6 Travel Safety Tips for Turkey


tourists reading a map in front of blue mosque in istanbul

Turkey has been deemed unsafe for travel by Western media sources due to past violence and the country’s religion. Luckily, this hasn’t slowed tourism in Turkey. Tourists have learned that all you need are travel safety tips for Turkey to help you have an incredible vacation.

Turkey is an incredibly safe country for visitors, with lots of police and most crime being domestic. The biggest threats to tourists are scams and pickpocketing, a common crime around tourist sites.

So, what are the best travel safety tips to help you have an incredible visit to Turkey?

6 Travel Safety Tips for Turkey

1. Respect Turkish Culture

Respecting the local culture is a top safety tip for travel anywhere in the world. If you don’t understand the culture, you won’t know if your actions will offend someone.

While officially secular, the predominant religion in Turkey is Islamic. Some areas, like Istanbul, are more liberal, but many small towns around the country are very conservative. Research your destinations to learn how strongly they adhere to Islamic holidays like Ramadan or whether or not they sell alcohol.

In Turkey, overt public displays of affection are frowned upon. You’ll draw more attention than you’d like if you’re engaging in PDA on public streets. Hand holding or a small kiss is alright but refrain from going beyond that. Save the affection for behind closed doors.

If you’re visiting conservative regions, you may have to pretend you and your partner are married in order to share a room. It depends on your host, but be prepared with the excuse, or you may end up sleeping in separate rooms. 

Women are safer wearing loose-fitting, conservative clothing throughout Turkey. Avoid attracting attention with flowy dresses and high-necked tops to feel safer while visiting Turkey.

Reading up on Turkish culture and Islamic beliefs will help you learn how to respect the country’s traditions when you visit.

2. Watch Out for Scams

Scams are a classic issue in popular tourist destinations. Whether they are restauranteurs overcharging tourists or pickpockets, you’ll find scams around the world. 

Turkey isn’t immune.

Outsmart the scam artists by learning how they operate in the country.

Pickpockets are the most common type of criminals in Turkey. They frequent popular tourist destinations and steal your belongings when you’re distracted. Busy areas like the bazaar make it easy for them to take your items undetected.

Keep yourself safe by watching your belongings when you are touring the country. Keep a hand on your bag and avoid flashy items that will attract pickpockets. Leave your diamonds at home and avoid designer labels that show wealth.

The second most common scam in Turkey involves taxis. Taxi drivers will claim that their meter isn’t working and then will overcharge you when you reach your destination. They’ll even do this if you’ve agreed to a price ahead of time.

Make sure your taxi has a working meter before you agree to a ride. Don’t let your driver take you on the scenic route, a classic scam that will allow them to drive up the meter and take more of your money.

Ask your hotel to help you book taxis to make it less likely that you’ll get scammed by the drivers.

If you are still in doubt, you can always rely on travel insurance. Some travel insurance providers may even offer fraud/scam coverage up to a certain amount.

Remember to always buy travel insurance when planning a trip to Turkey, just to be safe!

World Nomads has a large selection of travel insurance available.

Getting a quick quote from World Nomads is simple – just click the button below to get started!

3. Avoid the Syrian Border

Although most of Turkey is peaceful, the southern border is a dangerous spot for visitors.

Unfortunately, the violence of the civil war in Syria has started to spill over the southern border of Turkey. There have been terrorist attacks and political issues regarding the border. Most of the violence is focused on Turkish residents, but it’s best to avoid the region altogether to stay safe.

This violence is one of the main reasons that Western media paints Turkey as a dangerous place to visit. It led to a huge decrease in tourism that severely impacted the Turkish people that rely on tourism for their livelihood.

Luckily, the media has it wrong, and most of Turkey is still safe for visitors. In fact, guides go out of their way to protect tourists by telling them which areas to avoid and only running tours through the northern half of the country. 

Plan your trip around the beautiful areas in Northern Turkey, like Istanbul and Ankara. There’s more than enough history, culture, and beautiful spots for you to fill your Turkish itinerary with. 

4. Don’t Drink the Tap Water

While tap water is 100% safe in large cities like Istanbul, it doesn’t taste very good. However, the water doesn’t taste so good due to its mineral content. Locals opt for bottled water since they prefer the taste. It is advised that tourists drink bottled water to avoid stomach irritation from minerals they aren’t used to.

In smaller towns in Turkey, it isn’t safe to drink tap water. Although this is disappointing for sustainable travelers, it is safer to buy plastic bottles of water rather than drinking tap water.

Leave your reusable water bottles at home for your Turkey travels. You won’t be able to use them except for getting water to wash your hands or boots.

You can get bottled water easily throughout the country. All tour bus stops carry it, most hostels offer complementary bottles for guests, and large bottles can be found at grocery stores.

Use bottled water for brushing your teeth and washing your face to avoid the chance of consuming some of the tap water in small towns. In large cities, it’s safe to use tap water for cleaning and even cooking. 

5. Use Common Sense

The easiest way to travel safely in Turkey is to use your common sense. Even though you’re on vacation, you still have to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t make choices you wouldn’t make at home. If you’re traveling alone, you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure your safety.

Avoid obviously dangerous activities like walking alone late at night down alleys, drinking too much, getting violent, or causing destruction. If you decide to drink, don’t overdo it. Turkey doesn’t always have the high-powered drinking culture of Western cultures, so overindulging is viewed negatively.

Although it’s safe to walk alone in Turkey in most cases, avoid dark areas. Parks are especially dangerous at night, as they do not have street lights. Stick to main areas that are well lit if you have to go out at night.

Turkey has a lot of sun. Remember to dress appropriately by wearing sunscreen, hats, and carrying water. Don’t ruin your vacation with a bad sunburn or dehydration.

Check the weather before your vacation to ensure you have clothes for whatever weather the country has during your visit. 

Turkish hotel names and streets can be difficult for tourists to remember. Ask your accommodation for a business card with their address before you head out to tour. It’ll help you – or a taxi driver who is taking you back – find your accommodation later.

6. Be Confident

Being confident is the easiest way to travel safely. This tip is all about being prepared and acting like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.

Know where you’re going before you leave your hotel. Pre-plan your route to avoid getting lost and staring at a map in the street. That’s a sure sign to locals that you’re foreign and could make you a target for scams.

Some Turkish cities like Istanbul are known for their winding streets. Download an offline map so you can check where you’re going without looking obviously lost. 

If you’re lost, don’t stand there confused. Ask local shop owners or cafe owners for help.

Fake confidence is key when traveling. Walk with your head held high, as if you know where you’re going. Know a few of the local words to help you feel comfortable communicating with the locals. Be firm when you feel uncomfortable. Leave the situation or immediately get help.

Confidence will help you travel safely throughout Turkey.

Closing Thoughts

Turkey is a safe country for tourists to visit. Learn the top travel safety tips to ensure you have an incredible trip. Learn the culture, so you don’t offend the locals and know if the tap water is safe. Don’t fall prey to scams or venture into dangerous parts of the country. Be confident, and you’ll have a safe visit to Turkey.

Nina Clapperton

Travel writer Nina Clapperton has lived nomadically since was 16, when she started her solo travel adventures by moving to Italy. She has since lived on 3 continents, had countless adventures, and never stops talking about her travels. Nina shares her global experiences to inspire other young women to turn their travel dreams into a reality through her blog, Nina Out and About. She believes that experiencing the world is the best way to discover yourself – and some amazing churros.

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