When to go
September to November is the best time to go to Istanbul, with fewer crowd, better prices and still amazing weather. Another time is spring, when the temperatures start to warm up. The peak season is during summer, though the rather hot weather might be uncomfortable for some.
No need to drive around Istanbul, you will get stuck in traffic and lose precious vacation time trying to find parking. The subway is very convenient, safe and reliable. We took it across the city at all hours. Watch for the line connections – not necessarily the most logical, you might have to back your steps to go to your desired destination. The city is very walkable, with many sights close by. Get good shoes and head out, you will love it.
Not once did we feel unsafe – we walked at night, took the train at late hours, and not once we did feel in any danger. Granted, we probably did not visit any scary neighborhood but it is often the case that the touristy areas have the most crime and theft – none of that in Istanbul. Almost no homeless to speak of (compared to downtown San Francisco), no beggars. The city is very clean, from the touristy to the more local areas.
Food & Water
Turkish food needs no introduction and we had no issues eating from street food to salads. However we did buy bottle water as tap water is not drinking. Hot tea is available everywhere and is your backup plan in case you run out of water. In my case, I was happily trading regular water for this hot sugary tea – loved it!
Currency & Methods of Payment
Local currency is the Turkish Liras, but Euros and Dollars are widely accepted, as well as Credit Card. You can use 1-Dollar or 1-Euro bills to pay here and there if you run out of cash in Liras.
We were initially booked at the Hanedan Hotel but due to some water pipes problems, they rebooked us at their sister hotel, the Grand Peninsula Hotel. Well located in the Old Town, we were minutes away from Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Hotel was clean and had a nice rooftop breakfast spot, offering us a nice view of the Bosphorus right from the morning start.
Istanbul Travel Tips
- Try a new food every day. You can have something different every day and not eat the same thing twice in 2 weeks. Turkey is such a big country that you can discover different flavors in each area.
- Walk around as much as you can, this will get you out-off-the-beaten-path to discover local treasures