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What makes Turkey so characterful for many internationals lies in its fascinating status as a gateway between two major continents. Serving up an extraordinary blend of Eastern European and Western Asian cultures and customs, the country is a clash between these two discernible parts of the world, offering a unique fusion of east-meets-west urbanism, rural life, old traditions, and contemporary ways. All of this intense variety embroidered into every fiber of this delightful nation's being makes its breathtaking landscapes, places of ancient history, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine all the merrier during a dream Turkey vacation.


Of course, it's easy to get too carried away with Turkey's beauty, beaches, cities, and overall charm, which is forgivable since it's a country cherished by many as a wonderful holiday hotspot. Still, likewise, with any nation one visits, respecting its people, culture, religions, and customs is a good practice to exercise, even in modern cities like Istanbul, where much multiculturalism and modernity are present - yet old traditions remain revered.

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Therefore, being sensitive to Turkey's ways is crucial in getting the most out of a trip, respecting its people's lifestyles, rules, and beliefs while savoring one's time in this spectacular nation of sunshine. What's more, the Turkish are naturally warm and welcoming people and enjoy extending their famous hospitality to visitors - particularly those who show a genuine appreciation and respect for their customs.

From the ancient ruins of Göbekli Tepe and Ephesus and sampling authentic Turkish cuisine and coffee to exploring beautiful mosques and shopping for souvenirs - such as rugs, carpets, jewelry, and kilims all crafted using ancient techniques - it's always important to be aware of the nation's traditions and social norms wherever holidaymakers find themselves in Turkey. Plus, keeping in mind the fact that visitors are essentially in an unfamiliar foreign land is just as crucial; caution and care are advised throughout one's journey, along with plenty of prior research of the dos and don'ts when exploring Turkey.

Generally, Turkey is a fantastic, safe country to visit; however, it's vital to remain alert and vigilant of one's surroundings, which is especially the case in crowded areas and at popular tourist attractions. Some parts also have travel restrictions in place, as is the case in areas within 10 kilometers of the Syrian border - so check the most up-to-date safety advice before booking a trip to Turkey and venturing off for that dream getaway.

The Dos And Don'ts Of Visiting Rural Areas Outside Of Major Cities In Turkey

People in rural areas and smaller towns off the tourist trail and external to major metropolises are usually more traditional and conservative in their ways, so it's important to remember this and be respectful should visiting these locations be on the itinerary. Naturally, the Turkish are inherently friendly, warm people, which is why tourists will have no issue when exploring Turkey's unbeaten path and mingling with the locals. Still, remaining respectful of their culture and customs will ensure visitors derive the most enjoyment out of their trip while not offending or disrupting anybody. Even on vacation, being a good ambassador of one's own country is essential, which, unfortunately, far too many tourists forget.

With this in mind, be aware of these basic outlines on what to do and what not to do when visiting places outside of Turkey's main cities:

  • Wear clothing that's more modest and conservative (short-sleeved shirts and t-shirts are generally okay)
  • Avoid any public displays of affection; it's considered rude. Remember, tourists are visitors in another country; what might be acceptable in one's own country isn't always elsewhere)
  • Solo male travelers shouldn't talk to or sit beside younger or single Turkish women.
  • Vendors negotiating the prices of their merchandise is normal, so be prepared to haggle for everything!

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The Dos And Don'ts Of Visiting Mosques In Turkey

Places of worship are holy to the people who attend them, usually holding intense value and significant importance for the community as a whole. Mosques are no different, and with Turkey being an Islamic country, its Muslim religious establishments and landmarks command the utmost respect and dignity from both locals and tourists - especially those who wish to visit them and gain a unique insight into Islam in Turkey and discover the beauty of the country's magnificent mosques.

Mosques normally close their doors to visitors during prayer times, but people can visit outside of prayer - only if they adhere to the rules and requirements, of course. As such, visitors who'd like to tour the country's beautiful and fascinating mosques should be respectful of Islamic traditions, checking the regulations on what is and isn't allowed before paying a visit - after all, doing so is courteous and will ensure their time learning about Turkey's Muslim population in the most authentic way is both enjoyable and memorable.

Before visiting a mosque in Turkey, a few points to take into account include:

  • Wear modest, loose-fitting clothing that covers the whole body - no tank tops, short sleeves, shorts, short dresses, or skirts
  • Women should wear a headscarf inside a mosque
  • Take off footwear before entering a mosque
  • Speak quietly, don't laugh loudly, and always behave calmly and respectfully while inside
  • Avoid walking in front of a person engaged in prayer
  • Don’t visit a mosque on the Muslim day of worship: Friday

Related: This City In Turkey Boasts Some Of The Best Ancient Greek Ruins

The Dos And Don't Of Interacting With Turkish People

At the heart of Turkey, its culture and its people are warmth and hospitality; Turkish people are exceptionally friendly and helpful and are always ready and willing to assist and interact with foreign visitors who come to discover their beloved country. Even so, they might well be some of the friendliest people in this part of the world, but that doesn't mean tourists should take their welcoming ways for granted. Good manners form a huge part of Turkish customs; they're embedded in the nation's soul, which is why foreigners who put in the effort to be polite and even learn some of their language and communication will be looked upon favorably.

Before interacting with people in Turkey, take note of these dos and don'ts:

  • Learn a few basic but polite Turkish words and phrases, such as ‘lütfen’, which means ‘please’, with ‘tesekkür ederim’ meaning ‘thank you.’
  • Remember that ‘evet’ means ‘yes,’ and ‘hayir’ means ‘no.’
  • Be mindful of the differences in mannerisms compared to Western ones; while a head nod in a downward motion signals ‘yes,’ a person nodding upwards coupled with raised eyebrows and a clicking sound with their tongue means ‘no.’
  • Avoid saying anything negative about Turkey, the Turkish flag, or the Turkish Republic’s founding father - Kemal Atatürk. This may be an obvious point, but it's deeply offensive and disrespectful.

Related: Money-Saving Tips: How To Plan A Trip To Turkey On A Budget

The Dos And Don'ts Of Visiting Restaurants And Cafés In Turkey

Overall, going to restaurants and cafés in Turkey is a fantastic experience, granting visitors the chance to savor its flavors and tuck into authentic Turkish dishes - not to mention there are plenty of global dining opportunities in larger cities like Istanbul. However, it's worth noting that the attitudes surrounding alcohol are much different from a Western nation; as with any Islamic country, alcohol abstinence is widespread and actively encouraged - and this applies to Turkey, too. Although drinking isn't outright illegal, it's tolerated to a sensible point; Turkish people and tourists enjoying moderate alcohol consumption are permitted, but excessive drinking and full-on drunkenness is not tolerated.

So, when going out to enjoy a restaurant meal or an afternoon coffee in Turkey, remember to adhere to these points:

  • Enjoy alcohol in moderation and avoid being visibly drunk in public
  • Smoking in public places - including bars, cafés, and restaurants - is prohibited. It does happen occasionally, but that's not an excuse to join in and break the rules.
  • Burping, blowing noses, and picking teeth is very impolite in cafés and restaurant settings in Turkey.
  • Paying for the entire restaurant/bar bill is expected of the person who invited the other; splitting the bill with the invited party is considered extremely rude.
  • If invited for a meal by someone and they pay the bill, return the gesture by inviting them for lunch or dinner before the vacation ends.

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Alas, Turkey is a stunning place overflowing with Europe-meets-Asia cities, beaches, nature spots, and rich traditions. And whilst Turkish people are wonderfully friendly and hospitable, they do have their customs along with a very different sense of what's acceptable and what's not in terms of behavior, self-presentation, manners, and communication. As welcomed guests of Turkey, all visitors should try their hardest to respect this amazing country and its wonderful people who strive to make foreign tourists' stay incredibly enjoyable and positively memorable. Thus, the next time Turkey-bound travelers are on their way to this spectacular nation of cuisine, culture, history, beauty, and tradition, remembering these dos and don'ts and getting answers to frequently asked Turkey-related questions will ensure sure they enjoy that dream Turkish trip of a lifetime.