This article is for those of you out there who want to hear it straight. No beating around the bush! I am telling you the truth about my own country and its people without any sugar-coating or holding back. Guidebooks, other websites, writers, bloggers, I mean almost everyone who gives advice on facts about Turkey just doesn’t seem to be courageous enough to me. So, I have prepared my list of unspoken facts about Turkey.
I believe visiting this country aware of these insider tips I’ve shared below can only help you be more prepared and insightful with respect to Turkey, as of 2022, shall we say Türkiye?
MOST TURKISH PEOPLE ARE MUSLIMS, BUT TURKEY IS NOT AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY
Turkey is a unique country in that it is a predominantly Muslim nation, but it is also a secular country with a strong constitution. This means that the country’s laws and government are not based on Islamic principles, and the state is officially neutral in matters of religion. While most Turkish people identify as Muslims, many do not strictly adhere to Islamic rules and practices.
For example, many people in Turkey consume alcohol and buying alcohol is as easy as it is in the West, despite the fact that it is forbidden in Islam. In general, religion is more of a cultural identity in Turkey, and people are often more relaxed about religious practices than in some other Muslim-majority countries.
However, it is worth noting that there is a growing conservative movement in Turkey, particularly under the current ruling party, AKP, led by the strong leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Some people in Turkey are becoming more religiously conservative, and this can be seen in certain aspects of Turkish society, such as the increasing popularity of wearing the hijab and the rise of religious schools across the country.
Despite this, it is important to recognize that Turkey is not a Middle Eastern or Islamic country in the same way that some other countries in the region are. It is a unique blend of Muslim and Western influences, with a rich cultural history and a modern, secular government.
TURKEY IS NOT A CHEAP COUNTRY.
Contrary to popular belief, Turkey is not a cheap country to visit. Many travelers are surprised to find that the cost of food, transportation, entrance fees to museums, alcohol, and gasoline can be quite high. Additionally, the continuous devaluation of the Turkish Lira against major currencies like the Euro and the Dollar has not led to a relative decrease in prices for visitors. Instead, many services and attractions have seen their prices soar.
For instance, the entrance fee to the iconic Galata Tower has experienced a significant increase from 2020 to 2023, as seen in the table below:
Price (Turkish Lira)
Price (US Dollars)
This trend of rising prices is not confined to entrance fees alone. The costs of dining at restaurants and hotel accommodations have also surged, making the overall experience costlier for both locals and tourists.
Alcohol is also heavily taxed, between 63 and 220 percent depending on the type of drink, with an additional 18% value-added tax, which, coupled with the increased prices of other essentials, further elevates the cost of living and visiting Turkey. Entrance fees to museums and historical sites have risen, previously ranging from 5 to 10 Euros and now reaching 15-20 Euros per attraction.
The inflation in prices extends to the culinary scene, with meal prices at restaurants rising sharply over the last 2 years. Historically known for its reasonably priced food, Turkey‘s dining costs, while still not exorbitant, are no longer as low as they once were. Particularly in touristy areas, visitors should anticipate paying a fair price for meals, reflecting the current economic trends.
Overall, travelers should not expect Turkey to be a budget destination and should plan accordingly to avoid any financial surprises during their trip. Amidst the economic challenges faced by the country, the allure of its rich history and vibrant culture continues to draw visitors, albeit with a higher price tag.
TURKEY (ISTANBUL IN PARTICULAR) IS TOURISTY AND CROWDED.
Turkey, especially Istanbul, is a popular tourist destination and attracts millions of visitors each year. In 2022, more than 39 million people visited Turkey, making it the 6th most visited country in the world, behind France, the USA, China, Spain, and Italy.
Number of Visitors
As a result of its popularity, it can be challenging to find local, non-touristy restaurants and cafes in some areas. However, with a little bit of research and exploration, it is possible to discover hidden gems and authentic local experiences. This website can be a valuable resource for finding accurate information about Turkey and its culture.
– TURKISH PEOPLE ‘LOVE’ FOREIGNERS!
Turkish people are known for their warm hospitality towards foreigners, but unfortunately, this may not always be the case if you are poor or unattractive. While it is true that many Turkish people are genuinely friendly, the country’s tourism industry has created a culture where some individuals see foreigners as potential customers to exploit.
For example, some salespeople may try to sell overpriced rugs or carpets to wealthy American tourists, while some ‘Cassanova-wannabes’ may try to use their charm to seduce naive Japanese visitors. Unfortunately, this can lead to sleazy behavior and constant harassment in certain areas, with restaurant staff and others trying to persuade you to pay for their services.
It is important to be aware of these issues and take precautions when traveling in Turkey. Despite these challenges, however, there are still many welcoming and friendly Turkish people who will be happy to help you enjoy your stay in this beautiful country.
– TURKISH ECONOMY IS IN SHAMBLES
The Turkish economy has been grappling with formidable challenges, including soaring inflation rates, currency devaluation, and a substantial current account deficit. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and strained political relations with other countries have further compounded the economic uncertainties that Turkey has been facing in recent times. As a consequence, the minimum wage in Turkey had to be quadrupled to address the rapidly increasing costs and expenses.
The Turkish government has been implementing various economic policies to address the challenges facing the economy, such as reducing interest rates and increasing government spending to boost demand. Additionally, efforts are being made to attract foreign investment, particularly in the technology and energy sectors.
Morever, the recent earthquakes in February 2023 have added to the challenges, and the government’s response to the crisis will likely be a critical factor in the upcoming elections.
Despite these challenges, Turkey has a resilient economy and has shown the ability to rebound from difficult situations in the past.
In conclusion, Turkey is a complex and diverse country with a rich history and culture. While it is true that Turkish people are generally friendly and welcoming to tourists, there are certain unspoken facts about the country that visitors should be aware of. For example, Turkey is not a cheap country, and visitors should expect to pay higher prices for things like food, alcohol, and museum entrance fees.
Additionally, while most Turkish people identify as Muslims, the country is unique in that it is also a secular nation with a government and legal system that are not based on Islamic principles. While there is a growing conservative movement in Turkey, especially among the younger generation, it is important to recognize that Turkey is not a Middle Eastern or Islamic country in the same way that some other countries in the region are.