Turkey

Turkey Country Information

Turkey straddles two continents and that makes it very culturally diverse. On one hand you have the tradition and majesty of the Asian influence, on another the modern European influence, plus there is an infusion of history and mystery from the Middle East. All this melts together with the relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere.

Once occupied by the Byzantine Empire, Turkey was home to Christian, Romans, Persians, Lycians, Hittite and Phrygians before the Turks took over in medieval times. This rich and varied history has led to a truly fascinating landscape filled with historical sites and archaeological marvels.

Language

Naturally, the predominant language spoken in Turkey is Turkish. However, in the southeast many also speak Kurdish. In major cities and tourist areas French, German and English are widely spoken.  

Religion

The majority of the population in Turkey is of the Muslim faith. Most are Sunni Muslim. That said, the government does guarantee religious freedom so there are other practicing faiths in Turkey. Next to Sunni Muslim the next largest religious majority would be Christianity.

Climate

Turkey has two climate types, Mediterranean and Continental. Naturally, the coastal areas of the country that border the Mediterranean Sea are of the Mediterranean climate. This means they have hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The interior of country is arid and the weather is far more harsh. Winters are cold and snowy and summers are hot and dry. May is by the wettest month in Turkey, with July and August seeing little rain and high temperatures.

Clothing

When traveling to Turkey you would pack according to the time of year you are going and the location for which you are traveling. Generally, lightweight and medium weight clothing is fine for most of the year. That said, some rain gear should also be packed unless you are traveling at the end of summer.    

Mobile Phones

The country code for Turkey is 90. Most international mobile phone companies have roaming agreements in Turkey. Coverage is pretty good, but it can get spotty in some of the rural areas. However, the cheapest way to make calls in Turkey is from a PTT telephone booth with a calling card purchased from a local kiosk.

Getting Online & Checking E-mail

There are some Internet cafes in the more urban areas of Turkey. Many restaurants and hotels also offer Internet access or WI-FI connection.  

Emergency Telephone Numbers

Your Personal Assistant's phone number will be provided upon arrival in Turkey

  • Police Station: 155
  • Fire or Ambulance: 112
  • U.S. Embassy in Turkey: (90) (312) 455-5555

Activities in Turkey

Advisory

Please be advised that you may not be able to participate in certain activities after receiving your medical treatment. For instance, many of the hikes and treks may be off limits to you along with a white water rafting trip on the Dalaman, Koprulu, Coruh or Zamanti rivers. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the appropriate activities in which you can participate.

Exploring Turkey

Its historical significance and varied culture makes Turkey one of the most unique places in the world. Many enjoy a trip to Istanbul where they can take in the sites in the Old City. Highlights of Istanbul’s Old City would include Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, the Archaeological Museum and Aya Sofya Museum.

If you are looking for a spectacle take in some grease wrestling at the Kirkpinar Festival in Edirne during early summer. Or, the even stranger spectacle of camel wrestling at the Selcuk festival on the Aegean coast in mid winter. Better yet, at any time of the year you can see the wild dancing of the Whirling Dervishes in Konya or Istanbul.

A leisurely cruise in  a traditional wooden boat along the Aegean or Mediterranean coasts is another favorite for many tourists. Along with a hot-air balloon flight over Cappadocia or a trek up the Kackar Mountains. Not to mention the innumerable amount of ruins and historical sites including the UNESCO World Heritage site in Safranbolu. 

Day Trips in Turkey

There are many places you can go to get away for the day when you are traveling in Turkey. Escape the hustle and bustle of the popular tourism areas and visit a small town along the coast of the Black Sea. To favorites are Unye and Giresum, both are less crowded than their Mediterranean counterparts. Or, you can take in some of Turkey’s most eye catching scenery by taking a walk along the Lycian Way between Fethiye and Antalya. 

Shopping

There is plenty of shopping for visitors to take advantage of in Turkey. The Kapali Carsi Bazaar in Istanbul has wonderful jewelry and antiques, and the Sultanahmet district is a great place to find traditional Turkish carpets and handicrafts. Favorites for visitors would include items made of coper, oynx, tile, mother of pearl and leather. However, Turkish spices like saffron and sumac are also widely sought after by visitors. 

 Nightlife and the Arts

Many are surprised by how vibrant the nightlife is in Turkey. Istanbul has many clubs that stay open until the wee hours. Taksim Square is a popular clubbing area. There are clubs that play Turkish music and clubs that play music from the world over. There are even several jazz bars in Istanbul.  A popular attraction for local and visitors alike is belly dancing. Many hotels and restaurants have staged belly dancing for their patrons enjoyment. Many visitors enjoy a meal at a meyhane. This is like a tavern with dancing and folk music. Turkish baths are also a popular night activity, along with theatres and concerts in Ankara, Istanbul or Izmir.

Spas

Spas are very popular in Turkey. Galatasaray Hammam in Bayoglu and Cagaloglu Hammam in Sultanahmet both offer a traditional steam bath with scrub and massage. Additionally, there are many day spas that offer both traditional and alternative treatments throughout the country. What’s more, is that many find that taking a bath in the warm therapeutic waters of the natural travertine pools in Pamukkale to be spa like.