17 Top Turkey Packing List Items for 2020 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Updated on January 27, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

What should I bring on my Turkey trip?

Turkey is renowned as a destination where “East meets West”, due to its unique position between Europe and Asia. Home to the legendary city of Troy, Turkey has historic cultural ties to the ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The metropolitan city of Istanbul perfectly blends remnants of the past with the modern world. On your trip, you will likely be tempted to spend the majority of your time there, but don’t forget to visit the Turkish countryside as well, which is filled with treasures to explore.

Check out this comprehensive Turkey Packing List, which will also touch on what to wear in Turkey, what NOT to bring, and other FAQs.

What to Pack for Turkey


1. Universal Power Adapter

Make sure you bring a power outlet adapter that you can use while in Turkey. Turkey operates on 220 volts (50 Hz) with round-prong European-style plugs that fit into recessed wall sockets. In four and five-star hotels you will often find North American-style 120 volt (60Hz) sockets but it’s best to buy an adapter prior to traveling. Be sure to avoid using high voltage electronics while in Turkey.

View on Amazon.com ➜

universal power adapter

2. Daypack

Every traveler needs a great daypack. This pack is lightweight and secure, with separate pockets to keep you organized and help you to easily access whatever you need. Whether you’re exploring the bazaars of Istanbul or hiking through the Turkish countryside, this Osprey daypack is perfect for carrying all the essentials throughout your adventure.

View on Amazon.com ➜

Osprey daypack

3. Activated Charcoal

Turkish food is renowned throughout the world for being some of the best, and there’s no doubt you’ll want to try all the delicious-smelling street food. That said, your body may not be used to the different germs and ingredients you’ll experience in Turkey, and activated charcoal will help to absorb and quickly expel the toxins in your system to keep you on your feet and out of the bathroom!

View on Amazon.com ➜

activated charcoal

4. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes will change your whole packing game. Prepare to be more organized than ever with these color-coded cubes. Don’t be the guy at the airport digging through your bag frantically trying to locate one specific item, use these packing cubes to make finding and accessing your belongings easier than ever.

View on Amazon.com ➜

aqua packing cubes

5. Neck Wallet

Though Turkey is a relatively safe country, in the larger cities, particularly Istanbul, it’s wise to protect yourself against petty theft. Wear this neck wallet under your clothes to keep all your valuables secure and out of reach for pickpockets. We recommend this one in particular as it’s large enough to hold your cell phone, wallet, keys, passport, and credit cards and has separate pockets to help keep you organized.

View on Amazon.com ➜

neck wallet

6. Lightweight Jacket

A good jacket makes all the difference while traveling. Whether you need an extra layer on a chilly summer night or you want to bundle up in the winter, you can never go wrong packing a lightweight jacket. We like this one because it’s wind and water resistant while remaining simple and stylish.

View on Amazon.com ➜

lightweight jacket

7. World Nomads Travel Insurance

You never think you’ll need travel insurance until you do. Though it’s not fun to think about, traveling has its risks and you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in case of emergency. We love World Nomads because they cover your costs if your luggage gets lost or stolen, flight cancellations, and medical expenses if you become injured while traveling.

View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

world nomads travel insurance

8. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Nord VPNUsing a VPN is essential when traveling abroad, especially if you plan to connect to the internet in public places such as hotels, cafes, and airports. A strong VPN provides you with an added layer of security so all your sensitive data, including passwords and credit card information, is protected from being hacked. We like to use NordVPN while traveling because it’s reliable and affordable.

View NordVPN.com Options ➜

9. Comfortable Flats

Istanbul is a very fashionable Europeanized city, so it’s a good idea to bring a pair of versatile, stylish flats that can be worn with multiple outfits. You’ll surely be doing a lot of walking and sightseeing, so you’ll need flats like these that are supportive, comfortable, and go great with any outfit.

View on Amazon.com ➜

leopard print comfortable flats

10. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

A small, portable charger can be an absolute lifesaver when traveling. Small enough to fit conveniently into your daypack or purse, you can charge your devices on the go. You’ll be immeasurably happy to have this if the smartphone you’re using for photos and navigation runs out of battery at an inconvenient time.

View on Amazon.com ➜

lipstick-sized portable charger

11. Gorgeous Outfit

Be sure to bring at least one nice outfit for exploring Istanbul by night. The city is well known for its upscale nightlife and club scene, so you’ll want to dress to impress. For women, this gorgeous jumpsuit is perfect for a night out on the town. It looks great on a wide variety of body types, doesn’t wrinkle easily, and is an amazing piece for the price!

View on Amazon.com ➜

Gorgeous outfit

12. Wide Brim Hat

Both cute and practical, a wide brim hat is not only a fashionable accessory but it can help to shield your face from the sun, which is essential in Turkey, especially during summer. This one comes in several different colors, which is great for adding a vibrant accent to any trendy outfit.

View on Amazon.com ➜

wide brim hat

13. Long Skirt

If you plan to enter mosques or holy sites while visiting Turkey, come prepared with a long skirt. Many of these beautiful and historical sites will require women to be dressed conservatively, meaning knees and shoulders will need to be covered. It can get quite hot in Turkey, so you’ll want to bring something lightweight and breezy to help keep you cool.

View on Amazon.com ➜

Long patterned maxi skirt

14. Quick Dry Towel

A quick dry towel is an absolute essential when traveling. It’s light, easy to pack, and portable, making it the most convenient and useful item on your packing list. This is an item that can help you avoid towel rental fees at hostels, is perfect for a spontaneous swim, and is convenient to bring to Turkish bath houses.

View on Amazon.com ➜

Green quick dry towel

15. Swimsuit

You will definitely want to bring a swimsuit with you to Turkey! Depending on the time of year you travel you will most likely frequent one of the many beaches or hamams (bathhouses). Many luxury hotels have indoor swimming pools and spas as well. At the beach anything goes in Turkey so feel free to wear whatever swimsuit you feel the most comfortable in.

View on Amazon.com ➜

women's bikini swimsuit

16. Pashmina Shawl/Scarf

When in Turkey you absolutely must have a pashmina shawl or scarf as part of your daily wardrobe. Pashmina scarves are not only great accessories but are very useful as well! When visiting mosques in Turkey you’ll need to cover your head and in some churches it’s respectful to cover bare shoulders. Also useful for layering, you can use this item for added warmth on a boat ride down the Bosphorus!

View on Amazon.com ➜

brown pashmina scarf

17. Sunglasses

No matter what time of year you’re visiting Turkey, it’s a good idea to bring a pair of sunglasses with you. Even during the rainier season, the sun will often come out and you’ll want to be prepared with a stylish pair of glasses. Be sure you’re protected when visiting the beach or cruising down the Bosphorus.

View on Amazon.com ➜

two pairs of unisex sunglasses
 

Don’t forget these other items for a Turkey vacation:


 

What to wear in Turkey


For the most part, Turkey is considered to be a secular country where you can wear what you like. An equal mix of liberal and conservative, styles depend on whether you’re in the city or in more rural areas. Turks in the big cities are very fashion forward. Istanbul’s street style reflects the latest trends as well as its cultural past and present.

For women, it is not necessary to cover your head or dress conservatively unless you are entering a mosque, church, or holy site. Many mosques will have scarves on site for visitors to borrow.

What should WOMEN wear in Turkey? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
women's tshirt
Long patterned maxi skirt
leopard print comfortable flats
women's yoga pants
wide brim hat
women's sandals
women's sundress
two pairs of unisex sunglasses
women's leather jacket with hood

womens jeans
brown pashmina scarf
women's black harem pants

Turkish women are very fashionable and Istanbul is a city where you will want to look your best. Istanbul is the perfect blend of ancient and modern and the style is very much a reflection of Turkey’s rich history as well as the latest European trends. Women will need to cover their head, chest, shoulders, and knees when entering mosques or holy sites, which is in line with the local customs. Many mosques will have scarves on site for visitors to borrow, though bringing your own is always a good idea.

What should MEN wear in Turkey? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
<men's long pants
mens blazer
men's white sneakers
mens long sleeve shirt
mens jeans
men's swimsuit
mens sandals
men's baseball cap
men's loafers

men's long sleeve shirt
men's long sleeve jacket
men's athletic shorts

In Istanbul, Turkish men dress in trendy, European style. Typical city attire includes boots or sneakers paired with a shirt and jacket. A graphic t-shirt paired with a blazer, jeans, and loafers is another classic option for men on the Istanbul streets. Jeans paired with a sweater or leather jacket is also a great option in Turkey. Pack a mix of casual and more formal attire, and be prepared with a dress shirt and jacket that can be dressed up or down depending on the activity.

Turkey has a Mediterranean climate and experiences all four seasons. The weather varies from hot and dry during the summer to cold and rainy in the winter. It’s typically warmer along the coasts and cooler at higher elevations, where there is often snow. Be prepared for rain when visiting Turkey and don’t forget to bring your reliable windproof umbrella.

WINTER – December, January, February:

Different regions of Turkey experience differences in their winter season. Depending on where you are in the country, the weather can range from mild, to cold and rainy, to snowy. Temperatures throughout the country range from 9°F (-13°C) to 75°F (24°C) depending on where you’re located, so be sure to check ahead of time what type of weather to expect in your particular region.

SPRING – March, April, May:

As Turkey is so large and far-reaching, the climate throughout the country is quite diverse. Spring is the start of the Turkey’s tourism season, and weather throughout the country is moderate with longer days. Depending on where you are, you may experience cold, rainy days and chilly evenings so be sure to bring plenty of lightweight clothes for layering.

SUMMER – June, July, August:

Summer experiences the peak of tourism season in Turkey, and people flock to the coasts for swimming, sunbathing, and exciting nightlife. Throughout the country, you can expect the weather to be mostly hot and dry, with temperatures typically at or exceeding 86°F (30 °C). Summer is the driest of Turkey’s seasons, though be prepared for the occasional thunderstorm and rain showers.

FALL – September, October, November:

Fall is an ideal season to visit Turkey as weather throughout the country remains mostly mild and pleasant for exploring outdoors. Days are shorter and rain typically begins starting in October. Be prepared for cooler temperatures in the north of the country, especially at night.

How to dress for different activities in Turkey – (Click to expand)

Beaches – As Turkey is a largely secular country, bikinis and western-style swimsuits are the norm when visiting the beach. Flip flops, tank tops, and shorts are worn by both men and women at the beautiful beaches throughout the country.

Religious Sites – Religious sites such as mosques, churches, and synagogues will require that women dress modestly upon entering. This means avoiding tight-fitting clothing and covering the shoulders, chest, and knees. At mosques and holy Muslim sites, women will likely be required to cover their heads, so be prepared with your own shawl or scarf if there isn’t one provided.

Hammam – A Hammam is a traditional Turkish bathhouse, and these are quite popular throughout the country. It is common for tourists to wear swimsuits or underwear into the Hammam but be aware that locals likely won’t be wearing anything, as is the traditional custom.

Exploring the City – In larger cities like Istanbul, fashionable European and Western-style clothing is the norm. In more rural areas you should opt for loose fitting clothing in order to remain respectful and blend in a bit more easily. Women won’t need to cover their heads unless they’re entering a mosque or holy site.

What NOT to bring to Turkey:


1) 🚫 DON’T PACK expensive jewelry or valuables: Leave any expensive jewelry or valuables at home when visiting Turkey, as flashy or expensive items will call unnecessary attention to you as a tourist. This will also help you avoid becoming a target for pickpockets and petty crime, particularly in Istanbul.

2) 🚫 DON’T BRING items you can buy at the supermarket: Avoid bringing heavy or bulky items that can be purchased cheaply upon arrival, such as soap and generic toiletries. Many everyday items can be found at the local supermarket in Turkey so do your research ahead of time as to which stores will be available in the area you’re staying in and save yourself some luggage space!

3) 🚫 DON’T TAKE bulky luggage: Be sure to bring a lightweight and not overly-bulky suitcase or backpack when visiting Turkey. Particularly if you plan to move around from place to place, you’ll want to make sure your luggage is easily transferrable on the cobblestoned streets.

4) 🚫 DON’T PACK too many clothes: This cannot be said enough! Many people end up overpacking for their trips and bring items that never see the light of day. Challenge yourself to pack light and be strategic about what you bring. You’ll be glad for that extra space in your suitcase after you’ve been shopping at the bazaar!

What clothing should I NOT wear in Turkey? – (Click to expand)

Avoid wearing tight-fitting or revealing clothing when visiting Turkey, particularly when entering mosques or holy sites, or when visiting more rural areas. The local style in the cities can be described as “smart casual”, which means fashionable, European-style clothing. With varying climates throughout the country, be sure to pack layers so you will be comfortable wherever you go.

FAQs about traveling in Turkey


1. What language is spoken in Turkey?

The official language of Turkey is Turkish. The language was originally written in the Perso-Arabic script used by the Ottomans but in the 1920s in an attempt to modernize the country, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk issued a decree that the Turkish language was to be changed to the Latin alphabet which is used to this day. English is also widely spoken in Istanbul.

3. Can you flush toilet paper in Turkey?

Most hotels will have sit-down toilets, though hole-in-the-ground toilets are common also. Toilet paper is often unavailable, especially on the train, so it is a good idea to bring some with you! In most bathrooms you can flush paper down the toilet but in parts of Istanbul’s old city, flushing paper down the toilet could cause flooding, in which case you must dispose of paper in a bin. There are often signs in bathrooms that will advise you on the policy. Some bathrooms charge a fee to enter so it’s good to keep some small coins on you as well.

2. Is Turkey a part of the European Union?

No, currently Turkey is not a part of the EU but has been increasing its efforts for many years to gain membership. Since it is not a member it does not use the Euro as its primary currency, but instead uses the Turkish Lira. However, as Turkey is closely linked with Europe, Euros are accepted by many vendors.

4. Is tipping required in Turkey?

Restaurants: As a rule, it is expected that you tip 5-10% in restaurants. If you are in a fine dining establishment opt for the higher 10%. Be sure to carry some cash or coins with you as there isn’t always a place to write in the tip if you pay by credit card.

Turkish bathhouse (Hammam): You will want to tip your bathhouse attendant before you leave. They will normally come by to bid you farewell and help you exit the hammam, so make sure to have cash on you and divide 10-20% of the total amount spent among the attendants.

Hotels: Tip 5-20 liras for hotel staff depending on their role. Tip when being helped with your luggage, room service, laundry, etc.

Taxi: Tipping taxi drivers is not required, though most people simply round up their fare. If the driver helps you carry your luggage it is polite to give a tip.

5. How expensive is Turkey?

Turkey is relatively inexpensive to visit. That said, you can comfortably experience Turkey on either a high or low budget! Expenses really depend on your travel style and which activities you’ll be doing while there. Istanbul and Ankara will be pricier than smaller cities, and beach towns tend to be more expensive. If you’re a budget-savvy traveler, you will have no problem get the most bang for your buck in Turkey!