Turkish Hospitality: Is Turkey a Friendly Country?

All over the world, Turkish people are known for their hospitality. When it comes to other people, Turkish people always try to help and even invite you to their house for a meal or tea. So, what makes Turkish people this friendly? Let’s find the reasons.

Table of Contents

Are Turkish People Friendly Toward Foreigners?

Yes, Turks are generally friendly to foreigners. Most foreigners who lived or live in Turkey say that their experiences were quite good compared to their expectations. Also, Turkish people love it when a foreigner tries to speak Turkish with them. 

Factors About Turkish Hospitality

Reasons why Turkish people are friendly:

  • Historical Background
  • Community Bonds
  • Traditions
  • Religion

Now let’s dive into the details of these facts.

Historical Background

Although this doesn’t have that much impact on the hospitality of Turkish people directly, it is worth mentioning. The Ottoman Empire was both ethnically and religiously diverse. It ruled over people of various backgrounds, including Turks, Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and many others. This can be one of the reasons why Turkish people are friendly toward others.

Community Bonds

In general, Turkish people are extroverts, love talking loudly, and can easily make friends with anyone they just met. For this reason, the friendship bonds of Turkish people are strong and still remain even if a long time passes after the last conversation.

Though nowadays it’s not that much due to urbanization and fast-paced life, neighbor relations are also important for Turkish. There’s a saying in Turkish: “Even in the smallest of matters one neighbor can help another”. So, it can be easily seen that any kind of relationship is important in Turkish culture.


There are so many Turkish traditions about hospitality:

  • Insist on inviting you for tea or coffee
  • Insist on giving you more food
  • Slippers appear in front of you as soon as you enter
  • Frequent visits to each other
  • Playing tavla (backgammon) during visits
  • If invited somewhere, the host pays
  • Not showing up empty-handed
  • Accompanying the guests to the door
  • Tight hugs and kisses on cheeks for goodbyes


Most of the Turkish people are Muslims and Islam has lots of generosity with hospitality towards everyone. For example, there’s an idiom “unexpected guest of god” in Turkish for someone who came to your house without a notice. In Islam, there are also sayings like “The one who is not hospitable has no goodness in him.” and “The one who believes in Allah Almighty and the Day of Judgement should respect his guest”.

Religion sure has influenced and nourished Turkish culture when it comes to hospitality.

Unspoken Rules of Turkish Homes: How to Act and What to Do If Invited?

Bring Something With You

Especially if it’s your first time going to someone else’s house, bring something to them. Most locals prefer bringing desserts but you can also bring snacks or a little gift.

Take Off Your Shoes Before Going In

In Turkey, you can’t enter right away with your shoes on. You take them outside and wear a pair of slippers to walk inside the home. Hygiene is very important for Turkish people and they don’t want to bring dirt or germs from outside to inside. So, be careful if the socks you wear that day have a hole or not!

Wash Your Hands

Most Turkish people wash their hands before doing anything in the house. Same as taking shoes off, they don’t like dirty hands touching everywhere in their homes. After you put on your slippers do not hesitate to ask where the bathroom is (lavabo nerede?) to wash your hands.

Drink Turkish Tea or Coffee

Before or after the meal, you will be offered some tea. Do not refuse it because it may seem rude. If you don’t want to drink it, just let it cool down and say you forgot to drink it because of the ongoing conversation.

Turkish coffee is served either after the dinners or if you are there for chatting. Also, it is most local’s favorite drink when it’s time to gossip.

Get Your Turkish Coffee Foretelling

After drinking your Turkish coffee, the coffee ground will remain. Turkish people use that coffee ground for foretelling. They flip the cup and wait for it to cool down. Afterward, with the shapes made by fallen coffee grounds, they predict what will happen to the person and warn them about future events.

Originally, Turkish coffee foretelling was done to gossip about common friends or to tell things that can’t be said directly to the person.

Eat As Much As You Can

Even if go to a Turkish home full, they will insist on giving you snacks to eat. Also during meals, they will want you to give another portion to make sure you’re full. If you don’t want to eat another, you have to keep repeating yourself saying you’re already full. Convincing Turkish people can be challenging when it comes to guests.

Show gratitude

After specific situations, Turkish people say particular phrases to show their gratitude to each other. Here are these phrases you should know and use if you want to have a deeper bond with a Turkish person:

  • Afiyet olsun: Means “Bon Appétit” but you say it after finishing the food.
  • Çok lezzetli: “Very delicious”
  • Çok güzel: “Very good”
  • Bayıldım: “It’s so good that I can faint”
  • Elinize sağlık: Means “God bless your hands”, say this to the person who prepared food to show gratitude.
  • Zahmet oldu: Means “Sorry for the trouble”, you say this to the person who brings you anything but don’t repeat yourself so much.
  • Güle güle: “Bye bye”

Give a Hand to Cleaning After Meal

After the meal, help the household with cleaning. Most likely, they will insist on you sitting down instead of helping. Because Turkish people want to give their guests the best experience, they don’t want their guests to tire themselves with chores. Even if you keep insisting, you’ll feel like talking to a wall, so just offer once or twice and go with the flow.

Learn Some Backgammon Tricks

Turkish people love backgammon in general. If you want to learn backgammon, you are in the right country because most of the people know how to play it. Also, Turkish old men play backgammon as if their lives are at stake. You can ask them to give you some pro tips.

Watch Some Turkish TV Series

If you are planning to stay after 9 pm, prepare to see some Turkish soap operas on TV. They start around 9-10 pm and one episode is 2 hours. Watching TV while eating sunflowers and drinking tea is the greatest activity of Turkish people. However, these dramas are watched by women mostly as they are more into such things. 

Be Ready for Goodbye Hugs or Cheek Kisses

When it’s time to leave, people will want to hug you or kiss your cheeks to show their love. If you are comfortable with it, kiss the hand of the elder. Then, hug each person twice – from their left and their right. For the cheek kiss, you don’t need to use your lips, just touch your cheek with the other person and it will be enough. But don’t forget to do it on both sides. There’s a myth about it: If you kiss a person from one side of the cheek, they will lose their beloved one.