I recently traveled to Turkey for one week and I had an amazing time due to the blossoming culture and friendly people. This was my first time traveling to Turkey and I opted out of getting a tour guide, so I could explore on my own.
Make sure you always do your research before traveling anywhere. Yes, it is a vacation, but part of enjoying that vacation is having a plan of what you will dedicate your plans to each day. Since I didn’t know much about Istanbul before going, I am going to list 11 things you should know before going.
1. Don’t dedicate more than two days at the Grand Bazaar.
The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest Bazaars in the whole world. It takes over more than 61 streets and has over 3,000 shops, so it can become very easy to spend your money and keep going back for more. Instead of spending your whole time shopping, go look at all the amazing views and places that Turkey has to offer.
2. Be wary of where you eat meat.
This should be a given in any foreign country. Don’t eat any meats being sold at the street vendors. Make sure to stick to restaurants and cafes or ask your hotel staff for information on where to eat.
3. Make an itinerary before your trip.
There are so many beautiful places to go that you don’t want to take up your precious vacation time trying to plan out where to go. Make sure you see: the Cistern, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Bosphorus Tour.
4. Pack shirts and tops that you can layer. And bring a winter coat if you are traveling during the colder seasons.
It became hot during the day and incredibly cold at night. And always make sure to check the weather before you go.
5. If you are female, make sure to take a scarf with you to visit mosques.
The mosques require females to cover their hair for religious purposes. I luckily had a scarf with me because it was very cold the day I went. I threw it over my hair and went to look at some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen.
- The Blue Mosque
6. If you are not partaking in a tour, the cheapest way to travel from city to city is with a charter bus.
Use this site: http://www.turkeybusrental.com/
7. Do not take the boat tour.
If you go to the Blue Mosque or Hagia Sofia, there will be numerous people trying to sell you a boat tour. In retrospect, it looks like a really cool deal because it goes all around Istanbul, but you can’t really see anything and the tour guide doesn’t explain much. Save your money and go buy some tea and hookah!
8. Take at least two pairs of comfortable shoes.
I am a very light packer, so I took a pair of comfy boots and my Converse sneakers. Looking back, I wish I had brought my running shoes because I walked close to 5-6 miles a day. Walk everywhere you can because this will allow you to stumble upon small cafes and shops.
9. Make sure to have some loose change when going to the bathroom.
Most public bathrooms charge 1 lira especially in the more touristy areas. There were a lot of people I would constantly see stranded outside of the bathrooms because they only had their card.
The bathroom stalls usually do not provide toilet paper so you have to BYOP (bring your own paper). Simply pack a small tissue pack inside your purse or pocket, so you always have some handy.
11. Remember that you will be in one of the most beautiful and historical cities in the world.
Make sure you take advantage of it by trying all the foods (forget your diet) and seeing all the wonderful sights Istanbul has to offer.
Let me know what things you always make sure you know before embarking on a trip!