10 Turkish cultural practices you should be aware of before visiting the country

Before visiting Turkey, it's essential to familiarize yourself with some customs and cultural norms to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience. Here are ten Turkish traditions to keep in mind:

8/6/2023

a crowd of people walking down a street next to tall buildings
a crowd of people walking down a street next to tall buildings
  1. Greetings: Turkish people often greet with a handshake and direct eye contact. When meeting someone for the first time, it is polite to use formal titles like "Mr." or "Mrs." followed by their surname.

  2. Removing Shoes: It is customary to remove your shoes when entering someone's home, mosques, and some traditional places. Be sure to observe if others are doing the same.

  3. Friday Prayer: On Fridays, which is the Muslim holy day, some businesses may close during the time of the midday prayer (Jumu'ah). Plan your activities accordingly.

  4. Tea Culture: Tea (çay) is an integral part of Turkish culture. It is customary to offer and accept tea as a gesture of hospitality. When offered tea, it's polite to accept and sip slowly to enjoy the moment.

  5. Haggling: Bargaining is a common practice in Turkish markets and bazaars. Feel free to negotiate prices, but do so with a friendly and respectful attitude.

  6. Respecting Religious Sites: When visiting mosques or religious sites, dress modestly, and women should cover their heads with a scarf. Avoid loud conversations and observe the rules and rituals.

  7. Politeness: Politeness is highly valued in Turkish culture. Saying "please" (lütfen) and "thank you" (teşekkür ederim) goes a long way in showing respect and appreciation.

  8. Tipping: Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. In restaurants and cafes, leaving a small tip (around 10-15%) is common if the service was satisfactory.

  9. Gift Giving: When giving gifts, avoid items made of pigskin or alcohol, as they may be considered inappropriate due to religious beliefs. Instead, opt for thoughtful gifts like sweets, tea sets, or local handicrafts.

  10. Use of Hands: In Turkish culture, using your left hand for eating, touching, or passing items is considered impolite. The right hand is used for most interactions.

By understanding and respecting these customs, you can enhance your interactions with locals and fully immerse yourself in the rich and diverse culture of Turkey during your visit.