Turkey Travel Guide 🇹🇷

Merhaba intrepid explorers and welcome to our Turkey travel guide - the only place to find out everything you need to know before you travel.


From east meeting west in the magical capital of Istanbul to a lazy week on a deckchair on Turkey's warm southern coast; from adventures at the bazaar to a drive through the fairy-chimneys of Cappadocia; Turkey has something for every holiday.

What we cover in our Turkey Travel Guide!


Turkey and covid-19: Update

Turkey reopened to British tourists on 12th June, and there's no requirement to self-isolate on your return.

For details on entry requirements to Turkey head to our Travel Corridor Guide - as this has all the relevant and up-to-date information.


Getting to Turkey

Turkey is a large country, but most tourist will fly into one of the main airports in western Turkey - as this is where most of the resorts are located. The main airports are found in Istanbul, Dalaman, Bodrum and Antalya.

Flight time is around 4 hours, and the cost for flights is about the same no matter which airport you choose to fly into - the choice will mostly come down to where you plan on spending your time once you reach Turkey.

The easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel or resort is to pre-book an airport transfer. Prices will vary depending on how far it is to your destination and whether you choose a shared or private transfer.

Why book an airport transfer with Holiday Extras
Drop off location Journey time Price from:
Bodrum International Airport (BJV) to Bodrum City 50 minutes £12.66
Dalaman International Airport (DLM) to Fethiye 1 hour 10 minutes £14.34
Dalaman International Airport (DLM) to Oludeniz 1 hour 40 minutes £14.20
Dalaman International Airport (DLM) to Marmaris 2 hours £11.76
Istanbul Havalimani Airport (IST) to Galata (Istanbul City Centre) 1 hour 40 minutes £29.84
Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) to Kadikoy 45 minutes £28.07
Antalya International Airport (AYT) to Lara Beach 35 minutes £5.80

If you haven't prebooked a transfer you can either hop in a taxi, airport shuttle or public bus - prices of these will vary depending on which airport you fly into.


Practical Info

Where is Turkey?

Turkey is a transcontinental country as it spans South Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Time zone: GMT +3
Currency: Turkish Lira
Power adapter: Turkey uses type F adapaters.
Language: Turkish
Flight time: Avg. 4 hours

TURKEY WEATHER


UPDATE: Covid-19 Advice

Turkey is included on the UK 'travel corridor' list, which is great news as it means you do not need to self-isolate on your return (you do however need to provide your contact details and travel plans before you leave).

Entry to Turkey has a few simple requirements, so be prepared for these before you leave.

"All arrivals into Turkey will be subject to a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, including temperature checks. Any passengers showing symptoms including high fever, coughing or respiratory difficulties will be will be required to undergo a PCR test for coronavirus.

In the event that a test returns a positive result, you will be provided with medical treatment at a facility determined by the Ministry of Health or, if preferred, at a private medical facility in Turkey at your own expense."

"You will need to complete a passenger locator form prior to arriving in Turkey. Details will be provided by your airline. You will be asked to provide the residential address of where you will stay, within the borders of Turkey, and your contact information."

What is Turkey like now?

Thinking of travelling to Turkey but not sure what to expect when you're there? We spoke to one of our team who has just returned from Turkey with her family:

What was it like at the airport?

Holiday Inn at Gatwick was very clean, masks are worn in lobby and keycards sanitised. Everyone was wearing masks throughout the airport, unless eating/drinking. Masks were needed at the shops and one way systems in place.

Easyjet boarding was socially distanced with all passengers wearing masks onboard, duty-free and refreshments available by contactless payment. There was a cabin announcement from the captain too to ask the masks cover nose and mouth at all times.

How was check-in at the hotel?

When we arrived our bags were tagged and santisied using a ULV device. We were asked to fill out a guest information form on our arrival, to provide information about countries we'd visited recently and our contact information.

The reception staff wore gloves whilst handling our passports and key cards, and there were contact-free hand sanitziers throughout the hotel. We regularly saw the lifts being cleaned and sanitised.

Maks were mandatory within the lobby and all staff were wearing a mask or a visor.

What was in place for meal times?

On entry to the main restaurant area, our temperatures were taken (contactless) and they would actively hand out masks to anyone who wasn't wearing one. Each mask they provided were individually wrapped in packaging too, to reduce transmission.

There was socially-distanced seating at dinner, including perspex screens at the buffet with the staff serving you. The cutlery on tables within our hotel and the local town was protected in disposable packaging and straws were also packaged in paper packaging too.

Did you use the pool area?

The pool area had lots of information on how to keep safe and loungers were spaced apart. The hotel was running at a reduced capacity to keep the numbers of people lower. The snack bars on the beach and poolside at the hotel were using disposable plates and cutlery.

What was it like outside the hotel?

The local police patrolled the beaches with speakerphones to ensure everyone had masks on.


Getting Around Turkey

As we've said before Turkey is a large country, but travelling around Turkey is relatively easy, virtually all of it is covered by public transport. If you're travelling within a city most of them now have an underground metro system, or an overground tram. This is a great affordable way to get around the cities.

There's an excellent rail system in Turkey, and in fact there are some incredible scenic rail journeys you can take - not simply as a method of getting from A to B. Why not take the Eastern Express from Ankara to Kars - you'll see how the geography changes as you travel from west to east.

If you're planning on a multi-city trip, or getting out to more rural areas then we highly recommend hiring a car for your trip. This offers you the ultimate freedom and flexibility for getting around.


Top Places To Go

Istanbul

Istanbul is the city where east meets west as it straddles the Bosphorus Strait - the continental divide between Europe and Asia. This is a city rich in history, and was previously known as Byzantium or Constantinople (now that song is stuck in our head). This is a city that has seen the Roman, the Byzantine and the Ottoman empire's come and go. The biggest attraction is the historic center of the city - which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The top "must see" is the Hagia Sophia, built in 537 it was the largest Christian church of the Roman Empire until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 when it converted to a mosque. Though there is some recent controversy around its reopening as a mosque (rather than the museum it operated as until July 2020) this does not stop you visiting, in fact it's simply meant the removal of an entrance fee. As you would with any place of worship, when visiting be sure to respect religious custom. Another mosque to visit is the famous Blue Mosque (officically known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque), which dominates the Istanbul skyline with its impressive five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes.

Whilst in Istanbul be sure to visit the Grand Bazaar - one of the world's largest and oldest covered markets. This is one of the world's most visited tourist destinations, so be prepared for it to be busy, but it's well worth it. Even if you are not in the market to buy, then it's an experience in itself simply wander the stalls and taking in all the sights and smells.


Book your holiday extras early

It pays to book your airport parking, airport hotel or your lounge as soon as you book your flights. Prices usually go up nearer the date you fly, and last year Holiday Extras saved our airport parking customers £100 each on average when they pre-booked their airport parking instead of paying on the day.

Book my hotel and parking today

Turkish Riviera

Head to southeastern Turkey and you'll find the Turkish Riviera. This stretch of coast is both a modern tourist's dream and a historical treasure trove (Herodotus the "father of history" was literally born here!) - there's so much to see and do. Whether you head to one of the many beautiful white sandy beaches, or visit what remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, you're guaranteed to have a memorable holiday.

Cappadocia

If you travel inland and east away from the coast you can explore the "fairy chimneys", underground caves and historic settlements in Cappadocia. If you have a bucket-list then getting a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the unique landscape here has to be on it. There's really nothing quite like it.

Phaselis

We have talked a lot about history, and if that's something that interests you then we highly recommend a visit to Phaselis. This is quite simply one of the most stunning ancient ruins in the world. This ancient Lycian harbour town was built as a trading hub for the eastern Mediterranean - it was even visited by Alexander the Great. Today you can explore the ruins of this village, where it sits nestled in the forest, and be sure to climb the amphitheatre steps for a wonderful view.

Ephesus

Ephesus is not only the best-preserved classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean but one of the most wonderful places in the world to 'soak up' the atmosphere of Roman times. Once a thriving Greek city and part of the Ionian League, here you can find the Library of Celsus, the world's first road sign, the Ephesus theatre and the House of the Virgin Mary.

Library of Celsus - provided under Creative Commons

Three of Turkey's hidden gems

For Turkey off the beaten track

Staying in the beach resorts on the Turkish Riviera? Want to spend a day or two getting out to see ruined cities, white cliffs or one of the seven wonders of the ancient world? Then check out our guide to Pamukkale, Fethiye and the ruins of the Temple of Artemis.


Best Beaches

Turkey is an excellent location for beach lovers - after all it has approximately 980 miles of Mediterranean coastline, fondly known as the "Turquoise Coast". It also has a coastline on the Black Sea and the Aegean - so you're really spoiled for choice!

Ölüdeniz

By far Turkey's most famous beach - and when you see it, it's not hard to 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 Babadag Mountain, and when you tire of sitting on the beach (if you ever do!) then head up the mountain for an amazing opportunity to paraglide over the lagoon.

Olympos and Cirali

Want to combine culture and relaxation - then this is the spot for you. At the end of Cirali beach is Olympos - where you can walk amongst anicent ruins beautifully nestled amongst the trees. After you've visited the ruins, then head up the Olympos mountain and visit Yanartas and the Eternal Flames of the Chimaera.

Once you've had your fill of culture, then the beach below awaits. Cirali is a peaceful village and an excellent choice for families, and the beach here is beautiful and unspoiled.

Patara

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

Cleopatra Beach

If you're looking for a more developed beach, then Cleopatara beach is an excellent choice. There are a number of shops, bars and restaurants that line the boardwalk which make this a great spot to hang out for the day. The water here is beautifully turquoise and the waves here mean there's great opportunities for water sports, such as surfing.


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Turkey For Families

Turkey is a wonderful destination for families, and it's one of the main reasons us Brits love holidaying here! Whether you like a cultural experience and to take in the history or simply relax in an amazing resort, there's so many options. Our top choices for a family holiday in Turkey are Bodrum or Antalya.

Both Bodrum and Antalya have their own airports, and have short transfer times to resorts (both under an hour) - this means no long painful bus or car rides with kids in tow!

Bodrum sits on the Mediterranean and boasts the beautiful turquoise beaches Turkey is known for. We recommend Gümbet beach for families, there's plenty of amenities to keep everyone fed and watered, the water here is calm and there's opportunties for fun water activities for slightly older kids.

But in all honesty, you might not even need to hit the beach - there's a number of all inclusive resorts with themed pools and entertainment that will keep the little ones entertained. All within minutes walk from your room. This really is the most stress free holiday we can think of!

If we had to pick one location though Antalya would be our choice for families. There's two excellent beaches to choose from, Lara and Konyaalti, and of course again an excellent array of resort hotels. What sets Antalya apart is there other activities that are on offer - such as the Antalya Aquarium which features the world's longest aquarium tunnel. For a more quirky day out make sure to check out Sandland as well - for some amazing sand sculptures. If theme parks are more your thing then head to Land of Legends, Turkey's answer to Disneyland! You can even book your tickets with Holiday Extras.


Accessibility In Turkey

Depending on where in Turkey you're a travelling to you may face different challenges when it comes to accessibility. Istanbul is an incredibly old city, founded in around 660 BC - this means that a lot of the roads or paths are cobbled, hilly and narrow and are not overly accessible. That being said the tram line is accessible (although crowded) and will give you the opportunity to explore the Old Town and reach some of the most popular sites. Though we highy recommend using accessible taxis during your time here.

Of those the two most famous attractions are accessible - but not necessarily through the 'main' entrance. The Hagia Sophia has wheelchair ramps at the entrance, but there are some single steps to navigate once you are inside. The Blue Mosque does have an entrance ramp, but this is found on the northwest side - not the main entrance. The main attractions in Istanbul are also located nearby each other, and you can travel between them.

Elsewhere in Turkey you will find better accessibility at some the the more modern westernized resorts on the coast. The paths and roads here are generally wider and flatter making them much easier to navigate. Turkey also has amazing all inclusive beach resorts, and these are an excellent option.


LGBTQ+ Travellers

As you'll have seen in this guide, Turkey is a beautiful country and one any person should visit. Homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Turkey, but there may be some areas where prejudice remains - but this is also the case in many other countries that may be thought of as more progressive. Istanbul in particular has an excellent gay scene - with many bars and clubs to visit.

We recommend researching before you travel, or even booking with a gay friendly travel agent. In the more rural areas, you may wish to be more discreet - but even heterosexual couples who are overly amarous would be frowned upon in the more conservative parts of the country.

Our advice is as always, do your research and be safe.


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