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What’s the weather going to be like?
Turkey can be visited year-round depending on your itinerary. Spring and fall are the most comfortable seasons to travel due to mild temperatures and less rainfall. Summer temperatures are high and the season is ideal for cruising the Aegean and hanging out on the beach. It's also the most popular time to visit; hotels and cruises are fully booked. In winter, Cappadocia is a popular destination and often has snow. Istanbul can get snow once or twice during the winter months, but rain and cold are the norm.
The climate varies depending on the area. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have hot summers and mild winters. The Black Sea coast has warm summers, mild winters, and relatively high rainfall. Central and Eastern Turkey have hot dry summers and cold winters. Generally, August is the hottest month of the year. Average daytime temperature is between 70°F to 90°F from June to September. Nighttime temperatures drop to around 70°F. Central and Eastern regions generally are in the same range, however nights are cooler. Winter is between December and March. This means rain in the coastal regions and moderate snow inland. The Mediterranean Sea is warm during the summer, while the Aegean is cooler. Both seas are ideal for swimming.
Humidity is higher on the Black Sea coast and Istanbul compared to the moderate humidity of the rest of the country.
So, when is the ideal time to visit Turkey? April, May and September, October.
Where is Turkey and what’s it like?
Turkey is about a 9-hour non-stop flight from New York City. Turkey is roughly the size of the State of Texas. 97% of the country is in Asia, while 3% is in Europe. Sometimes the country is included in the Middle East and sometimes Europe. There is about 5000 miles of coastline. Northern Turkey has the Black Sea Mountains and the Mediterranean has the Taurus mountains running parallel to the sea. Central and eastern Anatolia is a plateau.
Do I need a visa? How do I get one?
Most Nationalities require a visa for Turkey which can be purchased upon arrival at Ataturk Airport. There are normally two types of tourist visas. A single-entry visa allows you to enter Turkey once. After you leave, no matter how long you've stayed in Turkey, you must pay for another visa to enter Turkey again. A multiple-entry visa allows you to enter and leave Turkey multiple times within its period of validity (normally 30, 60 or 90 days) at no additional charge.
Make sure you have cash (US dollars, euros, or pounds sterling) to pay for your visa when you enter Turkey as no travellers cheques or credit cards are accepted, cash only!
If you are arriving overland from Syria, Greece, Bulgaria or with a cruise, most nationalities will be able obtain a Turkish visa at the border or port customs.
Do I need any vaccinations?
No! Currently there are no compulsory vaccinations for Turkey. (Be sure to double check with your doctor though, just to keep up to date!)
Are there any departure taxes I should know of?
There are no departure taxes payable locally when departing Turkey by air, (it's included in your air ticket).
What are the business hours?
Unlike the rest of the Middle East, Turkey’s weekend falls on Saturday and Sunday. There may be a few hours on Friday afternoons when a few shops are closed for Friday Prayer, but generally everything carries on as normal, especially in big
Almost all government offices and Banks are open between 8:30 and 5:00, and are closed on Sundays. Shopping malls have long hours from 9am to 10pm.
During summer months, the government offices and many other establishments in the Aegean and Mediterranean Regions are closed in the afternoon. These fixed summer hours are determined by the governing bodies of the provinces.
What’s the time zone in Turkey?
GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October). Turkey is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
How can I keep in touch with those back home?
The international dialling code for Turkey is +90. IDD is widely available. The outgoing international code is: 00. To phone from PTT telephone booths, which are found in all areas, telephone cards and tokens are used. Local, inter-city and international calls can be made from all PTT offices. Mobile phones work across 99.9 % of the country and there are internet cafes in all cities. The average time for a letter to arrive the US is 7 to 10 days.
Internet cafes are widely available throughout the cities and rural areas and the local charges are generally very low. This is easily the cheapest form of communication. A few internet cafes are starting to offer VOIP services (using Skype or a similar host network).
Is my hairdryer/lap top/shaver going to work in Turkey?
Electricity in Turkey is 220 volt, 50-60 cycle. If you intend to bring any electrical equipment, an adapter that converts electricity from 220V to 110V is suggested. Two pin plugs are used throughout Turkey.
How is Turkey’s transportation network?
Turkey has a good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good service quality, at least with the big operators. There are a few firms now provide luxurious buses with 1st class seats and service. Buses are staffed by good drivers and a number of assistants. On long haul travel a second driver will take over when the first gets exhausted. 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 busses will be, but even places as far as Dogubeyazit or Van will have regular services to many places hundreds of kilometres away.
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 from us .
…and the airports?
Ataturk International Airport is located 24km (15 miles) west of Istanbul and is connected to Istanbul by a light rail system. On the Asian side of Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen receives a large amount of budget airline traffic, but it is much further from the city center (110km). There are 47 domestic airports around Turkey and flights between major cities can be a real time saver. Taxis or dolmus (shared taxis) are available from the airport.
What should I keep in mind regarding mosques?
Mosques are open to everyone. You will have to leave your shoes at the entrance and women in most mosques are required to cover their heads with a scarf and naked parts of their legs and shoulders. If you don't have anything with you, they will give you some scarves at the entrance for free. Silence is required inside the mosques. Most of the mosques are closed to visits at prayer times. Turkey is a secular country where religion and politics are separated, even though the population is 98% Moslem. The weekends are Saturdays and Sundays, while Fridays are working days, even though in the Moslem belief Friday is the holy day.
What can I / should I wear?
Turkish women are very stylish. If you get to Turkey and you feel you've packed badly, you can pick up something new at Topshop, Mango, Levis or Zara or at one of the many Turkish clothing stores, (For example Mavi Jeans).
In summer, light summer-wear, (t-shirts and shorts) for all coastal regions will be fine. Don't forget your sun block and a hat! A light sweater is also a good idea for evenings when it can get chilly, especially in Istanbul and Cappadocia. Comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended since itineraries include numerous trips to ancient sites. For wintertime travelers, we recommend regular winter clothing especially for central Turkey where heavy snow and cold weather can be encountered. For winter time in Istanbul a warm jacket is a must. All sorts of scarves are sold cheaply in the streets and bazaars of Istanbul, so buy one when you get here!
When it comes to dress codes for women, it changes depending on your destination. In Istanbul, you will see a lot of shorts, small tops, and short skirts in tourist areas. In other areas of Istanbul this kind of dress will attract stares, unwanted attention from men and maybe even some comments. In central Anatolia, (Cappadocia, Konya, Safranbolu and even Ankara), skimpy clothing is offensive to many local people, particularly the older generation and it will be frowned upon. However, along the coast it is fine for women to wear shorts in the more popular tourist areas; and there is freedom on beaches. For the conservative areas think light cotton dresses, skirts, or baggy cotton pants. A scarf for covering your head when visiting mosques is advised.
Men's clothing is less subject to scrutiny. We recommend, however, that you take a mix of cotton pants and shorts as even men will feel uncomfortable in shorts in some areas. When visiting a mosque, both men and women must cover their limbs.
Will Ramadan affect my vacation?
As a tourist you will not be affected by Ramadan, and night life will continue in the city as usual. Although most people in rural Turkey will be fasting during the day, many people in the cities and tourist areas will not be. Most people refrain from drinking during Ramadan, and so tourists should not drink openly in public during this month.
How about traveling with kids in Turkey?
Travelling with children in Turkey can be quite easy, as Turkish people absolutely LOVE children. In fact, the smaller your kids are, the more they will be hugged and pinched and oogled over. People will welcome them into restaurants, give up their seat on the bus for them and tolerate any cranky or bad behavior with a smile and a chuckle.
If you're starting your trip in Istanbul, Miniaturk is a good idea to give kids an orientation about what they're going to see in the coming weeks. A big outdoor theme park just a short taxi ride away from Sultanahmet, kids can run between scaled down models of all of Turkey's attractions. Some attractions found here are the Bosphorus Bridge, Ephesus, Mount Nemrut and Pamukkale. There is also a miniature train you can ride.
As far as the rest of the country goes, there are plenty of beaches, hiking trails, water parks and interesting sites to keep them busy.
Is Turkey safe?
The crime rate in Turkey is actually less today than in the past. Having said that, locking valuables in safes at the hotel is always a good idea, it's better to be safe than sorry. Some areas of Istanbul can feel a bit dodgy at night, take care in the Taksim area at night.
Some pick-pockets have been known to work around the train stations, so some extra attention is advised. Keep an eye on your bags and keep your wallet in a safe, hard to reach place.
In smaller cities the crime rate is so low that it is not even worth mentioning. One can totally relax and mingle with the local population without safety worries. In small villages crime is almost unheard off.
What's the best way to carry my money?
Money is safest carried in the form of traveller's cheques; however, these are difficult to change in regional areas. With plenty of ATM's in major cities more and more people are bringing a combination of cash and credit cards. Look for ATMs displaying either the Maestro, Cirrus, Visa or MasterCard or whatever your card symbol is. ATMs will allow you to access cash (in local currency) from your credit card and possibly from your savings account if it is linked to Maestro or Cirrus or Visa Plus network. Withdrawn money or the purchase amount will be converted precisely at official rates.
If you are bringing cash, then the best currencies are US Dollars, Euro's or British Pounds. Be aware that most insurance policies will not cover for loss or theft of cash. Credit cards are useful for large purchases but they may not be accepted in small restaurants, mini markets, local transport, taxis.
What about women traveling alone?
Women traveling alone should have few problems, although they may get a lot of attention from Turkish men who spend their days chasing foreign tourists with the goal of developing a fleeting relationship. These guys can be annoying, but will eventually go away.
Having said that, women should always lean on the side of caution. Make sure your hotel room door locks properly and you feel secure. If someone starts bothering you too much tell your hotel owner or nearest police officer.
How are Americans treated in Turkey?
Americans traveling in Turkey encounter few problems. While it is true that many Turks do have a dim view of America, they do understand that their frustration is with the American Government's policies, and not directed towards American citizens. In fact, Americans may find themselves having enlightening conversations about the politics of both countries.