Turkey is an outrageously beautiful and intriguing country.
Sandwiched between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is a country that receives a lot of tourist attention, and for good reason. Its unique mixture of strange culture, friendly people, and gob-smacking geology leaves visitors begging for a return visit.
A secondary, more sinister characteristic of Turkey’s geographical placement is it’s effective role as “gatekeeper to the west”. Bordering both Syria and Iraq, Turkey works hard to defend it’s borders, but the terrorist threat is sadly very real.
This situation may have left you with the question “is Turkey safe to visit?”
Don’t worry, because we’re going to be covering the whole lot. From the potential terrorist threat to sunscreen disasters, we’ll be taking you through all the best safety tips for travelling this stunning gem of a country.
So let’s jump in!
There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, as things change quickly. The question of “Is Turkey Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on who you ask.
The information in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practice common sense, you will probably have a wonderful and safe trip to Turkey.
If you see any outdated information, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. Otherwise, stay safe friends!
Updated December 2023
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- Is Turkey Safe to Visit Right now?
- Safest Places in Turkey
- 22 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Turkey
- Is Turkey Safe to Travel Alone?
- Is Turkey Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
- Where to Start Your Travels in Turkey
- Is Turkey Safe for Families?
- Getting Around Turkey safely
- Crime in Turkey
- What to Pack For Your Turkey Trip
- Getting Insured BEFORE Visiting Turkey
- FAQs on Turkey’s Safety
- So, is Turkey Safe for Travel?
Is Turkey Safe to Visit Right now?
The short answer is, yes, travelling to Turkey is very safe. Turkey is a delight to explore and receives over 50 million visitors every year. Most trips are trouble-free. Based on the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkey welcomed 44,564,395 visitors last 2022. Statistically all tourists had a very safe visit.
Turkey is BIG on tourism. By big, we mean huge. In 2019, Turkey was the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. Turkish authorities are all about making sure the country is safe for tourists, so you’ll be a priority for them when you visit.
You should be aware that the southern borders with Iraq and Syria are no-go zones. It’s best to avoid Sirnak and the province of Hakkari too. There is an unpredictable security situation in these areas and heightened risks of terrorist attacks. Follow local media for better information on dangerous places.
Major cities can pose a problem to tourists in terms of petty theft and muggings, but crime rates are low in Turkey, and it’s unlikely you’ll feel threatened unless you’re out late in a bad part of town. Since Turkey is one of the great cheap countries to travel in Europe (and a little bit in Asia), Tourists are considered rich, so watch out!
A couple of pretty sizeable earthquakes occurred in 2017, and aren’t uncommon. Take preparations to ensure you know what to do in case of an earthquake.
In terms of politics, as long as you don’t get involved in protests, or start liking Daesh or terrorist posts on Facebook, you won’t have any trouble. People like to get mixed up in protests for something to do. DON’T. People get detained every year, and it is a stupid thing to do (even though it might be morally right).
Safest Places in Turkey
As we’ve mentioned before, not everywhere in Turkey is safe (although 95% is). To make your travel planning a bit easier, we’ve listed the top places to stay in Turkey, as well as the no-goes.
- Istanbul: Istanbul is undoubtedly an epic city. Formerly Constantinople, this city is home to unbelievable architecture, eye-opening things to do, and a raucous nightlife. A trip to Turkey really isn’t complete without visiting this fantastic city.
- Bodrum: Bodrum sits along the Mediterranean Sea of Turkey’s coastline and is renowned for crystal clear waters and plentiful beach activities — including an underwater archaeology museum! Home to some of the most epic hostels in Turkey and a great party scene, travellers are in for a treat.
- Cappadocia: Cappadocia is one of the most unique places to stay in all of Turkey. With the moon-like landscape, and wildly bizarre rock formations called “fairy chimneys,” there’s a lot to see and do in Cappadocia that is downright strange but completely marvellous! There are also underground cities and cave churches, and houses carved into rocks. There are some wonderful places to stay in Cappadocia, so don’t miss out!
Check out our detailed where to stay guide for Turkey so you can start your trip right!
Places in Turkey to Avoid
Most of Turkey is absolutely stunning and totally safe. There are of course exceptions, so we’ve listed a few places you should simply steer clear of.
- Turkish border with Iraq and Syria: Why would you want to go here? Just why? Special military zones, refugee camps, and increased risks of action from terrorist groups.
- Sirnak, and the province of Hakkari: All but essential travel is discouraged from these zones, as they are considered much less safe to visit than the rest of the country. Terrorist attacks can happen with little or no warning, and there are large security concerns.
- Diyarbakir City And Province: Many visits are trouble-free, but there was a car bomb in 2016, and the FCDO doesn’t rate it. Don’t worry, there are better places to go anyway.
Eastern provinces are generally at greater risk from terrorist attacks, and there are heightened security forces in these areas to reflect that.
You may be stopped and asked for your ID at any time in Turkey, so it’s a good idea to keep it on you when travelling. You can never escape random checks! (even at ear-melting Turkish festivals)
Make sure your travel insurance covers any potential medical bills and health risks, and inform yourself on local laws before travelling. You can find great information on the official turkish government site, and get your visa while your at it!
Keeping Your Money Safe in Turkey
One of the most common things to happen to you whilst travelling is losing your money. And let’s face it: the most annoying way for this to actually occur is when it’s stolen from you.
Petty crime is pretty much a problem all over the world.
The best solution? Get a money belt.
Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.
It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)Hide Yo’ Money!
Turkey might be a little on the rocks thanks to terrorist attacks and political unrest, but it’s been building itself back up to the tourist behemoth it once was. To help you out, here are some tips for staying safe in Turkey.
- Avoid political demonstrations – might seem interesting, but just don’t get involved. Not worth it.
- Don’t go around flashing your cash – or any amount of fancy jewelry or decedent clothes you might have. Screams “I’m rich and oblivious; scam/rob me!” Keep a money belt on you for ultimate anonymity.
- Be wary of scams – these come in all shapes and sizes, and basically, it comes down to the old classic: don’t talk to strangers.
- In fact, do some research on scams – the scammers can be pretty savvy. Knowing some of the most common scams will help.
- Keep your belongings close to you in tourist areas – mainly a problem in cities, but pickpockets are active here.
- Teach yourself a few Turkish words and phrases – this will help you get by, especially if you get lost.
- Carry your hotel/guesthouse/hostel’s business card – show it to someone if you’re, again, lost.
- Don’t insult the Turkish government – the government is hot on censorship and takes harsh criticism as an insult – and a crime.
- Protect against mosquitoes – these can be more than pesky especially in coastal areas. Bring repellent, buy coils, cover up.
- Watch where you tread – safety standards aren’t as high as Western countries, so unfinished and unsafe pavements are common.
- Take a good medical kit with you – you never know when you might need it!
- DON’T take any drugs – it’s illegal. Prison sentences run as high as 20 years.
- Careful of what you photograph – it’s against the law to take photos of military installations.
- Know about mosque etiquette – you don’t want to offend people. Covering your legs and shoulders is mandatory.
- Be aware of how you’re acting – public displays of affection are offensive here. For real.
- Be vigilant when it comes to terrorist attacks – watching the news, avoiding religious celebrations and big gatherings. Generally being aware of the situation, will help you stay a little safer.
- Dress respectfully – Istanbul and beach resorts may be liberal, but other places… not so much. Watch how other people around you are dressing.
- Always keep an emergency stash of cash – Never keep all your cards/ currency in one place. And hide it all from thieves with a hidden money belt.
- Take toilet paper! – yep, really. You won’t find this everywhere.
- Stay hydrated and cover up in the sun – Turkey can get baking hot during the summer months. The sun takes no prisoners!
- Don’t agree on the first price for anything – it’s inflated, every single time. Taxis, souvenirs, whatever. Offer half and go from there.
- Be respectful during Ramadan – eating in public during the day is not very respectful.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol – some of it might be stronger than you’re used to. Counterfeit alcohol is a common occurrence in Turkey.
- Watch out for packs of stray dogs – especially in towns and cities. Rabies is rampant and, besides, they can be pretty scary…
There are loads of great experiences to be had while travelling alone. People in Turkey are pretty welcoming and there are a few well-trodden routes where you can make friends with other backpackers, too.
To make sure you stay safe in Turkey while travelling alone, here are a few pieces of advice.
- Going on a group tour is a good idea. Whether it’s a simple walking tour from your hostel or a multi-day excursion, it’s going to be a good way to get to meet fellow travellers.
- Single male travellers are pretty susceptible to scams. Especially the “hey my friend let’s go for a drink” scam. Learn to say “no”. There are some pretty dodgy people out there who are pretty clever when it comes to parting unsuspecting solo travellers from their cash.
- Don’t tell people you’ll be travelling alone.
- Walking around alone after dark, especially in city areas, is never really a good idea pretty much anywhere in the world. The same goes for Turkey.
- You can get a pre-paid sim at the airport and we recommend you do. Phoning accommodation, having data to talk to friends and family back home, checking maps; there are all of that sorts of things you can do with a phone. Most importantly, people will know where you are if you’re in contact.
- Do your research on accommodation. Somewhere with good reviews is likely to attract nice travellers, too!
- You should probably try and act like a local as well without appearing ridiculous. Be aware of how people around you are behaving and interacting, how they’re dressing, and you’ll get to know how best you can fit in.
Turkey is safe for solo travellers, absolutely, but being aware of the situation at all times is going to help. Keep up with the news, talk to friends back home, and, most importantly, make friends with other backpackers along the way.
Is Turkey Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
The gals DO travel by themselves to Turkey, regardless of who says what. Obviously, there are concerns when it comes to travelling as a woman anywhere in the world, but generally, Turkey is safe for solo female travellers.
For a little extra security, here are a few pointers if you are thinking about it. Follow them and hopefully, you’ll hit that sweet spot between travelling safely and having a great time.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no”. People will invite you in for tea, or invite you to look at this or look at that, or whatever. But if you don’t want to, don’t go. A polite no is fine.
- Walking around by yourself when it’s dark is just silly. Even if you’d do this in your own country, you don’t have your bearings in Turkey. The chances of you getting lost, or worse, is probably just going to be that much higher than where you’re from.
- It’s probably best to dress modestly. Long flowing fabrics, long skirts or trousers – that sort of clothing. It’s a moderately conservative country, so if you want to lessen the attention you’ll get and avoid offence, especially in more conservative countryside areas, dress accordingly.
- Getting a tour is a great idea. Meeting fellow travellers is going to be good for your sanity and your safety. Make sure that you get a tour from a well-reviewed, reputable tour company. Random people off the street offering you tours = steer clear of these sorts of things.
- Understanding that it’s not usual for women to travel by themselves in Turkey won’t stop you from getting attention, but it will probably help for your peace of mind.
- Catcalling happens, a lot. The best course of action is to ignore it. Wear dark sunglasses if you want to avoid eye contact.
- Sexual assault against female travellers in Turkey does happen. It’s best not to get too drunk (also watch your drink in clubs), make sure you go out in groups, and just listen to your gut if someone seems weird. They probably are.
- Wear a shawl or scarf on your head if you plan on visiting a mosque.
- Outside of tourist areas, only stay at mid-range family-oriented hotels – or well-reviewed, female-friendly hostels. And if someone knocks on your door late at night, don’t answer it. Complain to the hotel staff about it in the morning.
Where to Start Your Travels in Turkey
With loads of unique attractions, great culture and amazing food, Istanbul is one of the most popular travel destinations in Turkey.
Is Turkey Safe for Families?
Life in Turkey is very family-oriented – people here love their families and people love kids (strange)! For this reason and many others, Turkey is safe to travel for families.
Don’t be concerned if someone in a restaurant, a local, or a tour guide actually picks up your child without warning and starts whizzing her/him around to show them off to everyone. This is pretty normal, and more than anything shows you how open and caring Turkish people are when it comes to children.
Be wary of a lack of pavements. If you’re coming with a pushchair, be warned: things can get BUMPY. And just so you know, breastfeeding isn’t normal in public. Some women do breastfeed discretely, so follow suit.
As we said earlier, Turkey can get HOT. The biggest danger (for children) is probably the sun. Stay safe in Turkey by not letting your little ones in the sun for too long.
Getting Around Turkey safely
Public transportation in Turkey is generally safe and pretty convenient. Turkey is a well-travelled country with good connections to most major (tourist and non-tourist) destinations. You’ll find Istanbul in particular is bursting at the seams with transport options, from tram networks to ferries.
There are a number of bus companies that cover all the main routes. Do your research and find one that’s right for you.
There are also dolmuses, which are essentially minibuses. These run between towns and are often cramped.
You can also hop on the metro. Not everywhere, obviously, but in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Bursa. This is a safe and quick way to get around (no traffic-congested roads!) you’ll have to keep an eye out for pickpockets though.
You can also catch long-distance trains. The state-run trains and private railways cover a fair portion of the country. These are becoming an increasingly popular way to travel around maybe because there are less crazy drivers involved.
You can even get high-speed trains, though these are relatively expensive compared to a bus ticket. Sleeper trains exist, too.
Crime in Turkey
The U.S. travel authority lists Turkey as a level 2 country due to the terrorist threat. However, a particularly great piece of travel writing I’ve found states that ” travellers… …are more at risk of being overfed by their hosts than running into any sort of crime”. That said, tourists should stay aware of pickpockets, especially within major cities. Turkey has a very low homicide rate, much lower than the U.S., and on par with Mauritius and Albania. It’s generally very safe.
The proximity of terrorist organisations, their unpredictability and love of large crowds is one of the main reasons that Turkey gets a certain danger warning from governments. If you are worried about this, stay away from Eastern Turkey, and minimise your time in crowded areas.
Laws in Turkey
It is illegal to be without a valid form of photo identification in Turkey. Make sure to carry your passport in your person at all times to avoid sour confrontations with local authorities. It is illegal to insult theTurkish nation or flag, or to tear up currency. Again, stay away from protests, as this can land you in trouble.
Some antiques or historical items bought in boutiques are illegal to take out of the country. Make sure you are not trying to leave with anything of historical value.
What to Pack For Your Turkey Trip
Everyone’s packing list is going to look a little different, but here are a few things I would never want to travel to Turkey without…
Hanging Laundry Bag
Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.
A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.
Yesim stands as a premier eSIM service provider, catering specifically to the mobile internet needs of travellers.
Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.
This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.
FAQs on Turkey’s Safety
Planning a safe trip is always stressful, especially in a country like Turkey. To help you out, we’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on Turkey’s safety below.
So, is Turkey Safe for Travel?
Yes, Turkey is, and basically always has been, a popular tourist destination and a safe place to travel to. Despite the potential threat of terrorism and despite potential political upheaval, Turkey is doing well.
There may be issues with the current government as to which direction it’s currently heading, what with freedom of speech issues and the persecution of critical journalists. Not to sound insensitive, but those things won’t concern you. What will concern you is travelling around Turkey safely and having an amazing time; all easily done.
Looking for more info on traveling to Turkey?
- Let me help you choose where to stay in Turkey
- Swing by one of these fabulous festivals
- Check out my favorite Airbnbs in the centre of all the action
- Plan the rest of your trip with our fantastic backpacking Turkey travel guide!
- See exactly how to travel the world for a year, even if you’re broke
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!