Culture And Etiquette In Turkey

In this section, we will outline general details about culture and etiquette in Turkey for foreigners who would like to live in Turkey by purchasing a property in Turkey or visit Turkey. Overall as a foreigner, you will be greeted with a great deal of tolerance as tourism is a big part of the Turkish economy and plenty of Turkish people do visit other countries or have family members who have worked in another country. So most people are rather happy to see you there and you will feel welcomed.

However, it is important to learn some of the basics in order to avoid embarrassment. Please be aware that Turkey is a majority Muslim country, most people are not completely devoted however we can comfortably say that most people are conservative so if you are planning to travel outside the resorts, please follow really basic modest dress codes to avoid getting judgemental looks. 

Dress Code and Body Language Etiquette In Turkey

Dress Code

When it comes to the dressing code in Turkey, your location is the key determinant that might make it harder for some foreigners. The dress code might even change within the same city according to the district. These are normal but once you have read this guide you will not have any questions regarding how to dress in Turkey. However, we would like to remind you that the overall approach to dress code is conservative. Now let’s look at specific examples when it comes to dressing in Turkey which breaks the dress code.

Any beachwear like shorts and bikinis should be confined to the beaches and pools. Please do not wander around the town or the restaurants with the beaches and pools topless. Unfortunately, plenty of foreigners fall into this mistake. It’s a bad look, although no one will comment on your dress code, it will not be appreciated either. Please be expected to be turned away from restaurants when you are topless. 

If you want to dress in mini skirts, skimpy shorts or any other revealing attire, please stay within the limits of touristy areas and resorts. This sort of clothing will be frowned upon in other places in Turkey like the midlands and eastern parts of Turkey. 

If you are interested in visiting mosques in Turkey for men, shoulders have to be covered as well as above the knees. For women mosque dress code please wear loose clothing with full-length skirts as well as making sure that your hair is covered. Modesty and conservatism are key when it comes to visiting mosques in Turkey. 

If you have been invited to a Turkish home, please do not go empty-handed. Buying something so simple like baklava or a small present will earn you points. Once you have arrived at the house, please take off your shoes even though your host tells you not to as you are a foreigner. In most cases, you will be offered some slippers. If you are in doubt have a quick glance at the other guests or your host to figure out what to do. 

When you are at a restaurant or someone’s home, please do not put your handbag on the floor. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly the floor is considered to be unhygienic and secondly, there is a superstition of bad luck when bags are placed on the floor. 

Body Language

When it comes to body language, you need to be aware of certain things in order to avoid coming across as rude or directly insulting people. To begin with, smiling is kept to people you know, if you smile at someone on the streets that is an open invitation for them to come and talk to you. Making an “O” shape with your forefinger and thumb will demonstrate homosexuality so please do not do that. Also do not make a fist and stick your thumb between the forefinger and middle finger as it will be considered the same as showing the middle finger in Europe. And finally do not point at anyone with your forefinger.

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