Turkey travel guide
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.
783,562 sq km (302,535 sq miles).
79,622,062 (UN estimate 2016).
101.4 per sq km.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2014.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Turkey on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Turkey.
Returning to the UK
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during the COVID pandemic. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example, due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. If you do not have a place to stay, government authorities will direct you to a designated hotel if you do not have a permanent residence.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Air carriers are free to operate direct flights to the UK from their usual airports in Turkey. Check their websites for the latest flight schedules.
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Turkey.
Public spaces and services
Face masks are no longer required outdoors or indoors if air circulation and social distancing are adequate.
Turkey will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. A COVID-19 recovery certificate must have been issued no more than 6 months before arrival. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
Healthcare in Turkey
You should ensure that you are prepared for any unplanned or extended stays due to changes in COVID-related restrictions or your travel arrangements. If you take regular medication, make sure you have adequate supplies to cover you in case you are required to quarantine as a result of a positive COVID test.
British-issued prescriptions are not accepted in pharmacies in Turkey, although some medicines may be available over the counter.
If your medical supplies do run out whilst in Turkey it may be possible, in some cases, to liaise with Turkish hospitals and your GP to arrange for a Turkish prescription for the equivalent medicine. For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Turkey
We will update this page when the Government of Turkey announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Turkish national vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines. The Government of Turkey has stated that British nationals resident in Turkey are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. If you have not yet registered with the Turkish health service you should do so through the Enabiz website.
The details of foreign nationals may not automatically be included in the system which sends out automatic appointments. Even if you are already registered on the Enabiz system, you may still need to request a vaccine through the Enabiz website.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Turkey, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Visa overstays due to COVID-19
If you’ve outstayed your visa due to COVID-19, but did not leave before 11 July 2020, you will be banned from Turkey for a period of time, determined by the length of overstay.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey.
Most terrorist attacks have taken place in the south-east of the country and in Ankara and Istanbul. While there is a potential that citizens from western countries may be targets or caught up in attacks, particularly in the major cities, attacks are most likely to target the Turkish state, civilians and demonstrations.
Attacks could be indiscriminate, and occur without warning, including in places visited by foreigners, affecting public buildings, major events or large public gatherings. You should be especially vigilant and where possible avoid places frequented by foreigners, including diplomatic premises and around significant religious occasions and public holidays; terrorist groups sometimes call for attacks around these times.
Previous methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings, car bombings, rocket attacks, arson and improvised explosive devices left in refuse bins, crowded areas, shops and on public transport. Be vigilant, monitor media reports and keep up to date with this travel advice.
There is a heightened risk of terrorist attack against the aviation industry in Turkey. You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports.
It is illegal to be a member or supporter of a terrorist organisation in Turkey. Some organisations in the region though not proscribed in the UK, such as the YPG and the Gülen Movement are illegal in Turkey.
A number of terrorist groups are active in Turkey:
The last major attack attributed to Daesh occurred on 1 January 2017 at the Reina nightclub in Ortakoy, Istanbul; 39 people were killed and 69 injured. Extremist groups based in Syria including Daesh and Al-Qaeda (AQ) linked groups have the capacity to carry out attacks in neighbouring countries, including Turkey. Daesh has previously targeted border crossings and nearby locations on the Syrian side of the border.
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.
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.
Far Left groups – DHKP-C and THKP-C
The anti-western, far left, 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.
There is 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, most especially where there is a large tourist presence, including embassies, and religious events. You should be vigilant at this time.
Terrorist groups operating in Syria, including Daesh and AQ-linked groups, routinely use kidnapping as a tactic. They’re present in the Syrian border areas and you should be particularly vigilant if you are in these locations. 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 builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage-taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) makes payments to terrorists illegal.
The FCDO advise against all travel to areas within 10km of the border with Syria, except the city of Kilis. The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the remaining areas of Sirnak, Kilis (including Kilis city) and Hatay provinces.
Fighting in Syria continues in areas close to the Turkish border and there remains a heightened risk of terrorism in the region.
Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, roads in Hatay province leading towards the border may be subject to closure.
The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Diyarbakir, Tunceli and Hakkari. If you’re undertaking essential travel to these provinces, you should take extreme care.
A temporary Turkish military restricted zone has been imposed for the Mount Ararat area. No permission is being given for parties to enter the area, nor to climb the mountain. Other temporary military restricted zones have been established in eastern provinces. Do not attempt to enter these zones. There may be some disruption to travel in these areas.
Take extra care if you’re travelling to this area; keep up to date with local media and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Sporadic demonstrations take place in cities across Turkey, some of which have, in the past, become violent. In Istanbul previous demonstrations have centered on the area around Taksim Square and on Istiklal Street. In Ankara, the protests have mainly taken place in the central Kizilay district around the Turkish Parliament. 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.
The situation in Turkey has calmed following an attempted coup on 15-16 July 2016. The security environment, however, remains potentially volatile.
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 areas.
In 2019, 30 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. Many 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.
Take care when travelling by road throughout Turkey, particularly at night. Approach checkpoints slowly and follow the instructions of security personnel. 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.
If you drive in Turkey, you must have either an International Driving Permit or a notarised copy (in Turkish) of your UK driving licence. If you stay in Turkey continuously for more than 6 months, you must convert your UK driving licence into a Turkish licence. Provisional driving licences aren’t recognised. If you intend to bring a vehicle registered in another country into Turkey you should familiarise yourself with the relevant Turkish customs regulations.
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.
A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to drive in Turkey.
Do not drink and drive. The police will breathalyse drunk drivers, fine you on the spot and immediately confiscate your licence for 6 months.
There is a heightened risk of terrorist attack against the aviation industry in Turkey. See Terrorism
You should co-operate fully with security officials at airports. For more information and advice about what items you can take into the cabin on your flight from Turkey to the UK, contact your airline or travel company.
The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Turkey.
A list of incidents and accidents in Turkey can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
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.
Most towns and cities have stray dogs. Local authorities take action to control and manage numbers but packs congregate in parks and wastelands and can be aggressive. Take care, remain calm, and avoid approaching stray dogs. If you’re bitten, seek medical advice as rabies and other animal borne diseases are present in Turkey.
It is illegal not to carry some form of photographic ID in Turkey. You should carry your passport or residence permit at all times. In some busy areas, especially Istanbul, the Turkish authorities may stop members of the public to conduct ID checks. There’s also a number of police checkpoints on main roads across Turkey. You should co-operate with officials conducting checks.
Smoking is prohibited on public transport and in all indoor workplaces and public places. Smoking is restricted in some outdoor areas where cultural, artistic, sports or entertainment activities are held.
Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs. If you are convicted of any of these offences, you can expect to receive a heavy fine or a prison sentence of 4 to 24 years.
The possession, sale and export of antiquities is against the law and carries a prison sentence of 5 to 12 years as well as a substantial fine. Some historical items found at local markets and in antique shops can be sold within Turkey but are illegal to export. You should confirm the legal requirements before considering a purchase or returning home with an antique/historical item.
Dress modestly if you’re visiting a mosque or a religious shrine to avoid offence.
Do not take photographs near military or official installations. Ask for permission before photographing people.
Homosexuality is legal in Turkey. However, many parts of Turkey are socially conservative and public displays of affection may lead to unwelcome attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
It is an offence to insult the Turkish nation or the national flag, or to deface or tear up currency. If you’re convicted of any of these offences you could face a prison sentence of between 6 months and 3 years. You should be aware that controls carried out by the Turkish authorities, including those that take place at airports, may include the examination of electronic devices.
This page has information on travelling to Turkey. Check what you must do to return to the UK
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Turkey set and enforce entry rules.
COVID-19 entry restrictions
As of 1 June, all COVID-19 restrictions in Turkey have been lifted, and passengers arriving in Turkey are no longer required to present proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results. However, COVID-19 entry requirements may change at short notice, you should check the specifics with your airline before you travel. Further details are available on Turkish Airlines or Pegasus websites.
All travellers should familiarise themselves with the entry rules for Turkey before travel.
If you’re fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Turkey are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
Proof of vaccination status
You don’t need to provide proof of your vaccination status for entry to Turkey.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
Entry requirements for Turkey are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the last six months
Entry requirements for Turkey are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.
Children and young people
There are no specific requirements for children and young people.
If you’re transiting through Turkey
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
Check with your airline before departing.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
If you are visiting Turkey, your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date you arrive and there should be a full blank page for the entry and exit stamps. You can find more detail about the requirements for entry into Turkey on the website of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
If you are a resident in Turkey, your passport must be valid for six months from the date you arrive.
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
British Citizens travelling to Turkey for tourist or business purposes are able to travel without a visa for visits of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
If you plan to remain in Turkey for a period of more than 90 days, you should either apply for a longer stay visa before you travel, or get a residence permit from the local authorities in Turkey before your 90 day stay has elapsed. If you intend to work in Turkey, ensure you have the correct permits. More information is available from the Turkish Ministry of the Interior. If you do not abide by the terms of your visa or permit, you may be fined, deported and banned from re-entering the country.
If you’re entering Turkey via a land border crossing, make sure your passport has a dated entry stamp before you leave the border crossing area.
If you hold a different type of British nationality (eg BN(O), British Overseas Citizen, British Protected Person or British Subject), check visa requirements with the Turkish Consulate General before you travel. These types of passport are classed as ‘UK Special Passports’ in the Turkish e-Visa system. You will need to apply for a visa from the Turkish Consulate General before you travel.
Travelling with children
If you are leaving Turkey with a child who is a dual British-Turkish national, you may be asked to show the Turkish immigration authorities evidence that the Turkish parent has given permission for the child to travel.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Turkey within the dates printed on the document. ETDs should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Turkey.
Returning to the UK
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Turkey on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Turkey.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The use or possession of some common prescription and over-the-counter medicines is controlled in Turkey. For more information on controlled medicines and the relevant documentation required, contact the nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate before you travel. See this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), is not valid in Turkey. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. You should check whether your health insurance policy includes coverage for COVID-19.
The term ‘medical tourism’ refers to those tourists who have chosen to have medical/surgical/dental treatment abroad. Cosmetic surgery, dental procedures and cardiac surgery are the most common procedures that medical tourists undertake.
The standard of medical facilities and available treatments vary widely around the world. As such, British nationals considering undertaking medical treatment in Turkey should carry out their own research; it is unwise to rely upon private companies that have a financial interest in arranging your medical treatment abroad. We are aware of 18 British nationals who have died in Turkey since January 2019 following medical tourism visits.
If you are travelling to Turkey to undertake a medical procedure, you should ensure that your chosen medical facility is accredited with the Turkish authorities. You can find a list of those facilities that have accreditation on the Health Services General Directorate website.
You can find further advice and information on medical tourism from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
Many parts of Turkey are subject to earthquakes and tremors.
You should familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake and follow any advice given by the local authorities.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has information about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
Forest fires occur frequently in Turkey during the summer months, when temperatures can reach over 40ºC. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas.
Imprisonment and judicial fines are imposed for lighting a fire of any kind in forbidden areas including barbecues, leaving a fire without extinguishing it, or throwing burning cigarette butts into the forest.
Check on the outbreak of fires with the local authorities. If there is a forest fire in your area, you may be told to vacate your accommodation by local police, gendarme, fire fighters and/or the Disaster and Emergency Management Authorities (AFAD). Follow the direction of the local authorities.
If you see a forest fire, call the emergency services on 112.
Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides across Turkey. This can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
If you’re in an affected area:
- monitor local media for the latest information
- follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders
The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas. You can get local currency from banks and exchange bureaus, known as DOVIZ in Turkish.
As of 13 October 2021, Turkish banks will no longer accept the old style £20 and £50 sterling banknotes. Some exchange booths may still accept these banknotes, but there is no guarantee and you may be charged an extra commission.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe. Given the increase in regular flights from Turkey to the UK, the British Embassy has suspended its registration system. For information about changes to curfews and restrictions sign up to receive alerts when travel advice is updated and follow the British Embassy’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.