The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, is an Ottoman-era historical imperial mosque located in Istanbul.
Photo by Lewis J Goetz

TURKEY

Middle East

Turkey Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Ankara

Location:

Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria

Currency:

Turkish liras (TRY)

Area:

783,562 sq km

Population:

82,482,383 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Turkish (official), Kurdish, other minority languages

Religion:

Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)

TimeZone:

UTC+2

Tel Code:

+90

Weather

Climate

Turkey has a diverse climate, with different regions experiencing different weather patterns. The coastal regions have a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. The central regions have a more continental climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The eastern regions have a more arid climate, with hot summers and cold winters.

Best time to visit

Spring (April-May)

The best time to visit Turkey is during the spring, which runs from April to May. The weather is perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities, with mild temperatures and comfortable conditions. This is also the time when the flowers are in full bloom, making it an ideal time for scenic walks and outdoor excursions.

Fall (September-October)

The fall, which runs from September to October, is also a good time to visit. The weather is still pleasant, and there are fewer tourists, which can make for a more authentic experience. This is also the time when the trees and vineyards are turning into colorful hues and makes it a perfect time for photography.

Summer (June-August)

The summer is not the best time to visit Turkey for sightseeing, as the weather can be hot and dry. However, it is also less crowded and the prices tend to be lower. If you're planning to visit during the summer, it's best to focus on coastal activities or head to the east side of the country where the temperatures are less hot.

Transportation

Bus

Buses are a popular and inexpensive way to get around Turkey. The bus system is extensive and covers most parts of the country, with frequent services to major cities and towns. Bus travel is a comfortable and efficient way to get around, with many bus companies offering different levels of comfort and amenities.

Train

Trains are a comfortable and efficient way to travel in Turkey, particularly for longer distances. The main railway line, TCDD, connects most major cities and towns, with frequent services and different levels of comfort.

Car rental

Car rental is a popular option for those who want more flexibility and independence when traveling around Turkey. There are many car rental companies in the country, with a wide range of vehicles available to rent. However, it's important to be aware of the local traffic laws and road conditions before renting a car.

Domestic flights

Domestic flights are a convenient and relatively fast way to travel around Turkey, particularly for those who are short on time or want to get to remote areas. Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines are the main domestic airlines that operate flights to most of the major tourist destinations, such as Istanbul, Antalya and Izmir.

Taxi and Dolmuş

Taxis and Dolmuş (shared minibuses) are a popular and inexpensive way to get around in cities and towns. They are convenient for short distances, however, it's important to agree on a fare before setting off and be aware of the traffic conditions. Taxis and Dolmuş are not always available in rural areas and remote destinations.

Accommodation

Hotels

Turkey has a wide range of hotels, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. Many of the larger hotels are located in tourist hotspots such as Istanbul, Antalya, Bodrum and Cappadocia, but there are also many smaller, more intimate hotels located in more remote areas of the country.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals, such as apartments and villas, are becoming increasingly popular in Turkey. They offer more privacy and space than a hotel and are often more affordable than a luxury hotel. Vacation rentals can be found in most towns and cities across Turkey and are a great option for families or groups of friends traveling together.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are a popular accommodation option for budget-conscious travelers in Turkey. These small, family-run establishments offer basic amenities and a homely atmosphere at a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Guesthouses can be found in most towns and cities across Turkey, as well as in rural areas.

Hostels

Hostels are a popular accommodation option for budget-conscious travelers in Turkey. They offer dormitory-style rooms and shared facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens. Many hostels also offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Hostels can be found in most towns and cities across Turkey, and are a great option for solo travelers and backpackers.

Bed and Breakfast

Bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodations are a popular option for travelers looking for a more personal experience. They offer a homey atmosphere, comfortable rooms, and a delicious breakfast. B&Bs can be found in most towns and cities across Turkey, and are a great option for travelers looking for a more authentic experience.

Ottoman Houses (Konak)

An Ottoman house, or Konak, is a traditional Turkish house typically found in the historic districts of cities like Istanbul, Safranbolu, and Edirne. These houses are typically large, multi-level buildings with ornate decor and architecture, and they often feature courtyards and rooftop terraces.

Cave Houses

Cappadocia is a region in central Turkey known for its unique landscape of fairy chimneys, cave dwellings and underground cities. These cave houses are carved into the soft volcanic tuff rock and have been converted into charming hotels, providing a unique experience of staying in a cave.

Yurts

Yurts are traditional tents used by nomadic groups in Central Asia and Turkey. They are circular tents made of felt or canvas and are typically decorated with colorful fabrics and rugs. Yurts can be found in many national parks and tourist areas in Turkey, and are a unique way to experience the country's nomadic heritage.

Traditional Ottoman Hotels

There are also traditional Ottoman hotels in Turkey, which offer a blend of traditional Ottoman architecture and modern amenities. These hotels often feature ornate decor, domed ceilings, and traditional Turkish baths. They can be found in cities such as Istanbul, Safranbolu, and Edirne.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Turkey Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Turkey is a country that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From the ancient ruins of Ephesus to the stunning beaches of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Turkey. Whether you're interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply relaxing on the beach, Turkey has something for everyone. Here are the top 10 things to do in Turkey:

      1. Visit the Hagia Sophia

      The Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important landmarks in Istanbul. This ancient structure was originally built as a cathedral, but it was later converted into a mosque and now serves as a museum.

      2. Explore the ancient city of Ephesus

      Ephesus is an ancient Roman city that is considered one of the best-preserved ancient sites in the world. Visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins of the city, including the Temple of Artemis and the Celsus Library.

      3. Take a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia

      Cappadocia is a region known for its unique landscape of fairy chimneys and cave dwellings, and it's also a great place for hot air balloon rides. The best time to take a hot air balloon ride is at sunrise, and it offers a breathtaking view of the region.

      4. Visit the Blue Mosque

      The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a 17th-century Ottoman mosque located in Istanbul. The mosque is known for its beautiful tile work and six minarets, and it's considered one of the most important landmarks in the city.

      5. Visit the Topkapi Palace

      The Topkapi Palace is a former royal residence located in Istanbul and it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore the palace's ornate courtyards, ornate chambers and the Treasury, which houses a collection of precious objects.

      6. Explore the ancient city of Troy

      Troy is an ancient city that was made famous by Homer's epic poem, the Iliad. Visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins of the city, including the Trojan Horse and the Scaean Gate.

      7. Take a cruise on the Bosphorus

      The Bosphorus is a strait that separates Europe and Asia, and it's a great place to take a cruise. Visitors can enjoy the stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

      8. Visit the Pammukale Travertine Terraces

      Pammukale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's known for its white travertine terraces and mineral-rich hot springs. Visitors can explore the terraces and even swim in the hot springs.

      9. Visit the city of Antalya

      Antalya is a coastal city located on the Mediterranean coast, known for its beautiful beaches, historic old town, and the Konyaalti Beach. Visitors can explore the historic old town and the Kaleici, and also enjoy the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.

      10. Visit the city of Bodrum

      Bodrum is a coastal city located on the Aegean coast, known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and the Bodrum Castle. Visitors can explore the castle, the marina and also enjoy the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea.

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