Top events in Turkey

May
09

Performances of a wide variety of theatrical works from Turkey and Europe.

May
30

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, this annual event is one of the biggest festivals of its kind in Turkey. Since it was...

July
01

Jazz from Turkey and abroad.

Capaddocia, Turkey
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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 Abdullah Gul since 2007.

Head of government

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since 2003.

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: 23 April 2014

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.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the towns of Akḉakale and Ceylanpinar and against all but essential travel to areas within 10km of Turkey’s border with Syria.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Hakkari, Sirnak, Siirt and Tunceli. You should be especially vigilant when travelling in other provinces in south eastern Turkey and in areas close to the Syrian border.

Over 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Demonstrations

On 11 March, a young casualty of last summer’s protests died following a long spell in a coma. On 12 March, in response to his death, there were demonstrations in several cities across Turkey. In Istanbul the demonstrations centred on the Şişli district, as well as around Taksim Square and Istiklal Street. There were violent exchanges between the police and demonstrators in a number of cities, with police using tear gas and water cannon to disperse protestors. In Istanbul’s Şişli district, following a confrontation, one man was shot and later died: a terrorist group, the DHKP-C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front) has claimed responsibility.

Further demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other major cities may take place, particularly in the run-up to nationwide local elections on 30 March. Keep up to date with developments, be vigilant and avoid any protests or demonstrations.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism. There are active terrorist groups throughout Turkey. These include domestic religious extremist and ideological groups, and international groups involved in the conflict in Syria. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners.

Visas

If you’re visiting Turkey as a tourist or on business, get an e-Visa online before you travel. Only use the official e-Visa website. Avoid unauthorised websites as they may charge an additional fee.

For the time being, if you don’t have an e-Visa you can still get a visa on arrival for £20 in cash, but the visa on arrival service is due to be phased out in the near future. To avoid possible problems or delays at the Turkish border, or when boarding your flight in the UK, get an e-Visa before you travel.

Earthquakes

Many parts of Turkey are subject to earthquakes. An earthquake of magnitude 5.3 occurred on 30 July in the Aegean Sea, 50km west of Canakkale (Gallipoli).

Overseas Business Risk

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Travel insurance

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