Turkish Culture

Do's and Don'ts


  • Try to be generous with your time and open to building relationships. Turks often go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome – for example, extending invitations to their homes, to dine at local restaurants/cafes, or to show people around their town very early on in a friendship. Such gestures are usually made out of goodwill and should be accepted with gratitude where possible. It is important to give a legitimate excuse if you cannot or do not want to participate in order to avoid a Turk taking offence to the rejection.
  • Respect people’s religious beliefs and make accommodations to allow people to observe religious rituals of prayer, fasting and dietary choices. However, remember not all Turks are practicing Muslims.
  • Offer any criticism or advice in an way, through a third-party if possible. This relates to comments on a Turk’s personal character as well as things they’re associated with (i.e. their country or family). Some may be easily offended by comments that point out flaws.
  • Wear modest clothing. Some Turks may push this boundary themselves. Nevertheless, it is advisable to dress in clothes that cover the legs, chest and shoulders to ensure you make the best impression and avoid unwanted attention.


  • Do not refer to Turks as Arabs or presume that they speak Arabic. Turkish culture is very distinguishable from Arab culture, and some can find it frustrating or even offensive when the two are confused. 
  • Do not underestimate Turkish nationalism. Many Turks have a strong sense of national pride, and comments criticising the country, culture or flag can seriously insult people. 
  • Never criticise Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – the founding father of the Turkish Republic. His image and memory continues to be revered by many.
  • Avoid critiquing or offering your opinion on Turkish politics or the President unless you are well informed. 
  • Do not assume that Turkish Muslims follow a conservative interpretation of Islam. There is quite a wide social acceptance of non-Islamic behavioural customs (e.g. drinking alcohol). Moreover, remember not all Turks are practicing Muslims. 
  • Avoid discussing Turkey’s relationship with Greece and Cyprus or the Kurdish and Armenian minorities. These are particularly sensitive issues that can provoke heated and emotional responses. 
  • Avoid over-emphasising the violence or danger in Turkey. Whilst there have been some incidences of political violence in recent years, this does not affect the average person’s safety on a day-to-day basis. Many Turks are disappointed at the way their country has been portrayed in the news media.

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