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Quick Istanbul Trip- trip report

My husband and I just got back from a quick trip to Istanbul. Thank you to everyone for the tips and advice. We had three full days and I wanted to share some tips and highlights.

-Three full days is just about the minimum to do the city justice. We didn't see everything on our list and didn't even make it to the Asian side. But we felt like it was a good first taste. We did have four nights (which helped).

-We used Welcome Pickups both to and from the airport. It was 36 euro each way and I would recommend them. We would have tried the metro to or from the airport on a longer trip.

-The trams are easy to use and we used them a ton. We actually had no problems with the Istanbulkart! Maybe we lucked out- I was very nervous after hearing others' experiences.

-If you are new to Mosques, both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are very visitor friendly.

-We stayed at the World Heritage Center Hotel. It was suuuuper central, teeny tiny room, good breakfast, amazing rooftop view. I would very strongly suggest a hotel with a good rooftop view.

-We used the 2021 RS book and found it to be accurate, but prices have gone waaaaaay up. For example, the book says the Basilica Cicstern is 30 TL; it's now 450 TL. It wouldn't have changed our plans but we would have taken more lira out on arrival.

-Our favorite meals were Nizam Pide for lunch and Sultanhamet Fish House for dinner. Both were very casual and good food.

-We did the Turyol 2 hour boat on the Bosphorus but there are so many choices. Other boats seemed to have better windows for viewing that we may have tried in hindsight.

-It was the 100 year celebration while we were there, which was fun! There was also a big protest around Taksim Square when we were there- friends ran into it- but it was otherwise business as usual.

Posted by
4936 posts

I'm glad that your trip went smoothly, including the trams to help you make the most of your 3 days! Thanks for the restaurant tips.

Between inflation and the exchange rate, Turkey is still a bargain. And impossible to predict at the ATM!!

Posted by
1984 posts

Thank you for your report.

I have a cruise booked for next October that will end in Istanbul. I plan on spending 4 or so days before flying home.

You helped answer some of my questions and concerns.

I will be checking out the Welcome Service that you used and the hotel that you booked.

Posted by
2519 posts

Thanks for the report, sounds like a great trip! And cool to be there for the actual 100 year; there were banners and such up in late September but probably nothing like what you got to experience. FWIW, the NPR radio show Throughline had an interesting show about Ataturk last week, worth a listen.

For others planning Turkey trips, the new edition of the Istanbul guidebook isn't due out until fall of 2024, so it is wise to double check prices on things. Due to inflation many restaurants are now using dry erase menus to update prices more frequently.

Posted by
11509 posts

For example, the book says the Basilica Cicstern is 30 TL; it's now 450 TL.

A lot of the difference is due to the rate of inflation in Turkey, and a very different exchange rate now vs then.

In 2021 the TLY was worth around 12 US cents; now it is under 4 US cents. The price ha gone up , but not quite as much as it looks.

Posted by
27426 posts

The underlying issue causing huge jumps in Turkish prices for everything is the massive change in the exchange rate. It was about 6 TL to the US dollar on January 1, 2020. It is now more than 28.3 TL to the dollar, and it isn't stable at that rate. The lira has been drifting downward this fall. It was 26.7 to the dollar on September 1. That's an over-6% decline in 2 months.