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10 June 2017 / Travel

Turkey Travel Tips

From our experience, most first-time visitors to Turkey leave the country with a heartfelt longing to return. Their enjoyable holiday has undoubtedly dissolved any apprehension they had about visiting this massively misunderstood country, and while meeting locals and exploring the main attractions, they gain a greater insight into the traditions and beliefs shaping communities across Turkey. However, out of all the people, we speak to, most say they wished they had known certain, helpful tips before stepping off the plane. So, we’ve prepared our top advice and handy guide about things to know when visiting Turkey for the first time.

Hot Travel Tips for Turkey

Currency and Money Management

Most of the questions we receive are about money. Naturally, people want to save as much as possible, by knowing how the locals spend and where to grab a bargain. However good money management while on holiday in Turkey starts before you even pack.


1: Contact your bank and find out the charges for using ATMs abroad. Also, notify them and your credit card providers that you are travelling to Turkey so, they don’t block your card for irregular and suspicious activity that activates their security code of conduct.

2: You’ll get a better exchange rate from your currency to Turkish lira in Turkey so don’t change all your money at your travel agents or in the airport. Only change a small amount of money to see you through the first 24 hours and then visit exchange shops or banks once you arrive.

3: The currency to use in Turkey is the new Turkish lira, and it is easier to manage if you recognise the coins and notes. Coins (kurus) come in denominations of 5,10, 25 and 50. There is also a 1 lira coin. Notes come in denominations of 5,10, 20, 50, 100 and 200.

4: In most coastal holiday resorts, beachfront restaurants charge higher prices for food and drink, than restaurants away from the sea and in residential areas. Turkish restaurants (lokantas) sell food at the lowest prices and families save a significant amount of money by using them.

5: By now, everyone has heard that when shopping in Turkey, you should bargain on prices to save money. However, there is a right time and place to do it. Don’t bargain on prices in restaurants, shopping malls or on anything with a price ticket. Traditionally, it applies to items of substantial prices, so the old lady at the weekly market is just going to look at you sideways if you try to bargain on the price of tomatoes. Buying souvenirs is an ideal time to do it, whether these are roadside shops or t-shirts sellers at the market. You should bargain if buying gold, leather or a Turkish carpet.

6: The awkward time for most holidaymakers is when it comes to tipping. Well, you don’t have to tip taxi drivers or when you only buy drinks in a restaurant. However, if the bill includes food, the standard tip is 10% of the bill depending on how happy you were with the service.

Travel Tips for a Self-catering Holiday in Turkey

Over the last 15 years, many foreigners have purchased property in Turkey. Attracted by low prices, they view them either as a long-term investment or future retirement home. Some of those foreign property owners, as well as Turks, use these properties to cash in on the self-catering travel concept that has overtaken the holiday industry. Advertising on sites like Airbnb or independently, self-catering holidays in these apartments are extremely popular but what tips will ensure everything runs smoothly?


1: Recently, Turkish parliament introduced a new law, and property owners who rent to holidaymakers must register on the GIYKIMBIL system. However, it’s taking time to implement, and unfortunately, this can impact on renters as seen in the case of a couple in Istanbul. Authorities kicked out them of the apartment because the owner refused to register and co-operate. It’s worth checking with your potential property landlord that they have signed up to the system.

2: The main supermarkets include Migros, Carrefour, Bim, Tansas and A101 with the first being the most expensive. For fruit and vegetables, instead shop at the local, weekly farmers market because they offer better quality and cheaper prices. It is also worth comparing prices of chicken, lamb and beef with independent butchers.

3: Some self-catering apartments are situated away from the main touristic districts, so maps are extremely helpful. A few property owners leave a detailed guide in the apartment listing bus routes, where the bank machines and markets are, but ask questions before you arrive and gain a contactable telephone number in case of emergency. Also, read our area guides listed in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Local Customs and Safety

Turkey is an incredibly diverse country and local customs; traditions and beliefs vary from the east to the west. The East of the country is extremely conservative, but most tourism happens in the coastal resorts of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, where locals have for many years seen different nationalities with alternative attitudes come and go.


1:  Holiday resorts have relaxed dress standards but in big cities like Istanbul or Ankara, dress conservatively, particularly if you are a woman. There is no need to cover your head but showing your cleavage, midriff or upper legs can attract unwanted attention.

2: Stay away from discussions about politics, or football. While they might be an interest of yours, some Turks are extremely passionate about these subjects and the fallout is just not worth it.

3: Turks are also extremely patriotic so don’t disrespect the flag by sitting or standing on it. Likewise, most Turks also hold the founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in high regard and are sensitive to criticism.

4: In towns, villages and cities across the country, local mosques perform the call to prayer five times a day. Although foreigners who have lived in Turkey for a long time, don’t seem to notice it anymore, first-time visitors are often acutely aware of it. Turkey is a Muslim country and even though, not all Turks fully practise the religion, it is wise not to criticise or get into discussions about the call to prayer or Islam in general.

5: Before you leave your home country, scan or photocopy your passport and give it to someone you trust. If you do lose your passport while in Turkey, you can ask the person to send you a copy and this will help your consulate issue emergency travel documents more quickly and efficiently.

6: This tip is perfectly helpful if you are visiting the large cities. When you arrive at your hotel, ask for one of their business cards and keep it in your wallet or purse. So, if you get lost, hand the card to a taxi driver or ring the hotel to ask for directions back. Solo travellers with anxious families can also use the check in feature on Facebook or Four Square to let people know you are safe.

7: The jury seems to be out on the topic of whether sunbathing topless in Turkey is the acceptable thing to do. Women from more liberal countries insist that it is fine while others stress that Turkey is a Muslim country therefore it shouldn’t be done. The choice is yours but we recommend you take note of your surroundings. A quick look at other people around the pool or on the beach, will indicate whether it is the right time and place to do it.

8: The last of our travel tips for Turkey is about the internet, something that mostly everyone can’t do without. The internet is great for finding out information about things to do and places to visit, using GPS maps to navigate and sourcing the best places to eat and drink. The good news is that most hotels offer free Wi-Fi, as do bars and restaurants. Alternatively, a quick search of Google will also reveal many Turkish companies from which you can rent mobile hotspots to stay connected 24 hours a day.

If you want to know more about Turkey, our blog section has many more interesting articles to read about the culture or, read about the lifestyle that keeps holidaymakers and expats coming back year after year.

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