Alcohol in Turkey - Prices & Rules

Page update - Apr 5, 2023

The alcohol situation in Turkey is very complicated. On the one hand, there are no bans on the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages, which is rare in an Islamic country. On the other hand, the quality of spirits in all-inclusive hotels in Turkey is terrible. In addition, many readers will remember cases of mass poisoning of tourists with fatalities. We will explain all this on this page.

All prices and legal information on this page were updated in April 2023. ALCOHOL PRICES IN TURKEY GOT UP because Turkey's currency has fallen by 20% (from 15.8 to 19.2 Liras per dollar) over the past year. And in the last 2 years the lira has collapsed 2.5 times (from 8.1 to 19.2 liras per dollar). The current prices are below on this page.

Turkey and Alcohol

Turkey is a secular country, although 98% of its population practices Islam. Turks are proud of their rights and freedom of choice, and their attitude to alcohol is loyal.

According to a recent sociological research, 87% of Turks do not drink alcoholic beverages at all under any circumstances. It is difficult to say how much of that figure corresponds to reality.

Judging by the official figures on alcohol consumption in the country, it is not far from the truth. Turks drink 1.5 liters per capita a year. By comparison, consumption in the UK is 11.4, in the US it is 9.8, in the Czech Republic it is 14.4, in Germany it is 13.4.

But even such figures are not enough for the Turkish government. They constantly impose restrictions on trade and consumption of alcohol. We will talk about these restrictions at the end of this page.

Turkey produces its own alcoholic beverages. The Efes Pilsen beer brand is familiar to many Europeans. It is a large international corporation which owns breweries in many countries.

Turkey produces its own wine. The country has the fourth largest grape cultivation area in the world, with 505,000 hectares. In terms of wine production, Turkey ranks a modest 37th in the world. Most of Turkey's grapes are exported, and any reader can find them in European supermarkets.

Before we proceed to review the alcohol situation in Turkish hotels, we need to talk about its cause - the astronomical taxes on alcoholic beverages in Turkey.

Taxes on alcohol in Turkey

The sale of alcoholic beverages in Turkey is subject to a large number of direct and indirect taxes. VAT is collected from every bottle of alcohol sold. In Turkey, it is 18%.

A special group of consumption taxes (SCT) is imposed in Turkey. These taxes apply to four types of goods. These are: 1. petrol, fuel, lubricants, 2. cars and other vehicles, 3. tobacco and alcohol, and 4. perfume. The last tax increase on alcohol was in January 2023; the tax was increased by 22.3%.

At the time this page was updated (April 2023), the state charges about 16 Turkish liras for beer, about 23 liras for wine, and 274 liras for a 0.7L bottle of raki, a strong drink. That's just the SCT! Add VAT to these figures as well! Find the actual exchange rates in our review "Money in Turkey".

Turkish taxes are several times higher than excise duties in most countries of the world.

In addition, each hotel is required to obtain two permits to sell alcohol to its guests. In addition to the usual license, they require a special license from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

If the liquor is imported, a separate tax must be paid for it. The tax varies from 50% of the value of the drinks to infinity. The amount of tax varies depending on the type of drink, the alcohol content of the drink and the country of origin.

For example, whisky from the USA is taxed at around 700%. For us, that seems like a nightmare, but for Turkey it is normal.

If all drinks in hotels in Turkey were official and all taxes paid, an all-inclusive vacation in that country would only be available to the richest people.

Do not think that we are trying to justify the Turkish hotels or the government. Not at all! We are simply explaining to the reader their motivation and the reasons for what is happening.

Liquor prices in Turkey in shops

As of April 2023:

Beer costs 30 to 40 lira per 0.5-liter bottle (can). If you buy in bulk and/or on sale, you can get it for 26-28 lira for 0.5.

Wine is from 100 lira for a 0.7-liter bottle. Cheap wines are available for 70 or 80 lira.

Turkish raki is from 300 lira for a 0,5 liter bottle.

Vodka, whisky, gin, rum are from 400 lira for a 0,5 liter bottle.

Find the actual exchange rates in our review "Money in Turkey".

Alcohol in hotels

Most hotels in Turkey serve counterfeit, fake, or smuggled alcohol. This is no secret to anyone. The government is not even trying to fight it. Everyone understands that the country's tourism industry will become uncompetitive if alcohol is legalized in hotels.

The hearts, minds and wallets of consumers have to be fought for. Turkey competes with Egypt and Tunisia for European tourists.

Alcohol in Egypt is not of high quality, but it is cheap. Alcohol in Tunisia is both cheap and of good quality. Turkey loses the competition for alcohol-loving Europeans.

The beer situation in the hotels is good. Turkish beer is of good quality and is reasonably priced for the hotels. Beer in Turkish hotels is safe to drink.

The situation with wine is a little bit worse. Turkish wine is considered average in terms of quality. Local wine prices are high and hotels often prefer to buy counterfeit wine, which does not incur taxes. Cases of wine poisoning are rare in the country.

The situation with spirits is terrible. Only very expensive hotels serve completely official spirits. Almost all vodka, whisky, gin and tequila in Turkey are either fake, or counterfeit, or contraband. The quality of these drinks can be quite acceptable. Or you might get poisoned. It's a big lottery, and there have been cases where tourists have lost the most valuable thing in this lottery - their lives.

Mass poisoning in 2011

The horrible case took place on May 26, 2011. A group of tourism employees were relaxing at a party on a yacht sailing from Bodrum to Antalya. The next morning, many felt unwell. 25 people were hospitalized, 5 of whom died.

The people were poisoned by methyl alcohol, which was contained in the fake whisky they were drinking as part of their cocktails.

The names of the victims are Marina Sheveleva, Maria Shalyapina, Aigul Zalaeva, Alexander Zhuchkov and Victoria Nikolaeva. We hope this list of victims will never be added to. The Turkish authorities say they have tightened control over imported alcohol. We hope that this is done in deed and not just by word of mouth.

The case shows that alcohol is sold uncontrollably in hotels in Turkey and tourists can get anything, even the deadly poison methyl alcohol, in their glasses.

So our advice is to stick to beer and wine. Abstain from cocktails and spirits. Good health is better. If you can't do without hard liquor, bring it with you.

Import regulations

Customs regulations in Turkey are a bit confusing. There is a lot of contradictory information on the internet about the rules for bringing in alcohol. Let's try to clarify the situation.

The import regulations for tourists are set out in Government Decision 2009/15481. In this Decision, there is a table in Annex 9. This table states two points: "1. Up to 1 liter of spirits over 22%" and "2. Up to 2 liters of spirits under 22%". The question is, according to which formula are these points to be applied?

In Decision 2009/15481, there is Article 60 para. 2(a) where it is clarified that the fee exemption can only be applied for one product, i.e. the formula "1 or 2". Everything was clear and straightforward. BUT!

Decision 2011/1546 came out in 2011, which removed this rule from Article 60.2 of Decision 2009/15481. And it did so without replacing it with any other rule. In the logic of the law, the formula is now "1 plus 2".

As a result, according to the logic of the application of Decision 2009/15481 Table 9, the rules of importation are now as follows:

(1) Alcohol may only be imported into Turkey by persons over 18 years of age. According to Article 60 of Decision 2009/15481.

(2) Up to 1 liter of spirits over 22% plus 2 liters of spirits under 22% may be brought into Turkey duty free. According to Annex 9 of Decision 2009/15481.

Read our detailed review "What you can bring into Turkey and how much".

Alcohol regulations in Turkey

Since the turn of the current century, the Turkish authorities have been actively enforcing restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the country.

Almost every year, taxes on alcoholic beverages are increased. Every few years, new restrictions are introduced. In 2008, the authorities prohibited retail outlets from selling loose alcohol.

In 2014, the biggest package of restrictions was introduced. Liquor was only allowed to be sold between 6 am and 10 pm (6-00 to 22-00). It is forbidden to sell alcohol within 100 meters (330 feet) of schools and mosques. Warnings about the dangers of alcohol consumption appeared on packaging.

Advertising of alcoholic beverages was completely banned. This was affected by sponsorship and PR mentions in movies and on television. If someone drinks beer in a movie, the image of the drink must be "blurred" or covered by a black square.

An interesting fact is that until 2014, Turkey had a basketball team called Efes Pilsen. In 2014, it had to be renamed because the authorities deemed the team itself a beer commercial. The team is now called Anadolu Efes S.K.

Alcohol cannot be sold in educational and medical institutions, student hostels, sports clubs and petrol stations. Before 2014, Turkey was one of the most alcohol-friendly countries in Europe, but now the restrictions are among the toughest.

Alcohol is not sold to anyone under the age of 18. In 2014, a restriction was imposed on the sale of alcohol to under 24s at public events, but the Supreme Court overturned this ruling - unconstitutionally.

It would seem - what else could be done? But officials in Turkey have a rich imagination. In 2015, they banned the inclusion of alcoholic beverages in traditional New Year gift baskets. They are likely to come up with many more fun restrictions. We'll have to wait and see.

Apart from that, there are local restrictions which depend on the region of the country. In some places you can only drink beer in an untransparent packet, somewhere you may not be able to sell alcohol on Fridays, and so on.

Good to know

- Some areas do not sell alcohol during the month of Ramadan. Read more about the holy month in our review "Ramadan in Turkey";

- And some places do not sell alcohol on other holidays, not only religious but also secular. For the calendar, see our review "Holidays in Turkey";

- Turkish vodka "raki" is popular among tourists as a gift from Turkey. If you dare to bring it, be aware of the restrictions. Read our in-depth review "What you can and cannot take out of Turkey".

We believe our advice will be useful. Read our other pages about Turkey (find the pages list below). © 2020-2024