Let’s get you organized! There are some things you should also know to help ensure that you have a good time, with nary a care in the world. As you have your fill of the different sights, sounds, tastes and experiences that Istanbul has to offer, here are important tourist information you should keep in mind. Feel free to visit other pages in our Istanbul travel guide for more information about Istanbul.
Shops usually are open on Mondays through Saturdays, starting from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Some shops also close at around 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for siesta time. Palaces and other sights such as museums have various opening and closing times and there are also days when they are closed. It will be helpful to check whether the museum or palace you plan to visit is open. Also, there may be mosques are closed for prayer and services. As for banks, they are usually open on weekdays (Mondays through Fridays) from 8:30 up until 5:00 p.m. Shops and other establishments may also be closed during religious holidays.
If you are to bring an electric appliance, be sure that it runs on 220 volts, using two-prong plugs (round European). Otherwise, you may need a transformer or an adapter.
Consider yourself warned. As much as possible, try not to drink the tap water. It’s best to bring a bottle of mineral water everywhere you go. When eating fruits and salads, be sure that these are thoroughly washed.
Turkey uses EET or Eastern European Time (GMT + 2), for summer, the rule is EEST or Eastern European Summer Time, which is one hour ahead.
Check that your phone is tri-band or quad-band GSM, as these will work everywhere in Istanbul and the rest of the country. The code for Turkey is 90. As for Istanbul, you should note that it is probably the only city in the country that uses two codes. For the Asian side and the Princes’ Islands, the codes is 216 while for the European side, the code is 212. To make a call within the city, use 0 + the area code (216 or 212) + 7 + the phone number you want to call.
The key is to bring a lot of coins. When you need to use the loo (tuvalet in Turkish), you may need to pay the “toll”. Also, try not to flush toilet paper down the toilet, as this may wreak havoc on their plumbing.
The language predominantly used is Turkish, but most areas speak and understood English, and sometimes, French and German.
Tips are expected virtually everywhere. Bellhops, waiters, bath attendants and tour guides expect tokens of appreciation. The key is to bring lots of coins and small bills.
There are some establishments that offer free wireless internet – such as fast-food places (Burger King or McDonald’s), some restaurants and cafes, especially those along Istiklal and Cihangir. You can also get access to the internet at Internet cafes.
As a visitor of the country, you are expected to respect the customs and mores of the country. Important religious customs are to be observed with the proper decorum. Remember to dress modestly, particularly if you plan to visit mosques and religious places. Also, during Ramadan, try to be inconspicuous about your eating, drinking and smoking, especially during the daytime.
The currency in use is the New Turkish Lira. You can have your money exchanged into local money at banks, airports, money changers and post offices. Of course, the banks would have lower exchange rates. US dollars and the Euro, as well as most credit cards (especially the major ones) are accepted at most shops. If you are using Traveler’s Checks, these can be exchanged at money changer booths and banks.
Here is a list of some banks.
ABN AMRO Bank (www.wholesale.abnamro.com)
Alternatif Bank (www.abank.com.tr)
Arap Turk Bank (www.arabturkbank.com)
Banca di Roma (www.bancaroma.it)
Bank Mellat (www.mellatbank.com)
BankPozitif Kalkinma Bank (www.bankpozitif.com.tr)
Calik Yatirim Bank (www.calikbank.com.tr)
Calyon Bank Turk (www.calyon.com.tr)
Deutsche Bank (www.deutschebank.com.tr)
Diler Yatirim Bank (www.dilerbank.com.tr)
Finans Bank (www.finansbank.com.tr)
Fortis Bank (www.fortis.com.tr)
Garanti Bank (www.garanti.com.tr)
GSD Yatirim Bank (www.gsdbank.com.tr)
Habib Bank Limited (www.habibbank.com.tr)
HSBC Bank (www.hsbc.com.tr)
Is Bank (www.isbank.com.tr)
JPMorgan Chase Bank (www.jpmorgan.com)
Millennium Bank (www.millenniumbank.com.tr)
MNG Bank (www.mngbank.com.tr)
Nurol Yatirim Bank (www.nurolbank.com.tr)
Oyak Bank (www.oyakbank.com.tr)
Societe Generale www.sgcib.com
Taib Yatirim Bank (www.yatirimbank.com.tr)
Tat Yatirim Bank (www.tatbank.com.tr)
Tekstil Bank (www.tekstilbank.com.tr)
Turk Ekonomi Bank (www.teb.com.tr)
Turkish Bank (www.turkishbank.com)
WestLB AG (www.westlb.com)
Yapi Kredi Bank (www.ykb.com.tr)