there are several dates significant to the DHKP/C, starting with the 30 March anniversary of their founding which may have been linked to previous attacks. 19 December is also recognised as an important date around which the DHKP/C may be active.

On 1 April, members of the terrorist DHKP-C organisation opened fire on a police station in central Istanbul. One terrorist was killed.

On 31 March, two DHKP-C terrorists and a hostage were killed following an exchange of fire with police at an Istanbul court.

One Turkish national was killed following a bombing in the Sisli district of Istanbul on 25 March. Turkish police intercepted a vehicle carrying weapons into Istanbul over the weekend of 21/22 March.

Following a suicide bombing in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on 6 January, police discovered a number of explosive devices planted in a range of locations across Istanbul during the weekend of 17/18 January. One device exploded but there were no casualties.

On 9 October 2014, 2 police officers in Bingol (south eastern Turkey) were killed in a suspected terrorist attack.

Methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings, car bombings and rocket attacks and improvised explosive devices left in refuse bins, crowded areas and on public transport.

Be vigilant, monitor media reports and keep up to date with the travel advice.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Kidnapping

There is a threat of kidnapping near the Syrian border in Turkey.

Terrorist groups operating in Syria, including those like ISIL who routinely use kidnapping as a tactic, are present in the Syrian border areas and are capable of conducting kidnappings from across the border. ISIL and other terrorist groups view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

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