Travel Tips for Istanbul
Travel guide to Istanbul, featuring up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, travel tips and more.
Here some reliable advices from local experts.
- Shopping & Style
- Food & Drink
- Art, Culture & Museums
Istanbul Taxi Fares
Just like everywhere else in the world, some Istanbul taxi drivers have several tricks up their sleeve to hustle unaware tourists. The most common practice is to extend the travel duration by making (huge) unnecessary detours. And since you’re not from Istanbul, they’re pretty confident that you wouldn’t notice — and you won’t! But with this list of Istanbul taxi fares from Beyazit to the most common tourist destinations, you are sure to pay the correct cab fare!
- When you get on the taxi, the driver will activate the meter. The display should read 3.20 TL — the current flat rate.
- This fare is incremented with approximately 2 TL every kilometer. • If a taxi gets caught up in traffic and doesn’t move or has to wait on your behalf for over 1 minute, 0.35 TL will be added.
- There used to be a night and day rate, but that has been abolished. Don’t let him tell you different! • Please note that most taxis accept Turkish Liras only, and do not support credit card payments.
- How to file a complaint?:
Every Istanbul taxi license starts with "34" (the province code for Istanbul). The rest of the license consists of three letters and two digits: TZA 99, for example. The license numbers painted on the top and sides of each taxi. That's all you need to trace a taxi.
Don’t argue with your driver or call for the police unless the meter shows a significant deviation from the fare mentioned here.
Bridge or Highway Toll: In case you take a taxi to cross either side of the Bosphorus bridges or drive on the TEM highway, toll (not more than 5 TL) has to be paid. The taxi driver will pay that for you, but will add this to the fare.
Taxi Fares from Antik Hotel Istanbul
Taxi Fares from Antik Hotel Taxi fares from Beyazit to the most common tourist destinations, be sure to pay cab fare! to Ataturk Airport via E5(D100) highway 55 TL
- to Ataturk Airport via Marmara sea shore 50 TL
- to Sabiha Gokcen Airport: via E80 highway (bridge fee included) 120 TL
- to Taksim: 16 TL to Dolmabahce Palace: 20 TL
- to Galata Tower: 20 TL
- to Cevahir Shopping Mall (Sisli): 25 TL
- to Nisantasi: 22 TL
- to Pierre Loti Cafe (Eyup): 22 TL
- to Ortakoy: 27 TL
- to Kanyon Shopping Mall (1. Levent): 27 TL
- to Istinye Park Shopping Mall (Maslak): 36 TL
These fares are indications based on our rides.
In Istanbul, there are a lot of easy and cheaper way to access your preffered destinations such as Tramway line (T1), Funiculars (T and F1), Metro line (M2) including Marmaray (metro line under the sea) IETT Autobus lines and Istanbul
Payment: There are two ways to pay for the fare; either you get a token (jeton) from the vending machines (jetonmatik) located in the stations or you can use Istanbul Card-electronic boarding pass-(cheaper than tokens fee) which you could find in the Airports, Sultanahmet or Eminonu by paying non-refoundable 10 TL fee plus amount of your choice to load on to the card.For reloading you can use special purpose machines "Akbil Dolum Noktasi"at the major transit stations.
Tramway Line ( T1 ): This line has many stops of interest to tourists such as Beyazıt, Sultanahmet, Eminonu, Karakoy, Tophane and Kabatas. Working hours : 06.00 to 00.00. Frequency : Every 2 min.
Karakoy-Tunel Funicular ( T ): This funicular takes you in 90 seconds from Karakoy to Tunel at the end of Istiklal Caddesi from where you can easily reach Galata. Working hours : 07.00 to 21.00 Frequency: Every 2 min.
Taksim-Kabatas Funicular ( F1 ): This ride takes only 2, 5 min. From Taksim to Kabataş, you can walk to Dolmabahce Palace, near lovely sea sight area Ortakoy or you can take the fast boats or ferries to Prince's Island, also connect to Tramway line T1 to Sultanahmet. Working hours: 06.15 to 00.00. Frequency : Every 3 min.
Yenikapi-Haciosman Metro Line ( M2 ): The first real metro line of Istanbul, had an important stops for fashionable shopping areas and stylish cafes and restaurants such as Osmanbey (Nisantasi), Levent (Metrocity, Kanyon, Akmerkez shopping malls),ITU Ayazağa (İstinye Park shopping mall). Working hours: 06.00 to 00.00. Frequency: Every 3 min.
Please note that additional taxi ride may required.
Described as a big garden in the Marmara Sea, Büyükada is a perfect spot for both you and your children to bask in the sun and feel the serenity of the sea. Located in the Marmara Sea, the Princes' Islands are actually a chain of nine small islands which were used as places of exile during the Byzantine era. Today, the entire island is covered with entertaining facilities to keep visitors occupied. On the island there are no cars, no traffic, no horns honking, only horse carriages, bicycles and people getting around on foot, so, for families traveling with their children, horse carriages are probably the best option for traveling on the island. If you and your family prefer the picnic scene, you can buy your needs from one of the many bakeries and delicatessens along the shopping strip of the island and you can make your way to the top of the hill amongst the pine groves for a most enjoyable picnic activity. For those who are interested in historical sightseeing, the islands promises to satisfy your expectations with its historic churches, monasteries and mansions.
Byzantian & Ottoman Relics
Daily departures. Guided tour.
Tour of "Sultan Ahmet Center", the heart of the "Old City" from where the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires were ruled. Hagia (St.) Sophia, one of the greatest marvels of architecture, constructed as a basilica in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian. Blue Mosque, facing Hagia Sophia, famous with its blue Iznik tiles and unique with 6 minarets, built in the name of Sultan Ahmet. Hippodrome, center of sportive (chariot races, athletics) events and political activities of the old city. Obelisk of Theodosius, Serpentine Column, German Fountain of Wilhelm II are the monuments decorating Hippodrome. Lunch.
Topkapi Palace, Imperial residence of Ottoman Sultans exhibiting Chinese porcelain, weapons, calligraphy section etc...Suleymaniye Mosque, masterpiece of Sinan, the chief architect of the Ottoman Empire, built in the name of Suleyman The Magnificent during the 16th. century, considered as the best amongst the imperial mosques.
Dinner Cruise on the Bosphorus
Operates between 1 June - 30 September.
An enchanted night cruise starts while you sip your welcome drink as the sun sets on Istanbul. Beneath the Bosphorus Bridge by moonlight, glide past the Ciragan Palace, Dolmabahce Palace on European shores and the Beylerbeyi Palace, Kanlica and Anatolian Fortress on Asian shores. A rich variety of open buffet dishes, specialities of Turkish Cuisine and barbeque, unlimited local drinks. The twinkling lights of the European shores from Tarabya to Bebek. Transfer to hotels before goodnight Istanbul.
Nisantasi is today a fashionable shopping district and an affluent, secular residential area with internationally known designers , stylish cafes and restaurants.Quarter forms the background to several novels by Nobel laureate Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who is a local resident. Nişantaşı has the largest community of foreign residents in Istanbul after Taksim and Cihangir.
Cukurcuma is a lively and authentic neighborhood located along the way down from the Siraselviler street, Taksim, in the back streets of the Beyoglu district of Istanbul.Cukurcuma is a very touristic place famous with its more than 100 antique shops, restored lovely houses, many art galleries , cafes and street cats.The Cukurcuma Mosque and historical fountain standing beyond is also worth a visit and see.
Hamam (Turkish bath)
There is some strict hamam etiquette to be followed. Either the Turkish bath has two sections, one for each sex, or it admits men and women at separate times of the day.You leave your clothes on private rooms and it's safe. Men usually completely strip down and wear nothing underneath the bath-wrap (pestemal). Make sure you remain clothed with the bath wrap at all times — flashing is frowned upon. Women on the other hand mostly keep on wearing their underwear ( but often not their bra) underneath the bath-wrap and slipped sandals (takunya).
The options are:
Traditional Style —Pick this one if you want the real Turkish bath experience. An attendant will wash and massage you for about 15 minutes, and you don’t have to bring any of the equipment. Self-Service — you bath yourself and bring your own soap, shampoo and towel. This is obviously the cheapest option. Other Styles — The have several other services such as aromatherapy oil massage, reflexology, Indian head massage, and facial clay mask, too.
In traditional style the bath begins with the sogukluk (the cooling down room) into the hararet (the hot room). First you need to relax and loosen up for a while, and most importantly sweat. A great time to explore the architecture of a Turkish bath. In most cases an impressive room completely covered in marble featuring a big dome, several basins and an impressive gobektasi — the central, raised platform above the heating source. After 15 minutes of sitting and lying on the gobektasi, the masseur entered the room. The first part of the service took place on the side of the central platform, while shifting positions all the time. The attendant soaked the body with warm water and lathered with a sudsy swab. After the washing up and massage, it was time for the scrubbing. The place of action was shifted from the central platform to one of the basins. The attendant took the modern synthetic equivalent of the original Oriental hand-knitted wash cloth out of its carton box, and started scrubbing. (Kese).After being embarrassed by the amount of dirt, another soapy wash up followed by a rinsing session with cold water.
This concluded the 15 minute service. The masseur left the hot room, but you can stay and relax some more if you want to. Then you may return to your private room and decide to relax a bit on the bed , order a drink or even take a nap as well.
Hamam (insider's tips)
Some More Tips
- Hamams are open from as early as 6 a.m. till somewhere around midnight
- The masseur and scrubber will be of the same sex as you are
- Standard soap is used. If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to some products, bring your own soap
- You need to wash your private parts yourself
- You’ll get drenched, so women may want to get rid of their make-up first. Also, don’t forget to bring the necessary toiletries.
- Women may want to bring dry underwear along too
- There is no way you can avoid tipping the attendant(s), so make sure you have some cash money on you. You normally tip 10 to 20% of the total amount
- If you care about your tan, maybe visit a hamam at the beginning of your city trip or holiday.
Turkish barbers are known worldwide for their shaving skills. It will be an extraordinary treatment experience for men.There are thousands of barbers and you will find one around every second corner. Just trust your instincts and look for a barber away and walk to into one where you can find many locals. You won’t need any turkish to get a shave. Just show with your fingers to your beard and make a sign of shaving and ask how much. They will normally write down a number and you accept or refuse. The price for a good shave is between 20 and 50 turkish lira.The best thing comes at the end. Some barbers have a little vibrating machine which is strapped to the hand and they give you an amazing massage. Don’t refuse this! You will regret if you do.You normally tip to the barber. 5 TL. should be enough.
It's very easy to find a clean and good coiffeur saloons in all over Istanbul. You may enjoy with color changing with a good quality hair dyes, modern hair cuts, styling, special massages and hair treatments, mani/pedi cure,waxing and more. This experience will cost you around 200 and 500 TL.
Water in Istanbul
The consuming water in Istanbul is clean, but doesn’t taste that well as a result of the filtering or cleaning process.It’s perfectly safe to brush your teeth or cook food with tap water. For drinking purposes please choose stick to bottled water which is cheap and sold on every market or street corners. Please note that Ice-cubes served in drinks, are also safe to consume.
In your touristic journey you may see a lot of old and historical founts as well.Most of them are not actively working in these days, if you'll find an active one, you may see "the drinkable water" sign before cosuming.
Hot street food
Eating street food is very popular part of the Istanbul way of life.And with street food we don’t just mean food literally bought and eaten on the street, but also an array of light snacks such as pastry (borek), kebap, doner and meatballs wraps (durum)
Kebap: Together with doner, this is probably the first street food that comes to any tourist’s mind when asked to name one. Kebap actually means small pieces of broiled or roasted meat — generally cow, sheep or chicken. Excellent dishes you may want to try out are İskender Kebap made by yogourt , Adana Kebap, Patlıcan Kebap and Sis Kebap.
Doner: This tightly packed meat roasted on a large vertical spit is the basis for fast-food snacks (or even full meals) such as Pilav Ustu Doner (with rice), Iskedender and Durum. Although you can find these half-outside/half-inside eateries almost anywhere, for the biggest concentration head to the beginning of Istiklal Caddesi in Taksim.
Borek: A flaky pastry consisting of several thin layers, often with a specific shape and/or filling. You’ll see locals entering these tiny shops for a quick breakfast or lunch. The favorites are ispanakli borek (with spinach filling), peynirli borek (with cheese filling), kıymalı borek (with minced meat filling) and patatesli borek (with potato filling) and su boregi.
Pide: A slightly leavened, flat pizza like bread. They again come in different styles, with Kasarli Pide (melted cheese) and Sucuklu Pide (melted cheese and spicy sausage) among the most popular.
Lahmacun: A Turkish-style pizza. A very thin round piece of pide, with ground meat, onions, pepper paste, sometimes tomato, pepper, parsley, and spices. It is often served with a salad and a few pieces of lemon in a side dish. You’ll see locals topping the pizza with the salad, sprinkling is with lemon and making a roll out of it.
Misir: Freshly boiled or grilled corn on the cob, often sprinkled with salt or spices. This popular snack is almost exclusively sold during the summer months by the real street sellers with their push-cars.
Kestane: Due to the lack of corn in winter, the street vendors mentioned above shift to roasted chestnuts in winter time.
Balik Ekmek: Literaly translated ‘fish bread’. And that’s basically what it is.Fish, grilled or fried in front of your eyes and stuffed inside a large piece of bread. Fans of this fast-food can have a blast in Eminönü, on the shore next to the Galata Bridge.
Kokorec: Grilled sheep intestines with an almost industrial amount of spices, roasted on a skewer. A very popular snack after a night out and (too) many drinks.
Cold Street Food
Simit: A crisp, ring-shaped, savory roll covered with sesame. Sold by street sellers with glass-fronted push-cars. There are two main versions: sokak simit (sold on the streets and very crispy) and pastane simit (sold in shops and bakeries)
Acma: A ring-shaped savory bun, a Turkish-style dougnut if you will. It’s soft but also a bit oily.
Pogaca: A flaky, savory pastry. You can go for the plain one (sade) or choose one with a filling: peynirli (cheese), kıymalı (minced meat), or zeytinli (black olives)
Cig köfte: Originally a dish made of raw ground meat, pounded wheat and red pepper. It’s a delicacy, but realy spicy.
Midye Dolma: Stuffed mussels. If you’re a fan, you may want to prefer eating those in a real restaurant.
Night life in Istanbul is huge.
There's too many options in Istanbul for every kind of person regarding to style of music, dancing, conformity and cost. You can choose either to watch traditional belly dancing shows in the clubs or dining, listening and dancing late night on famous restaurants & bars. If you're interesting to be a party people, you may find your self at the big arenas or you can enjoy with unplugged concerts. There are many popular establishments - some aged over thirty years old and some very down to date. Being such a big city with several city centers, Istanbul has more than one entertainment destination.
The venue, which has carried Hayal to a new level, aims to be a place that is alive 24/7. At later hours the lights of the venue dims down and you enter the boundaries of entertainment hours. While the DJ performance continues upstairs you can enjoy live performances at the BIS Stage. You can also watch theatre and magic shows. The choice is up to you. The new venue of Hayal Café provides its guests with both good food and music.
Dress code: Smart Casual
Address: Meselik Sokak 8, Taksim Metro station: Taksim )
Web site: www.hayalkahvesibeyoglu.com
Babylon is a pionner of the nightlife in Istanbul and hosts many good musicians.
Oldies but Goldies party is a Babylon classic. Prices depends on activities.
Dress code: Smart Casual
Address: Jurnal Sokak, Asmalimescit ( Metro station: Sishane )
Web site: babylon.com.tr
A time-limited card that allows to see Istanbul’s most treasured museums, easily and economically. Museum Card allows you direct entry to the museums without having to queue up. Valid for the following museums: Hagia Sophia Museum,Topkapi Palace Museum, Topkapi Palace Harem Apartments, Chora Museum, Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Istanbul Mosaic Museum, Hagia Irene Museum, Rumeli Hisar Museum, Yildiz Palace Museum, Galata Mevlevi House Museum.
You can purchase the Museum Card from various outlets, including many Istanbul hotels, the ticket gates at Topkapi Palace Museum, Hagia Sophia Museum, Chora Museum, Istanbul Archaeological Museum, Mobile Sales Stations and www.muze.gov.tr
Cost 85 TL or 115 TL
istanbul Modern ( Child friendly attraction )
Located at Tophane near Galata Bridge, Istanbul Modern has two main exhibition halls.The museum’s permanent collection showcasing Turkey’s modern and contemporary art from its beginnings to our day. The collection presents a wide variety of works ranging from painting and sculpture to installation and video from the early 20th century to our day. On the ground floor, two or three exhibitions are held simultaneously in the Temporary Exhibition Hall, Photography Gallery, and Pop-up Exhibition Areas. Temporary Exhibition Hall held conceptual shows and retrospectives presenting examples of modern and contemporary art from Turkey. Photography Gallery hosts exhibitions by prominent photographers from Turkey and abroad. The Pop-up Exhibition Areas hosts exhibitions in various fields such as architecture, design, video, and new media.
Visiting Hours: Everyday 10.00-18.00. Except Monday
Admission fees: 19 TL / Students: 9 TL / Children under 12: Free
Web site: www.istanbulmodern.org/en
Miniaturk (child friendly attraction)
To see the miniature version of Turkey, Istanbul's Miniaturk along the coast of Golden Horn is a must for visitors. The entirety of Turkey can be seen in this miniature park that is built over a 56-hectare area. The park includes the mini version of historical buildings, palaces and mosques in the country. There are nearly 105 models of architectural structures in the park .All miniature versions are 1/25 of their original sizes. English audio guides are free with admission.
Visiting Hours: Everyday 09.00-18.00
Admission fee: 10 TL
Web site: miniaturk.com.tr
Rahmi Koç Museum: (child friendly attraction)
On the shore of the Golden Horn (Haskoy), a 19th century factory now housing the Rahmi Koç Industrial Museum. The building itself is already worth a visit, but your kids will especially love the fact that they can climb all over a vintage car, take a seat in a real plane’s cockpit, take a ride in a submarine and try real-life scientific experiments. There are also two fine restaurants on the premises.
Visiting Hours: Everyday 10.00-17.00
Admission fees: 14 TL / Students: 6 TL
Web site: www.rmk-museum.org.tr
Istanbul Aquarium: (child friendly attraction)
Considering its volume, variety of fish species, and activities on travel routes, Istanbul Aquarium is a place that you can spend all day at and discover an underwater world. Situated in Florya near Ataturk airport, the aquarium is a double-storey building covering nearly 22,000 square meters.The entire aquarium is classified in 16 themes from Black Sea to Rain Forest and display 15,000 land and sea creatures of from over 1,500 species.
Visiting Hours: Everyday 10.00-19.00
Admission fees: 35 TL / Student: 25 TL / 0-2 Aged:
Free Web site: istanbulakvaryum.com
Vialand Theme Park: (child friendly attraction)
A theme park with rides, campaigns, cinema, cafes, restaurants, shops. Integrated with Shopping Mall, outdoor – indoor units and distribution of spaces have been designed for any time of the year.
Visiting Hours: Everyday 10.00-18.00 ( may be closed during the winter season )
Admission fees: 60 or 80 TL / 0-4 Aged: Free
Web site: vialand.com.tr