Greetings may change according to gender and how well people know each other. Typically, men shake hands in a formal meeting or when they are meeting for the first time. However, if they are good friends or know each other for a long time, they shake hands and half-hug each other. They may also pat each other on the back softly or toss their heads softly.

Women lightly shake hands if they are meeting each other for the first time. However, if they are friends or know each other well, they tend to hug and kiss each other on the cheek.

The greeting between women and men may change from person to person. If both parties don’t know each other they lightly shake hands. If they know each other well they may touch their cheeks together while giving a handshake or a half hug.

Sometimes women or men do not want to shake hands due to their religious beliefs. In this case, it is best to wait for a sign from the person. If they do not offer their hand, then simply nod your hand lightly and smile as a form of greeting.


Turkish people love giving gifts. If someone has just moved or got married or has accomplished something, their loved ones tend to give them gifts as a part of the celebration. Especially when visiting someone’s house, they always bring in something. Whether it is a box of chocolate or baklava, or a cake, or a decorative object for the house, they do not go into the houses they are invited empty-handed. If you are visiting a friend in Turkey, bring them a small gift. They will be both surprised and happy to see you know about their traditions.


Turks do not enter their homes with shoes on. Shoes are considered dirty, therefore coming from the Islamic tradition, one cannot pray somewhere dirty. This tradition still continues today. When visiting a Turkish home, take your shoes off before entering the house. They will immediately give you some slippers to wear in the house. As a side reminder, you are also required to take off your shoes while visiting the mosques. Many mosques in Turkey offer places to put your shoes on or provide a bag for you to put your shoes in.


Sharing is an extremely important part of Turkish culture. They love offering food or drink to the people around them. They always share their food with their neighbors, they bring food to the elderly or the ill people that they know. Similarly, many restaurants or cafes share their extra food with stray cats and dogs. Butcher shops always have cats and dogs around them because they share the extra meat with them.


Neighbors are not much different than family to the Turks. They always visit each other and share their food with them. It is very common for a Turkish woman to bake a cake and immediately share it with her neighbor thinking that the neighbor must have smelled the baked cake and craved it. The neighbors are always invited to important events like a wedding or circumcision ceremonies. They ask their neighbors to take care of their pets, plants or even children when going away for a while. Therefore, it is safe to say that the Turks trust their neighbors and see them as family.


There are some things that you should be aware of about etiquette in Turkey. Being drunk in public or drinking in public such as squares or public transportation is not a welcomed behavior. Kissing or making out with your partner is also considered private and is not always welcomed among the Turkish people. If you do so, you may be warned by them.


There are many expressions unique to the Turkish tradition. When entering a store or a house, you will always hear them say “hoşgeldin” or “hoşgeldiniz” which simply means welcome. Turks answer this by saying “hoşbulduk” or “hoşbuldum” which indicates that you feel welcomed and you are happy to be there. You could also simply say “teşekkürler” as a response if you want to say thanks.

As an Islamic expression, many Turks greet each other by saying “As-Salamu alaykum” which means “peace be upon you”. You can respond by saying “wa alaykumu s-salam”  which means “and peace be upon you, too.”

Turks also have some expressions that have no corresponding expression in English. If they see someone working on something or if they are going into a store or leaving a workplace, they say “kolay gelsin”. This is a way of saying “may it be easy”, wishing whatever the person is doing may become easy for them.

You may also hear Turks saying “Allah’a emanet ol” while saying goodbye to someone. This roughly translates into something like “may God protect you” or more simply “God bless you”.

Personal Space

In Turkey, personal space is lesser than the European countries as Turks love close contact. People usually have conversations from a close distance and they may touch your arm or pat you lightly on the back during the conversation. You can also see women walk hand in hand or men putting their arms on each other. However, the opposite genders do not come into close contact unless they are in a romantic relationship. The Turkish people may also want to kiss you on the cheek and hug you as a part of their culture. Do not be alarmed as it is a way for them to show affection and love.

Respect for the Elderly

The Turks have enormous respect for the elderly. It is not appreciated to put the elderly in nursing homes but their children are expected to take care of them. During the important days such as “bayrams”, the Turks visit the elderly and anyone younger from them kiss the hand of the elderly and put it to their forehead as a gesture of respect. Do not be surprised if you see strangers helping the elderly to carry their groceries or help them cross the street. Even on the bus, young people are expected to give their seats to the elderly to sit. Not doing so is considered rude.