Paying separately in the restaurant –  uncommon.

Wanting to pay separately when you go to a restaurant could be interpreted that you want nothing to do with the people around you. It is, therefore, common in Turkey that everyone pays the quoted price together. The money for the meal, including tips, is put in a small box brought by the waiter. 

Refusing tea or a gift is rude.

After a meal in a good restaurant you are usually served a free chai (black tea), often with some pastry or lokum. Turks are famous for their hospitality and rejecting a gift must be well justified. You do not have to eat or drink it completely.

Not knowing who Kemal Atatürk was – unforgivable.

Turkish schoolchildren already know everything about the life of the “father of the Turks” (Atatürk). The fact that foreigners don’t know much about the founder of the Turkish Republic is tolerated. But not knowing him at all will be met with indignation.

Feeding seagulls – go ahead.

Feeding seagulls is common practice on the ferries in Istanbul, nobody cares. And the most common food for the birds are simit chunks, which are sold directly on the ships.

Discussing Turkish beer – can get you into trouble.

The “national beer” has a market share of over 80 percent in Turkey. In the opinion of most foreigners it tastes stale. But you should not ever mention that to Turkish friends.

Dolmus is paid while driving.

Have you ever taken a Dolmus? Many foreigners are initially confused by the private shared taxis, which have fixed routes. During the trip passengers are picked up and dropped off again and again. You are expected to pay during the trip.

Haggling in shops – embarrassing.

Most people think that haggling in the Orient is a way of life.  But outside of bazaars and weekly markets haggling is seen as embarrassing and you might be told that “Here is not the Grand Bazaar!”.  Regular customers, however, are treated generously.

Reminding people of a Smoking ban? Forget it.

In restaurants smoking is no longer allowed. It is not allowed on the bus or on ferries either,  but nobody  seems to care and it is not enforced. So reminding somebody of a smoking ban might not have any effect.

Watch where you’re going.

There are hundreds of thousands of street cats and dogs in Turkey. You can easily step on one of them. So watch where you’re going and keep glancing to the ground.

Drinking alcohol on the bus or tram – don’t do it

Drinking alcohol on the way to the city center by bus or train is not only socially taboo but also officially prohibited. Especially in Muslim-conservative areas, it is generally considered improper to drink alcohol in public. Drinking alcohol in public is something you should avoid in any Muslim country.

Based on quiz in Spiegel online

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