Turkey is frequently refered to as the "Gateway to the East". The rectangular shaped country of Türkiye, 550Km, North to South and 1500Km, East to West, of an actual land mass of 814,578Km², 505,796miles2, is over three times the size of the UK.
It is bordered by three seas, the Black, the Aegean and the Mediterranean and has a total coastline of +8,000Km. Its land frontiers, of nearly 3,000Km, border Bulgaria and Greece in the west, Armenia, Georgia and Iran in the east, Iraq and Syria in the south east.
97% of its land mass is in Asia Minor whilst the remaining 3% is classified as being part of Continental Europe, with the two continents being separated by the narrow straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus.
Official Name: Republic of Turkey
Area: 814,578Km², 505,796miles2
Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
Official language: Turkish
Time zone: GMT +2
Dialing Code: +90
Internet top-level domain (TLD): .tr
Emergency services: 112
Religions: 99% Muslim, 1% other
Government: Parliamentary Republic
Population: ~75 million
Population density: 93/km² (240/sq. miles)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): USD $791 billion (est. 2008); per capita USD 10,380 (est. 2008)
Human Development Index (HDI): 0.775 (medium) (2007)
Climate & Weather
The country can be divided into six climatic zones which differ greatly from one extreme to another. Both the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts can be extremely hot in summer and pleasantly mild in winter. Early spring and late winter can bring particularly heavy thunderstorms. Travelling from the Sea of Marmara the temperatures increase significantly as one travels southwards. The Thrace and Marmara region has warm summers and mild winters accompanied by an annual rainfall of between 500-1000mm. Along the Black Sea the towns can be cool and wet throughout the whole year with precipitation being a whopping 2,400mm per annum. In winter they can be numb bitingly cold. The southern flanks of the Pontic range enjoys less rain fall but the temperatures fall dramatically as one climbs up into the mountains. The south eastern districts are the hottest places with summer highs of 50°C being common, with an average rain fall of 500mm in winter. Central Anatolia enjoys a continental climate throughout the four seasons but there are large fluctuations between day and night due to the altitude. Due to high pressure during much of the winter, the weather is dry but the temperatures can be very cold with precipitation falling as snow or sleet. The wettest season is spring whilst the summers are generally very hot and arid. Eastern Anatolia is protected by its location, far from the seas, making the high central plateaus, which are divided by mountain ranges and hills, stiflingly hot in summer, suffering, at times, from periods of drought, whilst in winter the temperatures can easily drop to -30°C, with many areas being covered in deep snow for over 4 months of the year.
When to go?
SPRING: Spring (April, May, through mid-June) is ideal because the weather is moderate and the days are long.
SUMMER: Summers (mid-June, July, August, until mid-September) is quite hot in five of Turkey’s six distinct climatic zones, though usually rainless, but cool inland in the evenings.
AUTUMN: Autumn (mid-September until late October) is second best with mostly mild weather, but the days are shorter. From early October rain can be had.
WINTER: Winter (November, December, January, February, March) is chilly with rainy throughout the country.
Currency & Foreign Exchange
Turkish Lira is available in the following denominations: Banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 & 200 TL Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 & 50 kurush and 1 TL. Usually, cash can be exchanged without charging commission in exchange offices, banks or hotels. (Travellers from UK should remember that Scottish notes, issued by RBS, Clydsdale and Bank of Scotland, attract a lesser rate than Bank of England notes) Banks offer the highest rates but you should be aware that there are frequently long queues.Cash point machines (ATM) are available in most areas, which accept major European credit and debit cards. Instructions are available in English. It is advisable to inform your bank in advance that you are travelling to Turkey. Due to large numbers of fraudulent transactions some banks automatically put a stop on cards after the first usage. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be imported into Turkey but there are restrictions on the export of Turkish Lira. It is advisable to check with Customs prior to departure as these regulations frequently change without prior notice
KDV, Value Added Tax, currently begins at 18%. Foreign visitors are allowed to claim a refund of KDV on items purchased, at the point of departure from the country. Shops displaying a Tax Free Sales sticker in the window will issue an "Ozel Fatura", "Special Invoice", which is handed to the Türkiye's customs. On completion of the paperwork, the process of which can be time consuming and long winded, the shop will post a refund to your home address.Because of the bureaucracy involved, it is only worth the effort when making expensive purchases.
EU, US and International driving licenses can be used to hire cars, motor cycles and scooters. All of the major international car rental companies have offices at airports and all major centres. You should have your driving license, your passport and insurance documents of the vehicle with you at all times, as they will have to be shown, in the event of an accident. Driving in Turkey is on the right, as in continental Europe, and Turkish road signs conform to the International Protocol on Road Signs. Archaeological and historic sites are indicated by brown signs. There is a 50 km per hour speed limit within urban centres and 90 km outside urban centres (120 km on Motorways). Petrol stations are often open 24hrs. Many have restaurants, mini-markets and other facilities attached. LPG and Unleaded (kurşunsuz) petrol is easily available. Repair centres are often concentrated in certain streets within a town.
Trafik Polisi (Traffic Police); Tel 154;
Jandarma (Gendarme); Tel 156
If you are entering Turkey by car you will require your driving license, car registration documents and international green card (insurance card). NB: This can be purchased on arrival at the border. A car can be brought into the country for up to six months. After that period import tax is imposed.
The Turkish Touring and Automobile Club (Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu)
1. Sanayi Sitesi Yani, 4.Levent, Istanbul
Tel (212) 282 81 40 (7 lines); Fax (212) 282 80
The General Directorate of Customs (Gümrükler Genel Müdürlügü)
Ulus - Ankara
Tel (312) 310 38 80, 310 38 18; Fax (312) 311 13 46
All accidents should be reported to the police or gendarme.
Trafik Polisi (Traffic Police); Tel 154;
Jandarma (Gendarme); Tel 156
The voltage in Turkey is 220v.
Please check your electrical appliances before you use them in your hotel room.
The official language is Turkish. English and German are widely spoken in major cities and tourist resorts, and you will find that most Turks welcome the opportunity to practise their language skills and will go out of their way to be helpful.
Medical Insurance is strongly recommended
Medical treatment in private hospitals must be paid for before leaving the country.
English-speaking doctors can be found in all but the most remote areas.
There are also foreign run hospitals in many of the larger towns and resorts.
Pharmacies are staffed with trained pharmacists who are able to offer advice on minor illnesses.
Most medicines are available over the counter.
Travellers from the EU should note that the E111 is not valid in Turkey.
Official Holidays / Working Hours
Working Hours in Turkey: From 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM from Monday to Friday, with a break between 12:00 to 1:30 PM
National / Official Holidays in Turkey:
Apr 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day (anniversary of the establishment of Turkish Grand National Assembly)
May 19 Atatürk Commemoration and Youth & Sports Day (the arrival of Atatürk in Samsun, and the beginning of the War of Independence)
Aug 30 Victory Day (victory over invading forces in 1922)
Oct 29 Republic Day (anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Republic)
Ramazan Bayrami / Sugar Feast: Three-day festival when sweets are eaten to celebrate the end of the fast of Ramazan. (A Moslem moveable feast) (The dates of these religious festivals change according to the Muslim lunar calendar and thus occur 12 days earlier each year.)
Kurban Bayrami / Sacrifies Feast: (A Moslem moveable feast) Four-day festival when sacrificial animals are slaughtered and their meat shared amongst the poor, neighbours and within the family
On Entry / Visa
From April 2014 on, tourists visiting Turkey will need to apply visa on-line through https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en . This is a secure website run by Turkish Government.
To call a Turkish number from outside the country dail 0090 followed by the number, including the local area code, but ommitting the first 0 eg: To call 0254 123456 dial 0090 254 123456
To dial abroad from Turkey, dial the international code 00 followed by the country code, and then the number including the local area code, again removing the first 0, eg to dial a UK number 0207 123456 would be dialled from Turkey as 00 44 207 12345.
There are public phone booths which accept pre paid cards or tokens (jeton) which can be bought from post offices (PTT) or local shops.
Mobile network coverage is excellent but there are certain areas where a signal cannot be obtained
Mobile Phone: A mobile (cell) phone is very useful in Turkey. Foreigners, you can use their mobile phone with a foreign SIM card without any problem, providing it has been set on "roaming", for upto 14 days. After that period the phone must be registered with the network operator.
To register the phone take your mobile and your passport to a shop of a Turkish Network Operator (Avea, Turkcell or Vodafone) . Buy a SIM card, and the clerk will register the SIM card's mobile phone number with your handset's IMEI number, along with your personal information.
No customs documents are required. Fee payable.
International Operator 115
Directory Assistance 118
Reversed Charge Calls 131
Fire Department 110
At various establishments like hotels, restaurants, Turkish baths, barbers and hairdressers, tipping at a rate of 5% - 15% of the total is common. Taxi drivers, do not expect tips.
Visitors should remove their shoes before entering a mosque. Women should cover their heads and arms, and not wear miniskirts. Men should not wear shorts. (In certain famous mosques, scarves and overalls are provided for those not suitably dressed).
Turkey has a zero tolerance to classified drugs.
The use of these substances carries stiff penalties, huge fines and, invariably, long prison sentences.
Please Note: Government regulations are subect to change without prior notice.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask us!