Practical Details for Traveling in Turkey

Cruising the Bosphorus in Istanbul (Lori Erickson photo)

While it’s certainly possible to travel on your own in Turkey, a tour company can greatly facilitate your visit. I can personally recommend Advisor Travel. Based in Istanbul, the company works with many international visitors and has a specialty in religious and cultural tourism in Turkey, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries. I found the company to be thoroughly professional and easy to work with, and the guides they hire are top-notch. Advisor Travel can arrange for your entire trip through Turkey or plan a shorter itinerary for a single location.

I can also recommend the Orka Royal Hotel in Istanbul, which is located in the heart of the historic quarter and is within walking distance of the main landmarks of the city, including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Some additional travel information on Turkey:

While the coastal areas enjoy a generally mild climate, with warm summers and moderate winters, the inland plateau has greater temperature extremes. Late April through June, as well as September and October, are good times to travel in Turkey, as the weather is pleasant and the crowds manageable. July and August are the high season. Turkey in winter has its own charms: I visited in January and found the weather to be mild (generally in the 50s). A huge bonus was the fact that the major sites were not crowded with tourists.

English is widely spoken in major cities and resort areas. The official language is Turkish, which belongs to the Ural Altaic language group and uses a Latin alphabet.

The Turkish lira (TL) is the medium of exchange. While hotels and major stores take credit cards, you’ll need to use lira for most other transactions.

In addition to a passport, U.S. citizens need to purchase a $20 visa when entering Turkey. Visas given at airports are valid only for three months.

Electricity in Turkey is 220 volts, so Americans need to use both a voltage converter and a plug converter.

Tipping is common at hotels and restaurants at a rate of 5 to 15 percent. Taxi drivers do not expect tips.

Non-Muslims are welcome to visit mosques except during prayer times. As a sign of respect, remove your shoes and dress modestly. Many mosques visited by foreign tourists do not require women to cover their heads, but smaller mosques do.

Turkish tourist guides, including Erdal Yilmazcan in Istanbul (one of my favorite guides), complete a rigorous training program and must have an official government license. (Lori Erickson photo)

Major Holidays

January 1: New Year’s Day

April 23: National Independence and Children’s Day

May 19: Ataturk Commemoration, Youth & Sports Day

August 30: Victory Day

October 29: Republic Day

Turkish Culture and Tourism Website

Main page for Turkey

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