Accessible Travel

Improvements are being made but Turkey is a challenging destination for disabled (özürlü) travellers. Although ramps have been installed in many public buildings (including at museums and other historic sites), wide doorways and properly equipped toilets remain rare, as are Braille and audio information at sights. Crossing most streets is particularly challenging as everyone does so at their peril.

Airlines and the top hotels and resorts have some provision for wheelchair (tekerlekli sandalye) access, and ramps are beginning to appear in some smaller hotels (though they're often ridiculously steep). Dropped kerb edges are being introduced to cities, especially in western Turkey – in places such as Edirne, Bursa and İzmir they seem to have been sensibly designed. Selçuk, Bodrum and Fethiye have been identified as relatively user-friendly towns for people with mobility issues because their pavements and roads are fairly level.

In İstanbul, the tram, metro, funicular railways and catamaran ferries are the most wheelchair-accessible forms of public transport. İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri's (İDO) Sea Bus catamaran ferries, which cross the Sea of Marmara and head up the Bosphorus from İstanbul, are generally accessible. Ankara and İzmir's metros are also accessible.

The YHT (high-speed) trains between İstanbul, Eskişehir, Konya and Ankara are fully accessible with disabled-access lifts to platforms, access on to trains and on-board toilets. However, many of the older trains that service the rest of the country are still boarded by steps. Urban and intercity buses often accommodate wheelchairs, but fully accessible vehicles are uncommon.

Turkish Airlines offers a 20% discount on most domestic flights, and 25% on international fares, to travellers with minimum 40% disability, and in some cases to their companions. The bigger bus and ferry companies also often offer discounts.

Organisations

Businesses and resources serving travellers with disabilities include the following:

Accessible Turkey (www.accessibleturkey.org) Wide range of package tours and day tours for wheelchair users plus hotel booking and transport services.

Hotel Rolli (www.hotel-rolli.de) Resort in Anamur, specifically designed for mobility-impaired people.

Mephisto Voyage (www.mephistovoyage.com) Offers hiking tours for wheelchair users in the Cappadocia and Taurus Mountain regions utilising the Joëlette wheelchair system.

Turkey Accessible Travel (www.turkeyaccessibletravel.com) Wheelchair accessible airport transfers, tours and transport services in İstanbul and the İzmir (Selçuk, Kuşadası, Ephesus) area.

Accessible Travel Online Resources

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Bargaining

Haggling is common in bazaars as well as for out-of-season accommodation and long taxi journeys. In other instances, you’re expected to pay the stated price.

Feature: The Art of Bargaining

Traditionally, when customers enter a Turkish shop to make a significant purchase, they're offered a comfortable seat and a drink (çay, coffee or a soft drink). There is some general chitchat, then a discussion of the shop's goods, then of the customer's tastes, preferences and requirements. Finally, a number of items are displayed for the customer's inspection.

The customer asks the price; the shop owner gives it. The customer looks doubtful and makes a counter-offer 25% to 50% lower. This procedure goes back and forth several times before a price acceptable to both parties is arrived at. It's considered bad form to haggle over a price, come to an agreement and then change your mind.

If you can't agree on a price, it's perfectly acceptable to say goodbye and walk out of the shop. In fact, walking out is one of the best ways to test the authenticity of the last offer. If shopkeepers know you can find the item elsewhere for less, they'll probably call after you and drop their price. Even if they don't stop you, there's nothing to prevent you from returning later and buying the item for what they quoted.

To bargain effectively you must be prepared to take your time and you must know something about the items in question, including their market price. The best way to learn is to look at similar goods in several shops, asking prices but not making counter-offers. Always stay good-humoured and polite when you are bargaining – if you do this the shopkeeper will too. When bargaining, you can often get a discount by offering to buy several items at once, by paying in a strong major currency, or by paying in cash. Note that if you enter a shop with a tour guide you will always have to pay more for an item as the shopkeeper has to count the guide's commission fee into the price.

If you don't have sufficient time to shop around, follow the age-old rule: find something you like at a price you're willing to pay, buy it, enjoy it, and don't worry about whether or not you received the world's lowest price.

In general, you shouldn't bargain in food shops, restaurants or over public transport costs. Outside tourist areas, hotels may expect to 'negotiate' the room price with you. In tourist areas hotel owners are usually fairly clear about their prices, although if you're travelling in winter or staying a long time, it's worth asking about indirim (discounts).

Climate

The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have moderate winter temperatures and hot, humid summers, while the Anatolian hinterland has extremely cold winters and excessively hot summers. The further east you travel, the more pronounced these climatic extremes become, so that much of eastern Turkey is unpassable with snow from December to April, with temperatures sometimes falling to around -12°C. In July and August temperatures rise rapidly and can exceed 45°C, making travel in the east very uncomfortable.

The Black Sea coast gets two to three times the national average rainfall, along with more moderate temperatures, making it rather like Central Europe but pleasantly warmer. Most rain falls here between September and March. İstanbul's climate is also more European, characterised by cold and wet winters and sweltering summers, making spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) the mildest seasons – as on the Aegean and Mediterranean.

Dangers & Annoyances

Although Turkey's reputation as a safe travel destination was tarnished by both a spate of high-profile terrorist attacks between 2015 and 2017, and 2016's attempted coup, it is by no means a dangerous country to visit. Exercise common sense vigilance and do not travel within 10km of the border with Syria.

  • The likelihood of being caught in a terrorist incident remains small.
  • Be aware of the lese-majesty rule about not insulting the Turkish Republic.
  • In conservative areas, women should be aware of cultural differences in the way men and women interact – if in doubt, follow the lead of local women.

Assaults

A small number of sexual assaults targeting tourists are reported each year. Most happen in tourist resort towns along the Mediterranean coast, though assaults against travellers have also occurred in hotels in central and eastern Anatolia. Check forums and do a little research in advance if you are travelling alone or heading off the beaten track.

Demonstrations

Marches and demonstrations are a regular sight in Turkish cities, especially İstanbul. These are best avoided as they can lead to clashes with the police.

Flies & Mosquitoes

In high summer (late June to August), mosquitoes are troublesome even in İstanbul; they can make a stay along the coast a nightmare. Some hotel rooms come equipped with nets and/or plug-in bugbusters, but it's a good idea to bring some insect repellent and mosquito coils.

Lese-Majesty

The laws against insulting, defaming or making light of the Turkish Republic, the Turkish flag, the Turkish government, the Turkish people and the Turkish president are taken very seriously. Making derogatory remarks, even in the heat of a quarrel, can be enough to get a foreigner carted off to jail.

Scams & Druggings

Various scams operate in İstanbul. In the most notorious, normally targeted at single men, a pleasant local guy befriends you in the street and takes you to a bar. After a few drinks, and possibly the attention of some ladies, to whom you offer drinks, the bill arrives. The prices are astronomical and the proprietors can produce a menu showing the same prices. If you don't have enough cash, you'll be frogmarched to the nearest ATM. If this happens to you, report it to the tourist police; some travellers have taken the police back to the bar and received a refund.

A less common variation on this trick involves the traveller having their drink spiked and waking up in an unexpected place with their belongings, right down to their shoes, missing.

Single men should not accept invitations from unknown folk in large cities without sizing the situation up carefully. You could invite your new-found friends to a bar of your choice; if they're not keen to go, chances are they are shady characters.

The spiking scam has also been reported on overnight trains, with passengers getting robbed. Turks are often genuinely sociable and generous travelling companions, but be cautious about accepting food and drinks from people you are not 100% sure about.

Antiquities

Do not buy coins or other artefacts offered to you by touts at ancient sites such as Ephesus and Perge. It is a serious crime here, punishable by long prison terms, and the touts are likely in cahoots with the local police.

Shoe Cleaners

In Sultanahmet, İstanbul, if a shoe cleaner walking in front of you drops his brush, don't pick it up. He will insist on giving you a 'free' clean in return, before demanding an extortionate fee.

Traffic

As a pedestrian, note that some Turks are aggressive, dangerous drivers; 'right of way' doesn't compute with many motorists, despite the little green man on traffic lights. Give way to vehicles in all situations, even if you have to jump out of the way.

Government Travel Advice

For the latest travel information log on to the following websites.

  • Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (www.smartraveller.gov.au)
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.minbuza.nl)
  • German Federal Foreign Office (www.auswaertiges-amt.de)
  • Global Affairs Canada (www.travel.gc.ca)
  • Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mofa.go.jp)
  • New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (www.safetravel.govt.nz)
  • UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (www.fco.gov.uk/travel)
  • US Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs (https://travel.state.gov)

Terrorism

The terrorist attacks of 2015 to 2017 illustrated the heightened terrorism risk in Turkey. Most of the higher profile attacks – including the June 2016 Atatürk Airport attack and the January 2017 Reina nightclub attack, both in İstanbul – were carried out by militants linked to Islamic State (ISIS). The terrorist group, often referred to as Daesh in Turkey, stated that at least two of the attacks were aimed at harming Turkey's tourist industry, in retaliation for the country's active role in the US coalition against ISIS. Other major attacks in Ankara and İstanbul, as well as bombings in Adana and Bursa, were carried out by the TAK (Kurdistan Freedom Falcons), a splinter group from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).

In the same time frame, a ceasefire between the Turkish state and the PKK ended in July 2015. The PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by the USA and the EU, wants greater rights and autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish population. Since the end of the ceasefire, the PKK has carried out a spate of car bombings and other attacks in the southeast region, most aimed at Turkish military and government targets. Keep up to date with the current situation if travelling in the southeast. Although much of the ongoing conflict happens far away from traveller routes in remote, mountainous areas, there has been fighting and attacks in urban centres such as Diyarbakır.

At the time of writing, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office advised against all travel within 10km of the Syrian border (where there is a chance of both being kidnapped by militants from Syria and getting caught up in Turkish military operations) and that only essential travel should be undertaken to Hakkari province (along the Iraq border), Hatay province, Diyarbakır city and Tunceli province (in the mountains of the southeast). The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also advises its citizens to not travel within 10km of the Syrian border, to reconsider all travel in the southeast and to exercise a high degree of caution throughout the country; the US Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs advises to reconsider all travel to Turkey.

However, it is worth remembering that, as with the atrocities seen in Western cities, these attacks are random; the chance of being caught in an incident is statistically low, so keep things in perspective amid the media coverage. The terrorists want to create a climate of fear and uncertainty, so do not fall into their trap; instead, weigh up the situation cautiously but rationally when deciding whether to visit.

Safety Standards

Turkey is not a safety-conscious country: holes in pavements go unmended; precipitous drops go unguarded; seat belts are not always worn; lifeguards on beaches are rare; and dolmuş (minibus with a prescribed route) drivers negotiate bends while counting out change.

Street Crime

Incidents such as bag-snatching, bag-slashing, pickpocketing and mugging remain much rarer than in other destinations. Nevertheless they do occur, often perpetrated by young men or boys in busy areas such as bazaars and transport terminals. Practice common sense precautions such as wearing your bag with the strap across your body and carrying your phone or wallet in your front rather than your back pocket, particularly in big cities such as İstanbul, İzmir and Ankara.

Discount Cards

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism offers various discount cards covering museums and sights. Visit https://muze.gov.tr/MuseumPass for more information.

Museum Pass: İstanbul The five-day card (₺220) offers a good saving on entry to the city's major sights including Topkapı Palace and the Aya Sofya, and allows holders to skip admission queues.

Museum Pass: Cappadocia The three-day card (₺130) covers the region's major sights including Göreme Open-Air Museum.

Museum Pass: The Aegean The seven-day card (₺220) covers 60 museums and sights from İzmir to Fethiye, including Ephesus and Pergamum.

Museum Pass: The Mediterranean The seven-day card (₺220) covers 50 museums and sights east from Fethiye to Adana, including Xanthos, Patara and Aspendos.

Museum Pass: Turkey The 15-day card (₺375) covers some 300 museums and sights nationwide, from Topkapı Palace to Ani.

İstanbulkart The rechargeable travel card offers substantial savings on İstanbul's public transport.

The following offer discounts on accommodation, eating, entertainment, transport and tours. They are available in Turkey but easier to get in your home country.

International Student Identity Card (www.isic.org)

International Youth Travel Card (www.isic.org)

International Teacher Identity Card (www.isic.org)

Electricity

  • Electrical current is 230V AC, 50Hz.
  • You can buy plug adaptors at most electrical shops.
  • A universal AC adaptor is also a good investment.

Embassies & Consulates

  • Many embassies and consulates in Turkey only open for consular issues (visas, lost passports) for a set number of hours per day. Many also require you to have made an appointment beforehand.
  • Embassies of some Muslim countries may open Sunday to Thursday.
  • To ask the way to an embassy, say: '[Country] büyükelçiliği nerede?'.
  • Embassies are generally in Ankara.
  • There are consulates in other Turkish cities.

Australian Embassy

Azerbaijani Embassy

Bulgarian Embassy

Canadian Embassy

Dutch Embassy

French Embassy

Georgian Embassy

German Embassy

Greek Embassy

Iranian Embassy

Iraqi Embassy

Irish Embassy

New Zealand Embassy

Russian Embassy

UK Embassy

US Embassy

Emergency & Important Numbers

Turkey's country code90
International access code from Turkey00
Ambulance112
Fire110
Police155

Entry & Exit Formalities

Some nationalities don't need a tourist visa. Most that do can purchase a tourist e-visa online before travelling.

Customs Regulations

Imports

Jewellery and items valued over US$15,000 should be declared, to ensure you can take it out when you leave. Goods including the following can be imported duty-free:

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 200g of tobacco
  • 1kg each of coffee, instant coffee, chocolate and sugar products
  • 500g of tea
  • 1L of alcohol exceeding 22% volume, 2L of alcoholic beverages max 22% volume
  • Five bottles of perfume (max 120ml each)
  • Personal electronic devices, but only one of each type
  • Unlimited currency
  • Souvenirs/gifts worth up to €300 (€145 if aged under 15)

Exports

  • Buying and exporting genuine antiquities is illegal.
  • Carpet shops should be able to provide a form certifying that your purchase is not an antiquity.
  • Ask for advice from vendors you buy from.
  • Keep receipts and paperwork.

Passports

Make sure your passport will still have at least six months' validity after you enter Turkey.

Visas

Tourist e-visas (available from www.evisa.gov.tr) can be purchased online by nationals of 108 countries.

Visa Information for Different Nationalities

  • Nationals of countries including Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland don't need a visa to visit Turkey. A stamp upon entry grants them multiple-entry for up to 90 days.
  • Russians can enter without a visa for up to 60 days.
  • Nationals of countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, the UK and USA need a visa, which should be purchased online at www.evisa.gov.tr before travelling.
  • Depending on nationality, tourist visas are issued as either multiple-entry or single-stay and for periods of between 30 and 90 days.
  • Visa fees are US$20 to US$60, depending on nationality.
  • For most nationalities who receive a visa-free, multiple-entry, 90-day stay and those that receive a 90-day, multiple-entry visa, the visa is valid 180 days from the date of issue for a maximum stay of 90 days. This means you can spend three months in Turkey within one six-month period; when you leave, after having used up your 90 days, you can't re-enter for three months. Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfa.gov.tr, www.evisa.gov.tr) for more information.

Tourist Visa Process

  • On the official Turkish government e-visa site (www.evisa.gov.tr), you must enter details of your passport and date of arrival in Turkey, click on the link in the verification email and pay with a Mastercard or Visa credit or debit card. No photos required.
  • Having completed this process, the e-visa can be downloaded in Adobe PDF format; a link is also emailed so it can be printed out later. It is recommended that you print out the e-visa to show on arrival in Turkey; keep it while in the country.
  • It's also recommended that applications are made at least 48 hours before departure.
  • Although many Western nationals can also obtain a visa on arrival in Turkey, this is not recommended as travellers have reported extra charges and bad experiences with the customs officials. Cash cannot be used.

Residency Permits

  • Turkey doesn't issue tourist visa extensions as 90-day tourist stays are granted as the norm for most nationalities.
  • If you want to stay longer in the country, you need to apply for a residence permit (ikamet tezkeresi) for touristic purposes. This permit does not allow you to work in Turkey.
  • Various other types of residence permits, such as work permits and spousal permits are available and are generally supported and applied for through your employer or spouse.
  • Touristic residency permits are typically valid for one year; the price varies according to the applicant's nationality and office of application, with charges starting at around ₺400 including administrative charges. The process is convoluted. Applications are made through https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr.
  • More details are available at the websites YellAli (https://yellali.com/advice) and Yabangee (https://yabangee.com/get-your-residence-permit-guide).
Residency Applications: The Nitty Gritty

Applications for a touristic residency permit are submitted online (https://e-ikamet.goc.gov.tr) after which you'll receive an interview time at the residency office where you apply. Application rules change regularly and are not applied consistently. For a first-time application you need:

  • A Turkish tax ID number.
  • A bank statement to give evidence of enough money to support yourself. The amount required varies between regions of Turkey. It's usually between ₺15,000 and ₺20,000 to safely qualify for a full year's permit.
  • Proof of accommodation such as a rental contract (usually needs to be notarised).
  • Certificate of address registration from your local Population Registry Office (Nüfus Müdürlüğü).
  • Passport photos.
  • Health insurance: note that travel insurance and foreign health insurance are not accepted. The insurer must be a Turkish company. A year of insurance costs about ₺600. You'll need to enter your insurance policy details on the online application.
  • Criminal background check.
  • Health check-up at a Turkish state hospital (costs from ₺300).
  • Photocopies of your passport information page and Turkish entry stamp page.

The process can be confusing and the staff unhelpful in locations such as İstanbul; those working behind the desks in cities such as İzmir and Nevşehir are reputedly more helpful. Due to the amount of applications in İstanbul, there can be a wait between your online application and interview time.

Little English is spoken, so take a Turkish-speaking friend with you if possible.

If your application is successful, your touristic residency card will be posted to you (it usually takes two weeks). Due to the cost and time involved in the process, it's generally not worth applying unless you're applying for a year.

Etiquette

  • Greetings Turkish friends and family (both genders) greet each other with either air-kissing or tapping both cheeks. Shaking hands is normal for and between both genders when first meeting people.
  • Religion Dress modestly and remove shoes when entering mosques. Women should don a headscarf (bring your own or borrow from a box at the entrance).
  • Politics Be tactful. Politics is a divisive subject in Turkey. Criticising Turkish nationalism can land you in prison.
  • Alcohol Bars are common in tourist-orientated towns. Public drinking and inebriation are much less acceptable in more conservative areas.
  • Visiting Homes Always remove shoes before entering a Turkish home.
  • Relationships Do not be overly tactile with your partner in public; beware miscommunications with locals.

Insurance

  • A travel insurance policy covering theft, loss and medical expenses is recommended.
  • A huge variety of policies is available; check small print.
  • Some policies exclude 'dangerous activities', which can include scuba diving, motorcycling and even trekking.
  • Some policies may not cover you if you travel to regions of the country where your government warns against travel, such as areas near the Syrian border.
  • If you cancel your trip on the advice of an official warning against travel, your insurer may not cover you.
  • Look into whether your regular health insurance and motor insurance will cover you in Turkey.
  • Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you're already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

  • Throughout Turkey, the majority of accommodation options of all standards offer free wi-fi. Note that it can often be slow.
  • Wi-fi networks are also found at locations from cafes and carpet shops to otogars (bus stations) and ferry terminals.
  • Some major websites such as Wikipedia are currently banned. While in the country, you currently cannot book Turkish accommodation using www.booking.com due to a ban. A virtual private network (VPN) app can be useful for accessing websites while in Turkey.

Internet Cafes

  • Internet cafe numbers are declining with the proliferation of wi-fi and hand-held devices.
  • They are typically open from 9am until midnight, and charge around ₺2 an hour (İstanbul ₺3). Many are used only by gamers.
  • Connection speeds vary, but are generally fast.
  • Viruses are rife.
  • English keyboards are few and far between. Nearly all have Turkish keyboards, on which 'ı' occupies the position occupied by 'i' on English keyboards.
  • On Turkish keyboards, create the @ symbol by holding down the 'q' and ALT keys at the same time.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Turkey, and people have been legally permitted to change gender since 1988, but there are no laws protecting LGBT+ people from discrimination, same-sex marriage is not recognised and prejudice remains strong with sporadic reports of violence towards LGBT+ people.

In recent years, there has been a surge in government authorities cracking down on LGBT+ focused events. İstanbul's Pride Parade has been banned by the authorities since 2015 with marchers facing police action against them. Ankara banned all public LGBT+ events in 2017 and 2018 (the ban was lifted in 2019 but a Pride event at Ankara's Middle East Technical University in May 2019 was stopped by police and 19 marchers were arrested) and in 2019 Pride events in various other Turkish cities were also banned. The LGBT+ dating app Grindr has been banned in Turkey since 2013.

For LGBT+ travellers, discretion is recommended. Same-gender couples will have no problem booking a double room together, though they should avoid the very cheap local hotel end of the market, particularly once away from the main tourist centres. Overt displays of affection in public should be avoided (though the same goes for opposite-gender couples). Despite a growing sense of conservatism that has seen some popular LGBT+ bars close down, İstanbul still has a flourishing gay scene while Ankara and İzmir both have much smaller, but vibrant, scenes.

For more on the challenges facing LGBT+ people in Turkey, visit www.outrightinternational.org/region/turkey.

İstanbul Pride Travel (www.everydayturkeytours.com/gay/) LGBT+ owned İstanbul travel agent. As well as the usual caboodle of tour options, runs private evening tours of İstanbul's LGBT+ nightlife scene.

Kaos GL (www.kaosgl.org) Based in Ankara, this LGBT+ rights organisation publishes a gay-and-lesbian magazine and its website has news and information in English.

Lambdaistanbul (www.lambdaistanbul.org) The Turkish branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersexual Association.

LGBTI News Turkey (www.lgbtinewsturkey.com) News and links.

Maps

Maps are widely available at tourist offices and bookshops, although quality maps are hard to find. In İstanbul, try the bookshops on İstiklal Caddesi or Yenıçarşı Caddesi in Beyoğlu.

Mep Medya's city and regional maps are recommended, as are its touring maps including the following:

  • Türkiye Karayolları Haritası (1:1,200,000) A sheet map of the whole country
  • Adım Adım Türkiye Yol Atlası (Step by Step Turkey Road Atlas; 1:400,000)

Media

  • Newspapers Hürriyet Daily News (www.hurriyetdailynews.com) and Daily Sabah (www.sabahenglish.com) are English-language newspapers.
  • Magazines Cornucopia (www.cornucopia.net) is a glossy magazine in English about Turkey published twice yearly; Turkish Airlines' in-flight monthly, Skylife (www.skylife.com/en), is also worth a read.
  • Radio TRT broadcasts news daily, in languages including English, on radio and at www.trtworld.com.
  • TV Digiturk (www.digiturk.com.tr) offers numerous Turkish and international satellite TV channels.

Money

ATMs are widely available. Credit and debit cards are accepted by most businesses in cities and tourist areas.

Currency

Turkey's currency is the Türk Lirası (Turkish lira; ₺). The lira comes in notes of five, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200, and coins of one, five, 10, 25 and 50 kuruş and one lira. Lack of small change is a problem; try to keep a supply of coins and small notes for minor payments.

ATMs

ATMs dispense Turkish lira, and occasionally euros and US dollars, to Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro card holders. Look for these logos on machines, which are found in most towns. Machines generally offer instructions in foreign languages including English.

It's possible to get around Turkey using only ATMs if you draw out money in the towns to tide you through the villages that don't have them. Also keep some cash in reserve for the inevitable day when the machine throws a wobbly. If your card is swallowed by a stand-alone ATM booth, it may be tricky to get it back. The booths are often run by franchisees rather than by the banks themselves.

Credit Cards

Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted by hotels, shops and restaurants, although often not by pensions and local restaurants outside the main tourist areas. You can also get cash advances on these cards. Amex is less commonly accepted outside top-end establishments. Inform your credit-card provider of your travel plans; otherwise transactions may be stopped, as credit-card fraud does happen in Turkey.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1₺3.78
CanadaC$1₺4.20
Europe€1₺6.18
Japan¥100₺5.24
NZNZ$1₺3.58
UK£1₺6.77
USAUS$1₺5.57

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Foreign Currencies

Euros and US dollars are the most readily accepted foreign currencies. Shops, hotels and restaurants in many tourist areas accept these and taxi drivers will take them for big journeys.

Changing Money

The Turkish lira is weak against Western currencies, and you will probably get a better exchange rate in Turkey than elsewhere. The lira is virtually worthless outside Turkey, so make sure you spend it all before leaving.

US dollars and euros are the easiest currencies to change, although most exchange offices, all post offices (PTTs) and many banks will change other major currencies such as Australian dollars, UK pounds and Japanese yen.

You'll get better rates at exchange offices, which often don't charge commission, and at post offices than at banks. Exchange offices operate in tourist and market areas, with better rates often found in the latter. Plentiful shops and hotels in tourist areas will exchange money.

Banks are more likely to change minor currencies, although they tend to make heavy weather of it. Turkey has no black market.

Tipping

Turkey is fairly European in its approach to tipping and you won't be pestered for baksheesh. Tipping is customary in restaurants, hotels and taxis; optional elsewhere.

  • Restaurants A few coins in budget eateries; 10% of the bill in midrange and top-end establishments.
  • Hotel porters €2 per bag (midrange hotel), €5 per bag (top-end hotel).
  • Taxis Round up metered fares to the nearest lira.

Travellers Cheques

Banks, shops and hotels usually see it as a burden to change travellers cheques, and will either try to persuade you to go elsewhere or charge you a premium for the service. If you do have to change them, try one of the major banks.

Opening Hours

The following are standard opening hours.

Tourist information 9am–12.30pm and 1.30pm–5pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants 11am–10pm

Bars 4pm–late

Nightclubs 11pm–late

Shops 9am–6pm Monday to Friday (longer in tourist areas and big cities – including weekend opening)

Government departments, offices and banks 8.30am–noon and 1.30pm–5pm Monday to Friday

More Information

Most museums close on Monday; from April to October, many have extended hours. Other businesses with seasonal variations include bars, which are likely to stay open later in summer than in winter, and tourist offices in popular locations, which open for longer hours and sometimes at weekends during summer.

The working day shortens during the holy month of Ramazan. Devoutly religious cities such as Konya and Kayseri virtually shut down during noon prayers on Friday (the Muslim sabbath); apart from that, Friday is a normal working day.

Photography

People in Turkey are generally receptive to having their photo taken. The major exception is when they are praying or performing other religious activities. Photographing military sites and similar installations is banned. There is typically prominent 'no photography' signage in these areas.

Check out best-selling Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography for tips on taking great travel photos.

Post

Turkish postanes (post offices) are indicated by black-on-yellow 'PTT' signs. Most post offices open Monday to Friday from around 8.30am to noon and 1.30pm to 5pm, but a few offices in major cities have extended opening hours.

Letters take between one and four weeks to get to/from Turkey.

When posting letters, the yurtdışı slot is for mail to foreign countries, yurtiçi for mail to other Turkish cities, and şehiriçi for local mail. Visit www.ptt.gov.tr for more information.

Parcels

If you are shipping something from Turkey, don't close your parcel before it has been inspected by a customs official. Take packing and wrapping materials with you to the post office.

Parcels take around one month to arrive.

International couriers including DHL also operate in Turkey.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day (Yılbaşı) 1 January

National Sovereignty & Children's Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Günü) 23 April

Labor & Solidarity Day (May Day) 1 May

Şeker Bayramı (Sweets Holiday) See Major Islamic Holidays

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth & Sports Day (Gençlik ve Spor Günü) 19 May

Democracy and National Solidarity Day 15 July

Kurban Bayramı (Festival of the Sacrifice) See Major Islamic Holidays

Victory Day (Zafer Bayramı) 30 August

Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayramı) 29 October

Major Islamic Holidays

The rhythms of Islamic practice are tied to the lunar calendar, which is slightly shorter than its Gregorian equivalent, so the Muslim calendar begins around 11 days earlier each year. The following dates are approximate.

2020

Start of Ramazan

24 Apr

Şeker Bayramı (After Ramazan finishes)

24-26 May

Kurban Bayramı

31 Jul-3 Aug

Islamic New Year

19-20 Aug (1442)

Prophet's Birthday

28-29 Oct

2021

Start of Ramazan

13 Apr

Şeker Bayramı (After Ramazan finishes)

12-14 May

Kurban Bayramı

20-23 Jul

Islamic New Year

9-10 Aug (1443)

Prophet's Birthday

18-19 Oct

2022

Start of Ramazan

2 Apr

Şeker Bayramı (After Ramazan finishes)

1-3 May

Kurban Bayramı

8-11 Jul

Islamic New Year

30-31 Jul (1444)

Prophet's Birthday

8-9 Oct

Smoking

Turks love smoking and there's even a joke about the country's propensity for puffing: Who smokes more than a Turk? Two Turks.

  • Smoking in enclosed public spaces is officially banned, and punishable by a fine.
  • In İstanbul, along the Mediterranean coastline and in other tourism centres such as Cappadocia, the ban is, for the most part, strictly adhered to in hotels, restaurants and bars, although bars sometimes relax the rules as the evening wears on.
  • Off the tourist trail, the smoking ban isn't so stridently enforced. Many hotel rooms have ashtrays, though the public areas are smoke-free, and some restaurants still allow smoking inside.
  • Public transport is meant to be smoke-free, although plenty of bus drivers still smoke at the wheel. Don't take seats in the first two rows of intercity buses if you're affected by smoke.

Taxes & Refunds

Value-added tax (VAT; KDV in Turkish) in Turkey is 18%, with a reduced rate of 8% applied to items including textiles, clothes, leather goods, carpets, shoes and books, and a super-reduced rate of 1% applied to items including newspapers. Bills should clearly state the tax included.

Claiming Tax Refunds

If you buy an item costing more than ₺100 + KDV from a shop participating in the national 'Global Refund: Tax Free Shopping' scheme, you are entitled to a KDV refund at your point of departure. The shop will give you a form to complete and present at the airport along with your purchases.

Sadly, this system doesn't always work, so it is best to only pay a price you feel is fair without the prospect of a VAT refund. There have been cases of shops abusing the system and giving the buyer a form in Turkish, which actually says the refund has been paid, allowing the shopkeeper to keep the fee.

Telephone

The country code is +90 and the international access code is +00. Within Turkey, numbers starting with 444 don't require area codes and, wherever you call from, are charged at the local rate.

Kontörlü Telefon

If you only want to make one quick call, some street kiosks have a sign saying kontörlü telefon (metered telephone). You make your call and the owner reads the meter and charges you accordingly. In touristy areas you can get rates as low as ₺0.50 per minute to Europe, the UK, the US and Australia.

Mobile Phones

If your cell phone is unlocked, you can purchase a prepaid SIM card (SIM kart) package with credit and data. There are three major networks: Turkcell (www.turkcell.com.tr), Vodafone (www.vodafone.com.tr) and Türk Telekom (www.turktelekom.com.tr). You'll need your passport when purchasing.

SIM Card Costs

All three networks offer 30-day bundle deals of SIM, data and credit orientated towards tourists. Turkcell's 'tourism welcome' SIM pack includes SIM, 20GB data, 1000 SMS messages and 200 minutes of calls for ₺149.

Non-tourist-orientated bundle deals offering between 6GB and 10GB of data usually cost between ₺90 and ₺120.

More Information

  • All Turkish mobile numbers start with a four-digit number beginning with 05.
  • Reception is generally excellent throughout Turkey but Turkcell's coverage is best, especially out east.
  • Turkish SIM cards can be used in a foreign phone for 120 days. The network will automatically detect and bar your phone after this time period.
  • SIM cards and kontör (credit) are widely available – at street-side kiosks and shops as well as mobile phone outlets. Kontör can also be purchased at cash registers of many supermarkets and shops.
  • Be aware that buying a Turkish SIM package is always more expensive at the airport.
Long Stays

Anyone wanting to use a foreign mobile phone in Turkey for longer than 120 days needs to register their phone. The process is convoluted and expensive, costing ₺1500. For a run-down on the process, go to https://yellali.com/advice/question/235/how-do-i-register-a-mobile-phone-in-turkey.

Payphones & Phonecards

  • Türk Telekom payphones can be found in most major public buildings, facilities and squares, and transport terminals.
  • International calls can be made from payphones.
  • All payphones require cards that can be bought at telephone centres or, for a small mark-up, at some shops. Some payphones accept credit cards.
  • Two types of card are in use: floppy cards with a magnetic strip, and Smart cards, embedded with a chip.
  • The cards typically cost ₺10 to ₺20.

International Phonecards

  • Phonecards are the cheapest way to make international calls.
  • Cards can be used on landlines, payphones and mobiles.
  • As in other countries, you call the access number, key in the PIN on the card and dial away.
  • Stick to reputable phonecards such as IPC (www.ipccard.com).
  • Cards are widely available in the tourist areas of major cities, but can be difficult to find elsewhere.

Time

  • Eastern European Summer Time all year round (GMT/UTC plus three hours).
  • Turkish bus timetables and so on use the 24-hour clock, but Turks rarely use it when speaking.

Time Differences in Summer

Australia

Capital city

Canberra

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

+7

Canada

Capital city

Ottawa

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

-7

France

Capital city

Paris

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

-1

Germany

Capital city

Berlin

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

-1

Japan

Capital city

Tokyo

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

+6

Netherlands

Capital city

Amsterdam

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

-1

New Zealand

Capital city

Wellington

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

+9

UK

Capital city

London

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

-2

USA

Capital city

Washington DC

Difference from Turkey (hrs)

-7

Toilets

  • Most hotels, restaurants and tourist sites have sit-down toilets.
  • Squat toilets – with a conventional flush, or a tap and jug – are common in public facilities such as bus stations and out-of-the-way tourist sites.
  • Toilet paper is sometimes unavailable, so keep some with you.
  • Many sink taps are unmarked and reversed (cold on the left, hot on the right).
  • Public toilets can usually be found at major attractions and transport hubs; most require a payment of between ₺1 and ₺2.
  • In an emergency it's worth remembering that mosques have basic toilets (for both men and women).
  • You can flush paper down most toilets but in some places this may flood the premises. This is the case in much of İstanbul's old city. If you're not sure, play it safe and dispose of the paper in the bin provided. Signs often advise patrons to use the bin. This may seem slightly gross to the uninitiated, but many Turks (as well as people from other Middle Eastern and Asian countries) use a jet spray of water to clean themselves after defecating, applying paper to pat dry. The used paper is thus just damp, rather than soiled.

Tourist Information

Turkey Home (https://hometurkey.com/en) Official Turkey travel website with plenty of flashy photography and content to inspire trip planning.

GoTurkey (www.goturkeytourism.com) Destination and activity content plus practical information about travelling in Turkey.

Ministry of Culture and Tourism (www.kultur.gov.tr) Official portal with information on Turkish culture and tourism activities.

Müze (www.muze.gov.tr/en) Information on every major museum and sight in the country.

Regional Tourist Offices

Every Turkish town of any size has an official tourist office run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Levels of helpfulness vary wildly – some staff may have sketchy knowledge of the area, and few speak fluent English. Tour operators, pension owners and so on are often better sources of information.

Travel with Children

Çocuklar (children) are the beloved centrepiece of family life in Turkey and your children will be welcomed wherever they go. Your journey will be peppered with exclamations of Maşallah (glory be to God) and your children will be clutched into the adoring arms of strangers.

Best Regions for Kids

  • İstanbul

Ice cream by the Bosphorus, ferry rides, exploring the Grand Bazaar.

  • South Aegean

Ruins such as Ephesus for older children, plus beaches for kids of all ages. Holiday spots like Kuşadası, Bodrum, Marmaris and Gökova (Akyaka) offer facilities, resorts, water parks and sports, with sights and less touristy coastline nearby.

  • Turquoise Coast

Water sports and activities from tandem paragliding to sea kayaking over submerged ruins. With younger children, holiday towns like Kaş offer picturesque lanes and sandy beaches.

  • Cappadocia

The fantastical landscape of fairy chimneys (rock formations) and underground cities will thrill older children, as will cave accommodation. Outdoor activities include hikes, horse rides and hot-air ballooning.

  • İzmir & the North Aegean

More Aegean beaches. İzmir's kordon (seafront) is a child-friendly promenade – plenty of space in which to expend energy and take horse-and-carriage rides. Boat trips and snorkelling are also popular.

Turkey for Kids

Travelling in family-focused Turkey is a blessing with kids big and small – waiters play with babies, strangers entertain and indulge at every turn, and free or discounted entry to sights is common. Do bear in mind, however, that facilities are often lacking and safety consciousness rarely meets Western norms.

Children's Highlights

Accommodation

  • Cave hotels, Cappadocia Bigger kids and teenagers will enjoy the modern troglodyte experience of bedding down underground.
  • Gület cruising, Mediterranean Coast Sleep under the stars, aboard a gület (Turkish yacht) overnight trip on the Med heading out from coastal towns such as Fethiye, Kalkan and Kaş.
  • Gelemiş pensions, Patara The family-friendly pensions, with pools, in teensy Gelemiş village are a relaxing beach-break alternative to Turkey's big resorts.
  • Guesthouses, Çıralı This beachfront village has plentiful guesthouses and bungalows; it's another chilled-out choice for fun-and-sun family holidays away from the big-brand resorts.

Activities

  • Tandem paragliding, Ölüdeniz Adventurous older children and teens can break up the relaxed beachy vibes with the adrenaline buzz of jumping off Baba Dağ.
  • Horse riding, Cappadocia Outdoorsy kids will enjoy exploring the Cappadocia valleys on horseback.
  • Cable car, Uludağ When traipsing around Bursa's fine Ottoman relics begins to bore, take the kids up the world's longest cable car.
  • Hiking, Göreme Plenty of day-hiking opportunities within the fairy-chimney-strewn valleys from short, easy jaunts between fairy-chimney rock formations for tots to longer day hikes to hidden cave-churches for older children and teens.
  • Eğirdir Outdoor Centre, Eğirdir Rent bikes to head out on a family cycling trip or explore the lake by boat.
  • Hot-air ballooning, Cappadocia The panoramas of the Cappadocian countryside from up high will probably be the highlight of older children's and teenagers' Turkey travels (there's no point taking younger kids hot-air ballooning if they aren't tall enough to see over the edge of the basket).
  • Ferry rides, İstanbul Let kids get an outdoor geography lesson, complete with great city views and the chance of spotting dolphins on the 25-minute ferry ride between Europe and Asia.

Historic Sites

  • Ephesus, Selçuk The ultimate site to introduce kids to history with a theatre and odeon to scramble up, Graeco-Roman communal latrines to gross-out at and amazingly restored monuments to gawp at.
  • Kaymaklı Underground City, Cappadocia Delving deep underground into Kaymaklı's caverns and tunnels will fascinate most children.
  • Pamukkale travertines, Pamukkale After rambling through the ruins of Roman spa town Hierapolis, kids will love walking down the otherworldly white calcite travertines and wading through the turquoise-blue pools along the way.
  • Basilica Cistern, İstanbul Kids will love the creepy atmosphere of this subterranean cavern with walkways suspended over the water.
  • Bergama Acropolis, Bergama These Graeco-Roman ruins, perched atop a cliff, are dramatic enough to impress teens.
  • Ancient Patara, Patara The Lycian ruins of ancient Patara ramble all the way down to the beach, great for mixing swimming and sand fun with some history.
  • Grand Bazaar, İstanbul For you it may be all about shopping but for little ones this is a magical labyrinth of colourful lanterns, secret corners and free lokum (Turkish delight) dished out by shopkeepers who dote on children.
  • Kızkalesi Castle, Kızkalesi Turkey's most fairy-tale-style castle sits on a rock outcrop just offshore, and there's the added bonus of being able to access it by pedalo as well as by boat.

Water Fun

  • Dragoman tours, Kaş Lots of outdoor activities that active teens will enjoy including SUP, guided snorkelling, boat tours and kayaking.
  • Water parks, Kuşadası After an Ephesus visit, let the kids beat the heat and let off some steam at one of nearby Kuşadası's water parks.
  • Kayaking, Kekova Water sports with a dash of history on the side while kayaking over the Kekova area's sunken city.
  • Boat trips, Mediterranean Coast Plentiful options for sea excursions from the resort towns along the coast from Ayvalık down to Alanya.

Exploring Turkish Food

  • Cappadocia Home Cooking, Ayvalı Budding cooks will love learning to cook mantı (Turkish ravioli) and other Anatolian dishes in this family home.
  • Only in İzmir Culinary Walk İzmir Encourage adventurous eating with this full-on jaunt through İzmir's food scene. The walk is decently flat so good for those with tots in strollers too.
  • Culinary Kaş, Kaş Learn to cook a Turkish feast together as a family at these daily workshops.
  • Culinary Backstreets, İstanbul The 'Shop, Cook & Feast' tour is a great introduction to Turkish cuisine for kids of all ages.

Planning

Accommodation

  • Many hotels in all price ranges have family suites.
  • Self-catering apartments and villas are common in tourist areas such as Bodrum.
  • Cots are increasingly common; many hotels will organise one with advance notice.
  • Resorts offer kids' clubs, and hotels in tourist areas may be able to arrange babysitting.

Eating

  • Children are welcomed with open arms by staff at restaurants in Turkey.
  • Children's menus are uncommon outside tourist areas but restaurants will often prepare special dishes for children.
  • High chairs are common in restaurants throughout Turkey.

Facilities

  • Public baby-changing facilities are rare, and usually only found in malls and some chain restaurants.
  • Breastfeeding in public is uncommon; best to do so in a private or discreet place.
  • Cities, towns and even bigger villages have parks with playground equipment, though sometimes it's in dire condition; always check the equipment for safety.

Getting Around

  • Long-distance buses don't have on-board toilets. Instead they stop for breaks approximately every three hours.
  • Free travel for children under six on public transport within cities, and discounts on long-distance bus and train journeys are common.
  • Most car-rental companies can provide baby seats for a small extra charge.
  • Skinny pavements in old districts of cities and uneven surfaces can make manoeuvring strollers difficult. Be vigilant when crossing roads; drivers rarely stop at pedestrian crossings.
  • A 'baby backpack' is useful for walking around sights.

Health

  • In hot, moist climates any wound or break in the skin may lead to infection. The area should be cleaned and then kept dry and clean.
  • Encourage your child to avoid dogs and other mammals because of the risk of rabies and other diseases.
  • For children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, double-check drugs and dosages prescribed for travel by doctors and pharmacists, as they may be unsuitable. The same applies to practitioners in Turkey.
  • Some information on the suitability of drugs and recommended dosage can be found on travel-health websites.

Products

  • Double-check the suitability of prescriptions your children are given while in Turkey.
  • Pasteurised UHT milk is sold in cartons everywhere but fresh milk is harder to find.
  • Consider bringing a supply of baby food – what little you find here, your baby will likely find inedible – or it will just be mashed banana.
  • Migros supermarkets have the best range of baby food.
  • Most supermarkets stock formula (although it is very expensive) and vitamin-fortified rice cereal.
  • Disposable bebek bezi (nappies or diapers) are readily available.
  • The best nappies are Prima and Huggies, sold in pharmacies and supermarkets; don't bother with cheaper local brands.

Resources

  • For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.

Safety

  • In hotels and other buildings, look out for open power points.
  • Many taps are unmarked and reversed (cold on the left, hot on the right).
  • Steep, uneven staircases in older buildings can be a problem.

On the street, watch for:

  • Turkey's notorious drivers, particularly those on pavement-mounting mopeds.
  • Crudely covered electric mains.
  • Open stairwells.
  • Serious potholes.
  • Open drains.
  • Carelessly secured building sites.

Baby Talk

Perhaps learn your child's age and sex in Turkish – ay (month), yil (year), erkek (boy) and kız (girl). To make polite inquiries about other people's children: Kaç tane çocuklariniz varmı? (How many children do you have?).

Volunteering

Opportunities include everything from teaching to working on an organic farm.

Alternative Camp (www.ayder.org.tr) A volunteer-based organisation running camps for people with disabilities.

Culture Routes in Turkey (http://cultureroutesinturkey.com) In April and May volunteers help waymark and repair Turkey's hiking trails such as the Lycian Way and St Paul Trail.

European Youth Portal (https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisations_en) Database of European Union–accredited opportunities.

Gençlik Servisleri Merkezi (www.gsm.org.tr/en) GSM runs voluntary work camps for young people in Turkey.

Gençtur (www.genctur.com.tr) Organises voluntourism including farmstays, with offices in İstanbul and Berlin.

GoAbroad.com (www.volunteerabroad.com) A US-based company listing a range of opportunities in Turkey, mostly through international organisations.

Ta Tu Ta (www.tatuta.org) Turkey's branch of WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) organises work on dozens of organic farms around the country, where you receive accommodation and board in exchange for labour.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures Turkey uses the metric system.

Women Travellers

Travelling in Turkey is straightforward for women, provided you follow some simple guidelines.

Accommodation

  • Outside tourist areas, the very cheapest hotels, as well as often being fleapits, are generally not suitable for lone women. Stick with the upper-end of the budget category or family-oriented midrange hotels.
  • If conversation in the lobby grinds to a halt as you enter, the hotel is not likely to be a great place for a woman.
  • If there is a knock on your hotel door late at night, don't open it; in the morning, complain to the manager.
  • We recommend female travellers stick to official campsites and camp where there are plenty of people around – especially out east. If you do otherwise, you will be taking a risk.

Clothing

Tailor your behaviour and your clothing to your surrounds. Look at what local women are wearing. On the streets of Beyoğlu in İstanbul and in the resort towns of the Mediterranean coast you'll see skimpy tops, tight jeans, shorts and short skirts. In more rural areas of western Turkey and as you head east, clothing becomes more conservative.

There is absolutely no need to don a headscarf, but away from heavily touristed destinations, wearing long pants and a T-shirt with at least a cap-sleeve will garner less unwanted attention.

When entering mosques, you should wear long pants or a skirt, a long-sleeved top/shirt that doesn't show cleavage and don a headscarf. At many larger mosques, headscarves are available to borrow from a box at the entrance.

Holiday Romances

Holiday romances between foreign female travellers and Turkish men are so common – particularly in the coastal resort towns along the Mediterranean coast and in Cappadocia – they're somewhat a cliché. Use normal common sense judgement that you'd use back home when entering into a holiday relationship. There are occasional cases of men exploiting these relationships by inventing sob stories and asking for financial help, and numerous cases of married men, posing as single, entering into short relationships with foreign females.

Regional Differences

Turkey is a large country with distinct differences in attitudes and levels of conservatism. While many cities and towns are vibrantly cosmopolitan in outlook, in rural areas, particularly in the east, life is much more traditional and a solo female traveller is something of a curiosity.

Having a banter with men in restaurants and shops in tourist-focused destinations can be fun, and many men won't necessarily think much of it. In less-visited towns and villages, however, being overly friendly sometimes results in men getting the wrong idea. Keenly observe your surroundings and make judgement calls based on the local atmosphere. In small towns where public life on the street seems very male-orientated, keep conversations with men on a slightly more formal level to avoid being misconstrued.

Sanitary Products

Tampons are easy to find in the big western Turkey cities and in tourist-orientated regions, but if you're heading east, or into a very rural area, stock up before you go. Even in the big eastern cities they can be difficult to find. Note that if you need to buy from an eczane (pharmacy), tampons are usually kept hidden so you need to ask for them.

Transport

On long-distance buses and trains, lone female travellers are never assigned seats next to a male.

Although rare, there have been cases of male passengers or conductors on long-distance night buses harassing female travellers. If this happens to you complain loudly, making sure that others on the bus hear. Repeat your complaint on arrival at your destination; you have a right to be treated with respect.

On dolmuşes (minibuses with a prescribed route), both within cities and between local towns, you can usually sit anywhere, but on some routes in rural areas the passengers will rearrange themselves as people get on and off so that a solo female isn't sitting next to an unrelated male.

It's not usually normal for a female to sit beside the driver in a dolmuş. When using taxis, most lone Turkish women will sit in the back, not the front seat. Follow their lead, as getting into the seat beside the driver can be occasionally misinterpreted as a come-on.

Work

Outside professional fields such as academia and the corporate sector, bagging a job in Turkey is tough. Most people teach English or nanny.

Check whether potential employers will help you get a work permit. Many employers, notably language schools, are happy to employ foreigners on an informal basis, but unwilling to organise work permits due to the time and money involved in the bureaucratic process. This necessitates working illegally on a tourist visa/residence permit. The '90 days within 180 days' regulation stipulated by most tourist visas (for more on this, see www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa) rules out the option of cross-border 'visa runs' to pick up a new visa on re-entry to Turkey.

Locals also occasionally report illegal workers, and there have even been cases of English teachers being deported.

Job hunters may pick up leads on the following foreign resident and advertising websites:

  • www.istanbul.angloinfo.com
  • https://istanbul.craigslist.org
  • www.sahibinden.com
  • www.turkeycentral.com
  • https://yabangee.com

Nannying

One of the most lucrative non-specialist jobs open to foreigners is nannying for the wealthy urban elite, or looking after their teenage children and helping them develop their language skills.

There are opportunities for English, French and German speakers, and openings for young men as well as women, all mostly in İstanbul.

You must be prepared for long hours, demanding employers and spoilt children.

Accommodation is normally included, and the digs will likely be luxurious. However, living with the family means you are always on call, and you may be based in the suburbs.

Teaching English

You can earn a decent living, mostly in İstanbul and the other major cities, as an English teacher at a university or a school. Good jobs require a university degree and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate or similar.

For job-hunting resources, log onto www.eslcafe.com, which has a Turkey forum, and www.tefl.com.

If you want to proactively contact potential employers, Wikipedia has lists of universities and private schools in Turkey.

Dershane

There are lots of jobs at dershane (private schools), which pay good wages and offer attractions such as accommodation (although it may be on or near the school campus in the suburbs) and work permits. Some even pay for your flight to Turkey and/or flights home.

Jobs are available at all levels, from kindergarten to high school. Teachers who can't speak Turkish often find very young children challenging; many are spoilt and misbehave around foreign teachers. The best preschools pair a foreign teacher with a Turkish colleague.

You will often be required to commit to an unpaid trial period, lasting a week or two.

Unless a teacher has dropped out before the end of their contract, these jobs are mostly advertised around May and June, when employers are recruiting in preparation for the beginning of the academic year in September. Teachers are contracted until the end of the academic year in June.

Language Schools

Teaching at a language school is not recommended. The majority are exploitative institutions untroubled by professional ethics; for example making false promises in job interviews. A few Turkish schools are 'blacklisted' at www.teflblacklist.blogspot.com.

At some schools you teach in a central classroom, but at business English schools you often have to schlep around the city between the clients' workplaces.

Schools often promise you a certain number of hours a week, but classes are then cancelled, normally at the last minute, making this a frustrating and difficult way to make a living in Turkey.

Private Tuition

The advantage of teaching privately is that you don't need a TEFL certificate or even a university degree. You can advertise your services on https://istanbul.craigslist.org and www.sahibinden.com.

The disadvantage is that, unless you are willing to travel to clients' offices and homes (which is time-consuming, and potentially risky for women), they tend to cancel when they get busy and learning English suddenly becomes a low priority. As with business English schools, most teaching takes place on weekends and evenings, when the students have spare time.

Universities

University jobs command the best wages, with work permits and, often, flights thrown in. Universities also generally operate more professionally than many establishments in other sectors.

The teacher's job is often to prepare freshman students for courses that will largely be taught in English.

As with dershane (private schools), jobs are advertised around May and June, and run roughly from September until June.

Tourism

Travellers sometimes work illegally for room and board in pensions, bars and other businesses in tourist areas. These jobs are generally badly paid and only last a few weeks, but some visitors find they are a fun way to stay in a place and get to know the locals. Given that they will be in direct competition with unskilled locals for such employment, and working in the public eye, there is a danger of being reported to authorities and deported.

Working Visas

  • All the legwork and paperwork involved with obtaining a work permit is usually carried out by your Turkish employer.
  • If it's an employer such as a school or international company, they should be well versed in the process.
  • The visa can be obtained in Turkey or from a Turkish embassy or consulate.
  • The separate Turkish government 'turquoise card' program, which grants long-term residence with the right to work, is aimed only at top-tier science, technology, business, sports and arts professionals and those who make a large monetary investment in Turkey.