The drinking age in Turkey: 5 things you need to know
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Have you been wondering about the drinking age in Turkey? I’ve got you covered!
Living in Turkey since 2019, I have seen many young people drinking and smoking in public. It made me want to figure out the legal drinking age in Turkey.
Now that I know, I can help you as you prepare for your visit to Turkey. I hope to help you feel confident about whether you are able to drink alcohol while in the country or not.
It turns out that the minimum legal age for drinking is 18, according to Turkish law.
Interestingly enough, the law is rarely enforced and many of those who have visited Turkey can attest to this fact.
That being said, for those who want to avoid breaking the law, it’s best to stick with the official drinking age limit prescribed by authorities.
Furthermore, some regions may be more strict than others when it comes to enforcing laws related to the drinking age.
For example, there may be areas where laws are strictly enforced and non-compliance may even result in punishment or fines.
Therefore, it’s important for visitors from abroad to be aware of local laws and regulations pertaining to alcohol consumption before engaging in any activities related to its consumption.
Let’s take a look at a few things you
5 things to Know about Alcohol in Turkey
Alcohol consumption has been on the rise in Turkey since the early 2000s, with a significant increase of 24% from 2002 to 2007.
The trend continues today, and this is in large part due to the changing demographics and tastes of Turkish people, who are increasingly exposed to Western lifestyles.
Alcohol is now much more widely available than it was before, with an increasing number of liquor stores and bars.
With that said, it’s important for people to remember to drink responsibly; excessive alcohol consumption can lead to health problems and other risks.
1. where to buy alcohol in Istanbul?
Visiting Istanbul as a tourist means you may want to buy alcohol, so it is important to know where and when to find the drinks.
Liquor stores in Istanbul, known as tekels, are more common than in other cities, but they can be found in smaller towns too.
The sale time in Istanbul (as well as throughout the country) for alcohol is regulated according to the law and is usually restricted between 6 am and 10 pm on weekdays.
You can also purchase alcohol from certain international markets like Carrefour and Migros.
That being said, if it is after 10 pm, you can always go to a bar and have a drink. The time limit does not apply to bars and restaurants.
Those selling alcohol have to have a license to sell and the fine for selling alcohol to someone underage is quite steep so don’t be surprised if you are trying to skirt the law and can’t.
Simultaneously, you will see many people with a beer in their hands walking along the seaside, looking much younger than 18.
2. How much is a beer in Turkey?
When it comes to beer in Turkey, tourists have plenty of options. Local brands are much more affordable and offer a variety of interesting flavors unique to the region.
As of May 2023, a domestic beer can be found for 30-50 tl if you are purchasing it from a tekel or grocery store. Plan for double that if you’re at a bar or restaurant.
Some of the most popular local beers include Efes Pilsen (who also brew Becks, Miller, Warstiener and Fosters), Tuborg (who brews Fredericks) and Bomonti.
Imported beers and liquors are also available, though they’re more expensive as they often carry high import taxes.
As of May 2023, an imported beer can be found for 40-80 tl if you are purchasing it from a tekel or grocery store. It will likely be double if you’re at a restaurant or bar.
Prices change often because of factors like inflation, taxes and the general state of the economy. Take these estimates with a grain of salt.
Personally, I am an IPA girl and those seem to be difficult to find at times. The Bomonti Filtresiz has a pretty good flavor that is comparable.
My favorite IPAs, however, are from Fredericks. The red label is my favorite of the two though the green label is nice as well.
Microbreweries are becoming more popular with companies like Gara Guzu and Pablo Bira leading the way.
All in all, while drinking in Istanbul and touristy places like Izmir, Antalya and Bodrum are easier, there is something for everyone.
Whether it’s an imported lager or one of the local craft breweries, visitors will find something that suits their taste and budget.
3. A few interesting legal things
Blood Alcohol Concentration levels
Drinking and driving is a serious offense in Turkey, with a legal blood alcohol limit of only 0.05%.
This means that even a single drink can put drivers over the limit, and can put them at risk of fines or jail time.
It’s especially important for tourists to know this limit, as it’s much stricter than in other countries – even if there is nobody else in the car, any level of alcohol in your system may be considered illegal.
But it’s important to note that if there are other people in the car, then the legal blood alcohol limit drops to zero.
So keep your wits about yourself when driving on Turkish roads – it’s not worth putting yourself or others at risk by drinking and driving!
It is also important to note that police have the right to do random alcohol tests on drivers whenever they want.
The fine is steep and as a tourist, it is important to know that it could even result in a minimum of 6 months jail time.
Open Container laws
From what I have been able to find in all of my research, while it is technically illegal to drink alcohol publicly it is allowed at the beaches and parks.
As you walk along the seaside, you will see many people having a picnic and drinking beer, wine, or spirits.
That being said, to be drunk publicly carries heavy fines and penalties.
While this is often a fuzzy line, things like being loud and obnoxious, vomiting, and the like in public places can land one in serious trouble.
One can even be put in jail for the night for “their own safety” so be sure to be careful when drinking in Turkey.
4. What about wine and liquor?
The consumption of wine and liquor in Turkey is steadily increasing as the country becomes more exposed to unfamiliar cultures.
Though beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in Turkey, wine and other spirits are becoming increasingly accessible.
Wine tours are a great way to take a deep dive into all the unique flavors that Turkey has to offer, and many tourists take advantage of these unique experiences.
Raki is a traditional Turkish drink dating back centuries, often referred to as the unofficial national drink.
It’s an anise-flavored liquor made with twice-distilled grapes, which creates a unique flavor.
There’s no shortage of places to buy raki in Istanbul or anywhere else throughout Turkey if you’re looking for an authentic experience.
Raki specifically is typically drunk at a Meyhane (fish restaurant), served with cold water and ice to make the flavor softer and paired with mezes (appetizers).
Turkey offers both domestic and imported options when it comes to wine and liquor – so drinks from all over the world can be found in stores across the country, though obviously, the imported ones will be more expensive than domestic ones.
Whether you’re looking for something specific from your home country or want to sample something uniquely Turkish, you should be able to find something.
5. Alcohol and Islam
Alcohol consumption is a sensitive topic in Turkey, particularly for devout Muslims.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, 74% of the population has never consumed any alcohol.
This is partly because the Islamic religion prohibits such – under Islamic law consuming alcohol is strictly forbidden.
However, it’s also important to note that there are many other reasons why some Turks opt not to drink.
The holy month of Ramadan is celebrated by Muslims all over the globe and it’s no different in Turkey.
During this important time, tourists should be aware that drinking alcohol is not allowed by law. You will see this in a more obvious way the further you get away from tourist areas.
However, if you find yourself in a tourist-friendly city during Ramadan, there are plenty of activities and attractions to experience without alcohol.
Regardless of religious beliefs, tourists should exercise caution when discussing alcohol with locals and remember to always respect and follow local customs when traveling.
FAQs About Drinking in Turkey
Can you drink alcohol in Turkey?
You can drink alcohol in Turkey. The drinking age Turkey has established is 18. While it is illegal to drink publically, it is acceptable to drink at parks and beaches.
What types of drinks are available in Turkey?
Beer, wine, spirit-based liqueurs, tea, coffee and ayran (a yogurt-based beverage) are the most popular drinks in Turkey. A variety of locally produced wines, as well as international brands, are available across the country.
Are there any restrictions on when or where I can buy alcohol?
Alcoholic beverages may be purchased from tekels (liquor stores) and markets between 6 am and 10 pm. They can be purchased 24 hours from bars and restaurants.
Final Thoughts: Turkey Drinking Age
Turkey has a fairly low drinking age for tourists, which can be great news for some travelers with an affinity for socializing.
But as always, it’s important to respect the laws and local customs of the country you’re visiting.
For more helpful advice on traveling in Turkey and what to expect, make sure to check out some of the posts below to prepare for your trip to Turkey.