Having a hire car opens up great possibilities for exploring this vast country. If you are interested in visiting the historic sites, you will appreciate having the flexibility to visit some of the most spectacular ruins off the main excursion routes.
Most of the popular resorts are nestled between the mountains, which makes for a wonderful backdrop for your holiday. Whether you are seeking a cultured escape or a relaxing getaway, Turkey certainly offers the best of both worlds.
Know Before You Go: Travel advice for Turkey from the FCO.
Things to see and do
- Visit Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, it is the world’s largest covered market.
- Learn a new water sport in the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal resorts.
- Charter a traditional wooden boat known as a ‘gulet’.
- Try white water rafting on the Dalaman River, Koprulu River, Zamanti River, or the Coruh River.
- Visit a Turkish bath.
- Visit the Roman theatre at Aspendos. The best way to appreciate the largest and best preserved theatre in Anatolia is by attending the summertime opera and ballet festival.
- Visit the underground city, Kaymakli, which was burrowed out of soft volcanic tuff, this subterranean labyrinth provided refuge for Cappadocians from the Hittite through to the Byzantine eras.
- Visit the “Beehive” houses in Harran, mud-built dwellings in Harran; they are inhabited by ethnic Arabs.
- See the whirling dervishes: members of a sect founded by the Konya-based Sufi mystic Mevlana conduct “turning” ceremonies to effect a union with God.
- Drink apple tea which has been a favourite since the 1930s, and it’s available everywhere, at almost any hour.
Festivals and events
- The International Asia-Europe Biennial celebrates the countries ties between both Europe and Asia. (May – June)
- The International Theatre Festival allows visitors to enjoy theatrical works from around Turkey and Europe. (May)
- Visit the International Istanbul Music Festival and watch an array of classical and opera performers in Istanbul. (June)
- Rock’n'Coke organised by Coca Cola is a popular rock festival. (July)
- Over one million people descend on Konya to appreciate the Whirling Dervishes Festival. (December)
Tipping Etiquette in Turkey
Tipping is relatively modest in Turkey and whilst it is discretionary, it is expected in certain establishments, particularly restaurants and hotels.
Should you choose to tip in an expensive restaurant, you should leave around 10%-15% of the total bill. In informal restaurants, 5% -10% is sufficient. You should tip hotel staff as it is generally expected and usually, you will receive better service. Staff members you should tip include the porter, the concierge, the bellboy and the housekeeper.
Taxi drivers are not generally tipped in Turkey; instead consider rounding the fare up to a round number. If you visit a Turkish bath, you should tip in the region of 10%-20%.
Skiing in Turkey
Skiing and Turkey typically don’t go hand in hand when planning a skiing holiday abroad because of its Mediterranean climate. Thanks to the several inland mountainous regions however, it should definitely be a worthy contender in your considerations. With several ski resorts to choose from, Turkey is sure to continue to increase in popularity as a skiing destination.
Located in north-west Turkey, you will find the resort of Uludag which sits at an altitude of around 5906ft. The resort is normally open between December and April depending on the level of snowfal. During an average winter, there is usually around 3 metres of snowfall rendering powdery conditions at the start of the season and moist snow towards the end. Uludag boasts 13 ski tracks that run for nearly 20km. There are eight chair lifts and seven teleferic lines in total in operation here with the capacity to transport 11,000 people per hour! The resort is one of the most popular in Turkey with a total of 27 accommodation facilities to choose from so you won’t be hard pressed to find somewhere to stay. You‘re not too far from some of the popular coastal resorts and cities either meaning you can have the best of both worlds with a visit to this area.
Kartalkaya is one of Turkey’s most popular skiing resorts. It is found north of Ankara and the surrounding area is covered with pine forest, therefore it's perfect for alpine and tour skiing. The skiing area is found over an altitude which ranges from 6,069ft to 7,218ft with an annual snow fall of up to 3 metres in depth. The ski season here runs from December. There are two main hotels and each offer their own lifts and track. At Kartal Hotel you will see a total of 11 lifts in operation including 2 chair lifts, 6 teleskis and 3 baby lifts with the capacity of 6,000 people per hour. At the other hotel, Dorukkaya Hotel, skiers are served by 8 ski lifts in total. You will find a range of tracks with equipment hire available and plenty of après ski entertainment on offer for all ages.
The resort of Elmadag is located just 20km from the west of Ankara. The piste is around 1km long with teleski facilities available too. The ski season generally runs from January to March here and snow can reach levels of 30-60cm. There are several easy and intermediate tracks to cater for skiers of different abilities.
This resort is located in eastern Turkey on the southern outskirts of Erzurum. With one of the coldest climates snow is found here for 4-5 months of the year at depths of up to 3 metres. This resort has some of the longest tracks found in Turkey with the longest being 12km long. The ski area altitude ranges from 7,218ft to 10,420ft and boasts 8 easy tracks, 8 intermediate tracks and 2 advanced tracks. There are even 2 "Olympic Tracks"! As such, this is a great resort for skiers of varying abilities.
Saklikent ski resort can be found on the northern side of the Torros Mountains boasting around 120 days of good skiing per year from December 10th through until April 10th. At the very top of the resort the snow level can sometimes reach depths of 5m but is usually between 1m and 2.3m deep. Equipment is available for hire and there is also a ski school on site for complete beginners. You will find 1 chair lift, 2 teleskis, 1 baby lifts plus a snow tubing lift.