Turkey

Cosmopolitan cities brimming with modern delights, archaeological sites filled with ancient splendour, curious landscapes straight out of a storybook and picture-perfect coastlines frequented by the jet set… this is tantalising Turkey! Visitors won't be able to forget travelling through this exotic land which sits at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, yet displays a fair bit of Middle Eastern flair.

Turkey Tours & Travel

All our Turkey trips

Best of Turkey

15 days from
USD $1,695
CAD $1,755
AUD $1,720
EUR €1,185
GBP £995
NZD $1,915
ZAR R17,215
CHF FR1,430

Be immersed in the allure of Turkey on this unique adventure. Tour from Istanbul to Ephesus, Pamukkale to the coast,...

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Turkey - Hike, Bike & Kayak

12 days from
USD $1,520
CAD $1,570
AUD $1,540
EUR €1,060
GBP £890
NZD $1,715
ZAR R15,415
CHF FR1,280

An adrenaline charged tour of Turkey. Visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, tour Anzac Cove and hike the Turquoise Coast...

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Turkey Express

10 days from
USD $1,245
CAD $1,285
AUD $1,260
EUR €865
GBP £730
NZD $1,395
ZAR R12,610
CHF FR1,050

Take an express tour of Turkey as you travel to Istanbul, Gallipoli, Selcuk and Pamukkale, and visit Turkey's ancient...

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Turkey Explored

18 days from
USD $1,970
CAD $2,035
AUD $1,995
EUR €1,370
GBP £1,155
NZD $2,220
ZAR R19,970
CHF FR1,660

Discover the best of Turkey on this exciting journey exploring Istanbul, Gallipoli, Fethiye, Cappadocia and Mt Nemrut.

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Real Food Adventure - Turkey

13 days from
USD $2,145
CAD $2,225
AUD $2,170
EUR €1,495
GBP £1,255
NZD $2,420
ZAR R21,720
CHF FR1,825

Explore Turkey, visiting the mouth-watering cities of Istanbul, Ayvalik, Goreme, Gaziantep and Selcuk, and get an...

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Real Food Adventure - Turkey

13 days from
USD $2,395
CAD $2,430
AUD $2,525
EUR €1,755
GBP £1,495
NZD $2,995
ZAR R22,985
CHF FR2,165

Explore Turkey, visiting the mouth-watering cities of Istanbul, Ayvalik, Goreme, Gaziantep and Selcuk, and get an...

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ANZAC Day Dawn Service 2014

2 days from

Travel from Istanbul to Gallipoli for the 2014 Anzac Day Dawn Service. Sleep out under the stars as the ANZACs did 99...

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Anzac Day Dawn Service Centenary 2015

2 days from

Travel from Istanbul to Gallipoli for the 2015 Anzac Day Dawn Service. Sleep out under the stars as the ANZACs did...

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Bite-size Break Istanbul

3 days from
AUD $550

Get behind the scenes of Istanbul’s abundant food scene and discover all the secret spots to taste the city’s best...

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Turkey Encompassed Independent Journey

15 days from
USD $2,852
CAD $2,942
AUD $2,885
EUR €1,985
GBP £1,667
NZD $3,212
ZAR R28,877
CHF FR2,402

Join a small group adventure to Turkey and see Istanbul's Blue Mosque, the domes of Cappadocia, the exquisite...

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Turkey Encompassed

15 days from
USD $2,125
CAD $2,190
AUD $2,150
EUR €1,480
GBP £1,240
NZD $2,395
ZAR R21,520
CHF FR1,790

Join a small group adventure to Turkey and see Istanbul's Blue Mosque, the domes of Cappadocia, the exquisite...

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Turkey trip reviews

Our Turkey trips score an average of 4.73 out of 5 based on 93 reviews in the last year.

Best of Turkey, May 2014

Turkey Explored, May 2014

Articles on Turkey

Is this the best travel film of 2014?

Posted on Tue, 14 Oct 2014 by Intrepid Travel

Some travellers and filmmakers are already calling this “the best travel video ever made”, and there’s certainly no disputing its beauty.

Read more

Turkey: a photographer’s guide

Posted on Wed, 1 Oct 2014 by Thomas Oliver

Planning a trip to Turkey? Taking your camera? This is your one-stop shop.

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10 Reasons You Should be Sailing in Turkey Right Now

Posted on Tue, 22 Jul 2014 by Oliver Pelling

As if you need 10 reasons to be sailing in Turkey right now.

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Finding a great future in Turkey

Posted on Thu, 24 Apr 2014 by Jane Crouch

In its strategic east-meets-west location, Istanbul has attracted migrants and travellers for centuries. Within the Fener and Balat districts, where the population is mostly rural immigrants, is a fabulous organisation [...]

Read more

Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Turkey, you may find yourself travelling by:

Accommodation

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Turkey you may find yourself staying in a:

About Turkey

At a glance

Trips Available: 4
Capital city: Ankara (population 2.9 million)
Population: 78.7 million
Language: Turkish
Currency: TRY
Time zone: (GMT+02:00) Athens, Bucharest, Istanbul
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
Dialing code: +90

Best time to visit Turkey

The climate of Turkey is a typical Mediterranean climate. Generally, the hottest months are June to September and the coldest month is January. December is the wettest month and July and August are usually the driest (yet can still be humid). Tourists tend to favour Turkey from May to October for the regional festivals and cultural experiences. Outside of these months, accommodation in seaside areas may be closed for winter and in eastern Turkey it can be freezing with snow by mid-winter. If you are planning to travel to the east of Turkey during Ramadan, it's important to consider that many restaurants and shops will either be closed or operating on reduced hours.

Istanbul weather chart

Culture and customs

Traditional Whirling Dervishes in Turkey
Modern Turkey is an interesting mix of ancient traditions and contemporary trends, resulting in a unique cultural identity unlike anywhere else in the world. Turkey's geographic position ensures that it receives influences from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and its culturally diverse history adds an extra dimension to an already fascinating country. Travellers will find Turkish people to be polite and quite formal in their greetings, kind and hospitable as hosts and friendly as new acquaintances. It's important to remember that while most Turkish cities are modern metropolises, Turks can still be quite traditional. With Islam being the religion of the majority of the population, Muslim holidays (including Ramadan) are observed, as are other Islamic customs and rules - so acting modestly is essential (especially when visiting mosques and people's homes), as is dressing conservatively. Frequenting hamams (Turkish bath houses) and coffee houses are popular past times of Turkish people, although contemporary hangouts like bars and nightclubs are the standard entertainment for most young people in the big cities, with Istanbul having one of the world's hottest nightlife scenes.

Eating and drinking

Traditional confectionary of Turkey

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savoring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

People visiting Turkey are in for a treat with Turkish cuisine being among the world's best. Home to some of the best produce you can get your hands on, it doesn't matter where you eat - it's all good. From cheap bazaar bites to high-end restaurant cuisine, simple street food and home cooked wonders, Turkish food will rock your world (and your tastebuds).

Things to try in Turkey

1. Gozleme

This spinach and cheese pastry is a tasty, bargain bite that will satisfy everyone (especially vegetarians).

2. Lokum

Love it or hate it, this iconic Turkish sweet treat (known internationally as Turkish delight) can be found in shops, bazaars and street stalls nearly everywhere in Turkey. Made from rosewater, lemon, sugar, corn flour and water, it's relatively easy to make… and even easier to eat (if you're a fan).

3. Simit

For a quick, easy to eat, cheap and filling snack, try a simit (bread ring). Carts selling simit can be found in most cities, usually at bus and train stations, main streets and other busy thoroughfares.

4. Fish Sandwiches

If visiting the Bosphorus, then a fish sandwich is a must-try dish. Just visit one of the moored boats preparing the fish and watch it get wrapped in a bread roll and handed to hungry bystanders. It's an iconic Turkish food moment worth savoring.

Geography and environment

Landscape view of Oludeniz on the Merditerranean coastline in turkey
Sharing borders with Bulgaria, Greece, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, Turkey also has a wide stretch of coastline along the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Seas. Blessed with large tracts of fertile soil, Turkey is one of the world's biggest agricultural producers, and visitors can expect to see many farms, orchards, plantations and areas of permanent crops occupying certain regions. Due to its location, Turkey is home to a wide variety of landscapes, from the rocky, forested coastline of the Black Sea region, to the rolling plateaus of the Marmara, the white sand beaches of the Aegean and the limestone formations of the Mediterranean. Adding further environmental diversity, the Anatolia highlands (considered the heartland of the country) feature rugged mountain ranges, snow-capped peaks and crystalline lakes.

History and government

Cliffside Fethiye Ruins in Turkey

Early History

For thousands of years, classical Greek culture thrived in Turkey despite Roman invasions and Byzantine development. Between the 6th and 11th centuries, what is known as the 'Turkic migration' occurred, seeing millions of people migrate across Central Asia into Europe and the Middle East, thus forming the beginnings of Turkish society. The Seljuq Empire rose to power in the 11th century, giving way to Mongol rule after being defeated by the Mongol armies in the 13th century. By the 14th century, the Ottoman Dynasty had taken over the region, with the Golden Age of the empire occurring between the 16th and 17th century. This marked a period of expansion and growth until territorial losses forced its eventual decline in the 19th century.

Recent History

The Ottoman Empire participated in World War I, aligned with the Central Powers. Some parts of Turkey were then occupied by the Allies after the war, which lead to resistance and the creation of a new parliament and abolishment of the Sultanate in 1922, thus ending six centuries of Ottoman rule.

The Turkish Republic was formally declared in 1923, with Ankara being named as the new capital and Mustafa Kemal 'Ataturk' becoming the republic's first president. Turkey remained neutral during most of World War II, but sided with the Allies towards the end of the war as a gesture of support. Turkey joined NATO in 1952 and more recently, has enjoyed increased stability, prosperity and economic growth fuelled by tourism, mineral mining and agriculture sectors.

Top Picks

Blue mosque in Istanbul under blue skies Intricate Interior of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Beautiful Kocatepe mosque of Istanbul

Top 10 Magnificent Mosques of Turkey

1. The Blue Mosque

The world famous Sultan Ahmet Camii in Istanbul is more commonly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles that feature within. This spectacular building remains ever popular with tourists drawn in by its majestic domes and minarets, beautifully crafted interiors and calligraphy-adorned walls.

2. Kocatepe Mosque

Holding the title of the largest mosque in Ankara, this modern-style mosque was built between 1967 and 1987. Capable of holding up to 100,000 worshippers, the interior is a stunning, golden triumph of craftsmanship.

3. Bursa Grand Mosque

With 20 domes and two minarets, this recognisable landmark of Bursa radiates an aura of peace. Within lies 192 wall inscriptions by Ottoman calligraphers, considered one of the greatest examples of Islamic calligraphy in the world.

4. Fatih Mosque

This fine example of Turkish-Islamic architecture located in Istanbul was built in the 1400s by the royal architect Atik Sinan. Over the years, the mosque has been rattled and damaged by several earthquakes, but repair work has ensured its grandeur lives on with columned courtyards, tiled domes and walls covered in baroque-style calligraphy.

5. Selimiye Mosque

Edirne's Ottoman-style masterpiece was damaged by artillery in 1913 but went unrepaired as a reminder to future generations, and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011. Featuring exquisite tiled mosaics, grand arches and towering minarets, watching the tiled outer walls sparkle in the sunshine is a truly beautiful sight.

6. Sehzade Mosque

This imperial mosque housed in Istanbul is sometimes referred to as the 'Prince's Mosque', named after the prince for whose memory it was built in. Featuring a massive colonnaded courtyard and a symmetrical yet simple interior, this design of this mosque is quite unique in comparison to many others in Turkey.

7. Isabey Mosque

Located in Selcuk and built in 1375, this historic mosque was built using some of the columns and stones from the ruins of Ephesus which lay nearby. Time has given this mosque an air of faded beauty that renders it a true classic.

8. Ortakoy Mosque

This waterside mosque has a prime position on Istanbul's shimmering Bosphorus. Its neo-Baroque style makes it a stand out and is a wondrous sight to behold at both night and day.

9. Yeni Mosque

One of the most well-known mosques in Istanbul, the Yeni Mosque, is also known as the New Mosque. Featuring 66 domes, a huge courtyard and an ornamental ablution fountain, the rich, gilded interiors are a highlight.

10. Rustem Pasha Mosque

This Ottoman style mosque was built in the 16th century and is celebrated for the high quality Iznik tiles that decorate the façade and interior walls with geometric and floral patterns.

Shopping

Tourist sits on local handmade rugs

With one of the biggest bazaars in the world, some of the best fashion boutiques and a thriving arts scene, shopping in Turkey is an enriching affair. Whether you're buying or window shopping, indulging in a little retail therapy in Turkey is a fun experience.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in Turkey

1. Hand Woven Carpets

Turkish carpets are a worldwide phenomenon and represent centuries of artistic tradition woven into a beautiful work of art. Bargain as best as you can to get a good price, but keep in mind that craftsmanship this good demands to be rewarded with a fair price. Try and find an authentic seller via word of mouth as fake, inferior quality carpets are out there.

2. Jewellery

Turkey's artisan-made gold and silver earrings, rings and bracelets are good buys - with bazaars, boutiques, museum gift shops and silversmiths offering a wide range of designs from modern to Ottoman-inspired.

3. Brass and Copper

Visitors will find an assortment of brass and copper decorative objects for the home in the bazaars of Turkey. Serving platters, pitchers, trays, pots and urns will add some exotic flair to your kitchen at home.

Festivals and Events in Turkey

Commemoration of the Anzac Landings

Thousands of people head to Gallipoli to pay their respects to fallen Australian, New Zealander and Turkish soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War I. The moving dawn ceremony is an iconic event that grows in popularity with each year, so if you're hoping to head to Gallipoli for Anzac Day, plan ahead.

Efes Pilsen One Love Festival

This annual music festival held in Istanbul sees two days of rock, pop, folk and electronica entertain masses of locals and visitors keen on soaking up some tunes and summer sun.

Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships

Want to see thousands of oiled-up men wrestle and grapple with each other? Then this is the festival for you! This wrestling championship is held over several days where Turkey's national sport is celebrated with gusto and fanfare. Apart from the one-on-one wrestling bouts, gypsy bands, traditional food and belly dancers provide the perfect sideshow attractions.

FAQs on Turkey

Please note that the procedures for obtaining a visa for Turkey will change on 10 April 2014, and from that date onwards visas will no longer be able to be obtained on arrival.

For those arriving in Turkey on or before 9 April, 2014:

For Turkey, an entry visa is required for citizens of the following countries (not limited to this list):
- USA (US$20 on arrival),
- Canada (US$60 on arrival; CAD$75 for advance application)
- U.K. (US$20; GBP45 for advance application)
- Australia (US$60 on arrival)
- Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Portugal & Spain (varies from US$10-100)

The visa costs can change at any time and with little notice depending on the political climate of the region.

For those arriving in Turkey on or after 10 April, 2014:

Visas for the above nationalities can no longer be obtained on arrival and travellers must apply for an e-visa before they go. Please go to https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ for all the information required about how to obtain an e-visa.

From 01 January 2015, foreigners entering Turkey must carry a passport with at least 60 days validity beyond the expiry date of their visa or residence permit.

A valid passport is sufficient for citizens of most other countries including New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland for stays up to 3 months. All other nationalities please check with your nearest Turkish embassy.
While tipping isn't mandatory, a tip of small change will be appreciated by restaurant staff. It's also common to tip staff while visiting hamams. It's not necessary to tip taxi drivers, although rounding up the fare for convenience is commonplace.
Internet cafes are quite common in Turkey's large cities. Expect less internet availability in rural and remote areas.
Mobile phone coverage is good in Turkey, especially in large cities. Coverage may not be available in more remote areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your mobile carrier before you leave home if you wish to use your mobile.
You'll have to adjust to different standards of hygiene and sanitation while in Turkey. Flushable toilets are available in some places, although you're more likely to come across squat toilets (especially when traveling in rural areas).
Beer in a bar = 5-10 TRY
Simple lunch = 10-20 TRY
Hamam visit = 25-30 TRY
Restaurant dinner = 30-50 TRY
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Turkey. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Major credit cards are widely accepted in tourist shopping areas and large hotels, but are less commonly accepted by smaller vendors, in remote towns and rural areas. Make sure you carry enough cash for purchases, since credit cards aren't always an option in Turkey.
ATMs are available in large cities but are less common in rural areas and smaller towns. Be prepared for this by having enough cash before travelling out of the city.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Apr 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day
May 1 Labor and Solidarity Day
May 19 Commemoration of Ataturk/Youth and Sports Day
Aug 8 Ramadan Bayrami (End of Ramadan)
Aug 30 Victory Day
Oct 15 Kurban Bayrami (Feast of the Sacrifice)
Oct 28/29 Republic Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/turkey/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Turkey Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Turkey

1. Be considerate of Turkey’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

5. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

10. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

11. Ramadan is the fasting month for all Muslims. During this month no food, drink or smoking is permitted during daylight hours. While non-Muslims aren't expected to fast, it's recommended to try to avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours.

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

In Turkey, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:

Mavi Kalem

This social welfare program established in the wake of the devastating earthquakes of 2000 assists children from disadvantaged backgrounds with education and training. Many of the people helped by this organisation are rural immigrants who face isolation and impoverishment, making this program critical to the lives of Turkey's most vulnerable people.

Image supplied by Mavi Kalem.

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Portrait of a Turkish FamilyIrfan Orga
Istanbul: Memories and the CityOrhan Pamuk
Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey Ed. Ashman & Gokmen
The Flea PalaceElif Shafak
The Towers of TrebizondRose Macaulay
SavaronaJ Patrick Hart