Do I need a visa to visit Turkey?Turkish Authorities have advised through their e-visa website that from 10 April 2014 visas will not be issued upon arrival. Australians travelling to Turkey as a tourist or for business should apply for a visa online at www.evisa.gov.tr. All other visa types should be requested through your nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate. There is no change to the requirement for all Australian passport holders to have a valid visa. Any questions relating to Turkish visas should be directed to your nearest Turkish Embassy or Consulate.
From 1 February 2012, the Turkish authorities have implemented new regulations allowing a maximum stay of only 90 days within a 180 day period for tourists. This does not change the visa requirements for travel to Turkey but it will affect how long foreigners (including Australian citizens) can remain in Turkey.
The Embassy has been notified by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) that foreign nationals who enter Turkey on a tourist visa are now able to get a residency permit for tourism purposes for a maximum period of six months by applying at the General Directorate of Migration Management (İçişleri Bakanlığı Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü) in Turkey.
The Turkish Government has advised that from 1 January 2015, foreigners entering Turkey must carry a passport with at least 60 days validity beyond the expiry date of their visa or residence permit.
As individual circumstances and visa types differ, we strongly recommend you to contact the nearest Security Department to discuss your case.
Is it safe to travel in Turkey?Turkey is one of the safest countries in the world in which to travel, and its crime rate is low in comparison to many Western European countries. Interpol ranked Turkey as the safest holiday destination in Europe for travelers. Naturally, we recommend that travelers to Turkey exercise the same precautions they would elsewhere, and be aware of security concerns that affect all international travelers.
The Turkish Government takes air safety very seriously, and maintains strict oversight, particularly on international flights.
Is it better to travel independently or go to Turkey as a part of a group tour?The best way to see and experience Turkey depends on one’s knowledge, experience, and personal preferences. Touring is a safe way to experience new cultures and to see new places with peace of mind. However, some travelers may prefer to visit sites independently without the confines of schedules and timetables.
Group tours are organized through tour operators. There are many tour operators in the AUS that specialize in trips to Turkey. These can be found in Turkey: The Travel Directory, which is produced and published by the Ministry of Tourism. Most group tours are all-inclusive. This means that transportation (air and ground), hotels, some meals, and a guide are usually provided for a flat-fee. Guided tours are highly recommended for those with an interest in history and culture, since tour guides can enhance the traveler’s experience by sharing their in-depth knowledge of the places visited.
Those who wish to travel independently can make travel arrangements in advance through a tour operator. Many tour operators will design customized individual itineraries in which air transportation, hotel and car rental reservations and other services are privately arranged to match the specifications of the client. Some tour operators offer fly/drive packages as well, in which airfare and rental car services are provided as a package.
Travelers can also make their own hotel and rental car reservations. The hotel guide web site www.hotelguide.com.tr comprehensively lists accommodation facilities throughout Turkey. Visitors may also choose to use the services of local travel agencies in Turkey. These agencies can arrange car and driver mini-tours, which are very popular in many areas, including Istanbul, Ephesus, Antalya and Cappadocia.
Turkey is a country of diverse scenery, climate and historical monuments, so travelers are sometimes overwhelmed by the number of places to visit. Some 15-day itineraries are suggested in Turkey: The Travel Directory, published by the Ministry of Tourism. For assistance in planning your trip or any inquiries relating to your trip consult Turkish Tourism Information Offices throughout Turkey. Their addresses are listed in alphabetical order on the Turkish Ministry of Tourism’s web site at www.turizm.gov.tr
What types of tours do tour operators in the AUS offer?Tour operators listed in our guide, Turkey: The Travel Directory, are Turkey specialists — they have extensive knowledge and experience in Turkish tourism. Some exclusively offer trips to Turkey. Others offer trips to Turkey in combination with other countries, such as Greece and Italy. The companies listed in the Travel Directory can provide a wide range of services including package tours, air ticketing, rental car reservations, hotel reservations, day tours, customized itineraries, guides, and more. Many companies specialize in different areas of Turkish travel and tourism. Almost all tours include western Turkey and focus on historical and archeological sites. However, some tour operators also offer tours of the Black Sea region and eastern and southeastern Turkey. There are also special-interest tours such as golf tours, photography tours, culinary tours, trekking tours and more.
For a free copy of Turkey: The Travel Directory please contact the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne or Sydney. Tour operators are also listed on our web site at http://www.turkishteachers.com.au in alphabetical and state order.
When is the best time to travel in Turkey?The high season for travel in Turkey generally runs between mid-April and late-October. During the off-season, temperatures are much cooler and snow is possible in mountainous areas. Many visitors enjoy the spring and fall, with their mild weather and small crowds.
Coastal regions are particularly popular with tourists during the summer. These include resort areas along the Aegean and Mediterranean coast with beaches and yachting facilities. The coastline, especially between Izmir and Antalya, features numerous coves and bays and many nearby ancient cities and is perfect for yachting. A large number of international-quality marinas provide services for the yachtsman. For active travelers, swimming, fishing, water-skiing, surfing and diving are available.
Turkey also enjoys many spectacular rivers. They are ideal for canoeing, skiing and rafting. Mountaineering is also popular in mountain ranges throughout Turkey in spring and summer.
The high plateaus of the Eastern Black Sea Region are covered by colorful flowers and green pasture during spring and summer. Naturalists will enjoy the diversity of fauna and flora as well as the heart-stopping splendor of the surrounding landscape.
Central and Eastern Turkey can receive large accumulations of snow, and snow skiing is a favorite winter pastime. Turkey has several ski centers, which are generally open from December through April depending on snow conditions.
What are the Average Air and Water Temperatures for Turkey’s major cities?Temperatures are given in ºC (degrees Celsius) in Turkey, which can be converted to ºF (degrees Fahrenheit) with the formula: ºF = (9/5)ºC + 32
Average Air and Water Temperatures For
Major Cities in ºF
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Antalya Air 50 52 55 61 68 77 83 83 77 68 59 54 Water 63 63 63 64 70 75 81 83 81 77 72 66 Izmir Air 48 50 52 61 68 77 83 81 73 64 59 50 Water 52 52 54 59 68 75 79 79 75 70 63 55 Istanbul Air 41 43 45 54 61 70 73 73 68 61 54 46 Water 48 45 46 52 59 68 73 73 70 63 57 52 Trabzon Air 43 43 45 52 59 68 75 77 75 68 61 55 Water 50 48 48 50 57 68 75 77 75 68 61 55 Ankara Air 32 34 41 52 61 68 73 73 65 55 46 36 Erzurum Air 16 19 27 41 52 59 66 68 59 48 36 23 Diyarbakir Air 36 36 46 57 66 79 88 88 77 63 50 50
The web site of the General Directorate of the Turkish State Meteorological Service, www.meteor.gov.tr, gives current sea and air temperatures, humidity and 3-day weather forecasts for all cities in Turkey and for the holiday resorts of Alanya, Anamur, Bodrum, Dalaman, Finike and Marmaris.
What is the best way to travel to Turkey from the AUS?Most Australian visitors arrive in Turkey by flying directly into Istanbul or aboard cruise ships, which dock in ports including Istanbul, Kusadasi, and Izmir. Visitors may arrive in Turkey by land at border crossings from neighboring countries. There are also ferry connections from several Greek islands to ports in mainland Turkey.
By Air: Turkish Airlines operates the fastest non-stop flight from Singapore to Istanbul. Passengers can call Turkish Airlines at 1-800-874-8875.
By Sea: Many cruise ships sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean dock in Turkey. Cruise ships arrive at customs entry points where it is easy to obtain a visa and satisfy entry requirements. Major ports are Istanbul, Izmir, Cesme, Kusadasi, Marmaris and Antalya. For a complete list of cruise lines which sail to Turkey, contact the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne or Sydney.
Passenger and automobile ferries between Turkey and neighboring countries also provide entry by sea.
Ferry Lines between Turkey and the Greek Islands run between Marmaris – Rhodes, Bodrum – Cos, Kusadasi – Samos, Cesme – Chios and Ayvalik – Lesbos. These ferries run regularly from April through October, and operate on a reduced schedule in winter.
Turkish Maritime lines operates passenger ferries between Turkey and Italy (Cesme-Brindisi) and between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Mersin-Magosa). Ferry schedules can be found on their web site at www.tdi.com.tr.
There are also ferry services from Trabzon on Turkey’s Eastern Black Sea Coast to Sochi and from Istanbul to Novosibirsk, both on Russia’s Black Sea Coast. Ferry services also operate between Istanbul and various Ukrainian ports including Odessa, Yalta, Sevastopol and Yevpatorya. Contact information for the companies operating these services may be obtained from the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne or Sydney.
By Land: Turkey has many border crossings with its neighbors. Varan Bus Company operates regular bus services between Istanbul-Athens and Istanbul-Vienna. Schedules and fares can be found on their web site at www.varan.com.tr. In addition, Istanbul can be reached by train directly from and via some of Europe’s major cities.
What are the most popular travel destinations in Turkey?From the perfect beaches and ancient ruins of its coast to the pulse of its cosmopolitan cities, Turkey is a study in contrasts. Visitors can lose themselves in the magic of a historic palace before enjoying a world-class meal, or swim amidst Roman ruins before continuing their journey in the comfort of a state-of-the-art yacht.
Whatever your fancy, there are countless things to see and do in Turkey. Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, serves as the gateway for most travelers. Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits on two continents and it offers an abundance of fascinating attractions for visitors. Some of Istanbul’s most popular sites include the Bosphorus Strait, the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, the Kariye Museum, the Underground Cistern, Galata Tower, the Tower of Leander, the Princes’ Islands and the Grand Bazaar.
From Canakkale Bogazi, also known as the Dardanelles, to the fairytale Crusader castle and sunny beaches of Bodrum, the Aegean shores of Turkey are among the loveliest landscapes in Turkey. The highlights of an Aegean tour are Troy, the site of the legendary Trojan War and its wooden horse; ancient Pergamon, once a great center of culture and now one of Turkey’s finest archeological sites; Ephesus, the capital of Roman Asia Minor, dedicated to the goddess Artemis whose temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; Aphrodisias, the center of the greatest school of sculpture in antiquity; Pamukkale, a unique fairyland of dazzlingly white calcified castles; and Bodrum, a charming coastal town with a long, palm-lined waterfront and beautiful beaches.
Antalya province on the Mediterranean coast is Turkey’s principal holiday region. It is a paradise for sunbathing, swimming and sports. Best of all, Antalya serves as a convenient hub for nearby archeological attractions. Ancient theatres can be found in a remarkable state of preservation at Aspendos and Perge and visitors can tour the sunken city of Simena in Kekova. Remains of ancient Lycian cities such as Patara, Letoon, Xanthos, Myra and Apollonia are also within easy traveling distance. These are among the most fascinating sites on the Anatolian Peninsula.
Cappadocia in Central Anatolia is one of the most fantastic landscapes in the world and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. The area’s early Christian inhabitants utilized its remarkable rock formations to create more than 220 churches and numerous underground cities in which they took refuge from their persecutors.
Other popular destinations include Safranbolu in the Black Sea Region, an open-air museum of traditional Turkish houses; Mount Nemrut in southeastern Turkey, where enormous stone statues of deities commemorate the first century BC Commagene Kingdom. Konya in Central Anatolia was home to the great Islamic philosopher Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi who in the 13th century founded the Mevlevi Order known as the Whirling Dervishes. Each year in early December, the white-robed Mevlevi commemorate the death of Mevlana with their trance-like turning dance or sema – an amazing sight to behold.
What attractions does Turkey offer related to religious history and issues of faith?History has been incredibly generous to Turkey, which has been vital in the history of the three major Western religions — Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Turkey is one of a few countries where all three religions have co-existed peacefully for centuries. There are a many important sites in Turkey of interest to people of all faiths.
More and more people are discovering the important role Turkey played in the history of Christianity. Travelers can discover many magnificent churches, some nearly as old as Christianity itself, and can retrace the footsteps of Saints Peter and Paul from the Biblical city of Antioch to the underground churches of Cappadocia. Many of the most important events in Christian history occurred in Turkey.
Born in Tarsus, the Apostle Paul spread the word of Jesus Christ across Anatolia, expanding Christianity’s reach from a predominantly Jewish base to Gentile communities.
Not far from Tarsus on Turkey’s Eastern Mediterranean coast is Antakya, known in biblical times as Antioch. This ancient city was founded around 300 B.C. and was home to the first important Christian community, founded in 42 AD by St. Paul. Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians” in Antioch and from here Christianity spread to the world. St. Paul departed from Antioch on his three missionary journeys. The city holds the Church of St. Peter, a cave-church where the apostles Peter and Paul are believed to have preached. In 1963, the Vatican designated the site a place of pilgrimage and recognized it as the world’s first cathedral.
The “Seven Churches of Asia Minor,” a series of communities located near the Aegean coast, is where St. Paul visited, preached and built the early church. Their ancient names – Ephesus (Efes), Smyrna (Izmir), Thyatira (Akhisar), Sardis (Sart), Philadelphia (Alasehir), Laodicea (Eskihisar) and Pergamon (Bergama) are familiar from the New Testament’s Book of Revelation.
Ephesus, perhaps the most prominent of the Seven Churches, is where St. Paul wrote his letters to the Ephesians, and where St. John the Evangelist brought the Virgin Mary to spend her last years. The Vatican recognizes the Virgin Mary’s house, located in the hills near Ephesus, as a shrine. Just outside Ephesus, in Selcuk, is the Basilica of St. John where he preached and is believed to be buried.
Many other regions in Turkey offer a wealth of attractions to the Christian traveler. St. Nicholas was born and lived in Demre on the Mediterranean coast. A church dedicated to the original Santa Claus still stands. Visitors to the biblical area of Cappadocia, located in Central Anatolia, can explore more than 200 carved rock churches beautifully decorated with frescoes depicting early Christian motifs, and a seven-story underground city where Christians took refuge from their persecutors.
The stunning Monastery of the Virgin Mary located near the Black Sea in Trabzon is a well-known monastic center dating to the 4th century. Built on the edge of a l200 foot cliff and accessible only by foot, it housed some of the Orthodox Church’s greatest thinkers.
Istanbul became the center of Christianity in 330 AD and it was here that the largest church in Christendom at the time, Haghia Sophia or the Church of the Divine Wisdom, was dedicated by Emperor Justinian in 536 AD. The Kariye Museum, a Greek Orthodox Church from the 11th and 14th centuries, is famous for its incomparable Byzantine frescoes and mosaics.
Judaism has had a continuous presence in Turkey since ancient times. Signs written in Hebrew and menorahs carved into stone at historical sites such as Ephesus, Kusadasi, Priene, Hieropolis, and Pamukkale attest to long history of Jews in Turkey. In Sardis, near Izmir, the remains of the largest ancient synagogue in existence date to the 3rd century AD. Its frescoes and mosaics suggest a large, well-established and successful Jewish community in Sardis.
According to the legend of the great flood, Noah’s Ark ran aground at Mount Agri (Ararat). When the floodwaters receded, Noah and his family descended from the mountain to the fertile Igdir Plain and repopulated the world.
Jewish Patriarchs Abraham and Job also made their mark in eastern Turkey. Sanli Urfa in southeastern Turkey is known as the city of Prophets. A cave there is said to be the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. It has become a place of pilgrimage and is now surrounded by the Halil Rahman Mosque. The Prophet Job, who was famed for his patience, is believed to have spent seven years recovering from illness inside another cave located in the district of Eyyübiye two kilometers south of Sanli Urfa.
Jews have enjoyed tolerance and peace in Turkey for centuries. After the Jewish communities in Spain and Portugal were exiled in 1492 during the Inquisition, Sultan Beyazit II welcomed them to the Ottoman Empire. As a result, many Jewish communities still thrive in modern Turkey.
Istanbul is of particular significance to Jewish visitors. In the city’s old Jewish Quarter is the 19th century Neve Shalom Synagogue, the Zulfaris Jewish Museum and nearby, the 15th century Ahrida Synagogue. The first Jewish printing press began operating in Istanbul in 1493 and Jewish literature and music flourished during this period.
In Bursa, a short drive south of Istanbul, visitors will find the Gerus Synagogue, built at the end of the 15th century by the first Jews who settled in the city after being expelled from Spain. The name of the synagogue in Hebrew means, “Expelled”. Izmir, located on the Aegean coast, has several synagogues, including Beth Israel Synagogue; Bikour Holim Synagogue, named in memory of an epidemic when city hospitals were so full that synagogues were used to house the sick, and Giveret Synagogue, rebuilt after an 1841 fire.
Visitors to Turkey are often touched by the call to prayer from lofty minarets. The call is heard five times a day, inviting the faithful to face towards Mecca and pray from the Koran. Although Turkey is a secular democracy which guarantees freedom of religion for all people, Islam is the country’s predominant religion. People of all faiths may visit Turkey’s mosques.
Islam’s roots in Turkey date to the 10th Century. In the ensuing centuries Seljuk and Ottoman Turks constructed impressive mosques with elegant interior decorations and imposing domes and minarets. Virtually every Turkish city has a mosque of historical or architectural significance. Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul stands as perhaps the most impressive. Built between 1609 and 1616 in the classic Ottoman style, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles. The Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest in Istanbul. It was built between 1550 and 1557by Suleyman the Magnificent, the greatest sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Other cities also have impressive Islamic architecture. The Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) with its 20 domes and Yesil Cami (Green Mosque) in Bursa, was constructed between 1419 and 1420. The mosque derives its name from the exquisite green and turquoise tiles in its interior. Haci Bayram Mosque in Ankara was built in the early 15th century in the Seljuk style and was subsequently restored by the master Ottoman architect Sinan in the 16th century. Selimiye Mosque in Edirne reflects the classical Ottoman style and Sinan’s lasting genius.
Konya ranks as one of the great cultural centers of Turkey. As the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the 13th centuries Konya was a center of cultural, political and religious growth. During this period, the mystic Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes. Mevlana’s striking green-tiled mausoleum is Konya’s most famous attraction. Attached to the mausoleum, the former dervish seminary now serves as a museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana’s works and various artifacts related to the mystic sect.
How can I travel in Turkey?By Plane
Virtually every major city in Turkey has air service and Turkish Airlines offers nationwide services. Most flights connect through Istanbul or Ankara, both of which have domestic and international terminals. You can check Turkish Airlines’ schedules and book flights at www.turkishairlines.com or call them.
Busses are an efficient and affordable way to travel in Turkey. Private bus companies provide frequent day and night services between all Turkish cities. Local Tourism Information Offices usually have bus schedules for their regions; their addresses can be found at www.turizm.gov.tr by clicking on “Tourism Information.”
The major bus lines have spacious, comfortable coaches, and offer coffee, tea and snacks. The two largest bus companies’ web sites, www.varan.com.tr and www.ulusoy.com.tr, provide routes, schedules, ticket prices, and office addresses.
The extensive Turkish State Railways network connects most major cities. On some trains, sleeping compartments are available. Detailed train schedules and prices as well as reservation telephone numbers and authorized ticket agents are listed on their web site at www.tcdd.gov.tr. Transportation From and To the Airport
Havas airport busses are a convenient and affordable alternative to taxis for transportation from airports to downtown areas or from downtown areas to airports in Turkey. You can find detailed information about the schedules at www.havas.com.tr
How can I travel to eastern or southeastern Turkey?Several specialized tour operators offer organized tours to Eastern and Southeastern Turkey. A list of these tour operators can be obtained from the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne or Sydney. It is also possible to rent a car in Turkey and drive to these areas. However, during winter some parts of Eastern Anatolia can be quite cold and snowy. Roads are not always passable. Therefore, it is generally recommended that visitors travel to these regions as part of an organized tour during the summer.
Where should I stay in Turkey?Where should I stay in Turkey?
Turkey offers a wide array of comfortable and modern lodgings to fit any budget. Larger cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, offer a range of international chain hotels, as well as many charming locally run Turkish properties. Seaside resorts on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts and other popular tourism destinations abound with hotels, pensions and holiday villages. Many of the Turkey tour specialists listed in our guide can make hotel reservations.
The Ministry of Tourism licenses a number of hotels throughout the country. Rated from one to five stars, they must meet standards set forth by the Ministry. Renovated and refurbished Ottoman mansions, 19th century wooden houses and other historic buildings now operate as special licensed hotels. The Turkish Tourism Offices can provide a Hotel Guide that lists numerous hotels licensed by the Ministry of Tourism. Licensed hotels and other licensed accommodations in any city in Turkey can also be found at www.turizm.gov.tr
See www.hotelguide.com.tr for a comprehensive list of hotels in all regions of Turkey sorted in alphabetical order.
How should visitors dress in Turkey?Casual wear is appropriate for most tour excursions. Women wear pants or skirts, but when visiting mosques it is recommended that they cover their heads with a scarf and both sexes should not wear shorts out of respects for religious customs.