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Is Turkey Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Is Turkey Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

There are countless reasons to visit Turkey – pristine waters, awe-inspiring landscapes, ruins of ancient empires, and vast cosmopolitan cities. The country has a lot to love, from fun-filled activities to lovely sceneries to fit every itinerary plan.

Whether you wander in the countless alleyways of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar or grab a souvenir at the various market stalls in every town in your itinerary, shopping in Turkey is arguably the best in the world.

You can also explore the hidden gems in the country’s fantastic museums, beautiful beaches, and heritage sites. However, the big question remains, “Is Turkey safe?”

It’s okay to be cautious about visiting the Republic of Turkey, with the minor security threats, political situation, and conservative nature of the people.

Nevertheless, Turkey is relatively safe to tour, but knowing what to do or expect can help you have the best experience possible during your visit. Read on to learn all you need to know about visiting Turkey, including travel and safety tips.

Is Turkey Safe to Visit?

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul at dusk with fog on the horizon for a piece on is Turkey Safe to Visit

Lals Stock/Shutterstock

Yes, Turkey is a popular holiday destination and generally safe, particularly if you remain in tourist districts. You’ll find that most people report feeling safe during their stay in the country.

Foreign residents and freshly returning tourists laud the Turkish people’s kindness and hospitality. The country isn’t just welcoming, but it’s also, in many respects, as safe as most parts of Europe and North America.

Unfortunately, there are reports of crime in Turkey. While tourists are unlikely to face violent crimes, especially in tourist-laden destinations, keeping your wits about you during your visit to Turkey is essential.

The United States has issued a travel advisory alert telling people visiting Turkey to exercise extra caution because of terrorism and arbitrary detentions. Due to Turkey’s political unrest, the country is prone to terrorist attacks, with most cases reported in the southeast, Ankara, and Istanbul.

While visitors from the west could be targets or engrossed in terror attacks, especially in big cities, attacks are more prone to target the Turkish state, civilians, and protests.

In addition, terror attacks can be indiscriminate and strike without warning, hitting public buildings, big events, or public gatherings, especially areas visited by foreigners.

So, you should be extremely cautious and avoid areas frequented by foreigners, such as diplomatic facilities, religious festivals, and national holidays – terrorist groups frequently call for attacks during these periods.

Besides terrorism, there are other safety concerns when visiting Turkey, including:

  • Mugging
  • Pickpocketing
  • Scams
  • Kidnappings
  • Demonstrations
  • Earthquakes
  • Stray dogs

The frequency with which these crimes happen in Turkey has fluctuated in the recent past. But muggings and pickpocketing are more prevalent, especially in tourist beaten paths of Istanbul such as Sultanahmet, Taksim, and the Grand Bazaar.

Crime in Turkey

View of Mount Ararat in the background with Kohr Viran in the foreground on a clear day


There’s a significant amount of violent crime in Turkey, but it’s primarily tied to domestic violence or other issues. Tourists are unlikely to get involved in these events, although avoiding troubled regions or confrontations between locals is still advised.

While violent crimes involving tourists are rare in Turkey, petty thefts and muggings are more common in Istanbul. These crimes may get severe in some areas of the country, with occasional kidnappings.

Outside of Istanbul, violent crime rates generally decrease drastically. Typically, the smaller the metropolis, the lower the probability of violent crime. That is, not just in absolute numbers but also in population per capita.

Here are some crimes you may encounter in Turkey.


Pickpocketing is expected on the streets of Turkey, particularly in Istanbul, a major tourist destination, so remain mindful of your surroundings and keep your baggage close by your side.

Alcohol and drugs can reduce your alertness, control, and awareness of your surroundings. Know and maintain your limit if you seek to savor your drink in Turkey. In major cities, pickpockets thrive on visitors.

So, keep an eye out for abnormal activity, always keep your belongings close, and be aware of anybody touching or hovering too near you.

Also, leave most of your valuables in a safe place like your hotel room’s safe, and only carry what you need. If you insist on bringing your valuables, consider having them underneath your garments or in front of you; a waist or neck pouch is well-recommended.


Kidnapping for ransom is a common technique used by terrorist groups operating in Syria, particularly Daesh and AQ-linked forces. The latest study shows that Turkey has a kidnapping rate of 33.5 kidnappings per 100,000 people, which is relatively higher than most countries.

Such cases are prominent in Syrian border areas, and you should be cautious if you seek to explore these places. Daesh and other terrorist organizations see humanitarian relief workers and journalists as valid targets.


Muggings are rare but possible in Turkey, especially in big cities that are popular tourist destinations. Most mugging cases happen in large metropolitan areas like Istanbul, and some cases have been reported near the Syrian border.

Mugging cases are typically preceded by a distraction such as arguments, scuffles, or someone stumbling into you. So, you shouldn’t take your safety for granted during your stay in Turkey – maintain the same safety measures as you would in your home country.


Fraudsters are widespread throughout the world, and Turkey is no exception. Credit card and ATM scams occur in Turkey, and you should use your card with caution. Pay close attention when other people handle your cards, and only use your cards when necessary.

Also, avoid using card readers with strange features, and always cover the keyboard when entering your pin. Finally, check for any fraudulent transactions through your account statements.

You can fall prey to fraud if you visit Turkey to meet someone you only contacted online or if the person in the country requests that you wire money. Never transfer money to a stranger you haven’t met in person.


While relatively rare, scams in Turkey come in all sizes and kinds, and the adage, “don’t talk to strangers,” is effective during your visit. The frequent scam risk in Turkey is English-speaking locals befriending you, taking you out for meals or refreshments, and expecting you to pay.

Also, taxi drivers may try to deceive you about the cost of the trip in an attempt to get you to pay more. It’s impossible to contain the urge to go on a shopping frenzy while touring large Turkish cities, particularly Istanbul.

While you may want to shop for souvenirs, avoid going for fake artifacts. Scammers often show you antique handcrafts dating back to the ancient empires of Turkey, but they are usually fake. Remember, all artifacts over 100 years belong to the government of turkey.

Spiked Food and Drinks

Cases of spiked food and drinks aren’t common in Turkey, but taking precautions is prudent, with a few instances reported in major Turkish cities. Therefore, never trust strangers with your food or drink unattended.

Be cautious while taking strangers’ snacks, drinks, gum, or cigarettes. These things could contain narcotics that put you in danger of robbery or sexual assault. Although the packaging or container seems intact, avoid accepting food and beverages from strangers.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Guy sitting on the Turkish/Syrian border for a piece on places to avoid to stay safe in Turkey

TURKISH-SYRIAN BORDER – APRIL 04, 2012: Turkish – Syrian border on April 04, 2012 the Turkish – Syrian border/Thomas Koch/Shutterstock

Like other travel destinations, Turkey has safe havens for tourists and places you should avoid. However, the country is large enough to prevent risky areas and enjoy a memorable travel experience.

Below are some areas you should avoid during your visit to Turkey.

Border With Syria

The Turkish border with Syria is a no-go zone for tourists visiting Turkey. Syria is a hotbed of war; spillover over the border is undoubtedly significant. Extremist organizations have been attacked in Syria along the Turkish border against border checkpoints and other areas.

Right on the border, there is a lot of hostility between Turks and Kurds, and locals and tourists are at risk of bloodshed. Avoid this area if you can; terrorism is a real threat at the Turkey/Syria border.

As part of cross-border military efforts, the Turkish authorities designated several places in villages near the Syrian border as special security zones. Expect increased military activity and restrictions on mobility in certain regions.

Diyarbakir City

While some visitors to Diyarbakir City have a pleasant time, we recommend against all but necessary visits to the city and nearby areas. The city faces multiple terrorism threats, including actual bombings, and your travel insurance often won’t cover any health or loss issues.


The worst city to travel to when visiting Turkey’s capital is Cincin. The bulk of Ankara is beautiful, but Cincin is a notable exception and is known as a lawless neighborhood that even experienced police officers avoid.

You won’t find yourself in Cincin because it lacks tourist activity. Yet, visiting the neighborhood at any time of day is not wise, as Cincin is a hub for crime and anarchy.

Kilis Province

Another unsafe area to avoid is the southern Turkish province of Kilis. Because Syria is so close by, the region occasionally takes unintended fire from its unstable neighbor. There is some tension in Kilis Province due to rockets crossing the border. Two Syrian missiles just hit Kilis as recently as in March 2021.

Sirnak Province

Sirnak is a southeastern Turkish province that lies in the Anatolia region. Quick research about Sirnak shows that the province hosts some of Turkey’s most spectacular mountains and national parks. However, visiting this area is risky as it is vulnerable to high levels of conflict and war.

Hatay Province

Hatay province, which borders Syria, is a flashpoint for bombs, terrorism, and other unrest connected to the Syrian conflict. So not only shouldn’t you visit the province, but once you’re there, you may not leave. Lockdowns are relatively common, and if you get stranded there, it’s doubtful you’ll get help.

Things to Consider

There are a few things you should keep in mind when visiting Turkey, including:

  • Learn a few essential Turkish words to help you get around
  • Avoid using unsecured WIFI to access your bank information
  • Know where your embassy is at all times
  • Avoid political demonstrations
  • Don’t take drugs during your stay; it’s illegal
  • Keep an eye out for stray dogs, especially in urban areas

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman on a roof of Cappadocian home overlooking the hot air balloons for a guide titled Is Turkey Safe to Visit


If you’re still wondering if Turkey is safe, here are some answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is Turkey safe to travel alone?

Yes. There are tons of spectacular experiences for solo travelers in Turkey. Turkey’s locals are generally friendly, and there are a few well-traveled paths to meet other travelers. While Turkey is safe for single tourists, staying vigilant at all times is still important.

Is public transportation in Turkey safe?

Yes. Turkey’s public transport is typically safe and convenient, connecting most of the tourist hubs in the country. Notably, Istanbul boasts a rich multi-modal transport connection, from buses to trams and ferries.

Are taxis safe in Turkey?

Licensed taxis are generally safe, mainly if you’re departing from a major airport. Nonetheless, the taxi driver may attempt to scam you off by failing to use the meter or choosing a longer route.

Still, it would be advantageous to always choose a licensed taxi in Turkey over an unlicensed one. Taxis that operate without a license are unregulated and highly risky.

Is Turkey safe for female travelers?

Turkey is a somewhat safe country for women, especially in the bigger cities. But Istanbul store proprietors may harass women on the street occasionally. Most of the time, this harassment is more aimed at drawing clients than being sexual.

Is Turkey safe for LGBTQIA+ people?

Some areas in Turkey tolerate LGBTQIA+ people, especially in large metropolises, while others aren’t. For instance, Istanbul is known for being a progressive city, and LGBTQIA+ visitors will also enjoy warm reception.

However, due to inevitable homophobia, same-sex marriage is prohibited in Turkey. As a result, LGBTQIA+ visitors could feel a little uneasy, particularly in more remote places.

So, Is Turkey Safe to Visit?

Despite making the headlines for various travel risk factors, Turkey is still a relatively safe destination. Turkey is doing well, despite the possible concern of terrorism and the possibility of political unrest in the future.

You could experience issues with minor theft, fraud, and taxi scams, but you’re unlikely to suffer any significant harm. Do your homework in advance, stay away from areas where there are conflicts, and make yourself challenging to target.

If you follow the insightful tips above, you ought to have a fantastic time in Turkey and experience all the vibrant culture, cuisine, and excitement this exotic country offers!