Category Archives: Turkish Culture

15 Great Expat Blogs About Turkey

Here are 15 great blogs to check out if you are curious about living in Turkey, want to try out more Mediterranean Cooking, or are just searching for some travel inspiration:

  1. Turkey’s For Life: Julie and Barry, two UK citizens, share advice, recipes, and plenty of personal adventures on this extensive blog.
  2. Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Photos, easy-to-follow recipes and interesting tales woven together by an award-winning chef who also happens to offer online cooking lessons.
  3. Turkey from the Inside: Pat, a UK-origined former Thomas Cook travel specialist, travel book author and writer for Today’s Zaman takes readers on a whirlwind tour through the culture and history of many different Turkish regions
  4. Back to Bodum: An Aussie expat and her Turkish husband re-adjust to life in the Turkish countryside
  5. Pul Biber – With Everything (Red Pepper with Everything) Two retired UK expats living in Selçuk adjust from their fast-paced London life to soaking up the small town sights, smells and occasional serenity
  6. Adventures in Ankara: A Pennsylvania native and lawyer by profession shares her adventures and observations after moving to Ankara with her Turkish husband. Plenty of travel tips, trip reviews, and a culinary corner as well.
  7. A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: A 30+ year expat resident of Istanbul share’s the years’ best fare with recipes fit for every season.
  8. Slowly By Slowly: “Roadtripping through one Turkish-American marriage with a troupe of backseat-driving Karagöz puppets”
  9. Almost Turkish Recipes: Simple and tasty meals you can make in your own kitchen, regardless of whether you have access to Turkey’s extensive outdoor bazaars.
  10. From the Seven Hills of Istanbul: A Wisconsin native who has lived almost continuously in Turkey since completing her MA in Turkish Studies in 2009 now shares restaurant reviews and travel tips covering Bursa and Istanbul.
  11. Binur’s Turkish Cookbook: Recipes, tantalizing photos.  What more could you want in a simple food blog?
  12. The Turkish Life: A SF native residing in Istanbul and writing about food, running, photography and the environment
  13. Far From the Sticks: An East Coaster residing in Ankara with her Turkish husband shares stories, photos and culinary adventures.
  14. Adana Adventures: Part travel /living guide, part blog written by an American expat living in Adana with his Turkish wife.
  15. Inside Out Istanbul: Lisa Morrow, author of  Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City and Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries shares book reviews, life tales, and plenty of photos.

+ 1 Best of Bursa: An expat family shares their favorite experiences in a city they’ve come to call home.

Looking for More Reading: the Daily Sabah has also collected an “Ultimate list of expat blogs on Turkey” to be found here.

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What is the “Mediterranean Diet”?

The past few years popular magazines and science journals alike have been abuzz with articles about a new fad called the “Mediterranean Diet” (If you’ve been out of the loop, see the Mayo clinic or the New York Times: “The Island Where People Forget to Die“, “Mediterranean Diet Shown to Ward Off Heart Attack and Stroke“, “When Diet Meets Delicious“, “Mediterranean Diet is Good for Your DNA“). But the Mefuterranean is a huge region encompassing a variety of culinary cultures – most of which we don’t often associate with “heart healthy”. So…

IMG_0570What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Simply put, the “Mediterranean Diet” is less a diet, per se, than a lifelong way of eating that emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean protein and healthy fats. There’s nothing very complicated about the diet: eat lots of foods high in fiber and other nutrients like local vegetables and legumes; consume healthy fats like olives, almonds and olive oil; substitute fruit for other sweets; emphasize low-cholesterol sources of protein like chicken and fish over red meat; avoid additives and preservatives; and enjoy the occasional glass of red wine. For more information delving into specifics, see this post on health.com.

Why Is It Good for Me?

fresh oranges dalyan

A fresh fruit stand on the highway outside Dalyan

The Mediterranean Diet probably isn’t (as some have claimed) a cure-all.  But it does promote overall well-being by providing your body with full nutrients and decreasing your intake of disease-causing foods such as refined sugar and artery-clogging saturated fats. Combined with regular exercise, studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease while promoting longer living.  Other studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to lead to a reduced risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease as well as the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. (References here, here, here and here)

Following the Mediterranean Diet in Turkey

Turkish fruit sellers

Village women selling figs and olives outside Didim

When we conjure images of Turkish cuisine, what do we see?  Probably heavy red meats like shish kebabs and doner, plenty of bread, a fair amount of full-fat dairy and tantalizing sweets like baklava and dondurma.  But how a tourist tastes a new country is not necessarily representative of the way most residents eat day-in-and-day-out or the ingredients readily available in the grocery store. Whether stocking up your own kitchen or eating out, nutrient-dense whole foods in Turkey abound. Turkey is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as locally sourced, GMO-free products at reasonable prices.  While you can pick up your groceries at the local Carrefoure, most Turks in both town and city do their shopping at the local bazaars.  Many Turkish people tend to eat seasonally, with an emphasis on in-season local produce.  Due to the mild coastal climate and long growing seasons, this translates into consuming a great variety of different foods. Unless you live in a small town in the Anatolian hinterlands, it’s easy to find fresh produce and staples of the Mediterranean diet year-round.  Turkey’s produce is officially GMO-free, and there are a growing number of organic and free-range farms.  Compared to the west, it’s much less expensive to stock your fridge with locally-grown, additive-free fresh food. Here’s what you’ll probably see families eating in Turkey

Turkish breakfast

Part of a typical Turkish breakfast: tea, olives, salad, local honeys and jams, fresh cheese, and eggs on their way!

Breakfast: A typical Turkish breakfast includes a complete spread: jams, cheeses, eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and bread.  Most restaurants will also have omelets and menemen, scrambled eggs with tomatoes and green peppers.

Lunch: A traditional lunch might include a bowl of hearty lentil soup coupled with salad, mezeler (cold vegetable dishes with olive oil), cucumber and tomatoe salad, and crusty bread.  For a little more protein, go for fresh grilled fish or menemen.

Dinner: Dinner is often the day’s biggest meal, shared with friends or family. Dinner will often start with a light soup, followed by salad, mezeler, a starch or grain, and a source of protein. Grains like bulgar and barley, often thought of as ‘health foods’ in the west, are here common fare (see more on grains used in Turkish cooking here).

Dessert and Tea: Every meal and almost every visit in Turkey will be accompanied by a cup of black tea.  If you are visiting someone’s house as a guest, your tea will be accompanied by small dishes of cakes, dried fruits, and nuts.  Instead of sweets after dinner, many Turkish people drink tea and nibble on nuts and dried fruit, or bring out a plate of cut fruit.

Drinks: While raki is the Turkish national drink, there are plenty of vineyards producing local vintages as well. Moderate amounts of red wine are supposed to be good for your heart and overall health.

Going for Healthier Options

Like most countries in the west, Turkey does have a high obesity rate (currently 16.5% for men 29.4% for women).  It’s obvious that being surrounded by an abundance of healthy food doesn’t automatically make one healthier.  So here are a few minor changes you can make to follow a healthy and whole diet in Turkey:

  • Skip the sugar in your tea. The average adult should consume less than 60 grams of sugar in a day.  One sugar cube has 12 grams of sugar.  If you drink as much tea as the average Turk, that’s a lot of extra sugar.  Ask for a slice of lemon instead.
  • Revel in the fresh fish! IMG_1323Fish is an integral part of almost every restaurant’s menu; for those traveling to Istanbul or the Aegean, fresh fish is a must.  Most restaurants have daily dinner specials for 12-25 lira including meze (appetizers), salad, and the catch of the day.  Our favorite fish is çupra (gilt head sea bream) for it’s tender and flavorful white flesh. Eat with a side salad and a slice of lemon to bring out the fish’s full flavors.
  • Go for low fat or fat-free dairy. Dairy forms a central staple of Turkish cuisine – spreads of soft and hard cheese at breakfast, salty ayran, handchurned yogurt, and the sweet cream kaymak.  Thankfully, most dairy products are also available in reduced fat or no-fat form.  Look for the pink cups of ayran, or dairy labels that read yarım yağlı (half fat), az yağlı (low-fat) or yağsız (fat free).
  • Pass on the Kofte and Adana Kebabs.  These are high in fatty meat and kofte are cooked in oil.  If you’re hankering after red meat, go for Simit kebab (cooked with bulgar), Şiş kebab with vegetables,  Buğu kebabı or Testi kebab. 
  • Switch out the white bread.  Most Turkish bakeries have options with higher fiber, like whole wheat (tam buğday ekmek) and cracked wheat/whole meal (kepekli ekmek).
  • Ask for servis.  This means your fish or kofte will come on a plate with salad, instead of sandwiched in half a loaf of bread.  At more causal joints you may have to pay an extra lira for servis 
  • Go for almonds and fresh and dried fruit at tea. We know those sweets piled on trays at tea look tempting; reach instead for something more sustaining, like almonds, dried apricots and dates.
  • Quench your thirst with fresh juice instead of coke. Fresh fruit stands abound in
    Juice in ankara

    A juice stand in downtown Ankara

    both metropolises and up and down the coasts (and at every town in between) Even in the dead of winter downtown Ankara has dozens of stalls making fresh pressed carrot, orange, grapefruit and pomegranate juice for as little as 1.5 lira a cup. Most malls have fresh fruit juice stands as well.  If you like the strong flavor, şalgam, a salty beet-red drink made from fermented purple carrots, turnip and bulgar, is a refreshing alternative to soft drinks.  If you over-indulge in raki, you may find a glass of şalgam being imposed upon you as a [supposed] cure for hangovers.

Little Bazaars; Fresh Produce

First, take a virtual walk through two of Turkey’s outdoor bazaars with this beatifully crafted and illustrated traveler’s post: Refueling at Fethiye Markets.  Check out these bazaars over the summer for some fresh, locally-grown and low-priced produce:

Bodrum: The food bazaar is held in a different location every day of the week; Thursday is market day in Yalikova; Friday the food market is held in the Bodrum Market (pazar); if you want a trip back in time, Monday is  market day at the little town of Guvercinlik, 20 km north of Bodrum. See here for a full schedule. IMG_0940

Didim/Altinkum: If you have a car, head out to Akkoy and scoop up produce sold by the roadside straight from the fields.  Figs, olives, and preserves are all produced locally and sold at rock-bottom prices.  The Saturday Market has produce (along with everything else from clothing to household items).  If you want to get away from the summer tourists, you can also drive to Söke for an authentic bazaar experience. 

Fethiye: Farmer’s markets take place in different locations on different days; Tuesdays and Fridays are in the town center. Turkey’s for Life has a great bunch of posts about the Friday Market, Patlangıç Market, Çalış Market, and more. Interested in learning more about the push to put local produce on hotel tables?  Read about the Taste of Fethiye project here!  Taste of Fethiye also prints a Fethiye Village Driving Route to take you and your taste buds on a self-guided local culinary tour (PDF: Turkey_driving_route_booklet_opt).

Want fresh fish? Head to the Fethiye Fresh Fish Market.  This Fethiye Times post includes market information as well as English-Turkish names for dozens of varieties of local seafood.

Kusadasi: Find the bazaar on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. Tuesday markets are located on the street by the cemetery; Wednesday and Friday markets are on the same street, but opposite the main dolmus (minibus) stop at the city center. Food is fresh from the sea and the farms.

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Just Enough Turkish to Get By

You don’t want to be the obnoxious American abroad. We all know the stereotype: it’s that person speaking loud, slow English in bewildered disbelief at locals’ confusion or stumbling speech.   But nor may you want to pour hours – even months and years – to studying a language that you may use for only a short time.  Some people come to Turkey, fall in love with the culture, and immerse themselves in the language.  Others come for the sun, or just for a summer holiday, and don’t want to learn an entire new language just to get by.  So for those of you who want to communicate basic needs without throwing yourself into study,  we’ve compiled a list of resources that will give you just enough language to get by in a relatively short amount of time – say, 15 minutes a day for 2 months leading up to your stay.  We promise you – your experience will be much more enjoyable.

If you are interested in immersing yourself in Turkish, see our full list of resources here: Great Resources for Learning Turkish

If you just want to learn the basics, here are a few tips and resources:

Tips

First: Relax! Turks are very patient and welcoming people.  If you try to speak Turkish, they will appreciate it, and will take the time and effort to try to understand you.

Second: Many people in popular vacation spots do speak decent English.  It’s only when you wander off the main path that you may find yourself surrounded by non-English speakers.  However, even in remote Anatolian towns English is a compulsory subject. Oftentimes students can understand more than they can say, and may be able to write more than they can speak.  If you are truly lost, try to find a high school or university student and communicate by writing in English.

Third: Use your phrasebook! Before you go, highlight phrases you think will be useful and mark the pages.  If you are having trouble communicating, just open the phrase book and point to the word or sentence you want.  Whoever you are trying to talk to will probably even teach you how to say it properly!

Fourth: Take advantage of close cognates! Many Turkish words have been borrowed from English and French, especially for sciences, technology, business, and new concepts. Otel is ‘hotel’, taksi is “taxi”, seyyar is “cellphone” (cellular).

Online Resources

Memrise: We’ve mentioned this one before.  Memrise used spaced repetition to help you remember vocabulary.  Several user-generated courses (vocabulary sets) are aimed specifically at the beginning or casual learner.  Even better, Memrise offers a free app, and will take about 5 minutes (or less) to learn five new words every day. That’s 300 words in 2 months – enough to get by.

Try out these courses: Turkish-Turkce, Basic Turkish, All the Basics of Turkish

Or these micro-courses: TurkceBeginner Turkish, Basic Turkish,

Hands on Turkish: Though officially a “business Turkish” course, this free interactive course (and mobile app) created by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Program, offers a great introduction to the written and spoken Turkish language for travel.  The course leads you through several common situations (arriving at the airport, taking a cab, eating in a restaurant) through dialogue, vocabulary games, and fill-in-the-blank.  Perhaps the most useful feature of this program is that it allows you to listen to the recording, record yourself saying the phrase, and then compare your recording with the original – a great way to tell if people will actually be able to understand what you’re trying to say!

First Steps in Turkish: Hosted on the Hands on Turkish Website, this is a beginner-beginner’s guide to the Turkish language. Navigate your way through basic situations and pick up enough skills to make it from point A to point B and order that delicious-looking honeyed baklava with crumbled pistachio for dessert. The site also has a great blog with topics covering Turkish language and culture.

Easy Languages: Easy Turkish These youtube videos cover a bunch of useful topics.  If you are in a rush, just see this video covering the 20 most useful phrases.

turkish-tea-time-front-logoTurkish Tea Time Podcasts: Over 100 free episodes covering everything from newbie lessons in going to the bank to ordering in a restaurant to more advanced topics like zombies and verb complimentation. Each podcast has a dialogue recorded by native speakers, grammar explanation, and line-by-line practice and analysis. Look for the podcasts labeled ‘newbie’ or ‘beginner’.

 

Learn Turkish | TurkishClass101.comTurkish Class 101: Podcast, youtube videos and website (with both free and paid content).  The focus is on spoken Turkish and common vocabulary, which should be of great use to travelers and tourists.  Some of their podcasts also introduce aspects of Turkish culture, which is great for anyone wanting to learn a little bit more about the country before they set off.

BBC Languages: Turkish A very brief guide to the Turkish language, including audio recordings of the alphabet and 20 essential phrases.

Why Duolingo isn’t on this list: Duolingo is a fantastic online tool for teaching beginners a language’s grammar structures and basic vocabulary.  However, the focus is on being able to create and comprehend 100% grammatically correct sentences, not on expressing yourself in everyday situations.  Few of the sentences in the program are of actual use to travelers

Dictionaries and PhraseBooks

Fast & Easy Turkish Phrase Book and Dictionary:  turkish phrase bookThis is a pocket-sized phrase book, dictionary, and grammar guide in one with far more extensive situational coverage than most books its size..  It’s great to throw in your bag for the day, and offers far more than just basics like,”Where is the hotel?”. The writer (B. Orhan Dogan) is also a linguist and author of several language textbooks, so he takes a much more learner-directed approach than more commercial phrase books.

Sesli Sozluk: This is the tried and true go-to English-Turkish, Turkish-English dictionary with a fast and functional app featuring auto-complete, vocal recordings, and the ability to save new words.

InFlightTurkish (Living Language) This free compact PDF covers all the basics from greetings to numbers to getting around in twenty pages.  If you can’t memorize everything on the plane, the packet is thin enough (just 20 pages) to print off and stick in your day bag for  easy reference.

kitap_conceptTake Away Turkish Grammar, short dialogues, clear audio recordings, and practical vocabulary for both traveling and everyday life in an easy-to-understand, bright and fun format. Some of the material is slightly more difficult, but it still has a reference section in that back that operates as a phrase book.

If you are looking for a clear introduction to the Turkish language, the EU’s LifeLong Learning Program – Speak and Learn Project here has a great overview, as does the affiliated lingvopedia.

Have any other resources that you love?  Let us know in the comments below!

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Exploring Ephesus… And More Surprises in Turkey

Following our post last week, Matador Travel Network featured 17 surprising (and interesting) facts about Turkey this week.  Scroll down to number three!

17 FACTS ABOUT TURKEY THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU

1. It has one of the world’s oldest and biggest malls.

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, or Kapalı Çarşı, dates to 1455 and was established shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Over the centuries it has grown into a warren of 61 streets lined by more than 3,000 shops and currently occupies a nearly incomprehensible 333,000 square feet. You’ll never possibly be able to explore it all, but that doesn’t keep people from trying — according to Travel + Leisure, the Grand Bazaar was the world’s #1 attraction in 2014, drawing over 91 million people.

2. You might find chicken in your dessert.

The signature Ottoman treat is tavuk göğsü, or chicken breast pudding. It’s a strange blend of boiled chicken, milk, and sugar, dusted with cinnamon. And it’s delicious. Look for it on menus across the country.

3. Turkey is packed with cultural heritage.

In fact, there are 13 spots in Turkey inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, and a whopping 62 on the tentative list. They range from a Mesolithic temple (Göbekli Tepe) to a Biblical city (Ephesus) to a World War One battlefield (Gallipoli), and help make Turkey the sixth most-visited tourist destination in the world.

 Read the full article here.

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Cool Summer Sweets: Sütlaç

IMG_1307Sütlaç’s closest kin is rice pudding, but you’ll notice that the inside texture is silky, and the top is coated with a thick and creamy skin.  It’s perhaps accurate to call fırın sütlaç (or, oven-milk pudding) a cross between Crème brûlée, custard and iced arroz con leche.  While originally made with rose water, today’s sütlaç  is more commonly flavored with vanilla. Served cold in thick clay dishes, it’s the perfect dessert to cool off on a summer eve – or cool your tastebuds after a spicy dinner.

History: Fırın sütlaç originated in Ottoman kitchens. The original name “sütlü aş” identifies it as hailing from the Rumelia (now Balkan) region, which is why you can find similiar rice pudding dishes across the Balkan states.  Today sütlaç is popular across Turkey, though rice grains, ingredient ratios and topping or flavoring will vary from region to region.


This photo of FELAMURDA KAFE/RESTAURANT is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Recipe: Unlike crème brûlée, sütlaç’s main ingredient is simply milk.  Most cooks swear by using fresh and unpasturized whole milk when making the dessert. While not exactly a health food, sütlaç won’t kill your gut or fill you with regret.

If you want to make sütlaç you will need: 4 cups milk (preferably fresh), 1/2 cup rice, 2 T cornstarch or rice flour, 1 cup sugar (or pekmez), 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 beaten egg yolk.

IMG_1306

  • First, boil the rice with 2 cups water (though some recipes recommend cooking the rice with milk to give it fuller flavor).
  • After cooking the rice (about 25 min), stir in all but 1/4c of the milk, sugar and vanilla extract.  Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat, letting it boil gently for about ten minutes.
  • Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk.
  • After ten minutes, add the cornstarch mixture to the rice and milk, gently stirring it in. Lower the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • After the pudding thickens stir for another 2-5 minutes before removing the mixture from the stove and pouring 1/2c-1c servings into individual bowls or foil tins. Swirl a small part of the egg yolk into each serving.
  • Let sit until the pudding has cooled to room temperature, and then sprinkle with sugar and broil in the oven until the top has browned.

Serves 8

You can find other full sütlaç recipe (there are dozens of varieties) and instructions here and here (rosewater with pistacho crumble)

Our Favorite Variations:  If you want to truly try sütlaç, make sure you are tasting the real deal.  The pudding should be ice cold, have a thick skin half golden-brown, and be served in a red clay cup.  Traditional sütlaç is flavored with rose water (not vanilla) and topped with crumbled pistachios, and can be found at Ottoman restaurants; for more modern variations, try a dessert cafe like MADO.

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A Colorful Kaleidoscope of Films Featuring Istanbul

A fascinating collage of conflicting, overlapping, colorful interpretations of culture in former Constantinople, films that display the director’s own perceptions as much as the city itself.  Which of these films have you seen? What impression did they leave of the city? And how did the expectations and impressions imprinted by the film match with your own experiences?

Originally posted here in The Guardian

10 of the best films set in Istanbul

From Turkish versions of Tarzan and Dracula to wintry weepies, via (whisper it) Midnight Express, Fiachra Gibbons picks out the best films shot in Istanbul As featured in our Istanbul city guide
Russia With Love composite image

From Russia with Love, Terence Young, 1963

“They dance for him, they yearn for him, they die for him …” From Russia with Love is not only arguably the best of the Bond films, it set the template for all that followed, right down to the corny one-liners. This is Tatiana, the Russian double-agent love interest succumbing to Sean Connery’s charms: “The mechanism is… Oh James… Will you make love to me all the time in England?” “Day and night, darling… Go on about the mechanism…” The film was shot when the city’s population was less than two million (it has mushroomed to more than 13 million today), and it’s a magic carpet ride back to a time when Istanbul teemed withhamals, huge American cars and natty post-war Renaults. Incidentally, the colourful Gypsy neighbourhood in the film, Sulukule, has just been razed, victim of the city’s latest round of wrong-headed gentrification.
Beyazit, Sulukule, Yerebatan Sarayi (Basilica cistern)

Tarzan in Istanbul/Dracula in Istanbul/Kilink in Istanbul, various directors, 1952-67

Tarzan in Istanbul? Oh yes, and it gets even stranger. In their superhuman efforts to keep the public entertained, the moguls who worked in “Turkey’s Hollywood”, on Yeşilçam Street in Beyoğlu, produced hundreds of sometimes inspired and sometimes appalling “tribute” films. These are three of the best. Tarzan in Istanbul is actually very good, and Kilink, a suavely evil skeleton with an eye for the ladies (a rip-off of an Italian comic book character), deserves his own Hollywood franchise. My favourite is his titanic struggle with Super-Adam, whom you might recognise as Superman. Drakula, too, has a great local twist, the vampire dispatched with a copy of the Koran rather than a cross. The fact Dracula was based on Vlad Tepes, who liked nothing better than impaling Turks, added still more spice. And they didn’t stop there. There is Turkish Star Wars (which took action hero camp to new heights of absurdity), Turkish Star Trek, Turkish Rocky, and, of course, Turkish Rambo.
Yeşilçam Sokak, Beyoğlu

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Time and Money Saving Travel Tips: Turkish Museum Passes

Summer 2013 3376Traveling to Turkey? What are you most excited to see? The underground cities and cave carved churches at Cappadocia? The intricate and immense ceilings of the Blue Mosque? The once grandesque Temple of Apollo? The library or the Church of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus, reached by a two-thousand year old stone street? Hittite relics at the Museum of Anatolian Civilization? Lycian ruins at Olympos where beach-goers in bikinis mingle with relics of lost cities?

With hundreds of historical sites to see museum entrance costs can certainly add up, and the summer lines at Hagia Sophia can deter even the most intrepid of travelers.

But, no worries! In 2008 the Turkish government launched the Müzekart For 40 lira anyone with Turkish citizenship or a Turkish residence permit can have unlimited free access to museums and archaeological sites run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism over a period of one year. This is a great deal for students, retirees with residence permits, and other expats.  Unfortunately, if you are not a Turkish citizen, or do not have a valid residence permit, you are not eligible to purchase the card.

MuzekartPlus

However, if you are planning to visit the sites in Istanbul or Cappadocia, the government offers two regional museum passes.

In Istanbul you can purchase a Museum Pass Istanbul for 85 lira (3 days) or 115 lira (5 days).  The card is good for entrance to: Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace Museum and Harem Apartments, İstanbul Archaeological Museums, İstanbul Mosaic Museum, Museum of Turkish and İslamic Arts, Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam, Chora Museum, Galata Mevlevi House Museum, Yıldız Palace, Rumeli Hisar Museum, and the Fethiye Museum. You can also use it to get discounts at a number of shops and entertainmnet venues.  The pass can be purchased at any of the sites, or at certain hotels (listed on the website).  The pass provides only single entrance (meaning you’ll have to pay full admission price if you make a second trip to the same museum), and slower sight-savoring travelers may find that it doesn’t pay for itself.  If you don’t plan on seeing all  the Istanbul sites, then the card’s main advantage is that it saves you from the lines, which can be quite long in peak season.

There is also a 45 lira Museum Pass Cappadocia.  This pass is valid for three days (72 hours from the time of first use) and covers seven spots in the Cappadocia region: Ihlara Valley, Derinkuyu Underground City, Goreme Open Air Museum, Goreme Karanlık Church, Kaymaklı Underground City, Özkonak Underground City, Nevşehir Museum, Cavusin Archaeological Site, Hacibektas Museum, and Zelve-Pasabaglari.

All passes (and individual tickets) are available for purchase on this government site.  Just make sure to print out your tickets for individual sites before heading to the museum!

Individual tickets cost from 5 lira (Olympos, Temple of Apollo) to 30 lira (Ephesus).  You can view a list of all museums here.

Other time-saving tips: Go early! Especially along the coast passengers from docking cruise ships create heavy museum traffic between 10 am and 3 pm.  Hit the museums when they open to avoid lines, or after 3pm to have a quieter and less crowded experience.

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