Turkey is by far one of the most amazing countries I’ve ever traveled to. It is much bigger than I imagined, incredibly diverse, and the people are so welcoming and friendly. The food was among the best I have ever had in my life. The experience was a 20/10. I expected it to be amazing and it FAR exceeded my expectations. Here is the my full itinerary if you’re planning a trip: 12 Days in Turkey, The Perfect Itinerary.
Here are some things I spent a lot of time researching before my trip to Turkey!
Traveling in the Times of Coronavirus
Since we’re living in crazy times of an uncertain pandemic, usually the first question asked is “Is it safe?”. The answer for me, is yes. As safe as you’d be in your home country, if not more. Mask wearing is strictly enforced, particularly in Istanbul (one of the main hotspots due to the density of population). So much to the point that in certain areas there was a police officer on every corner making sure masks were worn properly. Temperatures were checked at EVERY entrance, seriously everywhere. No one with a temperature is roaming around Istanbul.
Also the Turkish government apparently has a good tracking system for corona contact with its citizens. To travel, Turks need a certain code making sure they were not in contact with any corona carriers.
Lastly, although they do not require a negative test upon entry, there is the option at the airport to get a test for around $16.
What to Wear in Turkey
A big concern for me, as a woman, before going to Turkey was the dress code. I always try to be respectful of the local culture when I travel and so from what I read, I decided to bring along lots of long skirts, flowy pants, and a range of long sleeve and short sleeved tops. However, upon arriving in Istanbul, I realized that they are very open and liberal in regards to dress. There was a wide range of outfits, from full burkas to mini skirts and crop tops.
Obviously at religious sites it is required to wear long bottoms and to cover the shoulders (and usually the head), but on the street I felt comfortable to wear a wide range of outfits. Short shorts were common among many Turkish girls. Tight dresses, crop tops, and high heels were also prevalent. Usually I go by what I see the locals wearing, so I ranged from shorts to dresses, to long flowy pants…just depends on the occasion.
Is it safe?
Is it safe to travel to Turkey/Istanbul? In short, yes. I felt extremely safe during my entire stay in Turkey. The people were overall friendly, welcoming, and very helpful. Of course scams and thieves exist everywhere, but normal precautions will, in my opinion, be enough.
In Istanbul at night, just like in any big metropolitan area, I would use extra caution especially if you are a female traveling alone. Although I will stress that at no point did I feel unsafe during my stay in Turkey, it is always wise to lean to the side of caution.
Getting Around -Taxis, Buses, Flights
Only take official taxis. They will be yellow or orange, and have “Taksi” written on them. They are generally new cars that have the taxi meter installed in the mirror. Although all the taxi drivers I encountered automatically used the meter, don’t let any of them convince you to agree on a fixed price. There is also the Turkish version of Uber “BiTaksi” that you can download on your phone. Pay with card, type in destination, etc. I found it very useful.
The most convenient way to travel across Turkey’s vast landscapes is by plane. There is a wonderful system of domestic flights in the country. They are cheap, usually ranging between $20-$50 and very reliable. Just about every big city has an airport nearby and it’s certainly the best method to see a lot of this diverse country with a tight schedule.
Turkey has a wonderful bus system! We all know there are many options of cheap domestic flights for travel within the country, but also consider the buses! It’s an interesting way to see off the beaten path areas of the country. They are very fancy, and contain air conditioning, a TV in each seat, and one even offered us coffee, tea, and ice cream during our ride!
Renting a car. Renting a car can be very cheap and a great option. For example-in Goreme we rented a car for the day, drove a few hours away for a day trip, and returned it that same night. It was inexpensive and very much worth it. However, renting a car to road trip across Turkey can be pretty expensive. The fee to drop off the car at a different city was more than the car rental itself for 5 days!
- From my experience, the locals in Istanbul speak very limited English. I found Google Translate to come in very handy for conversations with taxi drivers, waiters, and mostly anyone we tried to speak with.
- Turkey is very inexpensive. An average meal for two costs about $15 (for a very full meal). Accommodations can start at $30 a night. Transportation is also not pricey at all. Turkey is great if you’re on a budget!
- Not really a tip-but the food is AMAZING. Try everything!!! I still dream about some of the meals I had in Turkey. Everything was so fresh and tasty!
- VERY IMPORTANT thing to do know before your trip to Turkey! You cannot use booking.com or hotels.com while in the country. They are also working on banning Airbnb as well, but for now, it is still legal. So it is advisable to make all your accommodations before your trip
Any other questions? I’d be more than happy to answer 🙂
Lots of love and safe travels , Danielle, Colorful Sisters