Need to Know

Discover All About Istanbul: Ultimate Guide 2023

Istanbul, Turkiye’s metropolis full of beauties that will not end with visiting since it has places to visit in Istanbul, is a city that welcomes tourists in summer and winter. We hope that you will leave Istanbul with good memories after your visit. Trip designers write about the cities they live in from their own perspectives, and we share local and up-to-date information with you.

You can view the Istanbul things-to-do routes prepared by our trip designers based on their own footprints via this link.

We have compiled information that we think may be useful for your trip to Istanbul. We wish you pleasant reading.

Here is some quick information:

  • Do not forget to take the hotel card which contains the name, address, and phone number of the hotel with you in case you get lost. Phones may run out of charge.
  • Do not forget to take the Turkish lira with you. In some places on the itinerary, a credit card does not pass. Even if they agree to buy dollars or euros, shopping in this way will be harmful to you.
  • Do not forget to take copies of the front pages of your passport and visa if necessary, but not the original one.

Things to do in Istanbul

Istanbul-attractions

If you don’t want to feel like a tourist, there are many local Istanbul things to do. Here are some tips if you want to join the people of Istanbul and feel like part of the city during your stay.

  • As most locals do, you can download the Getir app to order food, groceries, taxi, and water. Now Getir is active in many countries around the world.
  • Take a Bosphorus cruise – a scenic boat ride along the strait separating Europe and Asia, offering stunning views of the city’s landmarks and palaces for you to explore!

 

  • Drink Turkish coffee in Istanbul, you will have many options!
  • Take pictures of views during your lunch or dinner.

Local Tip for Things To Do in Istanbul

local

Turkish tea is a tradition in Turkiye! You can order tea after your lunch or dinner in many restaurants and mostly, it is free and the restaurant offers by themselves after you finish your meal!

Places to Visit in Istanbul

thingstoknow

  • Visit the Basilica Cistern, a historic underground cistern that supplies water to the city and features beautiful columns and delicate stone walls.
  • Go to Istiklal Street for a walk, a lively pedestrian avenue surrounded by shops, restaurants, and historic structures such as the Galata Tower.
  • Walk through the Grand Bazaar – a vibrant, historic marketplace with thousands of shops selling spices, textiles, jewelry, and more.
  • Visit Princes’ Islands for a romantic getaway.

Shopping Areas in Istanbul

souvenirs

You can compare Istanbul to a big store selling local products. Here you can find local products, especially souvenirs everywhere. Turks like bargaining and find it sincere. So feel free to bargain. Some Turks want to shake hands while bargaining with you. Shaking hands while bargaining means “agreement”. Shaking hands also tells us that the bargaining is almost over.

We have prepared a list of some beautiful souvenirs and good memories that you can take with you when you leave Istanbul. Also, you may want to check out all of the shopping areas in Istanbul.

Transportation in Istanbul

transportation

One of the best ways to get to know a city is to use public transport to explore Istanbul attractions. It gives a feeling of living there and adds an air of authenticity. Istanbul is a busy city and traffic can be crowded so planning your journey is important. As in every cosmopolitan city, there are peak times for traffic, and these are best avoided if possible. If you’re taking your own car there are parking places all over the city including the Ispark service offered by the municipality. Still, we recommend you get a map. You can find tips for transportation in Istanbul here.

There are 7 Metro lines in Istanbul and the cheapest way to use them is to buy an Istanbulkart. In 2016, Istanbulkart was chosen as “The best transportation card in the world” at the “Transport Ticketing & Passenger Information Global Awards” held in the UK. Istanbulkart can be purchased from Metro stations, bus stops, or tram stations. You need to charge your card from the prepay machines for Metro Istanbul. You can pay in cash in TL. The machines don’t accept coins and are often short of change so you can find yourself being short-changed if you use these! You can also fill up your card by prepaying at various places displaying the Istanbulkart sign. In such places, we recommend that you pay in cash and in TL. When you make line transfers within the Metro you get a discount on the first two lines.

The Metro line that connects the two ends of Istanbul, and connects Anatolia and Europe by going under the sea is called Marmaray. You can travel from Ataköy to Gebze by using Marmaray. Regional train lines were merged into Marmaray Railway Line. After getting off Marmaray, don’t forget to have your card scanned by the orange machines at the station and get your refund. A separate tariff is calculated for each stop.

Trams are also available for transportation in Istanbul. Depending on where you want to visit you may consider using the tram lines among various transportation options. The list of tram routes and a complete map are available at Istanbul Tram Lines Map in this link.

Buses are available using your Istanbulkart. Bus routes cover all areas of Istanbul but you should try to avoid using them between 08:00 and 09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 18:30 in the evening as they can get very crowded. If you’re travelling by bus you can use İETT’s website to find the best route.

The most enjoyable way to go from one side of Istanbul to the other is by ferry. In addition to City Line Ferries, smaller boats are available which also depart from near the ferry port. Both accept İstanbulkart. You can also use the ferry to avoid peak-time traffic on the roads. Visit the website for detailed information on the lines.

To use a taxi in Istanbul, you must download one of the Istanbul taxi apps or take a taxi from the taxi stand. When you arrive at the taxi stand, tell the driver where you want to go. Taking a taxi in Istanbul can be expensive and is not necessarily quicker than public transport. Taxis may not pick you up if you hail them from the roadside instead of using the taxi stand. You can download BiTaksi both available on Play Store and App Store.

To use public transportation, you may get one Istanbulkart. You can get the card for around 3£ in the kiosk in touristic areas (Sultanahmet, Taksim, etc.) Also, there are some kiosks in Marmaray and Metrobus stations, you can see box offices and ticketmatics. You can see how much it will cost to use public transportation via this image. You can also download Istanbulkart mobile app to load your card with money, pay online, and get advantages and promotions. Don’t forget that you have the opportunity to use your contactless credit card to pass for public transportation without getting Istanbulkart.

Public Transportation in Istanbul

P.S.: You can check out our blog about public transportation in Istanbul!

Museum Pass Programs in Istanbul

museumpass

To visit multiple museums in Istanbul, you will need Museum Pass Istanbul which costs 35€ and lasts for 5 days (120 hours) after your activation. You can activate the card at the entrance of relevant museums (Topkapı Palace Museum, Istanbul Archeological Museums, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Museum of Islam Science and Technology History, Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Galata Tower, Rumeli Fortress, Yıldız Palace, Galata Mevlevihane Museum, Istanbul Fethiye Museum).

You can buy the card online or in the ticket offices of these museums: Topkapı Palace Museum, Kariye Museum, Istanbul Mosaic Museum, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul Archeological Museums.

If you are going to travel around Turkiye, you may need Museum Pass Turkiye. With Museum Pass Turkiye, you can visit more than three hundred museums and archaeological sites that belong to the Republic of Turkiye Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Directorate of National Palaces for fifteen days and enjoy your trip through time.

The price of Museum Pass Turkiye which is valid for fifteen days starting from your first museum and archaeological site entrance is around 50€.

Please click for Museum Pass Turkiye sales points.

Click to see all museums and archaeological sites belonging to the Republic of Turkiye Ministry of Culture and Tourism you can visit with Museum Pass Turkiye.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit Istanbul?

The best time to visit Istanbul is from April to June or September to November when the weather is mild and the crowds are relatively low. Summer temperatures can be hot and humid, while winter can be cold and damp.

What are the top tourist attractions in Istanbul?

The top tourist attractions in Istanbul include the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Galata Tower, the Basilica Cistern, and the Dolmabahçe Palace. The city is also famous for its vibrant street food scene, cultural landmarks, and historical architecture.

What is the currency used in Istanbul?

The currency used in Istanbul is the Turkish Lira (TRY). Major credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it's still a good idea to have some local currency on hand for smaller purchases or in case of an emergency.

How to get around Istanbul?

Istanbul has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, metro, and ferries, making it easy to get around the city. Taxis are also widely available, and the city's compact size makes it easy to walk or bike between many tourist attractions. Visitors can also rent a car, but driving in Istanbul can be challenging due to heavy traffic, confusing roads, and limited parking.

What is the cost of visiting Istanbul?

The cost of visiting Istanbul is determined on your travel style and the season. A budget-friendly trip to Istanbul may cost between 50€ and 75€ per day, including lodging, transportation, food, and activities. If you want a more deluxe experience, you may simply pay much more.

What visas are required to visit Istanbul?

The visa requirements for visiting Istanbul vary depending on where you are from. People from multiple nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, are permitted to enter Turkiye without a visa for durations of up to 90 days. We suggest you check with the Turkish embassy or consulate in your country for further information on visa requirements.
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Buse Yıldırım

A global citizen, eager to travel where she has not travelled yet.
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