Istanbul is a beautiful city that attracts tourists from all over the world. There are quite a lot of scams in Istanbul that tourists need to be aware of. This guide will help you understand some of the most common tourist traps in Istanbul and how to avoid them.

Pickpocketing in Istanbul

Pickpocketing is one of the few scams that you might experience in crowded areas. Scammers mostly target tourists and usually touristic places, such as Sultanahmet, Istiklal Street, Taksim Square, and some other crowded places. They are less common in residential areas. Usually, their targets are solo tourists and mostly women. They may offer to buy you a drink. The main goal is to take you to bars and serve overpriced drinks so you can end up paying hundreds of dollars.

How to Avoid: Never take advice from strangers about a place. If they approach you, respectfully decline their offer and tell them you’re waiting to meet up with a friend.

Carpet or Leather Shop Scam in Istanbul

They try to persuade you to sell goods from the shops they work for. Usually, target tourists wandering around the Sultanahmet area and the Grand Bazaar. They speak several languages fluently and are friendly people. If you get lost and ask for directions, they will guide you and invite you to the shops where they work. They will display their best behaviour and try to convince you of the quality of the product they are going to sell.

How to Avoid: When people offer help, thank them and make sure they mean well. Tell them to keep their wallets closed and stop by later to buy something so you have a chance to think.

Shoe Polisher Scam in Istanbul

Istanbul scams can spoil your vacation

Shoe Shiners often target singles, couples, small families, or groups. There are 2 basic tricks to shine your shoes and get your money. Somehow they drop paint on your shoes, or they drop a squirt of paint as they walk in front of you, hoping you’ll give it to them. As an apology or an expression of thanks, they begin to shine your shoes. While you may think it’s free, they will ask you to pay much more than a regular shoe shine price. If you start arguing, his friends and the people around him will support him.

How to Avoid: Don’t see the brush and keep walking. If the brush falls on the shoe, tell him you’re okay and move on. Besides all this, there are legitimate shoe shiners in Istanbul who do an honest job. They don’t normally move, and the shoe shine costs between 5 and 10 TL.

Restaurants Scams in Istanbul

Restaurants often target unaware tourists. Tourists are offered a different price list than locals, while locals are offered a lower price list. Another method is to open a ticket for the food you did not order and eat.

How to avoid: Examine the menu price list carefully, and compare the price written in the price list with the same meals at similar restaurants. Only order the food you intend to eat if the price is right for you. Pay attention to what you order and pay attention to whether the food you eat is written on the ticket receipt.

Taxi Scams in Istanbul

Taxi scams in Istanbul

The taxi driver will take you to your desired destination by a different route, which is a longer distance, so you will have to pay a higher taxi fare. Read more…

How to avoid: Try using Bitaksi or other city transfer services during your trip and monitor your route on GPS. Or use public transport! Here’s a guide on how to get from the airport to Istanbul.

Things you Might Think Are Free, but You Are Mistaken

There are many places to visit in Istanbul, which also include restaurants, clubs, and bars. If you’re sitting in a restaurant and some items have already been placed on your table, and you think these are free with the food, you might be wrong. There can be a bottle of water on the table, and you will drink it, and at the end, they will charge a lot of money for that too. Appetizers are almost complimentary in restaurants but not in every restaurant. If you’re at the club or bar, they will serve a bowl of nuts and candies that also cant be free. If you eat these items, they might charge you a lot for this.

Solution: The best way to keep yourself away from these scams is to ask them if they are free or not. Avoid eating anything before asking the price.

The Currency Scam in Istanbul

It is impossible to stop tourists from shopping for souvenirs or clothes. This is so true that Turkey is producing one of the finest quality clothes and carpets. You’re strolling in the streets of Istanbul, and you stopped by a shop for shopping. The salesperson will treat you so perfectly that you will think he is the best salesperson, but it’s not what you think. They will also let you buy an item at a low price. But in reality, when you ask them to charge, they might charge you in Euros instead of Liras through the card machine.

Solution: Before paying through your credit card, make sure the machine is charging in Liras, or the other best way to stay away from the scam is to pay in cash.

Choose Local Neighborhoods Instead of Tourist Areas

To avoid falling victim to these scams in Istanbul, consider choosing local neighbourhoods instead of tourist areas. Not only will you have a more authentic experience, but the locals in these areas are often friendly and welcoming. They can provide you with valuable insights into the culture and lifestyle of Istanbul that you might not get in the more touristy areas.

In addition to avoiding scams, staying in local neighbourhoods can also be more budget-friendly. Prices for food and accommodations can be lower than in tourist areas, and you’ll have the opportunity to discover hidden gems that aren’t as well-known to tourists.


Overall, Istanbul is a safe city for travel and tourism. It’s essential to be aware of the common scams that tourists may encounter to avoid falling victim and ruining your trip. By following these tips, you can have a great trip to Istanbul without falling victim to any scams.

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