Considering planning a trip to Istanbul, Turkey? Short answer: do it! Centuries of history, incredible architecture, diverse cuisines, and welcoming people all make Istanbul a fantastic destination to experience. Turkey had been on my bucket list for a while, and proved to be as fascinating an experience as I had expected.
In this travel guide, I will be sharing:
- When you should visit Istanbul (and when not to)
- How to get around Istanbul efficiently and inexpensively
- What to pack and how to dress in Istanbul
- Accommodations and hotels in Istanbul for all budgets
- Safety tips and advice
- My five day Istanbul itinerary
Keep reading for all these Istanbul tips and more! If you’re looking to extend your Turkey trip beyond Istanbul, be sure to check out my guide to visiting Cappadocia, Turkey.
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When to Visit Istanbul:
Istanbul is a destination you can visit year-round. The city experiences all four seasons, so be sure to check the weather for when you’re visiting to pack appropriately. When we visited in August, it was fairly hot during the day (in the 30s Celsius), but comfortable in the evenings. Compared to New York’s humid summers, the weather didn’t seem too bad.
Be sure to also check if there are any holidays occurring during your visit, as some sites may be closed. Our 4-day visit to Istanbul happened to coincide exactly with the Sacrifice Feast, a 4-day religious festival. While most sites were still open, the Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market were closed until our last day, and many of Istanbul’s residents were away on vacation, making the city feel oddly empty in parts. Had I realized this in advance, I may have chosen to visit Istanbul later in our Turkey trip. On a positive note, Istanbul offers free public transit on holidays, which we were able to enjoy for the duration of our stay.