The official language in Turkey is Turkish. There are many different dialects of Turkish from region to region and you will also hear Arabic spoken in the eastern regions. English is taught in most schools from an early age and is understood among the younger generation. German and Russian is common around the coastal touristic areas of Antalya and Alanya.
The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira. Notes are available from 5 lira to 2 lira and coins are available from 5 kuruş to 2 lira. Banks and ATM machines are widely spread across Turkey and the majority also dispense Euro, USD and GBP which are also widely accepted throughout Turkey in the touristic regions. Credit cards are accepted throughout Turkey but cash is always preferred. You will often find that you will receive larger discounts when paying in cash.
Turkey is made up of seven main regions, each having its very own climate different from the next. Istanbul is situated in the Marmara Region and has a very moderate climate with four very distinct seasons. The Aegean and Mediterranean regions have typically hot humid summers and moderate winters, usually without any snowfall. The Black Sea region is typically very wet throughout the year with warm summers and cooler winters. Eastern Anatolia can be very harsh, more so than Central Anatolia which offers dry hot summers and cool winters with common snowfalls. The South East of Turkey offers the warmest climate throughout Turkey although it is very humid.
Holidays and Festivals
Turkey observes National and Islamic Holidays, on official public holidays banks, post offices, government offices and businesses are closed. Lists of these are below:
January 1: New Year’s Day
April 23: National Independence and Children’s Day
May 19: Atatürk Commemoration and Youth Day
July/August: Ramazan/Şeker Bayram (dates change each year)
August 30: Victory Day
October/November: Kurban Bayram (dates change each year)
October 28/29: Republic Day
What to wear
Although Turkey is officially a secular country it is best not to forget that 99% of the population is Muslim. Conservative clothing is not required but recommended especially for women. Istanbul is just like any other European city and you will see men and women dressed in smart clothing when leaving the house. In coastal areas beach wear is acceptable however during the evening you may feel more comfortable in smart casual wear. In the central and eastern Anatolian areas (popular destinations like Cappadocia and Mt. Nemrut) you will see a more conservative side to Turkey, in such places you may feel more comfortable wearing trousers and covering your shoulders. It is important to remember on days you will visit religious tourist attractions that you wear modest clothing and that women have a scarf handy to cover shoulders and heads.
Comfortable, sturdy shoes are a bonus when travelling in Turkey; they will help you along the cobbled streets of Sultanahmet, the Old City in Istanbul, at Ephesus and its lengthy marble entrance to the city and along the numerous hiking trails through the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.
Travelling around Turkey
When planning your trip in Turkey you may be overwhelmed and wondering how you will get around such a large place. Most major cities have at least one airport with both full service airlines and budget airlines operating from them. There are numerous ferry services crossing waterways and a large network of train tracks throughout Turkey however this can be quite slow in some areas. The most popular mode of transport in Turkey is by bus. The bus network in Turkey is one to be admired and the comfort level is reasonable with most buses having reclining seats, in seat TV monitors and Wi-Fi.
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