Turkey is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT). From the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October, Turkey observes Daylight Saving and is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
Standard voltage is 230 - 240 volts. Primary sockets generally require the 3 round-pin variety, similar though not identical to European sockets. Greek sockets are of the 2 round-pin variety. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.
The official currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira.
Euro, British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies can be exchanged locally or in advance of departure. Istanbul Ataturk Airport offers speedy currency exchange facilities adjacent to the baggage hall. Additionally, exchange facilities are available at various bureau de changes and banks in major towns have ATMs. It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities.
Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Turkey from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus is strongly recommended.
The tap water in Turkey is generally considered safe to drink, but as a precaution against stomach upsets you may want to drink bottled mineral water, which is readily available from shops, hotels and restaurants.
Turkish food is famous throughout the world. Look forward to meze comprising houmous and other dips, dolma (stuffed vine leaves), cheese cigars, the ubiquitous doner kebab and pide - a kind of pizza. Exotic freshly squeezed juices, nuts and fruit are available everywhere. If you feel like a java jolt, try Turkish coffee - rich, dark and often laced with cardamom.
More particularly on our ANZAC packages, we tend to make lunch/refreshment stops (at your own expense) at the popular gas station restaurants. Our reasons for doing this are numerous: the well-prepared food (generally a serviced buffet) offers a wide variety of tasty Turkish staples, bread and a drink for a cheap price. There are plenty of tables to accommodate our group, the service is quick and allows us to have our fill and resume touring. In addition, the rest rooms at the majority of these establishments are clean, wellmaintained and offer Western WCs as opposed to Asian ‘squat-style’ WCs.
Dinner (where included) tends to be smorgasbord-style. A wide range of hot and cold dishes are offered on a ‘serve yourself’ basis. We feel a smorgasbord selection is the best way to cater towards a variety of tastes.
Turkey is a virtual Aladdin’s Cave. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is cavernous and full of unusual and everyday objects. Known locally as Kapali Çarsi – the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul’s Old City is a massive conglomeration of shops (some 4000) divided into areas specialising in gold, carpets, leather, souvenirs and clothing. Turkish handicrafts include a rich variety of textiles and embroideries, articles of copper, onyx and tile, mother-of-pearl, inlaid articles, leather and suede products. Jewellery, carpets and kilims represent top buys at the bazaar.
Opening hours: Mon - Saturday 0900 – 1900hrs (closed Sunday).
The Egyptian Spice Bazaar at Eminonu near Istanbul is an easy continuance from the Grand Bazaar or good start point before heading onto the cavernous Grand Bazaar. Here, you can buy a dizzying array of spices at a fraction of the cost you’d expect to pay back home. Pine Kernels, peppercorns, real Iranian saffron and other precious commodities are hawkered here at knockdown prices! Real Turkish delight is available by the tonne as well. Why not the milk-based Turkish delight studded with pistachios!
Opening hours: 0900 – 1900hrs Monday – Sunday.
Markets and bazaars abound in other towns, too. During your stay in Turkey, you may visit a leather manufacturer and emporium. Although the quality of some of the jackets and clothing at these places is outstanding, the initially quoted prices can also be rather outstanding. If you do fancy a particular item, it does pay to haggle, even if you are in the confines of what looks to be a smart emporium/showroom.
Popular sightseeing spots in Istanbul are closed on specific days. Please plan your visit accordingly.
Hagia Sofia - Closed Mondays
Topkapi Palace - Closed Tuesday
Blue Mosque - Closed during all prayer times
Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar closed 01 January, 23 April, 01 May, 19 May, 17 - 19 July, 30 August, 24 - 27 September, 29 October 2015.
All museums, palaces and touristic sites closed till 1pm on 17 July and 24 September 2015.