Visiting a predominantly-Muslim country is a different experience for both men and women. Traveling alone as a woman is even more unique. However, Turkey is an amazing place for women to travel solo or in a group. Follow these top 15 tips to feel confident before traveling to Turkey.
So, what are some travel tips for women visiting Turkey?
15 Tips for Women Traveling to Turkey
What to Wear in Turkey
The most common question women ask about Turkish travel is what to wear. Since Turkey is a predominantly-Muslim country, women travelers need to consider how they dress.
Don't stress! We've got the answers on how to dress appropriately for travel in Turkey.
1. Dress Modestly
Respect the conservative culture of the country by dressing modestly. This means no tight clothes, no cleavage or short skirts, and no transparent clothing.
Flowing sundresses with a wrap are great outfits for the summer. Harem pants or thick skirts with a loose sweater are perfect for winter.
Some regions are more conservative than others. Istanbul and the touristy beach towns have become accustomed to women in bikinis or tight jeans. Smaller cities and areas in East Anatolia are more conservative.
However, to avoid unwanted male attention, we recommend dressing modestly throughout your Turkish travels.
2. Carry a Head Scarf
Although you won't need your headscarf all the time, it's good to carry one with you while traveling in Turkey.
In Muslim cultures, women have to cover their heads to go inside sacred places like mosques. If you don't have one with you, you'll miss out on visiting gorgeous sites like the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
Pack an opaque scarf or pashmina that you can tie to your bag to keep with you throughout your travels.
3. Leave the Jewels at Home
Avoid unwanted attention from men, scammers, and pickpockets by dressing simply and modestly. Don't wear expensive jewels or purses in Turkey, or you could attract the attention of thieves.
Leave the jewels and designer clothes at home to be safer while traveling in Turkey.
4. Don't Bother With Fake Wedding Rings
Women are often advised to wear a fake wedding ring when traveling to foreign cultures, especially if they're on their own. However, this tactic isn't effective in Turkey.
The men have either figured out the trick or don't care unless the husband is physically present. Save your money and tell people giving you unwanted attention that you're with friends instead.
How to Stay Safe Traveling in Turkey
Safety is a significant concern for Westerners visiting Turkey. The Western media often focuses on the negatives, like the current unrest in Syria.
However, Turkey is a safe place for women to travel. Follow our simple tips to feel comfortable and confident during your visit to Turkey.
1. Learn to Avoid Scams
Most countries suffer from tourist scams that put many people off returning to that destination. Turkey is no exception.
The most common scam in Turkey is unmetered taxis, where drivers claim their meter is broken then overcharge you at the end of your journey. Use taxis with working meters or download BiTaksi to avoid getting scammed.
Women need to be wary of the romance scam, which is when men will try to date Western women and ask for money before the woman ends her holiday.
2. Don't Wander Alone in the Dark
This tip is pretty obvious: don't wander the streets alone when it's dark out. Avoid alleys or parks where there are few people late at night.
Be especially careful if you are out drinking. Watch your drinks and know your route home. Don’t drink too much, as it’s unsafe, and like in most places, overly drunk tourists are frowned upon.
Although violent crime against tourists is low in Turkey, avoid putting yourself in risky situations.
3. Be Careful of Pickpockets
Pickpocketing is the number one crime in Turkey, especially in tourist cities like Istanbul.
Don't draw attention to yourself with expensive clothes or jewelry. Be aware of your bags, especially at popular attractions with crowds of tourists.
4. Ask for Help
Although Turkey is safe for women to travel, negative encounters can happen.
If you experience anything that makes you uncomfortable in Turkey, ask a local for help. Police, shop owners, and hoteliers won't hesitate to help you.
5. Avoid the Syrian Border
Unfortunately, the southern border of Turkey is unsafe due to the Syrian conflict. This area has faced civil unrest, terrorism, and violence over the last few years.
Stay safe and stick to Northern Turkey.
6. Get Travel Insurance
Every traveler should get travel insurance, especially if they are worried about safety. Travel insurance will help you if you lose valuables, get injured, or need to cancel your trip.
Top Tips for Traveling to Turkey
Clothing and safety are key, but what about general travel tips for women visiting Turkey? We didn't forget those!
Turkey can be a bit of a culture shock for Western visitors. These 5 tips will help you prepare for your visit and make you feel more confident when you arrive in Turkey.
1. Learn Turkish
Although people in tourist cities speak English, it's best to learn a few Turkish words to help you communicate with locals.
If you're not confident with languages, download the Google Translate app and set it to Turkish when it's offline. You'll be able to translate menus, signs, and phrases when you're exploring the country.
2. Bartering is Expected
You can't visit Turkey without going to a market. However, Westerners often overpay for spices and clothes simply because they don't know to barter.
Bartering is a common practice in Turkey. Shopkeepers will tell you a product price and you counter with a lower offer, usually lower than you are willing to pay. The goal is to meet in the middle at a price you are both comfortable with.
Be prepared to barter to save yourself a lot of lira.
3. Get Your Visa Before You Arrive
Getting a Turkish visa is easy for most countries. You can pre-purchase the visa online and print it off, or purchase it at a kiosk in the airport.
Purchase your visa ahead of time so you can avoid a second line up before immigration. You'll get out of the airport faster so you can start your trip.
4. Carry Toilet Paper
Bus travel is common in Turkey. The pit stops along the way aren't always up to Western standards. Others charge for toilet paper.
Plan ahead by carrying a roll of toilet paper or a pack of tissues with you during your travels through Turkey.
5. Carry Your Hotel's Business Card
Turkey is incredibly beautiful, but also easy to get lost in. The old city streets aren't always easy to navigate and the plethora of hotels often bear similar names.
Avoid getting lost by carrying your hotel's business card. You can show it to locals or taxi drivers to get help finding your way home.
Use these travel tips for women to have the ultimate Turkish travel experience. You'll be able to pack more easily knowing what to wear when you visit Turkey. Stay safe on your travels by using your common sense and avoiding dangerous areas, like the Syrian border.
Remember to prepare for your visit by learning a few Turkish words and pre-booking your visa so you aren't stuck in another airport line up.
Now you're ready to check Turkey off your bucket list!