Travel to Istanbul, Turkey

We are planning a trip to Greece and possibly Istanbul next summer. In light of the current unrest in the area, my husband is concerned that it might not be safe for Americans to travel to Turkey. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1641 posts

Here are my thoughts: Attempting to base your travel decisions using so-called "current unrest" information for a trip to Istanbul next summer is unproductive and foolish. Go to the U.S. State Department website to see what sort of Travel Warnings they have on the books for Turkey, and keep an eye on them until it's closer to your date of travel to see if any negative trends are holding, escalating or fading.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
523 posts

We just (3 days ago) returned from 3 weeks in Turkey and 1 week in Rhodes and had no problems. At the time we were making our plans there was unrest in Istanbul, but we did not expect it to affect our visit. We were in Athens last year when there were demonstrations as Angela Merkel visited and they did not affect us, although we did see them. As others have mentioned, it's hard to tell where there might be unrest next summer and whether any unrest might affect your plans. Over the past 2-3 years there have been demonstrations and worse in London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. Unrest can spring up any place any time. We suggest you continue with your plans and have a great time!

Posted by ann
staten island, new york, usa
169 posts

I agree with checking with the state department and keep checking on Turkey.
But I will say that I just went to Istanbul on a Rick Steves tour in September and nothing was happening. We went to Takism square and walked all around. The only thing the guide said was if you want to stay in Takism square area that was fine, but you need to leave by 7PM. We stayed by the Blue Mosque and it was business as usual. Tons of people, tons of tourists and lots of shops and resturants. It was an amazing city and an amazing tour and I would go back in a minute if I could. If there were any problems with Turkey, Rick Steve tours would be cancelled and they are not being cancelled. But again, keep checking. As for Americans, it is safe. The USA is on good terms with Turkey. Turkey is very much interested in tourism, and Istanbul is very much interested in tourism. I never, never saw so many shops, hotels and resturants as Istanbul has and I have been to Rome, London, Prague, Paris, Florence and cities in the US. They totally depend on tourism.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Just search this helpline and you'll see this question has been asked over and over again. The answers are always the same.

Posted by Peter
Martinez, CA, USA
6 posts

Hi, My wife and I just returned from three weeks in Greece and a week in Istanbul. We traveled on our own (with the RS Guide, of course!) We encountered no problems whatsoever. Although none of us can know what the future may hold (even in regard to safety in our own country, as others have said everything is business as usual in both Greece and Istanbul. We found everyone to be friendly and welcoming. We had considered getting a guide for Istanbul thinking it would be a more challenging destination than other places in Europe we have visited. We ultimately elected not to have a guide and to do it on our own. We're really glad we did. Istanbul is unique, as is any other big European city but navigating it is really no different than any of the other cities. To us learning to explore it on our own is all part of the learning experience that comes with travel.

Posted by James
Frisco
1804 posts

Here is a suggestion. I haven't been to Turkey yet, but I have a trip to Budapest in the spring. I have already determined that I can get a short order RT ticket from Budapest to Istanbul for about $300. If things are good in Turkey (and I expect they will be) then I buy the ticket and have fun. If things are not comfortable for me I buy a RT plane or train ticket someplace else for a few days. For me it will be 3 days in Budapest, 4 days in Turkey (or someplace else) and then 3 more days in Budapest. You can use another city for a base just make sure they have cheap non-stop tickets to Istanbul or Ankara; Vienna or Sofia for instance. I use Budapest because I have accommodations there.

Posted by Mark
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, USA
62 posts

I just returned from four weeks abroad; three weeks in Turkey and one week split between Armenia and Georgia. During the three weeks in Turkey I traveled a full loop from the Black Sea border with Georgia, the SE corner at Van near Iran, the entire southern border with Syria, along the coast up to Gallipoli, followed by a quick day in Edirne before spending the final three days in Istanbul. This was all done using Turkish buses and I encountreed nothing that frightend me, made me concerned for my safety or even had me thinking that some sort of "unrest" might be in the making or actually occuring. No one bothered me on those buses and in fact no one even paid the slightest bit of attention to me at all. I'll wager that a month spent wondering around in Turkey is safer than a weekend spent roaming Detroit!

Posted by Jack
bakersfield
5 posts

Peggy, We just got back from a cruise that went to Istanbul and Athens. We loved it and had zero issues. The locals said that the unrest in Istanbul was over a local city issue regarding a park and was blown out of proportion by the news media. Athens is wonderful and very safe and needs the tourists. We stayed 3 days in Athens at the Hotel Electra in the Plaka. Excellent. Jack from California

Posted by DH
San Antonio, TX, USA
67 posts

Going to Turkey later in the month. Have read a lots and lots of Turkish pistory and politics. The Mid East and Eastern Europe are tougher neighborhoods than we are used too. They are just warming to civil democracy. In Turkey the police and civilians gather in Taksim every few years and are very uncivil to each other. They last fit was May 2013, so I think you are quite safe now.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

I'm just back from two and a half weeks in Istanbul and southwestern Turkey. Wonderful. Go, go, go. The people are super-friendly, though most speak no English, the food is excellent, the shopping is enticing, and the sights are simply marvelous.