10 tips for your holidays in Istanbul

Travel around the city by boat

Since I live in Istanbul, Turkey, many friends and travellers ask me many questions before their visit. Here are some of the most useful tips I can give to you:

  • Before arrival, check if you need visa for Turkey. Some citizens do need it and most of you can order it online. You can still get visa on arrival, but eVisa will help you save time and money!


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  • Buy a travel Istanbul kart. It costs about 10 TL. After this, you are required to top it up and you can use it to move around the city easily. It works with metro, tram, metrobus, ferries, funicular, etc. Here is more info in English. With Istanbul kart you can travel cheaper. Multiple  can use the same card. You can also use it to pay the public toilets with it 🙂

  • Turkish currency is Turkish Lira (New Turkish Lira) – TL /TRY. Change the exchange rate before your travel. Some turistic places also accept € and $. 
Old and new, side by sidde

  • In Turkey, there are many foreign banks, which have their ATMs. Check if your bank has an ATM in Turkey, because if it has, you can withdraw your money without any extra fees.

  • Is Istanbul safe for women travellers? Yes and no. It’s a city of almost 20 million, so you can expect that some of the district are not safe. Avoid empty streets in the night, however it’s generally safe. You can read more about life in Istanbul here. 

  • In which part of the city do you recommend me to book a hotel? Well, this depends on what do you want to do in Istanbul. If the purpose of your visit is sightseeing, than I recommend you to book a hotel in Sultanahmet. Good options are also Kadiköy, Karaköy and Taksim (Beyoglu). Read more information about hotels here.

    Try local food
  • I want to experience the real Istanbul and see more than an average tourist, where should I go, what should I see? It’s difficult to reply on this questions. I guess you should live here for a year or two in order to discover the real Istanbul. It’s a huge city with many different districts, many realities – from rich to poor, from new to old… Some of the oldest districts have already dissapeared, some can be dangerous… Anyway, here are some of the suggestions: Tarlabaşi is a neighbourhood next to Taksim square. They are renovating it now. It’s a poor neighbourhood, many times related with drugs and geys. Many tourist still visit it because of it’s architecture and cheap bazaar. Nice colorful houses you can see in the districts of  Fener and Balat. Balat is and old Jewish quarter, where Jews, which came from Spain lived. Fener is an old Greek quarter. You can also take a stroll along the old walls of  Constantinople. If you prefer a boat ride, you can visit Princes Islands or Kanlica. Or take a bus ride to Rumeli Feneri, a village at the Bosphorus strait, just next to the Black sea.

  • What to eat? Turkish cuisine is very rich, however main infredients are meat, tomato and rice. There are many different types of rice! When choosing a place to eat, try to avoid turistic places in order to taste delicious Turkish food. Without a doubt, the most famous dish is kebap – however there are different types: Adana kebap, Iskender kebap, Kagit kebap, etc. Try also different desserts, such as baklava, künefe, kadayif, aşure, turkish ice cream, etc. Here you can get more ideas.
    Menemen – a good choice for kahvati
  • Kahvaltı means breakfast. It’s a very popular meal in Turkey. During weekends they eat it late (11 am or later). There are many breakfast places, also in parks (such as Yildiz park) or with beautiful Bosphorus view. It can be main meal during weekends.

  • Some useful words in Turkish: 

*ş – sh (like in she)
*ç – ch (like in change)

Merhaba = Hello
Görüşürüz = Goodbye
Teşekkürler = Thank you
Ne kadar? = How much? (f.e. asking for price)
Hayır = No
Evet = Yes
Para = Money
Yok = There is no/ It doesn’t exist
Var =There is / It exists
Nerede? = Where?
Havalimanı = Airport
Otel = Hotel
Su = Water
Çay = Tea
Ekmek = Bread
Polis = Police
Hastane = Hospital
Bankamatik = ATM


Published by spelayla

Welcome! My name is Špela. I love to travel, read and learn. And of course, share all these experiences.

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