Travelers' pro tips for experiencing Istanbul
Bring earplugs so the dawn call to prayer, broadcast over speakers from the mosques, doesn't wake you.
Allow the call to prayer you hear throughout your day, be a reminder to stop and just take in the fact that you are in Istanbul.
As a woman, know when you might be interacting with a more old fashion Islamic gentleman. If need be let the man traveling with you take the lead.
Have toilet paper in your daypack.
Practice the position of the Turkish toilet at home. you will probably need to use one at least once.
**just because the toilet stall that is available is Turkish toilet, doesn't mean that ALL are. the one that is occupied could be worth the wait.
In the words of those who've been there before ...
There are so many cliched phrases used to describe İstanbul - ancient and modern, where east meets west, old world blended with new world etc etc and they are all true. There is history, culture, shopping, sightseeing, museums, galleries, boat trips.There is SO much!
Istanbul is a magnificent city...one full of beauty, history, spectacular architecture, amazing restaurants, views to die for, wonderful little family-owned hotels, exceptionally kind and honest people, fun filled nightclubs, exotic sounds, exotic smells, and many other fabulous things too numerous to mention.
... too often we try to paint those places we love as bastions of perfection. I've been guilty of it, and so have others. No place, however, is perfect. And anyway, perfection is boring. Istanbul can stand proud and tall...even with her imperfections...and I hope we can all take a step back and realize that.
What is the best way to get there?
The city of Istanbul is served by Istanbul International Airport.
Istanbul is home to two trains stations, Haydarpasa station on the Asian side and Sirkeci station on the European side. Trains from Haydarpasa are destined for cities and towns in Anatolia, while Haydarpasa serves as the gateway to major European destinations.
Do I need a visa?
If you’re visiting Istanbul from overseas, check if you need a visa using the following website.
When is the best time to visit?
The best times to visit Istanbul are between March and May and September and November. April is particularly beautiful because poppies and tulips, which first originated in Turkey, are in full bloom. Average daily temperatures in springtime can be highs of 15 C/59 F and lows of 7 C/45 F and highs around 19 C/66 F and lows around 12 C/55 F in autumn.
The bridge that connects the Asian and European sides of Istanbul is notorious for its traffic jams, making the best way to span the Bosphorus the vapur (ferry). The three main ferry stations on the European side are Besiktas, Kabatas, and Karakoy. Timetables are posted at each terminal.
Istanbul has an underground metro network that spans both sides of the city. It runs from morning until late at night and covers all top attractions. It gets very crowded during the morning and evening rush hours.
For comprehensive train maps, follow this link.
There’s an abundance of taxi cabs in Istanbul, which makes hailing a ride a breeze. For ease, download the BiTaksi app, which sends the nearest taxi your way.
On the ground
What is the timezone?
The time zone in Turkey is GMT+3
What are the voltage/plug types?
The standard voltage in Istanbul is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz. There are two associated plugs types: type C, with two round pins, and plug F, which has two round pins and two earth clips on the side.
For plug types, you can reference the international guide: https://www.iec.ch/worldplugs/
What is the currency?
Turkish lira (TRY)
Are ATMs readily accessible?
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Yes, in hotels, restaurants, and bars but not smaller businesses.
Is it easy to find a bank?
How much do I tip?
Turkish bath (hammam) attendants
Are there local customs I should know?
Turkish people are generally very tactile
and, if you are of the same sex, are likely to touch you during exchanges.
Don’t point at someone
as this is considered rude in Istanbul.
Public displays of affection
such as kissing is considered disrespectful when in public. In public, you will rarely see members of the opposite sex touch one another.