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Safety Travel Tips for Istanbul

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…

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;

Pickpockets

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

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.

Bagdat avenue Istanbul

 

Women travelers

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.

Mobile phones

Beside bags, mobile phones are another popular item for thief’s shopping cart so take caution.

Traffic

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.

Dolmus Istanbul

Money

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.

Shoe polishers

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.

simple man

Bar Scams

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.

Taksim

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.

Taksim square Istanbul

Terrorism

The threat from terrorism in Turkey is high at the moment. Kurdish groups, Islamic State and some other far left organizations will continue to target the state. Tourists are in high risk of an attack. In January 2016, 10 people died in a suicide bombing in Sultanahmet area. If possible tourists should avoid public transport and major touristic sights. This of course won’t be possible if you’re visiting Istanbul for the first time but you could apply some precaution measures (f.e when visiting major tourist sights, make sure to visit very early in the morning when there is a smaller crowd). Terrorists will target large groups as they want to cause pandemonium and spread panic to echo across the world.

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23 Essential Do’s in Istanbul

“Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, northerner and westerner screams with the same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is…

“Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, northerner and westerner screams with the same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is the most beautiful place on earth.” – Edmondo De Amicis

Here’s the pick of 23 essential do’s in Istanbul;

1. Befriend Turkish people and see for yourself why they are famous for their hospitality

Turkish people

Photo: quinn.anya on Flickr under CC

 2. Cross the Bosphorus Bridge

Bosphorus Bridge

Photo: http://www.bariskaradeniz.com/ on Flickr under CC

3. Try Turkish specialties

Iskender kebab

İskender kebab

4. And beer

Turkish beer Efes

Photo: erenemre on Flickr under CC

5. Don’t miss the Asian side, especially the Bağdat Avenue

Bagdat avenue Istanbul

Bağdat Avenue

6. Attend a sport match of one of “The Big Three” teams

Galatasary basketball team

The Big Three teams are Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş. And all are based in Istanbul.

7. Ride in dolmuş!

Dolmus Istanbul

Because doing it local style is the way to go!

8. Hang out at Taksim square – the heart of modern Istanbul

Taksim square Istanbul

Taksim means ‘division’ and originally it was the point where the main water lines from the Belgrade Forest were collected and laid to this point. Nowadays, Taksim is a favorite meeting point for locals and a location for organizing public events and social gatherings.

9. Combine Simit and Ayran

simit and ayran

Simit is a popular street food, sold everywhere by street vendors.

 10. Stroll along İstiklal Avenue

Istiklal avenue

Beautiful. Vibrant. Cosmopolitan. Sleepless. Visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day.

11. Get on top of Galata tower for spectacular views

view from Galata tower, istanbul

A place to see all Istanbul.

12. Climb the Kamondo stairs

Kamondo stairs

Photo: ahunziker on Flickr under CC

13. Feed the cats. They rule the city.

Istanbul is a city of cats.

14. Feel the history in Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia interior

Istanbul’s most famous monument.
Oh, and if you want to be cured from all your ailments, don’t forget to stick your finger in a hole of the weeping column.

15. Visit the stunning Blue Mosque and listen to the call to prayer in the cortyard

Blue Mosque

Remove your shoes, put on a headscarf and enjoy the beauty around you.

16. Take a ferry trip to the Asian side.

ferry trip to the asian side

Enjoy the great view!

17. Search for the Medusa heads in the Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern Istanbul

The cistern was used as a location for the 1963 James Bond film “From Russia with Love”

18. Try your art of bargaining at the Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Explore, drink lots of tea but don’t get carried away. Note that the Grand Bazaar is a typical tourist trap and everything is overpriced here.

19. Have a cup of Türk kahvesi (Turkish coffee) or çay (tea)

Türk kahvesi - Turkish coffee

Check out the tea gardens (çay bahçesis) or coffee houses (kahvehanes).

20. Explore Üsküdar – One of the city’s more conservative suburbs

Uskudar, Istanbul

One of the streets

21. Istanbul is huge, so don’t forget to have a rest

Uskudar. Istanbul

🙂

22. Try tulumba

turkish tulumba

Besides Turkey, this is a popular dessert throughout the Balkans.

23. And if you have some spare time, escape to the Princes’ Islands

Büyükada

Beautiful white homes of Büyükada

All photos are © Eurotribe except where noted. All rights reserved.

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37+ Free Ways To Spend Time In Istanbul

Istanbul is definitely no longer the bargain tourist destination it once was, with some of its tourist attractions even topping the prices of those in Scandinavia! Accommodation offers good value…

Istanbul is definitely no longer the bargain tourist destination it once was, with some of its tourist attractions even topping the prices of those in Scandinavia! Accommodation offers good value for money and the inner city transportation is efficient and not too expensive, but some of its attractions are quite pricey and the fact that Istanbul has too many of them can really add up to costs. And clubbing in Istanbul (depending on the area) can really blow your budget!

This list will be primarily focused at attractions and events;

FESTIVALS/EVENTS

Children’s Day

A public holiday dedicated to children of Turkey and the world is celebrated annually every April 23rd. Besides performances at stadiums, Turkey is also the host of the “TRT International April 23 Children’s Festival” which gathers children from all over the world who are invited to stay at Turkish families’ homes. They get the opportunity to interact with Turkish kids and learn about each other’s countries and cultures.

Orthodox Easter

Celebrated by the Greek Orthodox community in Fener.

Akbank Short Film Festival

Besides the screenings of films from all over the world, the festival also includes workshops and conferences.

Anniversary of Atatürk’s death

On the 10th November at 9.05, a minute’s silence is held to commemorate the death of the founder of Turkish republic.

ATTRACTIONS

(by area)

Sultanahmet Area

– All mosques; Blue Mosque, Küçük Ayasofya Camii (Little Hagia Sophia), Sokollu Mehmed Paşa Camii

– Hippodrome

– Çemberlitaş

– or you can stroll along Arasta Bazaar

Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque

The area around Topkapi Palace

In this area you can:

– Sit on a bench and watch the passers-by at the Gülhane Parkı

– Wander through Soğukçeşme Sokak (Street of the Cold Fountain)

– Visit Caferağa Medresesi

– Visit Sirkeci Railway Station which once was the last stop of Orient Express

– Go inside the Yeni Camii (New Mosque)

– Walk across the Galata Bridge

Sirkeci Railway Station Istanbul

Sirkeci Railway Station

Baazar District

– All mosques; Nuruosmaniye Mosque, Beyazit Camii, Süleymaniye Camii, Şehzade Mehmet Camii, Zeyrek Camii, Rüstem Pasha Camii

– Get lost at the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar

– See Beyazit Square and Istanbul University

– See one of the most famous landmarks of the city- Aqueduct of Valens

– Stroll through Sahaflar Çarşısı (Book Bazaar)  (for the literature lovers)

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Grand Bazaar

Western Districts

– All mosques; Fatih Camii, Mihrimah Sultan Camii, Fethiye Camii, Sultan Selim Camii, Eyüp Sultan Camii

– See Tekfur Sarayi

– Visit the Church of St. Mary of the Mongols and the Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars

– Visit the Ahrida Synagogue

– Visit the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate

Galata and Tophane Area

– All mosques; Azarkapi Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Camii and Arap Camii

– Walk up the Kamondo Stairs

– Visit the Church of St. Peter & Paul

– Visit Neve Shalom Synagogue

İstiklal

– Visit Christ Church and Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage)

or even better;

– Get inside the Pera Palas Hotel whose guests were Agatha Christie and Greta Garbo

– Wander around Taksim Square- the heart of modern Istanbul

Stroll along the İstiklal street

Istiklal avenue

Istiklal avenue

Beşiktaş

– Visit Ortaköy Camii

– Walk through Yildiz Parki

Üsküdar

– All mosques; Atik Valide Camii, Çinili Camii, Yeni Valide Camii, Şemsi Paşa Camii

– See Mimar Sinan Çarşisi

– Enjoy the view from the highest point of the city- Camlica Hill

– Visit the Florence Nightingale Museum

Uskudar, Istanbul

Uskudar neighborhood

Kadıköy

– Walk along the glamorous Bağdat Caddesi

Bagdat avenue Istanbul

Bagdat avenue

ARTS

Free Art galleries

– Galeri Nev

– Galerist

– SALT

– Proje4L/Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art

Other interesting reads;

Mosques of Istanbul

All I ever wanted to know about Ottoman Architecture

Istanbul in photos

 

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