Ramazan* Dos and Don’ts

Come and celebrate Ramazan in Istanbul!The Holy Month of Ramazan has started here in Turkey and over this thirty day period devout Muslims fast during daylight hours. This means not eating, drinking, smoking or even chewing gum, from early in the morning until the evening. Once it’s no longer possible to distinguish a piece of white string held up to the sky, it’s time to break the fast. It’s also a time to reflect on one’s life, to examine whether you have been compassionate, generous and honest.

As a visitor you’re exempt from fasting, but to make the most of your travels during this month here are some useful tips.


  • Forget that outside of cities like Istanbul and Ankara, restaurants might be closed at lunchtime in smaller towns and villages, because not enough people are eating out. Grab a snack or a sandwich before you leave your hotel to keep you going.
  • Be afraid if you wake up at 3am to loud noises. It’s just a man playing a drum called a davul, making sure everyone is up in time to prepare and eat the pre-dawn meal known as sahur.


  • Remember to wish people “Iyi bayramlar”, a good or happy festival.
  • Go to an evening meal to break the fast, called iftar, if you’re invited. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get together with new friends and enjoy Turkish hospitality.
  • Take candies to give to your host if you’re invited to someone’s home. Baklava is always welcome.
  • Be discreet if you decide to drink water during the day, especially in summer. No one will think badly of you but imagine how thirsty any onlookers will feel!
  • Do go to Sultanahmet or Eyüp in the evening. Once there, join in with the families, couples and young lovers exploring the delights of the Ramadan fairs. Sample manisa macunu, a sweet sticky paste dating back to Ottoman times, have your name written in Arabic calligraphy or laugh at the antics of the Karagöz, the Turkish shadow puppets.

Join in the fun of a traditional Turkish Ramazan fete!Most important of all, enjoy taking part in traditional Turkish life!

* You can find out more about Ramazan, and life in Turkey in general, by reading my book “Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries”. Get your copy here

About Goreme1990

I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up in a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After school I worked in various jobs, including as a public servant, sales assistant, bar maid and car counter, before going overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. I spent the following years moving between Australia and Turkey and eventually relocated to Göztepe on the Asian side of the city in 2010 with my husband. Since then I have spent my time writing short stories, blogging and doing radio programs. Check out the interview section of my blog for more information and to hear me talk about my life in Turkey. I have released a collection of essays called "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries" and a travel novel titled "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul". Both are available in paperback and ebook forms through Amazon and other book retailers. In addition to this regular blog I write articles for various international and local media and present a monthly radio segment on Istanbul.
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