U.S. citizens need a valid passport and visa to travel to Turkey. Passports should be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Turkey and must have enough blank space to allow for Turkish entry and exit stamps. You will be denied entry into Turkey if there is not enough space for entry and exit stamps in your passport. Citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada may obtain their visa upon arrival at the airport. Make sure that you have enough space for entry and exit stamps in your passport to ensure your entry and exit. Travelers should be careful not to stay beyond the date permitted on their visas in order to avoid difficulties when departing the country.
Pre-Arrival: electronic visa (e-Visa). Applicants just need to log on to http://www.evisa.gov.tr, provide the requested information, make an online payment (after the application is approved), and download your e-Visa.
Visa on Arrival: If traveling as a tourist, you may purchase a 90-day sticker visa at the port of entry for $20 (U.S.) cash.
For more updated information please visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/turkey.html.
Please note: Each traveler is fully responsible for bringing and acquiring travel documents (e-tickets, hotel and travel vouchers, etc.) necessary for his or her itinerary. If you are not a citizen of the United States, your entry requirements may vary—please contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the country or countries to be visited and obtain the specific requirements for entry.
Please refer to the instructions given in your itinerary confirmation. If in the event that you are unable to locate our representative, please call the local contact number as specified on your voucher or confirmation itinerary for immediate assistance.
Population: 74 million
Location: South East Europe
Largest Cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya
Religion: Muslim, 99%
System of Government: Republican parliamentary democracy
Turkey operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), plus 2 hours.
At 9:00 am in Istanbul, it is:
• 2:00 am same day in New York – Eastern Standard Time (EST)
• 1:00 am same day in Chicago – Central Standard Time (CST)
• 11:00 pm the previous day in San Francisco – Pacific Standard Time (PST)
• 8:00 pm the previous day in Hawaii – Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)
*Note: Add one hour to local time during Daylight Savings Time.
A good source of health information for travelers is the Center for Disease Control (CDC). You can visit the CDC web site at http://www.cdc.gov.
Sightseeing may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two, and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit buses and boats, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. No vaccinations are required for entry to Turkey. Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled, containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity.
Turkey’s unit of currency is the Turkish Lira (TL) available in the following denominations: Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 TL; Coins: 10, 25, 50 kurus, 1 TL. Foreign currency and traveler’s checks can be exchanged only at authorized agencies such as banks, exchange offices, and hotels. ATMs dispense new Turkish Lira to Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, and Maestro card holders. Look for these logos on the machines; they are found in most towns at the current rate of exchange. The exchange rate is constantly fluctuating, but it can be found to be approximately 1 USD = 1.8 TRY. For the most updated exchange rate, please check http://www.xe.com.
Electrical service in Turkey is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz. Cell phone, cameras, and laptops typically do not require a converter; however, other appliances may need a socket adaptor and voltage converter.
Turkish cuisine combines Mediterranean, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Arabic influences, and is extremely rich. Beef is the most important meat (lamb is also common but pork is very hard to find although not illegal), and eggplant (aubergine), onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber are the primary vegetables. An abundance of spices is also used. The main staples are rice (pilav), bulgur wheat, and bread, and dishes are typically cooked in vegetable oil or sometimes butter.
Ayran is a popular drink of water and yoghurt not unlike the Finnish/Russian buttermilk or Indian lassi, but always served without sugar (and, in fact, typically with a little salt added). A version loved by the locals, köpüklü ayran, is a delicacy if you’re travelling by bus over the Toros (Taurus) Mountains. Ask for yayık ayranı or köpüklü ayran. Turkey is popular for its Turkish coffee and Turkish tea. Turkish coffee (kahve), served in tiny cups, is strong and tasty; just be careful not to drink the sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup. It is much different than the so called Turkish coffees sold abroad. Sade kahve is served black, while as şekerli, orta şekerli, and çok şekerli will get you a little, some or a lot of sugar in your cup. Don’t forget to try some Turkish delights or baklava—things Turkey is also famous for!
Turkish is the national language of Turkey. Turkey has a high rate of literacy and many people study English or a European language in school. English is Turkey’s second most spoken language and English speakers are easy to find in major cities and hotels/resorts.
Turkey is situated in a geographical location where climatic conditions are quite temperate. However, the diverse nature of landscape, particularly the mountains that run parallel to the coasts, results in significant differences in climactic conditions from one region to another. Parts of the country that are located along the Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean coasts have mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. The Black Sea Region has similar temperatures, but witnesses the heaviest rainfall out of all the other regions. The weather in the Eastern parts of the country and in central and eastern Anatolia is quite different than in other areas because of the higher altitude. Here, they have hot, dry summers and freezing, snowy winters. Humidity is high throughout Turkey during the summer season, with July and August being the hottest months of the year.
This will be contingent on your own personal preference and the time of year you are traveling. Generally, we suggest that travelers pack lightly and to bring comfortable, casual clothes in natural, “breathable” fabrics because of the humidity. Choose versatile styles that can be layered. Indonesia’s varied topography and high altitudes create weather conditions which can change radically in the course of the day, and between daytime and nighttime. A lightweight (preferably non-plastic) raincoat or poncho is a good idea, as well as a sweater or lightweight jacket for early morning/evenings and air-conditioned buildings, or if you are visiting any inland, mountainous areas (on the island of Bali, for example) where altitudes can exceed 1,000 feet. A sturdy, comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must, as sandals may not be comfortable for some sightseeing activities. Some hotels have pools, so you may want to pack your swimming suit. Do not forget to bring sun block, sunglasses, insect repellent, pocket packs of tissues, a sunhat, an umbrella (for both the sun and rain), and any medications you may need. Most hotels offer reliable laundry and dry cleaning services.
In most areas in Turkey, you will generally find that the majority of people dress similar to those in other European countries. For sightseeing, wear casual clothes except when visiting mosques.
When visiting a mosque, wear modest, conservative clothing. No shorts or sleeveless shirts on either men or women. Plan to cover most of your body, including your shoulders, upper arms, and legs.
Women: Women should have all skin covered; ankle-length skirts or pants are required. Sleeves should reach each wrist and the hair should be covered by a headscarf. Pants or skirts that are too revealing, clingy, or tight should not be worn.
Men: Men should wear long pants and plain shirts without messages or slogans when visiting mosques. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable as long as the sleeves are not shorter than average. If in doubt, wear long sleeves.
Socks are also a good idea since you will have to remove your shoes before entering as part of the Muslim tradition. Usually a robe or shawl will be provided for those with inappropriate clothing attire, but it may be a good idea to bring your own as they are always being reused.
Hotels may impose a hefty charge on international calls. Check your hotel’s policy before placing any calls. To avoid hotel markups you can use a calling card from your local long-distance carrier. A number of United States cell phones manufactured today have the ability to operate overseas on the GSM (Global System for Mobile) standard. We recommend that you contact your cell phone service provider to determine if your phone operates on the GSM and what, if any, activation may be required. In Turkey, reception on any cell phone can be unreliable and unpredictable. In some locations, transmission is not possible at all. If access to e-mail is of critical importance during your trip, please check availability in advanced. Most hotels have business centers or in room WI-FI service, surcharges may apply.
The nationwide emergency phone numbers are:
Ambulance: 112 (all over Turkey)
Fire: 110 (all over Turkey)
Police: 155 (all over Turkey)
Tourism Info: 170 (all over Turkey)
Rick Steve’s Istanbul, by Lale Surmen Aran and Tankut Aran
Lonely Planet Turkey (Travel Guide)
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Turkey, by Suzanne Swan