- 1 Transport
- 2 Accommodation
- 3 Food
- 4 Connectivity
- 5 Busking
- 6 Visa
- 7 Cities
- 8 Travel destinations
Turkey (Turkish Türkiye) is a quite big, very variegated, different and beautiful country.
Turkish people are usually very similar to Mediterranean (Southern Spain, Italy, Greece, some Arab countries like Tunisia, etc) family, society, reputation (job, social status, etc) are usually much more important, also in traveling/alternative environments, than for most of westerners.
When you hitchhike in this country, people might try putting you on a dolmuş (mınıbus) or bringing you to the otogar (bus station). The dolmuş is the most common way of public transport inside and between cities & towns. These small buses that are advised to be used for small distances will stop anywhere on the road even if you don't signal them to stop. Generally, the ride on a dolmuş costs between 1 and 3 Lira.
For larger distances buses (coaches) are more common. They provide reliable service and are pretty comfortable. Free tea and snacks are generally served along the way, and the buses tend to stop in nice rest areas. Some drivers who pick you up as a hitchhiker may try to convince you to take a bus. If you do end up on a bus they are relatively cheap although not as cheap as trains which are slower but more adventurous.
Of the transportation options which involve payment, trains are by far the cheapest in the country, especially if you are under 27, when you are entitled to a 20% discount on already cheap fares. However, as the network doesn't reach far and wide, most of what is interesting in Turkey is out of rail coverage, though they are still a good bet if you need a night's sleep during the ride, especially in inland regions where rail network is relatively denser.
- Bus: Busbud
- Hosting: Check CouchRail FB group — just message people on the list or post to the wall. Hospitality exchange networks have many friendly members in Turkey, and they can help you with an accommodation.
- Volunteering: tatuta.org the Turkish version of wwwoof, a very handy website.
Biggest websites for flats are:
All towns in Turkey have an Otogar, a bus terminal. Most of these offer a warm and fairly safe place to spend a night. Nonetheless, be careful and try to place your luggage in such a way so that you are surely to be awaken in case if someone tries to take your things.
Smaller towns outside the main tourist areas have very cheap hotels, starting at 8TL.
Outside of populated areas, almost every gas station has a prayer rom called a mescit (pronounced: MES-jeet), which are good places for sleeping. Just be respectful respect of their religion, take off your shoes, wash your hands and feet, and don't sleep by the wall where the mihrab (prayer niche) is. Don't ask gas station staff if you can sleep there because they will probably say no, but once you are inside, nobody will disturb you.
Many truck drivers will have an extra bunk in their truck cabin, and they are usually happy to offer it to a hitchhiker.
Wild camping is pretty much possible, OK, and legal except in large urban agglomerations. Just be discreet and keep out of sight of houses and roads. Private property such as farmland and oliveyards are technically off limits, but if you arrive late, break camp early and leave no trace of your stay (i.e. take your rubbish with you and do not damage crops), it is no problem at all to camp at those places. Beware of fires, though, as most of Turkey lies in Mediterranean climatic zone which is very arid in summer, most of the country's terrain is naturally covered with dry grasses in summer months. So while wild camping, try to avoid the temptation to build campfires; even cigarette butts that are not properly distinguished and disposed of can result in damages that you can't even dream of. Another thing to take note of while camping is the scorpions (akrep in Turkish), especially in southern Mediterranean coast and in southeastern parts of the country—keep the zip of your tent and backpack always locked, check and shake your shoes before putting them on.
You will never have to worry about lack of food in Turkey. Many truck drivers have coffee makers in their truck. Turkish people are very generous, and it is rare that you will get a lift without a driver offering you food. The food in Turkey is relatively cheap, and is very meat-based. There is also a variety of a good local produce of tasty sweets and snacks. The tea (black tea or apple tea in Istanbul) is the national drink, and almost all the people that you meet offer you a tea − this is probably the most common way of showing you their hospitable culture.
A great way to reduce your bottled water costs, especially in the hot southern/Mediterranean coast of Turkey is to use free cold water dispensers, locally called sebil (pronounced SAY-beel), which can usually be found on the sides of the streets and mosque courtyards in less-touristed towns and neighbourhoods in Mediterranean Turkey. They look like small, white refrigators and usually have two faucets: red one delivers warm (or mildly hot depending on the weather) water, while the blue one offers comfortably cold water. Though the water coming out of the faucets is not from a commercially-bottled jar, and likely from the city water network, it's harmless and causes no stomach upsets. A way to reduce the risk may be allowing yourself a week after arrival in the region to get accustomed to local microflora and -fauna that may be present in the water and then taking full advantage of sebils.
Public wifi not much spread though many cafes with wifi and internet cafes with computers.
Even though the currency is not the best to busk (1TL is the most valuable coin and is worth less than 0.50€) Turkish people, especially in big cities like Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and Ankara, seem appreciate street music and art paying pretty well for it. Maybe not the best plan for saving but definitely a very good option to cover all your expenses.
Visas can no longer be obtained on arrival, so if you are a nationality that needs a visa, be sure to buy it online in advance. See Wikivoyage for detailed information on visa matters.
Overstaying visa in Turkey
Punishment for overstaying consists of two parts: fine and re-entry ban. The way these punishments are applied is unclear and more personal experience is needed. Supposedly if you don't pay the fine you can get re-entry ban for 5 years.
Experiences of people who stayed in Turkey longer than they should (i.e. more than 90 out of every 180 days) vary. It is often stated that the fine depends on mood of border officers. Some said they had to pay 300 TLY for 3 days overstay (Istanbul airport). Others talk about 100 TLY for one month overstay.
In March 2015 we overstayed a few days in Turkey (czech and polish passports). On border crossing in Ipsala (TR-Greece) we left the country without anybody mentioning anything. What will happen on re-entering is still unclear.
Ankara is the capital of Turkey
Embassy: Abdulhahcevdet Sok. no 7 Cankaya, Ankara Tel: 312-440-9657
Consulate: Macka Cad. no 59/3 Tesvikiye, Istanbul Tel: 232-6721; Fax: 230-2215
Suriye Konsolos Luk Maçka Cadesı NoL 59/5 Open 9:30-11:00 I think. 232-6721 or 232-7110
Be aware of the fact that, although Turkey and Armenia share a land border, this border is closed because of continuing political issues.
- There is one border crossing to Iraqi Kurdistan, just south of Silopi.
- There are a number of border crossings, but most are closed due to the ongoing unrest. In peace, the busiest one is Bab al-Hawa, connecting Antalya with Aleppo.
Citizens from Greece, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark and Chile among others do not have to pay at all - they do not need a visa to enjoy a 90 day tourist stay in Turkey. Usually there is no problem but guaka was sent back to Bulgaria by a corrupt border guard in the middle of the night.
Prices at the borders for tourist visas in 2008 are listed on this website.