As you stroll around the tourist-thronged sites of İstanbul’s Sultanahmet or the promenade of an Aegean or Mediterranean resort, it can at times be hard to remember that you are in a predominantly Muslim country – though even here the call to prayer echoes out five times daily: sunrise, midday, late afternoon, sunset and after dark.

Many of Turkey’s inhabitants are, however, both conservative and devout. Bear this in mind particularly when visiting a mosque. All those likely to be of interest to a foreign visitor (and many more besides) display some kind of “conduct” notice at the door outlining the entry rules – which are simple:

  • Cover your head (women) and shoulders/upper arms (both sexes)
  • No shorts or miniskirts
  • Take off your shoes before entering. (Many mosques now provide a plastic bag for this – before entering, slip your shoes in to the bag and carry them around with you. Alternatively, place your footwear on the shelves provided.)

Especially if you are in a very conservative part of the country (which includes most of inland Anatolia as well as conservative districts within the big cities, like İstanbul’s Fatih) try to avoid your visit coinciding with noon prayers – particularly those on a Friday, the most important prayer session of the week. Once inside the mosque, you’re free to wander around, take photographs and admire the interior – but keep your voice down (there are often people praying or reciting the Koran outside of the five daily prayer times) and don’t take pictures of worshippers unless they give their permission. Although the imam is a state-paid official, upkeep of the building is down to charity, so you may want to put a donation in the collection box.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Turkey features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Reconsidering Turkey: why the time to go is now

Reconsidering Turkey: why the time to go is now

Turkey is the most accessible of the Middle Eastern nations. A natural land bridge, it connects the eastern part of Europe to the Caucasus, and the viridian Bl…

09 Apr 2018 • Marco Ferrarese
Middle East and North Africa: 10 spectacular sights off the beaten track

Middle East and North Africa: 10 spectacular sights off the beaten track

The Middle East and North Africa have plenty of world-famous attractions – Petra and the Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings and the souks of Marrakesh, the mi…

27 Mar 2018 • Gavin Thomas
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right