honest advice for visiting istanbul
A city of soaring minarets, enchanting architecture and rich coffee. Yet, Istanbul can be a little intimidating for first-time visitors.
If you’re visiting places of worship, or even sitting close by, dress modestly and expect to be shouted at if not. Like, no short skirts and the like. It boils down to being respectful of cultures and traditions that stray from your own.
The Grand Bazaar is truly something else but if you’re buying goods, haggle. The sellers expect it and the first price named is over-inflated to reflect that. The cheaper prices are found just outside of the market but the quality isn’t as good. Still, it’s fun wandering from store to store.
In Istanbul, you must the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and Basilica Cistern. There are so many highlights in each of these places like the stunning tiles in the harem of Topkapi Palace.
Honestly, I don’t like using taxis abroad but sometimes you’ve got no choice. In Istanbul, you will be swindled. As a tourist, you’ll be overcharged, taken a long way around and given less change back. For that reason, I’d suggest only using them to get too and from the airport and booking through a recognised company or your accommodation. It’s more expensive, yes, but far less stressful. If not, settle on a price before you get in the taxi and pay the exact fare to avoid needing change.
Turkey has its own currency, lira, but most major places will accept euros. In the bazaars, it’s better to use lira as you’ll be getting a worse deal in euros with the exchange rate.
So, as a pale-skinned, blue-eyed, blonde-haired twin, we were approached a lot on the streets. It got irritating after a while but honestly, people were just curious. It was intimidating, but didn’t feel malicious.