Istanbul Insider Tips for Tourist
Our aim with this page is to help you avoid being ripped off or falling into expensive tourist traps and to save you money as well as time when visiting Istanbul – we want to share some insider tips with you and make your stay in Istanbul pleasant, easy, cheap and memorable.
Watch unique, interesting videos about Istanbul in our Youtube channel.
In emergency, call 112
In emergency situations you can call 112 directly (without the international code for Turkey +90) on your mobile phone 7/24. There is always someone available who can speak foreign languages. They can redirect you to other services (police, ambulance…). If you are in Istanbul, Antalya or Fethiye you can call 179 too. It’s a special line for tourists. They have English, German, French and Russian special educated people.
The Tourist Police is situated very close on the tram road. Here in the background you can see the minarets of the Blue Mosque
Protect Your Shoes
When visiting a mosque you shouldn’t leave your shoes at the entrance. They could be stolen or someone could take them by mistake. Always have a very light plastic bag in your pocket. Put your shoes in the bag and carry them or put them into your bag.
Watch HQ live cams from the most beautiful places of Istanbul. Some cams are with sound, you can listen to the call to prayer for example (athan) live.
For mobile devices, please click here.
Discover Istanbul with Busforus, the hop on hop off tours. You can discover the historical peninsula of Istanbul with the route, which includes Istanbul’s most popular and touristic locations. While discovering Istanbul you also get delicious treats, a sanitary kit, headphones, free internet connection, in bus personnel service and more.
The recorded informative guides about all landmarks and significant places accompany you in 8 languages in all of our #BusForUs buses… Just sit back and enjoy your moments in Istanbul with a pair of brand new headphones provided by the personnel.
You can visit Sultanahmet, Eminönü, Karaköy, Galata Port, Dolmabahçe Palace, Naval Museum, Beylerbeyi Palace, Beşiktaş Bazaar, Taksim Square, Şişhane, Spice Bazaar easily with unlimited hop ons in 24 hours with the open-top buses.
The tour starts in front of Sultan Ahmet (Blue Mosque).
Eyup Sultan Mosque and Pierre Loti Hill
You can get to Eyüp Sultan Mosque from the Eminönü bus stop by bus 33ES or 99A and get off at Eyüp Sultan Zal Paşa station. Or you can use bus 36CE, 44B, 48E, 99, 99Y, 399B or 399C and get off at the Teleferik Pierre Loti Station.
See the beautiful view from The Pierre Loti Hill. The cable car transports passengers from Eyup Sultan Mosque to The Pierre Loti Hill.
Heli Sightseeing Istanbul
Helicopter tours are available daily. The helicopter takes groups of up to 7 people. There are 3 different tours to choose from. You can visit the famous sights of Istanbul from the air. Prices are affordable and reasonable.
.2:0.0.0.0.0.0″>The tomb of Sultan Sulaiman the magnificent and his wife Hurrem (Roxelana) is open from 9 am till 5 pm every day.
At the seaside of the Suleymaniye Mosque there are a few cafes at the top of the buildings where you can take a nice rest and enjoy the beautiful Istanbul panorama view.
There are free WC’s at:
Aksaray Valide Sultan Mosque.
Dolmabahce Mosque (close to Dolmabahçe Palace).
Edirnekapi Mihriban Sultan Mosque.
Firuz Agha Mosque (very close to the Blue Mosque).
Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque (Tophane, close to Karakoy).
Laleli Mosque (close to Aksaray).
Nuruosmaniye Mosque (close to Grand Bazar).
Ortakoy Mosque (close to Besiktas).
Suleymaniye Mosque (suitable for disabled people).
Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque).
Sumbul Efendi Mosque.
Uskudar Mihrimah Sultan Mosque.
Uskudar Valide-i Atik Mosque.
Uskudar Valide-i Cedid Mosque.
Yavuz Selim Mosque (Balat).
When you see this sign, you can use free wi-fi. For example this sign is in front of Sultan Ahmet (Blue) mosque and the museum of Turkish and Islamic arts.
Prince Islands are very beautiful islands with no cars or traffic only horse and cart or bikes. To get there take the tram and get off at Eminönü and take the ferry to Prince Islands and enjoy a relaxing day away from the hustle and bustle of people and traffic. Click here for times of ferries. The cheapest way is to use the Istanbul Card.
Save money with the official company for Bosphorus Short Circle Cruise, they charge 24 TL for 2 hours. The Full Bosphorus Cruises costs 50 TL and they take 6 hours. This trip is well worth it. Tickets are available near the Galata Bridge. An audio guide is also available at an extra cost on the official tour. The private companies use smaller boats than the official company and therefore are not as comfortable.
Be wary of private Bosphorus tours. As you can see in the picture below, the private companies same short tour cost 8-15 Euro. Buy your tickets directly at the harbour not at other places such as Sultan Ahmet Square near the Blue Mosque.
The nearer you get to the coast, the cheaper the price for the Bosphoros Tour. If you prefer the private company as you can see in the picture below the route is the same only the price is different.
Some companies take you with their private minibuses. They take you only few hundred meters to the pier. They do the same Bosphorus tour. It’s an other tourist trap.
Whirling Dervish Tourist Trap
When in Istanbul, visit the official and real Sema Performance of the Derwishes at Galata Dervish House (which is controlled by the ministry of culture and tourism, but the entrance is not free). Here you will see the real thing not like at the other “tourist traps” in the tourist areas of Sirkeci. The Sema at Galata Mawlawi House is every Sunday at 5 pm.
The Semazen do Sema in the Yenikapi Mevlevihanesi (Zeytinburnu) every 1st and 3rd Wednesday in the month (except Ramadan and August). The Sema starts at 7.00 pm (7.30 pm summer time) and its free. You can get there easily by tram (T1) and metrobus. Get off at the Cevizlibağ station, the Mevlevihane is on the lefthand side. You have to walk only a few hundret metres.
Transportation from Istanbul and Sabiha Gokcen Airports
You can see all kinds of transport from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Kadikoy, Pendik, Taksim… on this website. Of course, the cheapest way is to use the public bus and use the Istanbul Card.
(Tram at Hagia Sophia)
If you need to exchange money, check this website for the official exchange rate. Some exchange offices could have a lower exchange rate.
Souvenir and Book Shop
Directly at the coast there’s a official souvenir and book shop. You can get from there quality products and sit at the cafe.
It Pays to Shop Around
Turkish people like to haggle over the price, practice this with them and get the best price for your souvenirs and other shopping. Do not buy in the first shop you see, only check the prices first and then try to bargain with them when you know what the price should be.
Don’t buy perfume, clothes, shoes, bags etc. from street sellers. They are mostly smuggled or not genuine.
Always Check the Price List!!!
Sometimes people may approach you on the street and offer you help but be wary, they may demand money from you in return. In the museums and in other places of interest you can get an audio guide.
To avoid paying more than the expected price always check the price list or menu prices before ordering. In tourist areas prices tend to be overly priced and this could cause some problems when it comes to paying the restaurant bill. For this, don’t eat close to touristic places. Go a bit farther from the sights and you will find really nice and cheap places to eat. Places that are notorious for excessive prices are Bodrum and other main tourist cities.
For example in June 2020 a restaurant in Bodrum requested 370 TL (48 Euro) for one portion doner! It’s tenfold more than in Istanbul! The doner prices are in Germany around 3.40-4.73 Euro.
If you are looking for some different types of delicious foods and interesting eating places here in this amazing city of lstanbul, try some of these listed below:
Beşiktaş: Karadeniz Döner
Beşiktaş: Midyeci Ahmet (Also Bakırköy, Beylikdüzü, Çengelköy, Tuzla)
Beykoz (Kavacık): Bayramoğlu Döner
Kadıköy: Dürümcü Emmi
Kadıköy (Kozyatağı): Bafra Pide (Also Kızıltoprak)
Taksim: Hatay Medeniyetler Sofrası (Also: Aksaray, Etiler)
Taksim: Kızılkayalar Islak Hamburger
Tuzla: Tuzla Balıkçısı
Üsküdar: Kanaat Lokantası
Don’t Eat From from Street
Don’t eat food from street stands or kiosks selling meat in sandwiches etc. it may not be healthy or hygienically prepared.
Also don’t buy or eat food such as simit rings and other bakery products from street sellers as they are often hard and are not sold in hygienic conditions.
Beware of Shoeshine Boys’ Tricks
Avoid Using Taxis!!!
Avoid taking taxis as much as possible. There are a lot of tourists who scammed and attacked by taxi drivers. Use public transport vehicles. Or use iTaxi app on your mobile phone.
iTaksi is an online taxi service, developed by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) to ensure both passengers’ and taxi drivers’ safety and comfort. You can download this app from App Store or Google Play.
Why you should use iTaksi?
• It’s under the control of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
• Download the app and register. Your phone number and e-mail address are enough.
• After you have selected your destination, you can see how much it will cost and the route. The driver has to follow the route.
• You can choose a driver. See his name, licence plate and rating score.
• You can choose from yellow, turquoise and black taxis.
• If you want you can call and talk to the driver, before you choose him.
• A camera in the taxi is recording for your safety.
• You can pay cash or with credit card.
• If you have a problem, you can complain. If necessary they call the driver and investigate.
• If you send someone with iTaksi, you can track them and know where they are.
New tips will be added regularly. Watch out for more tips coming soon. If you need to, you can contact me for more information.
Closing Days of Museums
When planning your trip to Istanbul and the following museums please note closing days so as not to be disappointed.
Please don’t forget:
The museums, palaces and other historical places are closed on 1st of January, 29 October, Feasts of Ramadan and Sacrifice.
|Adam Mickiewicz Museum||Monday|
|Chora (Kariye) Museum||–|
|Fethiye (Pammakaristos Church) Mosque/Museum||Saturday, Sunday|
|Galata Dervish House||Monday|
|Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)||Sunday|
|Hisart History Museum||Monday|
|Istanbul Archeological Museum||Monday|
|Istanbul Mosaic Museum||–|
|Museum of the History of Science and
Technology in Islam .
|Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art||–|
|Rahmi M. Koc Industrial Museum||Monday|
|Rumeli Hisari Fortress||Monday|
|Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi)||–|
|The Great Palace Mosaics Museum||–|