Do I need a visa to visit Turkey?
Most nationalities require a visa for Turkey which can be purchased upon arrival at Ataturk Airport. There are normally two types of tourist visas. A single-entry visa allows you to enter Turkey once. After you leave, no matter how long you've stayed in Turkey, you must pay for another visa to enter Turkey again. A multiple-entry visa allows you to enter & leave Turkey multiple times within its period of validity (normally 30, 60 or 90 days) at no additional charge. Make sure you have cash (US dollars, Euros, or pounds sterling) to pay for your visa when you enter Turkey as no travelers cheques or credit cards are accepted, cash only!
If you are arriving overland from Syria, Greece, Bulgaria or with a cruise, most nationalities will be able obtain a Turkish visa at the border or port customs. Visas for longer stays & for study, research or employment must be obtained in advance. Passengers in transit through Turkey who do not leave their port of transit do not require visas. Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip. Rules & regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing & vary for different nationalities therefore you should check visa requirements with relevant consular authority well before travel. Turkish missions abroad are listed at www.mfa.gov.tr
Is it safe to travel in Turkey?
Turkey is one of the safest countries in the world in which to travel & its crime rate is low in comparison to many Western European countries. Interpol ranked Turkey as the safest holiday destination in Europe for travelers. Naturally, we recommend that travelers to Turkey exercise the same precautions they would elsewhere & be aware of security concerns that affect all international travelers. The Turkish Government takes air safety very seriously & maintains strict oversight, particularly on international flights. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has placed Turkey's civil aviation authority in Category 1, in full compliance with international aviation safety standards in overseeing Turkey's air carrier operations.
Is it better to travel independently or go to Turkey as a part of a group tour?
The best way to see & experience Turkey depends on one's knowledge, experience & personal preferences. Turkey is a country of diverse scenery, climate & historical monuments, so travelers are often overwhelmed by the number of places to visit. We often customize individual itineraries in which air transportation, hotels, local day tours & other services are privately arranged to match the specifications of our guests, wether this be for a study group, leisure group, family, couple or individual. Our loyalty to our service suppliers such as hotels, airlines, local tours has given us leverage to negotiate the best deals which we can not advertise as part of our deal. When in the process of writing itineraries, we use these promotions & bundle other promotional rates to offer you the best holiday deal. Meaning that you can still determine the pace, comfort zone, activities & places visited & save money or get more value for your intended budget.
How big are the groups?
Each group is limited to 15 participants. Small groups are an important factor in our travel concept. They allow for more interaction & more personalized service throughout the itinerary.
What is an independent tour?
Independent tours are in sense each group is limited to 15 participants. Small groups are an important ingredient in adventure travel. They allow for more interaction & more personalized service throughout the itinerary.
What is the best time to travel in Turkey?
The most favorable season for travel in Turkey generally runs between early-April & late-October. During the off-season, temperatures are much cooler & snow is possible in mountainous areas. Many visitors enjoy the spring & fall, with their mild weather & small crowds. Coastal regions are particularly popular during the summer. These include resort areas along the Aegean & Mediterranean coast with beaches & yachting facilities. The coastline, especially between Izmir & Antalya, features numerous coves & bays & many nearby ancient cities & is perfect for yachting. Turkey also enjoys many spectacular rivers. They are ideal for canoeing, skiing & rafting. Mountaineering is also popular in mountain ranges throughout Turkey in spring & summer. The high plateaus of the Eastern Black Sea Region are covered by colorful flowers & green pasture during spring & summer. Naturalists will enjoy the diversity of fauna & flora as well as the heart-stopping splendor of the surrounding landscape. Central & Eastern Turkey can receive large accumulations of snow & snow skiing is a favorite winter pastime. Turkey has several ski centers, which are generally open from December through April depending on snow conditions.
What are the most popular travel destinations in Turkey?
From the perfect beaches & ancient ruins of its coast to the pulse of its cosmopolitan cities, Turkey is a study in contrasts. Visitors can lose themselves in the magic of a historic palace before enjoying a world-class meal, or swim amidst Roman ruins before continuing their journey in the comfort of a state-of-the-art yacht.
Whatever your fancy, there are countless things to see & do in Turkey. Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, serves as the gateway for most travelers. Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits on two continents & it offers an abundance of fascinating attractions for visitors. Some of Istanbul's most popular sites include the Bosphorus Strait, the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, the Kariye Museum, the Underground Cistern, Galata Tower, the Tower of Leander, the Princes' Islands & the Grand Bazaar.
From Canakkale Bogazi, also known as the Dardanelles, to the fairytale Crusader castle & sunny beaches of Bodrum, the Aegean shores of Turkey are among the loveliest landscapes in Turkey. The highlights of an Aegean tour are Troy, the site of the legendary Trojan War & its wooden horse; ancient Pergamon, once a great center of culture & now one of Turkey's finest archeological sites; Ephesus, the capital of Roman Asia Minor, dedicated to the goddess Artemis whose temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; Aphrodisias, the center of the greatest school of sculpture in antiquity; Pamukkale, a unique fairyland of dazzlingly white calcified castles; & Bodrum, a charming coastal town with a long, palm-lined waterfront & beautiful beaches.
Antalya province on the Mediterranean coast is Turkey's principal holiday region. It is a paradise for sunbathing, swimming & sports. Best of all, Antalya serves as a convenient hub for nearby archeological attractions. Ancient theaters can be found in a remarkable state of preservation at Aspendos & Perge & visitors can tour the sunken city of Simena in Kekova. Remains of ancient Lycian cities such as Patara, Letoon, Xanthos, Myra & Apollonia are also within easy traveling distance. These are among the most fascinating sites on the Anatolian Peninsula.
Cappadocia in Central Anatolia is one of the most fantastic landscapes in the world & one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. The area's early Christian inhabitants utilized its remarkable rock formations to create more than 220 churches & numerous underground cities in which they took refuge from their persecutors.
Other popular destinations include Safranbolu in the Black Sea Region, an open-air museum of traditional Turkish houses; Mount Nemrut in southeastern Turkey, where enormous stone statues of deities commemorate the first century BC Commagene Kingdom. Konya in Central Anatolia was home to the great Islamic philosopher Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi who in the 13th century founded the Mevlevi Order known as the Whirling Dervishes. Each year in early December, the white-robed Mevlevi commemorate the death of Mevlana with their trance-like turning dance or sema - an amazing sight to behold.
Can I travel to eastern or southeastern Turkey?
It is generally recommended that visitors travel to these regions as part of an organized tour during the summer.
Where should I stay in Turkey?
Turkey offers a wide array of comfortable & modern lodgings to fit any budget. Larger cities such as Istanbul, Ankara & Izmir, offer a range of international chain hotels, as well as many charming locally run Turkish properties. Seaside resorts on the Aegean & Mediterranean coasts & other popular tourism destinations abound with hotels, pensions & holiday villages. Many of the Turkey tour specialists listed in our guide can make hotel reservations. The Ministry of Tourism licenses a number of hotels throughout the country. Rated from one to five stars, they must meet standards set forth by the Ministry. Renovated & refurbished Ottoman mansions, 19th century wooden houses & other historic buildings now operate as special licensed hotels.
How should visitors dress in Turkey?
Casual wear is appropriate for most tour excursions. Women wear pants or skirts, but when visiting mosques it is recommended that they cover their heads with a scarf & both sexes should not wear shorts out of respects for religious customs.
Should I exchange money before I go to Turkey?
The highly favorable exchange rate makes travel to Turkey extremely affordable. Most banks in the U.S. do not have Turkish Lira. However, Turkish currency is easily obtainable upon arrival in Turkey at any exchange office or bank. Daily exchange rates can be obtained from the Turkish Central Bank web site at www.tcmb.gov.tr. This site is in both Turkish & English & gives links to all Turkish Banks. Turkish daily newspapers also publish daily exchange rates. There are ATM machines throughout Turkey, particularly in larger cities & tourist centers. Credit cards are accepted by hotels & most merchants.
Are any vaccinations required for tourists entering Turkey?
There are no vaccination requirements for any international traveler. The World Health Organization web site, www.who.org, provides vaccination certificate requirements by country, geographic distributions of potential health hazards to travelers & information on health risks & their avoidance.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Turkey?
Turkey practices safe sanitation standards & tap water is suitable for bathing & regular tasks such as brushing teeth. However, as is customary in most Mediterranean countries, the majority of locals & visitors drink bottled water. We recommend that visitors follow local custom & drink bottled water, which is routinely served with any meal.
What is a Turkish bath (Hamam)?
Communal baths were used in Roman & Byzantine times, but as the name "Turkish Bath" suggests, they played a significant role in Ottoman culture. At a time when the concept of cleanliness was not yet accepted in Europe, the Turks were very fastidious due to Islam's emphasis on cleanliness. Countless baths were built in the typical Ottoman architectural style throughout the empire. Unfortunately, few have survived to the present. Cagaloglu Hamami & Cemberlitas Hamami, both in Istanbul, are very popular with tourists. A classic bath usually has three sections: changing rooms, a hot room & a cold room. After entering the hamam & exchanging one's clothes for a "pestamal" or towel, you then proceed to the "gobek tasi", a large heated stone where you perspire & are rubbed down by a bath attendant. If the heat proves too much, you can retire to a cooler room. This method of bathing is the most refreshing.
What to buy in Turkey & where to buy it?
Shopping is one of the great pleasures of a trip to Turkey & the rich variety of Turkish crafts makes it impossible to resist buying something. Fine apparel of silk, cotton, leather & wool; artful jewelry; leather accessories; brilliant faience (colored tiles); vessels of copper, brass, marble, meerschaum & alabaster worked by master artisans; & of course heirloom-quality Turkish carpets & kilims, are among the most popular purchases. Great value & an enjoyable shopping experience can be found everywhere, from small towns to big cities. Unique regional handicrafts make shopping that much more enjoyable. Traditional Turkish handicrafts crafts including carpets, ceramics & pottery, tiles, copper items, woodcarvings, decorative glass & embroidery are a major component of Turkish culture. They are a stunning reflection of Turkey's diverse cultural heritage & thousands of years of history.