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Drinking water in Istanbul

Hi everyone, I'm excited to be going to Istanbul in mid March this year and hopefully this forum serves to give me some good pointers about the trip! One of the things I noticed that was mentioned in the guide book is a "warning" of sorts about the tap water in Istanbul. Rick even suggests maybe using bottled water to brush your teeth. Does anyone have any experience with this during their time in Istanbul? Is it good advice, or a little too paranoid?

Posted by
6746 posts

I used normal tap water to brush my teeth over a two week stay and nothing bad happened from it. I guess it depends on your age, health, and general sensitivities. But the plumbing is ancient (and had weird smells) so I would not drink it (that's not to say that others would have a problem, but I just chose not to do it). There are plenty of good alternatives - very good, freshly squeezed, juices and lots of strong tea served in little tulip shaped glasses. Of course, you can buy bottled water cheaply as well.

Posted by
6854 posts

I agree; age and health are factors but From the CDC website
Most travelers
Hepatitis A
CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Turkey, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Turkey. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

But when we went to Egypt (similarly borderline developed or developing) ten days brushing our teeth tap water, only one person in our group in her 20's found out she had Typhoid 3 days after we got back.

Posted by
1967 posts

I was super cautious in Turkey. Bottled water for brushing teeth and no uncooked produce whatsoever. No ice. I err on the side of caution as I am a big baby if I get sick when I travel.

Posted by
3551 posts

I was in Turkey on on RS tour . I used bottled water always and everything cooked or i did not eat it.. i was healthy the entire tour.
Others did not. I saw our tour members eating street vendor squeezed pomegranate juice etc. Had there faced straight edged shaved and other behaviors that could make them ill.
I say to ea his own. I would never risk being sick on vacation the result can
Be horrible.
But for clarity about travel and illness I was in Japan on tour and had a bad case of food poisoning. Loss three days of travel and had to visit a hospital clinic and recieve IV fluids plus. In this case was prob buffet food from a 4 star hotel.sinc i followed max food and water hygiene.

Posted by
16866 posts

I never had a problem with food or tap water in Turkey in general, but our guides and guidebook co-authors say that the system in Istanbul itself is overburdened. They also said that restaurants we patronized washed salad veg in purified water.

Posted by
3555 posts

It's good advice.

On the RS week in Istanbul tour, we were told to avoid tap water. In fact, the faucets in our hotel were clearly marked non-potable. It was bottled water and the delicious apple tea for us.

If you haven't been in a similar place before, be aware that you should flush no paper of any type down the toilets. That includes used TP. There will be signs about this and a trash can near the toilet for it.

This is not quite as gross as it sounds because there will be a little faucet handle on the wall next to the toilet that controls a spigot that washes your nether parts before you dry them with the TP. If you fly into Istanbul, the airport is the first place you'll encounter this arrangement.

Istanbul has a population of about 15 million and its infrastructure has not kept up.

Posted by
5657 posts

CDC regarding drinking water:

Eat and drink safely tab:

Don’t Drink

  • Tap or well water
  • Ice made with tap or well water
  • Drinks made with tap or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
  • Unpasteurized milk

The CDC suggest ice made from bottled or disinfected water. Any idea as to how to verify source of water?

Posted by
7692 posts

We noticed that the Turks drank only bottled water, so heeded the advise and did the same.

Posted by
448 posts

Hi Chris:

This is off subject.I wanted to followup Lo's comment about the Istanbul toilets. Be sure to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer when you go out. I had to use a toilet at the popular tourist site the Galata Bridge. I went into my stall after paying a attendant and found that it had a Turkish toilet (hole in the floor with places for your feet) and did not have any toilet paper. I went to the attendant and asked for toilet paper; what I got was something like two pieces of tissue paper. Fortunately I had a handful of travel brochures from the hotel and used this as tp. So bring hand sanitizer. The tour ferry I took to the Black Sea only had Turkish toilets as far as I could tell. However, the military museum near Taksim square had both types and good hand washing facilities.

As far as drinking water was concerned I was too scared to even brush my teeth with tap water. Every day I would purchase from a street kiosk a bottle of Nestle water for 2 lira which lasted for the entire day (drinking, brushing).

Have a good trip.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks everyone, definitely got some good advice and will take it to consideration. I can’t wait to go either way, only about a month left to go! :-)