I have seen that the US State Dept has issued Turkish travel alerts. But it mostly talks about the area of Turkey in the southeast area of the country near the Syrian border. Is Istanbul a risky place to travel in late 2015/early 2016
IMHO it is not risky now, but who knows what it will be like in late 2015/early 2016?
Istanbul is safer than large cities in North America. Take steps to protect yourself against pickpockets and the latest schemes targeting tourists and you'll be ready to go: http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/outsmarting-pickpockets
I think you'll be just fine. Turkey is a big country and Istanbul is far from the Syrian or Iraqi borders. There is also a fairly robust police presence in tourist areas.
Really, you should be safe anywhere. However, out of prudence I'd avoid the provinces mentioned by the State Department alert, which is too bad because there are some neat sites in those areas (e.g. around Antakya).
Just came home from there and had no issues. Spent over 2 weeks there a few years ago as a single woman traveler (even rented an apartment there in a not-so-touristy area, but close to the Old City). Also no issues. It's a HUGE dense city. You may see demonstrations there, but in general, I didn't feel unsafe.
I just returned last week from a 10 day visit to Turkey with a tour group. We spent 3 days in Istanbul and then visited the Gallipoli penninsula, Troy, Pergamum, Izmir, Canakkale, Pamukkale, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Bursa & then finished back in Istanbul. I never felt unsafe the entire trip. I had 1 day in Istanbul on my own and I went to the Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar, and a Turkish Hamamn. I felt fine walking around the city and shopping in the bazaars. Obviously I was aware of my surroundings and kept my bag zipped and close to my body the entire time. The next day I hired a private guide and we took a ferry ride over to the Asian side. Again - I never felt unsafe. The Turkish people were very welcoming and friendly. There were no demonstrations when we were in the country.
I returned from Istanbul on October 12th. This is a difficult question to answer because - what do I/we know?
I spent September 26-30th in Istanbul, touring the old and new districts on the European side. I felt safe in Istanbul. Most Turks were soft spoken, polite, helpful and kind. To me, amazingly so, especially as I don't speak their language. Even the carpet salesmen were polite - insistent, but polite. I was still cautious, using my money belt and minimizing night walking - it is still a big city.
I was on a cruise (Greece, Croatia) until October 12th. We boarded Sept 30th. The cruise ship was suppose to stay in Istanbul the night of Sept 30 and leave late in the day October 1. Instead, from "an abundance of caution," the ship left the day we boarded and did not stay over night in Istanbul.
I was in Crete on October 2, the day of the Umpqua Community College (Oregon) shooting, in Santorini the day of the shootings in Flagstaff and Houston. And I was in Ephesus, Turkey on October 10, the morning Ankara was bombed. Who knew this horrific act was going to happen? Who knew the Boston Marathon bombing was going to happen? I feel badly for the Turkish people. Their tourism business and economy are suffering because of things out of their control. Most of the people I asked about this (hotel and restaurant personnel) commented that they didn't think America was a particularly safe place! Too many guns.
What I would do? I'd watch the Rick Steve's tours web site and perhaps some other tour sites. If these tours are going, I would go. I admit I was nervous, but now I'm so glad I went. Istanbul was terrific.
Also, there was incredible security at Ataturk Airport for our return flight. We went through security to get into the airport and several times thereafter, including at the final gate. They were working hard to keep us safe. We flew Turkish Airlines non-stop to Boston. Great flight.
Just came back from Istanbul last Monday, 10/19 after 10 days in the city. Never really felt scared for safety. Funny thing is that our daughters who live in Bay area, California said upon returning, that they felt safer in Istanbul than in the area they live, which seems to have increased cases of muggings, break -ins and thefts. Just practice self awareness all the time, but no need for paranoia.
".....Just practice self awareness all the time, but no need for paranoia......"
This phrase sums things up perfectly.Things can and do happen at any time anywhere in the world yet on a day to day basis I would rate safety in Istanbul higher than any other major world city.My perception -rightly or wrongly -of America is a country where day to day life carries far more risks.
Turkey is safer than most countries around that area. It all depends where you go in Turkey. Turkish people are very friendly and welcoming. I have been to Istanbul and Ephesus safely with the help of About Ephesus. It is just a different culture, be respectful of their culture and customs and you will be fine. It is a wonderful place to go!
I have been to Istanbul/Turkey four times since 2010, both with a tour and by myself (female). I have always stayed in Sultanamet and never felt unsafe. I have found my way around with and without a taxi. I usualy use a tour guide but there are times when you just can't figure out your next step and some lovely Turk comes to the rescue: "Get off the next stop, the next stop is the last stop." This from someone I never saw, but spoke to me, in English, on a tram.
Mostly, my caution comes from not wanting to slip (on the city walls, near Chora Church, Istanbul) and not from people. The streets are mostly well lite, but you can also use a flashlight or headlite. I did get a State Department warning about not going into the eastern part of Turkey, even around Lake Van. Although some day I would like to go to Van, now is not a good time. There are many places in Central and Aegean Turkey which are so lovely and safe.
I have been on Kos and in Bodrum and feel so sad for the people who have had to flee Syria. I have only seen Lesbos from three vantage points in Turkey and still have trouble picturing the suffering that is going on now.
As our guide said in 2013, after the Istanbul riots (where he was), "Go to the riots, but if you see the police--leave." Turkey is a lovely place.
Pam from Bath
I was in Turkey -- including Istanbul, Ephesus, Antalya, Cappadocia, and Ankara -- in October and never felt the least bit unsafe. In fact I felt safer in Turkey than in any major American city. I would, however, avoid the area around the Syrian border these days.