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Pamukkale | © Klim Levene / Flickr
Pamukkale | © Klim Levene / Flickr

A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Turkey

Picture of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Updated: 12 May 2017

Traveling alone in Turkey has never been classified as dangerous, and you’ll soon come to appreciate Turkish hospitality wherever you go. There are, of course, a few tips to follow to make things just a bit more comfortable, so check out our list before you book your big trip.

Avoid scams

It’s no lie that some Turkish people have become experts at getting more money out of tourists than necessary. Don’t get into any cabs that are not connected to a taxi stand (they must have a logo on their doors) and learn to haggle with sellers who will always try to sell you items at higher prices. Pickpockets can also be a problem in crowded areas around Turkey, so make sure to pack your belongings in a safe place.

Make connections before you go

Meeting locals is one of the best ways to have a truly authentic experience no matter where you go, so make sure to join groups in your interest range before you travel. Some great examples include the Culinary Walks with Culinary Backstreets or local tour guides such as Istanbul Tour Studio or Locally Istanbul that offer unique experiences such as rowing on the Golden Horn or a city tour on a vintage motorcycle.

Etiquette in a mosque

If you’re visiting Turkey, you will most definitely visit a mosque or two, and it’s important to show respect in terms of your appearance. Keep a long sleeved cardigan and headscarf handy for your mosque visits and avoid wearing short shorts or mini skirts on that particular day so as not to appear disrespectful.

Act like a local

It’s always a good idea to tone down yourself just a little bit when you’re traveling alone in Turkey. You’ll notice that people in the more rural areas are a bit more reserved, and if you can manage to mirror that, you’ll be able to travel more comfortably alone without offending anyone. Shake hands only when someone extends their hand and maybe avoid giving a hug unless the other person initiates it. Of course, in the larger cities and the coastal towns, you’ll realize that this is most often not necessary because of the liberal atmosphere.

Dress consciously

In large cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, modern neighborhoods (usually the ones where you’ll find bars and restaurants) don’t have much of a dress code and are comparable to any European city. However, in more residential areas, especially more conservative neighborhoods, it’s wise to keep that short skirt in your luggage and cover up just a bit more in order to avoid awkward gazes. If you’re traveling around Turkey, make sure to dress modestly, with the exception of the summer cities by the coast (such as Bodrum, Izmir, or Antalya) where the dress code is very relaxed.

Learn a few Turkish words

It’s super handy to know a few Turkish words before you embark on your lone traveling experience so that you can express your needs to someone who may not speak any English. Turkish people also appreciate it if you know little words such as “Merhaba,” (Hello) or “Teşekkürler” (Thank You), which will automatically establish a better connection. If Turkish is a bit too difficult for you to memorize, then take a phrase book along—it will come in very handy.

Have your hotel’s address handy

If you’re one of those people who loves wandering and getting lost in foreign countries, then it’s always a good idea to have the address or business card of your hotel handy in case you get a little too lost. Having the address will guarantee that you’ll always find your way back, and as a solo traveler without another person who has your back, this is pretty important. Also, make sure to always have a chat with your hotel’s reception staff because they are bound to have the best tips and recommendations, as well as maps and important phone numbers.