10 golden go local tips: visit Turkey like a local (& save money too)

Isn’t life just wonderful sometimes? What if we told you we have 10 great tips for a more authentic Turkey travel experience that will also save you money? Go local! It really is as simple as that. Live like a local. Eat where locals eat, drink where locals drink, and travel around as the locals do. You’ll have a great time experiencing the real Turkey with these 10 tips to travel around Turkey like a local.

A Favorite Thing To Do By Locals

A Favorite Thing To Do By Locals

 

Look out for restaurants that serve ev yemekleri

Ev yemekleri translates to home food. It’s what people eat at home. Nothing fancy, but healthy, delicious and wholesome food that doesn’t break the bank. In most cases, choosing a restaurant that has an ev yemekleri sign means you’ll be able to choose from a whole range of dishes. You’re bound to find something you like. Lot’s of times, there’s a fixed price that allows you to pick three different plates, accompanied by bread and salad. Some ev yemekleri restaurants also call themselves tabldot (which come from the French words table d’hôtes) and have a menu to choose from too. Our advice: stick with the ev yemekleri food you can choose from the counter, it’s the best way to eat like a local.

Ev Yemekleri Going Local The Delicious Way

Ev Yemekleri Going Local The Delicious Way

 

Use the dolmuş

If you’re going to go local, you might as well use the dolmuş, which are the mini-buses that will take you to the far ends of any village for a bargain price. The times are gone that people used to sit down and then pass the money onto the person sitting in front of them (and so on) until it reached the driver. But this is still the preferred way of transport for locals, hence a typical way of getting around during your travels. Nowadays, dolmuş are new vans, with a light-sign at the front stating where they’re going. Before, they used to honk whenever they saw someone at the side of the road to indicate they were coming. People just rose their hand as a way of saying they wanted to get aboard. Presently, there are custom bus stops and a schedule to go with that, but it is still the preferred transport mode of the locals.

Use A Dolmuş Like A Local

Use A Dolmuş Like A Local

 

Drink tea at the Belediye çay bahçesi

In a country where the average person consumes about 1.300 cups of tea a year, drinking tea is embedded deeply in the Turkish culture. Sitting down for a cup of tea is the perfect moment to have a talk and socialize at one of the many tea houses in the country. Even the smallest of villages tend to have a tea house that is run by the city council. They are called Belediye çay bahçesi, which translates to ‘council tea garden’. Quite often, these tea gardens are ideally located, sometimes even in historical buildings, or right at the seaside. Locals gather here for a glass of tea, a talk, and often a game of tavla or okay (the Turkish versions of backgammon and Rummikub) Having tea here qualifies as a quintessential authentic experience. Don’t worry, if you don’t like tea, visit anyway. You’ll see that apart from tea, each Belediye çay bahçesi also serves coffee, soda, and quite often even alcoholic beverages, and food, depending on where you are in the country.

Have Tea At The Belediye Çay Bahçesi

Have Tea At The Belediye Çay Bahçesi

 

Stay in a pension or a boutique hotel

All-inclusive hotels are top-rated in Turkey, especially in resorts such as Antalya. While this formula may give you the guarantee of not having to spend anything on food or drinks during your stay, it rarely gives you the experience of tasting the real Turkey. If you want to go local, stay in a pension or a boutique hotel. Another option which can be very budget-friendly is a stay at the uygulama otelleri you will find nearly all over Turkey. These hotels are real-life training environments for tourism students. Usually, the interior is a bit outdated, and they are not always located at prime locations, but some offer excellent comfort and sea view for a fraction of what you would pay somewhere else. The link only shows a fraction of the hotels, so if your destination isn’t in the results, we suggest running a Google search with uygulama otel + the name of your destination. In any case, a small boutique hotel or a pension will always make up for in charm, what it lacks in size.

Boho Chic Alaçatı

Boho Chic Alaçatı

 

Use a local guide

Please consider using a local guide in Turkey. Hiring a private, local guide is not more expensive than joining a group excursion organized by a tour operator. We can guarantee that the experience will be so different. You will get a tailor-made day out with someone who knows the area and the local people. This means your guided tour will take you to places you didn’t know existed as well as the not-to-be-missed tourist attractions with the possible bonus of having tea with the locals, as well as being in the right place at the right time. A local guide follows your schedule, instead of imposing upon you a hectic bucket list of attractions stuffed into a day; leaving you with nothing but a few selfies and the feeling you had to rush through things. Using a local guide to walk (a part of) the Lycian Way, for example, is the perfect guarantee you won’t get lost, and you will get the most out of your hike, including gaining some knowledge of local fauna and flora or discovering a hidden tomb in the woods. If you’re interested in using a private Lycian Way guide, check out Nihat Tokdil, who is an experienced guide and member of the Culture Routes Society, which is mentioned in our post with essential resources to walk the Lycian Way. Or check out the Tours by Locals website where you will find local guides operating all over Turkey.

Use A Local Guide

Use A Local Guide

 

Have a gözleme in a village

We already mentioned gözleme on our post about must-try Turkish food in Turkey, but it also deserves a spot here. Some call it a Turkish pancake, but apart from the fact that it has a sort of visual similarity to a crepe, it is a different thing. Gözleme is a somewhat crispy flatbread baked on a griddle with a filling of your choice. And the best place to taste them is in a village. Don’t ask us why, but they simply taste better in a rustic environment, sat in a köşk with a homemade ayran to go with that. Gözleme is a tasty, healthy, and cheap snack that gives you enough energy to get through the rest of the day. And the great thing about having one in some relatively offbeat village is that you get the experience that comes with it for free.

Have A Gözleme Like A Local

Have A Gözleme Like A Local

 

Drink an authentic Turkish coffee

Did you know that Turkish coffee is on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural inheritance? Well, it is, and you can read all about that in our post about the UNESCO list for food in Turkey. So, even if you’re not really a coffee aficionado, drinking authentic Turkish coffee is a unique experience, and where else but in Turkey would you try it? It is truly sensational in every sense of the word, a real feast for your senses, and a great way to get a taste of Turkish hospitality. Traditionally served with a small glass of water and some lokum, Turkish coffee is a real treat that awakens your spirits.

Authentic Turkish Coffee

Authentic Turkish Coffee

 

Have at least one Turkish breakfast

Now, this is something you really shouldn’t miss. After all, we all have breakfast, so why not make it an occurrence you will remember. What’s so special about a Turkish breakfast, you may ask? Well, everything, if you have it at the right place! Having a village breakfast (often advertised as köy kahvaltı or serpme kahvaltı) is – apart from being the most relaxing way to start your day – a unique breakfast experience. Prepare for lots of food, and hardly any space on the table left to put your napkin down. Most places serve up to 25 or even 30 different savory and sweet spreads, accompanied by limitless Turkish tea. Promise yourself you won’t leave Turkey without having had at least one authentic Turkish breakfast!

Experience An Authentic Turkish Village Breakfast

Experience An Authentic Turkish Village Breakfast

 

Memorize a few Turkish words and enjoy the joyful reactions to them

Turks are renowned for their hospitality; it is embedded in their DNA. If you want a taste of the real Turkey, interacting with locals is a perfect way. Unfortunately, not everyone speaks English, so memorizing a few Turkish words is the ideal way to find a way to their hearts forever! Small things make a difference, so here are a few words to get you started: (click on the link to go to Google Translate and listen to the pronunciation by clicking on the speaker icon ? below the Turkish word)

Of course, these Turkish phrases aren’t enough to have a conversation, but at least you’ll be treated with a big smile just for making an effort. You can always use the Google Translate app on your phone to take things a little further.

Memorize A Few Turkish Words To Go Local In Turkey

Memorize A Few Turkish Words To Go Local In Turkey

 

Organize a sunset or beach barbecue

If there is any outdoor activity the Turks master to its perfection, it will be picnicking, or barbecuing. As soon as the weather permits, families gather on a stretch of green, under the shade of a tree, or on the beach to barbecue. They seem to carry almost anything you can imagine in the trunk of their car permanently. A special synthetic carpet, camping chairs or stools, and folding tables, a semaver (used to make Turkish tea) that functions on wood, or a little gas bottle with a camping stove. We call it a national sport and we love it! While you may not be equipped the way Turkish families are, you’ll find that lots of places rent out barbecues for the occasion. They are called mangal. So just bring food and drinks, and enjoy a great day outdoors!

Turkey Like A Local Beach Barbecue

Turkey Like A Local Beach Barbecue

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

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Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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