It’s almost summer, and hopefully you’re planning for a trip to the Turkish Riviera. If this is your first holiday along the Turkish seaside, you may be wondering what to bring – so we’ve created a complete packing list for you!
First, a few things you should know:
- The coast can be hot in summer! Think light and breezy when choosing your outfits.
- Except for a few upscale neighborhoods, most seaside towns are fairly laidback in terms of dress-code. Leave your high heels at home and make some room in your suitcase for souvenirs to bring back – or a great pair of handmade leather sandals.
- Turkey’s shops are well-stocked and cater towards travelers in popular destinations. Anything you forget at home you can probably find within a few minutes of your apartment or hotel.
The coast will be hot, but it will also be breezy; dress for comfort with a few outfits that can make the transition from beach to boardwalk to ancient ruins and art museums to dinner on the deck. If you tend to be a more active traveler, exofficio is a great source for lightweight, packable, fashionable clothing at reasonable prices.
- Long, breezy summer dresses in light colors. These work great for everything from dinner to the beach to excursions out of town. Pair solid colors with a whimsical scarf for an evening out.
- A few loose longsleeved tops in light colors to protect you from the sun. Linen and other light fabrics are your best bet.
- Sleeveless tops are great if you want a tan – just remember to lather on the sunblock before going out. Don’t go overboard with your packing though – shops in resort towns like Bodrum and Kusadasi carry decent-quality “genuine fakes” as well as real international brand names, local styles, and laid back cotton beach wear.
- Either pants or shorts are fine in resort areas, though you might want to go with capris past the knees if you are traveling in the more conservative central plains or the Eastern part of Turkey. Choose a versatile black or white and light, breathable fabrics. Jeans will be too hot in high summer.
- Grab a light jacket or sweater if you are visiting in early or late summer (May or September) when the night temperature drops below 20C. An oversized scarf also makes a versatile accessory – wrap it around your suit at the beach or drape it across your shoulders during dinner. If you don’t have one, they’re easy enough to find in shops by the sea.
- Take a sunhat, or buy one by the beach if that’s your style.
- Don’t forget your sunglasses. There are plenty of fake brandname sunglasses for sale around $5 at every boardwalk, but we recommend either bringing a pair from home, or paying a little more for a pair with UVA protection.
- And definitely don’t forget your swimsuit! Choose a style that’s fun and you feel comfortable in. You’ll definitely see models of every shade on the beach, from the “Islamic full-cover modest swimsuits for women” to barely-there bling reminiscent of St.Tropez. Do know that Turkish women are usually less judgmental of other women’s shapes, especially as they age. Bring a dress or cover-up to put on over your suit when getting lunch or walking from your hotel to the beach.
Be ready to climb those hills, parade down cobbled streets and old Lycian ways, and sashay your way across the sand! Unless you love heels, plan to leave them at home. Instead, we recommend one of two pairs of good walking shoes and comfortable sandals, as well as a pair of flip flops for the beach. Ecco designs do a great job of combining cute fashion with function. Find some great ecco all-purpose summer travel shoes here and here.
Don’t forget that, if you’re near Bodrum, you can pick up a pair (or two, or three…) of handmade leather sandals from one of the multi-generation sandalmaker shops downtown. Two of our favorite brands are Bodrumlu and Güney Sandalet, both in business for over 50 years.
Except for a few special items or personalized skin care, save yourself the trouble and buy most of your toiletries in Turkey. You should be able to find everything you need within a few minutes of your summer residence – supermarkets like Migros and Carrefoure carry ‘Western’ brand toiletries (though personally I prefer the Turkish ‘SunSilk Shampoo and Conditioner with Keratin for damaged hair’ after a few days at the beach), and you should be able to find everything else at a local pharmacy. If you are taking medication, you should be able to get a refill with your prescription, but check ahead of time to make sure it’s widely available (most medications are).
In addition to toiletries, make sure you stock up on some sunblock – the summer sun is intense, and you don’t want to spend half your vacation nursing your burns in the shade!
Most D&R and Dost Bookstores in large cities have an English language section with a variety of classics, international best-sellers, and translated popular Turkish authors. You’ll also find volumes on local history, arts and cuisine in most museum giftshops. However, prices on imported books can be quite high, and selection is a bit limited. So if you are a reader, bring a book or two with you for the road.
If you are interested in learning some Turkish, or are just looking for a handy phrase book, we recommend B. Orhan Dogan’s pocket-sized Fast and Easy Turkish Phrase Book and Dictionary (around 20 Lira at D&R Bookstores) as it covers a lot of practical material in an easy-to-use color-coded index.
Adapter: Unless your electrical plugs look like this, you will need an adapter. Either bring a universal adapter, or find one at any bookstore or electronics shop. A handy map detailing international electric plug compatibility can be found here.
Phones: You can use your non-Turkish phone within Turkey for one month before you must register your number and pay a registration fee. You can buy a sim card from one of Turkey’s major carriers (Turkcell, Vodafone or Avea) at any cellphone store for about 20 lira and choose from pay-as-you-go or monthly plans. Most restaurants and cafes have free Wifi hotspots.
Forgot anything? No worries. From flipflops to t-shirts to safety pins to sunblock lotion there should be someplace selling it in every town along Turkey’s coast. Just don’t forget a bag to bring home your new finds.