You’ve probably heard all about the charm of Turkey, with its stunning landscapes and bustling, diverse cities. You’re ready to try your first taste of baklava and try your hand at bargaining in a bazaar. You also remember that it’s located at the gateway between Europe and Asia and borders some Middle Eastern nations. Naturally, as you plan to travel there, you may be asking yourself, “Is Turkey safe?” From government travel advice to whether it’s a safe place to travel alone, we’ve got you covered.
Turkey Travel Advice
There was a higher level of instability and political unrest a few years ago, which has now calmed down in the majority of the country. The US State Department lowered its safety advisory to Level 2, meaning it’s safe to travel to most places but you should exercise caution in certain areas. The FCO has also lifted some travel warnings that were in place a few years ago. The main issues of concern now are related to anti-government demonstrations. Do your best to avoid getting caught up in protests, even if they seem to present an interesting photo opportunity!
The FCO travel advice for Turkey has warned travellers to avoid any area within 10 kilometres of the border with Syria, including all non-essential travel to the provinces of Sirnak, Kilis, Hatay, Diyarbakir, Tunceli and Hakkari. Due to political tensions and security operations, civilians could be at risk in those areas. Additionally, access to the Mount Ararat area has been temporarily restricted by the military, and climbing the mountain is not allowed.
If you’re not British or American, it’s a good idea to check your country’s government website for any additional travel advice currently in place specific to visitors coming from your country.
As far as natural disasters, some regions are prone to earthquakes. There was an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 in 2020. Though these types of disasters are infrequent, you should find out what the local safety procedures are in the city where you’ll be staying. Here’s a helpful guide to what you should do in the event of an earthquake.
Is Turkey Safe for Tourists?
Millions of tourists flock to Turkey each year to take in its stunning landscapes, pristine turquoise beaches and fascinating world-class cities. In fact, 51.9 million people visited in 2019, the highest number of tourists on record for the country and nearly 14 percent more than in the previous year.
Tourism brings a significant contribution to the country’s economy, with revenues reaching USD $34.5 billion in 2019. So as you can imagine, the government doesn’t want to lose tourists anytime soon and works hard to ensure the safety of its visitors.
Of course, like in any country, there is some level of crime. Here are a few tips for staying safe in Turkey.
- Be careful not to show off expensive gadgets or money while you’re out in public, as they could make you a target for thieves or pickpockets. Consider using a money belt to keep your money and passport hidden.
- As far as nightlife and eating out, if a stranger offers you food or drink, be cautious about accepting them. Always buy your own drinks in bars and keep a close eye on them. Also, though it’s not likely to happen, be wary of people who approach you to take you to a nightclub or restaurant – it could be a scam where you end up paying the tab!
- It’s a crime to criticize the Turkish government and it’s illegal to photograph certain public buildings. It’s also illegal to take any type of drugs. You definitely don’t want to be caught up in the legal system in a country where you don’t know the language.
- It’s a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in Turkish to help you communicate with locals. Keep a business card from the hotel where you’re staying in case you need to show it to someone if you get lost.
- If you need a taxi, rest assured that the official taxis are safe. If you’re a foreigner, there’s a chance you could be charged an unfair rate or be refused a ride if a driver doesn’t want to go where you ask. You can ask your hotel for the most reputable taxi companies and even ask them to book one for you.
- Don’t be afraid to take public transportation – it’s a safe and convenient option. Keep an eye on your belongings if you hop onto a crowded metro or bus, of course!
Is Turkey Safe for Holidays?
The Turkish Republic boasts over 8,000 kilometres of stunning coastline in addition to the fascinating cities of Istanbul and Ankara and rock formations in Cappadocia. If you stick to the main areas that visitors frequent, you’ll find Turkey is a wonderful place to spend your holidays.
Many people choose to vacation in the Turkish Riviera. This region is famed for its stunning turquoise sea and sandy beaches. Antalya is one of the largest cities in the region, and you may be asking yourself, “Is it safe in Antalya Turkey?” You’ll be relieved to hear that Antalya is one of the safest cities for both locals and holidaymakers. As in any tourist destination, make sure you lock up your hotel room or villa and pay close attention to your valuables.
Central Turkey, particularly Cappadocia, has become a hot tourist destination in recent years. Visitors flock there to see its pointed rock formations and the colourful hot air balloons dotting the skies. Cappadocia is another of the country’s safest areas.
As far as bigger cities, Ankara, the nation’s capital, has invested in security measures in recent years and is now considered one of the safest cities. Istanbul is like most major cosmopolitan cities, safe in general but you should be careful to avoid pickpockets and thieves.
Avoid travelling to Eastern Turkey, as it’s the least stable region. Anywhere close to the borders with Iraq or Syria are highly dangerous due to armed conflict. If you’re not a journalist or humanitarian worker, chances are you won’t be heading in that direction.
As we’ve mentioned, most of Turkey is highly safe and welcoming for tourists. Stick to some of the most-visited regions and exercise the normal precautions and you’re sure to have a lovely holiday.
How Safe Is Travel to Istanbul in Turkey?
Are you worried about travelling to Istanbul because you’ve heard it’s dangerous or there’s a terrorist threat? Actually, despite some instability with neighboring countries, Istanbul itself is quite safe.
The city is one of the most important tourist destinations in the whole country, so the government has worked hard to equip it for visitors and keep it safe. There are police specifically dedicated to tourism around the city. Police do stop people to check IDs more frequently than in the past, but it’s to ensure the safety of the city.
There is a vibrant nightlife scene in Istanbul full of friendly and liberal people. Furthermore, there are many travellers visiting the city at any given time, making it easy to connect with like-minded people at hostels and bars.
Obviously, you should be aware of your surroundings – you’re in one of Europe’s densest and busiest cities. Staying alert will help you avoid pickpockets and scams, especially in areas like the Old Town where more tourists congregate.
Is Turkey Safe for a Family Holiday?
If you want to take your children on an unforgettable holiday, Turkey is the place. There aren’t necessarily a lot of places aimed at children specifically, but there are endless sights to see – beaches, museums, parks, and the hot air balloons in Cappadocia, just to name a few. There are plenty of discounts and opportunities to skip the queues when you have kids with you as well.
Turkish people love children and family life is central to the culture. Families almost always travel together with their children. In fact, friendly locals may interact with your children, and this could be a fun and fascinating cultural experience for your family.
It’s easy to find family accommodation for a comfortable stay. It may not be so easy to locate changing tables when you’re out in public though and do take care about breastfeeding in public, as it could draw unwanted attention.
Is Turkey Safe to Travel Alone?
Solo travelling has become almost a rite of passage for millennials. Although there will always be certain risks of this type of travel, the opportunity to see Turkey as a solo traveller shouldn’t be missed. You can meet fantastic people and get to know both locals and fellow travellers too.
There are some extra precautions that you can take to maximise your safety and make it an incredible experience.
- Try to go on at least one group tour, especially at the beginning of your trip. This can help you connect with other travellers and get the lay of the land for when you’re ready to explore on your own. Taking a group tour is much safer than accepting a tour from a random person on the street who may offer to show you around.
- Learn some Turkish phrases to help you communicate with locals. This could lead to making friends, or at the very least, it will help you out if you get lost.
- Get a prepaid SIM card for your phone when you arrive. They are super easy to get your hands on, you can even do so at the airport. This is a good way to stay in contact with your family and friends at home and alert them as to where you are.
- Try to fit in the best you can. You can buy some Turkish clothes, watch how the people around you behave and assimilate. Looking like a lost tourist is just going to attract unwanted attention. If you do meet people during your trip, it’s best not to tell them you’re travelling alone.
- Watch out for scams, as they can happen anywhere. People who travel alone could be susceptible to certain scams – for example, being approached by a person or a group of people offering you something or to have a drink together. Turkish people are sociable and friendly, but if something feels “off” or if the person is overly persistent, decline politely but firmly. It’s always best to be alert and wary of people who approach you in public.
Is Turkey Safe for Women?
Generally speaking, Turkey is very safe for women. The hospitable culture means you’ll meet friendly locals everywhere you go and people will go out of their way to help you. It’s a good idea to dress modestly unless you’re at the beach. Long dresses, skirts and trousers are best, especially in smaller towns where it could be considered offensive to dress in a different way. If you visit a religious site, make sure your legs and shoulders are covered and bring a head covering such as a scarf.
If you’re wondering if Turkey is safe for a woman to travel alone, many women do so every year and have incredible experiences. It’s not exactly the norm for women to be seen travelling alone there though, so you may attract attention you weren’t expecting. Do your research to book a hotel or hostel with a good reputation, as you don’t want to stay alone in a sketchy place. There are plenty of female-friendly hostels where you can meet like-minded solo travellers.
As locals are highly welcoming, you may be invited to eat or drink with someone, or men may approach you to chat or ask for your phone number. Of course, you can firmly but politely refuse. Walking around after dark alone is usually not a good idea. Sexual assault is rare but can happen.
Here are some situations you should avoid in order to be cautious:
- If you go out to a bar alone, ensure that you don’t drink too much.
- Always order your own drinks and keep a close eye on them.
- Use good judgment when talking with strangers.
Being aware of your surroundings and keeping your head clear will help you to have a fun and memorable nightlife experience.
Is Turkey Safe for Brits?
The Turkish Republic attracts over a million British citizens each year and is among Brits’ favourite travel destinations. After a plummet in tourism after an attempted military coup in 2016, the number of visitors climbed back up to record numbers.
The UK’s Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises Brits to steer clear of the eastern region and the borders with Syria and Iraq to avoid any security risks. Otherwise, the FCO states that Brits can travel there trouble-free.
Before travelling to Turkey, check the UK government website for the latest travel advice for visitors arriving from the United Kingdom.
Is Turkey Safe for American Tourists?
A few years ago, political tensions between the US and Turkey led to the suspension of all tourist visas for US citizens. The ban has now been lifted and Americans can once again visit with no restrictions. The relationship between the countries has had its ups and downs, but the issues are purely political. Americans travelling there can enjoy the same hospitality and friendliness that the Turkish show to all visitors. Being an American poses no additional risk whatsoever to your safety.
If you’re concerned about safety, you can join the US Department of State’s Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This sends your data to the US embassy in Turkey so they can be in touch with you and vice versa.
Is Turkey Safe at Night?
While you should be cautious wandering around at night, like in any country, Turkey is generally a safe place to explore after dark. The nightlife scene in larger cities is described as dazzling, with plenty of shows, parties, bars, and even night cruises. As far as drinking, it’s recommended not to accept drinks from others. Counterfeit and otherwise strong alcohol is an issue in some places, and you definitely don’t want to be caught off-guard late at night in a foreign country.
If you’re in a smaller town or countryside area, drive slowly and carefully at night as roads are not well lit and may not be in good condition.
Is It Safe to Drink Tap Water in Turkey?
It’s generally not recommended to drink Turkish tap water. Your hotel will likely have a water filter so you can carry a refillable bottle with you.
As far as food goes, the only thing to watch out for is street vendors selling meat that’s been sitting under a heat lamp. Otherwise, Turkish food is delicious and cheap, as well as safe.
Is It Safe to Buy Property in Turkey?
Thinking of buying a house or flat for your holidays or to rent to other vacationers? Turkey is an attractive option thanks to the expansion of the tourism sector, and prices are still relatively inexpensive. However, you should be careful and do your research. There have been plenty of property scams that have set people back thousands of dollars.
The most prominent scam is known as the “off-plan property” scam. This is where a developer offers a fantastic price on a house or flat that’s to be built and convinces unaware – usually foreign – people to buy into the scheme, and then disappears with the money. While buying off-plan property looks like a great deal, saving buyers upwards of 30 percent, it pays to do your homework.
Here are some tips to help you purchase a property that will make a great investment.
- If you want to buy off-plan, consider buying from a government-backed developer, or at least one that has a solid, long-standing reputation. You should also always seek the advice of an established real estate agent.
- As with buying any property, take your time and don’t feel pressured into buying in a rush.
- You’ll need the advice of a lawyer to walk you through the paperwork and get all the necessary permissions from various organisations.
If you’re prudent and ensure you have the right agents on your side, Turkey can be a wonderful and lucrative place to own property.
Is It Safe to Get a Hair Transplant in Turkey?
Did you know that there’s a huge demand for hair transplants in Turkey? In fact, it was the leading country in the world for hair transplants in 2015, and thousands of men travel there each year to have the procedure done.
It’s almost always cheaper to have a hair transplant done in Turkey than any other country. In fact, in the US, you’d pay upwards of USD $15,000 while in Turkey you can pay USD $2,000 to $4,000. Why is that, you ask? The cost is determined by factors such as the cost of labor and materials, the local economy, the company’s profit margin, and any extra services.
The major difference in price naturally leads many to wonder if it’s safe, or if it’s some back-alley procedure done by an unqualified person. Fortunately, most of the more than 300 hair clinics in Turkey are well-recognised and safe.
As you search for the right clinic, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- You’ll want a clinic where the doctor is present for the procedure, and want a doctor who has the right qualifications. If they are registered as a member of ISHRS or ABHRS, you’re on the right track.
- It’s recommended to only use clinics that perform hair transplants in a hospital. It’s actually illegal to run this type of business out of a residence.
- Do the staff speak your language? Since you’re having an important procedure done, you’ll want to fully understand what they tell you at each step.