10 Tips for Traveling Turkey

I promised a post on tips and lessons learning on traveling in Turkey because there are a few things I thought you should know that didn’t exactly fit into the ABC’s or the deep, deep look inside a Hamam. Though you should read both if you’re vacation planning. Some of these I learned before I went {as I had been warned in advance} and others were learned from experience.


  1. The infamous rug guy. If you really do not want to be led into a rug shop (I did for the full Turkish experience), don’t talk to anyone. Okay, not really. But if you are standing outside a Mosque or tourist destination and a Turkish man with great English starts offering you up historical information, telling you he’s, “not an official guide” – he is rug shop man and he’s going to try and lead you back to his shop. You don’t need to be fearful, but I assume you don’t have time to go and see every rug shop in the land.card4_1
  2. When in a shop, whether that be a rug shop or just a stall at a bazaar, the merchants will try and get you to sit down. They could be packaging up what you do intend to buy, but they still want you to sit down so they can offer you tea and show you EVERYTHING else they think you might, maybe, possibly like and buy. It gets rather annoying.
  3. Cover up.  Have some respect, this is a conservative culture. Unless you’re at a beach town/resort {even then I wouldn’t walk about the lobby in your bathing suit} you shouldn’t be showing much skin.  You’ll make every uncomfortable and most likely, you’re going to feel damn uncomfortable.
  4. In touristy areas, the waiters will place a bunch of meze on the table. If you do not want to pay for the meze, do not touch it. These aren’t free like bread in America- they’ll charge you for it.
  5. Booze is pretty expensive in Turkey. Turkish wine is not expensive and not too bad. Drink the wine.
  6. If flying into Istanbul either as your general arrival in Turkey or to do domestic Turkish flights, there are two airports. Ataturk and Sabiha Gocken. NEVER FLY IN OR OUT OF SABIHA GOCKEN. Only us Ataturk. You’ve been warned.
  7. If going to Pamukkale to see the natural hot springs and UNESCO World Heritage site…well I’d say don’t go. If you do go, expect to be majorly disappointed as they’ve closed down 90% of the springs and now manually control which ones they have open. Not so natural. And while Cleopatra’s pool was cool…it also has algae and old gross dudes in Speedos floating all around it. You can skip this.
    If you're expecting this, you're in for some heartbreak.

    If you’re expecting this, you’re in for some heartbreak.

    This is what you get.  Dingy brown and and not full springs.  Wah.

    This is what you get. Dingy brown and and not full springs. Wah.

  8. Turkish Toilets. They are the euro toilet 99% of the time. That being said, I always got a real toilet. If you are in a restaurant they have real toilets. And if you pay to use a bathroom, I always found one {or two} real toilets at the very end. Test every stall door. Most are euro but you have a chance. If there’s a public restroom that you don’t have to pay for, they probably won’t have an actual toilet and just the porcelain hole in the ground. And places like gas stations, be ready with 1 TL because you’ll have to pay to use the restroom.url
  9. Using Public Transit. Get a card from a machine {avoid guys pressuring you to just give them cash and they’ll swipe through}. It costs maybe 1 TL for the card but it’s refillable and you only need one because you can pass back. But here’s the thing- you must have cash for the machines to top up your card. Not even 1 or 2 TL coins, cash only. If you end up having one person go through and not enough for the second person, we found random people are always being super nice and will swipe their card to get you through. Told ya, the Turks are best.
  10. Guided Tours: as I mentioned outside every attraction are dudes offering guided tours. They are legit and if you want to really know the history of the place you’re seeing, it’s totally worth it. Or if you want to skip a line. But be skeptical or as clear as humanly possible when negotiating these tours. Here’s what happened to me: We only got a tour for Kaymakli {underground city in Cappadocia} and it was actually really nice. But we had agreed to a tour at the Hagia Sophia when we were standing in an endless line realizing we wouldn’t be able to go in because we had a flight to catch. A man approached and said {rough translation}, “oh, come take a tour, it’s cheaper than you’d pay for the ticket.” I asked how much his tour cost, he said 25TL a person…and I said, “oh, how much is the ticket?” and he said it was 30TL, “See it’s cheaper than you’d pay for the ticket even and you get to pass the line.”   So I’m trying not to get scammed and say, “Okay so for the two of us, 50TL, and that’s everything- that’s the ticket as well.” He says yes, yes. We cut the line; he goes up and gets our tickets. I am assuming he has some special deal where he pays 5TL for tickets at wholesale or something like that {I am pretty sure Rome was like this in that paying for a tour at the Coliseum that gave you entrance inside was cheaper than tickets alone and you got to cut the line.) He is saying to us as we’re walking up, “Oh yes, you walk through and I will meet you on the other side” of the turnstile. An American behind us mutters, “Oh yeah, I’m sure he’ll meet you there. They all will meet you there.” But in my head I think- I don’t care if he doesn’t meet us on the other side, I just needed to skip that line. Well he hands us our tickets and he asks to be paid, and I give him 50TL. He says he also needs 60TL for the tickets. I’m like, “What? No. You said 50TL total.” He then becomes irate and I give him another 10 {to make it 60 TL} to pay for the tickets and apologize for the miscommunication. He gives us the tickets all the while saying I tricked him, he should make me go all the way to the back of the line, and what a clever girl I must think I am using him. I did feel awful, but it was just a miscommunication {or the fact that he was trying to pull one over on me}! Regardless, we got through that line so I’m going to count it as a win. But be ready for that.

1 Comment

  1. Bridget

    great tips! Ive been wanting to go to Turkey for ages so I’ll make sure you re-read this post before I go 🙂


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