Turkey

Turkey is an amazing country that beautifully combines oriental flair and European comfort. It offers wonderful beaches, a warm sea, luxurious hotels, and chic boutiques. History meets modernity, and everyone can find an activity to their liking and discover many amazing secrets. Welcome to Turkey, where the country eagerly awaits your visit.

Turkey on the Map

Turkey on the map

Geographical Location

Turkey spans two continents, with 97% of its land situated on the Anatolian Peninsula, separating the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. A smaller portion extends into the Balkan Peninsula, which is part of Europe. This dual-continent positioning places Turkey in both Europe and Asia.

In Europe, Turkey shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria, while in Asia, it borders Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Known as the «country of the four seas,» Turkey’s coasts are lapped by the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, and the Sea of Marmara.

Safety for Tourists

Turkey is generally regarded as a safe destination, attracting millions of tourists annually. However, certain challenges exist in this Mediterranean paradise.

Big cities may have pickpocketing issues, so travelers should remain vigilant, especially in crowded areas. Traffic can be dense, and drivers may not always follow strict rules, necessitating caution when crossing roads.

Sun exposure and infections are common risks in southern climates, making it crucial to practice sun safety and maintain good hygiene.

While Turkey has few dangerous animals and plants, tourists should be aware of the presence of poisonous snakes, spiders, scorpions, and millipedes. Caution is advised during sightseeing.

Public Holidays in Turkey

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Turkey embraces a vibrant array of public holidays, providing ample opportunities for Turks to celebrate and enjoy their time off. These holidays include:

  1. New Year’s Day: Celebrated on January 1st, marking the beginning of the new year.
  2. Republic Day: Observed on October 29th, commemorating the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
  3. Ramadan and Kurban Bairam: These religious holidays are significant, with Ramadan marking the month of fasting and Kurban Bairam (Eid al-Adha) symbolizing the Feast of Sacrifice.

In addition to national and religious holidays, Turkey hosts various festivals, designed to appeal to both locals and tourists. Some notable festivals include:

  1. Sand Figures Festival in Antalya: Showcasing intricate sand sculptures created by talented artists, this festival attracts visitors to marvel at the ephemeral artistry.
  2. Camel Battle in Selcuk: A unique and traditional event where camels engage in friendly battles, providing entertainment for spectators.
  3. Tulip Festival in Istanbul: Celebrating the beauty of tulips, this festival decorates Istanbul with vibrant colors, offering a delightful experience for locals and tourists alike.

These celebrations and festivals add a festive atmosphere to Turkey, allowing both residents and visitors to partake in the joyous spirit of the country.

Fun and Adventure in Turkey

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Turkey offers a diverse range of entertainment options for tourists, ensuring a delightful experience for every type of traveler. The well-established tourism infrastructure contributes significantly to Turkey’s appeal as a destination. Here are some exciting activities and attractions for visitors:

1. Beaches: The pristine beaches along the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas are a major draw, providing clean sand, gentle surf, and breathtaking natural beauty.

2. Water Parks: Numerous water parks, located near beaches and towns, offer family-friendly fun with thrilling rides and attractions.

3. Water Activities: Surfing, diving, and various water sports are available throughout Turkey, particularly in the Aegean islands, with schools providing instruction for beginners.

4. Theme Parks: Turkey boasts amusement parks akin to Disneyland, with the Land of Legends in Antalya offering an exciting and affordable entertainment experience.

5. Historical Sightseeing: Rich in history, Turkey features ancient sites like the ruins of Troy and iconic landmarks such as the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, providing a glimpse into its cultural heritage.

6. Nature Exploration: Special excursions, including safaris, rafting adventures, and hot air balloon flights, allow visitors to explore Turkey’s diverse landscapes.

7. Hamam Experience: A visit to a traditional Turkish bath, or hamam, is a must for relaxation and achieving a sense of Zen.

8. Culinary Delights: Turkish cuisine is renowned for its gastronomy. Istanbul offers gastronomic tours where visitors can savor oriental sweets, cheeses, coffee, and Turkish raki, immersing themselves in the country’s culinary traditions.

Important Information about Turkey for Visitors

If you are planning a trip to Turkey, here are some of the most important things to know:

Language

The official language of the country is Turkish. It is a member of the Turkic language group and is spoken by 77 million people. Most native speakers live in Turkey, but Turkish is also spoken in Germany, Northern Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Cyprus.

However, in the tourist areas of the country, one can easily encounter people speaking English or Russian.

Population

The country is currently home to around 85 million people, with most of them residing along the coast.

Turks make up the largest ethnic group in the country, accounting for 75% of the total population. There are also significant Kurdish, Armenian, Greek, Azerbaijani, and other minority populations that have historically lived in the region.

  • More facts about Turks, their character, and local culture can be found in this article.

Currency

Turkey’s official currency is the Turkish lira, and it follows a division where one lira is equivalent to 100 kuruş. The currency experiences frequent fluctuations due to a relatively high inflation rate, approximately around 65% per year. For the convenience of tourists, bringing dollars or euros is often recommended, as these foreign currencies can be readily exchanged in Turkey. Additionally, the use of bank cards is widely accepted as a means of payment. Travelers are encouraged to keep track of the current exchange rates and use reliable currency exchange services during their stay.

Religion

Turkey is officially a secular state with no designated official religion. However, Islam plays a significant role in the country, and the majority of the population adheres to this religion. Notably, Turkey distinguishes itself by not strictly enforcing Sharia law, setting it apart from some neighboring Muslim nations.

Beyond Islam, there are other religious influences in different parts of the country. Orthodoxy maintains a strong presence in western Turkey, while the Armenian Gregorian Church holds influence in the eastern regions. Additionally, the Nestorian Assyrians and the Yezidi Kurdish syncretic religion have notable positions in various parts of Turkey. This diverse religious landscape reflects the country’s historical and cultural richness.

Climate

Most of Turkey experiences a mild maritime climate. The southern regions have a maritime Mediterranean climate, while the northern areas enjoy a maritime temperate climate. In contrast, the southeast of the country features a subtropical, arid climate with semi-desert conditions.

The central and eastern regions stand out due to their mountainous terrain, characterized by altitudinal zonality.

The Mediterranean coast offers an extended beach season lasting for 8 months, from April to November. On the Aegean coast, the swimming season is slightly shorter, spanning from May to October. During the summer, temperatures can reach up to 35 degrees Celsius, with minimal rainfall. In winter, temperatures may drop to +15 degrees, and in mountainous regions, frost and snowfall are not uncommon.

The average seawater temperature in Turkey during summer ranges from +25 to +28 degrees Celsius, in spring from +17 to +20 degrees, and in autumn from +22 to +25 degrees. It’s important to note that these figures can vary depending on specific locations and prevailing weather conditions.

Natural Disasters

Turkey is situated in a region characterized by high seismic activity, making strong earthquakes a relatively common occurrence. A notable recent earthquake took place on February 6, 2023, resulting in the tragic loss of over 50,000 lives. This earthquake primarily impacted the eastern parts of the country, which have a less developed tourism infrastructure. However, there is an ongoing concern about the potential risk of a devastating earthquake in the western regions of Turkey.

In addition to seismic risks, there is a potential for tsunamis along the coasts, while mountainous areas face threats of landslides and avalanches. The country is also susceptible to severe flooding and significant forest fires. It is crucial for residents and visitors alike to stay informed about safety measures and emergency protocols to mitigate the impact of these natural hazards.

  • Read more about disasters in Turkey in this article.

Political System

Turkey is a presidential republic and a candidate for EU membership. The executive branch is represented by the Presidential Cabinet, and the legislative branch by a unicameral parliament.

Administratively, the country is divided into 81 provinces, and unofficially into 7 geographical regions: Anatolia, Mediterranean, Black Sea, and so on.

The capital is Ankara, located in central Turkey, and it is home to 4.6 million people.

Major Cities and Resorts

Istanbul is the country’s largest city and its historic capital, with over 15 million inhabitants. It is a city with centuries of history, founded by the Greeks under the name Byzantium. It later served as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.

Every year, Istanbul is visited by more than 10 million tourists who are drawn to its famous cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and monuments from ancient history.

Izmir is a city on the Aegean coast with 3.4 million inhabitants. It is a significant commercial and industrial center with many historical monuments and points of interest. Very close to Izmir is the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Antalya, the resort capital of Turkey, has a population of just over a million people. However, during the peak season, the population doubles due to the influx of tourists. Antalya is renowned for its beaches, comfortable hotels, amusement parks, and, of course, the ancient ruins and monuments that can be found throughout the city.

Symbols of Turkey

Many people associate Turkey not only with its resorts and the sea but also with various national symbols. Here are some of the most famous ones:

Rakia or Raki – a strong alcoholic drink made from grapes and anise seeds, often enjoyed with cheese or watermelon.

Tulips – This is where the beautiful spring flower began its victorious journey across Europe.

The fez is a famous headwear, which is a predominantly red felt cap. The fez originated in Turkey, not in the Moroccan city of Fez, which it is named after.

Turka is a ladle used for making coffee. Crafted by skilled artisans, the copper turka can be considered a masterpiece and has long been one of the most popular souvenirs brought back from this country.

How to Get to Turkey

All major Turkish cities have international airports that connect the country with the rest of the world. There are airports in Antalya, Izmir, Bodrum, Alanya, and three in Istanbul. Most tourists arrive in Turkey through these airports.

Another popular way to travel to Turkey is by sea. Hundreds of liners, ferries, and other vessels ply between Turkey and other countries in the Mediterranean region.

Another way to get to the country is by train. Turkey is connected by rail to the European Union via Greece and Bulgaria, and there are routes to Georgia, Syria, and Iran.

Cost of Vacation in Turkey

When planning a vacation in Turkey, it’s advisable to carry cash in dollars or euros for easy exchange into liras at specialized offices, banks, airports, or hotels. However, it’s worth noting that the exchange rates at hotels and airports may not be as favorable.

Turkey is renowned for offering affordable holiday options, with tour packages typically ranging from $1200 to $1300, often inclusive of various amenities. This all-inclusive approach helps minimize the need for substantial cash on hand. A budget of $2000 is generally sufficient for a ten-day tour for two people, providing flexibility in spending.

For those with more modest budgets, a minimum of around $300 is feasible for a seven-day holiday. This allows for a more economical vacation while still enjoying the diverse attractions and experiences Turkey has to offer.

Please Share Your Experience

If you have already visited the country, please share your experiences in the comments. Feel free to add your thoughts on what you liked best, the things you enjoyed about the country, and any recommendations you may have for other tourists. Your recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

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