When you’re packing for a holiday in Turkey, remember that it gets very hot in summer. The southwest coastal regions are on average 30-35 degrees celsius in the daytime, the sea is very warm and it hardly ever rains. You can sunbathe and swim in the sea during the spring and autumn, too. Although Turkey is quite conservative compared to Britain and other Western European countries, it is secular and you can wear a swimming costume or bikini on the beach.
You will see many locals wearing bikinis as well as the occasional fully-covered swimsuit which some women wear. Wearing a bikini on the beach is fine, but to avoid unwanted attention it is better to cover up before you walk back to your hotel or elsewhere. You can wear sleeveless tops and shorts in hot weather as the locals do in the touristic areas of southwest Turkey on the Mediterranean and Aegean coast. Sandals or flip-flops are suitable for the beach or walking in the streets.
There are some women-only beaches in Turkey, where covered women feel comfortable wearing bikinis. It’s a good idea to be sensitive when taking photographs, or to avoid taking photos altogether on these kind of beaches.
If you are feeling adventurous and wish to visit the southeast parts of Turkey, you might want to cool off by taking a dip in the sea. However, be aware that these areas are less touristic and the locals might have different attitudes to those in the West, so it would be wise to dress more conservatively. Check with the authorities to make sure the area you’re traveling to is safe.
Unlike the olive-skinned locals, westerners need to take more care not to overdo sunbathing. Remember to use a minimum SPF 30 sun cream if you’re fair-skinned and reapply every two hours. Always wear a hat when you’re not in the shade to avoid getting sunstroke.
If you want to enjoy a cruise along the Turquoise Coast, it’s fine to wear a bikini on the yacht, or you can wear a t-shirt and shorts. To avoid getting sunburn on deck, you should wear a hat and sunscreen.
To sum up, Turkey is a Muslim country but it is quite westernized, especially in the touristic areas. You need to be quite modest but it is fine to wear a bikini on the beach in these areas. Turkey is a bridge between East and West, so there is a real mix of cultures. It’s important to be sensitive to the cultural expectations of the local people where you’re staying. Enjoy your holiday!