Formerly the heart of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey still remains a melting pot of cultures. Combine its historical cities with miles upon miles of sparkling coastline, add incredible natural landscapes to discover and VERY friendly people for an incredibly cool cocktail of a country.
There have been some issues recently, however, mainly to do with the Syrian conflict and the resulting terrorist attacks. These have consistently happened, all the way up into 2017. It’s no surprise that you’re probably wondering, “is Turkey safe?”
It’s a good question and we aim to answer it with this massive insiders guide on the best ways to stay safe in Turkey. At The Broke Backpacker, we’re all about traveling smart, so we want to give you the best tips to help you stay safe wherever you go.
We’re going to be covering a whole lot. If you’re worried about whether it’s safe to visit Turkey right now, whether Turkey is safe (or not) for solo backpackers, or even if it’s safe to live in Turkey – and a whole lot more – we’ve got it covered.
You may be getting ready for a family trip to Turkey and you’re worried about terrorists (understandable), or maybe you want to travel to Turkey as a solo female and you’re not sure what to expect. Whatever you’re going for, our insider guide on staying safe in Turkey is here to help.
Whilst COVD 19 has not gone away, the world is opening up again to travellers. Turkey has announced that it soon intends to re-open its borders to travellers and holiday makers and has been listed as a "Quarantine Exempt" country by some nations.
However, inter-city travel is still severely limited, curfews are in force and face coverings must be worn in public spaces.
For the most up-to-date safety information and what you should be doing to help, please consult the WHO and your local government.
How Safe is Turkey? (Our take)
Turkey is pretty cool. There’s a mix of cultures all over the place (notably in Istanbul straddling Europe and Asia), a LOAD of amazing landscapes – like the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia – incredible history (ever heard of Troy?) as well as beach resorts.
However, a lot of Turkey isn’t what we’d call totally safe. In recent years, the border with Syria, the Syrian conflict itself, terrorist incidents, and skirmishes with the Kurdish PKK, have all threatened the security of Turkey.
But not going to Turkey because of what’s happening in Syria would be a shame. There’s a whole country to discover here. Crucially, tourism is important to Turkey as well and helps the nation to remain stable.
In a word, visiting Turkey is very safe.
Is Turkey Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
We believe that Turkey is safe to visit although we always advise caution and recommend you travel smart – especially in major cities.
There are some places you really shouldn’t go to. Anywhere within 10 kilometers of the Syrian border isn’t safe. The city of Diyarbakir is a no-no, too. Our where to stay in Turkey guide will offer some more intel on the do and don’t visit regions.
Political unrest never feels too far away either (thanks to a government that’s also heavy on the censorship game). A two-year state of emergency ended at the end of summer 2018.
But Turkey is BIG on tourism. By big, we mean huge. In 2014, Turkey was the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. 42 million foreign tourists visited in that year alone.
They were hit hard by international perception though. 2016 saw only 25 million visitors to the country.
However, it’s on the up again. The government is all about making sure the country is safe for tourists, so you’ll be a priority for them when you visit. It’s a big part of Turkey’s economy.
On another note, a couple of pretty sizeable earthquakes happened here in 2017, and these aren’t uncommon. As such, you will need to bear natural disasters in mind.
Is it Safe to Visit Turkey Right Now?
At this moment in time, it is safe to visit Turkey.
Terrorism, though ever-present, seems to have calmed down, but that doesn’t mean an attack won’t happen.
In late 2019, Turkey re-entered the Syrian conflict and attacked various Kurdish militias as well as Syrian “rebel” groups. Whilst the conflict is restricted to the Syrian side of the border, the incursion has further raised the possibility of acts of terrorism been carried out inside Turkey.
In terms of politics, As long as you don’t get involved in protests, the most that will probably concern you are pickpockets and scams. I know a few backpackers in Istanbul who DID get caught up in protests (for selfies) and it did not end well for them.
However, some places still AREN’T safe; at all. As of January 2020 there are travel warnings in place for pretty much anywhere near the border with Syria, and an “all but essential travel” warning from the British government for the following provinces: Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Kilis, and Hatay, as well as Tunceli and Hakari. Most terrorist attacks happen in this southeastern region.
You’re not likely to be going that way. Unless you’re a journalist or really just WANT to travel to dangerous places, you’ll probably be sticking to the classic areas that Turkey is famous for.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Turkey, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
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. It’s already well prepared for tourists, so as long as you don’t go to places you shouldn’t. Travel smart and avoid things that seem sketchy and you should be fine. 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.
- 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.
- Don’t drink and drive – it’s stupid anyway, but if you’re pulled over and breathalyzed ANY amount of alcohol will get you a fine and your license confiscated for 6 months.
- 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.
- 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…
In general, Turkey is safe, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay alert. Terrorist attacks can happen anywhere in the world, including both Turkey and your home country. Practice the same vigilance you would do at home. If you value your money: be wary of over-friendly strangers. Travel smart and you’ll be fine!
Pretty much the number one problem in any country is always going to be theft. Often, in touristy places especially, this is going to be by way of a pickpocket, and Turkey has a fair few of those.
HOWEVER, the best way to avoid having your pockets picked is to have nothing in them in the first place. And how, we hear you ask, am I supposed to do that? With a money belt of course.
You’ll find a whole load of different money belts out there, so much that the choice can be overwhelming. But our top pick every time has gotta be the Active Roots Security Belt.
Our favorite part is that it looks like an actual belt. It’s also pretty sturdy and super affordable too. Win-win.
So even if you do let your guard down and someone literally has their hand in your pocket or your bag, they’ll come away empty handed. You’ll have your main stash for the day in your money belt. There’s just no better way to protect your hard earned cash against would-be thieves than keeping it out of sight with a money belt.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
There are loads of great experiences to be had while traveling alone. People in Turkey are pretty welcoming and there are a few well-trodden routes where you can make friends with other backpackers, too.
There are certain risks traveling solo, of course, but if you’ve got a sense of adventure Turkey is an amazing place. Seriously, we can’t understate how amazingly friendly the people are here. And simple stuff like being aware that there’s often a difference in culture, and taking caution on how you travel, is going to help keep you safe in Turkey.
To make sure you stay safe in Turkey while traveling alone, here are a couple 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 travelers. These are people you can travel onward with, go on nights out with, and keep in touch with. Plus it’s a good way to get acquainted with not only Turkey as a whole but the immediate area, which is very handy for when you venture out by yourself.
- Single male travelers 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 travelers from their cash. Trust your gut: if it seems sketchy, most likely it is. And whatever you do don’t tell people you’ll be traveling alone.
- Walking around alone after dark, especially in city areas, is never really a good idea pretty much anywhere in the world. 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 sort of thing you can do with a phone. Most importantly, people will know where you are if you’re in contact. That’s better than nobody knowing where you are, right?
- Booking yourself into a hostel with a LOT of very good reviews is a smart move. You don’t want to be staying somewhere ropey by yourself. Security issues aren’t worth a cheaper room rate, so make sure you do your research on accommodation. Plus somewhere with good reviews is likely to attract nice travelers, too!
- You should probably try and act like a local as well without appearing ridiculous. The reverse – bumbling around in a singlet, taking selfies all the time, looking completely lost – isn’t going to come off well. 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.
- With that said, learn some Turkish. As a solo traveler, learning a bit of Turkish is really going to help you make some local friends. If not friends, at least earn some respect. Especially in more remote, rural areas. Plus it definitely helps if you need to ask for directions.
Turkey is safe for solo travelers, 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. Trusting your gut and avoiding things (and people!) that look dodgy is definitely a habit you should practice as well. Do these and you’re bound to have a blast.
Is Turkey safe for solo female travelers?
Well, a lot of females DO travel by themselves to Turkey, regardless of who says what. Obviously, there are concerns when it comes to traveling as a woman anywhere in the world, but generally, Turkey is safe for solo female travelers.
Granted, it’s a relatively conservative country, and there’s gonna be a few things about Turkey that’ll be different to where you’re from (most likely). Let’s not neglect that your friends and family might up your anxiety levels by worrying ABOUT you…
But just because you’re a woman traveling alone, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to Turkey. For a little extra security, here are a few pointers if you are thinking about it. Follow them and you’re going to get a lot of amazing experiences, that’s for sure.
- 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 offense, especially in more conservative countryside areas, dress accordingly. Just look at what other women around you are wearing. It’s easy to buy Turkish style clothing all over the country if you want to fit in even more.
- Getting a tour is a great idea. Meeting fellow travelers 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 getting attention, but it will probably help for your peace of mind. Men will come up to you, flirt with you, try to get your number, sit next to and try to make conversation, walk alongside you… If you don’t want them near you, tell them to go away – politely. If they persist, make a fuss. Locate tourist police and alert accordingly.
- 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 travelers 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.
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So, whilst it is safe for females to travel alone in Turkey, you need to bear in mind that it’s a different culture. Dressing appropriately, being sensible on nights out and ignoring unwanted attention… all par for the course in Turkey.
It may not be the norm for women to travel by themselves in Turkey, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Plenty of female solo travelers have gone backpacking Turkey – and you can too. Knowing the risks and being aware of what’s going on – and what people are doing – around you will ensure you have a great (and stress-free) time.
Is Turkey safe to travel for families?
Life in Turkey is very family-oriented – people here love their families and people love kids! For this reason and many others, Turkey is safe to travel for families.
There are plenty of amazing places to see with your children. Between the Black Sea coast, the Turkish Riviera, and a whole load of other cool spots, you’ll be spoilt for options.
Terrorism may still be an issue, but family tourists are big business for Turkey and making sure it’s safe for tourists is a big priority right now.
In general, Turkish families travel with their children wherever they go. People are more than used to seeing families travel around. Plus it’ll open up the country for you. Talking about your kids is a big icebreaker, so there’s that at the very least.
Don’t be concerned if someone in a restaurant, a local, 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.
You’ll be happy to know there are also discounts when you have kids with you! Everyone’s a winner.
Whilst there’s plenty to do in terms of beaches and nature and things like that, playgrounds for smaller children aren’t easy to come by. In fact, there’s not a lot aimed at smaller children. Don’t expect fancy, child-friendly interactive displays at museums.
Be wary of a lack of pavements. If you’re coming with a pushchair, be warned: things can get BUMPY.
There is however PLENTY of family accommodation to choose from. Family rooms, cots, highchairs, all available at hotels. Outside of those, you may struggle to find amenities like baby changing facilities. 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.
Oh – and don’t go near dogs. These can be pretty sketchy in terms of diseases and general danger, so encourage your kids NOT to go near them.
Is it safe to drive in Turkey?
Driving in Turkey is a good way to get around to see sights at your own leisure.
It’s a big country, and though traveling by car will allow you to get to see a different side of Turkey, it will take a lot of TIME, EFFORT, and MONEY. Honestly, it’s often easier, cheaper, and safer, to just opt for public transport.
However, if driving is really your thing, and you really can’t get the idea of a Turkish road trip out of your head – it can be done.
The roads are a pretty good standard, in general, but people drive aggressively and seem to want to dominate the road. Road rage is normal. Driving at night is pretty dangerous, and the police will stop you.
Driving can be chaotic, especially in cities, which can also get super congested. In Istanbul, for example, it’s just not worth it.
Even though we don’t recommend it, driving IS safe in Turkey, but maybe more so for experienced drivers. Especially if you have experience driving in even more hectic places.
Is Uber safe in Turkey?
Whilst Turkey’s president Erdogan is not a fan (he’s said that Uber is finished in Turkey) it seems that Uber is still popular.
Granted, it has been reported that both drivers and passengers have been fined by authorities, but generally, Uber is still safe in Turkey. Just know that it’s only available in Istanbul.
Are taxis safe in Turkey?
Taxis are usually safe in Turkey. Whether or not they’re always fair is another issue!
Taxis run on meters and you can catch them at taxi stands. You’ll know them because they’re almost always yellow.
There are plenty of good taxi drivers, but then again, there are plenty of difficult taxi drivers, too. For example, if the driver doesn’t want to go to a certain place (too far or whatever) or there’s traffic, they might refuse to take you altogether.
Some may even try to scam you. You might want to keep a maps app open on your phone because sometimes a driver will take you round the houses to try and rack that meter up.
The best (i.e. safest) way to get a taxi is to ask your hotel for a reputable company.
Unlicensed taxis do exist. These don’t have meters and offer fixed price journeys. We wouldn’t really recommend getting in one of these.
A good way to stay safe is the BiTaksi app. You can see taxis in your area, see how much the fare should be, and even book a taxi through the app. It’s a bit like Uber, but for taxis.
As always: ignore touts and always go to the official taxi ranks. Everything else is just illegal, most likely scammy, and potentially unsafe. You can also get fined if you’re caught using one!
In summation, taxis are safe in Turkey, but they’re infamous, even for Turkish people, for being a bit of a headache.
Is public transportation in Turkey safe?
The public transportation in Turkey is generally safe and pretty convenient. Turkey is a well-touristed country with good connections to most major (tourist and non-tourist) destinations. Istanbul particularly is bursting at the seams with public transport, from various 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. Some buses are a bit old and some are state-of-the-art with TVs in the backs of the seats. As the old adage goes: you get what you pay for.
There’s also dolmuses, which are minibusses essentially. These run between towns and are often cramped. Good if you like adventure, bad if you value your comfort. Safe to use though.
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!) though you’ll have to keep an eye out for pickpockets.
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. That said, there have been a few accidents in recent years.
You can even get high-speed trains, though these are relatively expensive compared to a bus ticket. Sleeper trains exist, too.
Overall, public transport is safe in Turkey. Pickpockets are definitely a thing, pretty much everywhere, so just keep your bags close to you, DON’T leave your wallet, phone or other values on display – and wear a money belt! As is usually the case, female travelers should exercise caution when using long-distance buses and trains as well.
A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.
Is the food in Turkey safe?
What can we say about Turkish food except: wow! Kebaps, meze, sucuk, pide, borek, lahmacun, baklava… And that’s literally just a few items. Cheese, honey, tomatoes, olives, sausages, pastries, various breads and meats, and all in various combinations of each other; it’s all delicious!
We’re talking cheap, we’re talking tasty, we’re talking diverse – Turkish food is a wonder in itself. We’d honestly visit just for the food; it’s that good! And it’s safe! But it can’t hurt to be safer, so here are a few of our top tips for eating your way around Turkey.
- Take care when it comes to eating meat on the street that’s been left in the heat. It a) won’t be very nice and b) might make you ill. Take care, we say.
- When it comes to seafood, really do make sure it’s fresh. Take EXTRA caution with mussels – they’re tasty, but sometimes these have been harvested from water that isn’t the best. If you do want mussels, try them in a seafood restaurant by the actual sea.
- Whilst your mouth may be WATERING, your stomach might not be up for the challenge. Hitting Turkey’s food HARD when you first arrive and stuffing yourself silly is probably going to lead to you getting a bad stomach. Ease yourself in. Especially if you’re prone to traveler’s tummy.
- Make sure everything’s HOT and COOKED THROUGH, especially from food stalls on the street.
- A good rule: busy, popular places = tasty food that probably won’t make you ill. The opposite also applies, so probably best to stay away from empty stalls for the sake of not having to queue. Not worth it.
- You might have heard of kokorec, a famous dish that goes all the way back to the Ancient Greeks! (Cool!) If didn’t know already though, it’s sheep’s intestine. Being intestine, there may be leftover… yep. Just make sure it’s washed well. Wanna try it without getting more than just food poisoning? Go to a restaurant, not a street stall.
- If you have any dietary requirements or intolerances – or even allergies – learn some Turkish phrases. This will help you get food you want/need.
- Chicken rice. Seems simple right? Everyone loves it. But in the hot summer months… avoid! Especially from street stalls. If rice is old or not cooked through, it’s bad. If chicken isn’t cooked properly, it’s bad. Both things together can be very bad!
- Wash. Your. Hands. Just like your mum used to tell you. Who knows what germs your dirty hands could be harboring.
Again though: wow. There’s so much amazing food to try in Turkey. This is the culinary heritage of the centuries-old Ottoman Empire and all the territories it used to encompass, from the Balkans to the Middle East. If you’re into your food, you’re in for a TREAT, but remember that food isn’t always treated nicely. Use your better judgment and pass on things that seem dodgy and unpopular.
Can you drink the water in Turkey?
In a word, nope; the water in Turkey is generally NOT safe to drink.
Some smaller towns might be ok, but the larger cities like Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir…definitely not.
We’d recommend bring a refillable bottle in case your accommodation has a water filter. When looking for a proper travel water bottle, make sure that it’s rugged, insulated, and large enough. We like Active Roots’ bottle and would recommend it to anyone.
You might also get away with using a Grayl Geopress, just so long as you know there is no gunk or serious microbes in the water.
Our favorite way to harvest clean drinking water anywhere has to be with a filter bottle.
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Is Turkey safe to live?
Obviously, people are worried about terrorism and political unrest. It’s normal to be concerned about these things, but, at the end of the day, the odds of you being a victim of them are pretty low.
We’d say Turkey is safe to live in just so long as you stick to the secure areas. You won’t want to live in the provinces that have travel warnings, we imagine, as these places are definitely unsafe.
There are plenty of safe places to live in Turkey. From the capital Ankara to the obvious choice of Istanbul; plenty of expats do make their homes in the major cities for many years, in fact.
Being a female comes with its own unique challenges. Men following you around, hassling you, soliciting sex; these things happen. Women who live in Turkey often have to deal with sexual and physical violence. The gender pay gap is also pretty wild in Turkey. In 2018 Turkey ranked 131 out of 142 countries based on equality between male and female paychecks.
You’ll have to do your research. Depending on what neighborhood what town, in what province you live, how people treat you is going to vary quite dramatically. Liberal mindsets and education make a difference.
Crime rates vary but are generally quite low. There’s not a lot of street crime, for example. However, the roads are not very safe. Even for pedestrians in cities, it can be pretty hazardous.
As we already saw, the family is key in Turkey. So if you’re coming with children, it might break down some barriers for you.
It goes without saying, but learning at least a little bit of Turkish is going to help you get by in day-to-day life.
Away from the mainland, the islands in the Aegean Sea are a popular place for expats to move to. Bodrum is popular if you’ve got the budget for it, whilst Didim is known for its British expat community.
Ultimately, whether you have to move here for work or if you want to move to Turkey for sun and a more laid-back way of life, you’ll have to do your homework. Talk to other expats, join Facebook groups and see what place is going to suit you best!
How is healthcare in Turkey?
There are varying levels of healthcare available in Turkey and quality is often a matter of location.
For example, Istanbul and Ankara are both home to world-class medical care and hospitals.
Anywhere else? Not so much. Health facilities in mid-sized cities are alright, but often time the local pharmacist is more useful. They can often diagnose and treat on the spot with prescription medicine.
In rural areas, there’s not much in the way of health services at all.
Public healthcare, in general, is pretty patchy. It can range from average, to not very good at all. Unless it’s just something minor, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Private healthcare is definitely the way to go. These regularly have less waiting times, better services, more well-equipped hospitals, and English speaking staff on hand.
Turkey is, however, becoming a destination for cosmetic surgery and dentistry. This is because of the high quality and affordable prices of its private establishments.
In general, however, Turkey’s healthcare varies from city to city, from area to area. Generally, the bigger the city, the better the healthcare on offer.
10 Helpful Turkish Travel Phrases
The official language of Turkey is Turkish. Turkish is its own language and, contrary to popular belief, has very few grammatical similarities with other Arabic or European languages. The language of Turkey is Altaic in origin, meaning that is actually more similar to some Central Asian ones.
The structure of the Turkish language is actually quite logical due in part to Ottoman’s successful attempt of standardizing it. The central Ottoman government wanted a uniform language, one that could be understood by the vast majority of the population and, at the same time, be resistant to foreign influence and vernacular. For these reasons, the rules of modern Turkish are very rigid and, thus, easy to understand (if you actually try to learn it).
Kurdish is another prominent language found in Turkey though it’s mostly localized to the far Eastern edges where the Kurds live. Kurdish is an Indo-European language and very distinct from Turkish.
English, in addition to many other popular international languages, are becoming more common in Turkey. Most of the younger generations speak at least a moderate amount of English. Many other Turks who are in contact regularly with English speakers will know a little of the language as well. Due in part to Turkey’s economic and historical relationship with Germany, German is also widely spoken, in addition to Dutch and French.
Learning a few local expressions is always a good idea. So to make your life easier, I have written the pronunciations for a few helpful Turkish phrases with English translations.
Merhaba – hello
evet/Hayir – yes/no
hos bulduk – it’s nice
Hosçakal – goodbye
Nasilsin – how are you?
Ismim... - my name is…
lutfen - please
Buyurun - (multi-purpose word; used like bitte in German or prego in Italian)
tesekkür ederim - thank you
serefe - cheers
Final thoughts on the safety of Turkey
Turkey is, and basically always has been, a popular tourist destination. Despite the potential threat of terrorism and despite potential political upheaval on the horizon, currently, Turkey is doing well. At the end of the day, terrorists can strike whenever they feel like it. Paying attention to the current situation, making sure you can leave if everything changes – this will help you stay safe in Turkey.
The most danger you’re likely to face is from petty theft or, more likely, scams. Knowing to not take everything at face value, not talking to strangers, and recognizing sketchy situations will be enough to avoid would-be scammers. Keeping your valuables close to you is important, too. And as a female traveler, knowing how to deflect unwanted attention with firm negatives is key for keeping safe (and sane) in Turkey.
Honestly? Turkey is safe. 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 traveling around Turkey safely and having an amazing time; all easily done.
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! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.
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