20 Items to Take for Turkey

Page update - Apr 4, 2023

Which items will be useful on vacation in Turkey? And which won't be needed? What to take with you to make your vacation more comfortable and to avoid trouble? Read 20 top-useful tips on this page.

Naturally, we will not remind you to take your passport or swimming suit. It's obvious and trivial. We will talk about those useful things that tourists often forget or even don't know about their potential usefulness.

The prices on this page were updated in April 2023. ALL PRICES IN TURKEY HAVE BEEN STRONGLY UP because the Turkish currency has halved in value in the past 1.5 years (from 8.5 to 19.3 TRY/USD). Keep this in mind if you decide to buy something locally.

20. Your own beach towel

It is possible to borrow a beach towel from the hotel by paying a deposit - usually 20 US dollars or Euros. If you lose the towel, the hotel will not refund the deposit. Cases of losing the towels are common. Why so?

Some tourists believe that hotel employees are specifically instructed to take away towels in order to earn extra money for the hotel. This may be true, but we will not go into "conspiracy theories" now.

More often than not, towels are lost for trivial reasons. All towels in the hotel are the same. Someone may take someone else's towel just by mistake. Someone lost their own towel and wants to hand in someone else's towel to the kiosk to get their deposit. Many tourists lose their towels through negligence.

To avoid such cases, we recommend taking your own beach towel, if possible. The towel should have a pattern, so you can differ it from other towels.

Why do we write 'if possible'? Towels are usually large in weight and volume, and there is not always room for them in your suitcase.

19. Copies of documents

Make photocopies of your passport and national ID (or internal passport) before you travel. Keep the copies separately from your original documents. Why do you need them?

In case the original documents are lost (stolen) during the vacation. In this case you will need to visit the embassy (or consulate) to receive the "Certificate of Return" or other similar document.

Attention! The rules of receiving the returning document are different. And the waiting time is different for different countries and different cases. But, having the photocopies is recommended in any case.

In order to obtain the return document, you must go to the embassy in person (the rule is relevant for most countries). That is, if several family members have lost their passports, they all have to visit the embassy (or consulate), and you cannot send one person.

If you have the internal ID (or internal passport), then the embassy (or consulate) will issue the returning document on a same-day basis. If you do not have your internal ID, you will have to undergo "personal identification". To do this, the embassy will make enquiries to your home country, which can take a long time.

If you have a copy of your national ID with you, then the returning document will be issued in a couple of days at worst. If you do not even have copies, then you will wait a long time - sometimes up to a month.

Conclusion: make photocopies of your passports. Or at least take a picture of the main pages of the passport with a smartphone, that will also help.

18. Cash in your pocket

The "age of plastic" has long started in the Western countries. Already a large proportion of Europeans and Americans pay with plastic cards everywhere, and some even live without cash at all. But the "age of plastic" has not yet started in Turkey.

Even in Istanbul and at big resorts, "plastic" is accepted in half of the shops and restaurants. Cash in Turkey is an obvious necessity. It's best to go with Euros or US dollars in your pocket, as the exchange rates will be the best. UK pounds are harder to exchange at a good rate. You can find out more in our review "Where to change money profitably in Turkey".

The transition to "plastic" in Turkey goes hard. For example, in the Istanbul Metro, the machines accepting plastic cards to recharge Istanbulkart appeared only in 2019. And even now (2023) not all metro stations have such machines, and tram stations do not have them at all. Only cash.

The vast majority of taxi drivers don't accept "plastic" and don't plan to. Local street food outlets don't either. Even in Istanbul, not all sightseeing ticket counters accept plastic cards.

17. Sun protection in summer

The southern sun is dangerous and even more so for many Europeans living in the mild climate. Sunburn protection must be given the utmost attention. As a reminder, sunburn cases are NOT covered by insurance, so you will be treated at your own expense.

During the summer months, the sun is most active between 12 noon and 3 pm (12-00 to 15-00). It is therefore recommended that you sunbathe either in the morning, before lunchtime, or in the afternoon until the evening. The peak of sun activity is better spent at lunchtime or entertainment. Alternatively, you may sunbathe under an umbrella.

Use sunscreen or sun milk and cream. An SPF value of 30-40 for adults and 50-60 for children is recommended. Remember, that the sun protection cream has temporary effect. You will need to apply it again after a couple of hours.

Move around a lot, exposing various parts of the body to the sun rays. So the tan will be smoother, and the probability of burns will decrease.

Be sure to keep your shoulders covered during excursions. Shoulders are the most defenseless part of the body to sunburn because your shoulders will always be exposed to the direct rays of the sun no matter which way you turn. A long brim hat for women is great protection and a beautiful accessory.

16. Warm clothing in winter

Many people think of Turkey as always sunny, always warm, always without rain. But only in the summer months. The weather can be quite unpleasant in the winter months.

Istanbul has sub-zero temperatures in winter and even snowfall almost every winter. If you fly to Istanbul in winter, you should dress warmly. Of course, you will sweat in a fur coat or thick down jacket. Take a jumper and a light winter jacket. See how Turks are dressed in Istanbul in February in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.

It's warmer in Antalya and other Aegean and Mediterranean resorts. There is no snow and sub-zero temperatures there, but temperatures of +5-7°C (41-45°F) are common. In addition, the humidity on the coast is high and the cold can be felt more keenly. Frequent cold winds from the sea do not make one feel comfortable either. For the winter there, we recommend a warm jumper and a light winter jacket.

Ankara can reach -5 to +5°C (23-41°F) in winter. However, there is not much humidity there and the winds are not as severe. Please dress as you would at -5°C (23°F) at home.

A word of warning for tourists traveling in May and October (starting and ending months of the beach season). During these months, the temperature in the resorts can be as low as +12-14°C (54-47°F) in the evening. Bring a jumper or other warm clothes for evening walks and outdoor activities.

15. Small notes of US dollars, Euros, or UK pounds

In some hotels in Turkey, the staff check tourists into worse rooms on purpose and keep the good rooms. Then at a guest's request to move into a good room they refuse on the grounds of lack of available rooms.

The problem is usually solved by giving a small bribe to an employee at the reception desk. Usually you give 10 or 20 US dollars (or Euros, or UK pounds) and you will be assigned to a really good room.

Naturally! We do not encourage our readers to do so. We are generally against corruption in any form.

But if this way of solving the problem exists then we are obliged to talk about it. If it suits you, then prepare small banknotes. You understand yourself that no one gives change in such a situation.

If your home country's currency is not US dollar, Euros, or UK pounds, then it is better to change small notes in a bank, banks usually do not refuse. If they refuse, you should ask to buy 90 dollars, then you will get small notes for sure. Or you can give a 100 dollar note at an exchange office already in Turkey and ask to exchange 80 and take a 20 dollar note. There is always change in exchange offices.

14. Fow women - a lightweight scarf, preferably a wrap

A lightweight scarf is a great asset for a woman on any journey. The item has a lot of uses, especially in Islamic countries.

Firstly, it is useful when visiting mosques, churches and other places where there is a dress-code. The scarf conveniently covers your shoulders and covers your head at the same time. A couple of easy moves and the dress-code is upheld!

Secondly, it's handy to cover your shoulders during the sun if you feel you're getting sunburned. In case of strong wind, a scarf is handy to cover your face from sand and dust. In winter and cold evenings, it can be used to keep you warm.

The main principles of choosing a scarf for these purposes are "maximum area and width, minimum thickness and weight, necessarily non-transparent".

The best materials are cotton or wool. Although given that you won't be wearing it all the time, cheaper materials such as polyester, viscose, acrylic will also work.

13. Something to keep gifts safe

There are so many interesting gifts and souvenirs you can bring from Turkey. The 20 most interesting ones we have discussed in detail in the review "What to bring from Turkey".

Many of the gifts are fragile. For example: glass bottles with berry wine or olive oil, ceramics, Turkish lamps, glass jars with honey, tea and coffee cups, bottles with raki (Turkish anise strong drink).

Now try to imagine that a bottle of olive oil broke inside a suitcase. What would happen? Not only would you lose the delicious olive oil, but you would ruin most things in the suitcase. Even Turkish cheeses can be dangerous, as white cheeses contain brine which can spill.

It's no secret that the baggage handlers at airports don't take kindly to tourists' luggage, throwing them about as they please. For this reason, we recommend taking some packing material for fragile gifts. Bubble wrap is ideal, but can be difficult to obtain. Corrugated cardboard is a good idea.

12. Flip-flops for the beach and pool

This advice applies to vacation in June, July, August, and September, when resorts in Turkey are at their hottest.

In the peak of the daytime heat, beach sand and tiles by the pool get so hot that it is painful to walk on them with bare feet, and you may even get light burns. Be sure to stock up on flip-flops to walk on the sand and tiles.

Shoes are cheaper in Turkey than in European countries or the US. And if you want expensive (e.g. leather) flip-flops, you can buy them on the spot for a profit. The main thing is to have a relatively large shop nearby.

We recommend taking cheap flip-flops that you will not be sorry to lose, if left near water and carried away in the sea.

You do not need special protective shoes for swimming in Turkey, this is not Egypt. There are no corals in Turkey, which can cut your legs. You can safely step into the sea with bare feet. The only unpleasant exception is the resort of Kemer, where part of the beaches are rough large pebbles. If you go to Kemer, we recommend special shoes both on the beach and when swimming.

11. Separate smartphone for a Turkish SIM-card

Communication problems are actual on vacation. Roaming is usually expensive, and local SIM-cards and tariffs still need to be sorted out.

If you decide to get a local SIM-card, there is one important thing to keep in mind. There is a special tax on mobile phones in Turkey, and the Turkish authorities charge it in a very interesting way.

As soon as you insert a Turkish SIM-card into your phone, the system will automatically register your phone. Then within 120 days, you must go to the tax office and pay the tax in the amount of 6,091 Turkish liras (the tax has increased in 2023). If you do not pay, the operators will block this phone from working in Turkish communications networks. In other words, the phone's IMEI is blacklisted.

Naturally, tourists have never paid this tax and never do. They simply go home and the phone is then blocked. The phone will work fine in any country except Turkey.

Hence! If you aim to buy a local SIM-card, stock up on a 'virgin' phone that has not yet worked in Turkish networks with a Turkish SIM-card.

10. Alcohol if you need it

If you're going for All Inclusive, there will be plenty of alcohol. Will it be of high quality? What from the range of the hotel bar can drink for pleasure and what will be disgusting to take in the mouth? The question is open and the answer will be different for everyone.

If you are NOT going for All Inclusive and you like to drink alcohol, then the problem becomes acute. And first of all because of the price. There are no problems with availability, alcohol in Turkey is sold everywhere.

Beer costs about 25-40 Turkish liras per 0,5 liter can (bottle). Wine is 100 liras and more. Strong alcohol is from 300 liras for a 0.5-liter bottle. For the current exchange rates, see our review "Money in Turkey".

So for those who like to drink we strongly advise to take (or buy in the airport Duty Free) as much as the customs regulations of the Republic of Turkey allow. Read about import regulations in our review "What you can bring into Turkey, and how much".

For more information on prices, trading and drinking rules, and age limits, see our review "Alcohol in Turkey - prices and rules".

9. Your common cigarettes if you smoke

Cigarettes in Turkey don't taste bad and are affordable. Now (April 2023), cigarettes in Turkey are much cheaper than in European countries or the US. However, we still recommend taking your own stock of cigarettes.

Firstly. We all know very well that resorts and the rest of Turkey are two different worlds with different prices and rules. While cigarettes are cheap in Istanbul, they can cost 2-3 times as much in resorts. Especially if the resort area is small and there is only one shop, the owner of the shop will not miss the chance to take advantage of his monopoly.

Turkey has its own inexpensive brands of cigarettes. For example, the cigarettes pictured near are Tekel 2000 cigarettes, which cost 31.5 lira per pack. But such cigarettes are not usually sold in resort areas.

Second. There are a lot of counterfeit cigarettes in Turkey, and these cigarettes may be of poor quality and even dangerous to health.

Thirdly. It's much better to smoke your own cigarettes. Or if you buy cigarettes in Duty Free shop, it will be better than local and with minimal risks.

Cigarettes can be imported in large quantities. In addition, in Turkey you're allowed to bring more than the norm, if you bought cigarettes in the airport Duty Free. See our in-depth review "Smoking and cigarettes in Turkey - prices and regulations" for more details. For fans of vaping or iQos, we recommend stocking up on sticks and liquids. Read our detailed review "Vape & iQos in Turkey" for details.

8. Binoculars

If you are flying exclusively for a beach vacation, binoculars are hardly useful. But it will be very useful on excursions.

Many of the sights in Turkey are quite large, and it is difficult to see some distant elements. Good examples are the dome and upper mosaics in the Hagia Sophia or the dome, mihrab and wall of the Kaaba in the Blue Mosque or the Suleymaniye Mosque.

Also if you have binoculars, it is much more interesting to look at the views from Tahtali Mountain in Kemer, Galata Tower in Istanbul, Kizi Kule Tower in Alanya.

Binoculars are easy to buy these days. They are sold not only in specialty shops but also in electronics shops and large online shops. The question is which one to buy and how much it costs.

Choosing which binoculars to buy is simple. They have two parameters: magnification and objective lens diameter. The larger both of these parameters, the better. Most affordable models now have a 20-25 mm objective lens diameter and 6x-8x magnification. Such binoculars cost around 50 US dollars (or Euros, or UK pounds).

7. Baby food

There are problems with baby food in Turkey. The prices may be much higher than in your home country.

We make a short review of the baby food prices here. You can compare the prices with your country and decide for yourself if it makes sense to take it with you or buy it on the spot.

A pack of baby porridge starting 30 liras, fruit and vegetable puree is from 10 to 25 liras per jar. For the current lira exchange rates, see our review "Money in Turkey".

The labels on baby food packages are in Turkish, and it is even difficult to understand what kind of puree it is, or what kind of cereal it is.

Not every shop sells baby food. The range is limited even in large supermarkets. While a large supermarket in Europe usually has 2-3 galleries for baby food and hygiene items, a supermarket in Turkey has only one gallery or even half. Sometimes baby food can be found in pharmacies, but there are no guarantees.

See a small gallery of photos from the biggest hypermarket Carrefour in Istanbul. We publish these photos for you to understand the range, but the prices in these photos are unfortunately out of date.

It's no problem to find a big supermarket in Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir, that will have some baby food in stock. But it might not be available anywhere at all in resort areas.

Conclusion: take a supply of baby food with you.

6. Mosquito repellent

There are mosquitoes in Turkey. Where they aren't? But mosquitoes are not usually a big problem for tourists.

The chances of a mass mosquito outbreak depends a lot on the resort and the current weather. There were years when mosquitoes were rare. In other years, there were mosquito outbreaks. It is impossible to predict.

This is why we don't recommend stuffing your suitcase with insect repellent. Just bring a small fumigator to put in your room. If mosquitoes are a problem, not only in your room, but also in the evenings on the street, you can buy a spray or ointment at the drugstore. There is no problem with these remedies in Turkey. The problem may be finding a pharmacy in small resort areas.

Some tourists are afraid of malaria and rush to the doctor when they get stung by a mosquito. Here we want to reassure you. In the Aegean resorts and in Istanbul, there are no recorded cases of malaria at all. In the Mediterranean resorts, there have been only a few cases in recent decades. There is clearly no need to fear malaria.

5. Toilet paper

Hotels install the toilets we are used to and there is always toilet paper in the toilets. If you don't intend to leave the hotel, this advice is of no value. If you are going out, read it for sure.

However, public toilets look a little different. See the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge it. There is toilet paper available in this toilet, which is not surprising as the photo was taken in the center of Istanbul near the Grand Bazaar.

In the periphery, toilets often have no toilet paper at all, only a hose for washing up. Naturally, most European tourists are not happy with such a situation.

Therefore, take toilet paper with you. Many experienced tourists who are aware of this feature prefer to take tissues or paper handkerchiefs in a package, it is more practical, it takes less space.

One more important information. The toilets are marked with "Bay" (for men) and "Bayan" (for women).

One more important tip. Be careful when using public toilets because money and other things tend to fall out of the pockets.

The price of a visit to a public toilet in Turkey is 2 to 3 Turkish liras.

4. Umbrella or rain cover

Turkey is always sunny in the minds of Europeans. This is not surprising, since the vast majority of tourists visit resorts in the summer. And in the summer in Turkey, rain is a rarity. If you go in summer, an umbrella is hardly necessary.

In Istanbul, rains begin in September and the rainiest months are November, December, January, and February with about 100 millimeters (4 inches) of precipitation. The rains are frequent, but weak and short-lived. There is even snow in Istanbul almost every winter, but it does not stay on the ground for long. An umbrella or mackintosh is a must if you travel to Istanbul not in summer.

In the province of Antalya (Mediterranean coast) it does not rain between May and September. But as early as November, the rainy season begins. The average rainfall in November is 180 mm (7 in), 200 mm (7.8 in) in December, 180 mm (7 in) in January, and 130 mm (5 in) in February. The rains are less frequent during these months, but they are heavy. An umbrella is a must from October to April.

3. Antiseptic wipes

A foreign country always means a different bacterial background. How well can the immune system deal with it? That's an open question.

Take a look at some tourists. They wipe not only their hands, but also plates and cutlery with antiseptic wipes. And tourists with children try to wipe everything they touch. Do you think this is paranoia? Not really, it's common sense.

No one wants to get sick on vacation, so it is better to protect yourself, and antiseptic wipes will help. Naturally, no one will give a 100% guarantee from illnesses, and it is necessary to take a spacesuit for this purpose. But it is possible to reduce your chances of getting sick. It's better to play it safe.

Turks themselves often use lemon cologne to ward off bacteria. You can buy this cologne in any supermarket for 100 Turkish liras a liter.

The cologne contains a large dose of alcohol, hence its antiseptic properties. If you want to protect yourself from bacteria using Turkish methods, make sure you buy it.

2. Comfortable shoes

During excursions in Turkey, you have to walk not a lot. The ground under your feet will often be stony.

The shoes must be already worn out, this commandment is known to all experienced tourists. It is very unpleasant to chafe your feet in the middle of the excursion.

Pay attention to the thickness of the sole which must not be very thin. Often you have to walk on rocky roads, and shoes with a thin sole will be painful to walk in.

Some tourists go on excursions in beach flip-flops. This option is not recommended because all feet will quickly get covered in dust and sand, which is not very pleasant.

Separately, we want to warn those who want to go to Pamukkale. You will walk on travertines (deposits of strong chalk) there. It is very slippery there. According to the rules, walking on travertine in Pamukkale is allowed only barefoot, but the guards do not watch carefully, and tourists go in flip-flops or boots. And if you walk in shoes with smooth soles, the surface is like ice.

1. First aid kit

The composition of a first-aid kit for Turkey is standard:

- Antiseptic. We don't recommend any certain one because they are different (most common of them) in different countries.

- Medicine to normalize the gastrointestinal tract. You never know what kind of reaction there might be to local food.

- Anti-allergy medication. Allergies can happen to anything, just in case.

- Simple wound care products. A simple adhesive bandage and gauze will work just fine.

- Painkillers. No comment.

- Medication that is right for you, taking into account your personal ailments and peculiarities.

Some websites advise you to take antipyretics. We don't think this is necessary. If you have a fever, we strongly advise you not to self-medicate, but to call your insurance provider. This can be very serious.

In cases of serious stomach or intestinal pain, you should also not treat yourself. Call a doctor, as poisoning may be serious.

Important points

- Turks love cash and have a hard time switching to plastic. So pickpockets are still a problem there. Hide your documents and money in your inside pockets. If you don't have any, take a bag to carry it under your clothes. Read our detailed review "What don't do in Turkey";

- We mentioned that you should take money, but did not say how much. Read more about current spending in our review "How much money to take to Turkey";

- Remember that not every item can be taken through customs. For banned items, see our review "What you can and can't bring into Turkey";

- To take the suitable clothes set, see our review "Weather in Turkey by month".

Have a great holiday in Turkey, and read our interesting pages about the country (find the pages list below). © 2020-2024