So you’re wondering about Ramadan in Turkey and if it is a good time to visit? Let’s see!
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While Turkey has a secular government it is a Muslim country in that the majority of its population calls themself Muslim.
Also, Turkey is one of the most liberal and Westernized Islamic countries in the world.
You will find a mix of conservatives and liberals with many observing Ramadan in various degrees on your visit to Turkey.
The month of Ramadan, which is all about fasting and celebration, is one of the most important Islamic holidays and carries with it a rich history.
After years of living here, I can tell from first-hand experience that the atmosphere is definitely different, but I also know not everyone can really feel that.
In this post, we will look at what is Ramadan, what it entails, and whether visiting during Ramadan is a good fit for you or not.
The short answer: it depends on you and what you hope to get out of your trip!
Let’s jump in.
what happens during Ramadan?
Let’s start with a basic introduction to Islam. The Islamic faith is made up of 5 pillars:
- First pillar: Shahada (Declaration of Faith)
- Second Pillar: Salah (Prayer)
- Third Pillar: Zakat (Almsgiving/Charity)
- Fourth Pillar: Sawm (Fasting)
- Fifth Pillar: Hajj (Pilgrimage)
The holy month of Ramadan fulfills the 4th pillar of Islam and is a 30-day fast (during daylight hours) that is observed by most Muslims in at least some capacity.
Ramadan happens in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The number of days of Ramadan (29 or 30) is based on when the new crescent moon is visible.
There are some who are exempt (children, elderly, breastfeeding, diabetic, or women who are menstruating) and adults who aren’t able to fast are expected to make up the time later.
Ramadan is a time of intentionality with regard to prayer & worship both at the mosque and at home, self-improvement, and spiritual reflection.
They are also more generous in charity to the poor and good deeds in general.
Because of this, even those who don’t strictly follow the food fast will often use this time to take a closer look at their lives.
They believe that as they do so, it cleanses their soul.
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During these 30 days, those who are observing Ramazan will fast from dawn to sunset. They don’t just fast from food and drink though.
So what do they fast from?
- NO drinking – during the day
- NO eating – during the day
- NO sex – for the entire month
- NO smoking – for the entire month
- NO gum – for the entire month
They believe that this time of year temptations are less and thus it is easier to act rightly. This allows them to do this fast well.
Since it is a secular government, they don’t have laws regarding fasting during Ramadan.
There is a strict observance of Ramadan by true Muslims while nominal Muslims may live life as usual during Ramadan.
Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the timing changes every year. So when visiting Türkiye during Ramadan, make sure you check out the dates for the year you’re going.
In 2024, Ramadan will be observed from March 11 – April 9. Following this 30 days of fasting is a 3-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, also called the Şeker Bayramı, or Sugar Holiday.
Ramadan in Turkey – Two Important meals a day
The Suhur is the pre-dawn meal. Between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m., you might hear banging during Ramadan.
An ancient Ottoman practice was to have drummers and musicians go through the streets to wake people up so they could eat before the sun came up.
After completing this meal before the fast at sunrise, the call to prayer will sound and they will begin their prayers for the day.
The Iftar meal is a Ramadan feast that happens after sunset. It is typically something that many foreigners and non-Muslims are invited to.
They break the fast with this meal, starting with dates to commemorate Muhammad’s practice. It is a glorious buffet of delicious food and water as they have abstained all day.
One of my absolute favorite parts of this holiday is the special bread they make during Ramadan. It is called Ramazan pidesi.
Make sure you swing by a local bakery “firin” and ask for a Ramazan pidesi. The texture is unique and lovely.
This Ramadan bread comes in a couple of varieties: with egg and with lots of sesame seeds.
Personally, I am partial to the one which is called sade (sah-day). It means that it is plain. Let me know what you think!
If you are invited to an iftar, you will be welcomed with open arms and should most definitely go and check it out!
Or Sugar Holiday is a three-day holiday with a feast of celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. Every country has different rules and customs for this holiday.
Even different regions will include different foods and traditional desserts in their celebrations.
In Turkey, people wear their nicest clothes, visit each other, and visit friends and family who have passed on by going to cemeteries.
Children especially love this holiday in Turkey as they go around to their neighbors, wishing them a happy holiday and being rewarded with chocolates or sweets in return. Sometimes they are even given small amounts of money.
How would visiting Turkey during Ramadan affect my trip?
In some countries, it is illegal to eat outside during Ramadan. Thankfully in Turkey, this is not the case. Because Turkey is a secular government, there are no strict laws about it.
That being said, there are a few things you should consider when visiting during the observance of Ramadan:
- Some shops, restaurants and cafes may close earlier than normal, some may be closed completely and others still it is business as usual.
- Touristy areas and big cities, like Istanbul or Cappadocia, are quite different. You may notice no change at all. They realize their customers are not observing the same fast as them.
- It is generally considered polite to refrain from eating and drinking in the open or while walking out of consideration to those around you.
- Also, avoid smoking in public.
- Alcohol may be more difficult to find/purchase during this time.
- Lunar holidays start on the night before the day of the holiday. Because of this, you will see offices close at lunchtime the day before Eid al-Fitr.
Is visiting this Country during Ramadan a good idea?
This is a question you will have to answer for yourself. It really depends on what you hope to get out of your trip to Turkey. Here are a few things to consider:
- Are you sensitive to spiritual atmospheres? While some can feel a difference in the atmosphere during such an important Islamic holiday, most others can’t.
If you’re a sensitive person, it may not be the best time of year to visit.
- Do you love experiencing different parts of others’ cultures? You will definitely experience something here during this time that you can’t do any other time of the year.
There is much to be gained by these amazing and hospitable people.
- What is your goal in traveling?
- If you plan to stay in touristy areas, you will likely not notice much difference during the other times of the year.
- If you plan to visit more rural places and want to experience Turkey like a local, you will find your plans much more hindered and may not be the best time.
So this is really up to you and your preferences. If you do come during Ramadan, make sure you come back again another time in the year and vice versa!
Final thoughts on Ramazan
If you’re considering visiting during Ramadan it really depends on what you hope to get out of your trip. This isn’t an easy call for sure.
If you are a feeler, you may feel Ramadan affects you more than others, which could be an important thing to consider before traveling.
Either way you go it could be great! But that also means you can just come back and see what it’s like during another season of the year!
But for sure visitors to Türkiye are welcomed, across Turkey, to celebrate Ramadan with the Turkish people.
There are also many other holidays celebrated in Turkey. You can check out my post on holidays in Turkey for a closer look at other special days in Turkey.
What do you think?! Will you be visiting Turkey during Ramadan?
- Purchase a Turkish sim card for your time in Turkey
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- Take an epic road trip from Istanbul to Fethiye
- Download these apps before you come!
Turkey vacation basics
When I plan a trip these are the websites I use. Hope they help you plan your next adventure as well!
VISAS: You can use the free e-visa portal here but for a few extra dollars you can use iVisa and someone else will handle any issues that may come up.
E-SIM: When I traveled to SE Asia I discovered e-sims and I’m never going back. Airalo has been easy and cheap!
TRAVEL INSURANCE: I use TravelInsurance.com for my trips abroad.
CAR RENTAL: I have loved working with Discover Cars when I rent cars in country.
ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Turkey hotel deals on Booking.com.
CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: You can browse GetYourGuide’s website to find just the tour you’re looking for!