Since 2021, Turkey has become the world’s fourth most visited country, behind France, Spain and the United States. A huge 50.5 million people visited in 2022, attracted by great weather, glorious Aegean and Mediterranean beaches, the vibrant nightlife of Istanbul and 21 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Around 4 million Brits alone are expected to have visited Turkey by the end of 2023. It is also a popular destination for Germans, of whom 5.7m holiday there, along with well over a million Dutch residents and over 920,000 French citizens.
What these holidaymakers may not appreciate, however, is that neither the EHIC nor the GHIC health cards will provide any cover for medical costs incurred in Turkey. Turkey requires all visitors to have health insurance that will cover their stay, so buying travel insurance is essential. The UK Government advises of this on its FCDO website.
Travel advice for holidays to Turkey
The travel advice currently provided by a variety of countries is that travelling to Turkey is still generally safe. There are warnings, however, not to travel within 10km of the Syrian border at all and to only make essential travel trips into Hakkari province and the city of Sirnak. Travel insurance protection could be invalidated, if travel is made against the advice of governments or other authorities.
Tourists to Turkey should carry some form of photo ID at all times, as this is a legal requirement. To enter Turkey, they should have a passport that will still be valid for at least 150 days from their date of entry into the country. The passport should also have a blank page available, on which an entry and exit stamp can be placed. If you are entering Turkey by land, you should always make sure your entry stamp has been applied to your passport, before leaving the border crossing and heading on your way.
Other travel advice for holidaymakers in Turkey
Other advice is to sign up for travel alerts and avoid getting caught up in demonstrations in large cities. Stay alert, remembering that terrorist attacks have taken place in Turkey, predominantly in Istanbul, Ankara and South East Turkey. It may be worth considering adding a terrorism extension to your Europesure travel insurance policy for this reason and because of heightened terrorism risk, due to the war in Gaza.
Other than this, make sure you sign up for travel advice alerts and keep a note of the contact details of your nearest embassy or consulate, in case you need help. Try to blend in with locals as much as you can, dressing modestly and respecting customs and local people. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your passport and other ID separate from these documents whilst you are travelling, with another copy left with someone at home. There have been cases of passport theft from villa safes in towns like Kas, Kalkan and Didim.
Pickpocketing and other scams
Robberies and theft are fairly commonplace, as is pickpocketing, so stay alert to what is going on around you. Also be aware that you could be fined for lighting any kind of fire, or discarding cigarette butts, in wooded areas.
Spiking of food and drink is not unknown, so never leave plates of food or drinks unattended. Also, watch out for currency scams.
Once you have protected yourself with Europesure’s travel insurance and all of this risk awareness, there is a lot to enjoy in Turkey. Here are just two of the places you might wish to visit.
Although wildfires affected this area during 2023, it is currently safe to visit and open for business. Wandering the charming Old Town, with its cobbled and winding streets and traditional wooden houses, will really get you in the holiday mood, especially as the place brims with restaurants, roof-top bars and local charm.
Wander down to the marina, or take to the 13km beach stretching towards the Taurus Mountains and you will soon appreciate why this resort is so popular. Head to nearby Lara Beach, just 10 miles east, and a plethora of high-end eateries awaits your arrival.
Beyond Antalya, there is lots to do, whether you visit the Roman ruins at Perge, the impressive Duden waterfalls, or the Greek-Roman city of Aspendos, where you can see one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in the world.
If you play golf, you may also appreciate the fine golf courses scattered around the area. If that’s an activity you intend doing in Turkey, the golf add-on policy is the extension to look for, to add to your standard cover.
If you don’t wish to travel beyond the boundaries of Antalya with its impressive 2nd Century AD Hadrian’s Gate, there is heritage at hand. Just admire some of the Roman imperial statues from Perge, along with relics relating to Green gods and goddesses, by visiting the Archaeological Museum. Also note the restored Kesik Minare Cami – originally a second century AD Roman temple, later converted into a church in Byzantine times and then turned into a mosque, complete with minaret, by 13th century Ottomans.
Located in the heart of Turkey, Cappadocia is renowned for its stunning landscape, consisting of amazing geological features, including Fairy Chimney rock formations, the Pasabag Mushroom Chimneys and Bronze Age cave dwellings and hideouts for early Christians.
The UNESCO-listed Goreme Open-air Museum offers a chance to explore a magnificent valley, defined by its rock-carved churches and monasteries.
At the Dark Church, you can marvel at brilliantly coloured frescoes, whilst at Uchisar Castle, there is chance to discover how an entire village, comprising 1000 people, was carved into a rock face and connected by a network of rooms and tunnels that emanated from a 60-metre-high cylindrical tower. With underground cities too, there is much to tick off a bucket-list.
Holiday activities and travel insurance
One thing you may well be tempted to do is to take a hot air balloon flight over the valleys, viewing the sensational rock formations from above. This activity is automatically covered by a Europesure travel insurance policy, as long as it is a supervised activity led by an experienced and qualified guide and there is adequate supervision throughout. If not insured with Europesure, you may need to check that you would be covered for hot air ballooning.
Hiking and walking through the various valleys is also a very popular thing to do. Be careful here. Whilst a Europesure travel insurance policy will cover walking or hiking to a height of 1500 metres, it has to be on recognised footpaths and trails. Many online reviewers sharing their experience of hiking on the Rose and Red trails near Cappadocia, in particular, talk of confusing signage, losing their way and other issues. Make sure you know exactly what route you should be taking and do not attempt this in the dark.
Another activity on offer in the valley is horse riding. This is covered by your Europesure travel insurance policy as long as protective headgear is worn. Then, there are ATV and quad bike tours. Again, your Europesure travel insurance policy will automatically cover you for this, whilst many others will not. However, you must be adequately supervised, at all times, during your quad safari and not simply allowed to drive off into the sunset!
Be cautious and respectful during your travels to Turkey, make sure that, if engaging in activities, the terms of your insurance policy are adhered to and keep contact numbers at hand. Do all of this and you should be able to relax and appreciate why this country is a magnet for so many visitors.
To find the right travel insurance policy to cover your trip to Turkey, whether that is single trip insurance or annual multi-trip, and to select the level of different cover elements you need, plus any add-ons, head to www.europesuretravelinsurance.com
Photo credit: Giuseppe Mondi, on Unsplash