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Current environment for US travelers in Istanbul/greater Turkiye?

Considering a family trip to Istanbul with maybe a few forays into other areas this fall/winter. Our family (2 adults, 2 intrepid kids 11/13 yo) are experienced travelers and I have been to Turkiye before, (a month long trip about 20 years ago).

We are trying to intuit what the vibe is like there these days and would love to hear from folks who have been there very recently - are the rising geopolitical tension and conservative government making it a less enjoyable place to visit in the immediate term?

Thank you!!

Posted by
4842 posts

As a tourist in Istanbul and western Turkey on tours for 3 weeks in May/June, I didn't notice any effect. Comments from local guides indicate they have.

Posted by
18507 posts

It hasn't been that recent a visit (August last year), but I find myself there every 2 or 3 years so might be more aware of a trend if there were changes.

The governments impact on tourists in country is negligible if any. But some tourists have chosen to stay away in protest.

The wars near and surrounding the country are also not having any impact a tourist would feel. Terrorist attacks within in the country are way, way down in frequency over 5 years ago.

The economy isn't good so your buying power is up.

If you are going in on Turkish Airlines you might look at a multi city trip. There have been times when RT to Budapest with a 3 day stop in Istanbul was no more expensive than a RT just to Istanbul. So play with ticket options, for instance if you are interested in Istanbul, Sarajevo might als interest you.

Posted by
1224 posts

Turkey is a country I would so love to visit, but at this point I just can't. Too much aggression, too much oppression, too much pandering to a hard core base. I was just in Hungary this past June as part of the BOEE tour, but like Turkey with Erdogan, Hungary with Orban is a place I won't be going back to. My conscience, and my degree in Human Rights won't allow it at this point. It is something I struggle with. I question myself every time I think about going and see-saw back and forth. If you want to go though, please do so. I will not be for the foreseeable future.

Posted by
58 posts

Hello. I’ll be in Turkey two weeks from now. I’ll report back. So looking forward to this trip.
When I consider should I or shouldn’t I travel to Turkey - I first think of the people. So kind, helpful, and appreciation for tourists.

Posted by
1988 posts

I've visited Turkey during Erdogan's term at the height of the Syrian conflict.and if I hadn't looked at the news, I would have never known there's a war on.

1)Except for not serving alcohol within a set area around mosques and the daily calls to prayer, you probably will never have to deal with the government.

2)Even with all the uncertainties, I've found Turkish people for the most part to be the most friendly and helpful people I've met in my European travelers. Just like in America, people have their own beliefs that might not be the same as politicians.

I'd recommend going to Ephesus/Selchuk and getting a guided tour of the ruins and perhaps going to Cappadocia as well. Enjoy

Posted by
1447 posts

I was in Turkey for a month during the summer.
There is a great deal of economic distress among the Turks as their currency has plunged In value from about 7 per US dollar when I was there in 2019 to 18 per dollar today. With the minimum wage a paltry $2 per hour ( 40% of Turkish workers earn the minimum) and gasoline costing $6.50 per gallon— you can imagine the stress among Turks just trying to survive. Turkey exports produce and textiles and imports just about everything else. And now that everything else costs much, much more than it did just one year ago. The tourism industry which provides a lot of jobs, did not deliver this year due to the war in Ukraine, the hangover from the pandemic and hesitation of travelers to visit.

Turks do not openly discuss politics because they can be arrested for even criticizing Erdogan’s government which is largely responsible for the crash of the lira and the disastrous economy. As you get to know them better and they trust you, they open up and tell you how bad things actually are and how badly they want a new government, one which may come in next year’s election.
Because they have so much of their future at stake, 5 million new, young voters have registered to vote.
While the tension in the country from its economic and political problems may make the Turks lives very difficult for now, they still are the great hosts for visitors they always have been. Their hospitality still is remarkable in spite of the current situation. Travelers who do go
can help by staying in family-run guest houses and eating at family-run restaurants where the money spent is going directly to help support your hosts.

Posted by
1447 posts

That would be “whether” you agree with them or not.
Cheers!

Posted by
4 posts

Don't hesitate to come to Turkey.The goverment has no effect on tourists.There is no rising political tension that effects the daily life nowadays.

Posted by
20 posts

We just completed the Best of Turkey tour and felt welcomed everywhere. I caught no vibes of tension etc. Tourism is a large part of their economy and I believe ordinary citizens pay little attention to geopolitical affairs. We were impressed by the friendliness and welcoming attitude of everyone we met.

Posted by
176 posts

There was a terrorist attack that killed about eight people and injured scores.in Istanbul in mid-Nov. I was there two days before that. Situations are escalating within the country. When I returned home, no one in the USA had heard about it. The attack was all over the news in Europe. New reports indicate the bomber wasn't a woman as first reported.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/13/europe/istanbul-turkey-explosion-intl

Posted by
18507 posts

With the issue with the Kurds ramping up, I would suspect the "possibility" of more of this also going up, so worth watching.

Frequent or ??, that's subjective so here are the dates of bombings in Istanbul: 1999, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016 (five), 2017, 2022.
I have been to Istanbul a few times, and there is a chance I will lay over for a few days next year; but I always treat the destination with the respect it deserves while enjoying it.
I think I would be more comfortable in Istanbul with a NYC ball cap than I would be in Paris in a kippah.

Posted by
569 posts

I returned from the Rick Steves "Best of Turkey" tour one week before the recent terrorist attack. While the news was disturbing, especially since our group had been on that very street, I loved the country and would not hesitate to go back to Istanbul or western Turkey. There have been no recent changes in the government and in fact Turkey has benefited in terms of public relations from its role in facilitating grain shipments through the Black Sea. They may have an election in the spring which could change some things, but tourism is very important so I doubt visitors will be affected. It is a wonderful place with a rich history and culture and natural beauty, as well as warm and welcoming people. Every country has problems; your risk of death from a gun in the US is probably much greater than from a terrorist attack in Turkey.
Cynthia

Posted by
18507 posts

There is travel to see the sites and there is travel to experience and begin an understanding of a new culture.

Turkey has some of the best of sites and cultural experiences, and some of the most informative opportunities; good and very, very bad (so avoid rose colored glasses).
If you go use it as an opportunity or personal development; it will influence your opinions for the rest of your life.
Be respectful of where you are, and hopefully know enough to understand what that means before you arrive; and it will be a brilliant trip.

Posted by
1988 posts

Please let your kids see a different side to the world in a Muslim-majority country. Perhaps they will grow up less prejudice than many in the US and see that most people do the same mundane things we do. Work, eat and pay taxes.

There is some beautiful things in Istanbul, especially the mosques and the food was pretty good-especially the tea and hokum(Turkish delight). If you love pistachios you will be in heaven.