Turkey is one of the most exotic places on this Earth. Straddling two continents, beautiful mosques, great bazaars, and amazing dishes. Don’t miss a thing!
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Turkey Get Started Planning Guide
The following are our top recommendations for Turkey:
We’ve found the best accommodations in Turkey can be found on the Booking.com website.
The Best Sightseeing Tours in Turkey are:
*Best of Istanbul Day Tour ($64)
*Hot Air Balloon Flight over the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia ($254)
Traveling in Turkey is one of the most rewarding places. By perusing our website, hopefully, you’ve had a chance to see some of the wonderful things that await you. Don’t let the media hype sway you into thinking that Turkey is a dangerous destination. It is home to some of the friendliest, most welcoming people and helpful in all the world. As you enter any house or shop, you will inevitably hear a resounding “Hoş Geldiniz!” (Welcome!)
Istanbul – Since Istanbul is the largest city and draws the most tourists, I’ve written a Travel Guide for doing Istanbul in 3 Days. Enjoy!
Turkey Travel Tips
Location and Visa
I love looking for Turkey on the map, because it’s very distinctive with its bulk based in Anatolia. It’s also very cool that its largest and most well-known city, Istanbul, straddles the European and Asian continents. The Bosphorus water channel that separates the two has long been a strategic seat of power. One of my favorite things to do is take the ferry or visit the Rumeli Hisari, both of which highlight the majesty of the Bosphorus.
How to Get to Turkey
Most people get to Turkey by flying, which is efficient and easy. From central Europe flights take about three hours, so it’s both affordable and feasible to visit Istanbul in just three days or a long weekend.
Getting a Visa
Citizens of most countries are required to have a visa for Turkey, and the visa is good for 90 days. Luckily, you can get an e-visa online, and it is cheaper than waiting until you arrive in the country.
Getting Around Turkey
Traveling by Car
We drive, but this option is not for everyone. The price of gas fluctuates between $11-12 per gallon…ouch! Fortunately for us, we lived and worked here and were able to buy our gas (up to our ration) for much less. We love the flexibility that the car gives us, because Turkey is so full of ancient ruins, that you just can’t help trip over them in the most unexpected places. Also, wandering through villages and small towns is much easier with your own wheels.
Traveling by Bus
The great thing about Turkey is the bus system. It costs very little to take a bus from city to city. One way tickets are usually in the area of about 35 Tl. ($20). The bus station is called the Otogar, and numerous buses leave to all destinations regularly. You can usually find someone who speaks English well enough to help you, so don’t get intimidated by the appearance of overwhelming chaos.
The buses are clean, efficient, and most serve snacks, so it is a very pleasant way to travel. If you are a woman traveling alone, they will usually only seat you next to another woman, which personally I think is a bonus. Bus driving times are a little longer than if you drive yourself, but not by much. Once you are at your destination, you can then take local vans (dolmuş) or taxis to get around.
Traveling by Air
Air travel within Turkey is also very affordable, and of course much quicker. There are many domestic airlines that have cheap fares.
Traveling by Train
Overnight train between Istanbul and Ankara
Turkey’s currency is the Turkish Lira and it is about 8 TL to the US dollar.
Your money goes a pretty long way in Turkey. It will cost you about 30-45 lira per person to eat at a main course at a full-service restaurant, but of course there are plenty of stalls and smaller restaurants where you can easily get a pide or borek for much less.
ATMs and Banks
You can find ATMs in all city centers, and it’s still mainly a cash society, so you will want to make sure that you always have Turkish Lira on hand. In Turkey, it’s still a cash society, except in the bigger cities, and even then you will need cash, especially if you love buying unique souvenirs from locals instead of in the shops. Some restaurants and many hotels will take credit cards, but if the Internet goes down, or it’s a smaller, privately owned hotel many times they would rather take cash.
Health and Safety Concerns
As usual, it is imperative that your normal vaccines are up to date. For Turkey, many doctors will suggest you also take your Hepatitis A and Typhoid as well as others. I can remember moving to Turkey the first time, when I was a child how much my arm hurt from all the shots. You should talk with your doctor about six months prior to going, because many of the vaccinations are series and you want to make sure that you can finish them before you go. You can also check the CDC website for your planning purposes.
Turkey’s water is not always potable. It’s a good idea to have your own water source with you at all times. We like to take a personal water purifier with us instead of buying bottled water, but either way, don’t drink the water.
The word for pharmacy is Eczane, and they are easily found in city centers. It is important to travel with a copy of your prescriptions so that you can refill them if you need to.
When is the Best Time to Go to Turkey?
Turkey is a country with all four seasons, even though there is a distinct winter season, it is mild and easy to enjoy the sights. Probably the best time to go strictly for sight-seeing is from April to June and from October to November, when the temperatures are not scorching, and it’s pleasant to walk around.
Summers are great if you want to head to the Mediterranean and swim and enjoy the sun. Our favorite place to go is Kizkalesi! One disadvantage to summer is the beaches are packed from tourists in Europe looking for an inexpensive all-inclusive resort beach vacation, and the prices go up accordingly.
Many Turkish restaurants have outdoor spaces which are fantastic in the evening. If it gets chilly, they will even provide a small blanket to keep you warm.
Best Places in Turkey to Visit That Aren’t Istanbul
Cappadocia – Best Time to Go to Cappadocia
Ankara – What to See in Ankara
Things to Do in Turkey That You Can’t Do Anywhere Else
These experiences are vital on everyone’s travel evolution. How fun to really get to know a culture.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Turkey
- Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
- Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
- Historic Areas of Istanbul
- Hattusa: the Hittite Capital
- Nemrut Dağ
- City of Safranbolu
- Archaeological Site of Troy
- Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
- Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
Our Favorite Hotels in Turkey
Selçuk – Celsus Boutique Hotel
Cappadocia – Traveller’s Rest Cave Hotel
Istanbul – Side Pension (must reserve online)
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.