I've done a few Rick Steves tours on my own. I want to do the Istanbul tour but I wonder how safe it is for a woman alone. Obviously there will be many group activities but there is the free time and the back and forth to the airport. I'd be interested to know the experience any women have had on their own in Instanbul. Thanks
I had a great time on my own in Istanbul. Politely refuse the offers of tea and carpet-shopping, unless you are in the market.
You will probably find companions on the tour to share your free time. If not, you'll be fine.
My experience is like Zoe's, both in Istanbul and along the route of our longer Turkey tour. Many salesmen will chat you up, and it's up to you how or whether to respond. Sitting alone on a bench is likely to attract Romeos, but they are not physically aggressive. Wear sunglasses if you want to remain aloof. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/trip-planning/tips-for-solo-women-travelers.
A year ago I was in Turkey. I spent a few days in Istanbul with a friend, then a couple of days on my own, then joined the RS Turkey in 13 Days tour. I never felt uneasy in Istanbul, with a friend or on my own. Even though it was the tail end of the tourist season, there were many people out and about everywhere, many locals. There were 2 other single women on my tour and the couples were friendly and inclusive as well. I don't remember being alone at all, except in my hotel room.
Did the RS tour a few years. Wandered on my own just fine. Even at night. Only time I felt bothered was by the carpet vendors. A firm and loud NO shuts them up. Otherwise pleasant interactions the entire 7 days. Never felt unsafe. One of my fondest memories was finding a hidden restaurant in the Spice Market that was up a steep step stairway off a side "alley." Had the best lentil soup ever. The owner and I were the only two people there. No English spoken but he couldn't be a more gracious host. I still think about that soup. Take a cab from the airport. Easy. Oh and Truman was in office when I was born so it's not like I'm not putting thought into wandering solo.
If you are going to be in Istanbul before the tour, check with your hotel. Some offer free shuttle service from the airport. I had no trouble taking the metro (one transfer) to the airport around 8 p.m. for an 11 p.m. flight home. I saw signs to book fairly cheap shuttle rides to the airport.
Thanks everyone. I booked my trip!