Do I have to speak Turkish to interact with people during my visit?
English is the most spoken foreign language everywhere in Turkey. You should have no problem meeting people who can speak English and help you get around in all the big cities, shopping malls, restaurants and holiday resorts.
Turkey is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, with about 40 million visitors in 2018, many of whom are English speakers. But how widespread is English in Turkey, and can travellers expect to get by without learning Turkish while on vacation there?
Overall, English is not widely spoken in Turkey, with only over 17% of the population claiming to speak the language. Although the rate of English competence is slightly greater in Istanbul, overall English proficiency is low in comparison to other countries.
You’ll have a better chance of meeting English speakers in tourist areas, but English speakers will be tougher to come by elsewhere in the country, so knowing some Turkish will come in handy.
According to recent statistics, approximately 17% of Turkists can communicate in English to some extent, albeit many of these individuals will only be able to communicate in very basic English. In Turkey, native English speakers are in short supply.
For obvious reasons, the biggest tourist centers will have a large proportion of English speakers. Istanbul, Sultanahmet, Cappadocia, and any resort town on the Aegean or Mediterranean shores fall under this category. You should be able to communicate in English here because the personnel is frequently multilingual.
If you go to more ordinary or rural Turkish districts, however, English will not be frequently spoken, and you will need to be able to talk in Turkish (or point and gesture) to get by.