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Is it Safe to Travel to Turkey

Last Updated on January 23, 2023

In my 50 years of experience traveling in Turkey, I have lived through times of difficult relations between the USA and Turkey. Some Turks would converse about the difficulties, ask questions, state their opinions, etc., but I never felt myself to be in physical danger. That was my experience.

However, there can be no guarantee of complete safety, anywhere in the world, for any individual traveler that nothing unpleasant will ever happen. Too many individual factors come into play.

Travelers—including Americans—are still going to Turkey and most find a warm welcome, low prices, and all the beauties and advantages that make Turkey one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world each year.

Resources

Read the TTP Safety Page  to learn more about common safety concerns and make travel decisions you can be comfortable with.

Join our Facebook group where you can hear more from long-term residents of Turkey and newly returned travelers who share their advice and experiences.

Economic Situation & Foreign Relations

In recent years, the Turkish lira has suffered a substantial loss of value versus the major currencies of the US dollar, euro, pound sterling and Japanese yen. This makes a visit to Turkey less expensive for travelers who convert those currencies to liras, but it also has created economic difficulties for the Turkish economy. Its effects are felt most by ordinary Turks, and Turkish businesses.

Relations between Turkey and the USA can be strained at times with trade tariffs being levied by both countries, and disagreements over foreign, military, and banking relations. However, Turkey is a NATO ally which adds an extra level of security.

Travel Advisories

The US has revised the travel warning for Turkey by dropping it down to a 2  with only noteworthy warnings on the Eastern borders.

The terrorism incidents that caused travelers to avoid Turkey for several years are now in the past, with no large events being reported in the past 2 or 3 years. Tourism is in a period of recovery now and tourist numbers in 2022 nearly returned to their 2019 pre-pandemic figures.

I follow the diplomats' advice to avoid large gatherings, especially any that are political, etc. Please read these Travel Advisories:

UK Foreign Office

The United Kingdom's Foreign Office has the following information on its website regarding travel in Eastern Turkey:

"The Foreign and Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advise against all travel to areas within 10 km of the border with Syria.

The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to:

  • Sirnak
  • the province of Hakkari

Additionally, they advise tourists to always carry their passport and a copy of their visa with them while in Turkey. There's lots more. Here it is.

US Department of State

The US Department of State has a travel warning on its website which includes this Level 2 warning:

"Exercise Increased Caution" is the statement for the whole of Turkey with only the below significant warning mentioned:

Do not travel to:

  • Sirnak province, Hakkari province, and any area within six miles (ten kilometers) of the Syrian border due to terrorism.

Read the entire Travel Advisory.

The Embassy of the United States in Ankara website also issues useful advice.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Here is the warning for Australian travelers, which is similar to those mentioned above.

Government Traveler Records

Many national governments maintain records of travelers visiting foreign destinations so they can alert travelers on the road to dangers as they may arise.

For example, if you apply to join the US Department of State's Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), US diplomats in Turkey will have a record of your personal, passport, contact and emergency information in an online database. If they feel it advisable to alert you to a dangerous situation, the database can make it possible.

If you are not a US citizen, your country's government may have a similar program, to which you may wish to apply. It can't hurt, and it may help, if only to allay anxiety.

COVID-19 Situation

As of January 2023, there are no restrictions or requirements for entering Turkey. Visitors no longer need to show proof of vaccination, quarantine, or wear masks. For travelers who still wish to take precautions, there are many options for visiting airy outdoor sites which allow you to maintain your distance.

—by Tom Brosnahan

Visit our Facebook group:

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