Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents, with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. To visit this city is to adventure into worlds past. But before you go, there are certain things you need to know that will make for an effortless trip.
1. Buy a Museum Pass
The Museum Pass will save you money and tons of time in lines. You can purchase this for 85 TL online before you go or at a kiosk while in Istanbul. This pass gives you 5 days of access to almost every museum in Istanbul.
2. It’s Safe
Istanbul may not be your quiet hometown, but it’s not as dangerous as the news portrays. The touristic areas are highly populated and very safe. Exercise standard caution by not walking alone at night, not walking into alleys, and always being aware of your surroundings. I promise, people are much more welcoming than the news portrays them to be.
3. Visit the Museums First Thing in the Morning
People come from all over the world to visit Istanbul’s museums. If you don’t want to be in a long line, head to the museums first thing in the morning when they open. You’ll miss the heat of the day and the long lines.
4. Check the Prayer Hours for the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is one of the must see sights in Istanbul, but it is an active mosque and thus closes during prayer hours. To prevent yourself from being left outside, check the prayer times online.
5. Get a Visa
Many countries need a visa to enter Turkey. Purchase this online before you arrive online. *Note: Americans do not need a visa.
6. Take Public Transportation
Istanbul’s traffic is very bad and luckily, its public transportation is very good. Utilize the public transportation system by taking the train or using its buses. The tram will take you everywhere you need to go and fast.
7. Set Prices First
Always verify and set prices first before buying anything. Unless there is a set price on a menu, prices vary. Just because coffee is usually $1 does not mean that someone is going to charge you a fair price. Always verify your price, even if it’s for something small like tea.
8. Take an Uber Boat
That’s right, Uber Boat has arrived in Istanbul and it’s incredible. Bypass the traffic and hop aboard a yacht that will drive you anywhere you’d like to go on the Bosporus. With set prices and trusted safety, Uber Boats have taken over the Bosporus as well as our hearts.
9. Eat Late
The Turks eat dinner very late. I’m talking 11:00 pm late. Have your Turkish tea at 5 pm and rest. Don’t go to dinner until at least 9:30 pm and even then, you may be the first to arrive!
10. Stay in the Old City
When you’re visiting a city as old as Istanbul, immerse yourself in the history by staying in its old city. There are beautiful hotels on the Bosporus Sea, but walking to historical giants such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia simply cannot be beat.
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