Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Turkey? Here you will find information on working in Turkey, entry visas, Turkey hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Turkey
- Things to do in Turkey
- Entry Visa Requirements for Turkey
- Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Turkey
- Turkey Hostels
Facts About Turkey
Turkey is a country which owes a lot of heritage both to the middle-east and to Europe. Although Turkey is developing quickly the mysteries of the Orient and Arab influences are still very much in effect. In recent times Turkey has really opened up as a tourist destination with Westerners attracted by the bustling bazaars and the opportunity to haggle for Middle-eastern craft goods.
Turkey is generally a safe country to visit but there are some areas which have been unfortunately targeted by violence. Travellers have not been specifically targeted but foreign interests have been, so visitors are advised to remain aware of current events and keep a low profile. However, for the most part, Turkey is a rapidly developing country which provides an excellent tourist diversion.
- Currency: Turkish Lira (TL) Note that exchange receipts must be retained to prove that legally exchanged currency was used.
- Time Zone: GMT + 2
- Language: Turkish
- Telephone Services: Country code +90, International Access code 00
- Emergency Numbers: 112 Ambulance, 111 Fire, 155 Police
Climate in Turkey
When deciding the best time to visit Turkey, weather plays an important role. The summers are hot and dry as can be expected from the Mediterranean climate, winters are generally quite mild but can be wet. The eastern mountainous region of Turkey is much colder in winter and normally experiences heavy snow. The Southeast is the hottest area often reaching 45C (113F) in the summer, this region also experiences very mild and quite dry winters.
Things to do in Turkey
Unlike most countries, the main attraction is not its capital, Ankara, but rather the ancient city of Istanbul. The city sits on the Europe-Asia border with the Bosphorus Bridge connecting the European and Asian parts of the city. Istanbul has been regarded as a hub of civilisation in the Middle East for much of its some 3000 years of existence and as such has an impressive historical and cultural presence.
The Grand Bazaar is a must-see attraction; a labyrinth of tiny streets boasting a plethora of shops and street traders you will find some truly unique souvenirs. Of course, haggling is the norm here so be prepared for starting prices to be quite steep; with a little practice though you will soon be haggling your way to unique, often handmade, bargain souvenirs. You can also see the famed Aya Sofya once the greatest church in Christendom and the exquisite Blue Mosque amongst many other architectural triumphs.
Ankara, the capital, while not as impressive as Istanbul is still a worthwhile stop on your tour of the region. The main draw is the Hisar, which is a hilltop Citadel from the Byzantine era which overlooks the city. Ankara was an important city during the Roman rule so there are a number of small Roman ruin dotted around the capital.
Many travellers also like to visit Ephesus, formerly Ionia, which has been inhabited by both the Greek and Roman Empires. Ephsus holds a significant number of well-preserved ruins. Of primary importance is the Temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the Greek world and still an incredibly impressive sight. You could easily spend a day here exploring all of the various ruins that the city has to offer.
There are plenty of things to do off the beaten track as well in Turkey, for those interested in History there is the city of Troy which is central as the city of Ilium in Homer’s Illiad. Excavations here have unearthed evidence of nine ancient cities on around this site dating as far back as 3000BC.
Unique activities in Turkey
A good way to get an idea of things to do in Turkey is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major attractions in Çanakkale, Istanbul, and Izmir so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
How to Travel Around Turkey
If you’re flying to Turkey or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Turkey with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Turkey to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Train Travel in Turkey
The rail network is run by Turkish Railways (TCDD) and fares are comparatively low. Tickets are generally purchased from the station and discounts are available for students. The country is a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. Eurail offers both multi-country passes and One Country Passes. To decide whether you should buy individual tickets from A to B, or whether you should purchase a Eurail pass, read our Travelling Europe by Train guide.
Bus Travel in Turkey
The bus network in some ways is better than the rail network, competition between competing local private firms means that fares are very low and for most travel within Turkey the trains are not significantly faster. Tickets are normally purchased either at the bus station or on the bus itself. Generally, buses will leave from a bus station in larger cities or from the town centre in smaller towns.
Driving in Turkey
If you want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities, check AutoEurope or Europcar to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect of driving in Europe.
Backpacking Tours in Turkey
Though part of the fun of backpacking Turkey is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling Turkey alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trips in Turkey are their Classic 15-day ‘Absolute Turkey‘ tour, or their 10-day Turkey Multisport tour.
Health and Safety in Turkey
It is recommended that you receive inoculations for Polio and Typhoid before travelling to Turkey, these can be obtained from your local GP. Rabies has not been eradicated in Turkey so travellers should take precautions against being bitten by animals for the duration of their stay.
Although there haven’t been any outbreaks in recent years there is a history of Cholera in some areas so simple precautions are advised when eating and drinking. Healthcare is expensive and not as prevalent as in Western Europe so it is absolutely essential that you have travel insurance which will cover the cost of all medical aid.
Entry visa requirements for Turkey
A valid passport is required by all for the duration of your stay. You will also be asked to provide proof that you have either a return ticket or funds to cover a return ticket. EU and USA nationals require a visa for entry, this can either be obtained in advance by contacting the embassy or it can be obtained on arrival for a small administration fee (TL10 cash). This tourist visa allows a stay for up to 3 months but you will need to obtain further documentation if you plan to work while you are in Turkey.
Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Turkey
A visa is required for UK nationals staying in Turkey for up to three months, which can be bought at the airport or border crossing. Those intending to stay for longer than three months will need to apply for a residency permit (ikamet tezkeresi), which entitles a one to two-year stay.
A residency permit and work permit (calisma vizesi), which can be obtained from the Turkish Embassy, should be taken to the tourist police (yabancilar polisi) once in Turkey to enable you to receive a ‘pinkbook’, needed for when you begin work. The best place to start looking for work in Turkey is Istanbul, considered the centre for wealth in comparison to the rest of the country.
Nannying in Turkey
Turkish families look less for au pairs who are required to perform domestic tasks: more often nannies, who are just concerned with the care of children, are employed. Agencies recruiting for Turkish families usually look for English-speaking women; tutoring the children in English is a typical duty.
Some nannying positions in Turkey pay up to TL125 per week, but it is important to remember that this will be less after tax deductions. As with most au pair and nanny jobs board and bed is provided. Nannies for Turkish families will also be required to pay their own health insurance. A number of au pair and nanny recruitment agencies operate in Turkey, including Anglo Nannies, the Anglo Pair Agency, and The Solihull Au Pair & Nanny Agency, see below for contact details.
Teaching English in Turkey
As English increasingly becomes seen as an important and influential language to learn, the demand for teachers can only increase. However, private language teaching is illegal in Turkey and so it is necessary to look for jobs in secondary schools and language institutions.
To secure such a job, and indeed a work permit, the TEFL qualification is essential. Visit the TEFL website for information about joining a course. Given the restrictions and requirements on this type of work, it is probably less suited to someone looking for more casual employment to combine with their travelling experience, but nevertheless, it remains a possibility.
Volunteering in Turkey
Genctur is a company that runs children’s summer camps. Job opportunities in the camps consist of teaching English to the children for seven hours a day. Pocket money is provided, but the amount depends on your experience. This type of work includes free accommodation and meals and thus perhaps a sense of security.
Ottoman & Ottoman organises wildlife conservation schemes linked to university science projects. Volunteers will also be provided with accommodation, but this can be as basic as a tent and you are expected to pay for your own food.
Further volunteering opportunities can be found with the Church Mission Society (CMS), which places volunteers in six to eighteen-month church-run projects in foreign countries, including Turkey. The CMS claims their mission is to “spread the Gospel to every part of the world”, visit their website for more details.
Useful Links to find volunteer positions in Turkey
- Anglo Nannies is a leading au pair agency.
- The Solihull Au Pair & Nanny Agency are two leading European au pair agencies.
- TEFL gives jobs teaching English abroad.
- Guntur organises workcamps in Turkey and at other select international locations.
- CMS is a mission agency working in partnership with churches in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Turkey Hostels and Budget Accommodation
Recently Turkey has invested a lot of resources in improving its hotel facilities. Most establishments are now regulated either nationally (Touristic) or by the local regional council. Youth Hostels are available in all major cities. We have had good experiences finding hostels in Turkey on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Turkey is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
Useful links for Backpacking in Turkey
- Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country and Multi-Country passes available
- Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Turkey and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and things to do in Turkey. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major attractions in Turkey
- G Adventures – guided backpacking tours in Turkey, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find budget accommodation in Turkey. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site in Turkey. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers for your backpacking trip to Turkey
There you have it, the ultimate Turkey backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Turkey.
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