Home DestinationsThe Middle East Actually Useful Travel Tips for Turkey In 2020

Actually Useful Travel Tips for Turkey In 2020

By Daisy Li
Travel to Turkey, and experience all that this beautiful country has to offer. Here are a few Turkey travel tips that may help you plan your trip!

Having traveled to over 20 countries, I still see Turkey as one of my favorite destinations. I spent two months volunteering in the beach city of Antalya. Later, I bussed to the beautiful town of Alanya, backpacked towards the famous hot air balloon destination of Cappadocia, west to Denizli, and north into Izmir and Istanbul.

I fell in love with Turkey’s history, its culture, the warm-hearted people, and the delicious cuisine. As such, I hope my tips and guides from 4 months in the country will help your travel to Turkey and visit some of the best cities in Turkey!!

Find affordable flights on Kiwi, a booking site that mixes and matches flights from different airlines to find the best/most economic route (Kiwi offers a money-back guarantee if you miss a connection).

Use iVisa to check and apply for a Turkey Tourist Visa as need.

Use Discover Cars to find the most economic car rental.

Find economic hotel options on Hotels.com

Not renting a car? Book a tour around Antalya instead.

Traveling within the City

Buses and Subway

There are a few different types of buses in the city. The two most distinct ones are minivan-buses and city shuttles.

Minibuses are in a range of colors, which usually differs based on the city they are in. They are not the easiest to spot but generally appear in the form of a large van. To stop a minibus, stand on the sidewalk where the buses have a clear view of you. If they don’t stop, you can wave it down. There are virtually no bus stops for minibusses, so nonverbal communication in a 10-second framework between the driver and you is key.

Unlike minibusses, city shuttles are your average-Joe buses that operate in larger cities. While these buses stop at standard stops in a metropolitan like Istanbul and Izmir, it was harder to spot them in areas with fewer tourists. As such, tactics used to stop minibusses shall be pulled out here. If you stand on a sidewalk that can be easily seen by the driver, they will most likely stop. NOTE!!: City buses don’t usually operate in remote areas. Familiarize yourself with minibusses if you want to include more deserted travel destinations in your itinerary.

Don’t mind me repeating ‘bus’ two dozens times. These are the only viable means of public transportation since only 5 cities in Turkey (Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Adana, and Bursa) have subway systems.

Taxi/Uber/Hitchhiking

There are virtually no taxis in smaller cities. Taxis in bigger cities, like other tourist prone destinations in the world, sometimes are set out to profit from tourist ineptitude. Beware of taxis taking a long, unnecessary detour, and generally, have an estimate of the trip cost by asking locals.

Uber works in a similar fashion. They operate in larger cities but often forgo the less touristy ones.

As such, I often opt for buses or hitchhiking. It’s really easy to hitch a ride in Turkey since people are all around nice, nice and nice. There are definitely safety concerns as with hitchhiking elsewhere, but I found all my rides to be incredibly friendly.

Traveling between Cities

Buses

The biggest bus companies in Turkey are Metro, Pammukale, Kamil Koc, Ulusoy. Not all buses will go to your destination, make sure to check online, or at the office! (Offices are located at the city’s central bus station. Most speak English)

Buses are significantly cheaper than other means of transportation. They generally range between 30 and 65 lira (US $8-16). NOTE!!: Bus prices don’t change, so if you don’t have a set travel plan, feel free to buy tickets a day beforehand. But make sure that they don’t sell out!

Other Methods of Transportation and Blabla Car

Planes are generally twice or thrice more expensive than buses so I am not a big fan. As noted, I thought hitchhiking to be quite safe as well. I’ve only hitched rides around Alanya but hear a lot of backpackers do it with little difficulty.

My favorite form of transportation around Europe and Turkey was Blabla Car. I used the app four times in Turkey, and two out of the four times, the drivers wouldn’t let me pay because I was a foreigner! In one of the cases, We ended up becoming good friends and I stayed at their beach house in Izmir for a night, but that’s another story.

What to Wear

Safety varied between cities. Turkey is a lot more open-minded than I expected. However, definitely dress more formal if you don’t want to invite stares. As a solo female traveler, I always take some caution when I’m in a different country.

In Turkey, I wore skirts and shorts throughout my trip and felt pretty safe. But then again, I was usually with friends. Short shorts and tank tops can be seen in major cities, especially tourist zones such as Alanya, where a bulk of the tourists walked around the streets in their bikinis 😀

Clubs and Bars

Turkish clubs are very interesting, especially down south. They are dominated by mainstream music with occasional Turkish songs. The dance floor is pretty small, usually with hired girls on a stage in the middle. Tables and chairs surround the dance floor, with well-dressed clubbers standing around them. Drinks are very expensive, ranging from TL 15-20 for a beer

Clubs in Istanbul (Taksim district) are completed like those in Europe, deep-house, small, chills.

Is Turkey Safe to Travel?

I was often asked by others whether is it safe to travel to Turkey. I felt very safe in Turkey despite recent events (Asians being attacked in Istanbul and the conflict at the Syrian-Turkish border). Since I was there before the bombing of both Istanbul and Ankara, I didn’t have a sense of distress or urgency. To be fair, I didn’t travel too far east so I definitely wouldn’t know or recommend anyone to visit the borders. In terms of the 9 cities I visited, I loved all and felt really safe!

Remember to always ASK ASK ASK

Although a lot of Turkish people aren’t fluent in English, especially down south. They are very friendly, and will do all they can to help!

Happy Travels xx

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17 Comments

Buena Paz L Montero February 17, 2017 - 11:18 pm

Cool piece… getting around is top thing to think about when traveling:) Turkey is on the bucket list and probably will wait for few years to visit this country:) Thanks for sharing:)

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alwaysagringa February 16, 2017 - 8:00 pm

Great tips on how to get around in Turkey. This is usually one of the last things I think about when I plan a trip, but so vital to the outcome!

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Anisa February 16, 2017 - 1:21 am

So glad to read that you felt safe in Turkey, I went as a teenager and I do remember the stares. I probably should have dressed more conservatively.

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Daisy February 16, 2017 - 3:45 am

Definitely took a while getting used to! Such great people though 🙂

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Wading Wade February 15, 2017 - 5:39 pm

Haha hey! Nice to meet you. I love your style. This is soo useful RE travelling around and I’m glad to hear such a shining review of blablacar – I’ve always wanted to use it but haven’t get got around to it.

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Daisy February 16, 2017 - 3:47 am

hahah, thanks hun, blablacar is a must when it comes down to saving $$

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Mellissa Williams February 15, 2017 - 4:32 pm

This is extremely useful, especially the clothing and safety aspects for women. Travelling is always a minefield when you visit a new country too!

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travellingdany February 15, 2017 - 4:23 pm

Wow this is what I call a detailled and useful guide!!! Good to know also that Turkey felt safe!

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Evie February 15, 2017 - 4:00 pm

I have not been to Turkwy for years so this guide is so handy.-and yay for Bla Bla car. !

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ellisveen February 15, 2017 - 3:48 pm

I did visit Turkey after the bombings of Istanbul and Ankara and crossed the border to Iran. Istanbul felt safe to me, but Ankara was really quiet with a lot of security. I took the Dogu express to Kars in the Northeast and crossed the border at Dogubayezit. The north east also felt very safe to me.

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Daisy February 16, 2017 - 3:49 am

Yep! So sad people are avoiding such a beautiful country because of recent events. Don’t want to blame the media too much but honestly, Turkey has so much to offer 🙁

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Enni Maria February 15, 2017 - 2:34 pm

I loved Turkey! I went there twice and I’d go again if I get a chance to do so! People were nice and there was so much to see! Thanks for sharing!

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Rachael February 15, 2017 - 2:24 pm

Wow, this is wonderfully comprehensive! I am so glad to see someone writing about Turkey, because I know it’s suffering a bit on the tourism front right now. This is one country that has been at the top of my to-do list for quite some time now and when I mention it to people now, everyone says how it isn’t safe to go there. I myself had been feeling on the fence, but I will certainly refer back to this guide when I make the trip happen. Thanks for the resource!

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Daisy February 16, 2017 - 3:51 am

Pleasee go! It’s such a beautiful country with some amazing people. Try avoiding bigger cities for now but believe me when I say Turkey is more than Istanbul and Ankara 🙂 Update me if you do!

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ravenoustravellers February 15, 2017 - 5:58 pm

We are desperate to do some travelling in Turkey but have been a little unsure due to recent events – glad to see you had a great time and felt safe. Thanks for all the useful information on how to get around the city!

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Daisy February 16, 2017 - 3:46 am

Please go! My favorite destination by far is Alanya. Avoid the big cities and hit up the smaller ones!

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chikonahoka February 15, 2017 - 4:34 pm

“nonverbal communication in a 10 second framwork between the driver and you is key” I need clear advice like this :p otherwise I don’t feel assertive enough to do something like this.

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