About Turkey |
Tourism Information |
Turkey offers a wealth of holiday destinations to travellers. From the historical and exotic skyline of Istanbul to the ancient ruins along the western and southern coasts in locations like Antalya, Marmaris, Dalyan, Fethiye, and Kas there is a tremendous number of very interesting destinations. All along the coastline against the scenic coastal mountain backdrops of Lycia there is everything from wide and sunny beaches to the crazy "foam parties" in Bodrum as well as the more middle eastern flavoured cities of southeastern Anatolia there is always something for everyone's taste and budget - whether they be travelling on a tight budget or arriving on their own luxurious yacht. Turkey was one of the better kept travel secrets up until a decade ago, but still remains one of the most beautiful destinations anywhere in the world. Even though the volume of tourism has risen - the tourism infrastructure created by the people and government of Turkey have well met the challenge.
Turkey's primary international airport is Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport. Ankara's Esenboğa Airport handles a comparatively limited selection of international flights but connects with all the domestic locations. There are also direct charters to the Mediterranean holiday resort destinations via airports in Antalya, Dalaman and Bodrum during the peak summer season. Sabiha Gökçen Airport can be of special interest to those traveling on low-cost carriers. This airport is situated some 50 kilometers east of Istanbul's Taksim Square on the Asian side of Istanbul. The airlines servicing this airport include Pegasus, EasyJet, Germanwings, Condor, THY and many more. It is interesting to point out that some of these low-cost options entail departure and arrival times in the middle of the night. Adana Şakirpaşa Airport is a fairly small airport that serves the Adana the fourth largest city in Turkey on the Çukurova plain about 30 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean Sea. Adana Şakirpaşa Airport serves more than 2 million passengers each year through at least a dozen airlines from around the world.
You can still travel from Europe to Turkey by train if you possess more of a historical or perhaps even romantic interest than fast, quick or practical. The famed Orient Express from London now travels no further than Vienna, but you can take the daily TransBalkan from Budapest, Hungary via Bucharest, Romania on a two-night journey with a scheduled 3-hour stop in Bucharest. Sleepers and couchettes are available, but the train lacks a restaurant car so stock up on goodies for the trip. To and from Greek stations there are two daily services - one from Istanbul to Pythion every morning and one from Istanbul to Thessaloniki every night. There are also daily trains to Istanbul from Sofia, Bulgaria. From the Middle East there are also once-weekly services from Tabriz and Tehran to Van and Istanbul via Ankara. While direct Istanbul-Damascus service has been discontinued, there are still once or twice weekly trains between the southern Turkish cities of Mersin, Adana, and Gaziantep to the Syrian city of Aleppo. After many years there is again a once-weekly passenger train in service between the southeastern city of Gaziantep and Mosul in Iraq which crosses a short strip of Syrian territory. It departs at 12 noon every Tuesday from Mosul and arrives in Gaziantep at 5:40am the next day - costing €25 per person*. Train travel in the coastal areas is pretty much non-existent so mini-bus (dolmuş) transportation is the best alternative.
Turkey has a good cross country bus network with clean air-conditioned buses which generally provide quality service. This is especially true with with the major operators like Ulusoy and Varan. Many of these buses can be crowded, but fortunately smoking has been strictly prohibited. Bus travel in Turkey is easy as all you need do is to go to the Otogar (bus station) in any of the major cities and you can find a bus to almost any destination within a short amount of time. Buses are staffed by drivers and stewards offering free drinks and warm facecloths. About every two hours or so the bus makes a stop at well-stocked road restaurants. Once at your destination there will be smaller buses called dolmuş departing for more specific destinations in the city. Try to avoid using taxis departing from the Otogar since they usually tend to overcharge. If you have to take a taxi, it is usually suggested that you do it from outside the bus terminal. Seating within the long-distance buses is partly directed by the "koltuk numarası" or seat number on your ticket, but this may be overruled by the custom seating of women next to women or couples and families together.
Fast ferries (Turkish: hızlı feribot) are fast catamaran-type ferryboats that connect places like Istanbul to the other side of the Marmara Sea cutting travel time dramatically. There are also ferry connections between Istanbul and Izmir and between Istanbul and Trabzon in the eastern Black Sea region, ships operating on the latter line also stop at all of the significant cities along the Turkish Black Sea coast operating only in summer months. There are also ferries from Bodrum to outlying Greek Islands such as Kos and there is ferry service from Marmaris to Rhodes and from there on to mainland Greece. In every holiday resort location on the south coast of Turkey there will be a tour operator who provides transport to the locations which have ferry services and will be able to furnish tourists with ferry and transportation costs and schedules.
Driving a car in Turkey is something that is not advisable for the faint of heart or for first-time visitors. Drivers in Turkey are often driving too fast for road conditions and seem to lack good spatial perception. Driving a motorcycle is even more challenging. Having a ten ton truck pass you on the motorway with its tires leaving rubber marks on your pant leg does not make for the most enjoyable motorcycle riding. It is best to get used to the driving habits of the Turkish before renting a car to drive around in a major city and a motorcycle only when you have accomplished all that you wanted to achieve in life. By law it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving and the maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood for drivers is 0.05 grams per litre, which is roughly equal to two cups (500 ml) of beer or two glasses (330 ml) of wine. The use of seat belts both in the front and back seats is required, but these laws don't seem to always be taken to heart by Turkish drivers. So again - another valid reason for abstenance or at least extreme caution should you embark upon a venture anywhere on a two-wheeled means of transportation - including a simple bicycle. Also, even though Turkey is quite close to countries which have the richest oil resources, fuel in Turkey is obscenely expensive.
The sole official language of Turkey is Turkish, but in the resort areas the local tourism providers will usually speak several different languages. Maybe not fluently, but well enough to cover the basics. Most resort areas have staff that can speak either English, German or Dutch. In Antalya and in smaller resort areas like Kemer, Camyuva and Tekirova there are plenty of people in tourism sector that speak Russian fluently as well as English and German. The languages spoken usually depend on the location as to where the majority of it's foreign population of expats is originally from. The Turks are very adaptable and rarely will you have difficulty because of a language barrier. Even though English is increasingly popular among the younger generation, the tourism schools that train pupils for a job in tourism pour out thousands of youngsters who want to practice their knowledge on a tourist with varying degrees of fluency. These tourism schools produce students that nowadays are pretty good at their chosen languages.
Turkish Lira (YTL) is the currency of the Republic of Turkey. There are legal exchange offices in all cities and almost any town. Banks also exchange money, but they are usually crowded and do not give better rates than the exchange offices. The Post Offices (PTT) in Turkey often have electronic boards showing current rates. The euro and the dollar are the most useful currencies, but Pound Sterling (Bank of England notes only, not Scottish or Northern Irish notes), Swiss Francs, Japanese Yen, Saudi Riyals, and a number of other currencies are also not very hard to exchange. It is important to remember that most exchangers accept only banknotes and not foreign coins. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, but American Express much less so. ATMs are scattered throughout the cities but concentrated mainly in the central parts. Swiping your bankcard will get you the amount you select in Turkish Lira and not in your home countrys foreign currency.
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