Istanbul is one of my favorite cities, its got the perfect balance for a cultural experience and to ball out! This city is a fusion of Asia and Europe as it’s the one city in the world spread over two continents, which makes it even more interesting. I personally think it’s a modern Islamic country, even compared to Dubai, I feel Istanbul was culturally forward. For instance, I was walking down Taksim square while the evening prayers were on, I walked a little further from the mosque and see a street filled with loud, vibrant bars and pubs. That’s when it occurred to me that Istanbul is culturally forward, a reason why it attracted more tourism. But, like every big city Istanbul has its pros and cons, out of my personal experiences a few tips to get around Istanbul.
Use Public Transport
Try using public transport over taxis, I have had couple of awful experiences with taxi drivers in Istanbul. From being ripped off and paying double the fare, to not getting my change of 80 Lira back, well I did get it back but I literally had to threaten the driver saying I would call the police if I didn’t get my change. Ugghh, to avoid this I would suggest of trying public transport like their trams and metros. If you want to take the cab make sure you pay according the meter.
Walking is the key
Walk, walk, walk! So when you’re around the city doing the touristy bit, walking is essential, everything is not too far away especially the historical places like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Archeology museum are all within a miles radius.
Take the Bosphorus Cruise
If you want to go explore the Asian side of Istanbul, the fasted and a fun way to get there would be by taking the Bosphorus cruise which will take you to the other end of the of the river towards the Asian side. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go explore that part of the city, but from what I have been told a lot of gypsies reside on the Asian side and its like the suburbs of the big city.
While deciding on where to stay, there are two central locations you could stay in, Taksim is more of a young, vibrant, party and shopping area with a lot of hotels located around there, easy transport. Apart from this, the other central location would be Sulatanahemad, which is right by the historic and tourist attraction.
Ignore the stares
Istanbul is pretty safe, but it’s not an ideal destination for solo female travels in my opinion. Turkish men are attractive, I won’t deny that BUT they can get creepy with constant stares and shamelessly rolling their eyes up and down. I would suggest have a friend along to go with in Istanbul or just ignore those eyes rolling up and down if you’re traveling alone.
Use the local currency Lira
While shopping, eating at a café or even for taxi fares you may encounter people asking you to pay in Euros, Pounds or Dollars. DO NOT pay them in any of those currencies, use the local currency Lira for anything. It’s cheaper and there are fewer chances of being cheated.
Get evil eye souviners
Ladies, get your self the most exotic evil eye jewellery from Turkey, they do it the best, its affordable and looks beautiful. It’s probably the best souvenir you would take back from your trip. I was broke and yet managed to bargain a good deal for my evil eyes. Besides this, you will be lost in the grand bazaar seeing beautiful turkish lamps and cutlury.
Indulge in Turkish Teas & Delights
So if you’re a staple espresso or a latte drinker, I would suggest on skipping Turkish coffee, its thick, dense and a muddy texture. Rather indulge in Turkish teas, they’re aromatic and rich in flavor. My personal favorite was the jasmine, rose and peppermint teas.
Early Sunday shopping
On a Sunday most places would shut down a bit early than usual, around 7 most local stores would be calling it a day, if you have shopping plans on a Sunday evening going start early, plus during early hours of the day you could bargain a good deal for yourself.
Arrive early at the Blue Mosque
For most people the first thing to do one their list in Istanbul is visit the Blue Mosque, I don’t blame you its beautiful. Tips for the blue mosque would be, its open from 9am to 4pm only, there is no entry fee, but go early as there is always an hour-long queue. For girls avoid wearing shorts or leggings while visiting the Mosque, they will give scarfs to cover your head and if yours in shorts a long cloth to drape yourself. There are chances they may refuse entering the Mosque if you are inappropriately dressed, so keep this in mind before going to the Mosque.