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Coordinates: 39°N 32°E / 39°N 32°E / 39; 32

Composite satellite image of Turkey. Anatolia corresponds to the western two-thirds of Turkey.

Anatolia (Turkish: Anadolu, from Greek Aνατολή anatolē; also Asia Minor, from Greek: Μικρά Ασία, mikrá asía) is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising about two-thirds of the modern Republic of Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia and the Euphrates river to the east, the Mesopotamian plain and Orontes river to the southeast,[1] the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west.

Though Anatolia lies entirely within Turkey, the two are not synonymous, as the borders of Turkey extend far to the east of Anatolia. Anatolia has been home to many civilizations throughout history, such as the Hittites, Phrygians, and Lydians, and Achaemenid, Greek, Armenian, Roman, Byzantine, Anatolian Seljuk and Ottoman states.

While the coastal regions of Anatolia are generally humid and covered with forests, the central Anatolia mostly consists of a semiarid, high-altitude plateau, with altitude increasing to the east. Steep ranges separate the plateau from the coastline to the north and south, while to the west the plateau slopes down gently to the broad Aegean coastal plain. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between Black and Aegean seas through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland.

The vast majority of the people residing in Anatolia are Turks. Kurds, who constitute a major community in southeastern Anatolia, are the largest ethnic minority. Azerbaijanis, Albanians, Arabs, Armenians, Bosnians, Circassians, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, Lazs and a number of other ethnic groups also live in Anatolia in smaller numbers.

Contents

Name

The name Anatolia comes from the Greek Aνατολή (anatolē) meaning the "East" or more literally "sunrise."[2] The precise reference of this term has varied over time, perhaps originally referring only to the Ionian colonies on the Asia Minor coast. In the Byzantine Empire, Anatolikon was a theme covering the western and central parts of Turkey's present-day Central Anatolian Region.[3][4]

Asia Minor

While not entirely synonymous with Anatolia, the term Asia Minor, derived from the Latin Asia Minores, refers to Asia inside the Roman Empire, versus Asia Magna, all of Asia beyond the borders.[5]

Physical geography

The Anatolian peninsula is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west, and the sea of Marmara to the northwest, which separates Anatolia from Thrace in Europe. To the east, Anatolia is bounded by Georgia, Armenia and the Euphrates River before that river bends to the southeast to enter Mesopotamia. To the southeast, Anatolia is bounded by the ranges that separate it from the Orontes valley in Syria and the Mesopotamian plain. The norther coast of Anatolia stretches farther east than the central region, reaching all the way to the modern border with Georgia.

Anatolia's terrain is structurally complex. A central massif composed of uplifted blocks and downfolded troughs, covered by recent deposits and giving the appearance of a plateau with rough terrain, is wedged between two folded mountain ranges that converge in the east. True lowland is confined to a few narrow coastal strips along the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Black Sea coasts. Flat or gently sloping land is rare and largely confined to the deltas of the Kızıl River, the coastal plains of Çukurova and the valley floors of the Gediz River and the Büyük Menderes River as well as some interior high plains in Anatolia, mainly around Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake) and the Konya Basin (Konya Ovasi).

Regions

Black Sea Coast

The seven census-defined regions of Turkey
Panoramic view of the Pontic Mountains

The Black Sea is characterized by a range of steep mountains that extend along the entire length of the Black Sea coast, separating it from the inland Anatolian plateau. In the west, the mountains tend to be low, with elevations from 1,525 to 1,800 meters, but they rise in the easterly direction to heights greater than 3,000 meters south of Rize, reaching 3,937 m at the Kaçkar Mountains in the Pontic Alps. Lengthy, troughlike valleys and basins characterize the mountains. The southern slopes, facing the Anatolian Plateau, are mostly unwooded, but the northern slopes contain dense growths of both deciduous and evergreen trees. The higher slopes facing northwest tend to be densely forested.

The coast is rugged and rocky, with rivers that cascade through the gorges of the coastal ranges. A few larger rivers, those cutting back through the Pontic Alps, have tributaries that flow in broad, elevated basins. Access inland from the coast is limited to a few narrow valleys because mountain ridges. Because of these natural conditions, the Black Sea coast historically has been isolated from Anatolia.

Marmara Coast

View of Bursa from the hills near Uludağ, the ancient Mysian Olympus

The coast of Anatolia that borders the Sea of Marmara consists mainly of rolling plateau country well suited to agriculture. It receives about 520 millimeters of rainfall annually.

Densely populated, this area includes the cities of Istanbul and Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city. The Bosphorus, which links the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, is about twenty-five kilometers long and averages 1.5 kilometers in width but narrows in places to less than 1000 meters. There are two suspension bridges over the Bosphorus, both its Asian and European banks rise steeply from the water and form a succession of cliffs, coves, and nearly landlocked bays. Most of the shores are densely wooded and are marked by numerous small towns and villages. The Dardanelles Strait, which links the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea, is approximately forty kilometers long and increases in width toward the south. Unlike the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles has fewer settlements along its shores.

The most important valleys are the Kocaeli Valley, the Bursa Ovasi (Bursa Basin), and the Plains of Troy (historically known as the Troad.) The valley lowlands around Bursa are densely populated.

Aegean Coast

View of Ölüdeniz near Fethiye

Located on the west coast of Anatolia, the Aegean region has a fertile soil and a typically Mediterranean climate; with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The broad, cultivated lowland valleys contain about half of the country's richest farmlands.

The largest city in the Aegean Region of Turkey is İzmir, which is also the country's third largest city and a major manufacturing center, as well as its second largest port after Istanbul.

Olive and olive oil production is particularly important for the economy of the region. The seaside town of Ayvalık and numerous towns in the provinces of Balıkesir, İzmir and Aydın are particularly famous for their olive oil and related products; such as soap and cosmetics.

The region also has many important centers of tourism which are known both for their historic monuments and for the beauty of their beaches; such as Assos, Ayvalık, Bergama, Foça, İzmir, Çeşme, Sardis, Ephesus, Kuşadası, Didim, Miletus, Bodrum, Marmaris, Datça and Fethiye.

Panoramic view of Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus, the city of Herodotus and the home of the Mausoleum of Maussollos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Mediterranean Coast

Beaches and marina of Kemer near Antalya in the Turkish Riviera

Beginning in the west of Antalya province, the south-facing mediterranean coast of Turkey is separated from the interior by steep ranges, known as the Taurus mountains, that run along the entire length of the coast. The Taurus Mountains (Toros Dağları) are Anatolia's second chain of folded mountains. The south facing slopes rise steeply from the mediterranean coastal plain, but slope very gently on the north side towards the Anatolian plateau. In the east, the Taurus mountains arc around the northern side of the Arabian Platform, before turning south and continuing as the ranges that define the Great Rift Valley. Between Adana and Antalya, the Taurus Mountains rise sharply from the coast to high elevations, reaching altitudes of over 3,700 meters north of Adana. The Taurus Mountains are more rugged and less dissected by rivers than the Pontus Mountains and historically have served as a barrier to human movement inland from the Mediterranean coast except where there are mountain passes such as the historic Cilician Gates (Gülek Pass), northwest of Adana.

Toward the east, the extensive plains around Adana, Turkey's fourth largest city, consist largely of reclaimed flood lands. In general, rivers have not cut valleys to the sea in the western part of the region. East of Adana, much of the coastal plain has limestone features such as collapsed caverns and sinkholes. Other than Adana, Antalya, and Mersin, the Mediterranean coast has few major cities, although it has numerous farming villages.

Panoramic view of Alanya, inhabited since the Hittites and the medieval homeport of the Seljuk naval forces, famous today for its natural beauty and historic monuments

Central Plateau

Stretching inland from the Aegean coastal plain, the Central Anatolia occupies the area between the two zones of the folded coastal ranges in the north and south, extending east to the point where the two ranges converge. The plateau-like, semiarid highlands of Anatolia are considered the heartland of the country. The region varies in elevation from 600 to 1,200 meters from west to east. The Anatolian plateau is interspersed with extinct volcanoes, the tallest of which is Mt. Erciyes, rising to 3917 m near Kayseri.

Frequently interspersed throughout the folded mountains, and also situated on the Anatolian Plateau, are well-defined basins, which the Turks call "ova". Some are no more than a widening of a stream valley; others, such as the Konya Ovasi, are large basins of inland drainage or are the result of limestone erosion. Most of the basins take their names from cities or towns located at their rims. Where a lake has formed within the basin, the water body is usually saline as a result of the internal drainage — the water has no outlet to the sea. The two largest basins on the plateau are the Konya Ovasi and the basin occupied by the large salt lake, Tuz Gölü.

Forested areas are confined to the northwest and northeast of the plateau. Rain-fed cultivation is widespread, with wheat being the principal crop. Irrigated agriculture is restricted to the areas surrounding rivers and wherever sufficient underground water is available. Important irrigated crops include barley, corn, cotton, various fruits, grapes, opium poppies, sugar beets, roses, and tobacco. There also is extensive grazing throughout the plateau.

Central Anatolia receives little annual rainfall with an average precipitation of 400 millimeters per year. While parts of the northeastern and northwestern of the region receives more than 500 mm (19.69 in) precipitation, the driest semiarid central part of the plateau receives an average yearly precipitation of only 300 millimeters. However, actual rainfall from year to year is irregular and occasionally may be less than 200 millimeters, leading to severe reductions in crop yields for both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. Overgrazing has contributed to soil erosion on some parts of the plateau. In general, the plateau experiences high temperatures and little rainfall in summer and cold weather with heavy snow in winter.

Climate

Anatolia has a varied range of climates. The central plateau is characterized by a continental climate, with hot summers and cold snowy winters. The south and west coasts enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate, with mild rainy winters, and warm dry summers. The Black sea and Marmara coasts have temperate oceanic climate, with cool foggy summers and much rainfall throughout the year.

Ecoregions

Anatolia's diverse topography and climate has fostered a similar diversity of plant and animal communities.

The mountains and coastal plain of northern Anatolia, with its humid and mild climate, is home to temperate broadleaf, mixed and coniferous forests. The central and eastern plateau, with its drier continental climate, is home to deciduous forests and forest steppes. Western and southern Anatolia, which have a Mediterranean climate, are home to Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub ecoregions.

  • Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests: These temperate broadleaf and mixed forests extend across northern Anatolia, lying between the mountains of northern Anatolia and the Black Sea. They include the enclaves of temperate rainforest lying along the southeastern coast of the Black Sea in eastern Turkey and Georgia.[6]
  • Northern Anatolian conifer and deciduous forests: These forests occupy the mountains of northern Anatolia, running east and west between the coastal Euxine-Colchic forests and the drier, continental climate forests of central and eastern Anatolia.[7]
  • Central Anatolian deciduous forests: These forests of deciduous oaks and evergreen pines cover the plateau of central Anatolia.[8]
  • Central Anatolian steppe: These dry grasslands cover the drier valleys and surround the saline lakes of central Anatolia, and include halophytic (salt tolerant) plant communities.[9]
  • Eastern Anatolian deciduous forests: This ecoregion occupies the plateau of eastern Anatolia. The drier and more continental climate is home to steppe-forests dominated by deciduous oaks, with areas of shrubland, montane forest, and valley forest.[10]
  • Anatolian conifer and deciduous mixed forests: These forests occupy the western, Mediterranean-climate portion of the Anatolian plateau. Pine forests and mixed pine and oak woodlands and shrublands are predominant.[11]
  • Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests: These Mediterranean-climate forests occupy the coastal lowlands and valleys of western Anatolia bordering the Aegean Sea. The ecoregion is home to forests of Turkish Pine (Pinus brutia), oak forests and woodlands, and maquis shrubland of Turkish Pine and evergreen sclerophyllous trees and shrubs, including Olive (Olea europaea), Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), Arbutus andrachne, Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera), and Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis).[12]
  • Southern Anatolian montane conifer and deciduous forests: These mountain forests occupy the Mediterranean-climate Taurus Mountains of southern Anatolia. Conifer forests are predominant, chiefly Anatolian black pine (Pinus nigra), Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), Taurus fir (Abies cilicica), and juniper (Juniperus foetidissima and J. excelsa). Broadleaf trees include oaks, hornbeam, and maples.[13]
  • Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests: This ecoregion occupies the coastal strip of southern Anatolia between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Plant communities include broadleaf sclerophyllous maquis shrublands, forests of Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) and Turkish Pine (Pinus brutia), and dry oak (Quercus spp.) woodlands and steppes.[14]

History

Antiquity

Ancient regions of Anatolia.

Eastern Anatolia contains the oldest monumental structures in the world. For example, the monumental structures at Göbekli Tepe were built by hunters and gatherers a thousand years before the development of agriculture. Eastern Anatolia is also a heart region for the Neolithic revolution, one of the earliest areas in which humans domesticated plants and animals. Neolithic sites such as Çatalhöyük, Çayönü, Nevali Cori and Hacilar represent the world's oldest known agricultural villages.

The earliest historical records of Anatolia are from the Akkadian Empire under Sargon in the 24th century BC. The region was famous for exporting various raw materials.[15] The Assyrian Empire claimed the resources, notably silver. One of the numerous Assyrian cuneiform records found in Anatolia at Kanesh uses an advanced system of trading computations and credit lines.[15]

Unlike the Akkadians and the Assyrians, whose Anatolian possessions were peripheral to their core lands in Mesopotamia, the Hittites were centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia. They were speakers of an Indo-European language known as the "language of Nesa". Originating from Nesa, they conquered Hattusa in the 18th century BC, imposing themselves over a Hurrian speaking population. During the Late Bronze Age they created an empire, the Hittite New Kingdom, which reached its height in the 14th century BC. The empire included a large part of Anatolia, north-western Syria and upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BC, the empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" states. Ancient Anatolia is subdivided by mordern scholars into various regions named after the people that occupied them, such as Lydia, Lycia, Caria, Mysia, Bithynia, Phrygia, Galatia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, Paphlagonia, Cilicia, and Cappadocia.

Beginning with the Bronze Age Collapse at the end of the 1st millennium BC, the west coast of Anatolia was settled by Ionian Greeks. Over several centuries numerous Ancient Greek city states were established on the coasts of Anatolia. In the 6th century BC all of Anatolia was conquered by Cyrus the Great ,founder of Achaemenid Empire. In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great conquered the peninsula. Following his death and the breakup of his empire, Anatolia was ruled by a series of Hellenistic kingdoms. Two hundred years later western and central Anatolia came under Roman control, but it continued to be strongly influenced by Hellenistic culture. In the first century BC the Armenians established the Armenian Empire under Tigran who reigned throughout much of eastern Anatolia between the Caspian, Black and Mediterranean seas. Anatolia is known as the birthplace of coinage as a medium of exchange (some time in the 7th century BC), which flourished during the Greek and Roman eras.[16][17]

Medieval Period

Anatolia c. 1200.
Beyliks and other states around Anatolia, c. 1300.

After the division of the Roman Empire, Anatolia became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire. Byzantine control was challenged by Arab raids starting in the seventh century, but in the 9th and 10th century a resurgent Byzantine Empire regained its lost territories, including Armenia and Syria. Following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuk Turks swept across Anatolia and conquered all of it except parts of the northern and western coasts by 1080. The Turkish language and Islamic religion were gradually introduced as a result of the Seljuk conquest, and this period marks the start of Anatolia's slow transition from predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking, to predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking. In the following century, the Byzantines managed to reassert their control in Western and Northern Anatolia. Control of Anatolia was then split between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm, with the Byzantine holdings gradually being reduced. In 1255, the Mongols swept through central and eastern Anatolia, and would remain until 1335. The Ilkhanate garrison was stationed near Ankara.[18][19]

By the end of the 14th century, most of Anatolia was controlled by various Anatolian Turkish Beyliks. The Turkmen Beyliks were under the control of the Mongols, at least nominally, through declining Seljuk Sultans.[20][21] The Beyliks did not mint coins in the names of their own leaders while they remained under the suzerainty of the Ilkhanids.[22] The Osmanli ruler Osman I was the first Turkish ruler who minted coins in his own name in 1320's, for it bears the legend "Minted by Osman son of Ertugul".[23] Since the minting of coins was a prerogative accorded in Islamic practice only to be a sovereign, it can be considered that Osmanli became independent of the Mongol Khans.[24]

After the decline of the Ilkhanate from 1335–1353, the Mongol Empire's legacy in the region was the Uyghur Eretna Dynasty that was overthrown by Kadi Burhan al-Din in 1381.[25] Among the Turkmen leaders the Ottomans emerged as great power under Osman and his son Orhan I. Smyrna was conquered in 1330, and the last Byzantine possession, Philadélphia (modern Alaşehir), fell in 1323. The Anatolian Turkish beyliks were in turn absorbed into the rising Ottoman Empire during the 15th century. The Ottomans completed the conquest of the peninsula in 1517 with the taking of Halicarnassus (Bodrum) from the Knights of Saint John.

Modern times

Ethnographic map of Anatolia from 1911.

With the beginning of the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, and as a result of the expansionist policies of Czarist Russia in the Caucasus, many Muslim nations and groups in that region, mainly Circassians, Tatars, Azeris, Lezgis, Chechens, and several Turkic groups left their ancestral homelands and settled in Anatolia. As the Ottoman Empire further fragmented during the Balkan Wars, much of the non-Christian populations of its former possessions, mainly the Balkan Muslims, flocked to Anatolia and were resettled in various locations, mostly in formerly Christian villages throughout Anatolia.[26]

Anatolia remained multi-ethnic until the early 20th century (see the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire). Following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, all remaining ethnic Anatolian Greeks were forced out during the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

Since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, most of Anatolia has been part of Turkey, its inhabitants being mainly Turks and Kurds (see demographics of Turkey and history of Turkey).

See also

References

  1. ^ Mitchell, S. Anatolia: Land, men, and gods in Asia Minor. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. Volume I, p. 1. [1]
  2. ^ "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon". http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%237638. 
  3. ^ "On the First Thema, Called Anatolikon. This theme is called Anatolikon, not because it is above and in the direction of the east where the sun rises, but because it lies East of Byzantium and Europe." Constantine VII Porphyogenitus, De Thematibus, ed. A. Pertusi. Vatican: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1952, pp. 59–61.
  4. ^ John Haldon, "Byzantium, a History", 2002. PAge 32.
  5. ^ History of the Goths, Herwig Wolfram second edition page 81, (85-29044)
  6. ^ "Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008. [2]
  7. ^ "Northern Anatolian conifer and deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008. [3]
  8. ^ "Central Anatolian deciduous forests" National Geographic ecoregion profile. Accessed May 25, 2008 [4]
  9. ^ "Central Anatolian steppe" WWF scientific Report. Accessed May 25, 2008
  10. ^ "Eastern Anatolian deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008. [5]
  11. ^ "Anatolian conifer and deciduous mixed forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008 [6]
  12. ^ Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008 [7]
  13. ^ "Southern Anatolian montane conifer and deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008 [8]
  14. ^ "SEastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008
  15. ^ a b Freeman, Charles (1999). Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198721943. 
  16. ^ Howgego, C. J. (1995). Ancient History from Coins. ISBN 0415089921. 
  17. ^ Asia Minor Coins - an index of Greek and Roman coins from Asia Minor (ancient Anatolia)
  18. ^ H. M. Balyuzi-Muḥammad and the course of Islám, p.342
  19. ^ John Freely- Storm on Horseback: The Seljuk Warriors of Turkey, p.83
  20. ^ Mehmet Fuat Köprülü, Gary Leiser-The origins of the Ottoman empire, p.33
  21. ^ Peter Partner-God of battles: holy wars of Christianity and Islam, p.122
  22. ^ Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire, p.13
  23. ^ Artuk-Osmanli Beyliginin Kurucusu, 27f
  24. ^ Pamuk-A Monetary history, p.30-31
  25. ^ Clifford Edmund Bosworth-The new Islamic dynasties: a chronological and genealogical manual, p.234
  26. ^ Justin McCarthy,"Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922",1996,ISBN 0878500944

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Turkey article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Turkey
noframe
Location
Flag
Image:tu-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Ankara
Government Republican parliamentary democracy
Currency Türk Lirası/Turkish Lira (TL)
Area 780,580 km2
Population 73,193,000 (2006 est.)
Language Turkish (official); Kurdish, Zaza, Arabic, Azeri, Laz
Religion Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), Others 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
Electricity 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Calling Code +90
Internet TLD .tr
Time Zone UTC +2

Turkey (Türkiye) [1] is on the Mediterranean, in the Anatolian region of West Asia, with a small section in Southeastern Europe separated by the Turkish Straits (Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles). With the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea in the west and Mediterranean Sea to the southwest, Turkey is surrounded by Bulgaria and Greece to the west, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the northeast, Syria, Iraq and Iran to the southeast.

Understand

There is evidence that the bed of the Black Sea was once an inhabited plain, before it was flooded in prehistoric times by rising sea levels. The biblical flood may be an account of this event. Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı), at 5,165 m, is the country's highest point while the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark, lies in the mountains on the far eastern edge of the country.

Turkey was founded in 1923 from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN, and in 1952 it became a member of NATO.

Holidays

The savvy traveler should remember that when traveling into, in or around Turkey there are several holidays to keep in mind as they can cause delays in travel, traffic congestion, booked up accommodations and crowded venues. Banks, offices and businesses are closed during official holidays and traffic intensifies during all of the following holidays so do your research before you visit. Do not be put off by these holidays, it is not that difficult and often quite interesting to travel during Turkish holidays, simply plan ahead as much as possible.

Official holidays

  • Jan 1: New Year's Day (Yılbaşı)
  • Apr 23: National Soveirignity and Children's Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı)— anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Grand National Assembly
  • May 1: Labour and Solidarity Day (Emek ve Dayanışma Günü, also unofficially known as İşçi Bayramı, i.e. Worker's Day) was long banned as a holiday for almost 40 years and only restarted as a national holiday in 2009 because in years past it usually degenerated into violence. The wary traveler would be advised to not get caught in the middle of a May Day parade or gathering.
  • May 19: Atatürk Commemoration and Youth & Sports Holiday (Atatürk'ü Anma Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı)— the arrival of Atatürk in Samsun, and the beginning of the War of Independence
  • Aug 30: Victory Day (Zafer Bayramı)— Celebration of the end of the war for Turkish Independence over invasion forces. A big Armed Forces day and display of military might by huge military parades.
  • Oct 29: Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayramı or Ekim Yirmidokuz) is anniversary of the declaration of Turkish Republic. If it falls on a Thursday for example, Friday and the weekend should be considered in your travel plans. October 29 is the official end of the tourist season in many resorts in Mediterranean Turkey and usually there is a huge celebration at the town squares.
  • Nov 10, 9:05 AM— Traffic usually stops and sirens blare for two minutes starting at 9:05 AM, the time when Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, died in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul in 1938. That moment in time is officially observed throughout the country but businesses and official places are not closed for the day. However, do not be surprised if you are on the street, you hear a loud boom and all of a sudden people and traffic stop on the sidewalks and streets for a moment of silence in observance of this event.

Religious holidays

Ramadan dates

  • 2010 (1431): Aug 11 - Sep 9
  • 2011 (1432): Aug 1 - Aug 29
  • 2012 (1433): Jul 20 - Aug 18

The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.

Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) is a month long time of fasting, prayer and celebration during which pious Muslims neither drink nor eat anything, even water, from sun up to sun down. Businesses, banks and official places are not closed during this time. In some parts of Turkey, such as most of inland and eastern locations as locals are more conservative than people in the rest of the country, it is considered to be bad taste to eat snacks or drink sodas in front of locals in public places or transport—to be completely on the safe side, watch how localfolk act—but restaurants are usually open and it is no problem to eat in them as usual, though some restaurant owners use it as an opportunity for a much-needed vacation (or renovation) and shut their business completely for 30 days. However, you will unlikely see any closed establishment in big cities, central parts of the cities, and touristy towns of western and southern Turkey. At sunset, call for prayer and a cannon boom, fasting observers immediately sit down for iftar, their first meal of the day. Banks, businesses and official places are NOT closed during this time.

During Ramadan, many city councils set up tent-like structures in the major squares of the cities to serve passers-by (or those in poverty) warm meals during the sunset (iftar), free of charge (much like soup kitchens, instead serving full meals). Travellers can easily join in the queue, no matter how 'foreign' they look (In fact, no one looks foreign in Turkey where you can see locals who have blond hair with blue eyes to those with curly black hair and dark complexion).

Immediately following Ramazan is the Eid-ul Fitr, or the three-day national holiday of Ramazan Bayrami, also called Şeker Bayrami (i.e. "Sugar" or more precisely "Candy Festival") during which banks, offices and businesses are closed and travel will be heavy. However, many restaurants, cafes and bars will be open.

Kurban Bayrami (pronounced koor-BAHN bahy-rah-muh) in Turkish, (Eid el-Adha in Arabic) or sacrifice holiday is the most important Islamic religious festival of the year. It lasts for several days and is a public holiday in Turkey. Almost everything will be closed during that time (many restaurants, cafes, bars and some small shops will be open however). Kurban Bayrami is also the time of the annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, so both domestic and international travel is intense in Turkey at this time. If you are in smaller towns or villages you may even observe an animal, usually a goat but sometimes a cow, being slaughtered in a public place. In recent years the Turkish government has cracked down on these unofficial slaughterings so it is not as common as it once was.

The dates of these religious festivals change according to the Muslim lunar calendar and thus occur 10-11 days (the exact difference between Gregorian and Lunar calendars is 10 days and 21 hrs) earlier each year. According to this,

  • Şeker Bayramı falls Half-day on Thursday, September 9th, full-days on September 10th, 11th & 12th (Friday-Saturday-Sunday) in 2010; half-day on Tuesday, August 30th, full-days on August 31st, September 1st & 2nd (Wednesday-Thursday-Friday) in 2011; and half-day on Saturday, August 18th, full-days on August 19th, 20th & 21st (Sunday-Monday-Tuesday) in 2012.
  • Kurban Bayramı falls on November 16th , (Tuesday), and continues for four days until the evening of November 20th (Saturday) (but be aware that people will be traveling through Sunday, November 21st) in 2010; November 6th, (Sunday), and continues for four days until the evening of November 10th (Thursday) (but most Turkish people will still be on holiday or traveling on Friday, November 4th, through Sunday, November 13th) in 2011; and October 25th (Thursday), and continues for four days until the evening of October 29th (Monday, Turkey's Republic Day, a major patriotic holiday), with travel effects through October 30th (Tuesday) in 2012.

During both religious holidays, many cities (but not all) provide public transport for free (but note that these do not include privately owned minibuses, dolmuşes, taxis, or inter-city buses). This depends on the place and time. For example, Istanbul's public transport authority provided free transport in Eid-ul Fitr 2008, but not in Eid-ul Adha 2008 when it passengers have to pay a discounted rate. For some years, it was all free in both holidays, while in some others there was no discount at all. To be sure, check whether other pessengers use a ticket/token or not.

Climate

The climate in Turkey has a vast diversity depending on the diverse topography and latitude.

Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas enjoy the typical Mediterranean climate. There is hardly a drop of rain during the sunny and hot summer (May to October). Winters are mild and rainy in these regions, and it very rarely snows at coastal areas, with the exception of mountainous areas higher than 2000 metres of these regions, which are very snowy and are frequently not passable. The water temperature in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is warm during the long summer season (May to October) which constitutes the swimming season and fluctuates between 23° and 28°C from north to south.

The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has a transitional climate between an oceanic climate and a semi-Mediterranean climate, but it does rain, albeit not a lot, during the very warm summer (as showers which tend to last for 15-30 minutes). Its winters are colder than those of the western and southern coasts. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn’t stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter. The water temperature in the Sea of Marmara is also colder than the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, with the water temperature reaching only between 20° and 24°C during the summer (June, July and August) and the swimming season is restricted to those summer months.

The Black Sea region has an oceanic climate (thanks to the protective shield effect of Caucasus mountains) with the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500 millimeters annually which is the highest precipitation in the country. Summers are warm and humid while the winters are cool and damp. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn’t stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter, though mountains are very snowy as it is expected to be and are frequently not passable, there are glaciers around the year in the highest zones. The water temperature in the whole Turkish Black Sea coast is always cool and fluctuates between 10° and 20°C throughout the year, and is even less suitable for swimming during the summer than in the Sea of Marmara.

Most of the coastal areas have a high level of relative humidity during most of the year which makes hot weather feel hotter and cold weather feel colder than it actually is.

Interior areas like Ankara, generally have hot summers (though the nights are cool enough to make someone who is wearing only a thin t-shirt uncomfortable outdoors) and cold and snowy winters. The more easterly the location is, the colder the winters are and the heavier the snow is. The northeastern part (around Erzurum and Kars) is the only inland area which has cool and rainy summers.

The southeastern region near the Syrian border has a desert-like climate, temperature is frequently above 40°C during summers with no rain. Snowfall is occasional in winter.

Aegean Turkey
Greek and Roman ruins between azure sea on one side and silvery olive grooves on the other
Black Sea Turkey
Heavily forested mountains offering great outdoor sports such as trekking and rafting
Central Anatolia
Tree-poor central steppes with the national capital, Hittite and Phrygian ruins, and moon-like Cappadocia
Eastern Anatolia
High and mountainous eastern part with harsh winters
Marmara Region
The most urbanized region with Byzantine and Ottoman monuments in some of the country's greatest cities
Mediterranean Turkey
Mountains clad with pine woods ascending right from the heavily-indented coastline of the crystal clear sea
Southeastern Anatolia
Semi-desert Middle-Easternmost part of the country
  • Ankara - the capital of Turkey and its second largest city.
  • Antalya - the fastest growing city, hub to an array of beach resorts.
  • Bursa - the first capital of the Ottoman Empire on the foothills of Mt. Uludag, a national park and a winter sports resort.
  • Edirne - the second capital of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Istanbul - Turkey's largest city, the former capital of both the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, and the only city in the world to straddle two continents.
  • Izmir - Turkey's third largest city.
  • Konya- a Central Anatolian city, former home to Rumi, and the site of his tomb.
  • Sinop - an ancient fortress and port city on the northernmost tip of Anatolia.
  • Trabzon - the wonderful Sumela Monastery is just outside the city and it is a great gateway to exploring the Turkish Northeast.
  • Bergama - located near the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon.
  • Bozcaada - a small and attractive island just opposite ancient Troy.
  • Bodrum - nice and trendy Aegean resort in Muğla.
  • Cappadocia is an area in Central Anatolia in Turkey best known for its unique moon-like landscape (the "fairy chimneys"), underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks.
  • Datça - unspoilt local resort at the tip of the Datça peninsula, Knidos nearby forms the boundary between Mediterranean and Aegean.
  • Gallipoli - site of 1915 Anzac landing and many WWI memorials, with the Monument of Martyrs erected in the honor of the Turkish martyrs who died in the Battle of Gallipoli being a great source of pride for the nation, as well as being a symbol of Turkish courage and love of country. Don't be afraid to visit memorials of the Anzac soldiers though, people here are used to it and actually are more friendlier towards you than other foreigners.
  • Hasankeyf - old town near Şanlıurfa.
  • Marmaris - a little touristy, but nice resort in Muğla.
  • Olympos - tourist attraction for young people, full of wooden tree-houses and rich night life.
  • Safranbolu - old town with Ottoman architecture.
  • Selcuk - tourist town near the ancient city of Ephesus.

Get in

Citizens of the following countries can get a sticker-type entry visa at the point of entry into Turkey for a fee:

Valıd for nine months:

  • The Netherlands (cost: €15)

Valid for three months:

  • UK (cost: US$20 / €15 / £10)
  • US (cost: US$20 /€15)
  • Canada (cost: €45)
  • Australia (cost: $20 / €15)
  • Ireland (cost: €10)
  • Italy (cost: €10)
  • Portugal (cost: €10)

Valid for two months:

  • Ukraine (cost: US$20)

Valid for one month:

  • Slovakia (cost: €10 or US$15)
  • Azerbaijan, Moldova, Russia (cost: €10 or US$20)
  • Serbia (cost: €10)
  • Norway (cost: €20)

The citizens of the countries/territories listed below can enter Turkey visa-free for 90 days unless otherwise stated: Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (60 days), Brazil (30 days), Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica (30 days), Croatia, Czech Republic, Northern Cyprus (Turkish republic of), Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Hong Kong, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan (30 days), Kyrgyzstan (30 days), Korea (South), Latvia (30 days), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau (30 days), Macedonia (60 days), Malaysia, Moldova (30 days), Monaco, Mongolia (30 days), Montenegro (60 days), Morocco (90 days), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan (30 days), Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan (30 days), UAE, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican City and Venezuela.

German citizens don't need a visa for stays up to 90 days and can even enter with their national ID card (Personalausweis) or an expired passport/ID unless arriving at the non-Council of Europe land border crossings (i.e. from Iran, Iraq and Syria). 1 [2]

More information can be found at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website [3].

By plane

Turkey's primary international gateway by air is Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport [4]. Ankara's Esenboğa Airport handles a comparatively limited selection of international flights, and there are also direct charters to Mediterranean resort hot spots like Antalya in the peak summer and winter seasons. In 2005 customs at Istanbul international airport was rearranged to the effect that one is now required to go through customs and "enter the country" there, rather than first travel to a regional destination and pass customs there. Luggage will generally travel to the final destination without further ado, but on occasion you may have to point it out to be sure it will be transported on. The information given by flight attendants in the incoming flight may not be adequate so until the procedure is changed (it is supposed to be only temporary) it is wise to inquire on Istanbul airport. Since one must pass security again for any inland flight, it is advisable to hurry and not spend too much time in transit. There are also some other regional airports which receive a limited number of flights from abroad, especially from Europe and especially during the high season (Jun-Sep).

Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW [5])

Of special interest to those traveling on low-cost carriers, this airport is situated some 50km east of Istanbul's Taksim Square on the Asian side of Istanbul. Airlines servicing this airport include EasyJet [6], Germanwings [7], Condor [8], THY (Turkish Airlines) [9] and many more. It is interesting to point out that there is the possibility of catching a plane from Emirates' budget carrier Air Arabia [10] to Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) and from there to India for a very competitive price. All those low-cost options though, entail departure and arrival times in the middle of the night.

Airport Transportation

From Istanbul International airport, you can catch the light rail, which will take you directly to the Otogar (bus station) or to numerous stops within Istanbul (Aksaray is the last stop, near Sultanahmet where most of the famous tourist sites are). It is possible to be at the Otogar within less than one hour after landing. Another way of getting to downtown Istanbul is by bus, either on Havaş coaches (special airport shuttle leaving every 30min; first bus 4am, last bus midnight) to Taksim, Etiler, Kozyatağı (Asian side) or on public buses (Line 96T) to Taksim. Public bus and the light rail costs 1.30 TL, Havaş to/from Taksim is 10 TL (2010). Taxi is about 30-35 TL to Taksim (2010) and 25-30 TL to Sultanahmet (2010). Travel times depend a lot on traffic, and Istanbul is heavily congested!

From SAW, Havaş coaches depart regularly to Kozyatağı, and Taksim for 10-13 TL respectively (2010). If you arrive in the middle of the night, you can move to the departure hall after passing customs and rest on very comfortable seats — you will even find coin-operated Japanese massage chairs. Then, at about 4AM (but better ask to be sure) the first Havaş bus will take you to town. The Havaş bus schedule is sometimes linked to the arrival/departure times of planes. Check the company website. [11] There is also a public bus (line E-10) which operates 24 hours a day (once every hour between midnight and 6AM, more frequent in the rest of the day) between Sabiha Gökçen Airport and Kadıköy, the main centre of the city in Asian side. It costs about 3.00 TL.

By train

You can still travel from Europe to Turkey by train, although these days this is more of historical or perhaps even romantic interest than fast or practical. The famed Orient Express from London now travels no further than Vienna, but you can take the daily TransBalkan from Budapest (Hungary) via Bucharest (Romania), a two-night journey with a scheduled 3-hour stop in Bucharest. 1st/2nd class sleepers and couchettes are available, but the train lacks a restaurant car so stock up on supplies. From/to Greek stations there are two daily services, from Istanbul to Pythion every morning and from Istanbul to Thessaloniki every night. There are also daily trains to Istanbul from Sofia (Bulgaria).

There are also once-weekly services from Istanbul to Aleppo and Damascus in Syria, Tabriz and Tehran in Iran.

A cheap way of traveling to or from Turkey might be the Balkan Flexipass.

By car

From Central Europe, getting to Turkey is not too difficult. In any case you'll need your International Insurance Card (Green Card). Pay attention to "TR" not being canceled and be sure your insurance is valid for the Asian part of Turkey, too. Otherwise you will have to buy Turkish car insurance separately.

A carnet de passage is not necessary unless you intend to move on to Middle Eastern countries of Syria and Iran, both of which require you to have a carnet de passage.

National driving licences from some of the European countries are accepted. If you are not sure about your situation, obtain an international driving licence beforehand.

Major roads from Europe are:

E80 enters Turkey at Kapıkule border gate (NW of Edirne, SE of Svilengrad) from Bulgaria

E87 enters Turkey at Dereköy border gate (north of Kırklareli, south of Tirnovo) from Bulgaria

E90 enters Turkey at İpsala border gate (west of Keşan, east of Alexandroupolis) from Greece

Major roads from Middle East enter Turkey at numerous border gates around Antakya (Antioch), from Syrian cities such as Aleppo and Latakia, Habur border gate (south of Silopi, north of Zakho) from Iraq, and Dogubeyazit border gate (near Ararat) from Iran.

Major roads from Caucasia enter Turkey at Sarp/Sarpi border gate from Georgia (south of Batumi) and Türkgözü border gate south of Akhaltsikhe (this is the nearest border gate from Tbilisi). The border with Armenia is currently closed, thus impassable by car.

There are also other border gates (unlisted here), from all the countries Turkey has a common land border with (except Armenia), leading to secondary roads passable with a car.

By bus

Europe

From Bucharest there is a daily bus to Istanbul at 4PM for 125 Lei. There are also several daily buses from Constanta, Romania and from Sofia, Bulgaria and from there you can get connections to the major cities of Europe. Another possibility is the bus from Athens in Greece via Thessaloniki. You may also find smaller bus companies offering connections to other countries in the Balkans.

Iran

There is a direct bus to Istanbul from Teheran in Iran which takes approx 48hrs and costs US$ 35.00 for a one-way ticket between Istanbul or Ankara and Tehran.

  • Dogubeyazit/Bazerghan This Turkey/Iran border crossing is easyly (and fast) done by puplic transport. Take a bus to Bazerghan and a shared taxi to the border (ca. 2-3$). Cross the border stretch per pedes and catch a a frequent minibus (ca. 5 TL, 15 minutes) to Dogubeyazit. Check the security situation in the region, due to the unsolved PKK conflict.

Make sure you get a clear idea about exchange rates if you want to change TL or Rial as the official bank at the border does not exchange these currencies and you have to deal with the plentyful black market.

Syria

From Aleppo in Syria a 3hr bus to Antakya costs S£250 departing at 5AM. There is also a minibus service at 3PM for S£350. From Antakya you can get connecting buses to almost anywhere in Turkey, however initial prices may be overinflated and often inconvenient times. If travelling through to Istanbul, there are bus services from Damascus with bus changes along the way at Antakya. Purchasing a bus ticket in Damascus will be significantly cheaper than in Aleppo or Antakya. If traveling from Syria it is worthwhile to purchase additional supplies of snacks and drinks before leaving the country - these are significantly more expensive at bus stations in Turkey.

By boat

Many people arrive in Bodrum on one of the hydro-foils or ferries that run from most of the close Greek islands into the port. A fairly pretty way to arrive. While many of the lines that originate and terminate in Istanbul have recently been discontinued (due to bankruptcy), there are still summer departures direct to Eastern Italy.

Other main towns on the Aegean coast have ferry connections with the nearest Greek islands as well. Trabzon, a major city on the eastern Black Sea coast has a regular line from/to Sochi on the Russian Black Sea coast. Mersin, Taşucu, Anamur and Alanya on the Mediterranean coast has ferry links with either Famagusta (with Mersin) or Kyrenia (with others) in Northern Cyprus.

See Ferries in the Mediterranean

Get around

By plane

Major cities are served by airlines as well, with reasonable prices, beating the bus travel experience especially over longer distances. Tickets can be conveniently bought at the Istanbul domestic terminal and local ticket offices of Turkish Airlines [12] , Onur Air [13] , Fly Air [14] , Pegasus Airlines [15] and Atlasjet [16] among others . Many of the large cities have daily connections to the traffic hubs Ankara and Istanbul, others will have flights on specific days only. Upon arrival at regional airports there will often be a connecting Havas bus, which is much, much cheaper than taking a taxi. They may wait for half an hour, but will be available after the arrival of major flights. In some spots a whole fleet of minibusses will be waiting for an important flight, and then they will head out for cities in the region. For instance, flying to Agri in the East a connecting minibus will head for Dogubeyazit within twenty,thirty minutes or so, so you don't have to travel into Agri first, then wait for a Dogybeyazit bus. Do ask for such easy connections upon arrival!

By bus

Turkey has a good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good-quality service, at least with the major operators. There are now a few firms providing luxury buses with 1st class seats and service. Standard buses, however, have seats narrower than those of economy class on airplanes. Buses are often crowded, and smoking is strictly prohibited. Cellphone use is also restricted on many buses.

Bus travel is convenient in Turkey. Go to the Otogar (bus station) in any of the major cities and you can find a bus to almost any destination within half an hour, or a couple of hours at the most. Buses are staffed by drivers and a number of assistants. 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. The further east you travel, the less frequent buses will be, but even places as far as Dogubeyazit or Van will have regular services to many places hundreds of kilometers away. Only the smallest towns do not have a bus straight to Istanbul or Izmir at least once every two days.

Finding the right bus quickly does require some help and thus some trust, but be careful. Scammers will be waiting for you, and some may assist you in buying a ticket to a bus that won't depart in the next two hours. Sometimes there simply is no other bus, but on other occasions you will be sitting there while other buses with the same destination start well ahead. If you have some time to spare: check the departure (and arrival) times of other companies, that may save you time overall. Still, if you indicate you really want to leave NOW (use phrases like "hemen" or "shimdy", or "adjelem var" - I am in a hurry ), people will realize you are in hurry, and off you go on the next bus departing for your destination.

If you have several operators to choose from, ask for the number of seats in the buses you compare. Roughly, a larger capacity implies a greater comfort (all bus-seats have approximately the same leg-room, but larger 48-seat buses are certainly more comfortable than a 15-seat Dolmus, which may be considered a 'bus' by the company selling the seat). Also, the bus company with the largest sign is usually the one with the most buses and routes. If possible, ask other travellers you meet about their experiences with different operators: even big operators have different standards of service, and even with the same operator the standards may vary from region to region.

Don't be surprised if halfway down to some strange and far-off destination you are put out of the bus (your luggage will often be already standing next to it) and transferred to another. The other bus will "buy" you, and will bring you to the destination. This may even happen for 'direct' or 'non-stop' tickets.

Sometimes long-haul bus lines will leave you stranded on some ring-road around a city, rather than bringing you to the centre. That can be annoying. Inquire ahead (and hope they don't lie). On the other hand, many companies will have "servis aracı" or service vehicles to the centre, when the Otogar is on the periphery of a city, as they nowadays often are. In some cities these service vehicles are used by many companies combined, and a fleet of them, to different parts of the metropolis, will be waiting. The company may also choose to combine the passengers of multiple buses; meaning that you may have to wait until another bus or two arrives before departing. Keep your ticket ready as proof you were on a bus (though most of these services are run on good faith). In some cities (including Ankara, discluding Istanbul), the municipality have prohibited the use of service buses due to their effect on traffic. In that case, you might have to take a public bus or metro to get to your destination. One should probably avoid using taxis (at least departing from the Otogar) since they usually tend to abuse their monopolic position by refusing to go to closer destinations, behaving rudely towards the passenger, charging on the night tariff, etc. If you have to take a taxi, it is usually suggested that you do it from outside the bus terminal.

Seating within buses is partly directed by the "koltuk numarası" or seat number on your ticket, partly by the ritualistic seating of women next to women, couples together and so forth. So don't be too annoyed if you are required to give up your seat. In general, as a foreigner, you will have the better seat much of the time.

One hint: it often is easiest to take a seat in the back, whatever the number of your koltuk, and not be bothered for much of the ride. This is particularly true if you travel alone, and want to keep it that way, even though the last row may be reserved for the driver-off-duty, who wants to sleep. And remember: many buses pick up short-track fare along the ride, and park them in the last two or three rows. Also keep in mind that the back of the bus may be more noisy compared to the front, since that is where the engine is located.

If you have a bicycle it will be transported free of extra charge. In most buses it fits in the luggage area of the bus- Make sure you have the tools to fold your bike as small as possible (height matters most)

Another alternative to local bus travel in Turkey is the 'Fez Bus'. A Hop on hop off travel network that links Istanbul to all the best places to see in western Turkey, and a few that are a bit off the tourist trail. The bus runs hostel to hostel and they have an english speaking tour leader on board that lets you know about everything there is to do. The pass can last a few days or all summer and there are departures every other day. It may be a just little more expensive than the local bus, but really flexible and a lot less hassle. The main office in Istanbul is in Sultanahmet next to the Orient Youth Hostel on Yeni Akbiyik Cd.

By train

Offering considerably cheap, but slower travel compared with the bus, TCDD (Turkish Republic State Railways) operate passenger trains all over the country. However, as Turkey has fewer than 11,000 km of rail network in the total, many cities and tourist spots are out of rail coverage.

Istanbul-Ankara and Istanbul-Edirne lines are the only lines that are electrified, so the rest of the lines are serviced by diesel trains. The services from Istanbul to the East change their locomotives at Ankara station, and services to the South change their locomotives at Enveriye station, the remote one of two stations in Eskişehir (located about two-thirds distance to Ankara from Istanbul). No steam locomotives run on Turkish railways regularly, except occasional ceremonies.

Istanbul-Ankara rail line is the busiest and the most ridden one. There are several daily trains on this line, and a ride takes between 6.5 to more than 10 hours, depending on the train one takes and the delays, which are quite frequent. From Istanbul’s Haydarpasa station on the Asiatic side, one can find a direct train to almost all cities and towns in Asian Turkey served by a rail line, exceptions being Izmir, Balıkesir, Manisa, Zonguldak, and Samsun.

TCDD also offers two “train+bus” lines in summer months. One of these is Istanbul-Antalya, and the other is Ankara-Akçay (on the northern Aegean shore). In this kind of travel, for example one buys a ticket for Antalya at Haydarpasa station, rides the train until the transfer station (Dinar in this case), and takes the bus awaiting there for passengers to Antalya. Bus fee is included in the train ticket price, no additional payment is made in the bus. Train+bus travel takes a little more time than completely bus travel but it is almost half in expense.

Other major cities or tourist spots that can be reached by rail from Istanbul directly are Edirne (from Sirkeci station on the European side, not Haydarpasa), Eskişehir, Denizli (near Pamukkale), Konya, Adana, Kayseri (where Cappadocia is a few hours bus ride away), Gaziantep, Diyarbakır, Erzurum (a few minutes away from Palandöken ski centre), Kars, and Tatvan on the shore of Lake Van.

If you have determined to reach to Izmir from Istanbul only on rail, you should first catch a train to Ankara (or to further east), then transfer in Eskişehir station to one of the trains operating between Ankara and Izmir (you will need another ticket unless you have a pass like Interrail ticket). You can also buy a combined ticket, catch the fast ferry from Istanbul to Bandirma (on the southern coast of Marmara) and take the train heading for Izmir there with the same ticket. From there on, you can catch the regional train to Selçuk, where Roman city of Ephesos and Virgin Mary's House, which is a declared pilgrimage destination for Catholics, are a few kilometers away. So is Şirince, a cute village famous for the wines it produce. Also, Kuşadası is only half an hour bus ride away from Selçuk.

1st and 2nd class tickets are available, while some trains are consisted of only 1st class cars. 1st class usually means a pullman car (which has large leg-rooms between the seats, and most of which has air-conditioners nowadays), and 2nd class usually means compartment having 6 or far worse 8 seats. 8-seated compartments are not widespread, still ask before in order to avoid having a ticket for one. Also, 2nd class tickets do not have seat numbers written on them, so you should rush into the train to find a suitable empty seat.

Many trains have couchettes and sleeping cars, however even some of the night trains lack one, so ask before choosing your departure.

Although none of the regional trains –which operate between nearby cities- have a dining car, most long-distance trains have one. However, dining cars of the trains heading for eastern Turkey may have a limited menu and beverage list or there might be no dining car at all due to the low interest of the passengers of these lines. Have some supplies, especially if you are going to take one of the services to the East, but don’t worry if you don’t have any time to get anything. In the stations where the train stops for 15 minutes or more, you will find a kiosk or a buffet to buy some snacks and drinks. You can also buy some snacks –or even fresh fruits during spring and summertime- from vendors “jumping” into the cars in smaller stations as well. Dining cars are closed between 12:30AM and 6:30AM in all trains except Fatih Express, the daily night train between Istanbul and Ankara, the dining car of which is open until 1:30AM-2AM.

All cars have lavatories, although they may not be always so clean or have toilet paper.

Smoking is generally allowed on the first cars, so avoid buying a ticket for this car if you are not a smoker or buy one for this car if you would like to smoke during your journey. You may be asked “smoking or non-smoking” in the ticket window, if there are still empty seats at the both parts, but probably only in Turkish. (Sigara içilmeyen=non-smoking, write this on a paper and show it to the official in doubt)

Inter Rail and Balkan flexipass tickets are valid in all trains in Turkey (except international trains operating between Turkish and Iranian/Syrian stations), but holders of these tickets may have to get a seat number before ride, free of charge, especially in the trains that are consisted of only 1st class cars. TCDD also offers Tren Tur pass cards which lets its holder a month of free rail travel on any Turkish train (Again, Tren Tur is not accepted in international trains operating between Turkish and Iranian/Syrian stations and the international train operating between Istanbul and Thessaloniki) . Tren Tur card is considerably cheaper than one-zone Interrail tickets, but be sure to get a seat number in the stations before you get into a train that is consisted of only 1st class cars.

TCDD offers 20% discounted tickets for students. On board the trains, discounted ticket holders are usually asked for a valid student ID card during the ticket check. If the holder of a discounted ticket fails to show a student ID card, then he/she is punished with a penalty to pay the full price+20% more for his/her journey.

Train tickets can be bought online, at the station of departure (however, you can also buy your ticket for an Anatolian destination at the Sirkeci station, the main station of Istanbul on the European side), some of the central postoffices, authorized tourism agencies or from the automatic ticket machines which are rarely located at the main stations of the big cities. Credit cards are accepted only in major stations, be sure to have enough cash if you’ll buy a ticket in a small town station a few minutes before the train departs.. If you are buying your ticket from a station, remember that only booths of a limited number of very central stations accept foreign currency alongside Turkish lira, you can pay only in Turkish lira in the rest. Getting on a train without a valid ticket could land you with a fine, but purchasing a ticket on the train is often possible at a higher price.

A reservation is recommended during summer, on Fridays and Sundays, and before domestic religious feasts, when a one-week break is common and trains get really crowded.

For reservation and timetables, see [17]

Bosphorus Bridge, a part of Turkish highway system, connecting Europe and Asia
Bosphorus Bridge, a part of Turkish highway system, connecting Europe and Asia

Like all of its neighbours (except Cyprus off the southern coast of Turkey), driving is on the right side of the road in Turkey. Though it is legal to drive a vehicle with driver positioned on the right (which were designed for countries driving on the left) it is not very comfortable and is risky indeed (the driver cannot see the coming traffic and so on…).

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood for drivers is 0.05 grams per litre (g/1000 ml), that is roughly equal to two cups (a cup=500 ml) of beer or two glasses (a wine glass=330 ml) of wine. The use of seat belts both at the front and back line is obligatory.

Turkish signboards are almost identical to the ones used in Europe, and differences are often insignificant. The place names written on green background lead to motorways (which you should pay a toll, unless it is a ring road around or within a city); on blue background means other highways; on white background means rural roads (or a road inside a city under the responsibility of city councils); and on brown background indicates the road leads to a historical place, an antique city, a place of tourist interest or a city out of Turkey (these signboards used to be on yellow background till a few years ago, so still there is a chance of unreplaced yellow signboards existing here and there). Also keep in mind that these signboards are not always standardized; for instance, some of the blue ones may be leading into the rural roads.

As Turkey uses the metric system, all distances on the signboards are in kilometers, unless otherwise stated (such as meters, but never in miles).

Fuel

Despite bordering countries which have the richest oil resources, fuel in Turkey is ridiculously expensive, in fact one of the most expensive in the world because of the very heavy taxes. For example, a litre of unleaded gasoline costs more than 2.90 TL (~€ 1.50/~US$ 1.90, that makes ~US$ 10.40 per gallon!). Diesel and LPG is less damaging to your wallet (and to the environment in case of LPG), but not that drastically.

Petrol stations (benzin istasyonu) are frequently lined along the highways, most (if not all) serving round the clock and accepting credit cards (you have to get out of the car and enter the station building to enter your PIN code if you are using credit card). In all of them you can find unleaded gasoline (kurşunsuz), diesel (dizel or motorin), and LPG (liquid petroleum gas, LPG). In many (if not most) of them you can also find CNG (compressed natural gas, CNG). Though, petrol stations in the villages off the beaten track are exception, all they offer is often limited to only diesel, which is used for running the agricultural machinery. It is advised to keep the gas tank full if you are going to stray away from main roads. Also petrol stations along the motorways (toll-ways) are rarer than other highways, usually once every 40-50 kms. Make sure to fill your tank in the first station you’ll pass by (there are signs indicating you are soon going to pass by one) if your “tank is getting empty” alert signal is on.

Biofuels are not common. What most resembles a biofuel available to a casual driver is sold in some of the stations affiliated with national chain Petrol Ofisi under the name biyobenzin. But still it is not mostly biofuel at all – it consists of a little bioethanol (2% of the total volume) stirred into pure gasoline which makes up the rest (98%). Biodiesel is in an experimental stage yet, not available in the market.

Repair shops

In all cities and towns, there are repair shops, usually located together in complexes devoted to auto-repairing (usually rather incorrectly called sanayi sitesi or oto sanayi sitesi in Turkish, which means “industrial estate” and “auto-industrial estate” respectively), which are situated in the outskirts of the cities. And all cities and towns,there are big 3 s plants.(sales,service,spare parts).these are more corporate than sanayi sitesi these called oto plaza..

Renting a car

You may rent a car to get around Turkey from an international or local car rental agent. If you are traveling by plane you may find car rental desks in arrival terminals of all airports such as IST Ataturk Airport, Istanbul.

By dolmuş

The minibus (or Minibüs as called in Istanbul) is a small bus (sometimes car) that will ride near-fixed routes. The ride may be from the periphery of a major city to the centre or within a city, but may also take three to four hours from one city to the next, when the route is not commercial for large busses. They sometimes make a detour to bring some old folks home or collect some extra heavy luggage. You will find them in cities as well as in inter-city traffic. All during their journey people will get in and out (shout “Inecek var” – “someone to get off” – to have it stop if you’re in). The driver tends to be named “kaptan” (captain), and some behave accordingly. The fare is collected all through the ride. In some by a specially appointed passenger who will get a reduction, in others by a steward, who may get off halfway down the journey, to pick up a dolmuş of the same company heading back, and mostly by the driver himself. If the driver collects himself, people hand money on from the back rows to the front, getting change back by the same route. On some stretches tickets are sold in advance, and things can get complicated if some of the passengers bought a ticket and others just sat inside waiting – for maybe half an hour - but without a ticket.

The concept of dolmuş in Istanbul is somehow different than the rest of Turkey. The vehicles are different, they take max. 7 sitting passengersand non standing. they do not tend to take passengers along the way, they depart immediately when they are full, and many of them operate 24 hours a day. The name derives from “dolmak”, the verb for “to fill”, as they used not to start the journey without a decent number of passengers. They usually leave when they are full, but sometimes start at fixed hours, whatever the number.

By boat

Fast ferries (hızlı feribot) are fast (50-60km/hour) catamaran-type ferryboats that connect for instance Istanbul to the other side of the Marmara Sea. They can cut travel time dramatically. Again for instance leaving from the Yeni Kapi jetty in Istanbul (just a bit South-West of the Blue Mosque) you can be at the Bursa Otogar in two hours, with less than an hour for the actual boat ride to Yalova. Similar services are operated to connect several parts of Istanbul with the Asian side, or places farther up the Bosporus. And this type of fast ferry is increasingly seen all over the country wherever there is enough water.

There are also ferry connections between Istanbul and Izmir and between Istanbul and Trabzon in the eastern Black Sea region, ships operating on the latter line also stop at all of the significant cities along the Turkish Black Sea coast. However both of these lines are unfortunately operating only in summer months.

All inhabited Turkish islands have at least one daily cruise to the nearest mainland city or town during summer. But as winter conditions at the seas can go harsh, the frequency of voyages drop significantly due to the bad weather.

Perhaps one of the best cruising grounds in the world, Turkey offers thousands of years of history, culture and civilization set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. The coastline is a mixture of wide gulfs, peaceful coves, shady beaches, uninhabited islands, small villages and bustling towns. Many of these locations are still only accessible by boat. Rare in the Mediterranean, one can still find some seclusion on a private charter in Turkey. In fact, Turkey offers more coastline than any other Mediterranean country. The best way to see Turkey is from your own private yacht on your own schedule. Turkey offers some of the most exquisite yachts in the world known as gulets.

By bicycle

Special lanes devoted to bicycles are virtually non-existent, except a few quite short routes –which are built mainly for sport, not transportation- along coastal avenues or parks in the big cities like Istanbul or Izmir. Terrain of the country is mostly hilly, another factor which makes long-distance cycling in Turkey more difficult. If it is the case that you have already made up your mind and give cycling a try in your Turkey trip, always stay as much on the right side of the roads as possible; avoid riding a bicycle out of cities or lightened roads at night, do not be surprised by the drivers horning at you, and do not enter the motorways, it is forbidden. You could better prefer rural roads with much less traffic density, but then there is the problem of freely roaming sheepdogs, which can sometimes be quite dangerous. Rural roads also have much much less signboards than the highways, which turns them into a labyrinth, in which it is easy to get lost even for non-local Turkish people, without a detailed map.

  • Great Explorations [18]offers a 10 day/ 9 night cycling tour along the coast, beginning in Bodrum and finishing in Antalya staying in 3&4-star hotels. By incorporating a 'blue-cruise' between Gocek and Olympos, the busier and hilliest sections are avoided and you get to enjoy a few days exploring the Aegean Sea by yacht.

Air can be pumped into tyres at any petrol station without a charge. Bicycle repair-shops are rare in cities and cannot be easily found, motorcycle repair shops can be tried alternatively (however, they are very reluctant to repair a bicycle if they are busy with their customers who have motorcycles).

In Istanbul’s Princess’ Islands, renting a bike is an amusing, cheaper, and obviously more animal-friendly alternative to hiring a horse-drawn carriage. On these islands well-paved roads are shared only by horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and public service vehicles (like ambulances, police vans, school buses, garbage trucks etc).

By thumb

Almost every driver has an idea about what universal hitchhiking sign (“thumb”) means. Don’t use any other sign which may be equivalent of a signal meaning a danger. In addition to the thumb, having a signboard with the destination name certainly helps. Waiting for someone to take you generally doesn't exceed half an hour, though this dramatically varies depending on the density of traffic (as is elsewhere) and the region, for example, it usually takes much longer to attract a ride in Mediterranean Turkey than in Marmara Region. Best hitchhiking spots are the crossroads with traffic lights, where ring-roads around a city and the road coming from the city center intersect. Don’t be so away from the traffic lights so drivers would be slow enough to see you and stop to take you; but be away enough from the traffic lights for a safe standing beside the road. Don’t try to hitchhike on motorways, no one will be slow enough to stop, it is also illegal to enter the motorways as a pedestrian. Don’t start to hitchhike until you are out of a city as cars may head for different parts of the city, not your destination, and if not in hurry, try to avoid hitchhiking after night falls, especially if you are a lone female traveller.

Although the drivers are taking you just to have a word or two during their long, alone journey, always watch out and avoid sleeping.

On some occasions, you may not be able to find someone going directly to where your destination is, so don’t refuse anyone stopped to take you –refusing someone stopped to take you is impolite-, unless he/she is going to a few kilometres away, and if he/she would go to a road that doesn’t arrive at your destination in a coming fork. You may have to change several cars even on a 100-km course, changing in each town after town. However, because of the enormous numbers of trucks carrying goods for foreign markets, you can find unexpectedly long-haul trips from, say a town in western Turkey to as far as, for instance, Ukraine or southern Germany.

Not many, but some drivers –especially van drivers- may ask for money (“fee”) from you, refuse and tell them that if you would have money to waste, then you would be on a bus, not standing beside a road.

Drivers staying in the area may point downwards (to the road surface) or towards the direction they’re driving or flash their headlights while passing, indicating that they wouldn't make a good long-haul ride. Smile and/or wave your hand to show courtesy.

On foot

Turkey has two long-distance waymarked hiking trails, one of them is the famous Lycian Way, between Fethiye and Antalya, the other one is the Saint Paul Trail, between Antalya and Yalvaç up to the north, in the Turkish Lakes District. Both are about 500 km, and signed with painted stones and signboards. Since Lycian Way is much older, it has more facilities for shopping and accommodation in the villages situated along or near its route.

Eastern Black Sea region covers very beautiful quite long trekking routes between the greenest of green plateaus well above the clouds as well, and some tourism agencies in the main cities of Turkey are offering guided trekking tours –including the transportation- in this region.

Inside the cities, there are white-, or rarely yellow-painted pedestrian crossings (zebra crossing) on the main streets and avenues, which are normally pedestrian-priority spots. However, for many drivers, they are nothing more than ornamental drawings on the road pavements, so it is better to cross the streets at where traffic lights are. Still, be sure all the cars stopped, because it is not unusual to see the drivers still not stopping in the first few seconds after the light turns to red for vehicles. As a better option, on wide streets, there are also pedestrian overpasses and underground pedestrian passages available. In narrow main streets during rush hour, you can cross the street anywhere and anytime, since cars will be in a stop-go-stop-go manner because of heavy traffic. Also in narrow streets inside the residential hoods, you need not to worry about keeping on the sidewalk, you can walk well in the middle of the road, only to step aside when a car is coming.

Talk

The sole official language of Turkey is Turkish. Turkish is an Altaic language and its closest living relatives are other Turkic languages, which are spoken in southwestern, central and northern Asia; and to a lesser degree by significant communites in the Balkans. Because Turkish is an agglutinative language, native speakers of Indo-European languages generally find it difficult to learn. Since 1928, Turkish is written in a variant of the Latin alphabet (after so many centuries of using the Arabic one, evident in many historical texts and documents) with the additions of ç/Ç, ğ/Ğ, ı/I, i/İ, ö/Ö, ş/Ş and ü/Ü, and with the exclusions of Q, W and X.

Kurdish is also spoken by an estimated 7-10% of the population. Several other languages exist, like Laz in the North-East (also spoken in adjacent Georgia), and in general people living near borders will often be speaking the language at the other side too, like Arabic in the South-East.

Thanks to migration, even in rural areas most villages will have at least somebody who has worked in Germany and can thus speak German. The same goes for other West-European languages like Dutch (often mistakenly called "Flemish" there) or French. Recent immigration from Balkans means there is also a possibility to come across native Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian, and Albanian speakers mainly in big cities of western Turkey, but don't count on this. English is also increasingly popular among the younger generation. The "Universities" that train pupils for a job in tourism pour out thousands of youngsters who want to practice their knowledge on the tourist, with varying degrees of fluency. Language universities produce students that nowadays are pretty good at their chosen language.

Buy

In 2005, Turkey dropped six zeroes from its currency, thus making each post-2005 lira worth 1,000,000 pre-2005 lira (or so called "old lira"). During the transition period between 2005 and 2009, the currency was briefly called new lira (yeni lira) officially. Since Jan 1, 2009, a new series of banknotes and coins have been introduced and the currency is again simply called lira (officially Turkish Lira, Türk Lirası, locally abbreviated TL, ISO 4217 code: TRY), which is divided into 100 kuruş (abbreviated kr). Since Jan 1, 2010, neither pre-2005 nor pre-2009 banknotes and coins (those bearing yeni lira and yeni kuruş) are not legal tender, but can be exchanged at certain banks till Dec 31, 2010 (for coins) and Dec 31, 2019 (for banknotes).

Banknote nominations are in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira, whereas coin nominations are in 1 (very rare in circulation), 5, 10, 25, 50 kuruşes and 1 lira.

Money exchange – There are legal exchange offices in all cities and almost any town. Banks also exchange money, but they are not worth the hassle as they are usually crowded and do not give better rates than exchange offices. You can see the rates office offers on the (usually electronic) boards located somewhere near its gate. Euro and American Dollars are the most useful currencies, but Pound Sterling (Bank of England notes only, not Scottish or Northern Irish notes), Swiss Francs, Japanese Yen, Saudi Riyals, and a number of other currencies are also not very hard to exchange. It is important to remember that most exchangers accept only banknotes, it can be very hard to exchange foreign coins. In some places, where there is a meaningful explanation for it, more uncommon currencies can also be exchanged, too, for example Australian Dollars may be exchanged in Canakkale where grandchildren of Anzacs gather to commemorate their grandfathers every year, or in Kaş, which is located just across the Greek island of Kastelorizo, which in turn has a large diaspora in Australia. As a general rule, if a place attracts many visitors from a country, then it is usually possible to exchange that country’s currency there.

Tourism-oriented industries in tourism-oriented towns, as well as shops where big amounts of money change hands, like supermarkets, in most parts of the country, generally accept foreign currency (usually limited to Euro and American Dollars only), but the rates they accept the currency are usually a little lower than those of exchange offices. Ask first if they accept foreign currency.

€ 1 = 2.17 TL

US$ 1 = 1.51 TL

GB£ 1 = 2.41 TL

(all as of Dec 25, 2009)

Credit cards and ATMs - Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, American Express much less so. Starting from June 1, 2007 all credit card users (of those with a chip on them) have to enter their PIN codes when using the credit card. Older, magnetic card holders are exception to this, but remember that unlike some other places in Europe, salesclerk has the legal right to ask you a valid ID with a photo on to recognize that you are the owner of the card. ATMs are scattered throughout the cities, concentrated in central parts. It is possible to draw Turkish Lira (and rarely foreign currency) from these ATMs with your foreign card. Any major town has at least one ATM.

ATMs ask whether to provide instructions in English or in Turkish (and sometimes some other languages, too) as soon as you insert a foreign card (or a Turkish card which is not the operating bank’s own). When withdrawing money from ATMs, if the ATM in question does not belong to the bank that you already have an account in, they charge some percentage (generally 1%-one per cent) of what you withdraw from your account each time. This percentage is higher for advance withdrawing with your credit card.

No establishments require a commission surcharge when using a credit card.

Tipping - A 10% of the total bill or simply rounding up to the next lira for smaller purchases is welcome, though this is not a custom to be strictly followed. Tipping ceremony is performed like this, especially in the restaurants and cafes: first you ask for the bill, the waiter/ress brings the bill inside a folder, and puts it on the table and goes away. You put the money into the folder (with the bill), and after a few minutes later waiter comes back to collect the folder. A few minutes more later, waiter comes again with the same folder in his/her hands and leaves it once more on the table. This time there is change in it. You leave the amount of change you think waiter deserves and close the folder. The waiter comes again last time a few minutes later to take it. If you think they don’t deserve any tip, walking out into the street without leaving anything is totally okay, and there is no need to feel ashamed. Some establishments charge an additional 10% on your bill that you have to pay, that is the “service charge”, and sometimes it is not declared to the customer until the bill shows up. There is obviously not a reason to leave any more tip in that kind of places. It’s also a bit odd to tip in self-service restaurants and cheap&dirty bars.

Taxi drivers usually tend to round up what the meter says to the next lira and give your change accordingly. So tipping is not necessary. If you insist on taking your exact change back, ask for para üstü? (pronounced something like “pah-rah oos-too”, which means “change”). Driver will be reluctant to give it at first, but you will succeed eventually.

Supermarket cashiers usually round up the total sum to the next 5 kuruş if you pay in cash (the exact sum is extracted when paid by a credit card though). This is not a kind of involuntary tip, as the 2-3-4 kuruşes don’t go into their pockets. It is simply because they are not adequately supplied with enough 1 kuruş coins as it is very rare in circulation. So don’t be surprised if the change given to you is short of a few kuruşes from what should be given to you according to what the electronic board of the till says. It is totally okay to pay the exact sum if you have enough number of 1 kuruş coins.

Bargaining – In Turkey, bargaining is a must. One can bargain everywhere that doesn’t look too luxurious: shops, hotels, bus company offices, and so on. During your bargaining, don’t look so impressed and interested, and be patient. Since foreigners (especially Western people) aren’t expected to be good at bargaining, sellers are quick to reject any bargaining attempt (or are at least quick to look like so), but be patient and wait, the price will fall! (Don’t forget, even if you are successful at your bargaining attempt, when you get your credit card out of your wallet, rather than cash, the agreed price may rise again, though probably to a lower level than the original one)

VAT refund - You can get a VAT refund (currently 18% or 23% on most items) if you are not a citizen or permanent resident of Turkey. Look for the blue “Tax-Free” sticker on the windowpane or entrance of the shops, these kind of shops are the only places you can get a VAT refund. Don’t forget to take the necessary papers from the shop that will enable you for a VAT reclaim when leaving Turkey.

Although Turkey is in a customs union with the European Union for some goods, unlike the situation in the EU, there is currently not an initiative to abolish duty-free shops in the airports.

What to buy?

Apart from classical tourist souvenirs like postcards and trinkets, here are a few of what you can bring back home from Turkey.

  • Leather clothing – Turkey is the biggest leather producer in the world, so the leather clothing is cheaper than elsewhere. Many shops in Laleli, Beyazıt, Mahmutpaşa districts of Istanbul (all around the tram line which goes through Sultanahmet Square) are specialized on leather.
  • Carpets and kilims – Many regions in Turkey produce handmade kilims and carpets. Though the symbols and figures differentiate depending on the region in which the carpet is produced, they are generally symbollic expressions based on ancient Anatolian religions and/or nomadic Turkic life which takes shape around shamanic beliefs more than 1000 years ago. You can find shops specialized on handmade carpets and kilims in any major city, tourist spot and Sultanahmet Area.

You seriously cannot go anywhere in Turkey without someone trying to sell you a carpet. People will approach you on the street, engage in a little friendly conversation about where you're from, how do you like Turkey, and "would you like to come with me to my uncle's shop? It's just around the corner, and has the best authentic kilims." It can be irritating if you let it get to you, but remember that a large part of these people's economy comes from tourist's wallets so you can't blame them for trying.

  • Silk - Dresses and scarves. Although can be found in many parts of the country, silk fans should head for Bursa and before that, pick up basics of bargaining.
  • Earthenware - Handmade Cappadocian pottery (amphoras, old-style plates, flowerpots etc) are made of local salty clay. Salt content of clay, thanks to salt spray produced by the Salt Lake –which is the second largest lake in Turkey- in the heartland of Central Anatolia, is what makes local earthenware top quality. In some Cappadocian towns, it is possible to see how these artifacts are produced, or even to experience producing one, at the dedicated workshops. Tiles with classical Ottoman motives that are produced in Kütahya are also famous.
  • Turkish delight and Turkish coffee – If you like these during your Turkey trip, don’t forget to take a few packages back home. Available everywhere.
  • Honey – The pine honey (çam balı) of Marmaris is famous and has a much stronger taste and consistency than regular flower honeys. Although not easily attained, if you can find, don’t miss the honey of Macahel valley, made out of flowers of a temperate semi-rainforest, which is almost completely out of human impact, in the far northeastern Black Sea Region.
  • Chestnut dessert – Made out of syrup and chestnuts grown on the foothills of Mt. Uludağ, chestnut dessert (kestane şekeri) is a famous and tasty product of Bursa. There are many variations, such as chocolate coated ones. Chestnut dessert can be found in elsewhere, too, but relatively more expensive and in smaller packages.
  • Meerschaum souvenirs – Despite its name meaning “sea foam” which it resembles, meerschaum (lületaşı) is extracted only in one place in the world: landlocked Eskişehir province in the extreme northwest part of Central Anatolia Region. This mineral, similar to gypsum at sight, is chipped into smoking pipes and cigarette holders. It has a soft and creamy texture and makes for a great decorative item. Available at some shops in Eskişehir.
  • Castile (olive oil) soap – Natural, a silky touch on your skin, and a warm Mediterranean atmosphere in your bathroom. Absolutely cheaper than those to be found in Northern and Western Europe. Street markets in the Aegean Region and southern Marmara Region is full of olive oil soap, almost all of which are handmade. Even some old folk in the Aegean Region is producing their castile soaps in the traditional way: during or just after the olive harvest, neighbours gather in yards around large boilers heated by wood fire, then lye derived from the wood ash is added to hot water and olive oil mix. Remember – supermarkets out of the Aegean Region are generally offering no more than industrial tallow based soaps full of chemicals. In cities out of the Aegean Region, natural olive oil soap can be found in shops specialized in olive and olive oil. Some of these shops are even offering ecological soaps: made of organic olive oil and sometimes with additions of organic essential oils.
  • Other soaps unique to Turkey are: laurel soaps (defne sabunu) which is produced mainly in Antioch, soaps of Isparta enriched with rose oil which is produced abundantly in the area around Isparta, and bıttım sabunu, a soap made out of the oil of seeds of a local variety of pistachio tree native to the mountains of Southeastern Region. In Edirne, soaps shaped as various fruits are produced. Not used for their lather, rather they make a good assortment when different “fruits” are placed in a basket on a table, they fill the air with their sweet scent as well.
  • Olive-based products apart from soap - Other olive-based products to give a try are olive oil shampoos, olive oil based eau de colognes and zeyşe, abbreviation from the first syllables of zeytin şekeri, a dessert similar to chestnut desserts, but made from olives.

WARNING! To export or to take out the antiques which are more than 100 years old from Turkey is subject to heavy restrictions or in many cases outright forbidden. If it is the case that someone offers you to sell antiques, either he/she is a liar, just trying to sell cheap imitations or he/she is committing a crime, which you are about to be a part of, if you accept to be the purchaser.

Adana kebap, a skewer of minced meat spiced with chili and topped with pide bread, a speciality of Adana
Adana kebap, a skewer of minced meat spiced with chili and topped with pide bread, a speciality of Adana

Turkish cuisine combines Mediterranean, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Arabic influences, and is extremely rich. Beef is the most important meat (lamb is also common but pork is very hard to find although not illegal), and eggplant (aubergine), onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber are the primary vegetables. An abundance of spices is also used. The main staples are rice (pilav), bulgur wheat and bread, and dishes are typically cooked in vegetable oil or sometimes butter.

There are many kinds of specialized restaurants to choose from, since most do not prepare or serve other kinds of food. Traditional Turkish restaurants serve meals daily prepared and stored in benmarry. The meals are at the entrance so you can easily see and choose. Kebapçis are restaurants specialized in many kinds of kebap. Some Kebab restaurants serve alcohol while others don't. There are subtypes like ciğerci, Adana kebapçısı or İskender kebapçısı. Fish restaurants typically serve meze (cold olive oil dishes) and Rakı or wine. Dönerci's are prevalent through country and serve döner kebap as a fast food. Köfeci's are restaurants with meatballs (Köfte) served as main dish. Kokoreçci, midyeci, tantunici, mantıcı, gözlemeci, lahmacuncu, pideci, çiğ köfteci, etsiz çiğ köfteci are other kinds of local restaurants found in Turkey which specialization in one food.

A full Turkish meal at Kebab restaurant starts with a soup, often lentil soup (mercimek çorbasi), and a set of meze appetizers featuring olives, cheese, pickles and a wide variety of small dishes. Meze can easily be made into a full meal, especially if they are consumed along with rakı. The main course is usually meat: a common dish type and Turkey's best known culinary export is kebab (kebap), grilled meat in various forms including the famous döner kebap (thin slices of meat shaved from a giant rotating spit) and şişkebab (skewered meat), and a lot more others. Köfte (meatball) is a variation of the kebab. There are hundreds of kinds of köfte throughout Anatolia, but only about 10 to 12 of them are known to the residents of the larger cities, kike İnegöl köfte, Dalyan köfte, sulu köfte etc.

Eating on the cheap is mostly done at Kebab stands, which can be found everywhere in Istanbul and other major cities. For the equivalent of a couple dollars, you get a full loaf of bread sliced down the middle, filled with broiled meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. For North Americans familiar with donairs wrapped in pita bread, don't try to make the comparison. Pitas and wraps are almost unseen in Turkey, they like their bread thick and crusty.

Vegetarians

Vegetarian restaurants are not common, and can be found only in very central parts of big cities and some of the tourist spots. However, every good restaurant offers vegetable dishes, and some of the restaurants offering traditional “ev yemeği” (“home food”) have olive-oil specialities which are vegetarian in content. A vegetarian would be very happy in the Aegean region, where all kinds of wild herbs are eaten as main meals, either cooked or raw, dressed with olive oil. But a vegetarian would have real difficulty in searching for food especially in Southeastern region, where a dish without meat is not considered a dish. At such a place, supermarkets may help with their shelves full of canned vegetables, or even canned cooked olive-oil courses and fresh fruits. If you are a vegetarian and going to visit rural areas of Southeastern region, better take your canned food with you, as there will be no supermarkets to rescue you.

Turkish delight
Turkish delight

Some Turkish desserts are modeled on the sweet and nutty Arabic kind: famous dishes include baklava, a layered pastry of finely ground nuts and phyllo dough soaked in honey and spices, and Turkish Delight (lokum), a gummy confection of rosewater and sugar. There are also many more kinds of desserts prepared using milk predominantly, such as kazandibi, keşkül, muhallebi, sütlaç, tavuk göğsü, güllaç etc.

Breakfast

Turkish Breakfast, tend to comprise of çay (tea), bread, olives, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and occasionally spreads such as honey and jam. This can become very monotonous after a while. A nice alternative to try (should you have the option) is Menemen a Turkish variation on scrambled eggs/omelet. Capsicum (Red Bell Pepper), onion, garlic and tomato are all combined with eggs. The meal is traditional cooked (and served) in a clay bowl. Try adding a little chili to spice it up and make sure to use lots of bread as well for a filling hot breakfast. Bread is omnipresent in Turkey, at any given meal you'll be presented with a large basket of crusty bread.

Drink

Ayran is a popular drink of water and yoghurt not unlike the Finnish/Russian buttermilk or Indian lassi, but always served without sugar (and, in fact, typically with a little salt added). A version loved by the locals köpüklü ayran is a delicacy if you're travelling by bus over the Toros (Taurus) Mountains. Ask for yayık ayranı or köpüklü ayran.

Turkish coffee (kahve), served in tiny cups, is strong and tasty, just be careful not to drink the slugdy grounds at the bottom of the cup. It is much different than the so called Turkish coffees sold abroad. Sade kahve is served black, while as şekerli, orta şekerli and çok şekerli will get you a little, some or a lot of sugar in your cup.

Instant coffees, cappuccinos and espressos are gaining more popularity day by day, and can be found with many different flavours.

Tea (çay) is also very popular in the country. Be careful, if your tea is prepared by locals, it can be much stronger than you're used to. Although it is not native-typical and a rather touristic feature, you have to taste the special apple tea (elma çayı) or island tea (adaçayı) ( sage )of Turkey!

Boza is a traditional cold, thick drink that originates from Central Asia. It is fermented bulgur with sugar and water additions. Vefa Bozacisi [19] is the most known and traditional producer of boza in Istanbul. In Ankara, you get excellent Boza from Akman Boza Salonu in the old city in Ulus. Boza can also be found on the shelves of many supermarkets, especially in winter, packaged in 1-litre PET bottles. However these bottled bozas lack the sourness and consistency of traditional boza, they are sweeter and less dense.

Sahlep is another traditional hot drink, made from milk, orchid root and sugar, typically decorated with cinnamon. It is mostly preferred in winter and can be found in cafes and patisseries (pastane). You can also find instant sahlep in many supermarkets sold with the name Hazır Sahlep.

Red Poppy Syrup is one of the traditional turkish drinks made of red poppy petals, water and sugar by natural ways. Bozcaada is famous with red poppy syrup.[20]

International brands of colas, sodas and fruit-flavoured sodas are readily available and much consumed alongside some local brands. Please note, in Turkish, soda means mineral water, whereas what is called as soda in English is gazoz or sade gazoz in Turkish.

While a significant proportion of the Turks are devout Muslims, alcoholic beverages are legal, widely available, and thoroughly enjoyed by the locals. The local firewater of choice is rakı, an anise-flavoured liquor double distilled from fermented grape skin. It is usually mixed with water and drunk with another glass of iced water to accompany it. You may order 'tek' (single) or 'duble' (double) to indicate the amount of rakı in your glass. Rakı is a national drink of Turkey. Make sure to try it but don't overindulge as it is very potent! Remember not to mix it with anything else. There is a wide selection of different types in supermarkets. Mey [21], and Efe Rakı [22] are two of the biggest producers. Only the connaisseurs know which type is the best. Yeni Rakı which is a decent variety has the wıdest distribution and consumption.

As for Turkish wine, the wines are as good as the local grape varieties. Kalecik Karası from Ankara, Karasakız from Bozcaada, Öküzgözü from Elmalı, Boğazkere from Diyarbakır are some of the most well-known varieties. The biggest winemakers are Kavaklıdere [23], Doluca [24], Sevilen [25], and Kayra [26] with many good local vineyards especially in the Western part of the country. In addition liquory fruit wines of Şirince in İzmir are well worth tasting. One specific sweet red wine to try while you're there is Talay Kuntra [27].

There are two major Turkish breweries. Efes [28] and Tekel Birası [29] are two widely known lagers. In addition, you can find locally brewed Tuborg, Miller, Heineken and Carlsberg too.

Sleep

Accommodation in Turkey varies from 5-star hotels to a simple tent pitched in a vast plateau. So the prices hugely vary as well.

All major cities and tourist spots have 5-star hotels, many of them are owned by international hotel chains like Hilton, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Conrad to name a few. Many of them are concrete blocks, however some, especially the ones out of cities, are bungalows with private gardens and private swimming pools.

If you are into holiday package kind of thing in a Mediterranean resort, you’d for sure have better rates when booking back at home rather than in Turkey itself. Difference is considerable, compared with what you’d pay when booking at home, you may end up paying twice as much if you simply walk in the resort.

It is possible to rent a whole house with two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and necessary furnitures such as beds, chairs, a table, a cooker, pots, pans, usually a refrigerator and sometimes even a TV. Four or more people can easily fit in these houses which are called apart hotels and can be found mainly in coastal towns of Marmara and Northern Aegean regions, which are more frequented by Turkish families rather than foreigners. They are generally flats in a low-story apartment building. They can be rented for as cheap as 25 YTL daily (not per person, this is the daily price for the whole house!), depending on location, season and the duration of your stay (the longer you stay, the cheaper you pay daily).

Youth hostels are not widespread, there are a few in Istanbul, mainly around Sultanahmet Square where Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are, and still fewer are recognized by Hostelling International (HI, former International Youth Hostel Federation, IYHF). However, pensions (pansiyon) provide cheaper accommodation than hotels, replacing the need for hostels for low-cost accommodation, regardless of their visitors’ age. Please note, pansiyon is the word in Turkish which is also used for small hotels with no star rankings, so somewhere with this name does not automatically mean it must be very cheap (expect up to 50 YTL daily per each person). B&Bs are also generally covered by the word pansiyon, as most of them present breakfast (not always included in the fee, so ask before deciding whether or not to stay there).

Olympos to the southwest of Antalya is known for its pensions welcoming visitors in the wooden tree-houses or in wooden communal sleeping halls.

Recently, Bugday Association has launched a project named TaTuTa (acronym from the first syllables of Tarım-Turizm-Takas: Agriculture-Tourism-Barter [of knowledge]), a kind of WWOOF-ing, which connects farmers practicing organic/ecological agriculture and individuals having an interest at organic agriculture. The farmers participating in TaTuTa share a room of their houses (or a building in the farm) with the visitors without charge, and the visitors help them in their garden work in return. For more about TaTuTa, see [30]

There are many private estates dotting the whole coastline of Turkey, which the owner rents its property for campers. These campsites, which are called kamping in Turkish, have basic facilities such as tap water, toilets, tree shade (this is especially important in dry and hot summers of the western and southern coasts) and some provide electricity to every tent via individual wires. Pitching a tent inside the cities and towns apart from campsites is not always approved, so you should always ask the local administrator (village chief muhtar and/or gendarme jandarma in villages, municipalities belediye and/or the local police polis in towns) if there is a suitable place near the location for you to pitch your tent. Pitching a tent in the forest without permission is OK, unless the area is under protection as a national park, a bioreserve, a wildlife refuge, a natural heritage or because of some other environmental concern. Whether it is an area under protection or not, setting fire in forests apart from the designated fireplaces in recreational (read “picnic”) areas is forbidden anyway.

Caravan/trailer parks cannot be found as much as they used to be; only a few remain from the 70s. The most known one is the one in Ataköy, near the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul. However, caravan riders can stay overnight in numerous resting areas along the highways and motorways, or virtually in any place which seems to be suitable. Filling the water tanks and discharging wastewater effluent seems to matter most.

  • Naile's Art Home [31] is a marbling paper (Ebru) gallery and workshop located in Cappadocia.
  • Kayaköy Art School [32], located in Kayaköy, a ghost town near Fethiye is offering art classes in summer, specializing on photography, painting, and sculpture.
  • You can take the Ottoman Turkish classes in Adatepe, a village frequented by intellectuals near Küçükkuyu/Altınoluk in the northern Aegean Region. You can also participate in philosophy classes [33] taking place every summer in nearby Assos, organized as a continuation of the ancient “agora”/”forum” tradition of Mediterranean cities.
  • Glass workshops located around Beykoz on the northern Asian banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, are offering one-day classes that you can learn making (recycled) glass and ornaments made of glass.
  • There are many language schools where you can study Turkish in most of the big cities. Ankara University affiliated Tömer [34] is one of the most popular language schools in Turkey and has branches in many big cities, including Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir among others.
  • Many Turkish universities (both public and private) are participating in pan-European student exchange programs (Socrates, Erasmus, and the like). Some also have agreements with non-European universities, too. Check with your own university and the one that you intend to study in Turkey.

Work

Work as an English teacher is reasonably easy to stumble upon.

Being that import-export is huge in Turkey, there are also many opportunities outside of teaching, though these are often much more difficult to find and require some legalwork.

You need to have a work permit to work in Turkey. The control over illegal workers have grown stricter in the past five years with the consequence of deportation, so take the work permit issue seriously.

However, if you own your own company in Turkey you are allowed to "manage" it without having a work permit. Setting up what is known as an FDI (foreign direct investment) company is relatively straightforward, takes a few days and costs around 2300 ytl (April 07). You don't need a Turkish partner, the company can be 100% foreign owned and required a minimum of two people as share holders. Running costs for a company average about 2500 ytl per year for a small to medium enterprise, less for an inactive company.

Owning a company allows you to be treated as Turkish in respect of purchasing real estate and bypasses the need for military permission and allows you to complete a sale in one day if required.

Stay safe

Dial 155 for police, from any telephone without charge. However, in rural areas there is no police coverage, so dial 156 in such a place for jandarma (Military Polices) , a military unit for rural security.

Big cities in Turkey, especially Istanbul, are not immune to petty crime. Although petty crime is not especially directed towards tourists, by no means are they exceptions. Snatching, pickpocketing, and mugging are the most common kinds of petty crime. However, recently with the developing of a camera network which watches streets and squares –especially the central and crowded ones- 24-hour a day in Istanbul, the number of snatching and mugging incidents declined. Just like anywhere else, following common sense is recommended. (Please note that the following recommendations are for the big cities, and most small-to-mid size cities usually have no petty crime problems at all) Have your wallet and money in your front pockets instead of back pockets, backpack or shoulder bag.

Don’t exhibit your camera or cellphone for too long if it is a new and/or expensive model (they know what to take away, no one will bother to steal a ten-year-old cell phone as it would pay very little). The same goes for your wallet if it’s overflowing with money. Have a wide space off and quickly move away when you see two persons nearby suddenly bursts into a quarrel, they may be acting to fight to have your attention while a third person is peeling you off from your valuables (or simply one of the two fighting, who acts like falling over you after a hard fist, does this “duty”). Be on alert, everything just happens so quickly. Watch your belongings in crowded public transport, especially in trams and urban buses.

Avoid dark and desolate alleys at night. If you know you have to pass such a place at night, don’t take excessive cash with you, instead deposit your cash into the safe-box at your hotel. Stay away from demonstrating crowds if the demonstration seems to be turning into an unpeaceful one. Also in resort towns, when going to beach, don’t take your camera or cell phone with you if there will be no one to take care of them while you are swimming. And lastly, when you realize your wallet is taken away, before going to a police station to file a report, look into the trash cans near where you think it was stolen, as tossing the wallet into the nearest garbage can is what most thieves do in Turkey, for not getting busted in possession of the wallet which proves he/she is the thief. Your money will probably be not in it, but there is a chance that your credit cards and papers are still there.

See also scams section of Istanbul article to have an idea about what kinds of scams you may come across with in other parts of the country too, especially the touristy ones, not just Istanbul.

Though slightly off-topic be advised to carry passport or other means of identification at all times. One may not be requested to show them for a long period, then all of a sudden a minibus is checked by the traffic police (or the military, particularly in Eastern Turkey), or one runs into an officer of the law with time on his hand, and one must show papers. Hotels may request you to hand your passport in until you paid the bill, which puts you into an awkward situation. Referring to the police always made them hand the passport back, once the registration procedure was finalized. Showing a personal visiting card, one or two credit cards or knowing the address of a respectable hotel may solve the no-papers situation, but any self-respecting officer will tell you that you are in the wrong, and will be sorry next time. If treated politely however police and military can be quite friendly and even offer rides to the next city (no joke intended).

If you intend to travel to Eastern or Southeastern Anatolia, stay ahead of the news. Although it offers many beautiful sights such as the ruins of Antioch, the situation is far from secure due to ethnic strife and protests, sometimes resulting in violence. The region is far from a war zone, but take precaution when visiting this volatile place. The real risk of threat is not very big though, if you stick on major routes and follow common sense rules (such as avoiding demonstrations).

  • Animals – Turkish wilderness is home to both poisonous and non-poisonous snake (yılan) species. In fact, humid forests of northeastern Black Sea region is habitat of a small-sized but one of the most poisonous snakes in the world. Southern and especially southeastern parts (even cities!) of the country has large numbers of scorpions (akrep), so exercise caution if/when you are sleeping on open rooftops, which is common in southeastern region in summer. If you are bitten by one, seek urgent medical aid.

As for wild mammals, presumably the most dangerous ones are wolves, bears and wild boars. All of these animals live only in mountainous areas (of almost all regions) and your chance of sighting one is very low (except boars which are not so rare). Wolves and bears do not attack if you don’t follow or disturb them (or, particularly, their youngs) aggressively, however boars are known to attack even with the slightest provocation.

The biggest animal threat comes from stray dogs (or sheepdogs in rural areas). Don’t assume you will come across gangs of aggressive stray dogs next to the gate of Hagia Sophia, or the beach club however. They are mostly found in rural areas and non-central parts of the cities. They are usually discreet and are usually afraid more of you than you are afraid of them. Rabies (kuduz) is endemic in Turkey (and most of the world) [35], so anyone bitten by a dog or other carnivore should seek urgent treatment, despite what you may be told by your hotel or other well meaning strangers.

Many stray dogs you’ll see in the cities bear plastic “ear rings”. Those ear tags mean the dog is cleaned up, vaccinated (against rabies and a number of other diseases), sterilized, and then returned back to the streets as this is the most humane treatment (compare with keeping them in a cage or a cage-like environment or putting them to sleep). The process is going on, so we can assume stray dog problem in Turkey will disappear in natural ways sometime in future.

Stay healthy

Dial 112 from any telephone, anywhere, free of charge for an ambulance.

Food safety - Food is generally free of parasitical or bacterial contamination, but be prudent anyway. Look at where local people are prefering to eat. Do not eat stuff that is sold outdoors, at least in summer and at least which local folk don’t eat. They can spoil fairly quickly without needed refrigation. Wash throughly and/or peel fresh fruits and vegetables. They may be free of biological contaminants but their skin is probably heavily loaded with pesticides (unless you see the not-very-common certified organic produce marker on, of course). Food in western regions of the country is OK for (western) travellers for the most part, but the more east, south, and northeast you go, the more unaccustomed contents in the food you’ll come across, like goat or goose meat or hot/heavy spices. These contents may or may not cause diarrhea, but it is wise to have at least some anti-diarrhea medicine nearby, especially if you are going to travel to places a bit off-beaten-track.

Water safety - However tempting it may be on a hot day, try to avoid water from public water tanks and fountains (şadırvan), frequently found in the vicinity of mosques. Also, though tap water is always chlorinated, it is better to drink only bottled water. Bottled water is readily available everywhere except the most remote, uninhabited spots.

The most common volumes for bottled water are 0.5 litre and 1.5 litre. 5 lt, 8 lt, 10 lt, and gigantic 19 lt bottles (known as office jar in the West, this is the most common variety used in households, delivered to houses by the employees of specialized water selling shops, because it is far too heavy to carry) can also be found with varying degrees of possibility. General price for half-a-litre and one-and-a-half-litre bottled water is YTL 0.50 and YTL 1.25 repectively in kiosks/stalls in the central parts of the cities and towns (can be much higher in a touristy or monopolistic place such as beach, airport, café of a much-visited museum, kiosk of a roadside recreation facility), while it can be as cheap as YTL 0.15 and YTL 0.35 respectively in supermarkets during winter (when the number of bottled water sales drop) and a little higher in summer (still cheaper than kiosks, though). Water is served free of charge in intercity buses, packaged in 0.25 lt plastic cups, whenever you request from the steward. In kiosks, water is sold chilled universally, sometimes so cold that you have to wait the ice to thaw to be able to drink it. Supermarkets provide it both reasonably chilled and also at room temperature.

If you have no chance of finding bottled water –for example, in wilderness, up in the eastern highlands- always boil your water; if you have no chance of boiling the water, use chlorine tablets –which can be provided from pharmacies in big cities-, or devices like LifeStraw. Also avoid swimming in fresh water, which you are not sure about its purity, and at seawater in or near the big cities –unless a beach which is declared safe to swim exists. And lastly, afterall, be cautious about water, not paranoid.

Hospitals – In Turkey, there are two kinds of hospitals (hastane)-private and public. Private hospitals are run by associations, private parties, and private universities. Public hospitals are run by the Ministry of Health, public universities, and state-run social security institutions. Private hospitals provide health care in standards equal to Western Europe, though standards of public hospitals are inferior compared with the Western Europe. All mid-to-big size cities, as well as major resort towns, have private hospitals, more than one in many cities, but in a small town all you can find will probably be a public hospital. Avoid public hospitals as much as possible, as they are generally really crowded. Although this is not legal, you may also be denied entry to the public hospitals for expensive operations if you don’t have a state-run national (Turkish) insurance or a necessary amount of cash for prepayment which replaces it, though showing a respected credit card may solve this problem. A travel health insurance is highly recommended because the better private hospitals operate with the “user-pays” principle and their rates are much inflated compared with the public hospitals. Also make sure your insurance includes air transport (like a helicopter) if you are going to visit rural/wilderness areas of Black Sea or Eastern regions, so you can be dispatched to a city with high-standard hospitals on time. In the outlying hoods of cities, there are usually also policlinics which can treat simpler illnesses or injuries. In the villages all you can find are little clinics (sağlık ocağı, literally “health-house”) which have a very limited supply and staff, though they can effectively treat simple illnesses or provide antibody against, for example, snake bite. On road signage, hospitals (and roads leading to hospitals) are shown with an “H” (over the dark blue background), whereas village clinics are shown with a red crescent sign, Turkish equivalent of red cross.

There is an emergency ward (acil servis) open 24 hours a day in every hospital. Suburban policlinics don’t have to provide one, but some of them are open 24-hr anyway. Village clinics do certainly have a much limited opening hours (generally 8 am to sunset).

Dentists – There are lots of private dentist offices in the cities, especially along the main streets. Look for the diş hekimi signs around, it won’t take long before you see one. Most dentists work on an appointment, although they may check or start the treatment on your turning up without an appointment if their schedule is okay. A simple treatment for a tooth decay costs about 40 YTL on the average.

Ordinary toothbrushes and pastes (both local and international brands) can be obtained from supermarkets. If you want something special, you may check out pharmacies. It is okay to brush teeth with tap water.

Pharmacies - There are pharmacies (eczane in Turkish) in all cities and many towns. Pharmacies are open from 8:30AM until 7PM, however every town has at least one drugstore on duty overnight (nöbetçi eczane), all other pharmacies in the town usually display its name, address and telephone numbers on their windows. Most basic drugs, including painkillers such as Aspirin, are sold over the counter, although only in pharmacies.

Mosquitoes - Keeping a mosquito repellent handy is a good idea. Although the risk of malaria anywhere in the country is long gone (except the southernmost areas near the Syrian border which used to have a very low level of risk until up to 1980s), mosquitoes can be annoying especially in coastal areas out of cities, including vacation towns at nights between June and September. In some towns, especially the ones near the deltas, mosquito population is so large that people desert the streets during the “mosquito raid” which occurs between the sunset and one hour after that. DEET-containing aerosol repellents (some are suitable to apply to the skin while others, the ones that are in tall tin cans are for making a room mosquito-free before going to bed, not to be applied onto skin, so choose what you buy wisely) can be obtained from supermarkets and pharmacies. There are also solid repellents coming in a tablet form which are used with their special devices indoors having an electricity socket. They release scentless chemicals into the air of the room which disturb the senses of mosquitoes and make them unable to “find” you. The tablets, together with their devices, can also be obtained from supermarkets and pharmacies. Beware! You shouldn’t touch those tablets with bare hands.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (Kırım-Kongo kanamalı ateşi in Turkish, shortly KKKA) is a serious viral disease and transmitted by a tick (kene) species. It can kill the infected person in a very short time, usually within three or four days. This disease has claimed more than 20 lives in Turkey within the past two years. The biggest risk is in the rural parts (not urban centres) of Tokat, Corum, Yozgat, Amasya, and Sivas provinces, all situated in an area where disease-carrying tick thrives because of the area’s location between the humid climate of maritime Black Sea Region and arid climate of Central Anatolia. Authorities recommend to wear light coloured clothing which makes distinguishing a tick clinged to your body easier. It’s also recommended to wear long trousers rather than shorts if you plan to walk through dense and/or tall grass areas (the usual habitat for ticks). If you see a tick on your body or clothing, in no means try to pull it out since this may cause the tick’s head (and its mouth where it carries the virus) sticking inside your skin. Instead, go to the nearest hospital immediately to seek urgent expert aid. Being late to show up in hospital (and to diagnose) is number one killer in this disease. Symptoms are quite like that of flu and a number of other illnesses, so doctor should be informed about the possibility of Crim.-Cong. hemorr. fever and be shown the tick if possible.

Coastal Black Sea Region, Marmara Region, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and East Anatolia are generally deemed free of this disease (and also free of the disease-carrying species of tick) with no casualties. But in the name of being cautious, you should head for the nearest hospital anyway if you are bitten by (most likely an innocent) tick. Also remember that if you should head for the danger zone described above, ticks are not active in winter. Their active period is April to October, so is the danger period.

Public restrooms - Though many main squares and streets in the cities have a public restroom, if you cannot manage to find one, look for the nearest mosque, where you will see a public restroom in a corner of, or below its courtyard. Despite the fact that there is no shortage of cheap toilet papers anywhere in the country, however, you are unlikely to find toilet paper in almost any of the public restrooms (except lavatories of restaurants –including the road restaurants, hotels and most of the cafés and bars, of course). Instead, you are likely to find a bidét or a tap. So it is a good idea to have a roll of toilet paper in your backpack during your walkings for sightseeing. It is best to take your single roll of toilet paper from home or bathroom of the hotel you’re staying at, because the smallest size available in Turkey market is 4-rolls per package (8-rolls per package being the commonest) which would last very long (actually longer than your trip, unless you will do all the road down to India overland). It isn’t expensive but it takes unnecessary backpack space, or unnecessary landfill space if you won’t use it liberally and won’t take the unused rolls back to home as an unusual souvenir from Turkey. In the better places on the road in the country there are rest rooms that are maintained and an attendent ready to collect YTL.50 to YTL 1. from the tourist for the privilege of using one. Restroom is tuvalet in colloquial Turkish, though you’ll more likely to see WC signs, complete with diagrams and doors signed Bay or Bayan (with their rather crude translations: ‘Men’, ‘Women’).

Menstrual products – Different types and designs of disposable pads are widely available. Look around in the supermarkets. However, Turkish women prefer tampons much less than European women do, so they are rarer. They are available only in some of the pharmacies.

Hamam - If you haven't been to one, you've missed one of life's great experiences and never been clean. You can catch your inner peace with history and water in a bath (hamam). See hamams in Istanbul.

Respect

Things to do:

Turks are a very friendly, polite and hospitable people, sometimes even to a fault.

  • When you are invited into a Turkish home, make sure to bring them a gift. Anything is fine from flowers to chocolate and indeed something representative from your country (but not wine and other alcoholic beverages if you are about to meet the host or if you do not know them well enough, as many Turks, for religious reasons or not, do not drink alcoholic beverages, and that is why it would be considered inappropriate as a gift). When you arrive at the house take off your shoes just outside or immediately inside the door, unless the owner explicitly allows you to keep them on. Even then, it might be more polite to remove your shoes. And if you really want their respect, thank your host for the invitation and compliment them. When inside the house, don't ask for anything for they will surely offer it. The host will make sure to make you feel at home, so don't take advantage of their kindness.
  • People in Turkey respect elderly people, so in a bus, tram, subway and in other forms public transportation, young(er) people will always offer you a place to sit if you are an old(er) person as well as a handicapped or a pregnant person or have children with you.
  • It is respectful to bend slightly (not a complete bow) when greeting someone older or in a position of authority.
  • Try to use some Turkish phrases. They will be complimentary if you try, and there is no reason to be embarrassed. They realize that Turkish is very difficult for foreigners and won't scoff at all at your mistakes; on the contrary, they will be delighted for trying it, even if they may not always be able to understand your pronunciation!

Things to avoid:

Turkish people understand that visitors are usually not aware with Turkish culture and customs and tend to be tolerant of blunders in this regard by foreigners. There are however, which will meet with universal disapproval, and these should be avoided at all costs:

Politics:

  • Turks in general have very strong nationalistic views, and would view any criticisms of their country and expressions and attitudes insulting the Turkish flag, the republic and Atatürk - the founding father of the republic as very offensive and with varying degrees of hostility. To avoid getting into the bad raps of your hosts, it is advisable to only praise the country and avoid bringing up anything negative about it.
  • Don't mention the Armenian Genocide, Kurdish separatism and the Cyprus problem. These are extremely sensitive topics and are definately to be avoided. Turkish society has a highly emotional approach to these issues.

Religion:

  • Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, though secular, and although you will see varying degrees of Islamic practice in Turkey, with most Turks subscribing to a liberal form of Islam, it is extremely rude to insult or mock some of its traditions, and ensure that you do not speak badly of the Islamic religion. In regard to the Call to Prayer, which is read 5 times a day from the speakers of the numerous mosques throughout Turkey. Do not mock or mimick the recordings, as Turks are extremely proud and sensitive of their heritage and culture, and will be very offended.

Social custom and ettiquette breaches:

  • Don't try to shake hands with a devout Muslim (that is veiled) woman unless she offers her hand first, and with a devout Muslim (often recognizable with a cap and beard) man unless he offers his hand first.
  • Don't blow your nose during meals, even discreetly. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't pick your teeth during meals, even discreetly. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Do not put your feet up while sitting and try not to show the bottom of your feet to someone. This is considered rude.
  • Don't point with your finger at someone, even discreetly. This is considered rude.
  • Don't chew gum while having a conversation and during public occasions. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't touch someone without permission. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't bear hug or back slap someone, especially in formal situations and occasions and with someone you just met and/or you do not know well enough. This is considered very rude.

Certain gestures, common in the western world, are considered rude expressions in this culture. People tend to be tolerant if they can see you are a foreigner. They know you are probably doing it subconsciously, but if you take the time to keep these in mind, you won’t have any misunderstandings. Making an ‘O’ with your thumb and forefinger (as if to say “OK!”) is rude because you are making the gesture for a hole - which has connotations refering to homosexuality in the Turkish psyche. Avoid clicking your tongue. Some people do this subconsciously at the beginning of a sentence. It is a gesture of dismissal.

Other things to watch for:

  • Public displays of affection in larger cities and tourist resorts is tolerated but might invite unnecessary stares from the public. In more rural areas it is frowned upon and is to be avoided. Gay and lesbian travellers should avoid any outward signs of affection, as this will definately invite unnecessary stares from the public. However overt displays of affection regardless of sexual orientation is regarded as inappropriate.
  • Avoid shouting or talking loudly in public and especially on public transportation (Talking on a mobile phone on public transportation is not considered rude, unless the conversation is too "private").

Mosques

Because of religious traditions, all women are required to wear head scarves and not to wear miniskirts or shorts upon entering a mosque as well as as churches and synagogues. The same goes for the tombs of Islamic saints, too, if the tomb is not named “museum” officially. If you don’t have a shawl or a scarve to put on your head, you can borrow one at the entrance. However wearing-a-scarve rule is somewhat relaxed recently, especially in big mosques of Istanbul in which seeing a tourist is not a rarity. On such mosques, no one is warned about their clothes, or because of their lack of head scarves. Even if you’d have to wear a head scarve, no need to worry about how head scarves can be worn properly, just put it onto the crown of your head (you may wrap it under your chin or behind your neck, lest it slip), that will be excessively adequate.

Also, men are required to wear trousers, not shorts, upon entering a mosque, however nowadays no one is warned about their clothes (at least in big cities). You may find when entering a mosque in more rural areas you will be expected to follow all traditional procedures.

During the prayer time, worshippers choose to line in the front rows of the mosques, at such a time stay behind and try not to be noisy. During the Friday noon prayer, which is the most attended, you might be asked to leave the mosque, don’t take it personally, it is because the mosque will be very crowded, there just won’t be enough room for both the worshippers and the sightseers. You will be able to enter back as soon as worshippers are out of the gate.

Unfortunately for rock bottom budget travellers, mosques are not good examples of Turkish hospitality. Unlike some other Middle Eastern cultures, eating, drinking, smoking (which is strictly banned), talking or laughing loudly, sleeping or just lying, even sitting on the ground inside the mosques is frowned upon in Turkish culture. Public displays of affection is definately taboo.

All shoes should be removed before entering any mosque. There are shoes desks inside the mosques, though you can choose to hold them in your hand (a plastic bag which would be used only for this purpose would help) during your visit. Some mosques have safeboxes with a lock instead of shoe desks.

Although there are “official” opening hours, which are typically shorter than what the mosque is actually open, at the entrances of the most sightseen mosques, they don’t really mean anything. You can visit a mosque as long as its gates are open.

Despite the odd tourists who do not conform to the dress code, it is best to dress conservatively and to follow all traditional procedures, when entering mosques, tombs and other places of worship; not only because it is required but also a sign of respect.

Gay and lesbian travelers

Turkey is considered to be quite safe for gay and lesbian travelers, and violence against homosexuals is quite rare. There are no laws against homosexuality in Turkey, but same-sex relationships are not recognized by the government and flaunting your orientation openly is very likely to draw stares and whispers.

Contact

Dial 112 for an ambulance in anywhere, from any telephone, without a charge. In case of a fire, dial 110; for police, call 155. However, in rural areas there is not a police coverage, so dial 156 for gendarme, a military unit for rural security. All these numbers are free of charge and can be called from a telephone booth without inserting a calling card, or any phone including cell phones.

Telephone

You can find telephone booths on streets, post-offices and almost any public building. Phone cards are available in two types: Magnetic cards (which are becoming obsolete) and newer cards with a chip on them. You can also use your credit card on the phones operating with chipped-cards, although it may not always work. Cards are available in 30, 60 or 120 units and can be obtained at post offices, newspaper and tobacco kiosks. All phones in the booths have Turkish and English instructions and menus, many also have German and French in addition. There are also telephones available in private kiosks where you pay cash after your call. These telephones are more expensive than the ones at the booths.

It is estimated that approximately 96% of the population of Turkey lives within the coverage areas of Turkey’s three cell phone line providers. Line providers from most countries have roaming agreements with one or more of these companies.

Telephone area codes for some cities and their towns are: 212-Istanbul European side; 216-Istanbul Asian side, and the Princess’ Islands; 232-Izmir, Çeşme, Foça; 256-Aydin, Kuşadası; 252-Mugla, Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye; 242-Antalya, Kaş, Kemer, Alanya; 312-Ankara; 384-Nevsehir, Most of Cappadocia (though a few well-known Cappadocian towns which are parts of the province of Aksaray have 382 as their area code); 286-Çanakkale, Gallipoli; 224-Bursa, Uludag; 258-Denizli, Pamukkale; 332-Konya; 352-Kayseri. Dial 0 prior to telephone code for intercity calls.

Numbers starting with 0800 are pay-free, whereas the ones starting with 0900 are high-fee services. 7-digit numbers starting with 444 (mainly used by companies) are charged as local calls wherever they are dialed in Turkey.

Dial 00 prior to country code for international calls. International country code of Turkey is 90.

Post

Post offices are recognizable by their yellow-black “PTT” signs. Letters and cards should be taken to a post office since the postboxes on the streets are rare. Nevertheless, Turkish Post (PTT) prints some beautiful stamps. Sending international letters to most countries now cost only 0.80 TL (about €0.40). Please check the PTT Webpage for the most current rates [36] Main post offices in cities are open between 8:30AM and 8:30PM, whereas post offices in towns and smaller post offices in cities are usually open between 8:30AM and 5:30PM.

Poste restante letters should be sent to an address in the format of: official full name of the addressee (because the receiver will be asked for an ID card, passport or anything that can proof he/she is the receiver)+POSTRESTANT+name of the quarter/hood/district if in a city where there are more than one post office or name of the town where the post office is+postal code (if known, not obligatory)+the name of the province which the quarter/town of the post office is within. The receiver should pay 0.60 TL (fee of a domestic letter) to take his/her letter.

Internet

“Internet-cafés” or “net-cafés” are available even in small towns. All of them have good DSL connections, and price for connection is about more or less 1 TL/hour . Most, if not all, of these internet-cafés also have cd-writers which are available for anyone who makes an additional payment. Free wireless connections are available at some airports, hotels and restaurants/cafés (especially in big cities). Please see the Turkish Telecom web page for information on Telecommunication services [37] .

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Pronunciation

Etymology

From Ancient Greek ἀνατολή (anatolē), sunrise, place from where the sun rises, the east), from ἀνατέλλω (anatellō), I rise), from ἀνά (ana), up) + τέλλω (tellō), I perform, accomplish, rise).

Proper noun

Singular
Anatolia

Plural
Anatolias

Anatolia (plural Anatolias)

  1. A peninsula of Western Asia, comprising most of the modern Republic of Turkey. Bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Armenian Highland to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Aegean Sea to the west.

Translations

Synonyms








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