Turkey travel guide

Where to go, what to see: your Turkey travel guide

Why visit Turkey?

Nestled between the Black and Mediterranean Seas, Turkey is the bridge between Europe and the Middle East—both physically and culturally. Turkish territory covers approximately 302.500 square miles; 97% is in Asia (Anatolia or Asia Minor), and 3% is in Europe (Thrace). With more ancient cities than any other country in the region, miles and miles of warm-water coastline, and a varying landscape, Turkey has much to offer the visitor, who can always be sure of a warm welcome.

The modern Turkish republic was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the national hero and Turkey's first president. The current population is just over 82 million; 99% are Muslim, and 1% are Christians and Jews.

Turkish cuisine is reputed to be one of the three greats of the world (Chinese and French are the others). The influence of many different civilizations has created rich and varied dishes, such as vegetables cooked in olive oil, soups, and an endless variety of mezes (appetizers); doner and shish kebabs; grilled, fried, or steamed fish; and cucumber in yogurt. Honey candy and Turkish Delight make wonderful desserts, followed, if you dare, by Turkish coffee, which is often thick enough to stand a spoon up in! The national drink is raki, which is distilled from grapes and flavored with aniseed.

Enjoy shopping for hand-woven Turkish carpets and kilims, leather goods, ceramics, glassware, beautifully worked silver, and gold and turquoise jewelry. The short stories and jokes of 13th-century Turkish author Nasreddin Hodja make enjoyable reading. One example: a neighbor told him, "Hodja, I saw two men carrying a cauldron of cooked rice." "It's none of my business” replied Hodja. "But I think they were taking it to your house," said the neighbor. "Then, it's none of your business!" he replied.

One experience you don't want to miss when traveling through this fascinating country is a Turkish bath!

Weather and climate in Turkey

When is the best time to visit Turkey?

Turkey, for the most part, enjoys plenty of sunshine. The summers are hot and dry, while winter brings milder and wetter weather. As you go inward and upward, the climate becomes cooler, with Ankara receiving its fair share of snow each winter. Bring lightweight clothing from May to September. Other months are cooler and wetter, so pack warmer layers and rain gear. And, don’t forget beachwear if you’re heading to the coast.

To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for Turkey.

 

 Istanbul

 January

 8°C

 February

 8°C

 March

 11°C

 April

 16°C

 May

 21°C

 June

 26°C

 July

 29°C

 August

 29°C

 September

 77°C

 

 October

 20°C

 November

 14°C

 December

 10°C

 


Turkey food and fun facts

Food specialities of Turkey

Soups; vegetables cooked in olive oil; mezes (appetizers); doner and shish kebabs; grilled, fried, or steamed fish; cucumber in yogurt; honey candy and Turkish Delight; coffee; and raki (distilled from grapes and flavored with aniseed).

Fun facts

  • Istanbul is the only city in the world that is built on two continents; you can cross from Europe to Asia and back again in minutes, via the three suspension bridges built over the Bosporus natural water strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.
  • St. Peter’s Church, situated in Antioch (Antakya), is the first church built by man.
  • One of the oldest known human settlements is in Catalhöyük, Turkey (dating back to the 7th millennium BC).
  • There are approximately 11,000 species of flowers in Europe, out of which 9,000 are native to Turkey.
  • Turks introduced coffee to EuropeAdd fun facts here

Things to consider before visiting Turkey

How to call Turkey: Country code

The country code for Turkey is 90. When calling to Turkey from overseas, dial your international access code (+44 from the UK), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number.

Turkey’s currency

The official currency of Turkey is Turkish Lira.

Bank hours: 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1:30p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

1 TURKISH LIRA (TRY) = 100 Kuruş

● Banknote denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 Lira

● Coin denominations: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 Kuruş; 1 Lira

Shopping in Turkey

The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.

● The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is 5-6 Lira.

● An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately 25-30 Lira.

● Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately 50-60 Lira.

Shopping specialties: hand-woven carpets and kilims, leather goods, ceramics, glassware, worked silverware, gold and turquoise jewellery.

When and how much to tip in Turkey

Restaurants include a service charge (in general) on the bill. Often the wait staff do not receive this service charge as tip, so we recommend leaving an additional 10-15% in cash. Due to the low circulation of the 1 Kuruş coin, some cashiers may round up the total sum to the next 5 Kuruş. This is not a gratuity.

All taxis have to use taximeters, and tipping is not necessary.

Tip hotel staff a minimum of 5 Lira for room service.

A few coins will be needed for public restrooms as restroom attendants expect a small gratuity

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