Ramadan (also called Ramazan) will begin in Turkey on June the 6th 2016 and last until July the 4th during which dedicated followers of Islam will fast from morning to night. This religious time happens all across the world and many people often ask me, if it will affect their travel plans and if they should make alternative arrangements.
It is worth pointing out that not everyone in Turkey will fast. Quite a few people that I know see themselves as a Muslim but do not adhere 100% to the practises. Other close friends insist that it is impossible at this time of year when the sun is hot, to spend all day without water and still be efficient and productive at their work.
So there is no need to make alternative arrangements because tours will run as scheduled and historical sites are still open as normal but tact and discretion in certain cases is polite. Be sensitive to those around you who may be fasting.
Food and drink is still available at all hours of the day but avoid eating or drinking on public transport or while walking down the street. Sit down at a cafe or restaurant to eat meals or snacks and you will definitely notice other Turks doing the same.
In the more touristic areas like Istanbul or coastal resorts of the Aegean and Mediterranean, it is quite possible for you to not even notice the presence of people fasting unless you speak to them. Even most restaurants will continue to serve alcohol as normal.
However in more remote locations, like small villages and places that are off the beaten track, you will certainly encounter someone who will be fasting or you will hear the drummer boy in the early hours of the morning as he walks through the street, prompting practising Muslims to eat before sunrise.
About Ramadan and Fasting
For the 30 days, from sunrise to sunset, people who are fasting will not allow anything to pass their lips. They will not drink water or eat food. After sunset has passed, the fast is broken with a meal called Iftar.
This period of time is also meant to be a reflection and examination of their life. When they have displayed dishonest characteristics and how they can improve to be of worthy standing in the eyes of fellow man by showing love, compassion and empathy. For this reason, during sunset you may see queues forming at certain restaurants who will give their food away for free to the less wealthy members of the community.
What happens after 30 Days?
There is a 3 day celebration called Seker Bayram otherwise known as Candy holiday. It is traditional for children to knock on doors for sweets and for people to visit friends and family. This is an official national holiday that can affect transport and office hours.
Traffic is heavy, with Turks visiting families in their hometowns. Banks and offices will close for the duration of these periods. Attractions and historical sites will often close for the morning of the first day and open for normal business in the afternoon.