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The Top 15 travel tips for Istanbul are:

1. Avoid visiting in Summer

2. You need at least 3 days to explore Istanbul

3. Travel insurance is a must

4. Make sure you are choosing the right airport

5. Pre-book your accommodation

6. Always carry cash even if the card is accepted widely

7. Use an app for taxis in Istanbul

8. Try the Turkish Hammam

9. Prepare yourself for lots of uphill walking

10. Dress modestly to blend in

11. Don’t fall for the ‘Shoe cleaner trick’

12. Don’t miss the sunset from Galata bridge

13. Experience the Dervish ceremony

14. Sign up for a food tour

15. Pharmacies are hard to find
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Travel tips for Istanbul 2024: 15 essential travel tips for exploring Istanbul like a pro!

Are you ready to explore Istanbul? It’s a big, busy city in Turkey that’s super interesting! Istanbul sits between Europe and Asia, it’s got a mix of old stuff and new stuff to see. You can visit places like Grand Bazaar with its twisty streets, or the amazing Hagia Sofia building. And let’s not forget about the yummy Turkish food you can try! There are many famous places to visit in Istanbul where travelers can try the best local food in Istanbul.

But before you go, it’s good to know some helpful tips like how to get around on buses and trains and what to say to be polite. Our travel tips for Istanbul Turkey will make sure you are all set up for your trip.

So grab your stuff, get ready for adventure, and let’s make some awesome memories in this amazing city with Turkey tour packages!

The Top 15 travel tips for Istanbul are:

  1. Avoid visiting in Summer
  2. You need at least 3 days to explore Istanbul
  3. Travel insurance is a must
  4. Make sure you are choosing the right airport
  5. Pre-book your accommodation
  6. Always carry cash even if the card is accepted widely
  7. Use an app for taxis in Istanbul
  8. Try the Turkish Hammam
  9. Prepare yourself for lots of uphill walking
  10. Dress modestly to blend in
  11. Don’t fall for the ‘Shoe cleaner trick’
  12. Don’t miss the sunset from Galata bridge
  13. Experience Dervish ceremony 
  14. Sign up for a food tour
  15. Pharmacies are hard to find

1. Avoid visiting in Summer

Istanbul’s climate is quite mild relative to other cities in the region. Temperatures might not go too far beyond 30°C but the sun is scorching hot and it’s very dry. Aside from the oppressive heat, there are crushing crowds at every landmark during summer. On top of that, accommodation prices are noticeably higher and it can be challenging to get a reservation as well.

The best time to visit Istanbul is during spring which is April to early June or autumn which is mid-September to the start of November. You can also visit Turkey in winter when snow covers Istanbul and the city looks like Iceland. Take note of the dates of the holy month of Ramadan which influences the way the city operates. It is the best travel tips for Istanbul Turkey we can give. 

2. You need at least 3 days to explore Istanbul

Three days is the bare minimum for an Istanbul first-time guide to visitors but you could easily stay for more than a week. There are dozens of Day trips in Istanbul opportunities to break things up if the city is to be too much. 

One of the highlights of Istanbul is food, so you would do well to measure the duration of your stay in means eaten rather than the night’s sleep. Six meals a day is ideal for exploring the best restaurants in Istanbul. It is the best travel tips for Istanbul turkey we can give.

3. Travel insurance is a must

Travel insurance is mandatory for all foreign visitors to Turkey. Istanbul’s holiday advice is it is generally regarded as a safe city, but pickpocketing and crime do occur. More importantly, local healthcare can be expensive, so it pays to be covered in case of an accident or unexpected illness. It is among the best travel tips for Istanbul turkey we can give.

Suggested Read : Adventure activities in Istanbul.

4. Make sure you are choosing the right airport

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Istanbul Airport is the city’s largest and busiest international airport. Located on the European side in Areavutkoy, 40 km Drive from Taksim Square, it is sometimes referred to as Istanbul Grand Airport.

The second airport is Sahiba Gocken International Airport which receives flights from the Middle East as well as Turkey’s on Pegasus Airlines. It is located on the Asian side which is a 40 km Drive from Taksim Square.

The two airports are 80 km apart and it takes at least 75 to 90 minutes to travel between them. There are shuttle buses so triple-check your reservations and make sure you show up at the correct airport.

5. Pre-book your accommodation

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There are several online platforms to find Hotels & Resorts in Istanbul. Pre-booking is essential for peak period travel as properties do fill up and the prices can skyrocket for last-minute reservations. You can also use Airbnb in Istanbul if you prefer to stay in local neighborhoods. It is one of the best Istanbul travel tips for 2024.

6. Always carry cash even if the card is accepted widely

90% of venues and shops in Istanbul accept credit and debit cards as well as contactless pay. For small markets and convenience stores, local restaurants, bars, and taxis, and when exploring the street food you will need cash.

Many smaller shops in Turkey have a primary limit set on card purchases. In these cases cash is necessary. Cash also comes in handy for tipping. Remember most ATMs in Istanbul charge a fee for withdrawal of cash. It is one of the best travel tips for Istanbul turkey we can give.

7. Use an app for taxis in Istanbul

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Istanbul’s cab system is well-organised with three types of taxis at different price points. Yellow taxis are standard and have the lowest fares. Turquoise taxis are premium service and cost 20% more while black taxis are twice as expensive as yellow taxis.

Taxis are metered so it is generally considered safe for a tourist to get a cab on the street however scams do happen which is one of the reasons most people including many locals prefer to use an app.

Uber was relaunched in Turkey in 2021. Uber alternatives are BiTaksi and Itaksi. The former has a POS contactless payment option. It is the best travel tips for Istanbul Turkey we can give to avoid such scams.

Suggested Read : Homestays in Istanbul

8. Try the Turkish Hammam

Experiencing Turkish Hammam is the best things to do in Istanbul. The hammams have lots of history and customs attached to them. While men become fully naked, Women wear undies and on top wear a towel which needs to be wrapped around for the duration of the stay. 

The Turkish skin massage can be quite rough on the skin and muscles. The therapist will always be of the same gender. It is customary to tip them 10-20% after your treatment.

9. Prepare yourself for lots of uphill walking

Comfy shoes and a whole lot of patience are essential when exploring Istanbul on foot, where it can feel like an uphill battle to get from one place to the next. They don’t call Istanbul the ‘City on Seven Hills’ for nothing. After a few days of walking the streets, you might think the ‘city of seven million hills’ is a more apt nickname.

You can take Funicular railways to avoid the slog. 

The Taksim-Kabatas is the world’s second oldest after the London Underground and the oldest still operating underground Funicular in Europe. It is the best travel tips for Istanbul turkey we can give

10. Dress modestly to blend in

Women should try to avoid plunging necklines, revealing fabrics and very short hemlines. There are noticeable differences in European and Asia sides of Istanbul, with more modest dresses and hijabs worn in Uskudar compared to Eminonu. 

One place you definitely must observe the dress code is mosques, where covered arms and legs are mandatory. A woman must cover their hair. The majority of mosques have pullover muumuus that you can borrow for free at the door to fully cover up.

11. Don’t fall for the ‘Shoe cleaner trick’

Keep an eye out for this trick, especially in touristy areas. A person carrying a shoe-shining caddy will drop things to the ground. If you try to go help him he will grab your hand and forcefully try to do shoe-shining and demand money for that. So be very careful of this scam. It is the best travel tips for Istanbul Turkey we can give to avoid such scams.

12. Don’t miss the sunset from Galata bridge

There is only one way to end a day in Istanbul by watching the sun go down from Galata Bridge. Views of water and boats, and mosque minarets against the blue sky are absolute gold. Try to find a spot on the western side of the bridge, where the Karakoy ferry docks. It is the perfect photography spot in Istanbul.

13. Experience the Dervish ceremony

A dervish show is a bucket list item for many. Held in a small mosque in a neighbourhood that is off the tourist trail. The whirling ceremony that the Mevlevi is known for is a ritual designed to bring participants closer to god also known as the Mevlevi Sema ceremony. 

It is a group of five members of the congregation spin rhythmically in circles to the tune of melodic hymns performed by a live band. It takes great skill, Patience and years of training to perfect. It is the best travel tips for Istanbul turkey we can give to enjoy this experience. 

14. Sign up for a food tour

One of the best ways to explore this city especially if you are on a tight timeline is by signing but for a food tour. One thing every Istanbul neighbourhood has in common is its never-ending cafes, restaurants and street food vendors. 

The popular Taste of Two Continents tour, with 11 food stops and a Bosphorus ferry crossing, is a good alternative if you are looking for a half-day experience.

15. Pharmacies are hard to find

Istanbul differentiates between pharmacies and cosmetic stores like no other country. Chains like Watsons, Rossmann and gratis are classified as ‘cosmetic stores’. If you need anything more serious than paracetamol you need a pharmacy. 

Pharmacies are more difficult to find because there are no chain pharmacies in Turkey. All pharmacies are small and owner-operated by pharmacists. Look for ‘Eczanesi’ rather than Pharmacy as it is called.

Many medicines are available without prescription and prices are almost always cheaper than in other countries. It is the best travel tips for Istanbul we can give.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Q:What is the best time of year to visit Istanbul?

Q:What should I pack for a trip to Istanbul?

Q:Are there any budgeting tips for Istanbul travel?

Q:What type of clothing should I pack for a trip to Istanbul?

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