Turkey, not only offers natural beauty and impressive historical landmarks. It also has infrastructure to support the large number of visitors that enter the country each year. It features excellent public transportation in its major cities, well-connected flights, accessible travel packages and more.
You can explore different areas of the country and marvel at its richness. However, there are several things to know before making a trip. From Turkey’s entry requirements, top destinations, mosque etiquette, to travel advisory. Read further to find out more.
The US and Turkey do not have a visa waiver agreement. What this means for US passport holders is that they must get the Turkey e-Visa online before their trip to the country.
The Turkey online visa requirements for US travelers are straightforward. To apply, a passport, email, and debit or credit card are necessary. In the past, it was possible to get a visa on arrival. However, the country has eliminated on-arrival visas to facilitate immigration border control.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism contributed 11.3% to Turkey’s GDP in 2019. Furthermore, it supports approximately 12.3% of Turkey’s total employment.
Turkey is ranked highly as a travel destination, with notable cities like Istanbul and Cappadocia experiencing a tourism boom.
The country is ranked 6th in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index for the Middle East and North Africa region.
Turkey offers a wide range of destinations. From its capital city to the Turkish Riviera, there are numerous options for all kinds of travelers. The list below includes the top-ranked places to see in Turkey:
Istanbul: Set between Europe and Asia, this incredible city has a fascinating history. Some of the top landmarks include
- Hagia Sophia: A former Greek Orthodox cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum.
- Blue Mosque: Known for its blue tiles surrounding its interior walls.
- Topkapi Palace: The former palace of Ottoman sultans.
- Bosphorus Cruise: A boat ride on the strait that separates Europe and Asia.
Cappadocia: The magical landscape of Cappadocia is home to unique rock formations, underground cities and hot air balloon rides. The fairy chimneys and cave churches are a must-see for visitors.
Ephesus: An ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city. It houses the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Pamukkale: Translated as “Cotton Castle”, it’s famous for its white terraces made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water.
Antalya: A resort city with a yacht-filled Old Harbor and beaches flanked by large hotels. It’s a gateway to Turkey’s southern Mediterranean region.
If you rather escape the crowded tourism destinations, here are some gems you might want to check out during your trip:
Amasya: Amasya is a small town in Central Anatolia, Turkey that boasts stunning Ottoman-style houses, ancient rock tombs, and a rich history that dates back to the Hittites.
Safranbolu: The historic town of Safranbolu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a delightful step back in time. Its well-preserved houses, narrow cobbled streets, and traditional Turkish baths make it a wonderful place to visit.
Aizanoi: Aizanoi, often called the “Second Ephesus,” contains ruins of ancient structures including a well-preserved temple dedicated to Zeus and an ancient stadium.
Lake Van: Located in eastern Turkey, Lake Van is the country’s largest lake. The medieval Armenian church of Akdamar Island and the sprawling views of the surrounding mountains make it a serene getaway.
Mardin: Located on a hilltop overlooking the Mesopotamian plains, Mardin features stone houses and labyrinthine streets.
In 2022, Turkey was ranked as the fourth most popular global tourist destination. Its diverse offerings, from ancient ruins to modern shopping districts, make it a top choice for travelers from around the world.
Travelers often praise the country’s excellent public transportation, the kindness and helpfulness of its residents, and its vibrant mix of cultures.
Consider getting a local SIM card to stay connected and access helpful apps for navigation and translation. You can get them at the airport or from retail stores, the main mobile operators include Turkcell, Vodafone, and Türk Telekom.
Get to know the locals. Turkish people are known for their hospitality. A simple “teşekkür ederim” (thank you) can go a long way in building rapport.
Join “Free Tours” to understand their history on a deeper level. Engage by drinking black tea, “çay”, which is served in small glasses with a sugar cube on the side. For instance, when shopping in a bazaar, merchants might offer you a cup while bargaining their products.
Be mindful of how you dress to enter religious temples, buildings, and mosques. Mosque etiquette is especially important.
If you wish to enter a mosque, please remove your shoes. Silence your phone, and be still during prayer. Men and women enter the mosque from different entryways and remain seated on separate sides. Do not interrupt a person while they pray. If you ask a question while they are praying, they will not answer until they have finished.
As a traveler, it’s essential to respect local traditions, rules, and customs.
The US government issued the following travel advisory for Turkey. “United States citizens should exercise increased caution due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions”.
Turkey has been a target of terrorist attacks, most of which have happened in Ankara, Istanbul, and the southeast region of the country. The most notable recent attack occurred in 2016 when three suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport which resulted in the death of 45 people and left hundreds more injured.
However, terrorist attacks have also occurred in France, Spain, Belgium and several other European countries. Therefore, generally speaking, traveling to Turkey is no more dangerous than traveling to other countries.
While the overall crime rate in Turkey is low, travelers should remain vigilant and avoid large crowds or gatherings.
Risks are always present when traveling abroad. Be cautious of your surroundings, keep an eye on your belongings, and keep your mobile out of sight.