Istanbul travel guide – Essential tips

The domes and minarets, the churches and mosques, the history and festivals, Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a magical place impressing millions of visitors every year.

Here are the most important tips and tricks that you need to know before travelling to Istanbul and to make sure that you will have a memorable and exceptional trip.

Istanbul Turkey

When to go?

The best seasons to visit Istanbul are the autumn and spring from September to November and late april to June. It’s when the weather is great, the crowds decrease and the hotel rates cut down. You will get the chance to explore the city and save money.

Also, April is the month of colors.t’s when Istanbul’s Tulip festival is held and the parks become spectacular. June is the month of shopping festival and Istanbul Music Festival.

During summer, the peak season, Istanbul is hot, expensive and crowded. The winter is very cold, rainy and windy but the snow makes the town and its surroundings a magical place.

It’s safe?

Istanbul is a one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world. So it’s very safe, organized and secured. But normal precautions are always required.

Don’t trust strangers who invite you for a cup of tea. Don’t carry expensive items with you and don’t go to dark and quiet streets. And if a  guy comes offering to sell you some product, to come to his showroom somewhere, refuse and walk away immediately. Keep your eyes on your bag and your phone when you put it on the table in a street restaurant.

At night, it’s preferable to go only to the city center, popular districts and tourist areas.  Some areas around Taksim Square are really dangerous. But if you stick to the main streets, you should be fine.

Women travelers are recommended to not go out alone at night.

You should also be very careful when crossing the street. Many drivers don’t respect the lights and the traffic regulations.

How to get around?

Like many big cities, Istanbul have a well connected transport system containing trams, funiculars, metros, buses and ferries.

When you arrive, you can buy the Istanbul Card from the automatic machines and charge it  as much as you need. It will benefit from a 10% discount on the ticket price and more as much as you use the card. Also, one card can be used by 5 persons.

If you will use the taxi, be careful. They always charge you more than it should be, use the night rates or make a longer tour.

Make sure the meter is on, keep your eyes on it, and ask locals or the hotel staff about the taxi rate to your destination. Also, beware when paying the taxi drivers, as they tend to sneak in a note or two and claim you gave him little less than final price.

Istanbul is very beautiful, and by walking you will discover amazing monuments, delicious small restaurants and beautiful gardens.

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Source: Senol Demir
https://www.flickr.com/photos/senoldemir/

 

Essential tips:

  • You can’t visit Istanbul without doing a Bosphorus cruise and discover the Asian part. Although big companies organize tours and dinners for high costs , you can take a ferry or a local boat for few liras and still enjoy the Bosphorus. The same if you want to visit the Prince Islands.
  • The water in Istanbul is not drinkable. You should use bottled water.
  • There are some non labeled streets, difficult to reach destinations and as we said taxis can use a longer way to charge you more. For that, use mobile applications such as Google maps to make sure you are in the right directions.
  • It’s highly recommended to always carry a photocopy of your passport.
  • The Grand Bazaar is really large and you may get lost. If you want to do shopping, take your time and be a good bargainer . Buying at asking price means you’re usually overpaying.
  • Some street sellers have cheaper items but with a modest quality. Try to avoid buying from them, especially jewelries which are certainly fake.
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Source: Daniel Snelson
https://www.flickr.com/photos/danielsnelson/

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