When you visit a new country, different lifestyles, cultures and, of course, language can become a bit tough. Sometimes it can be tempting to hang out in tourist areas and find people you can speak your mother tongue.
However, if you have a dream vacation planned for Turkey, you will get the most out of your journey by learning how to see, explore and speak as native people do.
Below we have collected dozens of useful Turkish phrases for various situations you will meet during your stay in Turkey. Just start with the following phrases. You will feel Turkish hospitality more sincerely and you will fully enjoy your journey!
Why Learn These Phrases Before Going to Turkey?
Learning a little Turkish before your plane lands will help make your visit more meaningful for a few reasons:
- The Turks you will meet do not necessarily speak English. Probably not surprising, but for those who do not yet know, many people in Turkey do not speak English, German or Russian. You may find some people who do this, but usually, their language abilities will not be very good. Knowing useful phrases in advance will help you to communicate and experience a more immersive holiday experience.
When you have difficulty in explaining something in Turkish, you can say: (Üzgünüm, Türkçe’yi çok iyi konuşamıyorum)
- Being able to speak the local language a bit will enable you to have more enjoyable time in Turkey. Learning some basic phrases with little effort make your work easier. Thus, you will avoid getting lost when you are looking for an English speaking person.
Plus, it is definitely more fun to order “Döner” (flat pieces of cooked meat ) in Turkish restaurants!
- You will be treated like a family member. Most likely you will realize that the Turks are a friendly nation. Many Turks just love it when somebody speaks their language even if it is only 50 words. They will also be eager to help you develop language skills. If you do not understand them, do not be afraid to ask them to repeat: Anlayamadım, tekrar eder misin? (I do not understand, can you repeat?).
Most Useful Turkish Phrases Every Traveler Should Know
Here is a list of important Turkish phrases arranged thematically for different situations you will meet during your trip.
Learn to Greet Like Turks
A good start to make a perfect first impression when you are in Turkey are unquestionably greetings! You probably already know the famous Merhaba or Selam (do not worry, we will discuss them below), but it’s great to do a bit more.
Greetings are important in Turkish culture
For the Turks, the greeting is very important. Normally, when they meet, they say merhaba to each other. If they are friends or family, they will give a kiss to both cheeks. Do not forget to greet them all the time since the first impression matters!
How to say hello and goodbye in Turkish
Selam – Hi
You’ve probably heard that word, but here are some useful tips.
First of all, it’s a friendly way to greet. So in case you want to greet a friend, you can use it. However, if you find yourself in a more formal situation, it is best to use some of the “official” greetings below in more detail.
Günaydın – Good morning
When you enter a shop, restaurant, or if you see your host in the morning breakfast, you should use the word Günaydın, meaning “good morning”.
Merhaba is a more formal way of saying “Hi.” It is more convenient to say “Merhaba” when you meet someone for the first time.
İyi akşamlar – Good evening
Turks usually say “İyi akşamlar” after 18:00. Using this expression in the evenings will get you closer to the Turks.
Bay bay – Good bye
“Bay bay” is kind of informal way of the phrase “Güle güle”. Even though there isn’t much difference, you might say “Bay bay” to a friend leaving you at any time.
İyi günler – Good day
If you want to make a good first impression when leaving a restaurant, wish a good day to your waiter, “İyi günler”!
Hoşçakalın – Goodbye [to be used while leaving]
After an unbelievable dinner, when you leave the restaurant, you can say goodbye by using “Hoşçakalın“.
Görüşürüz – See you soon
Speaking with someone whom you think you’ll see again someday “Görüşürüz” is a good expression of your pleasure. If you have an intention to talk or meet later, it is something you can say to your friends.
Must-Know Turkish Phrases for Shopping Fans
Do you like shopping? Who would not?! If you are planning to do shopping in Turkey, bear in mind to learn some helpful phrases and words that will help you make the best choice!
Shopping in Turkey is a must:
Well, you have made some sightseeing plans in Turkey and maybe you have found a cool place for dinner and drinks. But did you add shopping on your route? If you have not done it yet, make sure you allow time for it. There are many shopping options in Turkey from assorted souvenirs to gifts for all ages.
Where can I go shopping in Turkey?
You should not miss local markets or bazaars. In Turkey, the place where shopping markets are gathered is called “Çarşı“. There you can find nice outfits, bags, accessories and more at a good price.
Turkish Shopping Phrases
Afedersiniz, bu kaç para? – Excuse me, how much does it cost?
If you are shopping at “bazaar”, some prices might not be tagged. If you can not see a price, you can ask the salesperson, “Afedersiniz, bu kaç para? ” Make sure you know the exchange rates to Turkish liras in advance to avoid price confusion!
If you want to be more specific, you can say: “Fiyatı göremiyorum, ne kadar?” (I can not see the price, how much?).
Kartla ödeyebilir miyim? – Can I pay with a card?
It is always best to have cash in Turkey because some places do not accept cards – especially in small towns. However, in most cases, major shops will have no problem accepting your credit card. If you are unsure whether a card is acceptable, just ask!
Another way of asking this is “Kredi kartı kabul ediyor musunuz?” (Do you accept credit cards?).
Soyunma kabinleri nerede? – Where are the changing rooms?
Some stores, especially in big cities, may get crowded and you can not find changing rooms. In these cases, the best solution is to ask “Soyunma kabinleri nerede?”
You can also use the phrase “Bunu nerede deneyebilirim“? (Where can I try this?).
İndirim var mı? -Is there a discount?
Always ask before you pay if you are unsure whether there is a discount!
Feeling bold? You can even ask for a discount by saying “İndirim yapar mısınız?” (Can you give me a discount?).
Useful Phrases for Dining at Restaurants
Probably you look forward to going to a nice restaurant in Turkey and order kebabs. But do not forget to learn a few phrases that will help you order the best things!
Some useful tips on eating in Turkey:
If you are interested in enjoying the real Turkish cuisine, try not to go to the so-called “tourist” restaurants. Because these are the worst. You will normally find them very close to the main attractions. You will see many foreigners eating there.
The meal is very important for the Turks and there are many great places to go. How do you find good places? Take a look around – they are usually small secret restaurants. They serve delicious food with only a few menu options. However, the challenge is the staff does not speak English in general. So knowing some Turkish phrases is worth enjoying exquisite foods in these places.
Learn how to order the best kebab with these Turkish phrases
İki kişilik masa rezerve eder misiniz? – Do you reserve a table for two?
It is always best to reserve a table if you want to go to a nice restaurant and try high-quality Turkish foods. Famous restaurants in Turkey often become full for dinner. So if you do not book a table, there is a good chance you’ll have a difficulty.
Sipariş verebilir miyiz? – Can we order?
If you are ready to place an order after you have made your choice, call your waiter and ask him, Sipariş verebilir miyiz?
Another statement you can use: “Sipariş vermek istiyorum.” (I’m ready to make an order.)
Pide sipariş etmek istiyorum. Hangisini önerirsiniz? – I would like to order a pita, which one do you recommend?
Eating kebab and pide is a must in Turkey. If you are not familiar with these foods, do not be afraid and ask for help using the above phrases.
Yerel yemeklerden var mı? – Are there local foods?
Each region in Turkey has a distinctive cuisine. It’s a good idea to ask the waiters if there is any.
Tatlı sipariş etmek istiyorum. – I want to order a dessert.
Baklava or künefe as a sherbet dessert is never a bad choice!
Hesabı alabilir miyiz? – Can we get the bill, please?
When you are ready to pay, ask the waiter for the bill. Leaving a tip is not a necessity in Turkey. But, of course, it’s a very good way to make the waitstaff happy.
Do you know how to ask directions in Turkish?
Turkey is full of beautiful little streets. If you want to experience a real Turkish “way of life”, you should not miss those secret places. But there is something to consider: Be careful not get lost. Because it can be a little difficult to find someone who can help you in English.
Or just learn how to ask for directions in Turkish!
Must-Know Turkish phrases not to get lost
If you do not want to get lost, you need to know these Turkish phrases:
Sağa dön – Turn to the right
Sola dön – Turn to the left
Doğru/Düz git – Go straight ahead
Afedersiniz merkeze nasıl gideriz? – Excuse me, how do we get to the center?
Pardon, otobüs durağını nerede bulabilirim? – Pardon me, where can I find the bus stop?
Tren garı nerede? – Where’s the train station?
Nereden otobüs bileti alabilirim? – Where can I get a bus ticket?
In most of the cities, paying cards are sold instead of a bus ticket. You can buy bus tickets or cards from the station or from small booths like kiosks.
Once you learn all these phrases, you’ll be ready for the big adventure!