Istanbul, Turkey

I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Istanbul, Turkey in late June.  I loved every minute of my stay and can’t wait to go back. Between the cleanliness of the city, the food and the kind people, I could see myself happily living there.  The city is one of the safest large cities I have ever traveled to.  I highly recommend booking a trip to Istanbul immediately!

Quick Facts:Istanbul pin

Language: Turkish

Currency: Turkish Lira
https://www.google.com/finance/converter

Population: 14.03 million (2015)

Interesting Facts:

-The city is the only city in the world that lies on two continents, Europe and Asia.

-Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey.

-The Old Bazaar is the oldest covered bazaar in the world.

-Turkey is wold famous for it’s Turkish handmade rugs.

-Istanbul has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years.  Learning about how the city has transformed over the years was fascinating!

Getting Around:

Istanbul has an amazing public transportation system that is easy to navigate.  You can hop on the tram, metro, or funicular to get from one destination to another.  The cheapest way to use the public transportation is to get a prepaid card.  You buy a card at a kiosk near either the tram or metro and then add money to it via the yellow ticket machines near the stop.  You can add as much money as you want and even share the card with another rider.  All you have to do is scan the card to enter the station and you are good to go.

Taxis are also available through out the city.  If your taxi does not have a meter, make sure to ask the cost of the ride before you get in.

People/Culture:

Turkey is a predominately Muslim country, but Istanbul is quite modern.  You will see people walking around in Western style clothing and many women chose to not cover their head.  If you are in the more conservative Sultanhamet district, you will observe more women covered, however, the more liberal Taxim area will remind you of walking in New York City.  Istanbul is full of different kinds of people and tourists from all over the world.  Dress how you feel comfortable and you will fit right in.

The Turkish people are by far the most hospitable people in the world!  They truly care about making your visit one to remember. Don’t be surprised if they stop you in the street and ask you personal questions.  They mean no harm and honestly just want to welcome you to the city.  Usually, the person who stops you will have a shop of some sort that he wants you to visit.  If it doesn’t interest you, kindly say “no thank you” and be on your way.

Keep in mind that all prices for items are just “suggestions.” Everyone barters for their goods in Turkey and you should do the same.  Only barter if you are actually going to buy the item.  The shopkeeper will start by giving you a price. Counter with 50% off and then eventually you both will meet in the middle.  Getting an item 25-35% off the original price is pretty standard.  If you can do better than that my hat goes off to you!

Things to Do:

There are a lot of things to do in Istanbul!  Depending on how many sites you can do in a day, I recommend about 3-5 days in the city. There are also a couple of day trips that you can take from Istanbul with affordable flights and guided tours.  Since Istanbul has such a rich history, I do recommend getting guided tours when you can. They are budget friendly, and it makes such a difference learning about a site as you navigate it.

Check out the links below for specific things to do in Istanbul as well as more information:

Top 10 Istanbul http://www.apinonthemap.com/top-10-istanbul/

Turkish Bath http://www.apinonthemap.com/part-2-turkish-bath/

Farewell Istanbul, Greetings Cairo http://www.apinonthemap.com/farewell-istanbul-greeting-cairo/

3 Continents, 2 Countries, and a Lot of Freaking Out
http://www.apinonthemap.com/3-continents-turkey-egypt/