Turkey | Travel Guide
Be holiday ready...
Update May 24: From 4am on 12th May direct flights from Turkey to England were prohibited.
When you arrive you'll need to have a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, including temperature checks. Passengers from the UK don't require a negative PCR test or vaccine certificate to enter Turkey.
When you're there:
Turkey currently has a curfew in place - on weekdays from 9pm-5am and on weekends from 9pm on Fridays until 5am on Monday mornings. Masks are mandatory in all public places.
Traffic light status:
Turkey has been confirmed to be on England's red list and at time of writing the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.
Turkey Travel Guide
Merhaba intrepid explorers and welcome to our Turkey travel guide - the best place to find 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, adventures at the bazaar or a drive through the fairy-chimneys of Cappadocia - Turkey has something for everyone.
What to expect from our Turkey travel guide:
Getting to Turkey
Turkey is a large country but most tourists will fly into one of the main airports in western Turkey as this is where most of the resorts are. The main airports are in Istanbul, Dalaman, Bodrum and Antalya.
The average flight time is around 4 hours and the cost of flights is roughly 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 get to Turkey.
The easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel or resort is to book an airport transfer. Prices vary depending on how far it is to your destination and whether you choose a shared or private transfer. If you don't book 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.
Getting to your accommodation
These prices are a guide and correct at time of writing - make sure you check online before you travel for the most up to date information.
Bodrum International Airport
By taxi - A taxi to the city centre takes around 40 minutes and will cost around €14.
By public transport - Havas runs shuttle buses to the city centre (with hotel stops on the way) which take around 45 minutes and cost around €2.60.
Dalaman International Airport
By taxi - A taxi to Fethiye will set you back around €35 and to Marmaris around €50.
By public transport - Havas runs shuttle buses to Marmaris and Fethiye which take around 60 minutes to Fethiye (€2.60) or 90 minutes to Marmaris (€2.80).
Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport
By taxi - A taxi to the city centre takes around 45 minutes and costs around €30 during the day or €35 at night.
By public transport - There are three companies that run buses from the airport - Seyahat (intercity transportation), Havaist and IETT. The services run 24/7 and take around 60-110 minutes to reach the city centre. It's very affordable at only €3 per person, but may not take you all the way to your hotel.
Antalya International Airport
By taxi - A taxi to Lara beach will take around 13 minutes and cost around €8.
By public transport - Havas runs shuttle buses to to the city centre (with hotel stops on the way) which take around 35 minutes and cost €1.70. You can also get a public bus number 600 which runs every 30 minutes between Antalya Airport and Antalya Bus Terminal or number 800 runs every 2 hours between Antalya Airport and Antalya Lara district for €1 per person.
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.
Flight time: Avg. 4 hours
What to expect when you're there
Thinking of travelling to Turkey but not sure what to expect when you're there? We spoke to one of our team who visited Turkey with her family in the summer of 2020:
What was it like at the airport?
The 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 megaphones to ensure everyone had masks on.
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Keep up to date with everywhere you can travel this summer.
Getting around Turkey
As we've said before Turkey is a large country, but travelling around is relatively easy - virtually all of it is covered by public transport. If you're travelling within a city most of them have an underground metro system or an overground tram - an easy and affordable way to get around the cities.
There's an excellent rail system in Turkey, and some incredible scenic rail journeys you can take. Try 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 a multi-city trip, or getting out to more rural areas then we highly recommend hiring a car for your trip. It gives you the ultimate freedom and flexibility for getting around.
Top Places To Visit
Istanbul is the city where east meets west as it straddles the Bosphorus Strait - the continental divide between Europe and Asia. It's a city rich in history, and was previously known as Byzantium or Constantinople. Istanbul has seen the Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman empires 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 AD it was the largest Christian church of the Roman Empire until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 when it was converted to a mosque. Though there has been some recent controversy around its reopening as a mosque (after being a museum until July 2020) this won't stop you visiting. As you would with any place of worship, make sure you respect religious customs when you visit.
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.
Also while you're in Istanbul, we recommend visiting the Grand Bazaar - one of the world's largest and oldest covered markets. It's 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're not in the market to buy, it's an experience itself simply wandering the stalls and taking in all the sights and smells.
Head to south-west Turkey and you'll find the Turkish Riviera. This stretch of coast is a tourist's dream and a historical treasure trove. Whether you head to one of the many beautiful white sandy beaches, or visit what remains of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) you're guaranteed to have a memorable holiday.
If you travel inland and 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 this unique landscape has to be on it. There's really nothing quite like it.
We've talked a lot about history, and if that's something that interests you then we highly recommend a visit to Phaselis - it's 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 and was visited by Alexander the Great. Today you can explore the ruins of the village nestled in the forest. Make sure you climb the amphitheatre steps for a wonderful view!
Ephesus is not only the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean but one of the most wonderful places in the world to embrace the atmosphere of Roman times. Once a thriving Greek city and part of the Ionian League, here you'll find the Library of Celsus, the world's first road sign, the Ephesus theatre and the House of the Virgin Mary.
Turkey is an excellent location for beach lovers with 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'll be spoilt for choice!
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 Babadag Mountain, and if you tire of sitting on the beach you can head up the mountain for an amazing opportunity to paraglide over the lagoon.
Olympos and Cirali
If you 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 among anicent 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. Cirali is a peaceful village and an excellent choice for families - the beach here is beautiful and unspoilt.
This beautiful, remote beach can only be 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 makes it an excellent undeveloped stretch of coast.
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 it a great spot to hang out for the day. The water here is beautifully turquoise and the waves mean there are great opportunities for water sports like surfing.
Turkey For Families
Turkey is a wonderful destination for families which is one of the main reasons us Brits love holidaying here! Whether you like a cultural experience to take in the history or simply relaxing in an amazing resort, there are plenty of 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 with plenty of amenities to keep everyone fed and watered. The water here is calm and there are opportunties for fun water activities for slightly older kids.
In all honesty, you might not even need to hit the beach - there are a number of all-inclusive resorts with themed pools and entertainment that will keep the little ones entertained. All within minutes of your room. It 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 are two excellent beaches - Lara and Konyaalti, and again 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 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 travelling, you may face different challenges when it comes to accessibility. Istanbul 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 tram line is accessible (though crowded) and will give you the opportunity to explore the Old Town and reach some of the most popular sites. However, we highy recommend using accessible taxis during your time there.
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're inside. The Blue Mosque does have an entrance ramp on the northwest side - not the main entrance. The main attractions in Istanbul are also near each other so you can travel between them.
Elsewhere in Turkey you'll find better accessibility at some of the more modern westernised 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.
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 (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 booking with a gay-friendly travel agent. Many parts of Turkey are socially conservative so public displays of affection may lead to unwelcome attention. Our advice is as always, do your research and be safe.
Looking for more inspiration, information or a handy travel guide? You'll find more on our travel hub.
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