As a modern country that connects Asia and Europe through the Bosphorus Strait, Turkey offers a richly heterogeneous culture, captivating natural beauty and a history that unfolds a myriad of civilizations. While you discover its wonders, the currency used to facilitate your adventures is the Turkish Lira (TL), symbolized as ₺.
Part of enjoying a smooth journey when visiting Turkey involves understanding its currency. The Turkish Lira is divided into subunits called kurus, with 1 Lira equating to 100 kurus. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 kurus and 1 Lira. Banknotes, on the other hand, come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Lira denominations. A fun fact is that each banknote carries a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's founding father, on one side, highlighting the reverance and respect Turks have for him.
Exchanging your home currency to Turkish Lira is an essential task to carry out before embarking on the local exploration. You can accomplish this in several ways. First, currency exchange offices, known as doviz buros, are available abundantly across Turkish cities. They offer competitive rates and usually do not charge a commission. Second, you can withdraw Turkish Lira directly from ATMs (cash machines). However, be mindful of transaction fees applied by your bank. Lastly, you can also exchange currency at banks, but they may have longer processing times.
While cash is still widely used in Turkey, a trend towards cashless transactions is evident. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, especially in larger cities like Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. This cashless culture is particularly prevalent in shopping centers, hotels and most restaurants and cafés. Major foreign cards such as Visa and Mastercard are often accepted, though American Express can be less commonly accepted. For peace of mind, always carry some cash, especially when visiting remote areas or shopping in local markets.
Generally, Turkey is much cheaper than most Western and Northern European countries. Your Turkish Lira can take you a long way. Dining out at an inexpensive restaurant usually costs around 20-25 Lira, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant could set you back approximately 120-150 Lira. In terms of transport, a one-way ticket on local transport may cost around 3-4 Lira.
Tipping, or ‘bahşiş’ in Turkish, is a widespread practice in Turkey. It is not compulsory, but deeply appreciated. In restaurants and bars, rounding up the bill or leaving a 10-15% tip is customary if you are content with the service. For taxi drivers, simply rounding up the fare is a usual practice. Hotel staff, tour guides and wellness center employees also appreciate tips.
No tour of Turkey is complete without experiencing the bustling bazaars and street markets in which bargaining is a common practice. It's a friendly haggle, of course, and part of an age-old tradition that defines the shopping culture in Turkey. The vendors usually quote higher prices expecting customers to bargain, so never hesitate to negotiate for a better deal!
From buying rugs in Grand Bazaar, silver in the Spice Bazaar to ceramics in the Cappadocia region, be sure to have sufficient Turkish Lira at hand for these transactions. Notably, for expensive items, credit cards are preferred. Most vendors offer shipping service for your ease too.
So, whether you are planning a trip to watch a sunset in the beautiful Cappadocia, a walk through the vibrant streets of Istanbul, or merely enjoy a traditional Turkish tea, understanding your financial bearings in Turkey's currency is of utmost importance. The Turkish Lira plays an integral role in serving you with the most authentic Turkish experiences that you will treasure.