Although Turkey is a popular travel destination, some travellers wonder whether it is safe to travel to. To sum up: yes, it is. Turkey remains one of the safest countries in the world to travel and compared to many countries, crime rates are quite low.
Of course, you will have to exercise the same precautions as you will when visiting any other nation. However, be reassured that the Turkish government takes the safety of travelers seriously and maintains a strict oversight on the law and order on streets and popular destinations. Here are a few things you should before your first trip to Turkey.
Is Turkey safe for solo female travellers?
As a solo female traveller to Turkey, you will hardly feel unsafe. Minus a few annoyances that you can expect at any travel destination when you are travelling alone as a woman, there is no other reason to worry about visiting this country.
Turkish people are extremely hospitable and warm. Plus, you’ll find police for security and safety at almost every site you plan to visit.
As a female traveller traveling alone, it is advisable to dress modestly (and comfortably!). Although Turkey is a liberal destination, it’s still best to respect local customs and traditions.
Is it safe to travel at night in Turkey?
Generally speaking, yes. Major attractions and cities in Turkey are safe even at night. Traveling at night in Turkey should not be a concern when you are visiting cities like Istanbul that have a vibrant nightlife.
However, as in any place in the world, you need to be a bit careful when you’re out and about. It is best to not travel to lonely spots at night and avoid wearing expensive jewelry or flashing cash.
Safety for tourists by regions
In recent years, Turkey has experienced conflict with neighboring Syria, this raises confusion over what regions are safe for foreign travelers.
Major cities and coastal resorts along the Mediterranean such as Fethiye, Bodrum, and Antalya are entirely unaffected and safe for tourists, as are popular cities such as Istanbul and Ankara. However, it’s best to practice extra precaution on public and religious holidays and avoid demonstrations.
Avoid traveling to all regions within 10km of the Syrian border and to eastern provinces like Hakkari, Diyarbakir, and Tunceli.
Do keep in mind that most of this advice has been in place for years and you should be optimistic when planning travel to Turkey as all the western provinces and regions along the Mediterranean coast remain entirely trouble-free. Also, to be up to date, stay abreast of the local news and follow the advice of the local authorities
As Turkey has experienced some political turmoil in recent years and due to the war in Syria, been drawn into clashes, as mentioned before, it’s best to avoid the border areas in Turkey.
Turkey is an admirably safe destination to travel to. But keep in mind that street crime is a problem in every big city across the globe. When traveling in big cities like Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara, you have to be careful about the following.
Pickpocketing – Crowded places such as the tram, bus, metro, and market areas may have pickpockets so guard your bag, wallet, valuables, camera, wristwatch, etc. Nothing more precautionary than you would be at any place packed with people.
Bag-slashers are a typical nuisance in Turkey, they usually get behind you and slash your bag or pocket with a razor. The easiest way to protect your belongings is to keep your bag in front.
Bag-snatchers – Do not hold your bag in hand instead strap it across your waist or chest. If your bag gets snatched, instead of pursuing the thief, create a ruckus, yelling Kapkaççı! (kahp-KAHTCH-chuh) and drawing the attention of bystanders.
Mugging is extremely rare in Turkey. Police use high-tech surveillance methods to minimize crimes against tourists.
Also, violent crimes against tourists are rare and the authorities take strict against such crimes to keep the cities and landmarks as safe as possible.
Common Tourist Scams
Let’s have a drink – Mostly targeting single men, the aim of this scam is to get you to enter one of the bars with overpriced drinks.
Carpet or leather shop – Targeting tourists wandering around sites such as the Grand Bazaar and the Sultanahmet, the scam involves a friendly guy asking you if you are lost and offering to help you explore. He might then persuade you to visit a leather or carpet shop with him and buy overpriced goods.
Restaurant scams – They will offer a different price list than locals with significantly higher prices. You can easily spot this scam by comparing the price with the prices in the Turkish list. Another scam is to charge you for items you didn’t order.
Taxi Scams – Overcharging you for a ride by taking busy routes, longer routes, etc.
General Safety Tips for Tourists
- Avoid public displays of affection as it is considered offensive in Turkey.
- Avoid taking pictures around military facilities and certain government buildings.
- Never drink and drive as any amount of alcohol can get you in trouble.
- Drink plenty of bottled water- tap water is not safe to drink
- Stay updated with the latest news but refrain from commenting negatively on religion, government and political issues
Emergency Contact Numbers for Tourists
Tourism Police: (0212) 5274503
Coast Guard: 158
Forest Fire: 177
Tourism Info: 170
Yellow Pages: 11818 or 11811 or 11880
Keep these safety guidelines and precautions in mind, and you’re bound to have a delightful time in Turkey.