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Turkey travel guide

About Turkey

For sheer diversity, Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye) 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. 

Key facts


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


79,622,062 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

101.4 per sq km.




Presidential system.

Head of state:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2014.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Areas where FCDO advises against travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. The embassy staff cannot travel to areas where FCDO advises against travel to help you in person. Staff can offer support by phone and email.

Turkey-Syria border

FCDO advises against all travel to within 10km of the border with Syria due to fighting and a heightened risk of terrorism.

Sirnak city

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Sirnak city.

Hakkari Province

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Hakkari Province.

Find out more about why FCDO advises against travel.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice 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. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Turkey’s UK embassy or consulate.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Turkey.

Passport validity requirements

If you are visiting Turkey, your passport must:

  • be valid for at least 150 days from the date you arrive
  • have a full blank page for entry and exit stamps

If you are a resident in Turkey, your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive.

If entering Turkey through a land border, make sure your passport has a dated entry stamp before you leave the border crossing.

Visa requirements

You can visit Turkey without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, for business or tourism.

If you want to stay in Turkey for more than 90 days, you must get a short-term residence permit before the end of your stay.

If you hold a different type of British nationality, such as British National (Overseas), check visa requirements with the Turkish Embassy or Consulate General before you travel.

Applying for a visa

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has information on applying for a visa. If you plan to work in Turkey, make sure you have the right permits.

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need on TravelHealthPro.

Travelling with children

If leaving Turkey with a dual British-Turkish national child who is 18 or younger, you may need to show permission to travel from the Turkish parent.

Customs rules 

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Turkey.

Some goods are prohibited – you cannot take them into or out of Turkey. These include:

  • controlled drugs
  • firearms
  • offensive weapons, for example flick knives and self-defence sprays
  • endangered animal and plant spices
  • indecent and obscene material

Some items are restricted, with precise limits on the volume of goods you can take into Turkey. These include:

  • goods subject to excise duty such as tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol (including wines and spirits)
  • cosmetics
  • high-value electricals
  • some foodstuffs, including tea, coffee, meat, and dairy products

You must declare anything that may be prohibited, or you believe may subject to any tax or duty. 

The Turkish Ministry of Trade has full guidance for travellers and further information and guidance on customs procedures.

Taking money into Turkey

There is currently no limit on the value of foreign currency and Turkish Lira that can be taken into Turkey.

There are strict rules on the value of currency that can be taken out of Turkey.

More than 5000 US Dollars worth of Turkish currency cannot be taken out of the country.

Up to the equivalent 5000 US Dollars in foreign currency can be taken out of the country.

Travellers seeking to take up to 5000 US Dollars in foreign currency out of Turkey will need to make a declaration to Turkish Customs and show they have purchased the currency from authorised banks.

The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has further guidance.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and regional risks advice.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Turkey

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey.

Most terrorist attacks have occurred in southeast Turkey, Ankara and Istanbul.  You should remain aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners, such as:

  • public buildings
  • places of worship
  • airports
  • large public gatherings (including major events, public holidays, religious occasions)

There have been a number of recent significant attacks in Istanbul:

  • In February 2024, one person was killed in an armed attack on the Çağlayan courthouse by the terrorist group DHKP/C
  • In January 2024, one person was killed by two gunmen in the Santa Maria Catholic Church in Sariyer, in an attack claimed by Daesh
  • In 2022, six people were killed in an explosion in central Istanbul.

Extremist groups based in Syria, including Daesh and Al-Qaeda 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.

See Regional risks

Political situation

Occasional demonstrations can occur in cities and may become violent. Police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protests.

Events in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have led to heightened tensions in the region and demonstrations are ongoing in locations across Turkey. Large demonstrations have been reported outside diplomatic missions connected to the conflict in major cities, particularly Israeli diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul.

Avoid all demonstrations and leave the area if one develops. Local transport routes may be disrupted.


Street robbery and pickpocketing

Street robbery and pick-pocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. Be aware of your personal belongings and make sure they are always secure.

Drink and food spiking

Buy your own drinks and always keep sight of them. Be wary of strangers:

  • approaching you to change money
  • taking you to a restaurant or nightclub
  • offering you food and drink these could be spiked

Counterfeit alcohol

In a small number of cases, counterfeit branded bottles of alcohol have caused deaths of tourists. If you have any concerns, ask for advice from your tour operator or the Turkish authorities.

Sexual assault

In 2023, 42 cases of sexual assault, including rape, were reported to British consular staff in Turkey. Most cases happened during summer holidays in coastal tourist areas. Crimes were committed at night by someone the victim met during the day, including hotel and spa workers. There have also been sexual attacks on minors visiting toilet facilities alone. Be extra vigilant in these situations.

Vehicle safety

Accepting lifts from strangers can be dangerous. Find a registered taxi and note the registration number before entering.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

It is illegal not to carry some form of photographic ID in Turkey. Always carry your passport or residence permit. In some busy areas, especially Istanbul, the authorities may stop people for ID checks. There are also several police checkpoints on main roads across Turkey. Cooperate with officials conducting checks.

Dress visiting mosques

Dress modestly if you’re visiting a mosque or a religious shrine to avoid causing offence.

Personal injury claims

There are reports of tourists being encouraged to submit a claim for personal injury if they have experienced gastric illness in Turkey. Find out what you can do if you have suffered a personal injury on the Citizens Advice website. Only make a claim if you have genuinely suffered from injury or illness. If you make a false or fraudulent claim, you may face legal proceedings in the UK or Turkey.

Smoking bans

Smoking is illegal 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.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession and trafficking of illegal drugs. You may receive a fine or prison sentence of 4 to 24 years.

Stray dogs

Most towns and cities have stray dogs. Packs congregate in parks and wastelands and can be aggressive. Take care and do not approach stray dogs. If you’re bitten, get medical advice immediately. Rabies and other animal borne diseases are present in Turkey.

Sale of antiquities

Buying or exporting antiquities is illegal. You could be fined and receive a prison sentence of 5 to 12 years. Some historical items found at local markets and in antique shops can be sold within Turkey but are illegal to export. Confirm the status of antique items before you buy them.

Using cameras

Do not take photographs of or near military or official installations. Ask for permission before photographing people.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Turkey. However, many parts of Turkey are socially conservative and showing affection in public could receive unwelcome attention. Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Comments about the nation and flag

It is illegal to insult the Turkish nation, state or the national flag, or to deface Turkish currency. These laws can also apply to comments or images online wherever they were uploaded. Offences under these laws carry a penalty in Turkey of a prison sentence of between 6 months and 3 years.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Extreme sports

If you do an extreme sport, check that adequate safety precautions are in place. British nationals have been injured and killed doing extreme sports. Only use reputable operators. Make sure you are given full instructions and training before your activity. Make sure your travel insurance covers you for all activities you do.

Jeep safaris

Jeep safaris can be dangerous, there were a number of reported accidents in 2023. If you join a jeep safari, make sure you use a reputable company who have adequate health and safety procedures and equipment. Always check that such activities are covered by your insurance

Quad biking and mopeds

Quad biking is an extreme sport and carries the risk of serious injury or death. You need specific travel insurance to cover quad biking. Always read the details of your insurance cover, especially the small print and exclusions on your policy.

Make sure you are given full instructions and training before your activity.

Insurance sold by the hire company usually only provides third party insurance. It’s likely you will be charged for any damage to the rental vehicle and you may face arrest if you do not pay.

If you hire a moped you need a valid driving licence with at least category A1 - ‘light motorcycle’. Make sure the vehicle is in good condition. Drivers and passengers must wear helmets. Failure to do so may invalidate your insurance. If police stop you, they will fine you and take your licence.

Water sports

Book activities at a licensed water sports centre and before you start:

  • make sure the paperwork is completed
  • ask for a safety demonstration
  • make sure you know how to call for help

Obey any warning signs and flags on beaches. Follow instructions from lifeguards and observe the flag indicators on beaches.

Follow local advice if jellyfish or urchins are present.

See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents watersports safety abroad guide.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Turkey, see information on driving abroad. You must carry a green card in Turkey.

Take care when travelling by road, particularly at night. Approach checkpoints slowly and follow the instructions of security personnel. Roads between 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.

It is illegal not to wear a helmet on motorcycles and mopeds. You may get a large fine if you do not wear a helmet.

Do not drink and drive. The police fine drunk drivers and your licence could be confiscated for 6 months.

Licences and documents

You need either a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) or a valid UK driving licence (notarised in Turkish) to drive in Turkey. The 1949 IDP is not accepted anymore. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

If you stay in Turkey for more than six months, you must convert your UK driving licence into a Turkish licence. Provisional driving licences aren’t recognised.

If you bring a vehicle registered in another country into Turkey, observe the Turkish customs regulations.

Extreme weather and natural disasters


Wildfires happen frequently in Turkey during summer.

See the sites below for more information:

You could get a fine or prison sentence for lighting a fire of any kind or discarding cigarettes in  risk areas such as woodland. Barbecues are prohibited in these areas.

If there is a wildfire in your area, local authorities may tell you to leave your accommodation. Follow the directions of local authorities.

If you see a wildfire, call emergency services on 112.


Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides across Turkey, damaging roads and bridges. Some routes may become impassable, making it difficult to travel and reducing essential services.

If you’re in an affected area:

  • monitor local media
  • follow instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders


Many parts of Turkey regularly experience earthquakes and tremors. These can be a high magnitude, cause damage to infrastructure, and pose a risk to life.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Gaziantep and neighbouring provinces in the south-east of Turkey in February 2023. Strong earthquakes may continue to affect the region and it remains heavily damaged.

Follow any advice given by the local authorities.  See the US Federal Emergency Management Agency guidance about what to do before, during and after an earthquake .

This section has safety advice for regions of Turkey. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice

Turkey-Syria border

FCDO advises against all travel within 10km of the border with Syria.

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.

Sirnak city

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Sirnak city.

Hakkari Province

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Hakkari Province.

This advice is due to the heightened risk of terrorism in the region. If you’re undertaking essential travel to Sirnak city or Hakkari Province, take extreme care.

Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat, in Ağrı Province, is a special military zone. You must have permission from the Doğubayazıt government office, and pay a fee in the local Governor’s Office. If visiting with a travel agent or tour group, confirm with them whether you need an individual permit.

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.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face in Turkey

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Turkey. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.

The UK Health Security Agency has detected an increase in gastrointestinal infections in travellers returning from Turkey, with over 200 cases of Salmonella detected since the beginning of 2023. See advice on food and water hygiene.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. Some common medicines are controlled in Turkey. For more information and the documentation needed, contact the nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate. Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad. British prescriptions are not accepted in pharmacies in Turkey. In some cases, you may be able to liaise with Turkish hospitals and your GP to arrange for a Turkish prescription for the equivalent medicine.

Health insurance cards

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and Global Health Insurance card (GHIC) are not valid in Turkey.

Healthcare facilities in Turkey

View a list of medical facilities in Turkey.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

Medical tourism

Medical tourism is when people travel to have medical, surgical or dental treatment abroad. Cosmetic surgery, dental procedures and cardiac surgery are the most common procedures for medical tourists.

The standard of medical facilities and available treatments can vary widely globally and also within countries. We are aware of six British nationals having died in Turkey in 2023 following medical procedures. Some British nationals have also experienced complications and needed further treatment or surgery following their procedure.

If you are considering travelling to Turkey for medical, surgical or dental treatment, you should:

  • read more advice on going abroad for medical treatment and elective surgery
  • discuss plans with your UK doctor before going ahead with any medical procedures abroad
  • do your own research - private companies have a financial interest in arranging your medical treatment abroad and the information they provide should not be your only source of information

Find further advice on medical tourism from TravelHealthPro, and NHS guidance on going abroad for medical treatment, and (if relevant to you) on cosmetic surgery abroad

The Turkish Ministry of Health provides a list of its approved medical providers on the HealthTurkiye website. This website is for information only. FCDO does not make any recommendation of or endorsement as to the competence or suitability of any individual or facility. It is important that individuals make their own enquiries and due diligence checks.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Turkey

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

You can also contact FCDO online.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

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.

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