Top events in Turkey

April
01

Held in honour of Turkey's founder, Kemal Ataturk, this vibrant 10-day event focuses on the promise of youth. Dozens of events include folkloric...

April
01

A month-long musical highlight that draws musical aficionados from all over Turkey, this popular festival boasts a packed calendar of concerts and...

April
04

Organised by the prestigious Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, this annual film festival shows a great selection of Turkish and foreign...

Capaddocia, Turkey
Pin This
Open Media Gallery

Capaddocia, Turkey

© Creative Commons / Alaskan Dude

Turkey Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

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

Population

80.7 million (2013).

Population density

103 per sq km.

Capital

Ankara.

Government

Republic since 1923.

Head of state

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2014.

Head of government

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu since 2014.

Electricity

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

For sheer diversity, it’s hard to beat Turkey. The country seems to exist in multitudes – of people, of natural landscapes, of cultures. It is a land of vast open spaces, massive mountain ranges, fertile valleys and rugged coastline, fast-growing cities and sleepy villages, bustling neon-lit seaside resorts and unfrequented beaches. Countless waves of invasions, rebellions and ongoing immigration have created a country that may surprise visitors with the breadth and depth of the cultural melting-pot, not just in the major cities but across the country, with Kurds, Greeks, Arabs and many more groups to be found.

A rich history has continually shaped Turkey, whilst leaving indelible marks - the country overflows with historic sites and archaeological wonders set in a varied and beautiful landscape. The Mediterranean coastline is punctuated with well-preserved Greco-Roman cities such as Pergamom and Ephesus, while the austere and rugged Anatolian plateau has cave churches hidden away in the improbable fairytale landscape of Cappadocia.

Aside from the historical relics, there’s much to be admired about modern-day Turkey. First time visitors to Istanbul, which is not the capital but still very much the pulse of the nation, will be overwhelmed with choices. There are Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques and palaces to see. But there are also cafes to frequent, Grand Bazaars to thrill at, hammams to visit and clubs to dance the night away in. The city thrums with constant hustle and bustle but for those who want to step out of the clamour, there are plenty of places to seek solitude and rest.

Still, the country is vast, and Istanbul is just one piece of Turkey’s puzzle. Beach-lovers can while away sunny days in the ever-popular resorts of Bodrum, Marmaris and Izmir along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Ankara, the unlikely capital city, may be less of an attraction, but located in central Anatolia, it’s worthy of a few days’ investigation if only to see the contrast between the new modern city and the old citadel which still remains. Here, visitors can glean an insight into another aspect of traditional Turkish culture away from the more European sensibilities of Istanbul.

However deep its past, Turkey is now a thrusting and dynamic society that is navigating cultural, economic and political change while consciously seeking to retain the best of its multicultural heritage and time-honoured traditions of hospitality.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 30 March 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.


Local travel - Syrian border

The FCO advise against all travel to within 10km of the border with Syria. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remaining areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanlurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay provinces. On 11 May 2013, 2 car bombs killed 53 people and wounded more than 100 in the town of Reyhanli, Hatay province. In October 2012, 5 Turkish citizens were killed when a shell fell on the town of Akḉakale. Syrian forces continue to target areas close to the Turkish border and there remains a heightened risk of terrorism in the region.

Mortar rounds reportedly fired by ISIL militants in northern Syria landed on the E90 road near Nusaybin in Mardin province, Turkey, on 15 September 2014. There were no casualties. As a result of heavy fighting between ISIL and Kurdish forces in northern Syria, there has been a mass influx of refugees into Sanliurfa province (southern Turkey) since 19 September 2014.

Demonstrations

Since Spring 2013, there have been sporadic demonstrations in cities across Turkey, some of which have become violent. In Istanbul previous demonstrations have centered on the area around Taksim Square, on Istiklal Street and in the Besiktas and Kadikoy districts and more recently in Okmeydani. In Ankara, the protests have mainly taken place in the central Kizilay district around the Prime Minister’s office. In Izmir the focus has been in the town centre, near the water front.

You should avoid all demonstrations and leave the area if one develops. Police have used tear gas and water cannon extensively to disperse protests. The effects of tear gas can be felt several hundred metres beyond the immediate site of demonstrations. Local transport routes may be disrupted.

Crime

Generally crime levels are low, but street robbery and pick-pocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK. Alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times so they are not spiked. Be wary of strangers approaching you offering food and drink (which may be drugged), to change money or to take you to a restaurant or nightclub.

Passports have been stolen from rented villas, even when they have been kept in the villa safe. This is a particular problem in Didim, Kas, Kalkan and the Fethiye/Hisaronu/Ovacik area.

In 2014, 14 cases of sexual assault, including rape, were reported to British consular staff in Turkey. Most of these cases occurred during the summer holiday period in coastal tourist areas. Most were committed late at night by someone the victim met during the evening. There have also been sexual attacks on minors visiting toilet facilities alone. You should be extra vigilant in these situations.

Never accept lifts from strangers. Find a registered yellow taxi and make a note of the registration number before getting in.

Very rarely counterfeit alcohol has been responsible for the death of some tourists. If you have any concerns, seek advice from your tour operator or the Turkish authorities.

Road travel

Take care when travelling by road throughout Turkey, particularly at night. Roads between the major cities are generally in excellent condition, but can be poor in remote, rural areas. Accidents are common and mainly due to poor or reckless driving. According to the Turkish police, there were 1,207,354 road traffic accidents in 2013 which resulted in 3,685 deaths and 274,829 injuries.

If you drive in Turkey, you must have either an International Driving Permit or a notarised copy (in Turkish) of your UK driving licence. Provisional driving licences are not recognised.

You will need an ‘A’ category standard motorcycle licence to hire a motorcycle over 50cc in Turkey. An ‘A1’ category ‘light motorcycle’ driving licence is only suitable for motorcycles below 50cc. By law you must wear a helmet. Failure to do so could result in a heavy fine.

Don’t drink and drive. The police will breathalyse drunk drivers, fine you on the spot and immediately confiscate your licence for 6 months.

Extreme sports

If you participate in extreme sports (including paragliding, parasailing, white-water rafting, off-road driving and hot air ballooning), satisfy yourself that adequate safety precautions are in place. Only use reputable operators and insist on training before use. Make sure your travel insurance covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. British nationals have been injured and in some cases killed participating in extreme sports.

Newsletter