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Turkey Travel Guide

Whether it's a city break, a family getaway or a laze on the beach you fancy, Turkey is a great place to visit all year round. Get lost in bustling bazaars, see historic sites and marvel at the beautiful landcapes that await.

What you'll find in this guide:

Top things to do in Turkey

Practical information

Getting to Turkey

Getting around Turkey

Best beaches in Turkey

Turkey for families

Accessibility in Turkey

Turkey for LGBTQ+ travellers

Top things to do in Turkey

  • 1-hour super tasty balloon flight at sunrise
    ACTIVITIES

    1-hour super tasty balloon flight at sunrise

    Take a hot air ballon ride over Cappadocia and marvel at the stunning views of the gorges, mountains and fairy chimneys. Enjoy a spot of breakfast and watch the glorious sunrise.

  • Kekova Island
    EXCURSIONS & DAY TRIPS

    Kekova, Myra & St. Nicholas tour

    Authentic cuisine, a lost city and Santa - this trip offers something for everyone. Savour local dishes in Beymelek, glide along the coast to Kekova island and its sunken town, and visit the church of St. Nicholas in Myra.

  • Istanbul Grand Bazaar
    ACTIVITIES

    İstanbul Uncovered walking tour

    Explore the backstreets of İstanbul, discover secret local areas and learn about the rich history of this ancient city.

  • Ephesus and Sirince group tour
    EXCURSIONS & DAY TRIPS

    Ephesus & Şirince small group tour

    Explore Ethesus, a UNESCO Word Heritage Site that's one of the best-preserved archeological sites in the world. You'll also discover the Temple of Artemis ruins, visit a local ceramic workshop and have lunch in the village of Şirince.

  • Guided tour of Florence Duomo
    ACTIVITIES

    Cappadocia valleys 2-hour horseback ride experience

    Known as 'the land of beautiful horses', there's no better place to enjoy a horse ride than Cappadocia. Admire the spectacular valleys and rock formations in an unforgettable way.

What time zone is Turkey in?

GMT +3

What curreny do they use in Turkey?

Turkish lira TRY

What language do they speak in Turkey?

Turkish

What power adaptors do you need for Turkey?

Type F

What is the average fight time to Turkey?

4 hours

Practical Info

Culture and etiquette

Religion

Islam is the most practised religion - the majority of the population are Sunni Muslims.

Tipping

Do you need tip in Turkey? A service charge is often included in hotel and restaurant bills. In less expensive restaurants, a small tip is appreciated.

Smoking

Smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces including restaurants, bars and public transport.

Language 101

The official language is Turkish, although Kurdish is also spoken in the southeast. English is widely spoken in major cities and tourist areas, as well as French and German.

Forget about the letters q, x and w, as they aren't used in Turkish. Instead, say hello to:

  • ı – pronounced as the 'e' in open, or the 'i' in cousin
  • ü – 'u' in cube or pure
  • ö – 'u' in turn, or 'ea' in learn
  • ç – 'ch' in chicken or church
  • ğ – this is the most distinctive letter in the Turkish alphabet, and its pronunciation depends on where it appears in the word. Before a vowel, it's silent, and after the letter 'e' it sounds like a faint 'y' sound. If it's before a consonant or at the end of a word, the previous vowel sound is pronounced for longer.
  • ş – 'sh' in ship or shell

Turkish grammar is quite different from English too. Verbs are put at the end of a sentence, and the verb 'to be' is nowhere to be seen.

Helpful Turkish Phrases

Hello - Merhaba

Goodbye - Güle Güle

How are you? - Nasılsınız?

Yes - Evet

No - Yok

What's your name? - Adınız ne?

My name is - Adım

Please - Lütfen

Thank you - Teşekkür ederim

How much is it? - Ne kadar?

Where is? - Nerede?

Numbers:

  • One - Bir
  • Two - İki
  • Three - Üç
  • Four - Dört
  • Five - Beş

Jabs, visas and other advice

For up-to-date advice on jabs, visas and other foreign advice, we recommend following the government's website.

Emergency numbers

For any emergency, call 112.

Getting to Turkey

Flight times vary depending on where you're going, but you're typically looking at around 4 hours from London to İstanbul, or 4 hours and 20 minutes if flying to Antalya.

You can also reach Turkey by train. It takes a fair amount longer but the journey will take you through Belgrade, Sofia and Budapest, and it's much more eco-friendly than flying. If this is something you're considering it's worth looking into getting yourself a rail pass. Both InterRail and Eurail Pass offer unlimited travel in most European countries.

Turkey is also a very popular cruise destination, and this is an easy way to see cities like İstanbul, Antalya and Bodrum.

Getting around Turkey

Most large cities in Turkey have their own metro system, including İstanbul, Ankara and Antalya. Buses are widely available in smaller cities and towns, which are usually reliable and easy to use.

If you fancy heading outside the city, a high-speed train line connects İstanbul, Eskişehir and Ankara. For a leisurely, picture-perfect journey, catch the Doğu Ekspresi (Eastern Express) from Ankara to Kars, which passes through spectacular rocky landscapes that are snow-capped in the winter and a luscious green in the summer.

Driving is an option too, with car hire available in major cities. There is a road toll system you'll need to be aware of - hire cars should be fitted with HGS cards, which are used to pay tolls electronically. The condition of roads connecting major cities is improving, but do keep in mind that road quality in rural areas is mixed and road accidents are fairly common.

Top
  • Turkey Airport Transfers

    Turkey Airport Transfers

    Book your Turkey airport transfers, with prices starting from £5.80 and free cancellations up to 3 days before travel.

  • Turkey Car Hire

    Turkey Car Hire

    Book your Turkey airport car hire, with free cancellations.

  • Turkey Ultimate Experiences

    Turkey Ultimate Experiences

    From hot air balloon rides to city tours! Make the most of your trip and pre-book the top Turkey experiences for you and your family before you fly.

  • Turkey Travel Insurance

    Travel Insurance for Turkey

    Whether you're horseback riding in Cappadocia or exploring İstanbul, you'll want a reliable travel insurance policy for your trip to Turkey.

The Good Trip Index
129th

Turkey ranks 129th on the Good Trip Index

This score is calculated based on Sustainability, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Press Freedom, Quality of Life, LGBTQI+ Rights and Animal welfare

Find out more

Best beaches in Turkey

  • Best beaches in Turkey - Ölüdeniz

    Ölüdeniz

    Ölüdeniz is by far Turkey's most famous beach and when you see it you'll see why. There's plenty of white sand to sink your toes into, and the waters here are calm thanks to the shape of the lagoon and the spit of land surrounding it. Behind the beach is Babadağ Mountain, which offers an amazing opportunity to paraglide over the lagoon.

  • Best beaches in Turkey - Olympos and Cirali

    Olympos and Çıralı

    This is a great option for those looking to combine a cultural escape with a relaxing day at the beach. At the end of Çıralı beach is Olympos, where you can walk among ancient ruins nestled in the trees. Once you've visited the ruins, head up the Olympos mountain and visit Yanartas and the Eternal Flames of the Chimaera - naturally occurring fires that have been burning for over 2500 years.

    Once you've had your culture fix the beach below awaits. Çıralı is a peaceful village and an excellent choice for families - the beach here is beautiful and unspoilt.

  • Best beaches in Turkey - Patara

    Patara

    This beautiful, remote beach can only be reached through the ruins of the ancient city of Patara. The beach itself is 18km long and is the nesting ground for loggerhead turtles. This means the beach is protected ground, making it an excellent undeveloped stretch of coast.

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Turkey for families

Turkey is a wonderful destination for families. Whether you want an all-inclusive resort or a spot of culture, there are plenty of options for your family to enjoy.

For an all-inclusive resort with lots to keep the little ones entertained, Bodrum is a great choice. We recommend the beautiful Gümbet beach, where the water is calm and there are opportunities for fun water activities.

Antalya boasts two excellent beaches, Lara and Konyaaltı, and an excellent array of resort hotels. What sets Antalya apart is the other activities on offer, like the Antalya Aquarium which features the world's longest aquarium tunnel. For a quirky day out see the amazing sand sculptures at Sandland, or head to The Land of Legends if theme parks are more your thing.

Accessibility in Turkey

Depending on where in Turkey you're travelling, you may face different challenges when it comes to accessibility. İstanbul is an incredibly old city, founded in around 660 BC, which means that a lot of the roads or paths are cobbled, hilly, narrow and not overly accessible.

That being said the metro and tram line are accessible and will give you the opportunity to explore the Old Town and reach some of the most popular sites. Many major tourist attractions have been adapted with accessibility in mind, but it's worth checking before you go.

Elsewhere in Turkey you'll find better accessibility at some of the more modern resorts on the coast. The paths and roads here are generally wider and flatter making them much easier to navigate.

Turkey for LGBTQ+ travellers

While homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Turkey, no laws exist that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services or hate speech. Equally, Turkey does not legally recognise same-sex couples, marriages or civil unions.

However, İstanbul does have a renowned LGBTQ+ scene. The main area to visit is around Taksim, which has many bars and clubs that come alive by night. Beyoğlu is also more welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community, which is the place to go for art, entertainment and nightlife.

Be mindful that there may be some areas where prejudice remains, and public displays of affection may lead to unwelcome attention.