10 Things You Should Avoid Doing in Istanbul

10 things not to do in Istanbul

Istanbul is an absolutely amazing city! I fell in love with it the moment I got out of the bus: friendly people, vibrant atmosphere, delicious food, interesting history and culture make the visit to the city an unforgettable experience. Probably, in my case one of the reasons is the fact that I have some Turkic blood in my veins 🙂 But as any other touristic places it has its traps, so here are my travel tips on the things not to do in Istanbul in order to have a really enjoyable experience!

Need help with planning a trip to Istanbul? I am here to help!

Well, before you read them, here is the most important one: don’t walk alone (and not alone as well) at night, especially in the distant parts of the city. Frankly, this is true for many places, not for Istanbul only.

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Of course, it is much more convenient to stay closer to the sights, when you do not have to spend time and money to get to an attraction. But by doing this you will miss the real Istanbul and the authentic local life. If you stay in Sultanahmet close to the Blue Mosque or in Taksim near Istiklal, you will see crowds of tourists and locals alike. And it will be noisy. We stayed at Çapa, reasonably not far from Sultanahmet, and really enjoyed the neighbourhood. And it is cheaper 🙂

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2. Don’t take the tram on Istiklal.

Istiklal tram | 10 Things You Should Avoid Doing in Istanbul
Tram on Istiklal street

I know how tempting it sounds: to take a ride in the historical tram in the center of Istanbul in its most famous street. Well, it was not that dashing when I had to stand in the tram packed with people and not being able to see a glimpse of Istiklal. So, don’t do it, especially if you intend to actually see this wonderful street. Frankly, many people just take photos of themselves in front of the tram without getting in. But if you are tired – and you will be, if you are going to peek into all the shops, of which there are plenty – it is even advisable to take the tram to get to the other side of Istiklal.

3. Don’t shop on Istiklal.

Continuing with Istiklal, here comes my next tip: don’t shop there. I have to admit, I am guilty of this one. There are many shops on Istiklal, especially lots of not-so-expensive European brands as Mango, Bershka, H&M, and local Turkish ones, and it is difficult not to fall to the temptation of buying a fancy dress or a T-shirt. But people who travel to Istanbul frequently advise to go to big shopping centers, which are not touristic, and the prices are lower.

4. Don’t buy apple tea.

I am one of those people who loves tea: waiters in Istanbul ask me if I am Russian when I order it 🙂 After hearing so much about the Turkish apple tea, I decided to try it. Well, no offence to apple tea lovers, but it is far from being the best beverage I have ever had. And that powder the tea is made of looks totally artificial. Better buy authentic Turkish tea: I think Çaykur is the most popular one of them.

5. Don’t buy everything you see in the bazaars.

Delights at bazaar | 10 Things You Should Avoid Doing in Istanbul
Turkish Delights at the Egyptian Bazaar

Yes, the Egyptian and Grand Bazaars are cool, and you can buy lots of things there, but they are intended for tourists primarily, and are very expensive. If you want to buy Turkish delights or tea, better go to a local bakery or a supermarket. Just an example: my friend wanted to buy Çaykur tea in the Egyptian bazaar, because, as the rumor has it, it is cheaper there than in the Grand Bazaar. In one shop it cost 15 Turkish liras, in the second one 30(!) Turkish liras, and in the supermarket – 12 Turkish liras only (or might be even less depending on the tea type).



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6. Don’t buy in bazaars without haggling.

Haggling is crucial! You can cut the price by half. The items in the bazaars are overpriced, and you can’t buy everything in supermarkets or local shops. If you really want that amazingly colorful scarf or those wonderful tulip-shaped glasses, then don’t be afraid to bargain. When the seller tells the price, say that it is too expensive. They lower the price a bit, but you go on with saying that it is still too expensive, and turn to go away. Usually they stop you and ask to set your own price. Don’t be too immodest, give it a reasonable price, and you will strike a deal. A story again: on my first trip to Istanbul I did not know any of these, but managed to cut the price of a scarf from 60 Turkish liras to 25.

7. Don’t be afraid to try street food.

Street food | 10 Things You Should Avoid Doing in Istanbul
Street food in Istanbul

Turkey has an amazing national cuisine, and you don’t even have to go to a restaurant to try it. Get yourself a kumpir (a baked potato with filling), balik ekmek (fish and bread), tombik (it is similar to burgers, but tastes much better), simit (a bread with sesame seeds), and baked chestnuts. And freshly squeezed pomegranate and orange juices! I think street vendors are everywhere in Istanbul, so consider yourself safe from starvation 🙂 . If you are not a fan of street food, and don’t think it is hygienic enough, go to small Turkish restaurants.

And, obviously, don’t go to McDonald’s or Burger King 🙂 The Turkish cuisine is not limited to street food, so go to restaurants that serve traditional kebabs and delights. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! Even better, dine with a local family! They do not speak much English, but your guide will translate if anything is unclear. In addition, you will get a tour of Sultanahmet’s backstreets!

8. Don’t eat close to touristic places.

This one is a very strong don’t, and it’s true not only for Istanbul. We had a dinner in a very small restaurant just next to the Topkapi palace: unfortunately, I don’t remember its name, but it was overpriced and the food was awful. Actually, it was our worst meal in the city. Just go a bit farther from the sights and you will find really nice places to eat.



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9. Don’t wear revealing clothes or short dresses.

Turkey is a country with a Muslim majority, and it means that a dress code should be respected. I strongly advise women not to wear short dresses or skirts or clothes that reveal a lot of cleavage. I do not think many of us need so much unwanted attention.

I wore once a long above-knee shirt with thick black tights and too many people paid attention to me, while older ladies kept rolling their eyes 🙂

10. Don’t try to get to everywhere on foot.

When I looked at the map of Istanbul, some sights seemed to be really close to each other, while in reality it takes a lot of time to get there. When we went to Yildiz Palace – an amazing place, by the way, I thought that Dolmabahce is not really far from there. Trust me, it is, and I am glad we took the bus. If you like long walks, then it is not a huge distance for you, but for us, who attempted to get everywhere on foot as much as possible, it was quite an ordeal.

Do you know any other things not to do in Istanbul you would like to share? Anyway, if you are going to Istanbul, you will need a list of places to see there, so I am here to help! And I have a huge list of useful tips for Istanbul!

Well, in any city you travel, you have to stay somewhere 🙂 When I search for accommodation, I always use two options: it is either AirBnB (click here for a discount on your first booking with AirBnB) or Booking.com.



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10 things to avoid doing in Istanbul, Turkey | Things not to do in Istanbul, Turkey | Travel tips for Istanbul, Turkey

76 thoughts on “10 Things You Should Avoid Doing in Istanbul

    • Marianna says:

      Hi!

      Sorry for the late reply, I was travelling.
      Yes, Istanbul is safe during the daytime. You can easily walk around pretty much whole Istanbul including but not limited to Sultanahmet, Fatih, Laleli, Eminonu, Taksim, Beyoglu, Karakoy, Nisantasi, Besiktas, Uskudar. When it comes to night time, I would stick to the tourist areas like Taksim and Sultanahmet and any places close to tourist sights.

      Best,
      Marianna

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Lizzy,

      Personally I always choose to stay not far from Sultanahmet. I really enjoyed staying at Capa: we booked an Airbnb close to Turgut Özal Millet Cd, it was absolutely safe, many locals and a direct tram to Sultanahmet.
      Laleli, Sultanahmet and Beyoglu (parts close to Taksim Square, Galata Tower and Karakoy) are nice areas to stay as well.
      I would stick to the areas I mention above as they are close to main tourist attractions.

      Best,
      Marianna

      • Fathima says:

        Hi i will be going in January and will be staying at the ramada old city is it a good location and will the cold be manageable

        • Marianna says:

          Hi Fathima,

          Is that Ramada in Turgut Özal Millet Caddesi? If yes, then I think that the location is perfect! The tram stop is nearby, and it will get you right to the Blue Mosque, Galata Bridge, Dolmabahce and Kabatas where you can take the funicular up to Taksim Square and see Istiklal going down to Galata Tower.

          As for going there in January: I was in Istanbul at the end of December, and it was rainy, windy and gloomy, but I had just a coat on and I remember it was enough. It does not mean that January will be the same, I guess I just was that lucky 🙂 Anyway, take warmer clothes with you to be safe. What I advise to do is check the weather a day before you go there, and then you can decide what to pack.

          Have fun in Istanbul!

      • Popo says:

        Hi Marianna,
        I am not going to Turkey for tourism purposes, I was wondering if you could advise on places within istanbul where I could buy items likes ladies outfits, men’s suits, Turkish carpets for a small business.

        Many thanks
        Pops

        • Marianna says:

          Hi Pops,

          Well, I am afraid I won’t be of much help as I have never thought about it, so take everything I write with a grain of salt. Many people in my country bring clothes from Turkey for sale, and I have heard rumours they buy it somewhere in Laleli, a district of Istanbul next to Sultanahmet. But I have no idea where exactly they buy it. I am sorry I am not of much help.

        • LYNDA says:

          Pops, call Yunus Emre. I’m an author currently living in Istanbul and I was lucky to meet him. His family have a carpet business for 40 years in Sultanahmet. They sell and ship wholesale/retail all over the world. Also, he can steer you in the right direction for clothing too. add him to What’s App +90 536 647 52 11. You can say Lynda sent you and you will have great service and a lot of fun and tea!

          • Christene Helm says:

            Hi Lynda
            I’m an author too. I’m coming to Istanbul in April and am interested in making connections with people. You can DM me if you are available. It’s my first time there.
            I’m a British ex pat living in California right now.
            christenemhelm@gmail.com
            +16265649751

          • Marianna says:

            Christene, your comment is public meaning everyone will see your phone number and email. Would you like me to edit it?

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Shane,

      I would opt for the old city part, but that is my personal preference. And it is hard for me to judge as it depends greatly on what you enjoy more. Taksim has a richer nightlife, if that is of any interest for you.

      Best,
      Marianna

      • Ella Maloomat says:

        Hi Marianna
        Actually I’d like to go to Istanbul in March, it’s my first time, but I don’t have any information about this pandemic in there, so how can I know these times are good for going to Istanbul.
        And I was wondering if you can tell me about your place that you stay on AIRBNB
        Thanks
        Ella

        • Marianna says:

          Hi Ella,

          When it comes to the pandemic, the things change every day so it is hard to predict what will happen in March. I know that now they issued weekend curfews, but it is for locals only, tourists are allowed to walk around. You will just have to follow the news.

          As for the Airbnb: it is not available on the airbnb website anymore. We wanted to book it again for our last year trip, but, apparently, the hosts deleted it. There are many other apartments and hotels in the area of Capa, I am sure you will find something suitable.

          Best,
          Marianna

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Mohamed,

      Honestly, I have no idea. It seems to be a residential area, so should be safe.

      But it is really far from the historical center of Istanbul. It will take about an hour to get there by public transport. But, again, it depends on the purpose of your travel to Istanbul.

      Best,
      Marianna

  1. Naz says:

    My wife purchased a few of bottles of purfume from the street. Big mistake; when she used one there was virtually no smell.

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Naz,

      I am sorry for that. I know that things like this happen, so that’s why I advise to be careful when buying at bazaars.

      But I hope you had a nice trip 🙂

      Best,
      Marianna

  2. Muhammad Ahmed says:

    Hi Marianna,

    Would you recommend to buy tickets online for tourist attractions or on the spot. If online what is the best website to buy them from.

    Kind regards and many thanks for your suggestions in advance.

    Muhammad

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Muhammad,

      Personally, I have never bought anything online, I prefer to buy tickets on site, and I feel that Istanbul, despite being so popular, is not very online friendly 🙂 Still, the queues might be extremely long when you travel during high season.

      Check this website for everything available online: https://muze.gov.tr/urun-ekle?catalogNo=WEB-AYS01-01-008. It is the website of the ministry of culture and tourism and they sell tickets to some places online. In addition, they sell museum passes for Istanbul, but read carefully which places the pass gives access to, as Dolmabahce, Galata, Yerebatan Cistern are not included.

      You may opt for organised tours like this Topkapi tour or this one including Harem as well, or this Topkapi and Harem with a historian as a guide, Hagia Sophia, Dolmabahce with audioguide, and Basilica Cistern. Naturally, these tours are more expensive than just buying a ticket, but they come with skip-the-line option, meaning no lines, and there is usually a guide. If you don’t have much time in Istanbul or don’t want to wait in queues, you might consider them. Otherwise, I would just buy tickets on site.

      I am afraid that’s all I know.

      Have fun in Istanbul!
      Marianna

  3. Jasmine says:

    Hi,

    What are the best places to see in Istanbul in a day (stopover). Turkish airlines provides free sight seeing tours and I was wondering which tour I should opt for.

    1. Departure from Istanbul Airport
    Following the Coastal Road
    Sight seeing tour (outer visit & sight seeing tour)
    Yedikule Fortress
    Old Samatya Armanian District
    Yeni Kapı Harbour
    Walls of Constantine
    Eminonu District
    Photo break on Galata Bridge for 10 mins
    Dolmabahçe Palace
    Free time at Dolmabahçe Palace for 20 mins
    Taksim Square
    Galata Tower
    Golden Horn
    Aqueduct of Valens
    Yeni Kapı Harbour
    Returns to Istanbul Airport

    2. Departure from Istanbul Airport
    Breakfast
    Blue Mosque
    Hippodrome: German Fountain
    Serpentine Column
    Obelisk of Thedosius
    Topkapı Palace
    Lunch
    Returns to Istanbul Airport
    Grand Covered Bazaar
    Returns to Istanbul Airport

    3. Departure from Istanbul Airport
    Lunch
    Pierre Loti Hill & Coffee House
    Eyüp Sultan Mosque & Square
    Byzantine City Walls
    Ayvansaray Sahaba Tombs
    Church of St. Mary (Panagia – Blachernae)
    Balat (a walk through the streets with ancient houses)
    Bulgarian St. Stephen Church (from outside)
    Ahrida Synagogue (from outside)
    Fener Greek Orthodox College (from outside)
    Patriarchate of Istanbul
    Return to Istanbul Airport

    4. (walking tour) Departure from Istanbul Airport
    Following the Coastal Road
    Yeni Kapı Harbour
    Beyazit Square
    Istanbul University (outer visit)
    Beyazit Tower
    Old Book Market
    Grand Bazaar
    Çorlulu Ali Pasha Mosque
    Tomb of Mahmud the 2nd
    Column of Constantine
    Hippodrome Square
    German Fountain
    Egyptian Obelisk
    Serpentine Column
    Obelisk of Theodosius
    Blue Mosque (outer visit)
    Hagia Sophia (outer visit)
    Dinner
    Returns to Istanbul Airport

    Thank you!

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Jasmine!

      My advice is based on my personal opinion and experience. If it is your first time in Istanbul, I would opt for 1 or 2. These 2 cover the most well-known sights in Istanbul like Blue Mosque, Topkapi, Galata and Dolmabahce. But then again, do you know whether you will go inside Topkapi and Dolmabahce and Galata Tower? I am asking because unlike mosques, these are not free to enter. I suspect you will see them from outside only. Still, these 2 tours are quite good.

      The third one is churches, mostly Orthodox ones: are you interested in them?

      The fourth one is mostly around Beyazit and Blue Mosques. All of these places – Hippodrome Square, German Fountain, Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column, Obelisk of Theodosius – are on Sultanahmet Square next to Blue Mosque. It sounds like it’s many places, but in reality they are meters apart.

      Personally, I would opt for 1: it has a richer programme. But if you want to visit the Grand Bazaar more, then 2 🙂 I am sorry if I am not of much help.

      I have a post on what to do during a short layover in Istanbul, where I give some ideas on how organise it by yourself, but I wrote it when Ataturk was the main airport, so ways of getting to the city will be different. Still, you might want to have a look 🙂

  4. Ilze says:

    Hi there!
    Thank you sooo much for this insightful read!. I’m planning a trip to Turkey for 12 days. And this helped alot.
    We want to see cappadocia for 2nights for the balloon ride as well as antalya. What is your view for antalya

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Ilze,

      Thank you for your nice words!

      I haven’t been to Cappadocia, but it is high in my list, and I have heard only amazing things about it. Don’t forget to explore the area nearby, including the fairy chimneys.

      About Antalya: in my country it is viewed as mostly a resort city on the seaside with multiple hotels. And it is very popular among my co-citizens and Russians as well. There are some places of interest in the city, but it isn’t as rich in attractions as Istanbul. Antalya is more of a place to lounge on the beach drinking cocktails 🙂 Of course, my knowledge about the city is limited as I haven’t been there myself, but this is the impression I got. Many hotels offer all inclusive deals, meaning you don’t even have to leave the hotel as you can get everything there. But, maybe, this is exactly what you are looking for 🙂

  5. TRIPSTER says:

    That’s a great article! The Egyptian and Grand Bazaars are good but much touristic. If it’s not your first time in Istanbul, I suggest you to visit Besiktas Marketplace or Nisantasi. Also don’t forget to try “midye dolma”, “kokorec” and “kumpir”.

    • Marianna says:

      I have never been to these markets, so thanks for the tip!

      And I still regret that despite visiting Istanbul so many times I have never had midye dolma! Kokorec is good, I loved it! Not so much kumpir, but it might be because I chose the wrong filling 🙂

  6. Sarah Baig says:

    Hi Marianna, thanks for taking the time to proviso much information!! We are a family of 5 (3 kids ages 19,17,13) planning to visit Istanbul and Cappadocia in June. How’s Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus? Is there a lot of eating places around it? What kind of transportation can I take to go around from there? Or staying in Sultanahmet is better? I fee that the hotels in Sultanahmet are a bit old. How Hotel Ameera in Sultanahmet? Look forward to hearing from you!

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I will try to respond to the best of my ability. I am not very familiar with that part of the city, I stayed in an apartment once not far from Hilton, but it was a business trip and I did not go out much. Hilton seems to have nice reviews, not perfect, but nice. If you get a room with sea view, I think you won’t regret it.

      About the location: in my opinion, it is far from the main sights like Topkapi and Blue Mosque, but Taksim Square, Istiklal street (Galata Tower is not far from the other end of Istiklal) and Dolmabahce are relatively close. I hope you are good walkers, these places are within 1-2 km from the hotel. When it comes to transportation, I advise you to have a look at Google Maps, it knows much more than I do 🙂 But I know for sure that tram T1 goes from Kabatas (not far from Dolmabahce) to Sultanahmet: we took this tram often when we were in Istanbul. From Kabatas as well you can take buses 22, 25E, and from Kadirgalar Caddesi not far from the hotel 40T and 42T to Rumeli Hisari fortress. Ferries to the Asian part and the Prince Islands depart from Kabatas pier. Maybe, there are some buses that connect Hilton hotel area to Sultanahmet, but I am not an expert in this. When it comes to restaurants, there are lots of places on Cumhuriyet street, in the part closer to Taksim but not so many in the nearest vicinity of the hotel. Lalezar Meyhanesi inside Hilton has nice reviews as well as Karabatak Harbiye coffee shop.

      Do you mean Hotel Amira as I can’t find Ameera in Istanbul? The location of Amira is much better in my opinion, and it has better, I would even say glorious, reviews. Just remember that this part of the city is not plain, meaning you will have to go up and down, but it wasn’t a problem for us when we walked in the area. I suppose (I only suppose) that it is the same with Hilton hotel.

      I hope this is helpful 🙂

  7. Sarah Baig says:

    Omg Marianna!! That was an excellent reply! Such detailed! Thanks dear 🙂
    No O am not a walker although my family is. Thanks for telling me that hote Amira is among hilly roads and Hilton is far. I would like your opinion in another thing…is it Better to take a tour or go around on your own? I’ve went around Amsterdam, London and Dubai on our own. So is Istanbul a similar place where we can see places on our own without getting a tour? It’s not for the money but we would like to move around at our own time. But just not sure if we’ll miss anything. Thanks again!

    • Marianna says:

      I always go around on my own, I don’t like anyone telling me where to go and how much time spend there 🙂 I don’t think you need anyone’s help for Istanbul, everything is easily accessible, but queues might be huge. If you don’t want to wait in queues, have a look at the tours I mention in a comment above. I think you should definitely see Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye, Aya Sophia, Topkapi, Dolmabahce, Galata Tower, Istiklal Street, Rumelihisari, Grand and Egyptian Bazaars, Beylerbeyi Palace. And take tours of Bosphorus and Golden Horn.

  8. Sarah Baig says:

    Do you recommend any hotels? I want it close to food so that my kids can go and get something if they want. Also my kids are not into too much of old stuff and not interested in history. But we are dragging them! I want a nice hotel priced up to $350/night. Also near shopping. So dear, too many parameters! But thanks for any pointers.

    • Marianna says:

      Well, I am not of much help when it comes to hotels, the only thing I can advice you to do is to check booking.com. If you are not familiar with it, you can specify the location and open the map, and select how much you want to pay per night. Read the reviews carefully as people mention many things there. I recommend some hotels in the post.
      When it comes to shopping, Laleli, the district neighbouring Sultanhmet, has lots of shops, and is actually considered being somewhat of shopping heart of Istanbul. Istiklal street has many shops as well, but big shopping centers are better. I am not into shopping so can’t say much.

  9. Annalie Van Rooyen says:

    Hi there Marianna, I would love to see Turkey with my family, two late teenagers, a ten year old and my husband. I am fascinated with Turkish history. We cannot afford fancy hotels and do not mind staying in fairly simple places as long as it is safe, clean and warm. We also do not mind fixing our own meals or eating from street markets. Where do you suggest we stay in Istanbul where it is reasonable and safe? Do you suggest air b and b’s? How do we travel on our own in Turkey if we are not with a tour group? We would love see other places like Konya, Izmir, Sögüt etc. And Cappodocia. We will visit in December and early January.

    Thanks so much!

    Thanks so much

    Annalie

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Annalie,

      Well, in Turkey I visited only Istanbul, so can’t speak about travel inside the country. I looked once for ways to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia, and the best way was by plane. The tickets were quite cheap, around 30-35 EUR one way, so you can have a look at flights. Flights to Izmir from Istanbul are approximately the same price. I use kayak.com to search for tickets.

      As for hotels and airbnbs, I have no preference, I just choose the cheapest option. I stayed in airbnbs in Istanbul, they were quite good. You are a big family, so I would advise to search for an airbnb somewhere in Sultanahmet, Laleli or Capa. This way the main sights will be close to you, and there are many cafes, restaurants, shops and supermarkets around. There are hundreds of hotels in Istanbul, but they don’t have cooking facilities, so airbnbs are a better option. When it comes to other cities, I, unfortunately, have no experience. I can only advise to read carefully reviews on airbnb and booking.com before booking.

  10. LYNDA says:

    I love your advice. I’m living there now and often go out at night. I’m in the Findikli Park area very close to Sultanahmet. I’m amazed at how well you picked up on the culture and the city. You would be a great traveling companion. Thanks for saying such nice things about this amazing city!

    • Marianna says:

      Thanks for your nice words, Lynda!

      I love Istanbul unconditionally, it is my absolutely most favorite city. I visit it often, and would love to visit again this April, but it is hard to get a companion at the moment.

      When it comes to my advice, I base it on my experience. I know that many locals would disagree, but they don’t see Istanbul through the eyes of a traveller. In general, the advice to stay closer to tourist areas at night is true for every place around the world, not for Istanbul only. Like they say, better safe than sorry 🙂

      • Carol says:

        I would love to travel with you. I have been wanting to go to Istanbul, although I do not have a traveling companion and don’t want to go alone. You have a lot of experience and it would be wonderful to tag along sometime when you plan to go back to Istanbul.

        • Marianna says:

          Hi Carol,
          I would love a travel companion! And Istanbul is a fantastic city! Frankly, I have never been to Istanbul alone, it was either with friends or business trips, so if you have any plans to visit it and they coincide with mine, let’s see what we can do.
          I planned to go to Istanbul in April for the tulip festival, but with this year’s situation it is impossible.

          • Christene Helm says:

            Hi Marianna.
            I plan to be in Istanbul in April 2021. I would love to meet up if you are there. I’m a writer and looking for some inspiration for my blog.
            Christene

          • Marianna says:

            Hi Christene,

            Unfortunately, with this pandemic thing I won’t be able to travel till autumn, probably. But I know that Istanbul is fantastic in April: you will be right in time for the tulip festival!

  11. Tim says:

    Thank you Marianna for excellent tips!

    I would add one more based on my experience: If you get a menu without prices always ask what each dish costs. Its very common to inflate the prices for tourists. I have been in Istanbul numerous times (actually Im also now here) and everytime it happens to me at least once. This time when i came by overnight bus from Albania and was too tired and hungry to be sharp when eating in main bus station. Now im not talking about big sums of money, but still i leaves a bit bad taste.
    But anyway Istanbul is magnificent city with so nice locals !

    • Marianna says:

      Dear Tim,

      Thanks for the tip!

      I have heard tourists complaining that some restaurants have two menus with different prices. The one with lower prices comes when they have to order, and when they receive the bill with higher amount and ask for the menu, the second menu with different prices is brought.

      None of these has ever happened to me, I guess I am just lucky 🙂

  12. Audrey says:

    Hi Marianna,

    We were thinking of travelling to Turkey this summer but I guess with what is happening right now, I don’t know if it will be possible.

    Anyway, if things change, and we are able, is July and August much too hot, or no?

    Thank you so much, Marianna, and thank you also for the excellent pointers you’ve given here.

    Audrey

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Audrey,

      Yeah, I am in the same boat. I had plans for this year, but they will have to wait. Hopefully, this situation will be over soon.

      As for the weather: July and August are considered the hottest months, I think the average is about 28 Celsius, but often it is higher than 30. For me it is quite hot 🙂 Frankly, I try to avoid travelling to southern (if I may call them like that) countries in summer, but that depends on the purpose. The Mediterranean coast of Turkey is super popular during this time among holidaying people as there are many resorts in the area.

      I would say September and October are perfect for exploring Istanbul. I was once there in the second half of November and it was warm and sunny.

      Safe travels!

      Marianna

  13. Justin says:

    Hey Marianna,
    Is Istanbul safe from kidnapping and is it safe to travel alone, both day and night? Nice reviews! Maybe I’ll go there someday!

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Justin,

      I have travelled to Istanbul many times and I would say Istanbul is a safe city, just take the general precautions like you would do in any other city. We – 2 females – went to many places outside Sultanahmet and Taksim during the daytime and have never had any problems. At night I would stick to tourist areas.

      When it comes to kidnappings, I don’t know what to say… I have heard stories and rumours about kidnappings, particularly women, in Istanbul but I can’t really comment on this as I don’t know anything. I can only express my opinion based on my experience: I have never had any problems in Istanbul. I took taxis alone, once I stayed there alone for 24 hours in a hotel with only male employees. In fact, they were very nice to me: allowed me to choose a room as they had many available and then booked a seat for me in a shuttle bus so I got a free ride to the airport. In another hotel with only male employees again where I stayed with my friend, they were really nice to us. Istanbul is a magnificent city, you should definitely visit it.

  14. Quaid Ali says:

    Hello Marianna
    I was planning to go to Turkey in Feb/Mar but because of pandemic all over the world everything has been changed but my plans are not, just waiting for the right time here in US as well in Turkey.
    I want to go to Sogat and wants to know if you are aware of the area and can give my any tips.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Ali,

      I have visited Istanbul only in Turkey, I am sorry but I can’t help you with this one.

      Anyway, do you mean Sogut? Because I couldn’t find any mention of Sogat in Turkey. I found this article online, but maybe you had seen it already.

      Have fun in Turkey!

  15. Marianne F Staub says:

    Hello Marianna,

    A friend and I are going to Istanbul, Turkey to backpack in mid October. I have been excited since he mentioned it. Love learning about different cultures etc. Curious about the dress attire. Scarf to cover when necessary and don’t be revealing. What would you suggest if we will be backpacking? I want to be able to visit the Mosques but not pull a suitcase. Are we required to wear tights, boots to cover my legs? Just want to make sure I pack properly before I leave the US. He is interested in having a hair transplant, main reason going to Turkey. Do you or any one else that has responded here know anything about hair transplants in Turkey? Any advice on the Reflections Camp there?

    Thank you for the information you have given so far above.

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Marianne,

      I have another post about Istanbul with travel tips, have you seen it? I write a bit more about clothes there. I took this picture outside the Blue Mosque:
      Clothes
      I think if you can get a big scarf, like pashmina, and a long skirt (they don’t have to be thick), you will be ok. And they won’t take much room in the backpack. Your head, shoulders and legs should definitely be covered, not sure pants are enough.
      They have some robes at the mosque to use if you don’t have your own, but in these times I wouldn’t risk to put them on.

      As for the transplant, I am afraid, I won’t be of much help, but, maybe, someone here knows something.

      Marianna

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Brinda,

      I know that there are solo female travellers who take night buses without any problems, but, as I have never done it myself, I can’t really help you with this. Maybe, my readers can share their experience.

  16. Tim Neeble says:

    Thanks very much for putting this information together!
    I am planning to go for a 7 day trip in the April in next year. Is it the right time to visit?

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Tim!

      I think April is perfect! The weather is nice, the tourist season isn’t in full swing yet, and you will be there right for the tulip festival!

  17. Saleem Dhanani says:

    Hi Mariana
    xxxxxxxx is my WhatsApp number.
    Please just put a hi on my WhatsApp number, i have many things to ask you about turkey

  18. Lara says:

    Hey dear im going to istanbul taksim to prepare things and cloth to get married if you have any suggestions for best malls around us that have cloth textiles bedsheets lingerie or any kindly inform me moreover if i can also find summer cloth as well in november?? Much appreciated dear

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Lara,

      Unfortunately, I can help mostly with travel-related questions, but I know that many people go to Laleli to buy textiles, so you may check there. Sorry that I am not of much help.

  19. Shaji George says:

    Hi Marianna,
    You seem to be giving great advises, thanks for being there. Can I too get some help from you? I have a business travel to Istanbul in the first week of December. I will be there (alone) for a week. It will be of great help if you can tell me if there are conducted tours (bus) on the weekend days in Istanbul so that I can make sight seeing for 2 days. If yes how can I book tickets and do you have idea how expensive it is going to be..
    Also, do I have to carry winter clothing.. mmm.. what I mean is if it is not much costly I can buy there…

    Thank you

    Shaji George

    • Marianna says:

      Hi!

      I never take organised tours, so I can’t really help you with that, but I don’t see why you can’t do it yourself 🙂 If you have two days to explore Istanbul, on day 1 you can stay around Sultanahmet and visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi, Yerebatan Cistern and the Grand Bazaar (it doesn’t mean you will manage to see all the places I mention, just choose the ones more appealing to you. Topkapi will require at least 2 hours). On day 2 go to Dolmabahce, then take the funicular up to Taksim Square, stroll around Istiklal and finish at Galata Tower. You can do some shopping in Istiklal as well 🙂 They have the so-called museum card, though I have never used it myself, but it allows to skip queues.

      If you must have an organised tour, try checking Getyourguide: they have many tours and you can book directly on their website. Another way is to ask at the tourist information points, I am sure they have info on that. One point used to be close to Sultanahmet tram station next to a mosque. As for the cost, I would say expect to pay about 45-50 EUR a day, so it is much cheaper to do it by yourself, especially considering that many tourist attractions are really close to each other.

      When it comes to clothes, I would advise to definitely bring a coat, thicker pants and pullovers. Depending on your luck, it may be between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius.

      Hope this helps! Have fun in Istanbul!

      • Shaji George says:

        Thank you Marianna for finding time to reply me. Your reply is full of valuable information that will help me to take decisions. I think 1) I should stay in Capa area, 2) there is no need to look for organized sight seeing trips because almost all the tourists are close by (but is there cheap cabs I can hire?) (but I shall still look in to getyourguide), 3) I don’t have to worry much about ‘it being too expensive’ like $ 100 to 120 should be sufficient for sight seeing with economy class food.
        I may be asking for too much.. but please just answer if I am right in above 3 things..
        So nice of you 🙂

        • Marianna says:

          1. Capa is my personal preference, I like this part of Istanbul, but you can stay in Sultanahmet as well 🙂
          2. December isn’t really tourist season, so I don’t think there will be many travellers at this time, so there shouldn’t be long lines at tourist attractions. And the places are really close. For example, the Hippodrome Square is at the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia is across the square from the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi is around the corner from Hagia Sophia. the Grand Bazaar is a bit farther, but absolutely accessible by foot. In fact, I have always explored the area on foot and never felt a need for a cab. To get to Dolmabahce from Capa or Sultanahmet you can take tram 1 (you can either buy tokens to pay for it or Istanbulkart). I prefer Istanbulkart as it can be used on all means of transportation, like buses, trams, metro, and the funicular train that takes from Dolmabahce to Taksim Square. Then Istiklal starts at Taksim Square and leads down to Galata Tower. If you are still not comfortable, have a look at hop on – hop off buses. When it comes to organised tours, they have an advantage important to travellers who don’t know much about the place: they come with guides or audio guides, so you will have to decide for yourself what you prefer.
          3. When it comes to prices, you can easily calculate your expenses. Mosques are free to visit, and I have heard (though I am not sure) that Hagia Sophia is free to visit now as it was converted into a mosque this year. Bazaars are free, Istiklal and Taksim Square are free. Topkapi and Dolmabahce are quite expensive, you can check the prices here. Unfortunately, I can’t find any recent info on Galata Tower, but I suppose it costs around 50 liras. The prices have really gone up since my last trip to Istanbul. When it comes to food, I think kebabs should cost about 40-50 liras. Check the menu of this place to get an idea about the prices: I personally like the restaurant. Hopefully, it’s still open.

          • Shaji George says:

            Thank you Marianna,
            I just got my visa ready yesterday. Your reply is going to help me a lot. I have already out of the fear of visiting a new place. Thank you very much for the way you care to reply. Believe me, only few people spend time to reply in detail like you. So nice of you 🙂

  20. Arabinda says:

    Hello Marianna, I am from India & planning to visit Istanbul and Antalya for 3-4 nights in next year. Can you please help me with probable cost for those 3-4 days? I will check the Airfare from the airlines.

  21. Arabinda says:

    Hello Marianna, I read your posts and really appreciate your effort to respond to so many queries. I am from India and planning to visit Istanbul and Antalya next year by Mid April 2021. Can you please help me with tentative cost for 4-5 nights of stay, sight seeing etc. While i understand that there will be some misc. cost which i will add accordingly.

    • Marianna says:

      Dear Arabinda,

      I can speak about Istanbul only, as I have never been to Antalya. I can only guide you in this question, budget depends on many things. Usually, I split my expenses into several categories: flight, accommodation, food, local transport and sightseeing. Souvenirs is something else.

      Flight and accommodation costs depend on your location and choice, I can’t really help you here, but I have a guide on the best areas to stays in Istanbul and some hotel recommendations.

      When it comes to food, you can check the websites of restaurants for menus and prices. For example, I mention Sirvan Sofrasi in one of my comments, and according to their menu, kebabs cost 40 liras on average. If you want a dessert and a cup of tea/coffee, prepare to pay another 30 liras, meaning that one meal will cost you about 70 liras. Eating out twice a day will result in 140 liras per day per person, but, of course, you may come across cheaper or more expensive places: this number is very tentative.

      Local transport is another cost. When I was in Istanbul last time, a token cost 5 liras, meaning if you use the transport twice a day, it is 10 liras. We always use Istanbulkart, with it it costs around 3-3,5 liras per trip. We noticed that the more we used the card, the cheaper was the fare.

      Sightseeing costs depend on your interests: I usually make in excel a list of places I want to see and google ticket costs. Unfortunately, Istanbul isn’t very good when it comes to putting prices on websites, so you will have to do some digging. Mosques, squares, bazaars are free to visit. You can find the entrance fees for Topkapi and Dolmabahce here, for the other places you will have to do the search yourself. It might be useful to check Istanbul Museum Card, maybe, it will be better to buy it instead of paying individual entrance fees.

  22. Jennifer Borman says:

    Hello marianna,
    My mom and I are thinking of doing a stop over trip to instanbul in December of 2021. Is this a good time to go or it is cold there. Also is it safe for two women to travel there alone?

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I have always travelled to Istanbul with a female friend, and we have never had any issues. Just take the general precautions, like you would do in any other city.

      When it comes to the weather, that’s a tricky one. I went once to Istanbul at the end of December and it was rainy and windy. And it was quite cold. Honestly, that depends on your luck. Unlike me, you may have sunny days, but it will be cold anyway, so a thick jacket will be nice, and, maybe, something to cover your head as well, especially if you intend to take boat tours, as it is even colder closer to the water.

  23. Neelam says:

    Hey Marianna
    Hope you are well. Thx for sharing these valuable insights. Quick question what’s the best way of getting from the airport IST to Old Town and approx cost if you know please? Appreciate your advice.
    Thx

    • Marianna says:

      Hi Neelam,

      Personally I have never been to the new airport, but its website is quite useful. Check the transportation options here: https://www.istairport.com/en/passenger/transport/airport-transfers. If you are ok with buses, HAVAIST is your option. Their HAVAIST 12 route stops at Beyazit Square relatively not far from Sultanahmet, and it costs 30 liras per person. When it comes to taxis, it looks like the cheapest one will cost around 160 liras.

      Have a nice trip to Istanbul!

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