Terrorism in Turkey: Should Travelers Be Worried?

Terrorism is a real threat in Turkey, but should that stop you from traveling there? Here's what you need to know.

The result of terrorism in Sur, Diyarbakır Province, Turkey Photo © Getty Images/gece33

Most terrorism related incidents occur in the southeastern and eastern regions of Turkey, as well as the two major cities, Istanbul and Ankara.

Turkey shares borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria in the southeast, and many government travel advisories recommend travelers avoid traveling to the provinces of Batman, Bingol, Bitlis, Diyarbakir Province, Gaziantep, Hakkari, Hatay, Kilis, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Siirt, Sirnak, Tunceli and Van due to the heightened threat of terrorism and the potential for civil unrest. Stay up to date with the latest information before you depart to make sure you are not traveling to an unsafe region.

Tourism is booming in Turkey, and there are so many incredible places to see and things to do. But, before you go, find out about the risk of terrorism in Turkey, and if you are covered by travel insurance.

Is there terrorism in Turkey?

There is no way of putting it lightly – terrorists can attack in Turkey. Some governments have issued warnings saying travelers should exercise a “high degree of caution” due to the level of terrorism threat, with some areas flagged as “reconsider your need for travel”.

Following an attempted coup in July 2016, a state of emergency was declared. In 2018 the two-year state of emergency ended, however many people argue not much has changed.

Where are the terrorism hotspots in Turkey?

The key to minimizing your risk is sticking to the western areas of Turkey. A minority of terror attacks occurred there, and the majority of those attacks were aimed at police, military or government units. Terror groups in Turkey mostly target workers with positions of authority and tend to avoid civilians. Although this is not always the case, as a 2016 attack on tourists in the precinct of the Blue Mosque atest, and in 2017 when 39 people were killed and 79 wounded at Reina nightclub in the Ortaköy neighbourhood of Istanbul in the early hours of New Years Day.

The large majority of terror strikes in the country occur between terrorist groups and Turkish security forces in the east and southeast, and on the border regions with Syria, Iraq and Iran.

It’s important that warnings issued by your respective foreign offices are heeded, but it's also equally important not to scrap traveling to this fascinating part of the world due to paranoia.

If you do decide to travel to Turkey, stay up to date with all local information regarding any potential threats – talk to locals, read the news, stay informed and you will no doubt have a safe trip.

Is the ANZAC dawn service in Turkey safe?

The ANZAC Day Dawn Service on the coast of Gallipoli has become a pilgrimage for many thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who come to commemorate the fallen in war and reflect on the ANZAC spirit. But, being a large tourist attraction, some have raised concerns about the safety of the event.

So, is the dawn service secure? We asked Mat McLachlan, head of Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours about what kind of preventative measures are put in place.

“The security at the Gallipoli Dawn Service is always tightly controlled. Visitors have to submit to bag checks and x-rays, plus there are hundreds of armed Turkish security personnel in attendance.

“We advise all our visitors to get to the site as early as possible and expect delays due to the high levels of security. The whole operation is extremely well run and the safety and security of the attendees is the number one priority.

“Security is so tight that the biggest problem we usually have to contend with is passengers who lose patience with the screening process! But at such an important international event, security has to be given top priority.”

Despite the thick layer of protection, Mat also encourages visitors to Turkey to keep an eye out for any risks.

“We do advise our passengers that there have been terrorist attacks in Turkey in the past and to keep themselves informed of developments with their government advisories. There have been no terrorist attacks at Gallipoli during the Dawn Service in the past.”

“We tell our passengers that security levels at the Dawn Service are extremely high, and therefore this is probably as safe as they will be during their entire time in Turkey.

“Turkey has had some problems with terrorism in the past, so it is up to every passenger to decide whether they wish to make the journey or not, but Turkish and Australian authorities treat security at Gallipoli as an absolute priority. In my opinion the chance of a terror attack at the Dawn Service is very small.”

Am I covered for terrorism in Turkey?

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in the rare event of a terrorist attack, and are injured, fortunately you are completely covered for any medical expenses incurred.

However, it's important to check the government status of the area you are visiting.

If warnings for these areas change to "Do Not Travel" by your foreign office, and you are injured, you may have your claim voided if there is suspicion you placed yourself at voluntary risk.

Get a travel insurance quote for Turkey

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6 Comments

  • gallipoli said

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  • Alex said

    I've been thinking about visiting Mardin and Hakenseyf this October. Do you think it's unwise/ unsafe at this time? The Australian travel site advises against it, but I have not seen any warnings on the U.S. Dept. of State travel site. Thanks.

  • niko said

    It is not the Kurdish Party attacking Turkey.Attacks in Turkey originate from terrorist organizations and from some unknown sources which we also wonder about who they are.

  • Mark said

    Just don't go there! Don't spend your money on a nation that is supporting terrorism!

  • Ozzy said

    Hello, I'm living in Turkey we'r not terrorist but some people in east ( MUSLİMS ) are terrorist they are want war ı am living in west ı can only say west is not terrorist east is terrorist

  • Ömer said

    I cannot believe that some of you said Turkey is supporting terrorism!! We are the only country that helps (truly not only accepting a few to enter the country) Syria and do something against terrorism! And to Ozzy he is completely wrong. I am living in Turkey, Bursa and terrorists are not MUSLIMS. Terrorism is used to blame Muslims as a bad religion. And its not about WEST and EAST. And to the guy that wants to go to Mardin you could go there but why not going more historical places like Istanbul and more?

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