Ramadan in Turkey: all you need to know

Are you afraid that traveling during Ramadan in Turkey will affect your travels? The chances are that – in most cases – it won’t. Read all about what to expect when in Turkey during Ramadan in this post.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a holy month. It is the 9th month of the Muslim calendar that begins (and ends) with the appearance of the new moon. It is a month of fasting, communal prayer, introspection and reading the Koran. During this month, people refrain from food, drinks, smoking, sexual activity and any form of impure thoughts from sunrise till sunset. As soon as the sun sets, and after prayer, people gather to enjoy Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast and that usually starts with dates, sweetened milk or water, and apricots. Traditionally, just before sunrise, the Ramadan Drummers do their wake-up call to warn people that if they still want to eat a meal before dawn, now is the time. While the tradition is kept alive, you will rarely witness this in tourist hubs along the coast.

Some people, while religious, do not fast. These can be children, people who are too weak or old, pregnant women, or even travelers who are on a long journey. Usually, the fasting is then substituted bu feeding the poor, volunteering or performing righteous works. Eating or drinking at the wrong time or being unable to fast due to illness, can be compensated with an extra day of fasting. The end of the Ramadan in Turkey and its fast is celebrated as Ramadan Bayramı – Şeker Bayramı or Sugar Feast. This is one of the most important religious holidays of the Muslim calendar. Allah now forgives past sins of those who have complied to the holy month. You will see children wearing new clothes, people exchanging gifts and delicious pastries, and lots of people on the road when the family is visited. These are probably the busiest days of the year in Turkey.

When is Ramadan 2020?

In Turkey, Ramadan 2020 will begin on Friday, April 24th to end on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020. After Ramadan, the Sugar Feast or Şeker Bayramı marks the end of this holy month. Check out our calendar with religious and public holidays in Turkey before you travel to see if there are any holidays during your travels. Because Ramadan starts with the appearance of the new moon, it is at a different time every year, moving forward with around ten days each year.

FAQ’s about traveling during Ramadan in Turkey

In this section, you’ll find the answer to the most common questions about traveling to Turkey during Ramadan. Just click on the plus sign to see the answer. If you don’t find the answer to your question, drop us a note. We’ll be happy to answer it for you!

Will my travels be affected by Ramadan in Turkey?

You will probably never notice anything if you’re staying in a tourist resort. Most people working in the tourist industry don’t fast, and everything is business as usual. If you travel further afield, more people will be fasting, and fewer businesses will be open as a consequence. People who are fasting are often too tired during the day to keep their shop open and serve people with a smile. So, if you find people are less enthusiastic than you would expect then this is the reason why. Turkish people are of the most welcoming and hospitable people in the world. If they don’t show it during Ramadan, chances are they are fasting. During high season, this means the combination of the sapping heat and no food or drinks is simply too much.

Will I be able to drink alcohol during Ramadan in Turkey?

Yes, all tourist resorts in Turkey function in full swing, you probably won’t even notice that it’s Ramadan. If you are traveling to remote places, away from the tourist centers, you may experience the effects of Ramadan more directly.

Are restaurants open during Ramadan in Turkey?

In any tourist resort, or in cities like Istanbul, yes. Are you also traveling to rural areas? Then expect to find more things closed. Note that restaurants tend to get busier after sunset when people are allowed to eat again. Also, it is considered polite to be attentive to people who are fasting.

Are museums open during Ramadan in Turkey?

Yes, they are open. In some area’s opening hours may slightly differ from other times of the year. We advise you to consult the official Museums in Turkey website to check the opening times for each museum. You will find that some museums are closed on the first day of the Sugar Feast.

Will public transport run as usual during Ramadan in Turkey?

Yes. Just be aware of the fact that things get more hectic before sunset, and go crazy as soon as the Sugar Feast starts.

Do I need to pay special attention to my clothing during Ramadan in Turkey?

Not particularly. At any time of the year, you will need to cover your hair, legs, and shoulders when visiting a mosque. Of course, it is considered polite to be fully dressed when having a meal or a drink, except of course when at a beach bar.

What about Sugar Feast or Şeker Bayramı?

The Sugar Feast marks the end of the holy Ramadan month. It is a three and a half day long celebration that starts with Sugar Feast Eve. Most administrations are closed in the afternoon when people start preparing food and baklava for the Sugar Feast.

If you like to have some cash on hand, withdraw it before Sugar Feast starts to avoid walking from one empty ATM to the next.
From this time on, expect traffic to become hectic all over Turkey. The next day, when Şeker Bayramı starts, you’ll see people wearing their best clothes, and enormous amounts of sweets and traditional desserts such as baklava are consumed, hence the name Sugar Feast. People all over Turkey visit their relatives, honor the dead by visiting the cemetery, and children go door-to-door hoping for sweets or some money. You’ll hear people wishing you (or anyone else) İyi Bayramlar, which translates to have a good feast. People kiss older people’s hands as a sign of respect when they transfer their wishes. During the 3-day long Sugar Feast, all schools and official administrations are closed. Museums and other places that cater to tourists may only be closed in the morning on the first day of Sugar Feast, and public transport may run on a different schedule. Please note that in 2020, Sugar feast holiday will start on Saturday, May 23th with a half a day holiday for the Bayram preparations the next day, and last until Tuesday, May 26th.

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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.

Ask a traveler

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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