13 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING TURKEY - Izmir Estate

13 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING TURKEY

Turkish cuisine is vegetarian-friendly.

Although Turkish cuisine is known for being meat-heavy, most local restaurants carry a wide variety of vegetarian options. Some offer zeytinyagli disheswhich are vegetables in olive oil. All fish and kebab restaurants have meat-free mezes on their menu that include yoghurt, herbs, hummus and eggplant salad. You will find wide variety of vegetarian friendly food everywhere you go so vegetarian people don’t worry about this issue.

Turkey Has Four Seasons

There’s a common misconception that Turkey is a desert country that never sees snow. That’s not true. Turkey experiences all four seasons throughout the country. You’ll find snow in Istanbul from January to February, and hot temperatures in Fethiye in July.

 

Don’t Forget to Haggle

You can bargain the price down on many goods — and it’s actually expected in Turkey! Usually, the actual price of an item is half of the price that the seller quotes you. 

 

Always carry cash.

Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir but many smaller towns and independent shops will require you to pay by cash. You’ll also need to carry change for taxi fares, tipping waiters (so that it goes to them directly) and public bathrooms.

 

Street cats and dogs are Common.

Turkey is filled with dogs and cats, maybe more so than people. You’ll find stray animals on the street in every city you visit in Turkey. There are over 150 stray cats at the historical Ephesus. Why are there so many stray animals in the country? Because of an unspoken rule. The Turkish people follow this rule, offering stray animals food, temporary shelter, and water.

Don’t drink tap water.

The quality of tap water varies from region to region but it’s not used for drinking purposes in any part of the country. However, it’s okay to use it to cook food, make tea after boiling it and brush your teeth, as long as you don’t swallow the water. Filtration systems are in place in big cities but locals still choose not to drink tap water just to be on the safe side.

 

Greetings are done by kissing both the cheeks.

In Turkey, handshakes are reserved for strangers. You greet your friends with kisses on the cheek, much like you would in France or Eastern Europe. Sometimes, people combine the two and use your handshake to pull you in for the kisses.

 

Be careful when crossing the street.
Traffic in Turkey is notorious for cars but it’s no easy feat for pedestrians either. The pedestrian crossing doesn’t mean much, so don’t expect any car to stop for you when you’re walking to the other side. The safest way to cross a street is at the traffic light but, even then, it’s wise to check that the cars are definitely at a standstill.

 

Museums are closed on Mondays 

As a rule of thumb, many museums in Turkey are closed on Monday. These include popular museums in Istanbul such as SALT Galata (which is a must-visit, btw!), Dolmabahçe Palace, the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Pera Museum, İstanbul Toy Museum and more. If you’re traveling to Ankara, the Anıtkabir (Ataturk’s tomb) is also closed on Monday. 

Public displays of affection are frowned upon.

Seeing a couple kissing passionately on the street is quite uncommon in Turkey, even in liberal neighbourhoods. Holding hands is OK, but do it with a side of caution if in a conservative area. Most public declarations of affection will be noticed but those between LGBT couples might especially be frowned upon.

 

Turkish Charm beyond Istanbul

When planning your itinerary, look further than Istanbul and the more common historical sites. Turkey has a variety of landscapes to explore, from the hiking routes of Lycia and the valleys of the Black Sea region to the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia and the largest lake, Van Golu, in the southeast. Different seasons call for different nature tours, so make sure to check the weather beforehand and plan accordingly.

 

Tea is a sign of hospitality

Turkish food isn’t the only delicious thing in the country. They have many exquisite drinks, and black tea is a soothing treat that you’ll quickly become obsessed with. Turkish people are constantly offering tea. It’s a hospitality custom in the country that is meant to welcome guests.

 

Using Traditional Squat Toilets

If you’re only visiting Istanbul, you might not even come across these traditional toilets. However, if you’re bound to set off beyond the city, you’re likely to find yourself in an unexpected squat challenge. These old-school toilets are very hygienic (if they are clean) and exist alongside modern-day toilets in many areas.

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