Planning to visit the Hagia Sofia or Anzac Cove? Compare travel insurance for your trip to Turkey online and get covered.
A gateway between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is home to a bustling blend of cultures and is host to centuries of unique history from both sides of the Mediterranean, offering both unique man-made landmarks and a diverse range of natural attractions, adventure tourism and resort-style relaxation.
It’s a thriving country with lots to see and do, but it has its own risks as well as those you’ll find journeying anywhere else, and is best enjoyed with the peace of mind offered by travel insurance.
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Contents of this article
- Do I need travel insurance in Turkey?
- Any travel advice for tourist hotspots?
- Will travel insurance cover my medical expenses in Turkey?
- What won't travel insurance cover me for in Turkey?
- What should I do if I have an emergency while travelling?
- Anything I should know about flying to Turkey?
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises travellers to exercise caution while travelling in Turkey as a whole, there are certain provinces where you are advised to reconsider your need to travel, or not travel at all.
Travel advisories are used by insurers to determine where are and are not covered. Practically no policies will cover you near the Syrian border, many will not cover you in Ankara or Istanbul, but most will cover you in other areas of Turkey. Check whether your policy covers you to visit areas where you should “reconsider your need to travel”.
Provinces to avoid in Turkey
Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smart Traveller website | http://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/europe/southern/pages/turkey.aspx
Dangers to be aware of in Turkey
- Political instability. In 2016 the Turkish military forces and government were involved in a failed coup attempt. Although the situation has been largely resolved, the nation was in a state of emergency from July-October 2016, and authorities were granted additional freedoms to detain suspects and limit people’s movement, confiscate property and ban meetings and demonstrations.
- Travellers should avoid getting involved in political activities and demonstrations of any kind.
- Expect an increased security presence while travelling in Turkey.
- Refugee conflicts. Turkey shares a border with Syria and has seen over two million refugees cross the border, causing considerable tension.
- Be aware of heightened tensions between Turkish locals and refugees, try to avoid hotspots and avoid getting involved.
- Be alert and exercise caution while travelling in Turkey as a whole.
- Second level
- Terrorism. Terror groups are active on the border between Turkey and Syria, and have shown a tendency to target westerners for kidnapping and murder.
- Try to avoid travelling within 50km of the border with Syria.
- Do not travel within 10km of the border with Syria.
- Safety for women. There has been an increase in the number of violent sexual assaults against female tourists travelling alone or in small groups in Turkey’s popular tourist areas, including Istanbul and Antalya.
- Exercise appropriate caution by watching your drinks and not travelling alone.
- Women may be safer and less likely to be targeted when travelling with men.
- Female travellers in Turkey should avoid isolated locations and travelling alone after dark.
- Crime and scams. Muggings, assaults and bag snatching occur in Turkey, particularly in the more crowded tourist areas of Istanbul. Always stay alert and aware while out and about.
- Tourists have been drugged and robbed by seemingly friendly English-speaking strangers. Drugs may be administered through food, drinks, chewing gum or confectionery. Do not accept gifted consumables from people you don’t trust.
- There have been reports in Istanbul of English-speaking locals befriending tourists and taking them to a restaurant or bar for food and drinks, and then later demanding payment for an enormously inflated bill, sometimes as much as thousands of dollars for a few drinks, and threatening violence if it’s not paid.
There are six destinations in Turkey that have become particularly popular with travellers. However, they are not without risks that you should be aware of.
An impressive and contemporary transport, education, business, arts and cultural centre with significance both inside and outside of Turkey, Ankara delivers an enormous concentration of different museums and things to do. Situated in the heart of Turkey, many travel plans will bring you to and through Ankara as a convenient and scenic transport hub.
- As of September 2016 there has been an advisory warning to reconsider your need to travel to Ankara.
- Because travellers are advised to reconsider their need to travel to Ankara, some travel insurers will not cover you in Ankara. Many will, however, so check your cover before going.
- Hazards to specifically watch out for in Ankara are those related to crime, robberies, scams and civil unrest.
Driving to Gallipoli and Anzac Cove
This destination is particularly significant to both Australians and Turks, as a site of somber remembrance and education as well as renowned natural beauty. This is a relatively safe area, a popular part of many tourist routes and is relatively easy to drive to.
- Be aware of potentially severe winter storms in the Gallipoli region and check weather reports before travelling in the area.
- Watch out for very high volume traffic on coastal roads in the area. Traffic restrictions may apply, but pedestrians will still be able to enjoy full access.
- Do not wander off the marked paths, observe all signs and warnings and stick with your group.
- Anzac Cove and Gallipoli are popular areas, and the available tourist services range from the safe and reputable to the dangerous and shady. Avoid using transport and tour operators who don’t offer the necessary safety precautions.
- Consider a travel insurance policy that includes rental car insurance excess to avoid risking a costly fender bender on the unfamiliar roads and traffic if driving to Gallipoli, and be aware that many policies will not cover you for injuries sustained as a result of disobeying signs and warnings.
Ballooning over Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a world-renowned location, home to ancient houses carved into the mountains themselves, as well as awe-inspiring natural volcanic terrain. Hot air balloon rides are a popular way of taking in the best of Cappadocia, but you will need to check whether your policy covers it.
- The central Anatolia region, including the Cappadocia area, is susceptible to seasonal disease outbreaks, usually in early summer. You are encouraged to take malaria medication and use appropriate steps like long sleeves and insect repellent to discourage bug bites. Some insurers may require you to be up to date on your vaccinations.
- In more isolated areas, avoid ice cubes, raw or undercooked food and unpasteurised dairy products, and boil or get bottled drinking water.
Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans two different continents, and has a lot of unique sights as well, like the famous Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Some considerations to make regarding your travel insurance include:
- How will you be getting around? If you’ll be doing a lot of driving in Istanbul you should probably consider rental car excess insurance.
- Recent years have seen a lot of political activity, demonstrations and protests around Turkey, many of which took place on the streets of Istanbul. Your travel insurance will not cover you for injuries sustained while taking part in a demonstration or protest.
Staying in Antalya
Turkey has a large coastline with many seaside resorts. Antalya in particular is one of the most popular seaside resort cities, blending a rich local culture and history with spectacular natural scenery, watersports and plenty of tourist activities and nightlife.
- Stolen belongings will only be covered by travel insurance if you’ve taken all appropriate steps to secure them. For example, they will not usually be covered if left unattended, in plain view or in an unlocked room or car.
- Waterskiing, jet skiing, parasailing and other sports carry certain risks. These can be minimised with experience, caution and effective safety equipment. It is possible that your insurer will not cover injuries resulting from these sports if you don’t have the right cover, or if you’re deemed to have made an unreasonably poor decision in regards to your personal safety.
- Scuba diving is popular in Turkey thanks to the warm waters and rich marine life, but requires more specialised insurance policies.
Climbing Mount Ararat
Thrill-seekers often find themselves on Mount Ararat, Turkey’s highest peak. This climb finds a place on many keen mountaineers’ must-do lists, but not because it’s an easy ascent. The climb often requires ropes and guides, to say nothing of the risks of rapidly changing weather conditions, altitude sickness, heat exhaustion, illness in an isolated area, and everything else.
- Many standard travel insurance policies will not cover injuries resulting from attempts to climb this mountain, or other things that can go wrong.
- Consider getting special travel insurance for rock climbers if you are planning on mountaineering
- Familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions around cover for medical emergencies while overseas
- Be aware of the possibility of needing a medical evacuation if something goes wrong on the climb, and of the large costs involved.
Turkey has a robust network of private hospitals, many of which have agreements with different insurers so you can access to them with travel cover. There are plenty of medical facilities and options in Turkey, and both public and private hospitals can be expected to provide effective treatment. Whether you’re visiting as a tourist or for business, you need to know how your travel health insurance policy will work. Note the following:
- Non-Turkish speaking visitors are better suited to the private hospital system, as it has considerably better access to English-speaking doctors.
- EU healthcare cards are not accepted in Turkey. The only people with free healthcare in Turkey are Turkish residents who are registered for social security.
- Many areas of Turkey do not have adequate local medical facilities for urgent treatments. Emergencies here will typically require medical evacuation or an air ambulance. These are usually very expensive, and require payment up-front. Having a travel health insurance policy can literally save your life if you require a medivac in Turkey, and save you from bankruptcy if you need repatriation.
For these reasons, travel health insurance policies that pay up-front for medical treatments are highly recommended for travelling in Turkey.
- Improperly secured belongings. Travel insurance policies will generally not cover stolen possessions if they were not properly secured.
- Travelling against government advice. As of 2016, the Australian government advises people to reconsider their need to travel to Turkey as a whole, and not to travel to places like the Syrian border. Many policies will not cover you for either, or will only cover you for travelling to “reconsider your need” areas but not for “do not travel” areas.
- Reckless activities and behaviour. Excessive drinking, doing anything under the influence of illicit drugs and demonstrably poor judgment can all count as reckless behaviour. Any losses resulting from this will typically not be covered by insurers.
- High-risk sports and activities. If you’ll be ballooning, flying, scuba diving, jet skiing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, mountaineering or enjoying other adventure holiday activities in Turkey, you need to be sure your travel insurance covers it.
If you have an emergency of any kind while travelling in Turkey you have two avenues for help; your insurer (assuming you have travel insurance) and the Australian consular services.
Steps to take if you have travel insurance
- Call your insurer for any issue that you could make a claim for, including medical emergencies. Keep your insurance details with you at all times while travelling so you can easily get in touch with them at a moment’s notice. Call the local emergency services in Turkey first, and then call your insurer as soon as you can to explain the situation.
- Leave copies of your insurance details with your nominated emergency contact.
To make a claim, you will generally need to:
- Keep appropriate details such as police reports, and proof of expenses like receipts, to evidence what happened
- Contact the insurer as soon as you are reasonably able
- Fill out a claims form, undergo a phone interview or make a claim online
How to get Australian consular assistance
The Australian embassy and consulates can assist you by:
- Issuing replacement passports and travel documents.
- Providing contact details of local hospitals, doctors and lawyers.
- Offering travel advisories, advice and tips for travellers in Turkey.
- Providing advice and support in the event of death, missing persons cases and kidnappings.
- Providing notarial services, such as witnessing or authorising documentation.
- Making special arrangements in the event of terrorism, civil disturbances or natural disaster.
- Giving small emergency loans, but only in exceptional circumstances.
- Contacting friends and family on your behalf, or in special circumstances.
- Visiting you in jail to check on your welfare, providing details of local lawyers and interpreters if needed, and ensuring that you are being treated fairly in accordance with Turkish law.
The location, address and telephone number of the embassy and consulates can be found on the map below. There is also a 24-hour help line you can call at +61 2 6261 3305 for consular and passport assistance for Turkey in general.
While it’s rare to find direct flights from Australia to Turkey, the country’s central location and its role as a transport hub means there are still plenty of options.
- Many airlines fly to Turkey, including Qantas, Emirates, Virgin Australia, Turkish Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Qatar Airways and many other national airlines.
- Istanbul is the cheapest city to fly to, with Ankara, Antalya and other destinations typically costing more.
- Expect to pay about $1,200 to $1,400 for a typical return flight between Australia and Istanbul.
- It usually takes about 21 hours to fly from Sydney to Istanbul, depending on stopovers.
- Find the cheapest flights before Anzac Day. There are more people travelling from Australia and New Zealand to Turkey then, and more planes making the trip.
Explore your options to get the most out of your trip to Turkey without spending more.
Tourists to Turkey who are staying for up to 90 days in a 180-day period must get an e-visa online prior to entering Turkey. Expect a $60 fee, and other requirements depending on your country of origin and visa, which are explained during your e-visa application.
It’s widely agreed that the best time to visit Turkey is in the spring. That being said, there is plenty of things to do and see during other seasons, some of which are outlined below:
|Season||What's happening in Turkey?|
|Spring (March to May)||☁ Long days and moderate weather|
|Summer (June to August)||☀ Hot days and little rain, inland areas are usually cool in the evenings |
|Autumn (September to November)||☂ Mostly mild weather, with more rainy days than spring |
|Winter (December to February)||❄ Colder days and snow in the Anatolia region, pleasant weather in Mediterranean areas|
- Currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TL). The easiest and most cost-effective way to exchange for them is typically to just wait until you arrive, then find an ATM and withdraw in TL.
- You can find foreign currency exchanges but you should expect rates to vary widely by location. Airport currency exchanges will almost always offer worse rates than those in the city centre.
- Don’t expect to be able to pay for things with US dollars, and certainly not with Australian dollars. The foreign currency you’ll have the most luck using is the Euro, but naturally you’re better off with TL wherever possible. If you’re getting a discount for paying cash, then you’re more likely to be able to use Euros or US dollars.
- Many shop owners in Turkey will not accept large denominations. Carry appropriately small denominations when possible.
- Take full advantage of cards to avoid carrying cash. As a well developed country and popular global tourist destination, there is no shortage of ATMs, bank branches or currency exchanges in Istanbul, Antalya and other popular spots. Be aware of the risk of pickpockets and bag snatchers, and avoid carrying too much cash or too many valuables with you if possible.
- 15 February, 21 March, 30 March, 4 April, 1 May, 15 August, 27 November and 19 December all have symbolic significance in the Turkish calendar, and may be more susceptible to terrorist threats. Exercise caution in the days and weeks surrounding these dates.
- May-October sees heightened malaria risk in the south-east of Turkey, while the start of summer sees the emergence of other insect-borne illnesses. Make sure you are inoculated and take appropriate precautions if visiting Turkey in this period.
- Dual Turkish/Australian citizens will be recognised as Turkish while in the country, for any legal matters. The Australian consulate is only able to offer limited assistance to Turkish/Australian dual-nationals who are detained.
- Avoid areas where large gatherings or demonstrations are occurring, whether or not you are a participant.
- Tourist destinations, including areas of Ankara, Istanbul and Antalya, have been deliberately targeted by terrorist attacks. Exercise heightened caution in these areas and remain aware of your surroundings and personal safety.
- Do not travel to or near the border of Syria, or to the city of Diyarbakir. The ongoing conflict in Syria has led to a high number of kidnappings and attacks in these areas.
- While Turkey is comparatively progressive, relative to other destinations in the region, it is still much safer for LGBT travellers to avoid public displays of affection or visiting certain areas.
- The consulate can only offer limited assistance if you have broken local laws or otherwise behaved dangerously, recklessly or irresponsibly.