Official Language: Turkish, but Kurdish and Zazaki are also spoken.
Religions: Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion Islam is the dominant religion of Turkey, but there is also Christian and Jew’s
People: Turkish, Kurdish, Zazas and a small percentage of a mix of other nationalities.
Area: 783,562 km2
Capital City: Ankara
Government: Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic
New Year's Day: 1 January
National Sovereignty and Children's Day: 23 April
Labor and Solidarity Day: 1 May
Commemoration of Ataturk: 19 May
Victory Day: 30 August
Republic Day: 29 October
The following Islamic holidays are based on the lunar calendar
Raamazan Bayram: After the end of Islamic month Ramadan, 3 days religious holiday
Kurban Bayram: 70 days after the end of Islamic month Ramadan, religious holiday for 4 days.
English is Turkey's second widest spoken language and you will easily find English speakers in the major cities and holiday resorts. Restaurant menus and other information for foreigners are often printed in English.
Visa - Do I need a visa to travel to Turkey?
Ordinary passport holders require tourist visa to enter Turkey which is generally bought on arrival at the Turkish airport. A three months multiple entry sticker type visa at the port of entry in Turkey costs £10 or through the Consulate General for £68. For more detailed information you will need to contact the Consulate General for the Republic of Turkey in London or visit their webpage. http://www.turkishconsulate.org.uk/en/visa.asp
Currency / Exchange rate / Banking
Turkey’s currency is the Yeni Türk Lirası (New Turkish Lira; YTL). Lira comes in coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kuruş and a 1 lira coin, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lira. Still makes sense to wait until you arrive in Turkey to change your money into lira since you will probably get a better exchange rate inside the country than outside. Turkish lira is virtually worthless outside Turkey, so make sure you spend them all before leaving.
ATMs dispense new Turkish lira to Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro card holders. Look for these logos on the machines; they are found in most towns. Virtually all the machines offer instructions in English, French and German. You can usually draw out about €350 per day. US dollars and Euros are the easiest currencies to change, although many banks and exchange offices will change other major currencies such as UK pounds and Japanese yen. You may find it difficult to exchange Australian or Canadian currency except at banks and offices in major cities.
In the cheapest restaurants locals leave a few coins in the change tray. Elsewhere you should tip about 10% to 15% of the bill. Some more expensive restaurants automatically add a 10% or 15% servis ücreti (service charge) to your bill, but there’s no guarantee this goes to the staff, so you may want to tip the staff directly. Tips are not expected in cheaper hotels. In more expensive places a porter will carry your luggage and show you to your room. For doing this (and showing you how to turn on the lights and the television) he’ll expect about 3% of the room price.It’s usual to round up metered taxi fares to the nearest 50 kuruş, so round up YTL4.70 to YTL5. Dolmuş drivers never expect a tip. In Turkish baths you should tip around 10% to 20% to the masseuse/masseur. In the oriented hamams the fixed price may already be so high that you may assume that service is included, but it usually isn’t and a tip is appreciated.
If you are shown around a site that is not normally open to the public or are given a guided tour by the custodian, you should certainly tip them for their trouble. A few YTL for 10 or so minutes is usually fine.
Turkey is GMT+2, that is to say two hours ahead of the UK
During the summer season, and in the main cities and resorts, many shops are open seven days a week and stay open until late. Museums – 09.00-17.00 Tuesday to Sunday Chemists – 09.00-19.00 Monday to Saturday 24-Hour duty chemists are open on a rote basis. Check the window of your local chemist for further information. Banks – 09.00-12.00 and 13.30-17.00 Monday to Friday Post Offices – 08.00-20.00 Monday to Saturday and 09.00-19.00 on Sundays
For meteorologists, Turkey has seven distinct climatic regions, but from the point of view of most casual visitors, the most important distinctions are between the coast with its moderate winter temperatures and hot, humid summers, and the inland areas with their 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 impassable with snow from December through 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.
Bring medications in their original, clearly labeled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. There are no compulsory vaccinations for visitors entering Turkey though it is a good idea to be up-to-date with polio and tetanus, and if you are travelling to the east of the country, typhoid.
The mains voltage for electricity is 220V and 50Hz, meaning that wall sockets in Turkey take two-pin plugs. You will need an adaptor if your appliances use three-pin plugs. These are usually easily purchased at all the major airports in the UK.
There are no hard and fast rules but it is best to use common sense when deciding what to wear. If staying on a beach resort it is fine to dress as you feel comfortable (i.e. bikini, shorts and short dresses) though when going into town to shop or eat it may be an idea to change into a dress or trousers. For city breaks relaxed clothing is the most suitable with comfortable shoes and casual trousers and/or a dress if you intend to do lots of walking. When visiting mosques you should take off your shoes at the entrance and ladies should cover their hair; often scarves are provided on the way in. Both sexes should dress modestly with no shorts and arms and shoulders covered during visits to mosques.
Turkish cuisine varies across the country. The cooking of Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, and rest of the Aegean region inherits many elements of Ottoman court cuisine, with a lighter use of spices, a preference for rice over bulgur, and a wider use of sea foods. The cuisine of the Black Sea Region uses fish extensively, especially the Black Sea anchovy (hamsi), has been influenced by Balkan and Slavic cuisine, and includes maize dishes. The cuisine of the southeast—Urfa, Gaziantep and Adana—is famous for its kebabs, mezes and dough-based desserts such as baklava, kadayıf and kanafeh.
Especially in the western parts of Turkey, where olive trees grow abundantly, olive oil is the major type of oil used for cooking. The cuisines of the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions are rich in vegetables, herbs, and fish. Central Anatolia is famous specialties, such as keşkek (kashkak), mantı (especially from Kayseri) and gözleme.
A specialty's name sometimes includes that of a city or region, either in or outside of Turkey, and may refer to the specific technique or ingredients used in that area. For example, the difference between urfa kebab and adana kebab is the thickness of the skewer and the amount of hot pepper that kebab contains. Urfa kebab is less spicy and thicker than adana kebab.
A typical Turkish breakfast consists of cheese (beyaz peynir, kaşar etc.), butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, and kaymak. Sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage), pastırma, börek, simit, poğaça and soups are eaten as a morning meal in Turkey. A common Turkish specialty for breakfast is called menemen, which is prepared with tomatoes, green peppers, onion, olive oil and eggs. Invariably, Turkish tea is served at breakfast.
Homemade food is a must for Turkish people. Although the newly introduced way of life pushes the new generation to eat out, Turkish people generally prefers to eat at home. A typical meal starts with soup (in the winter), followed by a dish made with vegetables or legumes boiled in a pot (typically with meat or minced meat), then rice or bulgur (crushed wheat) pilaf in addition of a salad or cacık (made from diluted yogurt and minced cucumbers). Another typical meal is dried beans cooked with meat or pastırma mixed or eaten with rice pilav and cacık.
Although fast food is gaining popularity and many major foreign fast food chains have opened all over Turkey, Turkish people still rely primarily on the rich and extensive dishes of the Turkish cuisine. In addition, some traditional Turkish foods, especially köfte, döner, kokoreç, börek and gözleme are often served as fast food in Turkey. Eating out has always been common in large commercial cities.