Turkey, a blend of different cultures, sensations, sounds and spices, is unique in every way. Here, you can explore palaces gilded in gold and jewels, or go on a hot air balloon ride over a lunar landscape, or shop in bazaars of glittering treasures.
Regardless of when you plan to visit this timeless country, it’s important to pack right. Here’s our guide on what to take with you, and what to leave behind!
Clothing and shoes
While there is no official dress code in Turkey, the choice of clothes for men and women when in Turkey depends on where you want to go, what you want to do and which month/season you travel.
What women should wear in Turkey?
If you are visiting Turkey in summer, you can pack kurtis, t-shirts, shorts, and typical summer evening wear. Famous holiday resorts like Fethiye, Antalya, Bodrum, and Marmaris have extremely relaxed dress codes. When visiting busy cities like Istanbul, wear light clothing as there will be plenty of walking involved in your tours.
But when you are visiting the eastern regions of Turkey, it is best to dress more conservatively. You can wear t-shirts and shirts that cover your shoulders along with trousers and calf cargo pants.
As for shoes, ditch heels altogether and keep your shoes and flats handy everywhere in Turkey. For sturdy walking when exploring sites, you will find hiking shoes the most comfortable.
What men should wear in Turkey?
Men can wear clothing that they would back home. Wearing shorts is ok unless you are visiting a mosque or any religiously important site. Short sleeve t-shirts will be most comfortable for men along with comfortable shoes or sneakers.
What to wear in a religious place or a setting like a desert safari?
Religious sites such as mosques in Turkey are open to all, Muslims and non-Muslims. When visiting such sites, you must wear modest and conservative clothing that exposes minimum skin. No shorts or sleeveless shirts are allowed for both men and women.
Women must carry a scarf to cover their heads if they want to enter a mosque.
If you’re going on a desert safari, wear clothing that is practical for both hot and cold temperatures and also keep the dust-out. Loose-fitting comfy trousers or jeans are ideal for men and women. Loose-fitting full sleeves instead of a t-shirt are more suitable for women. Avoid skirts as they will ruin your camel riding or sand-boarding experience. Carry a light jacket to ward off cold at night and early morning.
Useful accessories to pack
- Sunscreen: Turkey is mostly sunny throughout the day. A quality sunscreen will be mandatory and it is better to carry one rather than trying to buy one there. It might be difficult to find your favorite brands in Turkey or they might be overpriced.
- Canvas Tote: your colourful and cute tote will come in handy many times throughout your travel. The reusable tote also helps reduce a lot of plastic waste.
- Tissues: most days are sunny in Turkey, so you will need tissues or baby wipes to keep your skin fresh. Don’t be surprised if you have to carry toilet paper with you as public toilets might not provide them.
- Microfiber travel towel: lightweight and small, a travel towel dries quickly and will come handy during trips to beaches or desert safari. Not every hotel provides towels so it is best if you check with your accommodation for the same.
- Reusable water bottle: avoid drinking tap water in Turkey. It is advisable that you stick with only bottled water. If you are in larger Turkish cities, you can buy bottled water easily, but when travelling to smaller towns or islands, you will need to carry your water bottle.
- Earbuds: during a desert safari, they will be useful in keeping the dust out of your ears.
- Battery packs: during your trips, you will be using your phone a lot more than at home. Taking pictures, using GPS and searching for information will drain out the battery and you do not want to be stuck with a dead phone. A reliable battery backup will keep your phone alive throughout the daily travels. You need to invest in a battery pack that can charge your phone for more than 3-4 cycles.
- Travel adapter: keeping all your devices charged and ready to use depends on whether you are able to plug them into power sockets. A travel adapter is a must in your packing list when you are travelling to Turkey. Pick a travel adapter that operates at 220 Volts and has a European 2 pin style plug. We recommend picking a travel adapter with a USB outlet for charging a phone, iPads and more.
- Camera gear-Turkey has so many picturesque locations that it would be a waste of a trip if you are not able to take pictures. Bring a camera with you, ditch your smartphone camera for a while as DSLRs and other digital cameras can take much better picks. You can also bring along a tripod or a selfie-stick to take perfect shots.
Do not overdo it when you are in Turkey. Eat and drink in moderation and take plenty of rest when you are tired. To avoid sunburns, always wear sunblock lotion and wear a hat. Drink liquids regularly even when you are not thirsty to keep hydrated in warm and dry temperatures.
Pharmaceuticals are readily available throughout Turkey and you do not need a doctor’s prescription to buy common antibiotics or pain relievers. Women do not need to carry pads as they are easily available but special menstrual items like tampons can be hard to find.
What to pack for kids?
A baby backpack is a lot more suitable to use when touring sites in Turkey rather than strollers. The uneven surfaces and dangerous drivers make carrying babies in a stroller an extreme sport. Baby seats will be offered by most car rentals for a small fee, so you don’t need to carry one. Keep your first-aid kit functional and ready when you are traveling with kids. Comfortable, loose short clothes for kids are preferable as they do not have any restrictions at any site in Turkey.
What to leave at home?
Usually travellers are so preoccupied with what to pack when planning a trip to Turkey that at times they carry extra luggage that’s not even needed. There are certain things that you should leave at home:
- A lot of cash- ATMs can be found all over Turkey so you do not have to carry a lot of cash on you.
- Expensive jewellery- Leave the gold and diamond ornaments at home.
- Biased opinions – visit Turkey with an open mind and you will have a delightful time.
No matter where you go in Turkey, if you pack right to keep you comfortable, a treasure trove of discovery and delight awaits you in this timeless holiday destination.