Istanbul should be at the top of any travel lovers list of culturally rich places to visit. Here are 8 tips to start off your trip planning.
1. What to wear:
While Istanbul is a cosmopolitan city by most standards, I would advise women to dress more conservatively/modest. I had men taking pictures when I wore shorts, which was obviously was unsettling. If you’re a woman visiting a mosque, they will have a skirt and scarf to use to cover yourself. Men, you will have to wear a skirt if you don’t cover your knees. So think about wearing longer shorts, to avoid the public ally used skirt.
There are lots of options for getting around: walking, ferry, tram, and metro. You should get one IstanbulKart for your group, it cost 6 TL for the card and you are charged only for use and not distance. It’s about 2.60 TL for tram use. I always recommend using the CityMapper app, which will give you fast and cheap ways to get to your destination. It does this by combining options for walking, a tram and a ferry to get somewhere.
3. Where to stay:
I personally would recommend staying in either Galata Tower area or in Sultanahmet area. These places would allow for the greatest access to sights and cut down on travel time.
4. Paying for Sights:
If you are spending close to or more than 5 days in Istanbul, I would recommend getting the museum pass (something like 76 TL). It allows for fast tracked entry, and if you visit a lot of museums, you will save money. Most of the main museums are included on this pass. I also found it helpful for narrowing down what to do, it gives me an itinerary of sorts.
5. Getting out of the tourist area:
Make sure to visit the Asian side, Taksim square, Prince’s Island, Maiden Tower, the Moda neighborhood, Cihangir Neighborhood, etc.
Keeping things within your budget is easy. The lira is quite weak against the dollar. It was almost $1 USD to 6 TL. Make sure you have some cash on you, but most places accept credit card and if you don’t have a transaction fee associated with foreign charges, this is your best option.
7. See a sunset in this hilly city:
Make sure to check out a Terrace bar. (Rooftop = Terrace). The sunsets over Istanbul are legendary, so try to go a little bit before the sun starts to set to see Istanbul in an orange glow. The city is expansive, so you won’t have a bad view anywhere you look.
IST is the new airport about half an hour from Sultanahmet. SAW is a bit of a jaunt, over an hour long bus ride, with possible ferry ride as well.
Looking for more info about traveling to turkey? Check out my other posts.