Tourism Is big business in Istanbul, Forbes lists it at the 6th most visited city in the world. I'm not sure how the recent protests in Taksim have affected the number of tourists, it seemed like there were plenty of people still visiting but nothing was terribly overcrowded. While I understand that getting people to eat at your restaurant or into your shop or on your Bosphorus cruise is important, over the course of our 5 day stay it really became a drag to have to constantly either ignore people or smile politely and say "no thanks". And I was constantly suspicious of anyone striking up a conversation as the end result of almost every encounter we had ended up with "my shop is just over here" or "maybe you'd like to have dinner at my restaurant". It's something you rarely encounter in the world's other most visited cities-London, Paris, NYC. Sultanahmet is obviously the worst part of the city for this as most of the cities main tourist spots are located there. Kadikoy was much more relaxed and seemed more like locals just going about their business.
Staying in Sultanahmet has it's benefits, being able to walk for a few minutes and be at any of the places you want to visit the most visible. If I were to plan another trip, I'd find some restaurants outside of this part of the city.
Have some note written in local language to offer taxi driver and add the distance. At least with a search already done time and distance can be noted. Twenty minute trip shouldn't be forty. Which out for rush hour, this will bump the time up.
Unique Suggestions: Even in the UK they are the same. Arriving at destination speak to fellow travelers, they are more than prepared to help.
Use internet to establish taxi fares for local taxis. Use translator, at least your driver will know how to get you there, eventually. Use local currency. Booking ahead means the euro rate. Where possible get the establishment where you stop to arrange pick up. The desk team at apartment where excellent.
Look for Combi taxis, as Turkish taxis are smaller. My leg know the taxi driver hand well (and there was a bag between my thighs. Four in a taxi and luggage means really tight.
Pre-booked can mean more space no waiting and straight to destination, but more costly.
We were driven several miles in the wrong direction taxi parked at entrance to tunnel, next to four lane speedway loudlydemanded 38 turkish lira and told us to leave the cab AFter HE TRIED TO PRETEND A 50 tL WAS A 5tl note !
A NICE YOUNG MAN HAD TO STOP TRAFFIC SO WE COULD GET ACCROSS SPEEDWAY..
We were miles away as we had been taken in the wrong direction..had to walk a very long way,,
to take a train to where we live, afraid of taking another taxi !
We were traumatized and I'm in my 70's so this was really dreadful,
When we metmy son back at the apartment,
he said he had been charged 7tj to go from bazaar back to apt,
Which made us think that women are more likely to be taken advantage and actually terrorized in this way ....
Unique Suggestions: Have places call a taxi for you !
We have just returned from a cruise covering Istanbul, Ismir and the Greek Islands. There is no comparison. We are not visiting Turkey again; we will be back to Greece next year!
Turkey has nice things to see and explore, but is full of taxi drivers, make shift guides and others ready to rip you off with no mercy. I was (on the day) a single father with four tired young children and our cabbie thought it appropriate to skin me 70 Euros for a trip that (I found out later) should cost just 20 lira. He also gave me "change" (a 50 lira note) that has been out of circulation for decades and is useless.
We visited Aghia Sophia in Istanbul (INCREDIBLE building)... The people issuing tickets to the museum did not believe our kids ages and charged us more. We also paid 80 lira for a certified tour guide, but his English was very poor and we felt we got questionable value.
Unique Suggestions: If you must use a cab in Turkey, try and fix the price before hand. Do not trust their meters because they use double and triple tariffs and rip you off. Always know where police is found close to your hotel, customs, port, etc. If you are suspecting that they are ripping you off ask him to stop close to police and ask the cop to check the meter. Do not accept notes you have not seen and try to have the correct money. All cabs have their rego numbers on the sides of the car. If you suspect foul play make a note of the number.
Fun Alternatives: Go to Greece. Most of the stuff worth seeing in Turkey were built by the Greeks anyway!
Don't trust the taxi drivers who insist using taxi meter. I had a bad experience in my first day in Istanbul. I wanted to go from Taksim square to Olivium shopping center in Zeytinburnu district and the taxi driver used taxi meter. During the trip i felt he is making the trip longer by passing the longer streets, i told him but he refused to accept. I also felt that he's doing something with his taxi meter, because his hand was always near it. At the end, the taxi meter showed 79 TL and i had to pay it. When coming back the same trip, i denied to accept the taxi meter and i fixed the price for 25 TL, the new driver accepted, but i requested him to turn on his taxi meter too to understand the right price and the taxi meter showed 27 TL!!!!!
That was a good experience and during the next 4 days, i always refused to accept the taxi meter and i always fixed a price.
I don’t know if it is a feature of big Istanbul or all Turkey, but “the speech about nothing” could last forever, but simply later you don’t bring it to mind and try not to chat.
It is a way how locals try to sell you different stuff on every corner of street, always interacting you, inviting inside, asking if you are hungry to invite to restaurant and even asking if you have children to know if he/she could offer you Turkish Viagra :)
Unique Suggestions: It always depends on you how much you want to interact with locals.
One waiter told that it is hard to trust three things in Istanbul: women, weather and water. Weather could change every minute from hot to cold, one moment it could rain, another one it is sunshine or smaller/bigger wind. As for first half of May 2011 it was quite unusual even for locals, that temperature was 13 – 20 degrees and no more. Some days there were a bit of rain. Anyway, for sightseeing such colder weather was ok, but I haven’t got any sunburn I was expecting to :)
If to continue story, water in Istanbul is also tricky, in some guides it is suggested to buy bottled one, even for brushing tooth.
Unique Suggestions: Better to have a few layers of clothes you could take to your bag (if it is not cheap flight with limited baggage).
You will need Turkish Lira.
As an info, if you take a taxi from Sultanahmet (old city center) you will be cheated by the driver 100 %. I am sorry to mention this, but it is a solid fact.
Taxis in Istanbul are the major Ripoff the prices are very expensive,so try not take one even if you are delivering a child and want to go to the hospital,so please not that the metro service and buses are closed at 12P.M ,so try to finish your clubbing and partying in taksim square before midnight,you might consider taking a taxi,
Unique Suggestions: stop at least three taxis and ask for the minimum price then take the fourth taxi with the lowest price you got. don't you ever on the meter because it's a way of ripping you off.
Fun Alternatives: if you your hotel is located in Sultanahmet then going back walking will take you 1 hour 15 min ,and when you get there you will be sober.and don't come back from Tarlabasi Street.
THE FERRY IS NOT A TOURIST TRAP, THE TRAP IS IF YOU BOOK A "TOUR" OF A CRUISE UP THE BOSPHORUS.
Want to save yourself a heap of money, well, instead of doing a cruise up the Bosphorus, go by local ferry.
This cruise is very popular, so make sure you arrive early. I arrived half hour early, and already the queue was long. They started letting you on not long after I arrived. Later, people were standing!
It departs from the Eminonu wharf.
COST IN 2009 was 20t/l
Departs 10.30 - Returns 4.30pm
See my Bosphorus cruise tip for more information
Still in trip planning period I read the information, that restaurant service is not always could be trusted. Such example happened to me as well.
When we ordered main dishes, waiter also presented us small bottles of water. As I knew the trick, I asked if it is for free. He told it is 2 liras for both. I simply told that we haven’t ordered it, so he lowered price to 1 lira and got an answer to leave bottles on the table ;)
Unique Suggestions: It is quite clever just to ask if you have to pay for an extra things they carry to your table or not.
I was warned that this building was adapted to a shop, with all the limitations that it brings. Anyway, the visit was suggested, and I travelled around searching for a open door - no way! Asking nearby I got the answer that the shop is being remodeled, which means... closed.
What will remain of the former building, finished the work?
I didn't waste my time: travelling around I saw some "hidden" details of the beautiful Istanbul
i was born in turkey grown up there,moved to australia when i was 12.when ever i went to turkey they new i was a tourist coz of the way i speak tukish and they start acting shifty.just wanted to let girls know that MAN ARE DANGEROUS IN TURKEY.ther r like they havnt seen any girls before.they do try to rip of the toursts.dont know how to stop them i cant say anything coz they r really shifty.
Unique Suggestions: find some 1 who speaks english and turkish.some 1 u can trust.and tell them to take you around the places.
Be aware taxi drivers will double ot triple charge you for small distance drive.
Make sure you haggle it down and make fixed price before you take any taxes.
call the police or mention its name in case you feel like been ripped off.
The drivers are very scared from police men.
Almost every shop-keeper or seller will rip you off if you do not speak the language,before buying something ask for the price or have a look at the menue.
Always use your common senses and compare prices when buying something.
People are stengy and They always want more and more from you.They unfortunetly look at you as a big wallet full of money.