Everyone is constantly saying they are stuck because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone's trips get cancelled, yet I am still traveling. So what is my secret? Why am I able to still travel the world during the Corona pandemic? The answer is simple...
While everyone else tunes in every day at 8.00pm for the news headlines to be informed about the latest Corona updates I probably kick back with a beer somewhere in a bar in Turkey, thinking about how amazing my travel adventures were that day. Traveling to Turkey during the Corona Pandemic is not that much different from all my previous trips to Turkey. However, some things changed of course.
I have NOT stopped traveling during the global pandemic... where there is a will, there is a way. Read also more about the restrictions and experiences traveling to Mexico during COVID. These two articles were actually the only ones I wrote about traveling during COVID, because I didn't like to write about this negative topic.
I traveled to Turkey for more than 3 weeks during the global pandemic and fell in love with the country more than ever. I rented a car and drove almost 3,500 kilometer going to the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey. Curious about my route? Check my Ultimate Turkey Itinerary.
Of course some things have changed compared to a year ago, but nothing really too much to be honest. The most positive side of traveling to Turkey during the Corona pandemic was that some of the major Turkey tourist attractions looked almost abandoned. I hardly came across any other foreign tourists.
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I got so many questions about traveling to Turkey during the Corona Pandemic that I decided to write this Turkey travel blog about it and answer the most valuable ones.
Who can travel to Turkey now?
Already since the 11th of June 2020 Turkey opened its borders to all nationalities. Visa requirements stay obviously in place for those nationalities that need a visa for Turkey.
Do I need a PCR test before traveling to Turkey?
Yes, visiting Turkey can be done easily, you just need a negative PCR test not older than 4 days, but you don’t need any additional documents to travel to Turkey during Covid.
How much cost a PCR test in Turkey?
Almost all countries require a negative PCR test returning home from a Turkey holiday. Don't worry you can do a PCR test everywhere in Turkey, even at their airports. PCR test in Turkey are cheap compared to Northern Europe where PCR tests for travel are RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. See an example of Vienna Airport above. In Turkey you can already get a PCR test taken for $30.
Is it safe to travel to Turkey now?
I spent 3 weeks in Turkey traveling more than 4,000 kilometers across the country and I found it very safe. Everywhere around the country there are safety measure put in place to protect people’s health. Still, always take precautions and when you feel it is not safe, then don’t enter.
In some places temperatures are checked before entering and everywhere you will find hand sanitiser. Restaurant menus are often offered through a QR-code.
Do I need to quarantine when traveling to Turkey?
No! Turkey does not require you to quarantine when traveling to Turkey during Covid. Upon arrival on the Airport your temperature is checked, but that is it. Welcome to Turkey!
Upon arrival all airline passengers need to fill out a health declaration form. The questions asked are:
- Any Covid symptoms?
- Countries visited last 14 days?
- Been in close contact with Covid-19?
These forms will be handed out during your flight but are also available on tables next to passport control.
At Istanbul Airport there are a lot of safety measures taken to make social distancing easier. However the reality is that it is not busy at all and I never encountered any lines.
The lines for buying a sim card at Istanbul Airport were longer! Click on the link for the best Turkey sim card for tourists.
Do I need to wear a face mask in Turkey?
Just like in most destinations around the world Turkey requires you to wear a face mask in designated places like public transport and indoor public places. Think about gas stations, mosques, shops, bars, etc.
As of September 8th it is mandatory to wear a face mask at all times when leaving your home. However the news will tell you this is enforced, I can tell you that is NOT the reality! There are still loads of people not wearing face masks, especially in the non-touristy areas.
To enter some of the major outdoor tourist spots in Turkey with a face mask as well, like Pamukkale, Istiklal street in Istanbul, Ephesus, Bergama, Sumela Monastery.
But from my experiences traveling in Turkey in August and September 2020 during the Corona Pandemic this was hardly enforced. The reality is that in outdoor sites like the ancient Greek cities or at the pools of Pamukkale few people actually wear a face mask. However you have to wear a face mask when entering these Turkey tourist attractions.
Keep in mind though that all these places are outdoors and with huge open spaces. Social distancing isn’t really enforced but there is no need to as these Turkey tourist attractions are wide open spaces.
Is everything open?
Yes! In 3 weeks driving more than 3,500 kilometer (click here for my ultimate Turkey itinerary) I did not come across any place that was closed because of the Corona pandemic. Every restaurant, bar, gas station, mosque, tourist attraction, park, museum, etc. was open as per usual.
Lockdowns in Turkey do NOT affect tourist. They are free to roam around, even during lockdowns.
Safe way to get around Turkey
The easiest way to get your bus, train, boat and even domestic flights in Turkey is to book them directly online. Check out the search engine of 12GoAsia and they tell you the best route, the cheapest option, the shortest and give you up to date time schedules.
Are people in Turkey social distancing?
First off traveling to Turkey during Covid is by far as busy as it was before. People in Turkey are now used to social distancing and there are markers on the ground with walking directions in some places. People are well aware of the social distancing rules.
Public transport, restaurants, bars and small events have limited capacity so that social distancing comes naturally.
How was flying to Turkey?
I flew directly from Basel to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, which is still operating to more than 200 destinations so you can take a direct flight to Istanbul from almost anywhere.
Turkish Airlines has been very careful with taking precautions prior and during the flight to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Before booking your flight you can check out the guidelines for safe travel. You can also apply to tourist protection insurance for as little as 15 euro which can provide you with health coverage throughout your trip.
Turkish Airlines offered me a little sanitising bag upon entering the plane. The little package actually contained hand sanitiser and wet wipes to disinfect your hands as well as your seat in case you want that.
During the flight I was offered a meal as usual and it was actually pretty damn good. One of the reasons I like to fly Turkish Airlines in the first place.
Can I take a domestic flight in Turkey during Covid?
Yes! International tourists can take any domestic flight within Turkey without a PCR test. General health precautions are taken in the form of checking your temperature and filling out a health declaration form.
Turkish citizens and residents will need a HES code for international and domestic travel. This only applies to Turkish nationals, NOT to international tourists.
You can easily fly to Cappadocia from Istanbul without any problems.
Are the land borders with Europe open?
Yes, the land borders with Greece and Bulgaria in West Turkey are open for international travelers. There are no restrictions and there was no need to fill out any form. I took the bus from Turkey to Bulgaria and crossed the border without any question asked!
Should you travel to Turkey during the Covid-19 pandemic
You want my honest opinion? Yes you totally should! I sincerely think that if you don’t fear the Covid-19 virusIt actually is the best time ever visiting these top Turkey sights as places aren’t flooded with tourists at this time.
One major downside was that there were no hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia because of the Covid-19 restrictions, but nevertheless this is one of the best things to do in Turkey, hot air balloons or no hot air balloons. However since September 1st, hot air balloons rides in Turkey are allowed again so try your luck.
Safe travels and enjoy Turkey!