Useful Turkey Info

About Turkey

Turkey has so much to offer the traveller with its breathtaking natural beauty, unique historical sites and the famous Turkish hospitality. Walk across the soil that holds intact remains from the Hittites to the Ottomans and more classical Hellenistic sites than Greece! Nearly every major empire has conquered, occupied and left their trace on these lands.

Turkey is a country with a double identity, poised delicately between East and West. The only NATO member in the Middle East region, the country has recently been accepted as a candidate for membership of the EU. Yet although in many respects Western Turkey retains its frustrating differences, and its fascinating contradictions: mosques co-exist with churches, and remnants of the Greco-Roman Empire, ancient Hittite and Neolithic sites, crumble alongside modern culture. Politically, modern Turkey was a bold experiment, founded on the remaining Anatolian kernel of the Ottoman Empire and almost entirely the creation of a single man, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. An explicitly secular republic, though one in which almost all of the inhabitants are at least nominally Muslim. It’s a vast country and incorporates large disparities in levels of development. At the same time, it’s an immensely rewarding place to travel, not least because of the people, whose reputation for friendliness and hospitality is richly deserved

Geographical Area

814, 578 sq kms - 3% on the European continent and 97% in Asia. It is bordered by Europe and the Aegean Sea to the West, the Caucasus Mountains to the East, the Black Sea in the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. With 7000 kms of coastline, snow capped mountains and volcanoes, natural wonders, immense rivers, pristine beaches, crystal clear waters and rich agricultural valleys, welcome to Turkey.


2005 est. : 69,660,559 (growth rate: 1. 1%); largest city: Istanbul 12 million; capital city: Ankara 5 million; birth rate: 16. 8/1000; life expectancy: 72. 4; Literacy rate: 87% (2003 est. )

Time Zones

Turkey is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Meant Time. During day light saving Turkey is 3 hours ahead of GMT, which is from the last Sunday in March to the last Saturday in October.

Health & Safety

All clients travelling with City Of Sultans Travel must have personal insurance to cover all medical and repatriation costs. Please take your insurance policy with you. You will be asked to produce the policy number and emergency contact details by the tour guide at the beginning of your tour.

Whilst there are no mandatory vaccinations for travellers to Turkey it is advisable to ensure typhoid, polio and tetanus inoculations are up to date. Some travellers feel more confident with hepatitis A and B and meningitis inoculations as well. Rabies exists in Turkey in some rural areas although it is extremely unlikely that you will come in contact with a rabid animal, especially whilst on this tour. Immunisation is available in either a series of three injections over a period of one month (lasts 3-5 years) or a single visit booster dose that lasts only 6-12 months. Please consult a medical practitioner for advice.

Bottled water is readily available throughout your tour and we recommend that you purchase this rather than drink the local tap water. Whilst the local water is usually heavily chlorinated and safe many people find they get upset stomachs after drinking such supplies. It is advisable to carry some Imodium with you in case you get an upset stomach from the difference in cuisine. The different spices and foods may be a little upsetting to your stomach and it is best to be prepared… just in case.

It is often difficult to find the precise medication that is available in one's home country and for this reason we recommend that you carry all current medication with you.

Toilet paper is rarely provided so it is a good idea to carry a spare roll in your bag. It should be placed in the basket beside the toilet, not flushed away, for you might block the pipes.

Each year, thousands of visitors return home from Turkey with nothing but happy memories. Turkey is a safe country compared to most of the world. Street crime is not a big problem, although, you should always take the normal travel precautions. It is wise not to accept gifts of food or drink from any strangers for the risk of possibly being a victim of theft by drugging. Take care with your passport, credit cards and money - a money belt to fit beneath your clothes is highly recommended.

Religion & Local Law

90% of Turkish people are Muslim, however, for many people this is more of an identity rather than a strict religion. You would never guess this statistic walking around much of Western Turkey, especially Istanbul, which in part is a trendy, cosmopolitan city. Turkish Law is secular and guarantees complete freedom of worship to people of all religions. It is recommended that at least one set of modest clothing is taken with you. It is a sign of respect to cover your shoulders and legs when visiting mosques and also attracts less unwanted attention. You cannot visit a mosque during prayer time unless you are praying.

If you have any questions concerning appropriate (and legal) behaviour please ask your tour guide or leader. If accused of and detained for illegal behaviour, the Turkish authorities are obliged to inform your embassy or consular representative immediately, you can also insist on communicating with them directly. Turkish authorities command a high level of respect so be polite at all times.

Turkish law requires everyone (Turks and non-Turks) to carry ID at all times. Always remember that in Turkey you are bound by Turkish law.


You should always carry some back up cash or traveller’s cheques separate to the rest of your money and cards. So if you loose your wallet or handbag, you have enough back up money to at least make some phone calls and eat for a few days.

A mixture of cash and credit cards are the best forms of currency. Credit cards are also accepted in most of the restaurants, bars and pubs. MasterCard and Visa are most welcomed; American Express cards work at some ATMs and Amex offices. Credit cards are also useful for cash advances, which allow you to withdraw Lira instantly from associated banks and ATMs throughout Turkey. Cash cards and ATM’s are widespread in most of Turkey; in Istanbul, Canakkale, Selcuk, Pamukkale, Fethiye, Kas, Cappadocia, and Ankara. When travelling, plan your budget and use the ATM machines before leaving the main towns.

Always try and use ATM’s that are attached to banks while the bank is open, so that if the ATM swallows your card, you can go into the back and get the card back.

It is much cheaper to convert money to Turkish Lira in Turkey than at home. Using an ATM or a credit card will often get you the best possible exchange rates; the post and telephone office (PTT) and banks offer very reasonable rates too. In the past, because of Turkey’s high inflation rate, it was best to convert money on daily basis. However, the currency has remained steady against all major currencies for the past 3 years.

At the beginning of 2005 Turkey dropped 6 zeroes from its currency and took the opportunity to introduce several new denominations of the New Turkish Lira (YTL): 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. Please note that in 2006 the old currency became redundant and has no value.

It is difficult for us to specify the money that you will spend per day, however, as a general rule GBP £20 to £25 (in Turkey) per day, GBP £20 to £40 (in Greece) per day can provide you with additional meals and optional entrances. Should you wish to purchase souvenirs or other gifts, of which there is a diverse range, you will have to budget for these.


The southern coastal regions of Turkey are warm and pleasant even at night during the summer. In winter the temperatures rarely fall below 7 °C making the Turquoise coast an ideal destination even in early spring and late autumn, in fact many of the resorts stay open all winter.

The central Anatolian plateau because of the altitude can make Goreme cool in the evenings even in summer but during the day it can be hot, often in the mid thirties. In spring and autumn it can be very crisp and suitable clothing is advised.

The following chart will give you some idea of the temperatures to be encountered.
















































Marmara: Istanbul, Gallipoli
Aegean: Ephesus, Pamukkale
Mediterranean: Fethiye, Kas, Olympos
Central Anatolia: Cappadocia, Ankara


The official language of Turkey is Turkish. In addition, between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the population speaks a different mother tongue, usually Kurdish or Arabic. Turkish words are spelled with an adapted Roman alphabet. The language is phonetic; each letter has only one sound that is always pronounced distinctly.
You'll find you won't have much of a problem with the language barrier. English is well communicated by many Turks.


Turkey is a shopper's paradise and can be one of the great experiences of travelling in this country because there are great bargains to be had. Although, depending on what you're buying, you may have to be very careful to ensure that the products are authentic. Moreover, you must shop around, know a little about what you're buying and bargain hard, which is the norm in Turkey!

Hand made Turkish carpets are world famous and can vary from a few pounds to thousands of pounds depending mostly on quality and a little on size. But be careful; together with hand-made, naturally dyed and natural fibre (cotton, wool and silk) carpets, there are fake machine made carpets made with chemical dyes and synthetic fibres. Istanbul has the widest range of carpets, however, expect to pay more than areas such as Cappadocia and Kusadasi.

Kilims or pileless rugs are also very popular in Turkey. These are woven rather than knotted to a base and are also sold as large pillows where you provide the filling once you get home.
Copper, brassware and ceramics are some of the other attractive souvenirs for the house and can serve a utilitarian function. Turkey is also famous for its high quality and great value gold, silver and leather.

Eating & Drinking

Turkey is a gourmet's paradise, although, many unadventuresome travellers come away having only consumed vast quantities of doner and shish kebab that they are familiar with from home.

You can start your day with a delicious "Turkish breakfast"; Turkish bread, white cheese, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, boiled egg, jam or honey and of course Turkish tea. Alternatively, try the Menemen, which is scrambled eggs with peppers, onion, tomato and if you're lucky salami. At most of the hotels, you will be served a 'buffet breakfast' with a wide variety of foods.

There are two types of restaurants in Turkey; restaurants which have an a-la-carte menu with food on display that will be cooked for you and 'ready meal' restaurants which have a range of previously prepared dishes in warming trays for you to choose. The beauty of 'ready meal' restaurants is that you can try a wide range of small dishes for a relatively cheap price. During your tour, we will give lunch breaks at such type of restaurants to save your money and time.

In more salubrious restaurants you can order 'mezes' (appetizers) where a bewildering array of dishes is available. These are small dishes ranging from stuffed vegetables and tightly rolled cheese pastries to pickled vegetables, courgettes and aubergines in their many guises. Vegetarians are especially catered for in mezes, which usually come with a range of purees and vinaigrettes.

Main dishes are generally on display; you choose and the meat or fish is taken away to be prepared. Fish is usually charged by the weight. Shish and doner kebabs are served everywhere but perhaps better still are Adana kebabs - spicy (not by Thai standards!) minced meat with a sprinkling of the purple sumac herb.
Do not forget to save room for dessert, which is almost always sweet! Highlights include "baklava" (a flaky, sweet nut pastry, usually with pistachio), "kadayif" (shredded pasty dough filled with nuts and drenched in syrup), "tavukgogsu" (a creamy sweet made of pulverised chicken fibres), and "helva" (sesame paste).
Travellers often find it surprising that tea (cay) rather than coffee is the national drink of Turkey. Grown along the Black Sea coast it has become an essential element of socialising. It is served in small fluted glasses with a very small spoon and saucer and cubes of sugar alongside. Coffee is also popular in Turkey and you can find numerous alternatives of Cappuccino, Nescafe, Espresso...

Carbonated soft drinks are available everywhere in Turkey - Cola or Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite, natural fruit and pulp drinks served in bottles include orange, lemon, apricot, peach and sour cherry.

You will find a wide variety of alcoholic drinks in Turkey, we suggest you don't try them all in one night!Beer (bira) is ever popular. Efes, Pilsen and Tuborg are the leading brands, which are very refreshing in the summer. They are sold in bottles, cans and drought. Establishments often have an agreement with only one brewery and therefore will only sell one brand. Wine is grown in areas as diverse as Thrace and Cappadocia. The best domestic white wines are "Cankaya", "Villa Doluca", and "Kavaklidere", made in Cappadocia, while "Yakut" and "Kavalikdere" produce the finest red. "Raki", the national aperitif served with ice and water which turns the clear spirit cloudy, is a very warming drink although you may find it a bit rough at first - persevere. Domestically produced gin, vodka and brandy are also available in most of the bars, pubs, and restaurants.

A basic lunch and dinner (main meal + salad) in a local restaurant will cost you between GB £2. 00 and £4. 00 (AU $5. 00 and AU$10. 00), a soft drink about £0. 75 (AU$2. 00).

The beer prices differ depending on the region (town) and the atmosphere of the bar-pub-cafe-restaurant-disco etc. A pint of beer will cost you between GB £1. 25 and £2. 00 (AU $3. 00 and AU$5. 00) in a backpacker pub and bar.


Bahsis (bahk-sheesh) or tips are common place and customary in Turkey, for everything from table service in a restaurant to a massage in a Turkish bath. It is more often a reward for good service and for most local people, an essential means of supplementing their income, meagre by Western Standards. Often tourists to a country don’t know how much to tip or who to tip, often tip more than is expected by local standards.

The tipping kitty will cover small tokens of the groups appreciation to people such as porters, concierges, house keeping, local guides at points of interest, train staff and your bus driver whom has travelled the entire journey with you.

We will collect a small amount of tipping kitty money from each of you and distribute it upon your behalf. If at any time you would like to know specifically if a person received a tip, please ask your tour guide and they will gladly tell you or even ask you to hand over the groups tip on the groups behalf. A copy of the tipping kitty break down is available in Istanbul if you wish to view it.

The breakdown per person is as follows and will be collected by your guide on Day 2 of your tour: For each night spent in Turkey you pay 2.5YTL and for each night in Greece 1.5YTL.

For example if you spend 5 nights in Turkey which comes to 12.5YTL, plus 9 nights in Greece which comes to 13.5YTL, your total tipping kitty to pay will be 26YTL. Yet again, if at any stage you wish to know where your tips are going your guide will be more than happy to tell you.