Turkey travel advice

An unbeatable sail

Powell Ettinger from our supplier the Small Cruise Ship Collection, explains the joy of a gullet cruise: "Gulets are small, intimate vessels, traditionally built and beautiful looking that are very flexible as to where they can go. They can moor in large harbours, tiny fishing ports, or quiet and hidden coves that the captains know. They are sometimes described as tiny floating boutique hotels, and are fantastic for passengers who like variety: walks ashore, swimming, small restaurants in tiny ports, barbecues, leaping into the sea from the deck, snorkelling or just relaxing on board."

Cool seasoning

Ornella Giordano from our supplier Exodus has Turkey travel advice covering the diversity of experiences available to visitors – including some unexpected seasonal suggestions:
"From walking through Cappadocia’s eerie landscape to kayaking over sunken cities, mountain biking through forests, jumping into pools of fresh mountain water or swimming with turtles in quiet bays, Turkey has something to capture the heart of every traveler! While summer is the classic time of year to go, winter offers snow inland – and you can snowshoe through the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia or the wintry wilderness of the Taurus Mountains."

The road less travelled

Serkan Cetin from our supplier Journey Anatolia explains the rewards of heading way off the beaten track in his Turkey travel advice: “One of the highlights of our trips is gaining a true insight into local culture, especially fascinating in the villages of north-eastern Turkey where dramatic mountain ranges rise up from the Black Sea coast and reach peaks of around 4,000m. Here, local villages are so remote that barely any tourists make it there, and the nomadic people continue a way of life that has been practised for centuries.”

Health & safety in Turkey

FCO advice for Turkey

Most visits are trouble free, however terrorism is sadly a reality of traveling in these times. Turkey has experienced terrorist activity, including on a nightclub in Istanbul in January 2017, for which the organisation Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), claimed responsibility. Two people also died in an attack outside a courthouse in Izmir in January 2017, and Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed responsibility for this. This group also claimed responsibility for bombings and fatalities at Besiktas football stadium in Istanbul in December 2016. Terrorist groups have publicly threatened to attack tourist sites in Turkey.

Always get up to date information at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advisory department before traveling to Turkey and also ensure that your travel insurance covers your trip, given that it is a destination affected by terrorism in certain regions. Read more details on FCO and insurance here. Remember, too, that British Nationals need a visa to visit Turkey. You can get an e-visa online before you travel.


Though hospitals in major cities like Istanbul can be world-class, many others may not match standards elsewhere in Europe – but simple preventative action will go a long way to making sure you don't have to put them to the test. For help with basic care you can visit a health center (sagulik ocagul), while pharmacists can provide advice and medicines that may be prescription only in the UK. Turkish doctors generally expect to be paid in cash, so check your travel insurance will make payments direct to providers or reimburse you for any expenditure. Take a note of the emergency number: 112 It is not advisable to drink tap water in Turkey – stick to bottled, boil tap water for 10 minutes or use purification tablets or filters. Do not drink lake or river water – it may well contain viruses or bacteria. The far southeast of Turkey may have a low risk of malaria. Consult your GP or travel clinic if you are not sure whether to take antimalarial medication; it’s not required in most tourist regions. Rabies is also present – rural areas are most risky. Thoroughly clean any bite from a warm-blooded animal immediately. Turkey's small white scorpions can give a painful sting, though pain should pass after a day. There is a risk of snake bite in rural areas, so do not walk barefoot or stick your hands into holes or cracks when exploring wilderness or at ancient ruins. If bitten, bandage the wound tightly and seek medical help quickly.


Turks can have a more laissez-faire attitude to safety than other European countries, so don't expect to find barriers by holes and steep drops or lifeguards on beaches. Drivers can also show what seems a hair-raising take on four-wheeled progress. If crossing a road, be aware that the idea of 'right of way' may not be acknowledged, even if you are on a crossing with a little green man. Always react to approaching cars and don't assume they will stop. As well as the terrorism issues mentioned above, be wary of getting caught up in protest marches – mainly in Istanbul but also some other cities – which can turn violent, and have seen tourists accidentally being tear-gassed or otherwise hurt. Keep abreast of the latest situation via the FCO travel advice website and local news sources. Travelers – especially solo travelers – should be aware that sexual assaults in hotel rooms, against both sexes, have taken place in central and eastern Anatolia. Do not insult or make any comment that could be taken as derogatory about revered Turkish figures such as Ataturk, or the Turkish flag, government or people. Even if you claim you spoke in jest or during a friendly argument, you can be reported to the police and heavily fined or even imprisoned. Most people in Turkey are genuinely friendly and keen to help visitors see the best of their country. However, there are always a few people who wish to take advantage of tourists, so always use your judgement. Be particularly careful if a stranger offers you a drink, particularly in big cities, resorts or on overnight trains – scams do happen. Do not buy supposedly ancient coins or artefacts you may be offered by touts at ancient sites such as Ephesus. It is a serious crime, punishable by prison.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Turkey or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Turkey tips from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Turkey travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
The restaurants are very good but very variable in price. The ones that catered for Turkish families were the most reasonable.
– Martin Short
"It is an amazing experience and you will emerge feeling absolutely incredible and really refreshed! Be prepared to be living in quite close quarters with your group on the boat and embrace the shipwrecked feeling of being completely out of touch with the outside world for a few days." - Fran Armitage

"If you go in summer - as we did - temperatures can be in the mid thirties and walking and mountain biking can be HOT!" - Alan MacDonald

"Be honest about your needs/wishes- they catered superbly for us and we changed our vacation from the more usual one they do." - Sarah Gabbott
Sturdy trainers with good grips for hiking, canyoning and white water rafting are really important and will make it more enjoyable.
– Karren Probyn
"[On gulets] be aware there is very limited space in cabins - and they get very hot in summer months so most people sleep on deck. Take ear plugs and high factor suncream." - Sarah Wheatly

"We could have done with at least 3 if not 4 days in Istanbul. Make sure you visit Chimaera at night fall. And there were no ATMs in Cirali, so get Turkish Lira in Istanbul." - Jean Tallis

"Make sure you have suggestions or questions for the guide. We made sure to ask questions but in retrospect we should've asked more!" - Johanna Novales

"Come with an open mind and heart. Sit, watch and smile. Being a lone traveler is quite safe and fun here." - Ann Brown
Written by Norman Miller
Photo credits: [Page banner: Christine McIntosh] [Snake: Lisa Zins] [Good food: Kusadasi-Guy] [Boots: Warren Talbot]