Is it safe to travel in Turkey?
This is one of the questions that many people ask before coming to Turkey. Once you start doing more research on this topic, you will find that the majority of people report feeling safe when traveling throughout Turkey.
Long-term foreign residents and newly returned travelers alike comment on the friendliness and hospitality of the Turkish people.
Turkey is not only friendly, it is, in many ways, as safe as Europe and North America. Here are some travel danger statistics to put things in perspective.
Turkey is in an active earthquake zone, and deadly temblors occur periodically, as they have for millennia. Like San Francisco, Istanbul and the Marmara region expect a major earthquake within the next three or four decades. However, it's impossible to predict the occurrence of an earthquake.
After the 1999 Izmit earthquake, new building code regulations came into effect, and the most recent update to the regulations happened in 2018. It may put your mind at ease to stay in accommodations which were built after the year 2000. That being said, Turkey experiences a number of minor tremors each year which occur without incident.
The southeastern region of Turkey suffered a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on February 6th, 2023. Travel to the affected cities is restricted, however travel to Turkey remains open and tourism continues in other regions of Turkey (Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir, Ankara, etc.). Read more here.
For the most updated information, check the embassy pages linked below and join our Facebook group to hear from locals and travelers to Turkey.
As of June 2023, here are the most updated travel recommendations:
One of the concerns that weighs on prospective tourists' minds is the possibility of terrorist attacks. If you ask residents of Turkey, most feel that there is an unfair proportion of negative news does not accurately reflect of the feeling of security that they experience living here. In fact, many foreign residents from the US and UK report feeling safer in Turkey than they do in their home countries.
Since 2017, Turkey has experienced a period of relative calm. Most of the regional warnings (see below) involve traveling near the Syrian border. To put that in perspective, it's a 17+ hour drive from Istanbul to the regions which are of concern.
Statistically, terrorism is not much of a danger at all (compared to traffic accidents or other life events) but it makes headlines which can cause apprehension to tourists interested in visiting Turkey.
Many governments post detailed security notices on the Internet. These are useful reading if you are concerned about safety when you travel.
Emergency Contact Numbers
Local Emergency Numbers:
General emergency/ ambulance: 112
Embassy Contact Information:
US Embassy Ankara: +90-312-294-0000 (emergencies only), Istanbul consulate +(90) (212) 335-9000
British Embassy in Ankara: +90 312 455 33 44
Canadian Embassy in Ankara: +90 (312) 409-2700
Australian Embassy in Ankara: (+90 312) 459 9500
Turkey had historically high vehicular accident and mortality rates, but government safety education programs, vast improvements in highways, and strict law enforcement have greatly improved the situation. You must still drive and ride carefully. As a pedestrian, exercise caution when crossing the road, even if you have the right of way.
Statistically, you are 7-9 times safer in Turkey over the US. Compared to Turkey, violent crime is 78% worse in the US, with total crimes (per 1000 people) being 9X worse in the US over Turkey. There is crime growth in the big cities (Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir) so defense is the same anywhere: wear your purse/bag strap over your chest (not just dangling from your shoulder) and hold your bag close.
Mugging (robbery) and assault are rare, but they do happen, so observe the normal travel precautions.
Is it safe for women?
Many solo female travelers have ventured across the country and have been impressed with the sincerity and helpful nature of Turkish people. As with traveling in any country, women travelers should be sensitive to local customs and attitudes.It's advisable to take common sense precautions, just as you would when traveling in any country.
Some people do come down with Travelers' Diarrhea, and more serious gastrointestinal ailments are possible as in most countries, so observe wise dining habits. The US Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's CDC Travelers' Health website, and its Turkey page, are also useful. It's recommended to drink bottled water.
It's a good idea to review your coverage and decide if you're adequately insured.
The Evil Eye
It's a very, very old good-luck tradition in Turkey. It can't really hurt you, especially if you're wearing a Nazar Bonjuk!