If you’re planning a holiday to Turkey, be prepared to be tantalised by a country of contrasts. Here you’ll find crystal-clear waters, idyllic villages, sprawling cosmopolitan cities, stunning mountain ranges and fascinating history. And with excellent food and drink to delight even the connoisseur, from Turkish coffee to baklava, you can also spend time shopping bazaars bursting with bargains. Your pound will go far in Turkey, as food and drink are excellent value for money. The local currency is Turkish lira (TRY).
Dining out in Turkey
Turkish cuisine is a fusion of the best of many international fares – including Middle Eastern, eastern European, central Asian and Balkan cuisines. Food varies across the country, from capital Istanbul, where food tends to be lighter on spices and features more vegetable and rice dishes. In the Black Sea areas, you’ll find fish, especially anchovies, while in the south-east you’ll find an array of mezes and kebabs.
Specialities to try include menemen, a Turkish-style omelette often eaten at breakfast made with onions, peppers, tomatoes and herbs.
Meze are cold starters – a Turkish delicacy. With many tasty dishes to choose from, ranging from artichoke to pinto beans, these delicacies are often served with toasted bread.
Iskender kebab is made with donor meat (lamb) mixed with spices, suet and herbs, then skewered and grilled. Also try the famous shish kebab, a classic Turkish dish made usually with chicken or lamb grilled and served with rice or chips and salad.
Manti is a pasta-lover’s dream dish – handmade dumplings filled with beef or lamb and served with a creamy yoghurt sauce.
If you’re looking for something light and tasty, try Çoban salatasi (shepherd’s salad). Available in most restaurants, this dish is a mix of tomatoes, cucumber and onions, topped with dill or parsley in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
A main meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost you between £2.40 and £4.
The price of drinks
A 500ml bottle of domestic beer will cost you between £1.30 and £2.55 in a restaurant – slightly more for imported beer at £1.60-£3.20.
A 750ml bottle of wine will cost you between £4 and £7.20 in a local supermarket.
Turkey produces excellent wines, try Pamukkale Senfoni, a good all-round red that matches well with grilled meat and cheese. Or if you prefer white wine, try Kavaklidere, an elegant, crisp wine with a subtle oaky note that is perfect with fish, seafood and pasta.
Make sure you try some Turkish raki, otherwise known as lion’s milk. Made with twice-distilled grapes and aniseed, it’s great with good and is the perfect drink to celebrate your holiday!
Tap water is generally safe to drink but doesn’t taste great, so it’s local custom to drink bottled water. A 1.5-litre bottle from a local market will cost you just 15p-30p.
Out and about
Start your visit in the capital with an Istanbul city tour, from around £63 for a full day of sightseeing with a tour guide. See Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO heritage site and admire Ottoman and Byzantine architecture. Or try a hop-on/hop-off tour for around £30 and visit Gülhane Park, a historical urban park in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, situated on the grounds of the Topkapı Palace.
Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns beneath the city – it has a ceiling supported by 336 marble columns. A half-day visit cots from £30.
A visit to Turkey is not complete without a visit to the stunning Cappadocia – take a balloon ride over this delightful region and you’ll witness first-hand the magical and fairytale-like landscapes, dotted with chimney-shaped rocks.
For foodies, try a night-time Turkish food tour from £68 and enjoy Turkish cuisine at its finest at some off-the-beaten-path eateries.
How much spending money should I take to Turkey?
You’ll need to budget for £40 per person per day in Turkey or £280 per week to include meals and excursions. Budget slightly more if you plan daily excursions. Or try an all inclusive deal.
Tipping in Turkey
In restaurants and bars, tip 5-10% of the total bill. In hotels, tip 5-20 Turkish lira for service. It’s not customary to tip taxis but do round up the taxi fare to the nearest lira.
*Prices correct at the time blog was published and are subject to availability. T&C’s apply.