Practical Info

Turkey in Brief

Turkey is a rapidly developing secular democracy with a population of nearly 70 million and is a candidate for membership of the European Union. It is the only country to straddle Europe and Asia, a fact that is reflected in its complex cultural make up. Asiatic Turkey, or Anatolia, constitutes the bulk of the country. It consists of a vast peninsula framed by four seas, the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean and the Mediterranean, each of which has its own distinctive character. Both in human and geographical terms, Turkey is a country of immense diversity. There are crowded cosmopolitan cities,such as Istanbul and Izmir, high plateau, forested mountains and Mediterranean beaches. The climate and ecology are equally varied, ranging from temperate rain forests on the eastern Black Sea Coast to semi-desert in the Southeast.

Travelling to Istanbul

Istanbul is less than a three-hour flight from most European cities. Located at the crossroads of East and West, Istanbul offers easy air connections and is served by more than 300 airlines from hundreds of cities around the world. Istanbul is serving with two airports; Ataturk Istanbul International Airport and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport with a capacity of far over 50 million travelers per year. Handling 95,000 - 100,000 passangers and 900 - 950 aircraft each day, Istanbul Atatürk Airport was awarded as "Europe's Most Comfortable International Terminal" in 2002, "The Most Secure Airport in the Middle East and the Balkans" in 2001 and "Highly Commended” in 2007.

Mother of All Cities:
With it's history dating back to 658 B.C., Istanbul has been in uninterrupted existance forming the cross-roads of creative exchange between Europe and Asia. This spectacular city with it's diverse identities has given rise to many legends and inspired countless works of art.

Two Empires - Two Capitals:
Istanbul has been the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, leaving behind a multicultural sediment of civilisations and faiths in the forms of aquaducts, cisterns, palaces, churches, sinagogs, mosques and above all, cultural tolerance and harmony.

Istanbul in Numbers:
Surface Area : 5.512 km
Population : 15.000.000 (approximately)

Modern Touristic Establishments
Istanbul today is the focal point of industry, commerce and cultural life in Turkey. It has many internationally acclaimed hotels, congress centers and offers state-of-the-art meeting facilities. The city is connected to the world by two international airports, international harbours, railways and Trans-European-Motorway.

As meeting destination Istanbul is one of the world's most exciting conference destinations and is an increasingly popular choice for the world's leading international associations and meeting planners. Istanbul is home to numerous members of the ICCA, the International Congress and Convention Association, which is the most extensive and prominent meetings organization in the world. Istanbul's outstanding infrastructure, including modern, luxurious accommodations, state-of-the-art conference and exhibition venues and experienced conference professionals, makes it a logical choice for organizers.

When combined with the city's fabulous history and stunning natural beauty, cultural richness, exciting shopping, sophisticated cultural life and world-class dining, it's not hard to figure out why top associations choose Istanbul and enjoy exceptionally high attendance.

Delegates can enjoy luxurous, comfortable and affordable accommodations and Istanbul's 3500 years of history as well as attending a high quality and productive meeting planned precisely from the plenary session to the closing ceremonies in facilities equipped with the latest technology. Under these circumstances, it would not be exaggeration to point out that delegates can naturally expect a remarkable event in a definitely outstanding city.

Entertainment & Night Life & Shopping
From the ubiquitous sounds of live, traditional Turkish music and dancing in restaurants throughout the city to cultural and artistic events, international festivals, and glitzy clubs and bars on the Bosporus, Istanbul is a city that knows how to entertain the seekers of all kind.

There's so much to do, from theatres and exhibitions to museums, historic and architectural tours and cruises.

If you're looking for any kind of event whether with artistic purposes or for mere entertainment, you need no more plan than to take a walk down "Istiklal Caddesi " in " Taksim” (city center), the throbbing heart of modern Istanbul, a street that is always vibrantly alive with music, shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, theatres and of course crowds. No matter whether you are looking for family entertainment, artistic events, or just for a night out, Istanbul offers a wide range of choices.

From the water - front modern art museums to street bars where one can mix with the different local worlds of the city's inhabitants in the globally satisfactory atmosphere of endless places where the town's social life is produced.

Being one of the cheapest cities of Europe, it is a shopping paradise. Ranging from oriental tastes of Grand Bazaar to outstanding shopping malls, Istanbul offers a wide variety of choices.

Bosphorus is not merely a strait dividing two continents but also a crown that adds a Mediterranean flavour to this breathtaking city by it's seaside cafes and fish restaurants. Istanbul also offers a vibrant night-life with its outstanding night-clubs and bars.

Foreign Languages

English, French, German, Italian and Spanish are widely spoken foreign languages in Istanbul.

The monetary unit is the Turkish lira (TL), which comes in bank notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. In Istanbul, traveler checks are rarely accepted. ATMs can be found in even the smallest Turkish towns. Most international credit cards or bank cards are accepted (a strip of logos is usually displayed above the ATM). ATMs have a language key to enable you to read the instructions in English.

Fine & Dine
The Turkish cuisine, which is one of the richest in the world, appeals to the eye as well as to the taste. Turkish food that is found today in Istanbul is truly a living synthesis of Eastern and Western and enjoys a very traditional background, enriched both by the sophisticated cuisine of the imperial palaces and the everyday eating practices of the common people.

In addition to the many restaurants that serve traditional and international menus to satisfy the varied tastes of their guests, many nightclubs, cafes and bars offer fine menus along with a wide range of entertainment choices.

Working Hours & Holidays
Banks are open weekdays from 9 AM until noon and from 1 PM to 5 PM in the afternoon. Museums are generally open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM and closed on Monday.

Palaces are open the same hours but are closed on Thursday. In Istanbul shops and bazaars are normally open Monday through Saturday during the day, and closed all day on Sunday. But most stores in shopping malls and in common streets are open seven days a week. You can find restaurants or cafes open virtually at any time of the day or night during the week.

Public phones operate with cards which are sold at post offices and some street booths. Some public phones have access to AT&T and some other telecommunication networks. Fax messages can be sent from major post offices and hotels. Cellular telephones can be hired.

The central Post offices are open Monday through Saturday from 8 AM to 9 PM, Sunday from 9 AM to 7PM. Smaller ones are open Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM and 5.00 PM.
Time Zone Turkish Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +2)

The electrical current in Turkey is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC); wall outlets take Continental-type plugs, with two round prongs.

Weight & Measures
Turkey uses the metric system for weight and measures.

Driving License
Most international driver's licenses are recognized in Turkey. Car rental companies require for a valid national or international license. Remember to keep to the right-hand side of the road and wear your seat belt at all times.

The value-added tax, here called KDV is almost always included in quoted prices. Certain shops are authorized to refund the tax (ask).

Health Services
There is no serious health risks associated with travel to Istanbul and to Turkey. No vaccinations are required for your travels to Turkey.

Safety & Security
Turkey is a safe and secure country. The streets of Istanbul are considerably safer than many of its counterparts in the world.