The best Travel tips for visiting Istanbul will make the travelers realize that it is truly a paradise and one of Europe’s largest cities as well. In Istanbul, there’s so much to see and experience that we’re sure there won’t be enough to enjoy the city. Because of its transcontinental location in Eurasia, it is an interesting country that stands astride the Bosporus Strait and it bifurcates the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea. The industry centers and historic sites are situated in the European region and on the Asian side about thirty percent of its population lives. You will find the touch of both European and Asian cultures in this magnificent region.
What is unique about travel to Istanbul?
Istanbul is a dream destination on the edge of Europe where the east meets the west. The city hides layers of history, culture, colors, and scents connecting the two continents. Architecture, wine, it all tells a story about Istanbul. The city is busy, fast, never stops, but there is always a nice garden, a small tea house or a mosque where you can sit, breathe and relax when you need a break from all this fervent life.
Many people have the idea that because of the Muslim religion and culture, Turkey is not a friendly country. But the truth is: if you leave behind the prejudice, the beauty of Turkey and its people will delight you. You fell in love with Istanbul Travel Tips as much as you discover the city.
You can taste the ancient city for your first trip to Istanbul and also enjoy Istanbul’s modern side and countryside. There were 14 million people living in Istanbul in 2013. The city is as big as any other European capital, but if you compare it with other countries, Turkey is a cheap destination. You will appreciate your first trip to Istanbul without emptying your wallet with good travel planning.
Istanbul – a preview
Istanbul is Turkey’s economic, financial and cultural center. It is also the largest city in the country with a population of just over 15 million, making it one of Europe and the world’s largest cities. It is natural to assume, for these reasons, that Istanbul is the capital of Turkey, but it is not. That distinction is valid for Ankara.
Istanbul is one of a handful of cities that straddle two continents, making it geographically interesting. The western half of the city is in Europe, whereas the eastern half is in Asia. In these two districts, first-time visitors to the city will spend much of their time. Istanbul is a city full of history and culture, so there’s a lot to see and do. Istanbul is a city that will fascinate you at every turn, from its Byzantine churches decorated with mosaics and frescoes to its magnificent mosques decorated with sky-high minarets.
The history of Istanbul
It always helps you to know some basic history from anywhere, especially the one you’re traveling to. Istanbul is a country with hundreds of years of extremely rich history. It is a beautiful mix of cultures and heritage that for any tourist can be overwhelming. Before you travel to the city, it will be good, if you can read some of its histories as it will make your travel less confusing and much more appreciate the culture and historic sites there.
Travel guide book
We’re going to recommend buying a good city guidebook for Istanbul. Read a little about Turkey and Istanbul. There’s just too much to see in this city, too much to discover. A guidebook can be very helpful when coming here to support you. It will provide you with a fair idea of the city and the things you need to do there.
Beware of pickpockets
Residents in Istanbul are usually friendly and easy to connect with visitors. You have to be extra careful with your belongings while traveling to the bazaar and walking on the streets. There are also a lot of fake brokers who can make great deals for you. So make sure you’re dealing with a real person. Don’t immediately believe someone.
When traveling to Istanbul mosques, especially the Blue Mosque, make sure you don’t wear shorts. For women, it is compulsory to keep their heads covered in some mosques. If necessary to cover one’s head, it is advisable to carry a shawl or scarf. Avoid shoes inside mosques,. Be prepared beforehand whenever you go to a mosque. With your shoulders and knees exposed, appropriate dress is required for both men and women; most important mosques will let you loan a scarf if you are not covered. Girls also have to cover their heads with a scarf that can be borrowed, but at any store, you can buy your own cheaply. People may even pray during a non-prayer time so no rushing or screaming. Do not take pictures of worshippers without permission like any place of worship. Keep in mind that, non-Muslims will exist at the back of the wooden fence covering the central worship place. Everybody must remove their shoes by the door at the raised platform before entering the Mosque.
Food and drink
While many people know that Turkish sweets and explosives are common in the booth, there are more tips for food and drink to help you out. Doner is a portion of common street food and is exactly the same as a gyro from Greece. All Gyro and Doner mean turning in their respective languages and means just how the meat is cooked while it is turning continuously. Once you buy, you will usually ask for a Doner (turning) Kebab (skewer) followed by the type of meat you want. Testi Kebab is our favorite dish and a fiery clay pot stew. Rucka is a popular cocktail which tastes like flavored liquorices in Greek. Istanbul streets are lined with kebab stands, cozy bars, coffee shops, and teas. There are so many flavors, spices, ingredients that one whole and the delicious blog post would deserve Turkish food. One thing to remember is: Try everything!! Meat is not pricey in Turkey, you wouldn’t pay a fortune for a good meal in a nice restaurant in Istanbul, either. Around Taksim Square and Istiklal Street, you can find local dinners. Go to the restaurants of the Turkish buffet to see and sample various dishes. As a dessert, the traditional ice cream baklava or some Turkish delights are a must.
Turkish Lira is a commonly used currency in Turkey. Make sure you keep enough of that local currency with you. You can exchange the currency at the airport too. Some shops and travel agents may not accept international cards. Getting the local currency, therefore, comes in handy while traveling outside the region.
Shopping in Istanbul
The Istanbul shopkeepers are extremely good salespeople. They’re very hospitable and you’d be welcomed at the bazaars and markets. Some might even sell Turkish tea to you. But when you go shopping, smart shopkeepers can also add a good price to their items. Make sure you deal well and compromise to get the best offers and discounts.
Hotels in Istanbul
The place of one’s stay while on a holiday is very significant. When reserving the hotel, one should test that the place makes it easy and comfortable to move around the area. The best locations for hotels are near Sultanahmet, or near Taksim square. Both of these locations offer great spaces at affordable prices. If you are looking for a peaceful place, Sultanahmet could get a bit crowded.
Visa and Passport
While traveling online, these are the two most important things. Interestingly, Turkey’s tourist visa differs from other European nations as Turkey is not part of the union. A part of the visa process is now online which makes it easier to apply for it. You can apply for a visa from the customs portal of the country.
Istanbul has two international airports, the bigger of the two, Istanbul Ataturk, but it’s an extremely busy airport. The second is Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, which is a bit smaller than Ataturk Airport and is also farther to the city center. Book your flights and accommodation bearing in mind travel time and airports.
Best time to visit Istanbul
Istanbul is beautiful and worth a visit every time of the year, but the number of tourists in town still varies as the season changes. Spring and early summer are the favorite time to be in. Over May and June, you will enjoy your first trip to Istanbul. Be prepared for hot temperatures, long days and beautiful boat tours in the summertime. Winter is going to be pretty cold and windy but you may be lucky enough to see some snow around and when Istanbul is snowing it seems like a magical place.
How to get around Istanbul
Purchase an Istanbul Card on one of the automated machines as soon as you arrive in the city. This card is accepted on the vessels even in all public transports. You can top up the card with any amount of money you want, cheaper than the single journey ticket. Most of Istanbul’s sights and tourist attractions can be reached by public transport, particularly by tram, metro, boats, and funicular. But I’d suggest that you walk as much as possible. Istanbul is a beautiful city, with great architecture and hidden spots. Exploring the city on foot is a unique opportunity to meet the locals and enjoy the true feeling of Turkey.
Things to do in Istanbul
Istanbul Travel Tips are full of tourist attractions within the Grand Bazaar, including ancient ruins, palaces, worldwide renowned mosques, narghile bars, and endless shops. You have a lot to do and see that you’ll need time and energy to do all. Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar, Taksim Square and Bosphorus Boat tour are the places you are not supposed to miss.
What to avoid
Istanbul is fairly safe for a big city. You may be surprised at the number of people on the streets begging, but most of the time they will not do you harm. Many refugees are living on the streets of Istanbul because of the conflicts in the Middle East. There is an area around Tarlabasi Street, near Taksim Square, known as a place for drug dealers, prostitutes, and danger. So please avoid going there during night time especially.
As in a Muslim country you are a stranger, you should honor their customs and practices. There’s no need to cover up yourself or think about your wardrobe while you enjoy the city. Nonetheless, please wear long skirts or pants when you visit the mosques and religious sites, try to cover your neck and chest as well. A nice scarf is always a good choice for covering your head inside the mosques and protecting you from the sun and heat. And ladies, we know that any simple look in a trendy outfit will turn into a pretty scarf or pashmina.
Learn the basics
When you know the basic Turkish language, and a few useful words, it will be really nice for you. The workers at most hotels and restaurants may not be very fluent in English, which could trigger a contact issue. In Turkey, pronunciations often vary a little, so it is better to get a bit of a hang of the words. When in a foreign country, it always helps to talk to the people.
Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar
The Grand and Egyptian Spice Bazars are the most famous bazaars in Istanbul. With over 3,000 shops, one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets, you can buy all kinds of things at the Grand Bazaar such as leather goods, jewelry, carpets, clothing, furniture, ceramics, and souvenirs. The Spice Bazaar, which is considerably smaller than the Grand Bazaar, is home to about a hundred shops selling dried fruit, nuts, herbs, tea, Turkish Delight, and other treats. Both of these are within walking distance of Sultanahmet Square. Follow the link to Istanbul’s Bazaars and Rüstem Pasha Mosque, a small but beautiful mosque close to Spice Bazaar, for a walking tour.
The Grand Bazaar is a must-visit, but sometimes staying local is easier. Most districts will sell everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to clothes, appliances, and fabrics on a weekly market. Çarşamba (Wednesday) market in Fatih is the biggest sprawling, unruly chaos in the city, taking up numerous historic neighborhood streets. The Yeşilköy market offers a more upmarket alternative on the same day, while the Sunday market in Inebolu offers a wide range of organic Anatolian produce. Tarlabaşi’s, just a few blocks from Taksim, is a world away from the bustle of traffic, and it is truly worth a visit.
Take a cruise on Bosphorus
Going on a spectacular all-day Bosphorus cruise is, according to many, one of the greatest pleasures Istanbul Travel Tips has to offer. I have got it right. Šehir Hatları is the official ferry company in Istanbul and offers three Full, Short, and Moonlight (Evening) Bosphorus cruises. The Short Cruise will take you on a two-hour trip, while the Total and Moonlight Cruises will last for six hours and will take you all the way to Anadolu Kavağı, which is the last port facing the Black Sea. It is a delightful seaside town, where you can enjoy a tasty seafood lunch or water dinner. At the ferry dock, you can easily book yourself a Bosphorus cruise but you can arrange one in advance. They offer many variations of the cruise on the Bosphorus, some even bundled with dinner on board and a show.
Ride a hot air balloon
Riding a hot air balloon is one of Turkey’s very best things. Cappadocia is in Central Anatolia and it has unusual moon-like scenery and odd rock formations like fairy chimneys. It’s a spectacular view from the ground but even more impressive when seen from a balloon of hot air. You can stay back here and explore the scenic beauty of the city as well.
Walk the historical Peninsula
Istanbul Travel Tips has a lot more to it than its most popular sights, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. Fortunately, you can see much in a single day, if you don’t mind it’s a long one. Start early on the Galata Bridge to avoid the inevitable crowds, walk around the Spice Bazaar. Then, you can move to the Blue Mosque (which is free to enter), the Hagia Sophia (which is not) and then to the Topkapi Palace, Gulhane Park, and possibly the Cistern Basilique. Of course, there’s the Grand Bazaar for souvenirs and presents, where you should be sure to bargain.
The city is the host to the landmark Galata Tower and Dolmabahce Palace as well as the trendiest boulevard in the city of Istiklal Caddesi, the neighborhoods across the Galata Bridge provides a fascinating combination of old and new that is distinctive in feeling to Sultanahmet’s time-honored beauty. When you enjoy shopping, good food and maybe a taste of the nightlife in Istanbul, then this is where you need to be. You can check my post for more pictures and information about Galata Bridge, Beyoğlu and Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.
Bring good shoes
You can see much of Istanbul Travel Tips on foot if you have comfortable shoes or durable boots and don’t mind a bit of a walk. But most parts of the city are connected by a clean and efficient network of trains, buses, trams, and ferry services. Pick up a contactless Istanbul kart, which can be refilled at kiosks and stations, and is cheaper than using tokens, if you plan to take public transport. Avoid rush hours and check routes first though the metro doesn’t serve the entire city, it’s reliable and quick.
Be shrewd about taxis
Taxis are convenient and affordable, but seat belts are rare, speed limits are often ignored, and there are regular driver stories charging wildly inflated tourists amounts, so make sure the meter runs. Uber is technically illegal, but can still be used, as well as being able to call a more accountable cab and you pay in cash.
1.How many days should a traveler spend in Istanbul?
There are plenty of things to see for a first-time visitor and places to visit in Istanbul, and to see all the sights you would plan to spend no less than 2-3 days in the city.
2.Is Istanbul a pleasant place to visit?
Istanbul is an enchanting holiday place to visit. The town is has rich culture, tradition, food, unique architecture, sculpture, and much more. Istanbul is an outstanding stopover in the area. It is not small, though, with a population of 15 million. It’s a bridge between east and west and you’re going there for the culture, tradition, entertainment, good food, different architecture, stunning scenery, enjoyable, but above all for its amazingly hospitable and friendly people.
3.Which is the best area in Istanbul to stay?
Sultanahmet is the center of Istanbul’s history and culture. It is the oldest part of the city and is bounded to the north, east and south by bodies of water and to the west by old town walls. This district is Istanbul’s best place to stay if you’re first visiting the area.
4.What is Istanbul famous for?
Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that is world-famous for its rich history and culture, its stunning scenery, its majestic architecture and its multitude of facets.
5.What to know before traveling to Istanbul?
Before planning your trip to Istanbul there are lots of interesting things to know. The following are a few of the key factors:
- When entering mosques, make sure to carry a hat or a handkerchief.
- Dress decently when you visit places of worship
- Avoid making trips to dangerous areas.
- Stop entering places that are risky.
- Can you wear shorts in Turkey?
While you’re roaming in town, you can certainly visit shorts in Turkey but avoid wearing the same to mosques in Istanbul and other religious places. It is however best to dress decently while on holiday in Turkey.
6.Is it safe to walk in Istanbul at night?
You will definitely have long walks at night in Istanbul but at late hours you will surely stop strolling in unsafe areas. Istanbul is as safe for women according to existing records as any other major city in Europe. Nonetheless, limiting your travel to touristic areas is good.