Turkey — The Basics
This fantastic nation is one of the best places to travel in Europe. With a rich history, abundant natural beauty, kind people, and a relatively low price on anything, Turkey is a prime destination for both the luxury explorer and the budget traveler. With a little extra info, you can be sure that your trip to Turkey will not run afoul.
Sights and Attractions
Turkey is a huge country, and naturally, it has plenty to offer. One of the first places you should check out is the calcium-rich spring complex of Pamukkale. A World Heritage Site, the Pamukkale Mineral Springs are like no other hotsprings you’ve ever seen. Dripping calcium deposits leave a snow-white imprint on the entire landscape. Located nearby is the Plutonium of Hierapolis — an ancient Greek religious site.
Hot air balloons float all over the Cappadocia region. A ride in a balloon is not too expensive, and the sight is beyond belief. There are few better ways to see so much beauty at once.
Turkey has an extremely long coastline, extending from the eastern reaches of the Mediterranean all the way to the eastern part of the black sea. Beaches are abundant, and there are an array of islands to explore. Luckily, ferries are available to bring travelers to all inhabited islands!
Turkey Travel Tips
Turkey Currency Considerations
Turkey uses the Turkish Lira. Generally, other currencies won't be accepted. The Turkish Lira (plural lire) is subject to high inflation. This means that the value of a single lira decreases drastically over time. Don’t stock up on too much Lire, is it will be worth much less in as little as a year’s time.
Turkey is not some sort of criminal wasteland, but travelers should still be careful with their valuables. Like keeping a wallet in your back pocket? Not only is that bad for your gluteus and spine, but you’re also opening yourself up for pickpockets! Try to keep wallets in the front pocket. It’s much harder to steal from the direction that a person is facing, and reaching for someone’s front pocket is just plain weird and unexplainable. Really, try talking your way out of that one.
Hitting the beach? The sun’s rays are relaxing, and the Mediterranean is the perfect place to cool off. There’s nothing better than a refreshing dip, and there’s nothing worse than having your valuables stolen because you left them on the beach! Even if your spot onshore is within sight, what’s to stop someone from grabbing that purse and running off into a crowd? Fortunately, there are usually locker services near tourist-frequented beaches. Paying the minuscule amount to keep your stuff safe is well worth it!
Hotels, hostels, and homestays can be found almost anywhere in Turkey. One caveat: the hotel or hostel staff is unlikely to speak English outside of major tourist areas. Turkey is among the best places to travel for those trying to save a buck or two; it’s an affordable European tour. Lodging in Turkey is relatively inexpensive, and you can often find good travel deals to save you even more money while you travel to Turkey.
Flights and Transportation
Turkey has international airports all over the country. Take whichever flight is least expensive and most convenient for your itinerary.
Major cities have a metro system, and many cities also have a tram system as well. The rail network extends to most major cities, though it tends to be sparse in the northeast. Furthermore, most nearby countries, Armenia excluded, can be accessed via the Turkish rail network. Buses are available to take you where the railways can’t.
Taxis are abundant in Turkey, but given the abundance of public transportation options, you shouldn’t take a taxi unless you’re desperate. You won’t be finding any travel deals for the back of an ugly cab. No one wants to throw away money on their European tour, and taking a taxi does just that. When you travel to Turkey, keep a reference of local bus and metro routes and times. Your wallet will thank you for it.
The national language of Turkey is Turkish. Turkey is one of the best places to travel for those who want to hear rare minority languages. Laz and Circassian are both incredibly unique ethnic languages for linguistic tourists! Furthermore, Kurdish and Zazaki are both fascinating and pleasing to the ears. Outside of tourist centers, there are not many English speakers. Even in the capital, only some service workers speak English. In Mediterranean resort towns, you’re likely to find more English speakers, but only for the necessities in the service industry.
Before you travel to Turkey, it is a good idea to learn a bit of Turkish — doubly so if you plan to stay anywhere outside the capital or a resort town. As with any European tour, learn numbers, phrases that have to do with hotels, time, and things that have to do with transactions.
While you may be able to skate by without this knowledge, you will have a harder time, and you may miss out on some better travel deals by conducting all of your transactions with English speaking vendors. After all, any English-speaking Turk you meet had to work hard to learn English. Naturally, that comes at a cost — to you.
People may try to sell you precious fossils. Don’t buy it! It’s probably fake, but even authentic fossils are illegal to take out of the country! No one wants to face a stiff fine on their European tour.
Turkey has a type of minibus called a Dolmus. A Dolmus operates more as a taxi than public transport, so you are expected to pay taxi prices. Try to avoid these altogether, if possible. There’s no point in looking up travel deals and saving your money if you’re just going to misspend it.
Despite the rules, people smoke everywhere . Restaurants, buses, ferries, lobbies, wherever — you’re going to walk through some smoke. Get used to it. Bring your inhaler if this is a problem. Don’t bother telling others to stop smoking. While it is annoying to you, nobody is going to listen to you.
Turkey is primarily Muslim, so keep that in mind. Discussing anything vulgar is considered very rude in Turkey. Don’t insult Islam or call its tenets into question. You needn’t agree with the religion, but criticizing anyone’s deeply held belief system will only result in trouble. Gender norms are different in Turkey, and contact between the sexes is limited.
Try not to be too open or overly friendly to Turkish women if you are a man. They may take it as flirting, which is usually unwelcome and will make them uncomfortable. For women, understand that Turkish men may default to speaking to your male traveling companions. While it may seem offputting and dehumanizing, they are trying to respect you and your male companions through their cultural lens.
Remove your shoes before entering a mosque. Women, cover your heads. Don’t speak loudly and dress appropriately. A mosque is a sacred place for the locals. While it may just be a cultural experience for you, be sure to act respectfully. Turkey is a welcoming, friendly place, and it is by far, one of the best places to travel for those wishing to put their cultural sensitivity to the test.
Turkeys got it all: incredible old architecture, beautiful beaches, great hikes, affordable prices. Most of all, Turkey has exceptionally welcoming people. If you’re sensitive to their culture, they will treat you great. So what’s the holdup? Do your research, draft that itinerary, and make the leap across the pond!
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