SPE logo

About Istanbul


For general information on the climate and up-to-date weather forecasts visit:

Time Zone

Turkey Standard Time is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2)


The official currency used in Turkey is the Turkish Lira.
1 EUR = 2.13602 Turkish Lira (TL)
1 TL = 0.46816 EURO (EUR)

You can obtain currency before travelling to Turkey or on arrival. Exchange rates are usually slightly better in Turkey and all international airports have exchange facilities. Usually, cash can be exchanged without charging commission in exchange offices, banks or hotels. Please note that Scottish notes are not accepted in Turkey. Travellers' cheques can be exchanged in banks only. Exchange rates are published daily in Turkish newspapers. If you are planning to exchange currency back from TL before leaving the country, or are making a major purchase, which may need to be declared to customs, you will need to keep your transaction receipts in order to show that the currency has been legally exchanged.

Please note; Up to US$ 5,000 worth of Turkish or foreign currency can be taken out of the country, providing that it can be shown that the currency has been obtained from authorized banks. Larger amount of foreign or Turkish currency must be transferred abroad through banks. Cash brought into the country to be exchanged for export out of Turkey must be declared on entry.

Banking/Credit Card Facilities

Credit Cards are widely acceptable as a method of payment in Turkey. Cash point machines (ATM) are available in most areas, which accept major UK credit and debit cards and give instructions in English. It may be a good idea to inform your bank in advance that you are travelling to Turkey as some will automatically put a stop on cards after the first usage in an attempt to combat fraud.


Turkey is a very open minded country; it is also considered one of the most modern countries and has a mixture of people of different cultures and nationalities. It is advisable to wear comfortable cloth. However, in beach clubs and hotels, swimsuits, bikinis and shorts are okay to wear.

Other Useful Information

Cell Phones

The major GSM operators in Turkey are Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea, check with your provider in advance to see if your cell phone works in Turkey.

A convenient and economical choice is to buy a local pre-paid SIM card for your cell phone but take your mobile phone and passport to a Turkish mobile phone shop where your new SIM will be registered along with your handset's IMEI number and your personal information. (Unregistered phones will be blocked and unable to receive or make calls.)

Internet Access

Internet access is available in all the hotels providing computers for guests to use.

Liquor Laws

There is no restriction on the sale and use of Alcohol in Turkey. The famous local anis drink "Rak─▒" is widely consumed in Turkey. Wine is also famous in Turkey. Alcoholic beverages are readily available in Turkey, at bars, and hotels. (Note; however, that public drunkenness is considered inappropriate and even offensive. Turkey laws towards alcohol are quite liberal compared with that of most Islamic countries, except for the month of Ramadan when alcohol is strictly forbidden).


The incidence of violent crime in Turkey is low and the country overall is safe. Pickpockets are somewhat of a nuisance in heavily touristic areas like bazaars and ATMs.
It is advisable not to carry a big amount of money in your pockets while you are in heavily touristic areas.


Visitors to Turkey are advised to stick to bottled water.


Smoking is not permitted in flights, public places, most tour busses and public transportation. The Turkish people do smoke a lot; you would easily recognize that nearly 80 percent of the population smokes cigarettes. By the way Turkish tobacco is top quality and you should buy your cigarettes in Turkey as they are delicious and cheap.


Those who use 110 V or any other than 220 V at home need a converter as Turkey has 220 V power systems. Please check your electric appliances before you use them in your hotel room. Only the five stars deluxe properties would have converters so it is advised to bring one with you in case it is needed.

Public Transport

The preferred means of transport in Turkey is by coach, and the air-conditioned intercity coach services are comfortable, fast and inexpensive. Each town has a bus station (otogar), where each bus company has its own office, where you can make reservations and buy tickets. Alternatively, you can buy tickets from local travel agencies. There are good services, between Istanbul and Ankara and the overnight sleeper services are both comfortable and convenient. You can buy tickets and make reservations at local train stations or through travel agents based in Turkey. These are shared taxis, usually a minibus, and sometimes a large car, which operate along set routes, picking up and setting down passengers as they go. There is a set fare depending on how far you are travelling and you pay this to the driver. They are an inexpensive way of getting around. The name “dolmus” literally means 'stuffed' - from the fact that they do not have a set timetable but wait until they are full before setting off.

Useful Numbers

Emergency: 112
International Operator: 115
Directory Assistance: 118 80
Police: 155
Jandarma (Gendarme): 156
Fire Department: 110