Tips for Traveling to Turkey: 23 Things to Know for the BEST Trip in 2024

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Looking for tips for traveling to Turkey? I have got you covered!

Every time you travel somewhere new, you realize how different we all are. Each country does things differently. Thinks differently.

There is nothing worse than getting somewhere and expecting one thing but getting an entirely different thing.

They store their property, products, and information differently. When you travel, you embrace courage and learn something new. I had to learn these the hard way.

I enjoy learning new things and new ways to do things.

A different way of thinking and experiencing reminds me that my way isn’t the only “right” way.

As I have lived in Turkey and explored so much of it, Turkey is one of those places that took some adjusting to get used to it.

I had to figure out that I couldn’t buy band-aids where I typically would in America and so on.

Traveling cultivates compassion.

But there are also things that just kind of drive you batty as you travel.

I want to save you some grief with these travel tips and things to know about Turkey so that you can enjoy your trip to Turkey to the fullest.

6 Must-Have travel accessories for Under $25

  • Keep your luggage safe with this TSA-approved lock.
  • This international travel adapter is the best. With 1 Type C and 4 USB slots, you will be able to charge it all!
  • Make sure you always have life left on your phone with this Anker external battery.
  • A money belt is really great to have especially in crowded/touristy areas. This one has RFID blocking and a great price!
  • These luggage tags are incredibly helpful. I have also used metal ones but those bend out of shape so easily.
  • Never be surprised at the airport with luggage that’s too heavy with this portable handheld scale.

1. What floor am I on?

If you’re from America, we all know that the bottom floor is the 1st floor in any building. Here in Turkey, that is not the case.

They number floors starting with 0. So the bottom floor is always zero. The next floor up that we would typically call 2nd is the 1st.

A great help to figuring out what level you’re on is to count how many flights of stairs you go up.

This is especially helpful when you want to order food or something to where you’re staying. They will always ask for your floor number.

2. Tea is life

In every culture, there is something we enjoy doing to convey the hospitality that we have for the people we are welcoming.

Here in Turkey, drinking tea with someone is an important part of life. If someone offers you tea, welcome it gladly!

They are extending their hospitality to you and it would be so dishonoring to reject them.

That being said, it is important to note that when people ask if you want çay and it sounds like chai, it doesn’t mean chai, it means Turkish tea which is black tea.

If you, like myself, have a sensitivity to caffeine at night, I have found these De-Caffeinate pills to be magic workers!

One day a friend joked that maybe they had a pill for that. So I did what any wise person would, I checked to see if Amazon did. THEY DID!

They also work marvelously. Definitely give them a try when traveling abroad.

Me holding a bottle of De-Caffinate, a supplement to help remove the caffeine from my body before bed!

3. Keep Tissues on Hand

As I traveled around Europe, I was always so sad at how hard it was to find a public restroom if I needed to go.

It seems to be a common thing outside of America. Turkey does have a number of public restrooms that you can use thankfully.

But the unfortunate circumstance comes up often of no toilet paper. Especially if you are out in rural Turkey.

Always, always, always carry a pack of tissues in your day bag. Trust me. I have needed them on more than one occasion!

Pro tip: Never flush the toilet paper. I know. I know. But often the pipes just can’t handle it. There are always signs asking you to not do it.

4. Getting around Turkey

The public transportation system in Istanbul is pretty great! It includes buses, metros, ferries, minibusses and when you want, taxis are available.

Buses, metros, ferries, and the Marmaray (similar to the metro but goes between sides) are all paid for by the IstanbulKart (no cash).

Their public transportation card can be reloaded. Check back soon for an in-depth how-to for your Istanbulkart.

Dolmus and minibusses are paid for with cash only. These are like big vans, small buses that you can get to take you throughout Istanbul.

When taking taxis in Turkey, you can use a credit/debit card as well as cash. If you use Uber, it will look just like a regular taxi but you can pay with the app.

But beware, sometimes there will be a problem with the card reader so it is best to always have cash on hand in case there is a problem.

Outside of Istanbul public transportation is much more scarce. I recommend renting a car in Turkey if you go out of Istanbul and want to explore at all.

There is so much more freedom!

5. Squatty pottys

As Turkey has updated buildings and facilities, they have installed many Western-style toilets but you can’t always find one.

Typically you will see a sign on the door that indicates a Western-style or a squat-style toilet. You will get used to it.

If you want to be able to use the restroom in rural Turkey, you will master this task.

Pro tip: Fully squat. Trust me on this one. Upon coming, I was suddenly eternally grateful for my years of growing up going camping and traveling to Uganda.

6. Food in Turkey

I absolutely love Turkish food. If it is your first trip to Turkey, don’t feel like you need to try everything, you just won’t be able to!

They use a lot of cumin, mint, red pepper flakes, and garlic in their food and often overcook their vegetables but somehow they still taste good.

I have written a few different posts on Turkish food. You can read more about Turkish food here.

Pro tip: In touristy areas especially, make sure you ask to see a menu with prices.

One time I went with a couple of Turkish friends to a fish restaurant to celebrate a friend with mezeler and raki. I figured they knew what they were doing so I just went with it.

I was expecting to pay 50 tl or maybe even 80 tl for my portion of dinner. In the end, my portion was 220 tl and others paid more than me!

If you don’t look at a menu with prices, you might find yourself at the end of a great night with a 1200 tl bill when you thought it would be much cheaper.

7. Tap water

Many people say you can’t drink the water because it has viruses and bacteria in it. While that was once true, it isn’t true anymore.

There have been great strides towards cleaning the water. Unfortunately, it is still best to not drink it straight from the tap because of heavy metal levels.

Some people still use tap water for tea or the like, you will notice that there is lots of scaling and deposits in their kettles.

It is best to use bottled water to avoid drinking such heavy metals.

I still use tap water to boil pasta or potatoes or something where I will not be drinking the water. In 2023 I installed a water filtration system and it has been great!

If you don’t have access to the big 5-gallon containers at your place you can get really large bottles of water and refill your smaller bottles regularly.

There is also a great water filter option that is specifically good for tap water and heavy metals. You can read more here about why I support Epic Water Filters.

They have a couple of options.

  • Epic Filter with Nalgene body
  • Epic Filter with Glass bottle
  • Epic Filter with Vostok | Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel
Epic Water Filters describing the nalgene bottle tht it is 48oz, bpa/bps free, made in the US, sturdy integrated carry loop, silicone mouthpiece, with the epic water filter system

Needless to say, this company is on it! They also have pitchers you could bring if that was more suitable to what you were doing.

8. MOney in Turkey

While Turkey has grown and become much more modern in recent years, cash is still king. You will definitely get discounts when you pay in cash.

If it is for anything big, make sure you get the appropriate level of receipt.

It is also important to note that they don’t typically accept American Express or Discover. You may find someone here or there but on the whole, they are not widely accepted.

Also, if you do anything online, you will find that you have problems if your card/bank doesn’t support 3D security.

I am personally a fan of simply withdrawing cash in the local currency from ATMs instead of carrying large amounts of dollars.

There are a couple of reasons why and I go more in depth in this post about the currency in Turkey.

It is also good to have a little bit of cash on hand if you want to do a bit of tipping though it isn’t usually expected in Turkey unless you’re in a tourist area.

You can also use the WISE Card. Free ATM withdraws up to $100 a month then really low fees plus it works with multiple currencies. It’s a no-brainer.

9. Animals

Most people are animal lovers. While I grew up in a house full of pets, I realized that I am not really a pet lover.

That being said A. I do have a soul and 2. I am quite lovely with pets, I just don’t want one in my house.

a cat curled up in a shoe store's window front
You’ll often find cats in shop windows, soaking up the sun.

For the animal lovers you will love seeing so many animals as you wander the streets in Turkey. They are often very well taken care of by the locals.

Because Turks believe animals hold an inherent value, as Muhammed did, they often care for animals quite well.

They provide temporary shelters and put out food often for them. The dogs, though massive, are surprisingly docile and rarely bark.

I have only ever seen them barking at those who are picking up recycling, oddly enough.

And on Instagram, you can find so many great photos of these cats of Istanbul with the hashtag #catsofistanbul.

10. Jay-walking – how to cross the street in Istanbul

Crossing the streets in Turkey was something I definitely had to get used to here. Essentially you cross wherever you want to.

Technically it is illegal but it is done all the time, regularly in front of police, and is something that is just accepted.

So typically the cars are going slow enough that you can easily cross even on a big street. But you just have to own it.

My biggest tip is to follow the locals. It is a little nerve-wracking at first but then it becomes quite comfortable.

Also typically drivers are slow to let you cross even if you have not waited like you should. Rarely do they honk and make a big deal out of it, especially in the rain. They get it.

Obviously, you don’t have to cross like a local. If you’re more comfortable waiting for the light, please do that.

I just want to make you aware of the culture around crossing the street….as it is quite different from the States.

11. Is it safe to travel in Turkey?

My short answer is yes, I think Turkey is safe. I have been living here for years and I usually feel more safe here than I have in some neighborhoods in America.

That being said, there are always things you need to know to make sure you stay safe while abroad, whether here in Turkey or anywhere else.

Here are some of my top things to note when it comes to the beautiful country of Turkey.

Solo Travel

If you’re traveling solo, fear not! I am a single woman who has been living in Turkey since 2019 and I always feel safe.

Sometimes you will get more attention than you prefer but I guess that happens anywhere! What you wear in Turkey definitely can impact this piece for sure.

Becareful of what you have on you. Certain things like knives or anything that can truly injure someone can land you in some serious trouble.

For instance, carrying pepper spray is not illegal but if you use outside of actually defending yourself, you can get into serious legal trouble.

You can also carry a pocket knife but it is illegal to use it for self defense.


Don’t start a tab – Never start a tab at a bar or hotel. It is best to pay at the time of purchase your you mind find drinks/food on your tab that you never ordered with no way to prove it.

Don’t pick up something if someone drops it – People will drop things they are selling and when you try to hand them back, they will insist on money. It is best to just leave it where it is.

Don’t get your shoes shined – Unless you’re with someone who speaks Turkish, it is best to not do it. They may finish and say it is a higher price and there is no recourse. When they call the cops, it is your word vs. theirs.

Be Aware

When you are walking in a touristy area, make sure you are aware of your surroundings and your personal items.

Like any public touristy place throughout the world, there will be pickpockets and people who try to take advantage of unsuspecting foreigners.

To be safe on the streets in Turkey, make sure you keep your money and passport in your money wallet or deep in your travel purse or backpack.

This will help it be extra secure. Especially if you’re wearing a backpack, wear it on the front to add an extra layer of protection.

How to dress in Turkey

I won’t spend a whole lot of time talking about this here as I have an entire post on what to wear in Turkey.

One thing I will note is that it is illegal to enter a mosque while dressed inappropriately. Make sure you cover up what you need to cover up.

Also remember, especially when traveling solo, you can of course wear whatever you want on the streets but it may bring unwanted attention. This isn’t America.

12. Things to know about time in Turkey

Before visiting Turkey you should also definitely know that Turks value the person they are with more than the next appointment.

When I first got here, it was so overwhelming that I had a schedule and it often felt like it was being tossed aside but that is just how it goes in a highly relational culture.

You will find this throughout the Middle East, Africa, and India as well.

So let go and go with the flow. Stop for the tea and trust that you will see everything you need to see.

If you give up the rigid hold you have on your schedule, you will likely have a much better trip than you thought possible.

13. Body language Travel Tips

There are a few things Turks do in everyday interactions which can be confusing if you didn’t know what they meant.

The Double Kiss – Whenever they greet someone, it is done with a kiss on each cheek. During the pandemic, this was of course not done and it was so weird. But it is back to normal.

The Double Blink – When I first got here I would ask my friend how she was and she would double blink at me…I had no idea what that meant. Finally, I discovered that it means “Yes” or “I’m good.”

The Upward Nod – When someone nods upward, either with raised eyebrows or perhaps leaving the nod and just does an eyebrow lift, it means “No.” You’ll often see it on the street as taxis pass and someone says they don’t need one.

Watch your hands – There are many different things we do with our hands and I learned early on in international travel it is best to not use them the same way I would in the States.

In one place pointing with the forefinger is acceptable and in another place, it is like you’re flipping a person off. Just be aware and be careful.

14. International Adaptor

I have many different adaptors but this one is my favorite. “Why?” you may ask.

Well, this one has 4 USB slots and a Type C slot. That means I can charge my Fitbit, external battery, and phone all at the same time.

One thing to be aware of is these types of adaptors shouldn’t be used for things like hair dryers, straighteners, or higher-voltage devices. You’ll kill the adaptor.

If you do blow the fuse, there is usually a spare inside.

Me holding a travel adapter that can be used throughout the world with 4 USB slots and 1 Type C slot.

15. Learn some Turkish

Turkish is spoken in Turkey and Turkish people LOVE it when you speak Turkish to them, even if it sucks.

They are hospitable people in general but when you speak Turkish to them, it gets even better.

There are many phrases you could learn and I have a whole post just on tourist Turkish. But here are 5 things you should memorize now.

Hoş buldukGlad to be hereHow you respond to Hoş geldin (welcome)
İyi günlerGood dayUse during daytime
Kolay gelsinMay your work go easyYou can say it upon entering a store or when you leave someone who is still working

16. Use a VPN for websites Banned in Turkey

There are a few websites that are banned in Turkey. Namely and PayPal.

I seem to be able to use my PayPal app without any problems and only sometimes experience an issue when I try to use it in a browser.

Booking is not allowed in the country. That being said, you can simply use a VPN and access what you need to easy peasy.

I use Surf Shark VPN. There are definitely other ones but I often hear of people who have issues with their VPN.

This one is both inexpensive and in all my years of living here have never had a connectivity issue. Plus with one account I can have it on multiple devices.

17. Wifi around Turkey

I also do a more in-depth post on SIM cards and eSIM cards but suffice it to say, I highly recommend you purchase a SIM of some sort.

Doing so will make sure you are always able to connect to the internet. It is so much more safe if you can get help if you need it.

I am an eSIM kind of girl but regardless of what you choose, make sure you’re connected and stay safe as you travel.

18. Places to visit in Turkey

Your time within Turkey can be so incredibly rich! Whether you just visit Istanbul or you venture out to explore other places in Turkey, you’ll have the best time!


Obviously, you have to stop in Istanbul even if you’re headed somewhere else. It is the main city and the only megacity that straddles two continents.

There is so much to see here. There are museums and historic sites. There are local pazaars and quaint neighborhoods tucked away from the main streets.

There are tours and beaches and parks. The people in Turkey are the best as well! Whatever you want, Istanbul probably has it!


I love Cappadocia. There is so much to see there. If you only have a day or two, make the most of tours or rent a car and drive yourself around.

If you can take a hot air balloon ride, speaking from experience, it is definitely worth it. It was one of the best travel decisions I have ever made.

You can check out a week-long itinerary I put together for Turkey with a couple of days in Cappadocia.

Blue skies and fairy chimneys as the hot air balloons pass overhead


I don’t have much to say about Pamukkale except that while it is definitely worth seeing, one night is plenty.

Most people stop by on their way to or from Ephesus. There just isn’t a lot to do.

Turkish Riviera

The water along the Western coast of Turkey is absolutely beautiful. If you’re down South by Antlaya or along the Mediterranean Sea, the water will be quite warm for the most part.

If, however, you are up by the Aegean Sea, the water is typically significantly cooler.

Either direction you go you will see beautiful beaches and experience some of the best weather in Turkey.

Museum Pass

I have talked about this a couple times in this post but something to note is that if you are into museums, this is definitely worth it.

You will not only save money but you also get discounts at certain places as well as getting to jump the lines.

Who this is not for is someone who just wants to go to a couple of museums or places on the list.

Also if you’re going all around in Turkey, it may be worth it to get the big museum pass but if you really just care about the Aegean Region places, don’t but the big one.

19. Shop til you drop

If you’re looking to bring back gifts to people, you have come to the right place.

Istanbul especially is known for its shopping options. There are many massive, beautiful malls if you’re into that sort of thing.

There is also the Grand Bazaar, though I recommend shopping outside the bazaar in Eminonu.

This is where the locals shop and your prices will drop by nearly half just by walking outside!

If you’re headed to the bazaar, don’t miss these tips on haggling.

Pamukkale from the Aegean Region on a sunny day
Pamukkale is just one of the many places that the Aegean Region holds. You will find beaches, mountains, ancient ruins and so much more.

20. Do you need vaccinations?

There are currently none required for traveling to Turkey but it is always good to check before you head abroad.

You can find the current vaccination requirements on the CDC website.

21. Make sure you understand the Turkey visa situation

Knowing what the requirements are for entering Turkey will save you a ton of headaches and stress. That is not how you want to enter Turkey!

Turkey is known for changing things around often regarding foreigners. Recently the way the 90 in 180 was redone.

So, as of Summer 2023, they look at the last 6 months and see how many days you have stayed in Turkey.

Before you could finish a 6 month period then go out and come back in with a new visa but that is not allowed anymore.

Find out the most up-to-date info on the Turkish website for visas.

22. Know your options before you come

There is so much to see here in Turkey. You have the beach, mountains, dessert and not quite rain forest but humid green coastlines in the Black Sea.

It is overwhelming if you come for 2 weeks and think you’ll see all of Turkey.

Even though it is about 1.3x the size of Texas, it’s too much to cover in such a short trip!

As you plan your Turkey itinerary it is important to travel through Turkey with an idea of what’s out there, what you want, and what you don’t want.

Know what is important to you and then plan accordingly. If you’re a museum person, get the Museum Card.

You can get it for a single city like Istanbul, a region, or all of Turkey.

If you’re a beach person, make sure you check out the Turkish Riviera.

If you like cool, unique things, you should definitely check out Cappadocia.

23. Typical cost of things

This has changed many a time in the last year and a half. Some things have even become more expensive than they would be in the States.

These are prices as of Summer 2023.

  • Flights = $20-$60 each way within the country.
  • Car Rental = About $25/day not including insurance.
  • Public transportation = Anywhere from $0.40-$1.50 (10 to 40 lira)
  • Taxi = minimum fee recently raised to $2.62 (70 lira) – Kadıköy to SAW airport is roughly $23 (615 lira)
  • Museum Entrances = About $13-$20 USD (350 to 530 lira) for foreigners or Museum Card $83-$131 (2200 – 3500 lira)
  • Organized Day Tours = Starting at $35 USD and up for a full day of fun + lunch.
  • Places to Stay = This, of course, depends on what part of Turkey. But it starts at $20/night at hostels; $50/night at Airbnb; $40/night at hotels.
  • IST airport to Sultanahmet = $37 USD (1000 lira)
  • Bottle water = From the market – 15 cents (4 lira) / On the street – 25 cents (7 lira)
  • Beer = From the market – $1.70-$2.80 (45 to 75 lira) / At the bar $3.75-$5.60 (100 to 150 lira) / At the airport – $1.15 (30 lira)
  • Food = This can have a vast range of $5 street food to $100 per night at a fish restaurant with raki
  • Travel Insurance = $30-$70
  • Travel Guide = $10/person/per day
  • Transfer to/from the airport – $20-50 depending on where to/from

I hope you have enjoyed learning some things you really should know before going to Turkey.

Turkey really is such an amazing and beautiful country albeit quite different from the Western world.

I really hope that you enjoyed all of these different essential Turkey travel tips.

If you’re visiting Turkey soon, make sure you check out my travel blog post on packing travel hacks to make your life easier.

Were you surprised by any of these? Which one are you most glad to know?

read more:

Turkey Vacation Basics

When I plan a trip these are the websites I use. Hope they help you plan your next adventure as well!

FLIGHTS: I am a huge fan of Skyscanner and WayAway.

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 for my trips abroad.

CAR RENTAL: I have loved working with Discover Cars when I rent cars in country.

AIRPORT TRANSFERS: I have used these transfers many times and they are always great. If you’d like more options, I also recommend as they allow you to compare companies.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Turkey hotel deals on

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: You can browse GetYourGuide’s website to find just the tour you’re looking for!

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