Istanbul Do’s

  • Do remove shoes or sandals before you go inside any of the mosques in Turkey.
  • Do wear modest clothing, meaning no shorts or strappy tops for women and no shorts for men either.
  • Do cover your head if you are female.
  • Do wear conservative clothing when visiting anywhere outside of cities. Short sleeved shirts are acceptable.
  • Do remember that public displays of affection (even between husband and wife) are not looked kindly upon in Muslim countries.
  • Do be courteous. Turkish people place heavy emphasis on good manners.
  • Do learn some polite phrases or words such as, ‘tesekkür ederim’ which means ‘thank you’ and ‘lütfen’ which means ‘please’. A downward nod of the head means ‘yes’ whereas nodding in an upward manner with raised eyebrows whilst making a click sound with the tongue means ‘no’.
  • Do remember ‘evet’ means ‘yes’ and ‘hayir’ means ‘no’ in Turkish.
  • Do remember that alcohol abstinence is encouraged in Muslim countries, including Turkey. A glass of wine is tolerable but drunkenness is not.
  • Do be aware that smoking is common in Turkish cafes and restaurants. It would be rude to ask others to refrain from lighting up in this circumstance so just select a restaurant of café with a no smoking section if you would rather.
  • Do pay for the whole meal if you initiated an invitation. Splitting the bill if you invited your guest is considered rude in Turkey.
  • Do return the gesture if someone else offers to pay the bill, and make sure you invite that person to lunch or dinner before you leave.
  • Do remember that burping, picking your teeth and blowing your nose in a restaurant of café is considered to be impolite in Turkey.

Istanbul Don’ts

  • Don’t visit any mosque on a Friday, the Muslim day for worship.
  • Don’t talk or laugh loudly in a Mosque.
  • Don’t walk in front of a person who is praying because, according to Muslim belief, the prayer will not be counted.
  • Don’t sit beside or talk to single or young Turkish women if you are a male traveller because this is a threatening move to them.
  • Don’t expect any Turkish male, such as merchandise sellers, to talk to a female traveller with a male traveling companion. Turkish men will only speak to male companions to protect the female’s honour.
  • Don’t make the ‘ok’ sign as it is known in the West by putting the thumb and forefinger together to form the letter ‘o’, because this is considered obscene in Turkish culture.
  • Don’t make negative remarks about Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish Republic’s Founding Father.