Is it safe to travel to Turkey? UPDATED October 14, 2023.

Sharing is caring!

Is it safe to come to Turkey?

Once again I am receiving messages from people asking is it safe to travel to Turkey. Once again it’s with a sad heart I am updating this post I originally published in 2016 and updated last year.

First, to put things in perspective, Jerusalem is nearly 1800km distance by road from Istanbul, where I live. Granted, THY flights between Istanbul and Tel Aviv only take 2 hours, but at the moment they have been cancelled. There are currently marches and rallies taking place in Istanbul and elsewhere in response to events in Israel. If you come across one most official government websites will advise you not to linger. Emotions are running high and you don’t want to get caught up in anything. On a more practical note, when marches do take place streets can be shut down and public transport rerouted, so if you have to get anywhere in a hurry (like the airport) best steer clear.

My neighbours and friends here on the Asian side of Istanbul and other parts of the city are going about their lives as normal. I’ve just come back a break down the west coast and other than an ID check on the bus (which happen randomly in any case) the trip was uneventful.

That said, I’m aware for people who don’t live here and have little or no experience of what Turkey is like, the news being spread on social media and elsewhere is making them think twice about whether to go through with holiday plans in the place I call home.

Despite the difference in circumstances, I think what I wrote in 2016 in response to a woman who admires my writing and contacted me via a private message on Facebook message still applies. She had a reservation to come to Istanbul the week after a bombing in 2016, and wanted my advice on whether it was safe to come or not. It wasn’t her first visit here, so she knew the layout of the city, how crowded the streets can be, and that comparing security in Turkey with that on offer in other countries is pointless. After all, national security forces haven’t stop attacks elsewhere in the world.

I’m not a trite ‘I could get hit by a bus tomorrow so why worry?’ type. Even given how insane Istanbul traffic is at times, in that scenario, one has the choice to look both ways before crossing. A bombing doesn’t give you that option. However I can’t agree with the flipside which says it’s far too dangerous to travel to this part of the world at the moment so you shouldn’t come.

As a start, check what your government says. I don’t monitor Australia’s travel warnings for Turkey regularly, but when I looked they seemed little different than they were a few years ago. They warn Australians to exercise a high degree of caution overall (sensible advice for many countries these days), to not travel within ten kilometres of the border with Syria (given how little is there, why would you?) and to reconsider your need to visit Hakkarı and Şırnak (neither of which have ever been tourist destinations to my knowledge). Other foreign offices around the world, such as the UK’s, say much the same thing, and don’t explicitly tell people not to travel to Turkey.

This latter point is important in terms of the consequences if you do decide to cancel your holiday plans. At the moment, unless your travel insurance covers you for unexpected cancellations, you won’t get your money back if you decide not to come to Turkey. However if your government does change their warning and state that travel to Turkey is unsafe, then you would be entitled to a refund.

In summary, if you’re after a definitive answer as to whether you should come to Turkey now, I can’t give you one. I live here. My idea of feeling safe might be your it’s too dangerous and my comfort levels set at too much risk-taking for you. Only you know how you feel. What I will say is make sure you have travel insurance and be prepared (mentally and financially) to change your plans should the need arise. Additionally, register with your consulate so you can receive warnings about which places to avoid, and how to keep safe should something happen.

As for that woman on Facebook, the one who asked me what I thought, she got back to me and thanked me for my kindness. After considering all the possibilities she made up her mind and came as planned.

Here are my helpful tips for planning your trip to Istanbul and Turkey

For FLIGHTS I like to use

Don’t pay extra for an E-VISA. Here’s my post on everything to know before you take off.

However E-SIM are the way to go to stay connected with a local phone number and mobile data on the go. Airalo is easy to use and affordable.

Even if I never claim on it, I always take out TRAVEL INSURANCE. I recommend Visitors Coverage.

I’m a big advocate of public transport, but know it’s not suitable for everyone all the time. When I need to be picked up from or get to Istanbul Airport or Sabiha Gokcen Airport, I use one of these GetYourGuide website AIRPORT TRANSFERS.

ACCOMMODATION: When I want to find a place to stay I use

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: Let me guide you around Kadikoy with my audio walking tour Stepping back through Chalcedon or venture further afield with my bespoke guidebook Istanbul 50 Unsung Places. I know you’ll love visiting the lesser-known sites I’ve included. It’s based on using public transport as much as possible so you won’t be adding too much to your carbon footprint. Then read about what you’ve seen and experienced in my three essay collections and memoir about moving to Istanbul permanently.

Browse the GetYourGuide website or Viator to find even more ways to experience Istanbul and Turkey with food tours, visits to the old city, evening Bosphorus cruises and more!

However you travel, stay safe and have fun! Iyi yolculuklar.

Similar Posts

One Comment

  1. Hi I am an Indian living here in Turkey and I am constantly asked the same question. My answer always is, there is no place in the world one can feel completely safe today so Turkey is as safe or unsafe as London, Paris, Mumbai or New York. But living here myself I often question my own safety in a country where the political situation is so unstable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.