What to Wear in Turkey: The Complete 2020 Guide for Every Season

The question of what to wear in Turkey is probably almost certainly rolling around frantically in your brain if you are in the process of planning a trip to this wonderful, culturally rich country.

What to Wear in Turkey
What to Wear in Turkey: Turkish dress code varies significantly depending on where you are travelling and the activities you are doing.

This is a Muslim country, right? Does that mean I have to cover up? What if I go to the beach? Do I have to go swimming fully covered? What about in the cities? Should I dress like a frumpy sack of potatoes? I wanna pack this sessy bikini for the ‘gram, can I? HALP!

What to Wear in Turkey

As someone who has travelled solo to Turkey several times in the past few years, I have plenty of experience in terms of what to wear in Turkey.

Though Turkey is certainly a Muslim country, it is actually a fairly liberal travel destination, especially when it comes to visiting beach resorts and coastal areas.

The people from most parts of Turkey are accustomed to seeing international tourists and are familiar with the types of clothing that they wear.

Rest assured that if you stroll down the beach promenades of Bodrum in a pair of shorts, an old Turkish lady isn’t going to gasp in shock and faint. That said, there are also parts of Turkey where you should also err more on the side of dressing conservatively.

Really, the question of what to wear in Turkey depends on:

  • The locations you intend to visit during your Turkey itinerary

  • The activities you plan on doing in Turkey

  • The season in which you are travelling to Turkey

What to Wear in Turkey:
Beaches, Resorts & Cruises  

When it comes to travelling to beaches and resorts in Turkey, tourists can generally dress as they like. Bikinis, flip flops, swimsuits, shorts, and tank tops are all perfectly acceptable in these kinds of environments.

Don’t be surprised if you see the odd Turkish beach-goer covered up – they are just dressing as they are most comfortable. When heading into bars and restaurants straight from the beach though, you should not wander around in swimwear.

Another question is whether or not it’s okay for women to sunbathe topless in Turkey. I personally would prefer not to, but other women say it is perfectly fine, and if you find yourself in places like Antalya, Bodrum, and Marmaris, it is not unheard of to see women sunbathing topless.

If travelling as a solo female in these places, just be mindful of the kind of attention you may receive from Turkish men.

What to Wear in Turkey:
Mosques and Religious Places

What to Wear in Turkey
What to Wear in Turkey: Women are required to cover their hair in order to enter mosques and other religious sites in Turkey

Visiting mosques and places of religious importance in Turkey is the only time that it is necessary to take extra care to cover up. For instance, when visiting the blue mosque in Istanbul, both men and women should ensure that their shoulders and knees are covered and women should cover their hair.

Most mosques (including the blue mosque) enable visitors to borrow scarves for modesty but if you plan on doing a lot of religious and cultural exploration in Turkey, it is worth carrying a small scarf or a pashmina around with you just in case, especially as a female traveller.

Rest assured if you want to enter mosques and other Islamic buildings yet you forget your head covering, you will have many opportunities to pick up beautiful scarves in the various souks.

What to Wear in Turkey:
Major Cities

What to Wear in Turkey
What to Wear in Turkey: Turkey is a fairly liberal travel destination as a whole.

The dress code in terms of what to wear in Turkey’s cities varies significantly across the country. Istanbul at least is fairly liberal.

In the summer months, you will see every manner of outfit in Istanbul – from women covered from head to toe in black abayas, to women walking around in tank tops and shorts.

In central Turkey, Anatolia province, and Eastern Turkey, the atmosphere is a lot more conservative and the people are less used to seeing international tourists in their midst.

If travelling to religious Konya, the Turkish capital of Ankara, or Eastern Turkey, travellers should try to always dress modestly and well covered. Modest dress does not have to mean unattractive and frumpy though.

Lightweight cotton or linen trousers, shirts, and jumpsuits allow you to travel in stylish, breathable attire during the summer months. Central and Eastern Turkey becomes very cold during the winter and so, dressing modestly becomes effortless with the use of thick sweaters and coats.  

What to Wear in Turkey:
Evening Wear

If you plan on dining out in restaurants during your Turkey trip, the general dress code in cities like Istanbul is “smart casual”. Of course, expect to dress more formally in the more high-end restaurants and bars. It is perfectly fine for women to wear dresses.

What to Wear in Turkey:
Seasonal Considerations

What to Wear in Turkey
What to Wear in Turkey: Take the season and the area you are travelling to into consideration when planning your trip!

The mention of Turkey may automatically conjure up images in your mind of a hot, constantly sunny country, however, it is important to understand that Turkey experiences different, distinct seasons.

What to wear in Turkey will vary significantly depending on if you are intending to travel during the summer or the winter months.

The sheer size of the country needs to be taken into consideration also. Remember that Turkey is not only one of the largest countries in the world, it actually spans over two different continents.

Temperatures and climates vary significantly from Eastern to Western Turkey. When driving across the Anatolia plains, for instance, one moment you can find yourself driving through snow and the next, you’re back to dry roads and sunny, clear skies.

What to Wear in Turkey:
Preparing for the Weather

What to Wear in Turkey
What to Wear in Turkey

Spring and Autumn

The Spring and Autumn months are pleasant times to travel to Turkey. Temperatures at this time are warm and pleasant in Central and Western Turkey – ranging from the mid-teens to the early twenties in terms of degrees celsius.

In the eastern part of the country, expect to still see almost wintry conditions. Pack coats and layers if you are travelling into places such as Nemrut Mountain in the East, and travel with a light jacket and some waterproofs if travelling in Central and Western Turkey as frequent rainfall is common during this season.

Summer

Summer is the warmest season for travelling in Turkey and it is generally very hot across the entire region. Expect temperatures from between the mid-thirties to the early forties in degrees celsius. This weather is perfect for relaxing on the Mediterranean style beach resorts of Bodrum, etc.

In Istanbul, Izmir, Pamukkale, and other western cities it is okay to wear shorts and skirts (though solo female travellers in Turkey should consider more modest dress so as not to draw attention).

In conservative Central and Eastern Turkey (excluding touristy Cappadocia), wear lightweight linen and cotton clothing so as to both dress modestly and still feel cool amid the summer heat and humidity.      

Winter

Winters can become very cold in Turkey and it’s important to wrap up for the icy, blustery winds. From Anatolia to Eastern Turkey, snow is not uncommon and the fairy tale landscapes of Cappadocia are often covered in the soft white powder.

Scarves, layers and thick coats are a must. In Istanbul, you can get away with sweaters and lightweight jackets, though temperatures are still fairly chilly at around 10-15 degrees celsius.

Suggested Turkey Packing Lists for Summer  

Considering the above information on what to wear in Turkey for different seasons, scenarios and travel experiences, I have drawn up practical packing lists below to aid in planning for your trip.

Suggested Turkey Packing List: For Her (Summer)

  • 2 Pairs of shorts for hot days during beach/city exploration

  • 2 Lightweight pairs of trousers (cotton/linen blends)

  • 4-5 Basic t-shirts that cover shoulders (can easily be adapted into different outfit combinations)

  • 1-2 Long-sleeved shirts (for extra coverage)

  • 2-3 Dresses (for something a little nicer for dinner)

  • Light jacket/jumper for cooler winter nights

  • Pashmina/silk scarf for covering hair in mosques and religious sites

  • Swimsuit (If venturing to coastal destinations/hotels with pools)

  • Sarong for modesty on beaches

  • Sun hat (Turkey gets sweltering hot during the summer months)

  • Comfortable walking shoes (Like these perfect North face shoes)

  • Flip flops/casual sandals

  • Intimates – undies, socks, etc.

  • A small daypack for carrying items around

Suggested Turkey Packing List: For Him (Summer)

  • 2 Pairs of knee-length cargo shorts for hot days during beach/city exploration

  • 2 Lightweight pairs of trousers (cotton/linen blends)

  • 4-5 Basic t-shirts

  • 4-5 Long-sleeved shirts for modesty/smarter look when dining out

  • 1 Pair of jeans/smart trousers for evenings out

  • Swimming trunks if venturing out to beaches

  • Sun hat (Turkey gets sweltering hot during the summer months)

  • Comfortable walking shoes

  • A Rain jacket

  • Flip flops/casual sandals

  • Intimates – undies, socks, etc.

  • A small daypack for carrying items around

Suggested Turkey Packing Lists for Winter

What to wear in Turkey
What to wear in Turkey: Turkey packing lists

If you are travelling to Turkey in the winter, I’m going to make the assumption that the main purpose of your trip revolves around either hiking or cultural exploration not lounging on the beaches (unless you’re a little crazy!).

The following Turkey winter packing lists are perfectly suited for outdoor adventures and city travel.

Suggested Turkey Packing List:
For Him & Her (Winter)

  • A Winter coat or insulated outdoor jacket

  • A light waterproof/rain jacket

  • 4-5 Long-sleeved shirts

  • 2-3 Skirts to be paired with thick stockings/leggings and ankle boots or flats (for the ladies. Unless of course… I’m not judging fellas!)

  • 2 Pairs of Trousers (1 pair of technical or softshell trousers for hiking and outdoor activities)  

  • Comfortable flats/boots for city exploration

  • Hiking boots (lightweight or medium-duty) – This adds extra warmth and comfort during the winter months. Central and Eastern Turkey is often snowy and your feet will welcome the extra grip!

  • Essentials – underwear, socks, etc

  • Thermals if venturing to central and eastern Turkey. It can be blisteringly cold and snowy.

  • Winter Wear – hat, gloves, scarf, especially if venturing to central and eastern Turkey

  • A small 5L day pack

Have any questions about what to wear in Turkey or Turkey travel in general? Feel free to reach out to me via the below comments or drop me an email. Safe travels! Melissa xo

High Heels and a Backpack Disclaimer: This guide on what to wear in Turkey may contain the occasional affiliate link. This means that if you choose to make a purchase through one of the links contained on this page, I will make a small amount of commission at no additional cost to you.


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

9 thoughts on “What to Wear in Turkey: The Complete 2020 Guide for Every Season”

  1. Hi! I am travelling to Turkey in the last week of April.I can’t decide whether to keep summer clothing or winter clothing! What do you suggest? Should i pack layers? What will be the weather there in april? So confused!

    Thankyou!

    Reply
    • Hey Travel Enthusiast 🙂
      It depends a lot on which part of the country you are going to and the kind of activities you plan on doing – i.e. Eastern Turkey and Cappadocia region are generally colder than Istanbul and Western Turkey. That said, in Spring it is generally going to be much warmer so you won’t need winter clothes in any part, though definitely pack a few sweaters/layers for cooler evenings in the East. Where are you headed? Will you do any hiking? Safe travels, Melissa xo

      Reply
  2. Excellent post. Many people see Turkey as a place of sun and beach tourism and do not know that in Turkey in winter it is very cold and that it is necessary to bring warm clothes.

    Reply
  3. Hi please help, I am going to Turkey Cappadocia and the the coastal towns Antalia .I going 16 October to 1 November, do I pack winter or summer clothes. We doing the Ultra trail Capadocia then we touring the Mediterranean coast in Turkey.

    Reply
  4. Hey, I am planning for a honeymoon in turkey in November. Can you exactly tell me how the weather of turkey would be?
    Should we pack some jackets?
    Or it would be moderated

    Reply
    • Hey Beeba, it really depends on which part of the country you will be travelling in. Turkey is huge and the climate is different between the eastern and western parts (Anywhere east of Anatolia gets really cold!) Where will you be going?

      Reply
  5. How safe would it be for a solo woman traveller to travel to Turkey or even a group of women maybe, this question i am asking because I am planning to go on a trip either alone or with my girl gang but I am not so sure if turkey would be right place to travel alone as i have heard a issues of harassment.

    Reply
  6. hii ill be in istanbul from 1-5 nov.im a shopaholic ill be visiting grand and spice bazar with my school.lmk if u have any bargaining tips or knowledge about the must buy stuff from there.

    Reply

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