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Complete Guide for Istanbul

 How to get a visa?

evisa to turkey  The Electronic Visa (e-Visa) Application System works 7/24 and allows visitors wishing to travel to Turkey to fill in the necessary information (identity, passport, travel dates, and pay the visa fee online) to easily obtain their e-Visas.

This is done through the official website and the process takes just a few minutes.

 

This e-visa is only valid for tourism or commerce purposes. For work and study purposes, visas are given by Turkish Embassies or Consulates.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers lower fees than when obtaining a visa upon arrival at the Turkish airport. The price of the visa is according to each country.


Note that the travel document/passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your arrival to Turkey.

 

In accordance with “European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe”,countries whose citizens are allowed to enter Turkey with their national ID’s are:
 

 

Countries whose citizens are allowed to enter Turkey with their expired passports


 Where to Stay in Istanbul: 4 Best Areas

  Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, with a population of 15 million is segregated into 39 different districts of which 14 are on the Asian side and 25 on the European side of the Bosphorus.

Places to stay in Istanbul rage between budget-friendly to ultra-posh and expensive accommodation and the issue is to find the best area according to your tastes, interests, and budget.

 

 

SultanahmetSultanahmet

The cultural and historical heart of Istanbul is one of the most popular tourist attractions. It is an ideal place to stay in Istanbul for first-time tourists.

This area is the center of a number of iconic sights such as the Hagia Sophia,

 

Blue Mosque, and the Hippodrome. Sultanahmet is also encompassed by various straights and seas to the south, east, and north. There are so many things to do in Sultanahmet.

 

Travelers can dine in fantastic Turkish and Greek cuisine in the 120-year-old Pandeli then wander through the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum While budget accommodations are rare, there are a number of mid-range priced choices and options.

 

 

 Eminonu/Sirkeci

Eminonu

 Going east from Sultanahmet one will arrive in the Eminonu area, where the greatest attraction is the Grand Bazaar.

 

The Grand Bazaar, being the best choice for a budget-minded stay in Istanbul, contains thousands of shops and vendors, religious sites, and mosques. The Grand Bazaar actually contains two markets— the Grand and the Spice Bazaar. The most interesting part is that it is surrounded by some fantastic cultural, historical, and religious sites. Eminonu Square lies within easy walking distance of the best tourist attractions: the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

 

You can also take a ferry boat to cruise the Bosphorus and enjoy the charming view of the city. Families usually find Eminonu as the best choice to stay in the city.

 

 

Beyazit/LaleliBeyazit

Beyazit and Laleli are located on the European side of Istanbul in the district of Fatih.
It offers affordable accommodation close to the main tourist attractions.

 

This area is mostly dominated by the Beyazıt Mosque as well as the glorious entrance to Istanbul University, two impressive architectural monuments in a neighborhood that dates back 1,700 years.

 

Beyazit/Laleli contains affordable accommodation close to the main tourist attractions.

 

 

 

 KaraköyKaraköy

 As of 2012, Karaköy, which contains over 10 million people, has evolved into a nightlife hot spot. It lies on the waterside and used to be among the most crucial ports of Istanbul.

 

Karaköy area offers many unique shops, trendy restaurants, chic hotels, and a wide range of vendors in a stylish neighborhood. The location is perfect to take in incredible views of surrounding Istanbul. It does not make for budget-friendly accommodation though. There are a number of activities to do and things to see in Karakoy.

SALT is a one-time Ottoman bank constructed of marble and with a stunning glass ceiling.

 

There is an art gallery, a library, museum, cafe, and shop within that allows visitors to easily spend an afternoon in the magnificent structure. After this endeavor, travelers can partake of a rejuvenating bath in the Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam. This luxury bath dates back to the 1500s, still works, and features a unique minimalistic interior.

Travelers can also enjoy Viennese coffee in Karabatak, the best-loved cafe in the area.

 

Galata

 

You can walk across the Galata Bridge to Sultanahmet to enjoy breathtaking views of Istanbul. Two mosques worth seeing in Karaköy are the Yeralti Camii underground mosque and the beautifully decorated Nusretiye Mosque that lies on the border with Beyoğlu. Following a hard day of sightseeing, classic Turkish Tavern Ma’Na beckons do the incredibly popular home-cooking restaurant Karaköy Lokantasi.

 

In short, where to stay in Istanbul:

for luxury: Taksim and Beşiktaş

for families: Grand Bazaar

for budget travelers: Karaköy

for shopping: Grand Bazaar


 Top 10+ things to Eat in Istanbul

  Turkish cuisine is very diverse, so while visiting Istanbul forget about all international fast-food chains and enjoy the real taste of Turkish cuisine. Most delicious traditional Turkish food can be eaten by the street side at affordable prices.

 

Most common of all is

 

Doner Kabab
1. Döner:
 A type of kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie

2. Traditional Turkish Breakfast
Black and green olives, cucumbers, cured meats, dips and sauces, eggs, fresh cheeses, fresh tomatoes, fresh-baked bread, fruit preserves and jams, honey, pastries, and sweet butter

3. Çay (Turkish Tea)
Turkey consumes the most tea in the entire world, it is normal to drink even 10 cups a day

4. Kahvesi (Turkish Coffee)
A style of coffee prepared using very finely ground coffee beans without filtering.

5. Simit (Turkish Bagel)
A circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds or, less commonly, poppy, flax or sunflower seeds, found across the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire

6. Meze (Appetizers)
A small dishes served as appetizers in Turkey, the Balkans and North Africa

7. Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)
A round, thin piece of dough topped with minced meat, minced vegetables and herbs including onions, garlic, tomatoes, red peppers, and parsley, and spices such as chili pepper, paprika, and cinnamon, then baked

8. Pide
A flat bread baked with toppings in a stone oven

9. Içli Kofte (Kibbeh)
Kibbeh is a family of dishes based on spiced ground meat, onions, and grain, popular in Turkish cuisine

10. Kokoreç
Made of lamb intestines. Intestines of suckling lambs (süt kuzusu) is most favored for this dish

11. Midye DolmaMidye Dolma
Stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs, and spices, is delicious street food in Turkey

12. Balık Ekmek
Simply consisting of grilled whitefish with raw onions and lettuce sandwiched in a half-loaf of standard white bread, and seasoned with salt, herbs, and spices

13. Baklava
Made by brushing the thin, papery sheets with butter and layering them with nuts, sugars, and spices.

14. Ayran
Made by mixing yogurt, water, and salt, is one of the mainstays of Turkish tables

 

Some of the best-rated restaurant tours include:


  Traveling around Turkey on a Budget: Tips to Save Money

Traveling around Turkey on a Budget

  For visitors on a budget, some decisions must be taken in order to abide by that budget. Turkey is no longer a cheap destination but luckily there are a number of ways to save money.

 

 Hotels

 The first step before visiting Turkey is to plan your flight in advance, avoid high season times which is from July to September, many hotels raise their prices during these months.

Also, using booking search engines to compare rates is a good idea, and search different websites for hotel discounts and promotions.

Check out the 1,000+ hosts Istanbul has on Couchsurfing (which would be free!). Or, check out Roomorama or AirBnB.

 

 Cheap Food and Drink

 Stay away from touristic areas where restaurants are specifically there to cater to foreigners and instead dine at Turkish lokantas, where Turks usually go.

These restaurants serve cheap and traditional Turkish food. These restaurants offer dishes like soup, pide, shish kebab, omelets and salad.

 

 Buy an Akbil (Akıllı Bilet in english Smart card) / Istanbulkart

 Riding a local taxi can be quite expensive especially when planning to visit a number of areas. Buying an Akbil or Istanbulkart will save you tons on public transport, both afford the traveler huge discounts on bus, tram, and ferry.

 

 Take a regular ferry instead of a Bosphorus Cruise.

 One of the most unique aspects of Istanbul is its division by the Bosphorus, and a highlight of sightseeing in Istanbul is seeing the city from the water. There are tons of options for Bosphorus cruises, ranging in price from 10 tl to hundreds of dollars, depending on the degree of luxury the company provides.

 

Instead of doing a run-of-the-mill Bosphorus cruise, you could take the regular ferry for only the cost of a bus ride! And explore a new neighborhood while you’re at it!

 

Transportation to and from Istanbul Airport

 There are two options for moving from Istanbul International Airport to the city center, you can choose between the Havaist buses and the IETT public buses.

Havaist buses travel to most touristic areas, provide high-quality and comfortable transfer services, it is always on time and equipped with TV screens, Wi-Fi and USB charging points.

You can pay using a credit card or via Havaist app, you can also use the Istanbulkart. While IETT buses travel to less touristic areas, more crowded and stop a lot during the trip.

You can use “google" maps” or “mobiett” app to know the timings and locations of these buses.

In order to ride the IETT bus, you have to use the istanbulkart which can be refilled from specific refilling points.

 

 How much does the bus ticket from Istanbul airport to Istanbul city center cost?

 Havaist shuttle buses cost from 16 tl-30 tl, while a one-way IETT ticket from Istanbul airport to the city center is about 5 tl.

IETT bus tickets may cost less than Havaist, but the trip can take much more time as these buses do many stops along the way.

 

 Where is the Bus Station at Istanbul International Airport?

 The Bus Station is located on the -2 floor of the Istanbul Airport Terminal. The station is easily accessible by elevators and escalators both from the departures and from the arrivals level. Plenty of helpful signage all over the airport will guide you to the designated bus area.

 

Some of the best-rated Transfer services in Istanbul:

 

Top Tourist Scams to Watch Out

 The “Let’s Have a Drink” Scam

 If you were approached by a good-looking man who usually is fluent in English, calling you “my friend”, be careful he is probably NOT your friend.

After some compliments or questions and a chat about life and travels, you will be asked to go for a drink in a bar. Upon entry, you will immediately be given a round of drinks for you and your newly found female company.

 

When you wish to leave, you will be hit with a huge bill that can be hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you refuse to pay, you will be kindly met by some very large and threatening men also working in the bar. You may even be escorted to the nearest ATM to ensure your payment.

 

 The Currency Conversion Scam

 Shopping in local currency is a great deal for tourists because the Turkish lira has recently seen drastic changes. When shopping in some local shops, you will be met by friendly salesperson who assures that their products are authentic and the best in town.

 

When swiping your credit card you will be charged in euros and not Turkish Lira. Suddenly, that product won’t seem like a great deal anymore.

 

 The Shoe Shine Trick

 Shoe shiners are usually present in tourist destinations in Istanbul, including Taksim, Sultanahmet, Grand Bazaar, and Galata Bridge. They have a couple of sneaky tactics they use to attract their customers in for a shoeshine, then overcharge you afterward.

 

One way is to drop their brush in front of you and when you hand it back to them, they will offer a shoeshine as gratitude, and of course, you would think it is a free service. After you finish, they will ask for a big amount than what usual.

 

 Taxi Driver Scams

 Extending the Ride is a common trick pulled on tourists in most big cities. As a tourist, you probably do not know your way around the city, the direction you’re supposed to go, or how much it should cost.

The best solution is to get a taxi through one of the local apps like “itaksi” and “bitaksi” where you can see both the route and the cost in advance.

 

 The Sneaky Note Swap

 A taxi driver will swap out the money you have given him to a lower one. So, if your taxi costs 25 TL and you hand him a 50 TL, he will quickly swap the 50 TL for a 5 TL while you are not looking.

He then shows you the 5 TL and waits for you to hand him the remaining 20 TL.

 

 Restaurant Scams

 In restaurants, tourists may be charged for things they have not specifically order. For example, while waiting for the food the waiter may bring out some bread, other small appetizers, and pour everyone some water.

 

As a tourist, you may think that this is complimentary, but you will find these items added to your bill at an unreasonable price. Sometimes, tourists are given an expensive price list, then one that is offered for locals. The solution is to try the local restaurants where Turks dine for a cheaper price.

 

 Istanbul Tourist Information Offices

 Istanbul has six Tourist Information Offices (Turist Danışma Ofisi), which are all located on the European side. You can take some brochures talking about the tourist areas in both Istanbul and Turkey.

But they are ready to answer whatever tourist-related questions you have.

 

 

Istanbul Tourism Police

If you face any problem while you are in Istanbul, you can always contact the tourism police:

Email : istanbulturizm@egm.gov.tr
Phone : +90 212 527 45 03
WhatsApp : +90 505 187 66 14

 

 

Istanbul Map

Map Istanbul's Districts