Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and it is the seat of the country’s economy and culture. It is an ancient city now declared as a European Capital of Culture. It is now a famous tourist destination as it houses many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tourists need to know all about this city before visiting here on a pleasure trip.
Is Istanbul safe?
Istanbul is known to be a safe city, as there is the least record of crimes. Though it has often been a target of terrorist attacks recently, tourists are considered safe from such violence. However, they should be careful about their belongings, due to the stray incidents of snatching or mugging on the streets.
What to pack
Tourists are expected to dress in a conservative way, keeping in line with the general nature of local people in Istanbul. So they should pack comfortable dresses that cover shoulders and legs. Thus, long-sleeved shirts, tops, trousers, and long skirts can be packed for touring this city. Tourists should also carry scarves to cover their heads while visiting mosques.
Best time to visit Istanbul
The peak tourist season in Istanbul is from March to May and again from September to November. At these times, the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, with a minimum amount of rainfall. Thus, tourists can move around comfortably, escaping the summer heat and winter snow.
How to travel to Istanbul
Plenty of flights are available for reaching Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. Turkish Airlines is the national carrier of this country that connects Istanbul to all cities in the world. Apart from this airline, Air India, Oman Air, and Etihad Airways run most of the flights from different cities of the world to Istanbul airport.
SIM cards and Wi-Fi in Istanbul
Vodafone, Turk Telekom, and Turkcell are three GSM service providers from which tourists can buy new SIM cards. These SIM cards need to be registered by showing the valid passports of buyers. They can have limited amounts of Wi-Fi data from the chosen plans of these service providers.
Where to Exchange Currency
Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is the best place where tourists can exchange currencies of their home countries to get the Turkish Lira, the official currency of Turkey. They can also visit Spice Bazaar or Egyptian Bazaar, Taksim, Sultanahmet, and Laleli, where plenty of money exchangers are operating in their kiosks.
Transportation In Istanbul
There are plenty of buses, subway trains, metro buses, suburban trains, and trams to move around the city of Istanbul. Tourists can take cruise ships, ferryboats, sea taxis, and sea buses from Sultanahmet port. People also take cable cars and funiculars to reach mountain tops near this city.
Sights and Activities in Istanbul
Tourists make it a point to visit Sultan Ahmad Mosque, which is also called Blue Mosque due to the blue tiles used for interior décor. Hagia Sophia is a museum with brilliant mosaic work on the walls, which was initially a Greek Orthodox Church and later turned into a mosque. People visit Istanbul Modern Art Museum, to have a look at the artworks made by famous artists of the world. Tokapi Palace is another destination for sightseeing, which was earlier the residence of Ottoman rulers and is now used as a museum. Tourists can have a view of the entire city from the observation deck at the top floor of Galata Tower, which has a height of 66 meters. They can also enjoy a picnic in Gulhane Park.
Learn basic Turkish phrases
Turkish is the official language of Turkey. Hence, tourists need to know a few basic Turkish phrases, which means “good morning”, “good afternoon”, “I am sorry”, “my name is _”, and “pleased to meet you”. However, most educated local people know English and thus, tourists do not face any problem communicating with them.
Travel guide book
Tourists may check a travel guide book before visiting Istanbul, where they can know all about the places of tourist attractions, what to do in this city, foods and drinks to be tasted here, and how to dress while touring this city. They can get such guide books online or from their travel agencies.
Where to Stay in Istanbul
There are many luxury and budget hotels in Istanbul, in different districts. Many tourists prefer to stay in Sultanahmet, as this oldest region contains many historic tourist attractions and it is also famous for its scenic beauty. Beyoglu is a lively district of Istanbul, where tourists can find hotels, rented apartments, and hostels to stay in during their vacations. Galata is famous for its vibrant nightlife while people vacationing with families find it more convenient to stay near Grand Bazaar.
Food and Drinks in Istanbul
Istanbul is known for many delicious foods and drinks that are available at cheap prices. Durum is a wrap stuffed with minced meat and vegetables, which is preferred for a quick meal. The fish sandwich called Balik Ekmek, a type of pizza with cheese toppings called Pide, meat-stuffed dumplings with yogurt sauce called Manti, and meat Kofte are the popular foods of Istanbul. Turkish Delight and Baklava are the favorite desserts of people living in this city. Turkish coffee and a cold yogurt drink called Ayran are served in various restaurants in Istanbul.
Shopping in Istanbul
Grand Bazaar is the best place for shopping in Istanbul, which houses more than 4000 shops selling all types of local artifacts. Spice Bazaar is another ancient market of this city, which is famous for all types of spices, dry fruits, different Turkish foods, and herbal tea sold in more than 80 shops. Arasta Bazaar, Kadikoy Market, Women’s Bazaar, Istiklal Caddesi, Bagdat Caddesi, and Beyazit Book Bazaar are other prominent shopping places of Istanbul.
Top Tourist Attractions in Istanbul
Aya Sofya, Suleymaniye Mosque, Rustem Pasa Mosque, Chora Church, and Basilica Cistern are some of the famous religious shrines in this city. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Dolmabahce Palace, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Carpet Museum, Pera Museum, Istanbul Modern, and Yedikule Fortress are other tourist attractions located in and around Istanbul.
Hence, people love to choose Istanbul as the destination for spending vacations with their families and friends.