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Turkey Travel Guide

A riot of colours awaits you in Turkey along with the ancient markets of Istanbul, the surreal landscape of Cappadocia and the staggering travertine terraces of Pamukkale. Straddling two different continents, it’s a place where the East meets West and two civilisations collide. You’re in for an incredible treat.

The Highlights

  • Cappadocia

    Although storybook visions of colourful hot air balloons are what come to mind when you name drop Cappadocia, there’s more to it than Instagram suggests. Temples cut into rocks and an underground city is more of what’s on offer, whilst its valleys host hiking trails that are as scenic as the views from above.

  • Pamukkale

    Though Cappadocia has reached an almost impossible level of popularity, Turkey boasts other sights that are equally picturesque. Take Pamukkale, for example. Its travertine terraces of hot springs have drawn weary, pamper-seeking travellers through the ages. Dip your feet in the Pamukkale Antique Pool in the nearby Hierapolis.

  • Ephesus

    Three kilometres from the town of Selçuk is the ancient city of Ephesus. It was once one of the most important Greek cities in Asia Minor, and its ruins are now famous world over. There’s much to see here but the most beautiful remnants might just be the Temple of Hadrian, Library of Celsus, Temple of Artemis and the amphitheatre. While you’re there, stop by the House of the Virgin Mary. 

  • Gallipoli

    The Gallipoli Peninsula has played its part in history and has endured several wars including World War I, whose haunting battlefields now host a number of war memorials. Learn about the ill-fated Gallipoli events by seeing the 3D exhibits at the Çanakkale Epic Presentation Centre in the village of Kabatepe as well as visiting the Lone Pine Cemetery and ANZAC Cove landing site.

  • Turquoise Coast

    Also known as the Turkish Riviera, the Turquoise Coast certainly lives up to its name and you should make time for the likes of Fethiye, Antalya or Bodrum. This staggering coast boasts shimmering beaches and pristine waters, and sailing is the main pastime. But there are other things to see as well: ancient tombs and ruins, hilltop cities and the 500-kilometre Lycian Way for all hiking trips.

  • Saklikent National Park

    Adventurous souls will be charmed by Saklikent National Park’s natural beauty and outdoor offerings. It’s home to the famed Saklikent Gorge, one of the deepest in the world, through which gentle rapids run and several waterfalls pour into. Take an invigorating swim in the chilly waters, go river rafting, rappel down a waterfall, and treat yourself to Turkish tea on the river bank.

The Basics

When to Visit

when to visit
  1. Peak Season

    April to May, September to mid-November

    Due to its size and diverse landscape, Turkey’s high season depends on the region. Istanbul and the inland areas are best visited in the spring or autumn months when they’re enjoying the warm weather and clear, blue skies. Unfortunately, as these are the busiest months – the spring months especially is when prices skyrocket and the tourist crowds are thick so it is best to book well in advance. If it’s not within your budget, consider visiting the resort towns along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, which enjoys off-season traffic and rates as well as the mild weather during this time. 

  2. Low Season

    November to February

    In the summertime from June to early September, everything switches. The hot weather draws the crowds to the beaches in the Aegean and Mediterranean, taking some of the visitor traffic away from the inland regions. Prices soar at beach resorts, leaving the rest of the country to offer affordable rates and more available to travellers. In the winter months, everything dies down as temperatures drop and the rains come. If you are on a budget, this is the time to score great bargains. You’d have to contend with the rain, but the sun does come out to play every now and then.

Turkey Tours

  • Visit Responsibly

    Travelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Turkey:

    Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.

    Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.

    Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.

    Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.

    Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Turkey or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!

  • Sustainable Tourism in Turkey

    Natural Life Protection Association (DHKD)
    This foundation strives to preserve Turkey’s rich plant and animal species as well as their habitats by raising awareness through conversation projects. Public and private sector companies also partner with the association to help create social awareness.

    Turkey Goes Organic
    Turkey is paving the way with all things organic. The Five Boutique Hotel is the first hotel in Turkey to be entirely organic. In addition, there are two incredible organic outdoor markets located in Istanbul: the Ekolojik Halk Pazari and City Farm, which offer a large variety of the freshest produce.

    Ecotourism in Turkey
    Turkey boasts many incredible destinations that are perfect for an eco holiday. One such place is the educational facility, Narköy. Located in the province of Kocaeli, Narköy serves both as a modern hotel and as an organic farm. The facility offers nomad tents, group lodging units, an organic-based restaurant, and a nature-filled forest. Moreover, visitors have the opportunity to partake in the various workshops offered such as “To be in Nature,” “Make Your Garden,” and “Permaculture.”

FAQs about Turkey

  • Do you tip in Turkey?

    Tipping is a modest and cash-based affair in Turkey. Give porters 2-3TL per bag; hotel staff 5TL; and Turkish bath attendants 10-20% of service provided. Tip tour guides collectively 10-20 TL, cab drivers by rounding up your fare and servers 10-15% of your total bill.
  • What is the internet access like?

    Internet, as well as WiFi access, is available throughout Turkey, and free in most accommodations, restaurants and cafes, public transportation and airports. Mobile hotspots, which you can rent, are also on hand to give you constant access during your visit.
  • Is the tap water safe to drink?

    Tap water in big cities goes through filtration, however, the plumbing in some places aren’t the best. Locals traditionally drink bottled water, which is readily available and affordable, so you should follow suit.
  • Can I use my credit cards?

    Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted while the more high-end businesses also accept American Express. Cash is still king, however, so it’s good practice to keep enough on your person at all times.
  • What are the public holidays?

    Turkey’s public holidays include National Sovereignty Day on April 23, Labour and Solidarity Day on May 1, Democracy and National Unity Day on July 15, Victory Day on August 30, Republic Day on October 29, Ramadan, and Sacrifice Feast on the tenth day of the Islamic month Dhu'l-Hijjah. 
  • What are the toilets like?

    You’ll find both sit down and squat toilets all over the country. It’s important to bring your own toilet paper as it is not always available, and it’s good practice to throw used toilet paper in the rubbish bin instead of flushing them.
  • What should you wear in Turkey?

    In most areas everyday clothing is acceptable, but a good rule of thumb is to stay on the conservative side where possible. In mosques, it is essential that you cover your knees and shoulders, don socks instead of going barefoot and cover your head in a light scarf.
  • Is Turkey safe for solo travellers?

    Although Turkey is by no means a dangerous country, petty crime, assaults, scams and even druggings are not uncommon, and solo travellers (both men and women) are often the target. It’s best to travel in groups or with a companion.