Getting there

There is a wide range of flight options available between the UK and Turkey. British Airways, Turkish Airlines and EasyJet all offer direct services to Istanbul and Turkish Airlines have excellent connections on to other main cities including Izmir, Ankara and Antalya. The Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, are well served by the airports at Dalaman and Bodrum.

Flying times from UK

Flights from the UK to Istanbul take around three hours and to the Mediterranean Coast close to four hours.

Time zone

Istanbul is +2 hours ahead of GMT.

Visa requirements

British Citizens travelling to Turkey for tourism can travel without a visa for visits of up to 90 days in any 180 day period.

Do’s and don’ts

If visiting a mosque you should always remove your shoes and ensure that legs and shoulders are covered.

When taking photographs, permission should always be asked before taking someone’s picture.

If you manage to learn a few words in Turkish it will be greatly appreciated.


The Turkish currency is the Lira which comes in denominations of between 1 and 200. Changing foreign currency is an easy process, possible at banks, hotels and post office branches marked PTT but if you need to spend Euros, many places will accept these too. ATMs are readily available in cities, towns and resorts and are a reliable way to access money. All major credit cards are accepted in Turkey although in smaller restaurants and in bazaars cash is preferred.


As in many countries there are no hard and fast rules on tipping in Turkey although waiters will always appreciate a gratuity of around 10% of the meal price. Taxi drivers will generally expect to be tipped. A guideline for tipping your drivers and guides will be advised prior to travel.

Food and drink

Turkish food is one of the glories of Mediterranean cuisine, prepared using the freshest products and with infinite skill and knowledge of flavours. Whether you are dining out in the heart of Istanbul or grabbing a quick snack, the eating experience is unique. People in Turkey enjoy meat and kebab dishes like doner, shish and bursa are popular and insist on the most delicate cuts of lamb. With its long coastline Turkey also has excellent seafood – with the small restaurants of Aegean and Mediterranean coastal towns offering simple but delicious fare. Most dishes use spices, fruits and vegetables including exotic fruits like quince or pomegranate. Alcoholic drinks are widely available with raki, an aniseed-based beverage, a traditional and popular drink. The local beer is Efes and common non-alcoholic options are ayran – a yoghurt-based drink – or freshly squeezed juice.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

Public holidays commemorating events such as national independence and the life of Turkey's modern founder, Kemal Ataturk, feature regularly throughout the year. Many Turkish people also observe the main Islamic events and festivals of the calendar such as the feast which marks the end of Ramadan. Turkey also hosts over 1,000 secular festivals annually. These range from international film and arts festivals and Istanbul’s excellent Biennial, to Bursa's folk festival and the legendary Kirkpinar oil wrestling tournament – held in Edirne in northern Turkey. One particularly compelling spectacle is Konya's Mevlana Memorial Celebration where Sufi worshippers enact their age-old ritual dance.


Shopping in Turkey is unrivalled. Istanbul's historic Grand Bazaar is a superb, and atmospheric, place to spend an afternoon, whether looking for carpets and jewellery or t-shirts and antiques.
Outside the main towns and cities you will find leather goods, woven rugs, copperware, ceramics, embroidery and spices – indeed it is possible to buy almost anything you want in here.

Suggested reading

The travel literature on Turkey is incredibly rich but a good place to start is with a guidebook with Lonely Planet, the Rough Guide and Frommer’s some of the best. Some fine writers have travelled through Turkey and captured its enigmatic history. They include Philip Glazebrook, Eric Newby and William Dalrymple. Rick Stein's ‘From Venice to Istanbul’ also offers a fascinating glimpse of Turkey as seen through its cuisine. Interesting books include:

‘Istanbul: Memories of a City’, by Orhan Pamuk

‘Turkey: A Short History’, by Norman Stone

‘Istanbul: The Imperial City’, by John Freely

‘Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey’, by Hugh Pope

‘Ataturk: The Rebirth of a Nation’, by Patrick Kinross

‘Constantinople: City of the World's Desire’, by Philip Mansel

‘A Short History of Byzantium’, by John Julius Norwich

‘From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium’, by William Dalrymple

‘Birds without Wings’, by Louis de Bernieres


Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad but current recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diphtheria. Yellow Fever is compulsory, but only if you have visited an affected Yellow Fever area within 5 days prior to your arrival. In some instances anti-malarial tablets may also be needed. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on  The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website ( is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on Turkey the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ( which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website ( before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.