Turkey Travel Tips
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What’s the weather going to be like?
Turkey can be visited year-round depending on your itinerary. Spring and fall are the most comfortable seasons to travel due to mild temperatures and less rainfall. Summer temperatures are high, and the season is ideal for cruising the Aegean and hanging out on the beach. It's also the most popular time to visit; hotels and cruises are fully booked. In winter, Cappadocia is a popular destination and often has snow. Istanbul can get snow once or twice during the winter months, but rain and cold are the norm. The climate varies depending on the area. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have hot summers and mild winters. The Black Sea coast has warm summers, mild winters, and relatively high rainfall. Central and Eastern Turkey have hot, dry summers and cold winters. Generally, August is the hottest month of the year. Average daytime temperature is between 70 °F to 90 °F from June to September. Nighttime temperatures drop to around 70 °F. Central and Eastern regions generally are in the same range, however nights are cooler. Winter is between December and March. This means rain in the coastal regions and moderate snow inland. So, when is the ideal time to visit Turkey? April, May and September, October.
Where is Turkey, and what’s it like?
Turkey is about a 9-hour non-stop flight from New York City. Turkey is roughly the size of the State of Texas. 97% of the country is in Asia, while 3% is in Europe. Sometimes the country is included in the Middle East and sometimes Europe.
Do I need a visa? How do I get one?
Most Nationalities require a visa for Turkey, which can be purchased upon arrival at Istanbul Airport. There are normally two types of tourist visas. A single-entry visa allows you to enter Turkey once. After you leave, no matter how long you've stayed in Turkey, you must pay for another visa to enter Turkey again. A multiple-entry visa allows you to enter and leave Turkey multiple times within its period of validity (normally 30, 60 or 90 days) at no additional charge. Make sure you have cash (US dollars, euros, or pounds sterling) to pay for your visa when you enter Turkey as no traveler's checks or credit cards are accepted, cash only!
What are the business hours?
Unlike the rest of the Middle East, Turkey’s weekend falls on Saturday and Sunday. There may be a few hours on Friday afternoons when a few shops are closed for Friday Prayer, but generally everything carries on as normal, especially in big cities. Almost all government offices and Banks are open between 8:30 and 5:00, and are closed on Sundays. Shopping malls have long hours from 9am to 10pm.
What’s the time zone in Turkey?
GMT + 3. Turkey is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Is my hairdryer/laptop/shaver going to work in Turkey?
Electricity in Turkey is 220 volts, 50-60 cycle. If you intend to bring any electrical equipment, an adapter that converts electricity from 220V to 110V is suggested. Two pin plugs are used throughout Turkey.
How is Turkey’s transportation network?
Turkey has a good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good service quality, at least with the big operators. There are a few firms now provide luxurious buses with 1st class seats and service. Buses are staffed by good drivers and a number of assistants. On long haul travel, a second driver will take over when the first gets exhausted. During the ride you will be offered free drinks, a bite or two, and stops will be made every two hours and a half or so at well-stocked road restaurants.
What should I keep in mind regarding mosques?
Mosques are open to everyone. You will have to leave your shoes at the entrance, and women in most mosques are required to cover their heads with a scarf and naked parts of their legs and shoulders. If you don't have anything with you, they will give you some scarves at the entrance for free. Silence is required inside the mosques. Most of the mosques are closed to visits at prayer times. Turkey is a secular country where religion and politics are separated, even though the population is 98% Muslim.
What can I / should I wear?
Turkish women are very stylish. If you get to Turkey and you feel you've packed badly, you can pick up something new at Topshop, Mango, Levis or Zara or at one of the many Turkish clothing stores, (For example Mavi Jeans). In summer, light summer-wear, (t-shirts and shorts) for all coastal regions will be fine. Don't forget your sun block and a hat! A light sweater is also a good idea for evenings when it can get chilly, especially in Istanbul and Cappadocia. Comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended, since itineraries include numerous trips to ancient sites. For wintertime travelers, we recommend regular winter clothing, especially for central Turkey where heavy snow and cold weather can be encountered. For winter time in Istanbul, a warm jacket is a must. All sorts of scarves are sold cheaply in the streets and bazaars of Istanbul, so buy one when you get here!
Will Ramadan affect my vacation?
As a tourist, you will not be affected by Ramadan, and night-life will continue in the city as usual. Although most people in rural Turkey will be fasting during the day, many people in the cities and tourist areas will not be. Most people refrain from drinking during Ramadan, and so tourists should not drink openly in public during this month.
How about traveling with kids in Turkey?
Travelling with children in Turkey can be quite easy, as Turkish people absolutely LOVE children. In fact, the smaller your kids are, the more they will be hugged and pinched. People will welcome them into restaurants, give up their seat on the bus for them, and tolerate any cranky or bad behavior with a smile and a chuckle. If you're starting your trip in Istanbul, Miniaturk is a good idea to give kids an orientation about what they're going to see in the coming weeks. A big outdoor theme park just a short taxi ride away from Sultanahmet, kids can run between scaled down models of all of Turkey's attractions. Some attractions found here are the Bosphorus Bridge, Ephesus, Mount Nemrut and Pamukkale. There is also a miniature train you can ride. As far as the rest of the country goes, there are plenty of beaches, hiking trails, water parks and interesting sites to keep them busy.
Is Turkey safe?
The crime rate in Turkey is actually less today than in the past. Having said that, locking valuables in safes at the hotel is always a good idea, it's better to be safe than sorry. Some areas of Istanbul can feel a bit dodgy at night, take care in the Taksim area at night. Some pick-pockets have been known to work around the train stations, so some extra attention is advised. Keep an eye on your bags and keep your wallet in a safe, hard to reach place. In smaller cities, the crime rate is so low that it is not even worth mentioning. One can totally relax and mingle with the local population without safety worries. In small villages, crime is almost unheard off.
What's the best way to carry my money?
Money is safest carried in the form of traveler's checks; however, these are difficult to change in regional areas. With plenty of ATMs's in major cities, more and more people are bringing a combination of cash and credit cards. Look for ATMs displaying either the Maestro, Cirrus, Visa or MasterCard or whatever your card symbol is. ATMs will allow you to access cash (in local currency) from your credit card and possibly from your savings account if it is linked to Maestro or Cirrus or Visa Plus network. Withdrawn money or the purchase amount will be converted precisely at official rates. If you are bringing cash, then the best currencies are US Dollars, Euro's or British Pounds. Be aware that most insurance policies will not cover for loss or theft of cash. Credit cards are useful for large purchases, but they may not be accepted in small restaurants, mini markets, local transport, taxis.
What about women traveling Turkey alone?
Women traveling alone should have few problems, although they may get a lot of attention from Turkish men, who spend their days chasing foreign tourists with the goal of developing a fleeting relationship. These guys can be annoying, but will eventually go away. Having said that, women should always lean on the side of caution. Make sure your hotel room door locks properly and you feel secure. If someone starts bothering you too much, tell your hotel owner or nearest police officer.
How are Americans treated in Turkey?
Americans traveling in Turkey encounter few problems. While it is true that many Turks do have a dim view of America, they do understand that their frustration is with the American Government's policies, and not directed towards American citizens. In fact, Americans may find themselves having enlightening conversations about the politics of both countries.