Top events in Turkey

March
01

Turkey's cinematic highlight draws filmmakers and cinema-lovers from all over the world. 2010 marks the Film Festival's 21st birthday.

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...

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

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: 09 February 2016

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. A number of terrorist groups are active in Turkey. During 2015 there was an increase in PKK (Kurdish separatist) terrorist activity in south-east Turkey. There have been a number of attacks by other groups including suicide attacks by Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), and attacks by the far left DHKP(C) and Kurdish separatist TAK in cities including Ankara and Istanbul.

On 1 December 2015 in Istanbul a parcel bomb near the Bayrampasa Metro station injured one person. On 30 December 2015, 2 men were detained in Ankara on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks.

There were 2 explosions near the main Ankara train station in the Ulus area on 10 October 2015. At least 100 people were killed and more than 180 injured.

On 19 August 2015 there was an incident involving gunfire and a sound grenade in an attack on Turkish national police guards stationed outside Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. On 10 August, 2 people opened fire outside the US Consulate-General in Istanbul.

The terrorist group Teyre Azadiye Kurdistan has claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul while the airport was closed for the night on 23 December 2015. The Turkish authorities have increased security measures at airports in Istanbul in response.

The terrorist group DHKP-C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front) has launched a series of attacks in Istanbul in 2015 targeting the Turkish police and judiciary. On 5 June, two people were killed and many injured by an explosion at an HDP rally in Diyarbakir. On 9 June, 4 people were killed in an attack in Diyarbakir.

Extremist groups based in Syria including ANF (Al Nusra Front) and Daesh 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.

Daesh has targeted border crossings and nearby locations on the Syrian side of the border. On 20 July 2015, a suicide bomber killed 33 people and injured over 100 others in Suruc, Sanlurfa province near the Syrian border. This attack is believed to have been carried out by individuals associated with Daesh. Daesh is also believed to have been responsible for the 10 October 2015 suicide bombings in Ankara, which killed over 100 people. The Turkish government have said that Daesh was responsible for the 12 January 2016 attack in Istanbul in which 10 foreign tourists were killed.

Turkey shares a long border with Syria. Thousands of foreign nationals, including some British nationals, have used Turkey as a transit route for joining terrorist groups including ANF and Daesh in Syria.

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. In December 2012 talks began between the Turkish Government and the Kurdish aligned PKK (proscribed as a terrorist group in the UK), during which the PKK observed a ceasefire. However, following the Suruc bombing on 20 July, the ceasefire ended when the PKK killed 2 Turkish police officers.

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. Since the end of July there has been an intensive period of violent incidents in Turkey’s south-east and eastern provinces. The vast majority of these incidents have been PKK attacks on Turkish security forces, their premises and vehicles, in which many members of the armed forces and police have been killed and injured. There have also been attacks on infrastructure (eg oil pipelines, dams) and incidents in which civilians have been affected. The government has responded with arrests of PKK suspects in Turkey and air-strikes on PKK positions in northern Iraq.

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. The DHKP/C attacks have mainly targeted the Turkish authorities and US diplomatic missions.

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.

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 Daesh who routinely use kidnapping as a tactic, are present in the Syrian border areas and are capable of conducting kidnappings from across the border. Daesh 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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