Visiting a mosque? All you need to know about mosque etiquette

For many travelers, visiting a mosque in Turkey is high on their list. It is easy to see why if you look at the beautiful masterpieces in Istanbul and spread all over the country. Plenty of mosques are of stunning beauty, sometimes even when they are inconspicuous from the outside, such as these incredibly beautiful painted mosques near Pamukkale, or the marvelously restored mosque at Stratonikeia. It would be a shame to miss out on all this beauty simply because you are hesitant or unaware of the mosque etiquette. Don’t worry; it is perfectly fine to visit a mosque as a non-Muslim. To make you feel totally at ease, these are our top tips to avoid unpleasant surprises when visiting a mosque in Turkey.

Learn About Mosque Etiquette And Look Beyond Hagia Sophia Museum

Learn About Mosque Etiquette And Look Beyond Hagia Sophia Museum

Visiting a mosque in Turkey? This is how to prepare your visit!

If you’re planning to visit a mosque, there’s no need to feel uncomfortable. All you need to do is come prepared. The first thing you need to do is to check the prayer times. Visiting a mosque during prayer times is generally speaking not done. If they do allow you in, find a quiet spot at the back and silently wait until prayer time is over.

Feeling At Ease When Visiting A Mosque Is A Must In Turkey

Feeling At Ease When Visiting A Mosque Is A Must In Turkey

How do you know when it is prayer time at the mosque you are visiting?

There are five prayer times per day, based on the position of the sun. This means prayer times differ per region. Prayer times occur at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, at sunset, and before the night. If you are in the vicinity of the mosque, the call for prayer is a good indication that prayer is about to start. Also, most mosques have an information board with the prayer times on it. You’ll see them as sabah, ögle, ikindi, akşam and yatsı. The best way to determine when it is prayer time, however, is to check it online. You’ll find prayer times for the most important cities in Turkey here. Click on the city of your choice to be directed to the exact prayer times for every single day. Know that in general, prayers take about 10 minutes, with exception from Friday noon prayers, which might take half an hour. This should give you a good idea of when is the best time to visit a mosque.

You Wouldn't Want To Miss Visiting This Mosque In Ankara

You Wouldn’t Want To Miss Visiting This Mosque In Ankara

What to wear when visiting a mosque?

As a general rule, you are expected to respect a modest dress code for your mosque visit. This means you need to avoid wearing shorts (even as a man) and make sure that your knees and shoulders are covered. Do not wear boob tubes or sleeveless tops, regardless of how hot it is. Women also need to cover their hair.

You are supposed to leave your shoes in a dedicated rack at the entrance. If that worries you, bring a plastic bag so that you can take them inside. (It may be a good idea to bring a pair of socks along in the warm season.)
Mosques in touristy places are prepared for visitors who are not appropriately dressed and usually provide scarves and even robes; still, it is smart to bring your own. Don’t forget you will have to take off your shoes before entering. Wear something easy to slip in and out off, and make sure to wear clean socks. When in doubt whether or not you’re underdressed, check if all bare body parts are covered. If that is the case, and your clothes are not covered in logos or other screamy texts, you should be fine. Before entering, also remove your hat and sunglasses.
Detail Of A Wall Painting Inside Belenardıç Mosque

Detail Of A Wall Painting Inside Belenardıç Mosque

What to expect once inside?

In most cases, expect to be wowed. You are entering a place of worship, but also of extraordinary architectural beauty. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed. Still, as impressed as you may be, do not forget to keep quiet. Also, be attentive to people who may be praying outside of prayer times. It’s not okay to stare or take pictures of praying people. It is also considered disrespectful if you’re walking in front of them, or go and stand next to someone who is praying. At the risk of stating the obvious, don’t allow your children to play, run or shout, don’t eat or drink, do not smoke, and check that your mobile phone is in silent mode.

Also, avoid explicit selfies or intimate contact. This means the mosque etiquette involves no kissing!

Visiting A Mosque Is So Worth It!

Visiting A Mosque Is So Worth It!

 

Are men and women supposed to enter separately?

While most mosques have a separate praying area for women, you generally won’t be required to take another entrance during your visit. If that is the case, either someone will point you in the right direction, or you will see signs that guide you. Don’t worry about this too much, though, as chances are you’ll never be in this situation.

Mosque Etiquette In Selçuk, Where People Are Assisting You As Soon As You Enter Isa Bey Mosque

Mosque Etiquette In Selçuk, Where People Are Assisting You As Soon As You Enter Isa Bey Mosque

Other noteworthy facts about mosque etiquette

The most important thing to know about mosque etiquette is not to stress too much over it. Turks are renowned for their hospitality, that includes visiting a mosque. People notice if you respect them and their faith and won’t take offense to a small misstep. In short, enjoy your visit! If worrying about the details lies in your nature, here are some more things to consider when visiting a mosque:

  • There is no entrance fee to visit a mosque; however, you are always welcome to donate. Note that Hagia Sophia in Istanbul used to be a church before it became a mosque and it is now a museum to which none of the above applies.
  • Taking pictures is allowed, though photographing people during prayer or the ablution is seen as disrespectful.
  • If someone says Assalam Alaikum (may peace be upon you in Arabic), the correct response is Wa Alaikum as Salam, which means you wish them the same. Nobody will be surprised if you do not respond to the greeting, but they will be over the moon if you do!
  • If someone assists you and you’re not sure whether or not to shake hands with them, especially if this is someone from the opposite gender, wait until they greet you. It may very well be that they place their hand over their heart instead. Just imitate the gesture.
  • And if you desperately want to follow things to the letter, enter the mosque with your right foot first and leave putting your left foot first.

That’s it! Some of these ‘rules’ are details people won’t notice, so again, don’t focus too much on them. The most important thing to remember is to make sure you are appropriately dressed and when it is prayer time. Other than that, take joy in the many details that make a mosque visit special.

The Murals Are Totally Overwhelming

The Murals Are Totally Overwhelming

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This is just a practical post, but if you’re browsing through our website for more travel inspiration and destinations, you do not just have to take our word for it. Go ahead and check reviews on TripAdvisor too! We do visit each place personally and all photos are our own. So, basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions about a place, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

You must have guessed it already, we’re independent travelers. Joining groups for excursions or activities isn’t really our cup of tea. But we fully understand that not everyone is keen on exploring Turkey on their own. That’s when Get Your Guide comes in handy. They offer plenty of activities and sightseeing tours that you can pre-book online.

If you’re more into a personalized experience while enjoying the services of a guide, Tours by Locals may be what you’re looking for! We just love them! You get the knowledge and assistance of a local, and the experience of independent traveling. Best of both worlds, really.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

This is just a practical post, but if you’re browsing through our website for more travel inspiration and destinations, you do not just have to take our word for it. Go ahead and check reviews on TripAdvisor too! We do visit each place personally and all photos are our own. So, basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions about a place, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

You must have guessed it already, we’re independent travelers. Joining groups for excursions or activities isn’t really our cup of tea. But we fully understand that not everyone is keen on exploring Turkey on their own. That’s when Get Your Guide comes in handy. They offer plenty of activities and sightseeing tours that you can pre-book online.

If you’re more into a personalized experience while enjoying the services of a guide, Tours by Locals may be what you’re looking for! We just love them! You get the knowledge and assistance of a local, and the experience of independent traveling. Best of both worlds, really.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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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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