Istanbul Travel Tips

Four days in Istanbul was enough time for me to gather some advice for future trips to this beautiful city. Overall, I felt safe as a solo traveller and enjoyed the fact that many attractions are clustered together in one area. If you’re thinking about a trip to Istanbul…don’t hesitate…book the flight. In the meantime, you can scroll down and keep reading for my Istanbul travel tips 🙂

1. Stay in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul if you want to be close to all the main attractions. Most of the major attractions are also within walking distance of each other. I stayed in Zeynep Sultan Hotel which is reasonably priced and 5 minutes walking distance from the Blue Mosque.

2. The Grand Bazaar is not the cheapest place to shop in Istanbul. Try the “Arasta Bazaar” which is behind the Blue Mosque. Despite being located in a tourist hotspot, it is not crowded and the prices are cheaper. Another place you can go shopping is in the Kadıköy district. This is located on the other side of the river so you will need to take a ferry from Eminönü pier. When I visited, Kadıköy was full of locals and the shopping was insanely cheap. I mean…I got a pair of pyjamas for the equivalent of £3.

3. There is no need to take a taxi from the airport to the city centre. Istanbul has an amazing metro system that runs directly from the airport. The Istanbulkart can be bought at the metro station, and used on the metro, buses, trams, and local ferries. I felt quite safe using public transport in Istanbul. You can also use the “citymapper” app to navigate this Istanbul by public transport, and Bitaksi if you want to use taxis.

4. Things are still open during Ramadan. My trip coincided with the holy month of Ramadan but this didn’t affect my trip. All the attractions were open and all of the restaurants were open too. I was also able to drink alcohol with my meals during this time. One thing I would recommend is to eat before it’s dark if you are travelling during Ramadan. Locals will break their fast when the sun sets, and the restaurants will be fully booked with reservations.

5. Be wary of strangers who approach you with offers to show you around. This is one of the biggest scams in Istanbul. They may try and take you to a bar or restaurant, and when the bill comes it will be £100’s despite you only ordering one thing. I saw many groups of men standing around waiting for tourists to approach with this scam (some tried it on me too)

6. You do not have to cover your whole body. As a woman, I was a bit nervous about what to wear before travelling to Istanbul. But I saw many local Turkish women with their legs and arms showing. Would I advise you to wear hot pants and a crop top? absolutely not…but it’s okay to wear things like dresses and vest tops. The only time you should fully cover-up is when entering religious places.

7. When leaving Istanbul, make sure you get to the airport early. This may sound obvious, but I just want to warn you that there are many layers of security/passport control in Turkey. I remember going through at least 5 different layers of security from the airport entrance to my flight gate.

8. Apply for an e-visa before flying out. This will save you time in the airport as you will not need to queue. It is very simple to apply for this online, and the visa will be sent via email. All you need to do is print this off and show it to the immigration officers on arrival if they ask.

9. Men’s toilets are marked with “bay” and women’s toilets are marked with “bayan”. Hopefully, this will help you avoid the same mistake I made by picking a random door and walking in.

10. You will hear the religious call to prayer on a loudspeaker 5 times a day. I would recommend remaining silent during this as a sign of respect. Also, do not walk or stand in front of anyone praying.

I hope you found some helpful information from my Istanbul travel tips. Click here to see some snippets of my trip.

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