Planning a Trip to Turkey: Travel Tips and Advice
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Aptly nicknamed the land of four seasons, Turkey is a year-round holiday destination for all. Planning a trip to Turkey in the summer promises endless sunshine on the pristine beaches while visiting in the winter sees a light blanket of snow cover the karst landscape of Cappadocia. Visit Turkey to learn about the history that shaped the world and see where ancient civilizations once reigned supreme. Here is a look at some helpful information if you are embarking on a trip to Turkey.
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Best time to visit Turkey
April and May as well as September and October are the best times to visit Turkey to enjoy comfortable weather with fewer crowds at tourist hotspots. Turkey reaches its peak tourist season in July and August, which is also the hottest time of the year with temperatures soaring into the high 30s. Plan your Turkish activities according to the season; for example, skiing in the winter and enjoying coastal attractions in the morning during summer. January is the cheapest month to visit Turkey but it is also one of the coldest, so be prepared to bundle up.
Turkey in January
Turkey in April
Turkey in May
Turkey in September
Turkey in October
What not to miss in Turkey
If you are planning a trip to Turkey, check out these unmissable destinations and activities that you need to add to your itinerary.
- Explore Istanbul: The most visited city in Turkey is a crossroad between Europe and Asia, the present and the past, and luxury and tradition. Visit the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque and then take to the sea by hopping on a boat tour from the Bosphorus.
- Discover ancient landscapes: Cappadocia is an arid region in central Turkey known for its "fairy chimneys", picturesque rock formations, and the hot air balloons that decorate the sky every morning at dawn.
- Get a tan in Antalya: The pristine Mediterranean coast of Turkey is one of the most popular places in the country thanks to lush beaches and unspoiled natural scenery.
- Learn history in Kusadasi: Another popular coastal city in Turkey, Kusadasi offers a wealth of historical attractions, most notably Ephesus, an impressive ancient city. Ephesus Library and the Amphitheater are the most popular attractions here.
- Take a thermal bath: The mineral pools of Pamukkale's travertines are akin to a fairytale landscape, with crystal blue mineral-rich water flowing from the earth.
- Appreciate the beauty of Izmir: The azure waters of the Aegean Sea touch land in Izmir, Turkey’s 3rd most visited city. Head to the coastal towns and shop for souvenirs in the vibrant street markets.
Things to do in Turkey
Top places to visit in Turkey
How long to stay in Turkey
When you plan your Turkey itinerary, try and aim for 10 days to 2 weeks to cover as much ground as possible. There is more than enough to keep you busy in Turkey for well over a month, but options range from 5 days to 2 weeks. Spend 2 days in Istanbul and then fly to Cappadocia and Izmir to see some more of the country’s famed attractions all in the span of 5 days. On a 7-day trip, explore the Black Sea and discover Macahel Valley, while a 10-day trip gives you more breathing room at each destination. With a 2-week trip, add destinations like Bursa, Ankara the mythical Aegean to your itinerary. This is even better if you are planning a group tour in Turkey.
How many days to spend in Turkey
14 days in Turkey
10 days in Turkey
7 days in Turkey
5 days in Turkey or less
How to get to Turkey
With hundreds of international flights touching down in Istanbul each day, getting to Turkey is easy. There are 2 large international airports in Istanbul with several others across the country. Izmir, Antalya, Bodrum, and Trabzon are all coastal airports popular with international visitors while Ankara is a more central airport in the capital. Turkish Airlines and Singapore Airlines have the most frequent flights to and from the USA. You can cross land borders into Turkey easily through Georgia or Bulgaria and Greece in the far northwest. The Mediterranean coast is especially popular with cruise ships docking all along the west and south.
Turkey has a long list of domestic airports with frequent flights between the major tourism hubs. Pegasus is Turkey’s top low-cost airline with several flights each day between domestic airports in the country. Planning a trip to Turkey is easy if you plan on driving yourself as the country has pristine roads and car rental is simple. Public transportation in Istanbul is very efficient with reliable bus, metro, and tram systems covering the city. Taxis are more difficult to manage with mostly metered taxis doing the rounds, and charging steep prices.
Budget and money
Planning a trip to Turkey is doable on nearly any budget, with everything from low-cost hostels to luxury hotels on offer. For mid-range travelers, 3-star hotels cost around *USD45 per night with meals being as low as USD10 per day. Food vendors sell doner kebabs and lahmacun which are delicious low-cost meals. Alcohol is the most expensive part of your food budget as it is not common to drink in Turkey. Luxury travelers can spend upwards of USD100 per day for a higher-end hotel room, while upscale restaurants offer lip-smacking traditional dishes with Mediterranean fusion options along the coast. Plan a private tour in Turkey or buy the Turkey Museum Pass for around USD50 to get access to all the most popular museums and attractions.
*Note: The prices mentioned are for 2022 and are subject to change.
What you didn’t know (but should)
Turkey is a tourist-friendly country but there are a few local customs you need to be aware of.
- Turkey still has many conservative cities so if you are staying outside of the coastal resort cities, it is best to dress modestly. Women must also cover their heads during a visit to the mosques.
- Stray cats and dogs are rampant all across the country but are cared for by the community. Don’t be surprised if a cat joins you at the dinner table or sleeps on the linens you want to buy.
- At restaurants, you will be warmly welcomed with bread and a bottle of water poured as soon as you sit down. You pay for these so if you don’t want them, stop your waiter before they open the bottle.
Turkey is generally considered to be safe with a very welcoming and hospitable culture but it does not hurt to learn a few tips.
- General travel advisories advise visitors to stay away from the Syrian border in the south. Check travel advisories before you go for any other risky areas to avoid.
- Be on the watch for pickpocketers and theft in tourist hot spots.
- Be aware of the ‘shoe shine scam’ primarily in Istanbul. They will drop a brush and offer you a free cleaning if you return it. They demand money afterward and can be very intimidating.
Sublime coastlines, extensive historical treasures, and unbeatable hospitality are just a few reasons that Turkey is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in the world. If you are wondering how to plan a trip to Turkey, our expert travel experts are ready to set you up with a customizable trip.