Istanbul, known for its cultural and historical richness, is spread over two continents. It’s essentially a part of both Europe and Asia and is known to host many different civilizations. When you reach the multicultural city, it’s hard to cover all the touristy stuff at once. Having some tips handy to guide you can be a real life-saver.
Here are ten tourist tips you need to keep in mind before visiting Istanbul:
1. How to visit a mosque in Istanbul
Tourists are not allowed to enter the mosques during prayer time. You have to come in the non-prayer time taking the north-west entrance. The dress code is modest: something that covers shoulders and knees. For women, the head is supposed to be covered with a scarf.
Remove the shoes outside and remove them without touching the floor to ensure the feet are clean. The mosques are open daily one hour after sunrise until one hour before sunset. It’s closed to tourists half an hour before each of the 5 daily prayer times until the service is over. The best time to go is between 9 am to noon.
2. Planning your trip & dividing your time
Istanbul is a big city with lots to look around for. Unplanned trips can take up a lot of your time, and chances are you won’t cover all major areas. The best way is to search for itineraries and maximize your time by prioritizing. You can check out the top tourist attractions in Istanbul for some great tips.
3. Conveyance— To/from the Airport
There will be shuttles and taxis waiting inside the airport. They are usually not preferable due to high costs. Instead, go for taxis parked just outside the airport that will connect you directly to the middle part of the town. They will be comparatively cheaper.
The downside to taxis is the traffic which although have less rates but could turn your 30-minute ride into a 90-minute one. An alternative is the combination of subway and tram— it’s a 45-minute ride.
4. You will need a tourist visa to visit Istanbul
Istanbul is not a part of the European Union, so regardless you will require a tourist visa. Americans can get their visas for 20 USD on the Turkish custom website. It was moved online in 2013 to reduce the hassle. You just have to pay and print it.
5. Appreciate Istanbul better with its rich history
Istanbul has a rich history with thousands of years under its belt. Having some idea of it can really improve your travelling experience. A better understanding of history will help you to appreciate the places more. For instance, the Roman and Ottoman Empire’s kingdoms have both had their capitals in this metropolis. Make sure you have a look at the history of Istanbul before visiting
6. Transportation in the city
Istanbul is spread out extensively, and getting around can be tough. Having some transportation tips handy can make traveling hassle-free. You can pass through neighbors on foot, as most of them are walking-friendly. It’s better than taking a cab which can ruin your day if stuck in a traffic jam. The older parts of the town don’t have subway enabled. You can get around neighborhoods by the main tramlines and funicular lifts.
7. How to communicate with the locals
Whenever you visit a tourist place with different languages, it’s wise to have some of the words of their language in your pocket. It serves you well. For instance,
- Hello: Merhaba
- Good Morning: Günaydın (gew-nahy-DUHN)
- Thank You: Sağ Ol (SOWL)
- Good Day: İyi Günler (E-yee Guen-ler)
- Mosque: Camii (Jah-mee)
Knowing some of the words beforehand will fare you well in Istanbul.
8. How to find a decent place to stay
Figuring out for a place to stay can be a bit confusing since it’s a huge city. But if you know the main attractions on the map, you can easily figure out where the stay would be accessible. For instance, you can stay near the Hippodrome. There’s a range of quality hotels with affordable rates with great views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Also, you can have a quick walk to the restaurant row, which is pretty close.
9. Authentic Turkish food in Istanbul
When in Istanbul, Turkish food is one of the main attractions that you cannot miss out on. Turkish Delight sweets and pomegranates being very popular is common knowledge. But do check out some insider tips by locals so that you can taste some of the finest Turkish foods.
For instance, Doner– a common street food is a must-try. It’s basically the same thing as a greek gyro. A flaming clay pot called Testi Kebab is one of the tourist’s favorite dishes. Also, do check out their national drink, Rucka– tastes like liquorice flavored ouzo.
10. What to pack according to weather
Different parts of the city will have different climates to offer. The best times to visit Istanbul is Autumn– September to November. The summer season is generally crowded, with temperatures going as high as 30-degree celsius. Temperatures tend to drop between March and May, so some layers and jackets are preferable.
Istanbul is a fantastic tourist spot with plenty to offer. Be it the authentic foods, esteemed mosques, or fascinating ancient history– It’s all rejuvenating. Having some tourist tips in your pocket will elevate your experience, taking out all the hassle before and during your trip. Make sure you keep these ten tips handy when planning a trip to Istanbul for an effortless experience.