The US Dept of State website strongly discourages travel to Turkey due to terrorism, false arrests, crimes against Americans and
Terrorism is a risk anywhere. I did see an uptick in security --- more armored vehicles and heavily armed police --- in Sultanahmet between my visits in 2015 and 2017. Of course, I saw a similar change in Venice between 2015 and 2017.
Funny story: In 2015, we arrived in Ankara a few days after a big bombing. We had a wonderful afternoon at the museum, and then arrived at the hotel late in the afternoon. The hotel looked like a fortress -- surrounded by sandbags, heavily armed military troops with guns drawn, and armored trucks. When we entered the hotel, they they were dead serious about scanning/searching all our bags and luggage. It was not your usual perfunctory airport scan. I started feeling really nervous. It turns out that the hotel was chock full of diplomats doing preliminary negotiations for an upcoming G20 summit, and the Turkish government wasn't taking any chances.
high levels of Covid infections.
Covid infections in Turkey are currently less than half the rate in the US.
Has anyone traveled there recently and observed any of this? Is there anything we can do to prevent being victims?
I have never had an issue anywhere in Turkey. I feel as safe in Istanbul as in any large European city.
Besides obscenities and inappropriate attire, are there any less obvious behaviors we should not exhibit that an average American would not know about?
I wouldn't walk down the street in shorts or a skimpy dress, but I wouldn't do that in any city. Within reason, you don't have to worry too much about dress codes in Turkey. It's not like Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Women need a headscarf when they enter a mosque, and they tend to dress more conservatively in Konya and Cappadocia.
Carpet touts are a pain. Taxi drivers, especially around Sultanahmet, can be a ripoff. Take the streetcar instead of a taxi whenever possible.
Try to learn a few words and phrases in Turkish, if you get a chance. People in Turkey really appreciate it. Some of my fondest memories are the smiles I would receive every time I greeted someone or exchanged small pleasantries in Turkish.
Turkey is an amazing country. You are going to have a great time.