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

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: 30 October 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 within 10 km of the border with Syria.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

  • the remaining areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay provinces
  • Siirt, Tunceli and Hakkari provinces.

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

Visas

British Nationals need a visa to travel to Turkey (except for cruise ship passengers with ‘British Citizen’ passports entering the country for a day trip, remaining in the port of embarkation and returning to the ship the same day). If you are visiting Turkey as a tourist or on business, you need to 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.

If you don’t have an e-Visa you can still get a visa on arrival for £20 in cash, although the visa on arrival service is due to be phased out. Getting an e-Visa before you travel will avoid possible problems or delays at the Turkish border, or when boarding your flight in the UK, get an e-Visa before you travel.

Travel insurance

First World War commemorations

If you’re travelling to commemorate the First World War centenary, see this information and advice page to help plan your trip and make sure it’s safe and trouble free.

Demonstrations

The Turkish authorities have confirmed that at least 35 people have died in violent protests across the country between 7 and 9 October. The protests have taken place in a number of Turkish cities in response to the situation in Kobane/Tal al Abyad (Syria), with deaths concentrated in Turkey’s south eastern provinces including Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Mardin and Bingol. There have also been clashes between protesters and police in Istanbul, including around Taksim Square, Adana, Antalya and Izmir.

Demonstrations regularly take place across Turkey, particularly in Istanbul in the area around Taksim Square and in Kadikoy (Asian side), in the Kizilay district of central Ankara and on the waterfront area in central Izmir. Police have used tear gas and water cannon extensively to disperse protests.

You should remain vigilant and avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place.

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey and there are active terrorist groups throughout the country. 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.

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

Border crossings into Syria and nearby locations have also been targeted. On 16 September 2014, there was a car bomb explosion near a garage in Al-Salameh, Syria, 1km south of the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing point between Turkey and Syria . and the FCO’s travel advice for Syria

Earthquakes

Many parts of Turkey are subject to earthquakes. An earthquake of magnitude 6.5 occurred on 24 May in the Sea of Marmara.

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