Turkish, the official language, is spoken across the country with only minor regional differences in accent.
There are a number of different ethnicities living in Turkey who speak their own languages as well, for example Armenian, Arabic and various Balkan languages.
English and German are also widely spoken, especially in the major tourist areas.
Tipping is very much a part of Turkish culture, especially in the service industry, and you should be prepared to tip guides, drivers and porters who assist you during your stay.
We recommend tipping your guide approximately 20 Turkish Lira per person per day for your guide and half that for your driver.
Money & expenses
Turkey's currency is the Turkish Lira (TL), which you can buy before your trip from most banks and post offices. Banknotes exist in denominations TL1, TL5, TL10, TL20, TL50 and TL100, and coins from 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents to TL1.
Visa and Mastercard are accepted in all hotels and most restaurants, as well as the larger shops. ATMs can be found in most towns.
Allow approximately TL170 to TL210 per person per day for general expenses (meals, drinks etc), but considerably more if you dine in some of the more top-end restaurants, or in the restaurants of international 5* hotels.
A main meal in a small, local establishment can cost as little as TL17, but on average a main meal at dinner will cost around TL42 to TL63. A beer will cost around TL6, but slightly more in Istanbul.
Food & drink
Turkish cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Balkan cuisines, usually made with locally grown ingredients. Vegetables feature heavily, for example stuffed peppers or aubergine dip.
Typically, a meal begins with a variety of hot or cold meze dishes, usually including a few salads as well as fresh bread and dips such as hummus, a spicy pepper and walnut paste called acuka, and an aubergine and garlic mix.
Main meals vary depending on where you are. On the coast you'll find lots of fresh fish and seafood on the menu while inland either meat (lamb is the most popular) or vegetables are served with rice, grains or bread.
The Turkish are very fond of their desserts, which are often extremely sweet. Baklava is a national speciality: pastry and nuts soaked in honey.
Dairy products are also important in Turkish cuisine. Yogurt can supplement most meat dishes and a salted yogurt drink is a popular accompaniment to kebabs. There are many varieties of cheeses produced in Turkey, many of which are from sheep’s milk, rather than cow's.
Turkish coffee, brewed for much longer than usual and served in very small cups, is renowned for its intensity and appears on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. However, most Turkish people drink more tea (black) than coffee throughout the day.
A wide variety of fruit is grown throughout the country and you can buy fresh juice cheaply from street food stalls.
Turkish wine is excellent and Turkey is the fourth largest producer of grapes in the world from its many vineyards, which are spread across almost all of the country. Efes is the national beer, named after the ancient city Ephesus.
Our certified country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the State Department website.
When to go to Turkey
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Turkey.
9 hours 50 (New York to Istanbul)