Top tips for visiting TurkeyPosted by Martin Parker on
Turkey is the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and its share of the market has been growing rapidly over the past few years. Traditionally a secular state, where religion is completely separated from the politics of the country, it has faced turbulent times in recent years but remains very popular with tourists.
Turkey uses a voltage of 220V and has adopted the Euro plug as standard, which makes it simple when traveling from other countries using the same voltage. All you need is a travel adapter with the two round European prongs. If your country uses a different voltage, use our dual voltage blog to check if it will be okay to use it in Turkey.
One thing you’ll discover is that the Turkish people are extremely friendly and will happily go out of their way to help you. The downside to this is that there are some that use this friendliness to try to scam you, particularly in Istanbul. Watch out for people on the street that will have a long sob story and ask you for money to help them. Another is getting friendly with people in bars and you end up with a large bill for the drink. Thankfully, out in the country, these types of scams are very much less common.
Learn some of the language
Away from the larger cities and tourist resorts, don’t expect many people to speak English, so having a few words can go a long way. Just being able to say please, thank you, good morning, good night etc will go a long way and you’ll probably pick up some more useful vocabulary along the way.
Learn some of the history before going
This is one of the world's oldest occupied regions, with a history dating back thousands of years. Over time, it has been home to the Seljuk Empire, the Mongols, and the Ottoman Empire. Modern Turkey was established in 1923 when the Ottoman Empire fell and the Republic of Turkey was created under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Investigating some of the history before you arrive will bring the sights you see to life.
What to wear
Turkey is secular and although many are Muslim they often dress very fashionably and more like a western country than perhaps you’d expect. Some women will cover their heads and bodies, whereas others will wear shorts and t-shirts. The key here is to dress as you normally would, but make sure you have a scarf or shawl with you in case of an impromptu visit to a mosque where you will have to cover your hair.
Great places to visit
Of course, Istanbul is a huge draw and taking a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait that separates Europe from Asia and splits the city in two should definitely be on your list. Along the way, you’ll pass some great sites of the city, including the Haga Sophia, once the largest cathedral in the world. Make a point of visiting the spectacular Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or Blue Mosque, surrounded by its six minarets and with a beautiful interior.
Every city and town will have a bazaar where you can find carpets, artwork, gifts, and souvenirs. Just remember to haggle on the price, as it is expected.
Leaving the big cities behind, a visit to the ancient sites of Turkey is a must, and in particular the ancient city of Ephesus, built around the 10th century BC. The city was occupied up until the 15th century AD and you’ll find many well-preserved buildings, including the Library of Celsus.
Remember to pack a travel adapter in your hand luggage to make sure it’s easy to find and keep your smartphone and camera fully charged. Missing those great photo opportunities would be really annoying just for the sake of a travel adapter.