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Turkey Tourism

Continent: Europe and Asia

Ideal Duration: 7 - 10 days

Best Time: April - June (Spring) and October - November (Autumn) Read More

Currency: New Turkish Lira (YTL)

Budget: Moderate

"A Land of Culture with Modern Twist"

Turkey Tourism

Settled on the border of Asia and Europe, Turkey is an archive of Islamic Middle East impact and the influence of Christian European West. Turkey at present represents a modern and westernised culture that exists along with its more exotic and esoteric side hidden from outside world. Explore the dual sides of the country with the natural panoramic landscape, historic places, fertile valleys, huge mountain ranges, rugged coastline and quaint villages. The capital city of Istanbul is the heartbeat of the country buzzing with cafes, bustling bazaars, aroma of spices, enchanting belly dancers, nightclubs and hammams.

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Regions in Turkey

The geographical position of Turkey is quite strategic connecting Europe and Asia. The country touches border with Georgia and Armenia to the northeast, Iran to the east, Iraq to the south-east, Mediterranean and Syria to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west and Greece and Bulgaria to the north-west. Around 97% area of the country, lies in the Asia Minor (or Anatolia) while only 3% of the country's area called Thrace is the European portion bordering Bulgaria and Greece. The two parts are separated by the Bosphorus, a strait linking the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. Ankara, the biggest city of the country, lies in the central plains of Anatolia. One will observe a huge difference between the cultures of the western part of Turkey, which is modernised while the eastern sections are quite conservative.

Best time to visit Turkey

April - June (Spring) and October - November (Autumn) is the best time to visit Turkey

Turkey is a year-round destination. The best time to visit Turkey depends on the places you wish to visit and the activities you want to indulge in. Spring and autumn are generally considered as the best time to visit the beautiful country especially if you wish to explore the archaeological sites, go cycling or trekking. June through September are typically hot and dry with temperatures being particularly high making it great for island hoppers and beach lovers. April, May, September and October are the months with pleasant temperature are considered as the best time to explore the numerous ancient sites of Turkey. From late October, the weather starts to cool off a bit. From November to March, the weather starts to get cold predominantly in interior areas of Cappadocia where the temperature drops to below 0°C. The snowy landscape is magical and enchanting to behold. Winters can, however, be the best time to traverse the sites as they are less busy at this time of the year.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Historic sites and buildings. Rich culture. Archaeological findings. Beautiful mosaic work. Exotic belly dance. Turkish coffee and tea.

What's Not So Great?

Political unrest. Littering on the roads. Smoking culture. Electricity and water problem.

For Whom?

Culture and heritage buffs. People who admire great architecture. Coffee and tea lovers. Those who love natural beauty. Shopaholics.

Stay options in Turkey

Turkey offers a wide range of accommodation options to its visitors with an aim to cater all kind of travellers. There are a variety of luxury city hotels, seaside resorts, budget hotels, guesthouses or simple pansiyons. The guesthouses are usually clean but offer only basic accommodation sometimes without en-suite WC, shower or air conditioning. Fancy villas and apartments are also available for rent, especially by Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. There are also several campsites in Turkey, however, lack in facilities. At last, there are a number of youth hostels but their standard varies extremely. In Istanbul's Sultanahmet District, the hostels aim at budget travellers offering single, double and twin rooms. There are also some upmarket hostels in the capital city for flash packers but a little expensive.

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Currency of Turkey

Turkish Lira is the official currency of the country. The notes here are in the denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. Turkey has no black market and thus it accepts UD dollars, Euro, British Pound or Deutschmarks but most of the times at poor exchange rates. Visa is the most popular card followed by MasterCard. Only high-end hotels, gift shops and restaurants accept American Express.

Exchanging Money in Turkey

The exchange offices or dviz brosu exchange the currencies usually without any commission fee but banks do charge commission. Travellers cheque can only be exchanged at banks with a passport. To avoid the extra exchange charges, it is recommended to carry the cheques in Euros, US dollars or pound Sterling. ATMs are easily accessible in most urban areas.

Nightlife in Turkey

Nightlife in Turkey is one of the most exciting and thrilling one in entire Europe considering that half of the population is under 30. The country offers from most sophisticated and trendy places to brash depending on the area of your visit. The variety of bars, taverns, and clubs makes the time more interesting for the night birds. If you are in one of the big cities such as Antalya, Izmir, Istanbul and Ankara, the young generation there has developed a taste for chic jazz bars, and enormous glinting dance clubs in the line with European cities venues. In Istanbul, many such bars are lined along the banks of the Bosphorus where one can also cherish the beautiful sunset before heading for the stylish Beyoglu. Belly dancing is a Turkish tradition, which is a must if you are visiting the country. However, it is mostly restricted to larger hotels or in venues that are purpose-built for tourist nightlife tours.

Shopping in Turkey

Shopping in Turkey is a fun experience especially, in its vibrant and bustling bazaars. There are many souvenir shops with all sorts of items; however, the most popular gifts to buy include jewellery, leather apparel, locally made handicrafts, nargiles (water pipes) and musical instruments and carved meerschaum. Other significant products to look out for are the famous Turkish carpets, brass and copperware textiles, embroideries, copper work, ceramics, onyx, mother-of-pearl, inlaid woodwork, rugs and kilims. Istanbul is a major hub of shopping being packed with plenty of boutiques and big label brands. In resort towns including Marmaris, Kusadasi and Bodrum, one will find souvenirs and handicrafts of low quality and copies of branded products. Be ready for some haggling, although it is not as essential as in past, butÊtryingÊonce is no harm.

Festivals of Turkey

Festivals in Turkey are about celebrating their religion and beliefs with their holy month of Ramadan (Ramazan). Muslims here follow the lunar calendar, according to which they celebrate three-dayÊSeker Bayram (EidÊul-Fitr) and the four days Kurbani Bayrami (Eid ul-Adha). During this festival, the Muslim family sacrifices a ram to celebrate Abrahams near- sacrifice of Isaac. Make note that during this time everything is closed including transport and banks. Plan your trip accordingly as hotels and resorts also tend to be terribly crowded.

History of Turkey

History of Turkey goes back to more than 5000 years. During around 2200 BC, the Hittite kingdom ruled the Asia Minor along with the ancient Troy and the Greek city-state that grew along the coasts during the first millennium BC. The power changed hands with Alexander the Great and then by Rome following his death in 2 BC. Emperor Constantine I in 330 AD shifted Roman capital to Byzantium, located significantly on the Bosphorus while renaming it as Constantinople imposing Christianity on the subjects. The Seljuk Turks took Anatolia (eastern Turkey) during the time followed by the Ottoman Turks. During World War 1 and after the defeat in Balkan Wars of 1912-13, Ottoman Empire collapsed leading to exchange of population between Greece and Turkey. The country remained neutral during World War 2. Only 77 years old, Turkey has come close to war over Cyprus with Greece in 1974, which is the biggest obstacle for the country to join EU.

Hygiene in Turkey

Healthcare system in Turkey has witnessed a great deal of improvisation over the past decade. Medical facilities, mostly private, in major cities such as Istanbul are quite good and match their western counterpart in standards. Avoid tap water and from water tanks, as it is usually chlorinated. Prefer bottled water, which is easily available almost everywhere except in remote areas. While consuming street food, standards may vary so use your common sense. It is recommended to get vaccinations against tuberculosis and hepatitis B. Make sure to carry mosquito repellent. Sometimes rabies vaccination is also advised while visiting the rural areas.

Customs of Turkey

Hand shaking is accepted as the normal way of greeting the strangers. Kissing on the cheeks is reserved for friends and family only. Smoking is a casual thing in the country but strictly prohibited inside cinemas, theatres, buses and coaches. Remove shoes before entering mosque and women are advised to cover their head and to wear long-sleeved tops. For men and women both, it mandatory to cover their legs from knee above. Leaving a tip of 10 to 15% is customary even though a service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills. As mall tip is given out to barbers, hairdressers and Turkish Bath attendants in big establishments. Rounding up the fare after using a taxi is a common practice.

Tips for visiting Turkey

Carry appropriate clothing according to the weather conditions. Carry proper woollen clothes for winters and light cotton clothes for summer season. For women, it is essential to cover their shoulders and not wear too short clothes. Always carry a scarf or shawl. Make sure to remove shoes before entering the mosque at someone's home. One can dress casually while in major cities and tourist areas but in smaller cities, it is important to understand the culture and dress accordingly. Carry the first aid kit, prescribed medicines, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion while travelling to the country. Be careful of petty thefts and pick pocketing in crowded areas. Also, beware of frauds in crowded areas that are just ways to hoard money by gaining sympathy.

Culture of Turkey

Turkey is home to an old Turkish culture representing the countryÕs arts, literature, and music mostly of religious theme though. Today, it houses every extreme of Western and Eastern culture shaping a new identity over the last century. All the nationals of the country self-identify as Turks irrespective of their ethnic background.
Official language of Turkey is Turkish. Kurdish is also spoken in the southeast by a minority. Other languages spoken widely in tourist areas and major cities include English, French and German. Some of the commonly spoken Turkish phrases are:
Hello Ð Merhaba/ Selam
Hello (on phone) Ð Alo/ Efendim
Welcome - Ho? Geldiniz (hosh gel-din-iz)
Yes Ð Evet
No Ð Hayir (hi-ear)
I am sorry: …zŸr dilerim (ouz-ur dill-ear-im)
Please Ð LŸtfen (Lut-fen)
Excuse me Ð Afedersiniz (Aff-ed-dar-san-iz)
Islam is the main religion of the country with around 70% Sunni, 25% Alevis and minority group of Christians.

Food of Turkey

Turkish food is along quite similar lines with Greek food but more refined. Meat forms the staple component of the Turkish diet with lamb being the dominating feature and dishes spiced fragrantly, although not as much as Indian cuisine. The vegetarian section of the cuisine offers meze- a variety of sauces, vegetables and dips, which is often served as a main meal. Another vegetarian dish in Turkey is Dolma (stuffed vegetables). Kofte, shish, Pide, Lokum and Dolma are some of the favourites of the locals. Alcohol is widely enjoyed in the country but is not served in some of the local restaurants. Raki, Ayran, Turkish tea and coffee, Turkish beer, Red and white wine are some of the major beverages in the country to enjoy.

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