Istanbul, Turkey, is a city of contrasts, where the ancient meets the modern and the east meets the west. As a tourist, you’ll be captivated by the stunning architecture, rich history, and delicious cuisine. However, it’s important to be aware of the dos and don’ts of the city to make your trip comfortable and enjoyable. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the top things you should do and avoid while visiting Istanbul.
Visiting Turkey Do’s
Head Away From The Tourist Resorts
While the tourist resorts in Istanbul are tempting, it’s worth venturing away from them to get a true taste of the city. The backstreets of Istanbul are home to hidden gems, including charming cafes and shops, that are sure to make your trip memorable.
Find unique things to do in Istanbul…
Explore Local Food and Drinks
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Turkish culture is by trying out the local cuisine. Istanbul is known for its delicious food, including the famous Turkish delight, baklava, and kebabs. Don’t forget to wash down your meal with a cup of Turkish tea or coffee, which is sure to warm you up on a chilly day.
Do Consider Getting an Istanbul E-Pass for a Smooth and Memorable Experience
While exploring Istanbul, it’s a great idea to grab an Istanbul E-Pass. This city pass not only saves you money but also offers access to various tours and activities, both guided and self-guided, perfect for discovering Istanbul’s hidden gems. With adult prices ranging from €120 to €195, you can choose a pass with 2 to 7 days of validity.
By choosing the Istanbul E-Pass, you’ll enjoy free access to over 55 attractions, some with skip-the-line privileges, and save up to 70% on selected discounts throughout the city. Plus, you can make the most of your time in Turkey by taking advantage of the included day trips, engaging in extraordinary experiences, and learning more about Istanbul through guided tours.
Check Prayer Times and Etiquette before Going to the Mosque
If you’re planning to visit a mosque in Istanbul, it’s essential to respect the Islamic culture and follow the prayer times and etiquette. Women should wear a headscarf and dress modestly, and visitors should remove their shoes before entering the mosque.
Bargain in the Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is one of the most popular tourist spots in Istanbul, but it’s also a haven for bargain hunters. Don’t be afraid to haggle with the shopkeepers to get the best price for your souvenirs and goods. How to bargain? Read here.
Learn Basic Turkish Phrases and Ask to Use Google Translate if You Need
While many people in Istanbul speak English, it’s always a good idea to learn some basic Turkish phrases to help you communicate with locals. If you’re struggling to get your point across, don’t hesitate to ask for help using Google Translate on your phone.
Go on a Day Trip Outside Istanbul
While Istanbul has plenty to offer, it’s worth taking a day trip outside the city to explore the surrounding areas. Some popular destinations include the Princes’ Islands, the city of Bursa, and the Black Sea region. Read more…
Buy a Turkish SIM-card
To stay connected while in Istanbul, it’s a good idea to purchase a Turkish SIM-card. You can easily buy one at the airport or from any mobile phone store in the city
Bring a Travel Adapter
In Turkey, the standard voltage is 220V and the frequency is 50 Hz. If you’re visiting from a country that uses a different voltage, it’s essential to bring a travel adapter to ensure that your electronic devices work properly.
Use Public Transport in Istanbul
Istanbul has an extensive public transport network, including buses, trams, and ferries. Using public transport is not only a cost-effective way to get around the city, but it’s also a great way to experience local life.
Also read Transport for Tourists in Istanbul: the Main Routes of Tram, Metro, Funicular and Ferry (2023).
Do Buy an Istanbulkart or Travel City Pass for Easy Transportation
In Istanbul, make sure to get an Istanbulkart or Travel City Pass for a smooth transportation experience. These cards grant access to the city’s public transport, including trams, buses, metro lines, ferries, and funiculars.
The Istanbulkart is a reloadable card, available at kiosks and vending machines. It saves time and money compared to individual tickets and can be shared among multiple travelers. The Travel City Pass is an all-in-one pass, offering unlimited transportation rides and free entry to attractions and guided tours based on the package chosen.
The Istanbul City Card comes with 1-3-5-7-15 day options for you to choose from. Easily purchase it online and have it delivered to your hotel for ultimate convenience. To buy a transport card, click on the link below and click “Book this attraction” after that:
Pack Clothing for Weather Changes
Istanbul experiences hot summers and cold winters, so it’s important to pack clothing that can adapt to the weather changes. In the summer, lightweight and breathable clothing is essential, while in the winter, you’ll need warm jackets and boots.
Visiting Turkey Dont’s
Don’t Drink Turkish Coffee or Tea on an Empty Stomach in the Morning
While Turkish coffee and tea are delicious, it’s not recommended to drink them on an empty stomach in the morning, as they can cause stomach upset.
Read more about Turkish Tea Culture…
Read more about Turkish Coffee Culture…
Don’t Be Fooled by Turkish Shoe Cleaner Trick and Other Scams
As in any bustling city, there are always people looking to take advantage of tourists. In Istanbul, one common scam is the “shoe cleaner” trick, where a person will approach you and offer to clean your shoes. Continue to read…
Don’t Stereotype Turkish People and Istanbul Culture
One of the most important “don’ts” to keep in mind when visiting Istanbul is to avoid stereotyping Turkish people and their culture. Take the time to learn about Istanbul’s complex and fascinating history, and engage with locals to gain a better understanding of their perspectives and experiences.
Don’t Fall for Taxi Scams: Stay Prepared and Consider Private Transfers
Avoid becoming a victim of taxi scams in Istanbul by staying informed and reading our article, “Outsmarting Taxi Scams in Istanbul: Your Ultimate Guide for 2023.” This guide will help you recognize common scams and protect yourself from dishonest drivers. For added safety and convenience, consider using private transfers like Welcome Pickups, which provide reliable and hassle-free transportation from the airport and around the city.
Don’t Be Scared of Shouting Sellers at the Bazaar
One of the most exciting experiences to be had in Istanbul is visiting the city’s many bustling bazaars. However, it can be overwhelming to navigate the crowds of vendors and haggle over prices. Don’t be intimidated by the noise and commotion – instead, embrace it as a unique part of Istanbul’s culture.
Don’t Travel Near the Syrian Border
While Turkey is generally a safe place to travel, there are certain areas that are best avoided. The Syrian border, in particular, should be avoided due to the ongoing conflict in the region.
In conclusion, while Istanbul is a beautiful and exciting city to visit, it’s important to be aware of the dos and don’ts of Turkish culture in order to have a comfortable and enjoyable trip. By following these guidelines, you can experience all that Istanbul has to offer without running into any issues or causing offense to locals.
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