Useful Tips for Visitors
Here are our practical tips and some helpful information to know before you arrive in Turkey. Let us help you be prepared and informed on everything you need to know. Have a great holiday.
ATMs can be found all around the country. All of them offer foreign language options and pay out Turkish liras. Cash withdrawal limits vary from bank to bank and are around 500$/€ to 1000$/€ TL.
Please note that it is strictly forbidden to export antiquities or antiques from Turkey and there are severe penalties for those who attempt to do so. In order to export such items legally it is necessary to obtain a certificate from a directorate of a museum.
These days the non-negotiable price tag reigns supreme in most of the city’s retail outlets and bargaining is becoming a dying art. Most exceptions to this rule can be found in the Grand Bazaar, especially in its carpet shops, where shopkeepers continue to take pride in practicing the ancient art of bargaining.
Foreign Exchange offices can be found throughout the country. Operating hours are mostly Monday to Friday, from 09:00 to 17:00. In the arrivals section of Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport, there are 24-hour exchange offices. The exchange offices located in shopping malls and touristic areas are usually open later and on Saturdays. US Dollars and Euros are accepted in highly touristic districts like Sultanahmet and Taksim but rates are often better.
Credit cards are widely used and accepted. Most hotels, car-rental agencies, shops, pharmacies, entertainment venues and restaurants will accept Visa and MasterCard; Amex isn’t as widely accepted and Diner’s is often not accepted. Inexpensive eateries usually accept cash only.
Turkish Lira (TRY) is the official currency of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkish Lira is available in the following denominations.
Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 TL Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 Kurus and 1 TL
Please note that the following information is intended to cover items usually carried by tourists visiting Turkey. If you are planning a longer stay or are carrying anything unusual into or out of the country, it is best to check the regulations in more detail.
On Entry : It is permitted to bring the following items into Turkey as duty free goods. The following allowances apply to the import of both domestic and foreign goods. Wines, tobacco and other luxury items, valuables, electronic equipment, sports equipment, medical items.
On Exit: For valuable gifts and souvenirs, such as a carpet, proof of purchase is necessary, together with receipts showing that any currency used in its purchase has been legally exchanged. Please note that it is strictly forbidden to export antiques from Turkey. Minerals can only be exported with a special document.
Driving in Turkey is on the right, as in continental Europe. Turkish road signs conform to the International Protocol on Road Signs and archaeological and historic sites are indicated by yellow signs.
Please note that bringing into or out of the country, together with consumption of, marijuana and other narcotics is strictly forbidden and is subject to heavy punishment. If you have prescribed medication, which you need to take on holiday with you, you will need a doctor’s note and a copy of your prescription which can be sent to Turkish tourism office in your country for translation.
In Istanbul, the electricity supply is 220 volt (like in other European countries). Socket type is standard Type F (European) with two prongs. Four- and five-star hotels often provide North American-style 120 volts, 60 Hz flush-mounted sockets (points) for North American flat-prong plugs.
The following is a list of emergency phone numbers that are available 24/7 in case of an emergency.
110 – Fire
112 – Medical Emergency / Ambulance
154 – Traffic Police
155 – Police
156 – Gendarme
158 – Coast Guard
159 – Highway Department
176 – Ministry of Culture and Tourism Communication Centre
177 – Forest Fire
183 – Missing Child / Women’s Helpline.
You will need to pay for any medical treatment which you receive in Turkey. For this reason it is advisable to take out medical insurance before traveling.
Hospitals: In Turkey, you can find world-class hospitals and medical facilities. Many doctors in Turkey speak English. In an emergency, foreigners who do not have insurance can go to any hospital, where they will not be charged.
Pharmacies: Pharmacies are open Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 19:30. Most are closed on Sundays, but there is always one pharmacy in an area that is open for 24 hours.
Offices and banks are generally open from 9:00 to 17:00 Mondays to Fridays, and close for lunch from 12:00 to 13:30.
Turks have compulsory ID cards, which they must carry with them at all times. Foreigners are also expected to carry such ID with them, which means that you should keep your passport with you at all times. Many travelers choose to carry a photocopy and leave the actual document in their hotel safe.
As a pedestrian, always give way to vehicles; the sovereignty of the pedestrian is recognized legally but not out on the street. Sidewalks and road surfaces are often in a poorly maintained state and some shops have basements that are accessed from the sidewalk via steep steps without barriers – watch where you are walking!
There are two types of police in Turkey, civil police and military police. In many areas you will find that there is just one or the other, and that both fulfil the same function. In some places, there are also specialist tourist police. If you need to report a crime you should go to the nearest police station to where the crime occurred.
Turkish post offices are easily recognizable by the yellow and black PTT signs. As well as selling stamps and telephone tokens and cards, some post offices will exchange cash as well as international postal orders and travelers’ checks. You will need to produce an ID card or passport when collecting your post.
Officially forbidden in all hotels and enclosed restaurant and bar spaces.
If you are in European İstanbul and wish to call a number in Asian İstanbul, you must dial 0216 before the number. If you are in Asian İstanbul and wish to call a number in European İstanbul, use 0212. Do not use a prefix (that is, don’t use the 0212/6) if you are calling a number on the same shore.
Country Code: 90
European İstanbul: 0212
Asian İstanbul: 0216
Most European and Australasian phones work here; some North American phones don’t. Check with your provider. Prepaid SIM cards must be registered when purchased.
Theft & Robbery
Theft is not generally a big problem and robbery (mugging) is comparatively rare, but don’t let İstanbul’s relative safety lull you. Take normal precautions. Areas in which to be particularly careful include Aksaray/Laleli (the city’s red-light district and not recommended to visit), the Grand Bazaar (pickpocket central) and the streets off İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu.
Time in Turkey is given by UTC+03:00 year-round. This time is also called Turkish Time (TRT). All of Turkey is on Eastern European time, 3 hours ahead of London and Coordinated Universal Time (GMT/UTC), 7 hours ahead of New York.
• Restaurants & Bars : Usually 10% in restaurants, meyhanes (taverns) and upmarket bars; not usually necessary in lokantas (eateries serving ready-made food) or fast-food joints.
• Taxis: Round taxi fares up to the nearest lira.
• Hamams: Around 10% for the masseuse/masseur in a hamam, but only if you are happy with their service.
• Meyhanes: At least ₺10 per person for musicians in meyhanes
As of April 17, 2013, the electronic visa replaced the sticker visa, previously issued at the border crossings. e-Visa application is possible from any place with internet connection. Applicants just need to log on to evisa.gov.tr, provide the requested information, make the online payment (only once the application is approved), and download their e-Visa. The whole process takes no more than 10 minutes. Please note that the e-Visa is only valid when the purpose of travel is tourism or commerce. Other purposes, such as work and study, require a regular visa given by Embassies or Consulates. Since the information of visas is changeable, please contact the visa information for foreigners on the Turkish Foreign Ministry website .
Traveling in İstanbul as a female can be easy and enjoyable, provided you follow some simple guidelines. Tailor your behavior and your clothing to your surroundings – outfits that are appropriate for neighborhoods such as Beyoğlu and along the Bosphorus (skimpy tops, tight jeans etc.) are not appropriate in conservative suburbs such as Üsküdar, for instance. It’s a good idea to sit in the back seat of a taxi rather than next to the driver. You’ll have no trouble finding sanitary napkins and condoms in pharmacies and supermarkets in İstanbul; Bring a shawl to cover your head when visiting mosques.
Documents Needed for Traveling to Turkey
We cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.
Please check the requirements in advance with the Foreign Office / responsible department of state in your country.
Please check official websites like www.mfa.gov.tr regularly, as regulations regarding visa and/or Covid may change.
Applying for a Turkish visa for US citizens no longer means going in-person to a national embassy or consulate or obtaining a visa on arrival at the border. It is now possible for nationals of the USA to obtain a Turkish electronic visa (e-Visa) instead of the traditional ‘stamp’ or ‘sticker’ visa.
This modern and convenient system makes it easy to apply for a Turkey visa online from the US. It has also reduced long lines at immigration checkpoints as it allows for expedited entry at the Turkish border.
The Turkey e-Visa for US citizens can be used for both tourist visits and business travel, as well as to transit through Turkey to an onward destination. It grants its holder a stay of up to 3 months in the country.
American citizens should note that they may need to obtain additional documents to visit Turkey during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic .
Yes, Australians need a visa to travel to Turkey . A Turkish visa is required even for short stays in the country.
Australian tourists and business travelers can get a Turkish visa online, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements.
With the approved Turkish eVisa, Australian passport holders can stay in Turkey for up to 90 days. It is a multiple-entry permit.
EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens
Countries whose citizens are allowed to enter Turkey with their national ID’s
5. The Netherlands
9. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Switzerland: Ordinary and official passport holders are exempted from visa for their travels up to 90 days.
Turkish Language Tips
The official language of Istanbul is Turkish. As becoming fluent in Turkish for your trip might prove a little too challenging, why not print out our helpful list of basic phrases and expressions to try out on your travels?
Turkish Greetings and Salutations
Merhaba mare-aba Hello
Günaydın goon-eye-din Good morning
İyi Akşamlar ee-ak-shahm-lar Good evening
Hoşça Kal hosh-cha-call Be well
Görüşürüz goo-roosh-oo-rooz See you later
Hoş geldin hosh gel-din Welcome
Hoş bulduk hosh bool-dook Happy to be here
Small Talk in Turkish
Nasılsın? na-sil-sin How are you?
İyiyim sen nasılsın? ee-ee-yim, sen na-sil-sin I am doing well, how are you?
Benim adım… ben-im ad-im My name is
Senin adın ne? sen-in ad-in nay What is your name?
Teşekkür ederim tesh-ek-yoor ed-air-im Thank you
Afiyet olsun af-ee-yet ol-soon Bon appetit
At the Restaurant
Rakı The national alcoholic spirit of Turkey — an unsweetened, anise-flavored drink with 45% alcohol level
Ayran Yogurt seasoned with salt, served as a drink
Çay (Chai) Tea
Kahve Turkish Coffee
Sade No sugar (Turkish coffee comes with or without sugar, you need to specify when ordering)
Kırmızı şarap Red wine
Beyaz şarap White wine
Maden suyu Sparkling water
Döner A sandwich stuffed with lamb or veal cooked on a vertical rotisserie
Simit Turkish bagel
Pide Flatbread, often with meat or cheese
Lahmacun Flatbread with ground lamb
Gözleme Sweet or savory pancake topped with various of toppings
Kumpir Baked potato with stuffing
Kebap Grilled meat
Şiş kebap Meat grilled on a skewer
Iskender kebap Döner kebab prepared from thinly cut grilled lamb basted with hot tomato sauce over pieces of pita bread, slathered with melted sheep butter and yogurt.
Pirzola Lamb chops
0 Sıfır 5 Beş
1 Bir 6 Altı
2 Iki 7 Yedi
3 Üç 8 Sekiz
4 Dört 9 Dokuz
Days of the Week
gün, hergün GURN, HEHR-gurn daily
bugün BOO-gurn today
yarın YAHR-uhn tomorrow
hafta hahf-TAH week
Pazartesi pah-ZAHR-teh-see Monday
Salı sah-LUH Tuesday
Çarsamba char-shahm-BAH Wednesday
Persembe pehr-shehm-BEH Thursday
Cuma joo-MAH Friday
Cumartesi joo-MAHR-teh-see Saturday
Pazar pah-ZAHR Sunday
Turkish Phrases for when you Need Help
Turks are friendly and more than willing to help foreigners find their way. In fact, if you speak Turkish with them, they will most likely treat you like an honored guest and go to great lengths to make sure you get what you need.
Affedersin af-ay-dair-sin Excuse me / or to get someone’s attention
Bana yardım ba-na yar-dim Can you help me?
eder misin? ed-air mi-sin
Imdat! eem-dot Help in Emergency
Metro nerede? met-row nair-ed-ay Where is the metro