You’ll find an amazingly diverse and complex culture in Istanbul, Turkey, Throughout their rich history they’ve established do’s and don’ts behavioral traits that you’d be well advised to learn prior to visiting.
Once you’re in Istanbul, there are several things you can easily do which makes your time with the locals more enjoyable for both sides.
Turks are very hospitable and welcoming. They will put in a lot of effort to build relationships so if they extend on invitation try to accept. If you cannot attend an event, be sure to decline politely and provide a legitimate excuse so as not to appear rude or disrespectful.
Respect Religious Beliefs
Try to respect the religious beliefs of others. For example, avoid eating and drinking in public during Ramadan. Also, avoid arranging meetings that clash with prayer time if you have Muslim friends.
Always dress modestly when possible. Turkey may not be as strict as some other Muslim nations, but it’s still best to cover your legs, chest, and shoulders. This also applies to men. The only men you’ll see wearing shorts are tourists!
Maintain Eye Contact
This is especially so for men during normal conversation. Women, however, may avert their eye when talking to a member of the opposite sex to avoid unwanted attention.
Only use your right hand when greeting others, eating, or gesturing. The left hand is considered unclean.
Be Business Punctual
While time can be fluid in social gatherings, Turkish people like to be punctual for business meetings.
There are also a few things you should not do while conversing with locals. Learning the simple things that might cause offense can vastly improve your travel experience.
Make Arab References
Don’t refer to Turks as Arabs. While they may share a religion, the Turkish people have a very different language, history, and belief system than Arabs.
Show Your True Soles
When sitting down or crossing your legs, avoid pointing the soles of your feet towards another person. Turks consider it rude to show the soles of your feet to another person.
Forget to Sign Carefully
Okay is not okay in Turkish when using hand signals. In Turkey, this sign is associated with homosexuality and considered offensive. So avoid using the forefinger and thumb forming a circle, with the other fingers stretched out to show agreement.
Hate on Late
The Turkish concept of time can be fluid, so don’t take offense if people arrive late for a social gathering.
Be a Blowhard
Turks usually dab their nose discretely, so avoid blowing your nose loudly in public.
Go All Political
Unless you are very well informed, talking about local politics is generally off-limits.