Istanbul is huge and just like in every large city you should take precautions regarding your valuables and safety.
Here are some safety travel tips for Istanbul that are worth knowing;
Quite common, not just in Istanbul but in every other city. Be cautious especially if you’re using a backpack. For example, if you’re in a cafe keep it close to you and not on an opposing chair. It’s very easy to snatch bags like this. Also I advise against carrying a backpack on your back as you’ll likely be unaware that somebody is trailing behind you. This is how my wallet got stolen from me – in my own city nonetheless. Don’t forget to check your bag from time to time to ensure it’s safely closed. Of course the consequences are higher when you’re traveling.
Taxis are a universal travel scam. Drivers barely speak English (or pretend they don’t) and even if you give them a card with your address the ride can take longer than the usual. Foreigners are their favorite target group to exploit. Make sure to have enough change, they’ll probably claim they don’t have any in an attempt to get a generous tip. Be wary you don’t get charged with a night rate only because you’re a foreigner. Actually if possible try to avoid taxis altogether. If you’re still keen to test your luck with taxi drivers, make sure to take a taxi from a taxi station rather than hauling one on a street.
I’ve been to Istanbul three times and I’ve never experienced anything bad, but sometimes Turkish men can interpret friendliness as flirtation, an invitation for much more. If you are traveling solo you should be cautious of the possible signals you might be sending or if you notice someone following you. Ask for help from the nearest person.
Bring a friend with you (if possible a male) – this will discourage men resulting in them approaching you less. There have been stories of women who got raped or molested in small shops, even in the Grand Bazaar.
Beside bags, mobile phones are another popular item for thief’s shopping cart so take caution.
Traffic in Istanbul is crazy. You need to be alert and careful at all time. Regulations are often not even respected, so green light doesn’t necessarily mean you should cross the street.
Be especially careful in public transport. Don’t have any valuables on you and just carry things you need for the day. You can always leave money or credit cards in your hotel safe.
This is another really famous scam in Istanbul. They drop the brush ‘accidentally’, people let them know and as gratitude they want to shine your shoes free of charge. Most of the times they’ll keep insisting and eventually you’ll give up. What happens next you’ll want to reward them with some coin money but they keep pushing for more. There are many shoe polishers in Istanbul so if you spot one who just dropped his brush, walk away.
This is occurring more among guys. “Friendly” stranger will approach you and will try to recommend you a good bar where you can see a Turkish dance. You will order a drink and then a group of good looking girls will join you and order drinks. In the end your bill could be even more than 1000 USD and you won’t be able to leave the place because it’s surrounded by thugs.
There are many bad stories surrounding Taksim square but I never had a problem there. You should definitely avoid protests though. Political rallies and demonstrations usually take place in Taksim and they are also a prime target for terrorist attacks.