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Turkey - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for Turkey

Fruit and nut seller at the Balyk Pazar Market, Istanbul Visas: Citizens of New Zealand, Japan and most of the countries of Western Europe, need only a valid passport for stays of up to 3 months. Australian, UK and US citizens, as well as those from Austria, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, do need visas, obtainable in advance at a Turkish consulate, or upon entry to Turkey. Fees vary - Americans pay a ludicrous US$100.
Time: GMT/UTC +2
Dialling Code: 90
Electricity: 220V ,50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

When to Go to Turkey

Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are best. The climate is perfect on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts then, as well as in Istanbul. In high summer the coastal resorts are stinking hot: your body may like to do as the locals do and take a siesta during the heat of the day. From late October to early April, the beach scene more or less shuts down. There's little rain between May and October except along the Black Sea coast, but from about mid-June, the mosquitoes come out in plague proportions in some areas. Eastern Turkey should really be visited from late June to September, as snow may close roads and mountain passes in the colder months.

Turkey Events

The dates for Muslim religious festivals are celebrated according to a lunar calendar; the dates are locked in every few years by Muslim authorities. Only two religious holidays are public holidays: Seker Bayrami, a 3-day festival at the end of Ramazan (30 days in December-January when a good Muslim lets nothing pass the lips during daylight hours), and Kurban Bayrami (March-April) which commemorates Abraham's near-sacrifice of Ismael on Mt Moriah. In commemoration of God permitting Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead of his son, every Turkish household who can afford a sheep buys one, takes it home and slits its throat right after the early morning prayers on the actual day of the bayram. Family and friends immediately cook up a feast. You must plan for Kurban Bayrami: most banks close for a full week, transportation will be packed and hotel rooms will be scarce and expensive.

Secular festivities include camel-wrestling in mid-January, in the village of Selçuk, south of Izmir; National Sovereignty Day, April 23, a big holiday to celebrate the first meeting of the republican parliament in 1920. Celebrations abound in summer: there's a sloppy oiled wrestling festival in early June at Sarayiçi, near Edirne; the country Kafkasör Festival near Artvin in northeastern Turkey in the 3rd week of June; the International Istanbul Festival of the Arts (late June to mid-July); Bursa's Folklore and Music Festival in mid-July and Diyarbakir's Watermelon Festival in mid or late September. The whole country stops, just for a moment, at 9.05 am November 10, the time of Atatürk's death in 1938.

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