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Need a guide for Istanbuhl for 2 US College girls

My daughter is studying in Florence and wants to visit Istanbuhl with a girlfriend. I heard that females should hire a guide for the Muslem area. Can you recommend the name of a guide that speaks English & some recommended things to do & see in Turkey & Istanbuhl?
Thanks, Vicki

Posted by
1829 posts

They do not need a guide. Istanbul is a secular city in which Muslims, Christians, Coptics, Buddhists, and people of other religions live. The thought that two college age women would need a guide is nonsense. Lots of people there speak English. They don't need a guide. Young females walk all over the place by themselves.

Posted by
2788 posts

Having spent 9 days in Istanbul (2010) I can agree with the other post who says they do not need a guide. I saw all ages, sexes, and sizes all over both parts of Istanbul. Unless, of course, they are looking for a guide to show them around.
Even then, they can do that by themselves by using guide books and maps. I had no difficulty in finding lots of folks, especially younger one, who spoke English. I was impressed by the country and the city and would return there whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Posted by
956 posts

I think a guide might be very helpful for a day, at least 4-6 hours for the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palce, the Blue Mosque, and the others on the hill. They can find one there, or can hire one in advance ( we used Ekol Tours for a shore excursion and were very happy). I thought it was particularly helpful when we had to stand in lines to enter the mosques, and needed assistance understanding where we had to place our shoes, etc. The people in Istanbul were lovely, but having a guide means not only will you understand more BUT the trinket sellers and the rest won't interrrupt your sightseeing. She can download good information.
Istanbul is HUGE so hope she has several days there.

Posted by
1886 posts

Agree with everyone else re: no need for females to have a guide more so than young men visiting......guide would be beneficial for the same reasons they would in Washington, DC, Paris, or Rome......just ease in finding, seeing and understanding the sites they see. We were in Istanbul two years ago, and I was absolutely amazed at how much we loved it, and just how very safe we felt. We found the Turkish people friendly and welcoming. And, the airport in Istanbul is truly the nicest one we have ever flown from......clean, efficient, etc. Tourism is important to Turkey, and tourists are welcome.

Posted by
1886 posts

P.S. If you don't receive recommendation for specific guides from folks responding here, I'd suggest calling Rick Steves' company and asking for a recommendation from them (since they offer group tours there). Also if the young ladies are staying at a nice hotel, the hotel could recommend a guide, or they could sign up for various day-long or half-day tours with the hotels assistance.

Posted by
5693 posts

Not sure where you "heard" you should hire a guide for the Muslim area. Considering that nearly 98% of the populous in Turkey is Muslim, there is no one area. A good portion of Turks speak English so there isn't a communication problem. When I was there on a Rick Steve's tour we came a cross a group of students from a village in Northern Turkey who desperately wanted to try out their English. So we shared some time and pictures with them. Countless smiles and laughter emanating from the students as they tried the English they knew. One of my favorite moments of the trip. Some of the vendors are a little pushy but a polite firm "no" and they get the message. Turks are friendly, warm, and proud. If your daughter and her friend are truly interested in the incredible and diverse history of Turkey (with it's Roman, Ottoman, Asian and Christian influences) then I would say a guide would be helpful. If all they really want to do is see tourist sites, shop, and enjoy the nightlife, they could certainly do that on their own. Here is the name and email address for a female english speaking guide that colleagues recommend: Sermin Utku-Bilgen bilgenfe17@yahoo.com.

Posted by
40 posts

This one is definitely in the category of personal preference. If your daughter is not inclined to read up on the city, then a guide would be useful. But if she likes to be independent, it is a perfectly fine place to be on her own. She should probably dress modestly as in any Moslem country, and be prepared to cover her head in a mosque. The people of Istanbul are friendly and accustomed to both Westerners and their own secular population.

Posted by
964 posts

Having been to Istanbul twice, I would agree that they don't relly need a guide, just a good guide book (the Rick steves one is excellent.
But if you still want a guide, send me a message and I'll forward you the details of a young woman who is very good and a very nice person.