When you’re on holiday, the last thing you want is to get ill from drinking the water. If you’re used to drinking tap water at home, buying bottled water might seem like a waste of money and the question you have in your mind, Can you drink the water in Turkey? Yes, you can drink water from the taps in Turkey but we highly recommend our guests use bottled water during their stay.
The ISKI, water authority of Istanbul, estimated that as of the year 2020 the quality of the water in the pipes is well above the standards outlined by the World Health Organization, the European Community, the USA Environment Protection Agency and Turkish Standards Institute. The water from treatment plants is clean but it travels hundreds of kilometres and may pass through rusty water pipes on the way. If the water storage tank in the building isn’t cleaned regularly it might contain microbes, too. It’s ok to use the water to cook or to clean your teeth, but it’s safer to buy bottled water for drinking. The ice cubes you get in your drinks are ok, too, because they’re made out of mineral water.
The tap water in big cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir comes from dams and is chlorinated to kill off germs. You know there’s chlorine in the tap water when you pour it into a cup and see a white foam on the surface. Underground water is used in Antalya and Bodrum, so it is cleaner but doesn’t taste very good because it’s very chalky. Up until the year 2000 all water pipes in Turkey were made of metal, e.g. steel, copper or cast iron, which can start to rust after 10 years. Some pipes are substandard due to lack of regulation. Again, the water is fine for washing, cleaning your teeth and cooking but bottled water is recommended for drinking.
No, it’s very cheap. A small, half litre bottle of drinking water is on average about 1 Turkish Lira, equivalent to about 13 pence with today’s exchange rate. You can find small shops everywhere and they sell various sized bottles of water. The price is reasonable even in hotels and restaurants. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation or have a holiday villa in Turkey, you can have large bottles of water delivered to your home. A so-called ‘damacana’ is 19 litres and can be fitted with a water pump so you can fill your glass easily. If you own a holiday home in Turkey it might be worth investing in a water filtration system, these are quite expensive so they’re only worth getting for the long term.
The locals will know whether the tap water is safe to drink in rural areas and small towns and it’s safe to drink directly from a well (çeşme), but on the whole bottled water is highly recommended.