The beautiful beaches, historical sites, archaeological wonders and famous pink Turkish Delight make Turkey a highly desirable (and delightful) destination to visit. Turkey’s culinary scene is world renowned making Turkey a heavenly place for foodies. Turkey can keep travelers entertained and enthralled for weeks on end with the abundance of sights to see and activities to do here. From rafting, paragliding and trekking to soaking in a hammam, taking a culinary tour and shopping til you drop at the largest covered market on earth, the Grand Bazaar. Turkey is not just another country to tick off the bucket list, but an experience to be savored… just like Turkish Delight.
Turkey Travel Info
Language: Turkish is the official language of Turkey with a majority of people speaking Kurdish as well. The locals speak basic to fluent English in most popular tourist destinations, but in smaller towns and villages expect to pull out your Turkish phrase book.
Currency: Turkish Lira.
Visa: You need a visa to enter Turkey and your tourist Visa will be valid for 90 days. Citizens of certain nationalities are exempt and can enter the country with just a valid passport. You can apply for a visa at the Turkish Embassy or Turkish Consulate in your city or apply for an e-visa online.
Electricity: Turkey operates on 220 V electricity supply with a frequency of 50 Hz. Plugs used are round pronged European style plugs. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Turkey Festivals & Celebrations
Camel Wrestling: Camel wrestling is a sport in which two male Tülü camels wrestle, typically in response to a female camel in heat being led before them. The annual Selcuk Efes Camel Wrestling Festival is a top draw for travelers to the country’s southern Aegean coast. It’s most common in the Aegean region of Turkey, but is also practiced in other parts of the Middle East and South Asia.
Istanbul Music Festival: The Istanbul music festival takes place in June or July each year and is the longest running festival in Istanbul featuring classical music, opera, traditional Turkish music and some ballet. The performances take place at various venues across the city and go on for most of the summer.
Sarigerme Kite Festival: The town of Mugla hosts a fantastic kite festival organized on the Sarigerme Sarced beach. Hundreds of kites adorn the sky while the bystanders enjoy delicious street food sold by local vendors. There is a contest for the best kite at the beach and so this festival attracts kite loving contestants from far and wide. This is a great day out for everybody, young and old, so bring a picnic and enjoy the colorful view! The festival starts around 11:00 and will continue till around 17:00 and it’s held sometime during the 1st April to the 31st May each year.
Safety In Turkey
Turkey is not a dangerous country to visit despite the 2016 terror attack. Tourist destinations and coastal resorts have not been targeted to date. Theft, bag snatching and scams are prevalent in all big cities so be mindful at all times. Based on my own travel experiences in Turkey I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Turkey.
Top Things To Do In Turkey
Aya Sofya is considered to be the world’s most beautiful building leaving visitors spellbound by the Byzantine splendor of the structure. The vast exterior of the museum is rimmed by sophisticated minarets which were added to it post the Ottoman conquest, and the lavish interior reminds us of the power and might of the old Constantinople. This famous monument must top the bucket list of every traveler coming to Turkey.
This palace is unbelievably opulent and makes you imagine the luxurious and lavish lifestyle that the Sultans had. The Sultans of the Ottoman era carved out their empire from here itself which later extended to Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The interiors had some extravagantly exuberant tiling and jeweled décor which exudes the power and prosperity of the Ottomans. The palace is surrounded by public gardens which were earlier used as the Royal court but are now accessible to the public.
Visit the Süleymaniye Mosque
The Suleymaniye acts like a crown for one of the seven hills of Istanbul, and it is a landmark of Istanbul. Although it is not the largest Ottoman mosque, it is one of the most beautiful and grand. The construction of the mosque took place between 1550 and 1557, and the design is truly charming. The mosque has a beautiful garden, a forecourt on three sides and an ablution fountain in the domed center. Four minarets with balconies adorn the four corners of the mosque.
Explore Ankara Castle
Ankara castle is also known as Ankara Kalesi and is a fort that dates back to Turkey’s medieval era. Although no one knew when precisely the construction of the castle took place, yet, it is believed that it was built sometimes in the 7th century AD and has been used since then by The Roman Empire, the Seljuq Turks, the Byzantine Empire, the Crusaders and then the Ottomans. The castle is spread across an area of 43,000 sq kilometers and is open for visitors to explore the architectural styles of different.
Aqua Vega Aquarium
Aqua Vega Aquarium is one of the most extensive underwater aquariums in Europe and situated in Ankara. Also home to a large tunnel aquarium and a great place where the entire family can have fun. The aquarium can hold 4.5 million liters of fresh and salt water in it’s exhibits and features splendid sea creatures from across the globe. There are exhibits like the Seashell museum, the Adrenaline world and the jungle corner where you can get up close to sharks, napoleon fish, koi fish and more.
Ölüdeniz is a sheltered bay that is near Fethiye and is one of the most popular beaches of Turkey. With its turquoise waters, lush green forests reaching up to a white sand beach, Ölüdeniz is picture perfect. If you want to avoid the large crowds on the beach, go paragliding from the peak of the Babadag Mountain and experience the incredible aerial view of the area. Ölüdeniz is also a great paragliding destination too.
The ruins of Hierapolis, an ancient spa city, are well preserved to this day. Founded as a curative center by Eumenes II of Pergamum in 190 BC. The city thrived under the Roman as well as the Byzantine empires when large Orthodox Christian and Jewish communities populated it. The recurring earthquakes destroyed it, and after 1334 AD the town was finally abandoned. When you visit the place, do not forget to see the Agora, the Roman Theatre, and the on-site museum.
Shop at the Grand Bazaar
Shop the world’s largest covered market and the oldest one too. The market is on a growth spree since 1455 and currently has more than 4000 shops covering about 61 streets of Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar attracts millions of tourists every year, making it one of the most visited tourist attractions in Istanbul. You cannot explore this unique place in just a day. Shop for dried fruits, coffee, tea, nuts, home décor items, arts and crafts, textiles and more.
This Istanbul museum has once been a mosque along with being a Greek Orthodox Christian basilica. Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the exterior of the museum displays splendid Byzantine architecture. It was constructed in 537 AD and has a vast dome, Deesis mosaic, the 19th-century market and some drawings by the Fossati brothers. What more do you want?
Kekova Island Sunken Ruins
In 2000 BCE a peaceful federation was built by the Lycian which surrounded Simena, a sea trading city. In the 2nd century CE, the area got hit by extremely violent earthquakes and as a result, sank under the waves. Currently, you can book boat tours, Kayaks or Private charter gullets to Kevoka Island Sunken Ruins which are now only a few meters under the clear Mediterranean waters. You will be able to spot shipyards, houses and public buildings and other awesome structures.
Other than these top things to do in Turkey, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Turkey that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Turkey
Turkish Delight: This is a sweet pink treat which is a combination of chopped dates, walnuts or hazelnuts and pistachios dusted in icing sugar. Turkish delight that’s made in Turkey, is the real deal.
Iskender Kebab: One of the most popular non-vegetarian dishes of the Northwest. The recipe consists of thinly sliced lamb and warm tomato served alongside pieces of bread and drizzled with lots of butter and yogurt. Just mouthwatering!
Mezze: You will not be able to leave Turkey without getting to eat mezze. Mezze is a selection of dishes that are served before a meal or at drinks. Yogurt with herbs, dolmas, hummus, meatballs, white cheese, and warm pide are all a part of a mezze.
Baklava: Baklava is a rich, very sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. You’ll find this classic dessert on every street in Turkey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the Levant, the Caucasus, Balkans and central and west Asia and it’s done brilliantly in Turkey.
Sheesh Kebab: This traditional dish adorns the menu of most of the restaurants. Beef, lamb or chicken is grilled and served on skewers with rice, fries and salad on the side. This meal might appear simple but it’s truly delectable.
Where To Stay In Turkey
Turkey can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Turkey is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily Turkey hostels and dormitories make travel here really affordable for backpackers and anyone visiting Turkey on a tight budget.
Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Turkey will not disappoint. Still, a basic 3 star hotel room in Turkey can cost about 50 euros a night. If you’re traveling to Turkey during peak season (Europe’s summer time or during the Easter or Christmas holidays) or you prefer to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation well in advance and expect to pay a high price.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Turkey is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Turkey.
If you’re backpacking in Turkey or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Europe much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Turkey Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Turkey
The best time to visit Turkey is between April and October, this is if you want mild and reasonably warm weather. If you want to see Turkey with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between June and September.
Turkey Travel Budget
Turkey can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Turkey really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 euros a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Istanbul or Ankara then budget about 250 euros plus a day.
- Budget: €35 – €50
- Mid-range: €50 – €100
- Splurge: €150 +
Meal For One
- Budget: €8 – €25
- Mid-range: €25 – €60
- Splurge: €60 +
Turkey Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Turkey, like most other places in Europe is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during Spring, Autumn and Winter. Be prepared for the weather to get extremely cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Turkey. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Turkey include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Turkey check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Europe Packing List For Female Travelers.