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We have just arrived back in Australia from a three week tour of Turkey and one of our first happy tasks is to write a recommendation for Mr Mevlut Uysal of Pomegranate Tour. Our tour was superbly organised, nothing went wrong and everything that was supposed to happen did as planned. As we progress...
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Turkey Travel Tips
Istanbulkart, use it for your all public transportations while in Istanbul.

 Turkey  Travel  Tips

 The  information provided here is given in good faith and we have done our best to keep it current. However, things  change and some of the  information may become out of date. If you have any question, please contact us:

What’s the weather going to be like?

Turkey can be visited year-round depending on your itinerary. Spring and fall are the most comfortable seasons to travel due to mild temperatures and less rainfall. Summer temperatures are high and the season is ideal for cruising the Aegean and hanging out on the beach. It's also the most popular time to visit; hotels and cruises are fully booked. In winter, Cappadocia is a popular destination and often has snow. Istanbul can get snow once or twice during the winter months, but rain and cold are the norm. The climate varies depending on the area. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have hot summers and mild winters. The Black Sea coast has warm summers, mild winters, and relatively high rainfall. Central and Eastern Turkey have hot dry summers and cold winters. Generally, August is the hottest month of the year. Average daytime temperature is between 70°F to 90°F from June to September. Nighttime temperatures drop to around 70°F. Central and Eastern regions generally are in the same range, however nights are cooler. Winter is between December and March. This means rain in the coastal regions and moderate snow inland.  So, when is the ideal time to visit Turkey? April, May and September, October.


Where is Turkey and what’s it like?

Turkey is about a 9-hour non-stop flight from New York City. Turkey is roughly the size of the State of Texas. 97% of the country is in Asia, while 3% is in Europe. Sometimes the country is included in the Middle East and sometimes Europe. 

Do I need a visa? How do I get one? 
Most Nationalities require a visa for Turkey which can be purchased upon arrival at Ataturk Airport. There are normally two types of tourist visas. A single-entry visa allows you to enter Turkey once. After you leave, no matter how long you've stayed in Turkey, you must pay for another visa to enter Turkey again. A multiple-entry visa allows you to enter and leave Turkey multiple times within its period of validity (normally 30, 60 or 90 days) at no additional charge. Make sure you have cash (US dollars, euros, or pounds sterling) to pay for your visa when you enter Turkey as no travellers cheques or credit cards are accepted, cash only! 


What are the business hours?

Unlike the rest of the Middle East, Turkey’s weekend falls on Saturday and Sunday.  There may be a few hours on Friday afternoons when a few shops are closed for Friday Prayer, but generally everything carries on as normal, especially in big cities. Almost all government offices and Banks are open between 8:30  and 5:00, and are closed on Sundays. Shopping malls have long hours from 9am to 10pm.


What’s the time zone in Turkey?

GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October). Turkey is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.


How can I keep in touch with those back home?

The international dialling code for Turkey is +90. IDD is widely available. The outgoing international code is: 00. To phone from PTT telephone booths, which are found in all areas, telephone cards and tokens are used. Local, inter-city and international calls can be made from all PTT offices. Mobile phones work across 99.9 % of the country and there are internet cafes in all cities.  The average time for a letter to arrive the US is 7 to 10 days. 

Is my hairdryer/lap top/shaver going to work in Turkey?

Electricity in Turkey is 220 volt, 50-60 cycle. If you intend to bring any electrical equipment, an adapter that converts electricity from 220V to 110V is suggested. Two pin plugs are used throughout Turkey.


How is Turkey’s transportation network?

Turkey has a good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good service quality, at least with the big operators. There are a few firms now provide luxurious buses with 1st class seats and service. Buses are staffed by good drivers and a number of assistants. On long haul travel a second driver will take over when the first gets exhausted. During the ride you will be offered free drinks, a bite or two, and stops will be made every two hours and a half or so at well-stocked road restaurants.

What should I keep in mind regarding mosques?

Mosques are open to everyone. You will have to leave your shoes at the entrance and women in most mosques are required to cover their heads with a scarf and naked parts of their legs and shoulders. If you don't have anything with you, they will give you some scarves at the entrance for free. Silence is required inside the mosques.  Most of the mosques are closed to visits at prayer times. Turkey is a secular country where religion and politics are separated, even though the population is 98% Moslem.


What can I / should I wear?

Turkish women are very stylish. If you get to Turkey and you feel you've packed badly, you can pick up something new at Topshop, Mango, Levis or Zara or at one of the many Turkish clothing stores, (For example Mavi Jeans). In summer, light summer-wear, (t-shirts and shorts) for all coastal regions will be fine. Don't forget your sun block and a hat! A light sweater is also a good idea for evenings when it can get chilly, especially in Istanbul and Cappadocia. Comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended since itineraries include numerous trips to ancient sites. For wintertime travelers, we recommend regular winter clothing especially for central Turkey where heavy snow and cold weather can be encountered. For winter time in Istanbul a warm jacket is a must. All sorts of scarves are sold cheaply in the streets and bazaars of Istanbul, so buy one when you get here! 


Will Ramadan affect my vacation?

As a tourist you will not be affected by Ramadan, and night life will continue in the city as usual.  Although most people in rural Turkey will be fasting during the day, many people in the cities and tourist areas will not be.  Most people refrain from drinking during Ramadan, and so tourists should not drink openly in public during this month.


How about traveling with kids in Turkey?

Travelling with children in Turkey can be quite easy, as Turkish people absolutely LOVE children. In fact, the smaller your kids are, the more they will be hugged and pinched and oogled over. People will welcome them into restaurants, give up their seat on the bus for them and tolerate any cranky or bad behavior with a smile and a chuckle.  If you're starting your trip in Istanbul, Miniaturk is a good idea to give kids an orientation about what they're going to see in the coming weeks. A big outdoor theme park just a short taxi ride away from Sultanahmet, kids can run between scaled down models of all of Turkey's attractions. Some attractions found here are the Bosphorus Bridge, Ephesus, Mount Nemrut and Pamukkale. There is also a miniature train you can ride.  As far as the rest of the country goes, there are plenty of beaches, hiking trails, water parks and interesting sites to keep them busy. 


Is Turkey safe?

The crime rate in Turkey is actually less today than in the past. Having said that, locking valuables in safes at the hotel is always a good idea, it's better to be safe than sorry. Some areas of Istanbul can feel a bit dodgy at night, take care in the Taksim area at night.  Some pick-pockets have been known to work around the train stations, so some extra attention is advised. Keep an eye on your bags and keep your wallet in a safe, hard to reach place. Insmaller cities the crime rate is so low that it is not even worth mentioning. One can totally relax and mingle with the local population without safety worries. In small villages crime is almost unheard off.


What's the best way to carry my money?

Money is safest carried in the form of traveller's cheques; however, these are difficult to change in regional areas. With plenty of ATM's in major cities more and more people are bringing a combination of cash and credit cards. Look for ATMs displaying either the Maestro, Cirrus, Visa or MasterCard or whatever your card symbol is. ATMs will allow you to access cash (in local currency) from your credit card and possibly from your savings account if it is linked to Maestro or Cirrus or Visa Plus network. Withdrawn money or the purchase amount will be converted precisely at official rates. If you are bringing cash, then the best currencies are US Dollars, Euro's or British Pounds. Be aware that most insurance policies will not cover for loss or theft of cash. Credit cards are useful for large purchases but they may not be accepted in small restaurants, mini markets, local transport, taxis. 


What about women traveling Turkey alone?

Women traveling alone should have few problems, although they may get a lot of attention from Turkish men who spend their days chasing foreign tourists with the goal of developing a fleeting relationship.  These guys can be annoying, but will eventually go away. Having said that, women should always lean on the side of caution. Make sure your hotel room door locks properly and you feel secure. If someone starts bothering you too much tell your hotel owner or nearest police officer. 


How are Americans treated in Turkey?

Americans traveling in Turkey encounter few problems. While it is true that many Turks do have a dim view of America, they do understand that their frustration is with the American Government's policies, and not directed towards American citizens. In fact, Americans may find themselves having enlightening conversations about the politics of both countries.

What should use to take the public transportation in Istanbul ?

Istanbulkart :Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Directorate General of IETT Enterprises' Istanbulkart project is announced as the winner of Mastercard Transport Ticketing Awards, the biggest awards of transport ticketing all around Europe. You can buy Istanbulkart which is valid for all public transportations in Istanbul.
Outstanding trademarks of the world, the most actual movies, the most delicious tastes and the most enjoyable conversations can be found in Cevahir Shopping Center. Cevahir which opened its doors in 2005 in in Sisli, aims to become one of the important centers of life along with being a center of shopping, entertainment, culture, art and social life.
Under its roof, there is a big stage for shows and other events, 12 cinemas including a private theatre. It has also a cinema for children, several other entertainment facilities, and a bowling hall. A small is part of the entertainment area. Three floors of the shopping are connected directly to the metro line.
Istinye Park
The most important characteristic that separates Istinye Park from other shopping centers is that it includes a shopping avenue inside. You can find the most famous products of the world on this avenue. You can travel to this avenue with your car, park it on the valet park and do your shopping in contentment. There are butchery, greengrocery, fishmonger and spice seller shops on Pazar Yeri which was built under the influence of the Ottoman Architecture in the center. The concept of Istinye Park is a sum of the Istiklal Avenue, Abdi Ipekci and Bagdat Avenue. There are analogues of these three avenues. Along with famous avenues of Istanbul, the spirit of the Grand Bazaar and Ortakoy are also reflected in Istinye Park in the form of an open bazaar. There is not supermarket in here contrary to Turkish shopping centers. Suleymaniye Mosque is one of the parts of the silhouette of Istanbul which took on an Islamic character after the conquest. 
Forum Istanbul Shopping And Life Center
Turkuazoo is Turkey’s first giant aquarium over 8.000 sqm. We display over 10.000 sea creature including sharks, gint stingrays and groupers, piranhas and octopus in 29 different exhibits. The largest holds 5 million liters of water. A moving walkway takes our visitors through 80 meter long underwater tunnel / an underwater safari.  It is a walk on the ocean floor just as a deep-sea diver would see it. Braver visitors can even go for a dive with sharks. Presenter talks and shows take place every hour. Watch the sharks and fishes fed by the divers. Turkuazoo is situated within Europe’s largest and newest shopping center Istanbul Forum / Bayrampasa. Easily accessable from every part of the city by taxi, bus or metro. 
Turkuazoo offers fun for every member of the family.
Forum Istanbul Shopping And Life Center
It is the first biggest project in Istanbul, Forum Istanbul will open its doors in November 17. Forum Istanbul, located in Istanbul Bayrampasa on a total construction area of 495.000 square meters, will be both Turkey’s and Europe’s biggest shopping and life center along with its 175.000 square meters of rentable area and its 265 brands, national and international. Loan of Forum Istanbul, whose foundations were laid in May 24, 2006 was provided under the leadership of Euro Hypo. Forum Istanbul’s construction, during the global crisis period which affected the world, was completed through an investment value of 750 million Euros.
Among the lessees of Forum Istanbul are; IKEA, providing service in an area of 29.500 square meters and Turkuazoo, Turkey’s first giant aquarium, established on an area 8.000 square meters. Forum Istanbul hosts 12 different bands of the home furniture field, including IKEA , Praktiker and Tepe Home, in a total area of 46.000 square meters, Forum Istanbul, having a total technology area of 11.500 square meters lead by brands such as Teknosa and Bimeks, along with Saturn’s very first store in Turkey, aims to provide service to not only Istanbul residents but also to tourist visiting Istanbul, with its national and international stores such as Boyner, YKM, C&A, Mudo, Marks&Spencer and Zara, its restaurants and its 5.000 capacity car park. French sports store Decethlon is also now in Turkey via Forum Istanbul, through its store of 5.000 square meters. Forum Istanbul Shopping And Life Center which will open the way to a new life in Istanbul also through both its architecture and its permanent works of art, is located at the connection point of the E5 and TEM motorways.
One of the closest one to the old town, you can reach to the mall very easily either from Taksim area or Blue Mosque area, you can find many good brands also in here. It is in Aksaray district on Vatan street.
The Marmara
One of the big shopping centers of Istanbul , on E 5 motorways, away from the city center but you can reach to the mall very easily either from Taksim area or Blue Mosque area by metrobus. you can find many good international brands also in here. It is in Beylikduzu district on E 5 motorway.
What is LIVING in ISTANBUL like ?
Culture, Art, Entertainment
International festivals are organized every year by the Istanbul Culture and Art Foundation under the sponsorship of different firms. These festivals, where world-famous local and foreign artists and groups present their films, theatre, classical music, or jazz music, are organized in various places particularly in the Ataturk Culture Center (AKM) , Cemal Resit Rey Culture Center(CRR), Rumelihisarı, the Open Air Theatre, Hagia Irini, and Sepetciler Kasrı. Almost all of Istanbul becomes a place for participants with its closed and open areas in the Istanbul Bienal. Antrepo No.3, Istanbul Drapery Bazaar, Santralistanbul, and the old Galata Bridge are places where local and foreign artists present their work in fields such as drawing, sculpture, and other fields and encourage people to join in their work. The following organizations take place every year: International Istanbul Film Festival in April,
• International Istanbul Theatre Festival in May,
• International Istanbul Music Festival in June,
• International Istanbul Jazz  Festival in July,
Festivals of music, film, art and photography are also organized by private institutions like Aksanat, Issanat, Yapı Kredi Kultur, ENKA, Borusan and Tekfen Vakfı in winter and summer.
Various concerts are organized in open and closed areas with local or international festivals all through the year. Ataturk Culture Center (AKM), Cemal Resit Rey Culture Center (CRR), Rumelihisarı, the Open Air Theatre, Istanbul Show and Congress Center, Parkorman, Bostancı  Show Center, Abdi Ipekci Show Center, and Public Education Centers of many districts are the main places hosting these concerts. Some locations with historical value, other sites with interesting characteristics, district squares , and platforms builts on the sea also host concerts and shows.
Cinema and Theatre 
The center of cinemas in Istanbul is Istiklal Avenue. Festival movies are generally shown in cinemas in Beyoglu. Premiers are also shown in these cinemas. Movies are shown simultaneously with Europe and all other cinemas of the city. Matinees, evening, and morning showings are offered. There are also cinema complexes in most big shopping centers. If you are somehere in old town, Sultanahmet area then you may go to Cemberlitas Cineması. 
The Istanbul State Theatre, City Theatre and private theatres offer plays from June to the end of September. Plays by local and foreign playwrights are shown in Culture Centers, Public Education Centers, and private theatres.
Consumer products and services need to be promoted as soon as possible in a competitive environment that becomes more and more compelling. Fairs in different such as food, textiles, furniture, industry, souvenirs, paper, printing, informatics, leather, and construction materials are organized in Istanbul throughout the year for this purpose.
- Football 
The most interesting sport in Istanbul, just like all of Turkey, is football. Turkish people love talking about football, you may listen a great football conversation in Grand Bazaar among the sales people on mondays, the intense competition of Fenerbahce and Galatasaray has exceeded borders of the country, Besiktas is also another important team of Turkey with its humble supporters.
- Formula 1 
Istanbul Park Track has been hosting ‘’ Formula 1 ‘’ since 2005. Located in Tuzla, the Istanbul Park Track covers an area of 2,215,000 m2. The total number of road curves is 14 and the maximum speed is 320.58 km/hr.
The Bathhouse Culture - Turk Hamamı
Water is sacred in all religions and it purifies the body and soul.
That dates back to the Romans and Turks turned it into a style combined with the cleanliness and hygienic rules instructed by Islam. When the word ‘’hamam’’ (bathhouse) which meant the place where you wash yourself, was added to the concept, this style was called a Turk Hamamı ( Turkish bathhouse). It became a culture with masseurs, pattens, bath stones, and marble washing platforms.
- Cemberlitas Turkish Bath
This bathhouse was commissioned by Nurbanu Sultan, mother of Sultan Murad III, in 1584. Its architect was Mimar Sinan. It is a double bathhouse with separate sections for men and women. the most well known one in old city, sometimes called as '' Cemberlitas Hamamı''.
- Cagaloglu Turkish Bath 
This bathhouse was commissioned by Sultan Mahmud I and built in 1741 to raise funds for Hagia Sophia Mosque. Its architect is unknown. It is a double bathhouse with separate sections for men and women. It is the last big bathhouse inside which the baroque style was applied.
- Sultanahmet Turkish Bath 
It is said that this building was a library built for an important person in the Byzantine Era and that it was put into service as a bathhouse after some additions were made to it in 1710.
Night Life In Istanbul
As vibrant as it is during the day, Istanbul is every bit as vivacious by night as well. It is a non sleeping city. Walking down Istiklal street in the wee hours of the morning on a weekend, you will still hear joyous laughter and toasting coming from Nevizade Street where clubs and bars are lined up chock-full of locals and foreigners. If you are into the party scene, famous DJs will be awaiting you at the most fashionable clubs on the shore of the Bosphorus ; you can dance into the night as they spin under the lights of beautiful Istanbul. With its numerous jazz and blues clubs, traditional Turkish entertainment, discotheques, lounges and event spaces Istanbul let you pick and choose your entertainment, a different sort for each night. Turkish people enjoy eating, drinking and dancing. On weekends you will see full bars and tea gardens with women and men of all ages enjoying their tea, coffee, water pipe, beer or raki. There are many waterpipe, nargile, houses in Istanbul.
Night can be long and enjoyable in Istanbul. You just need to find the right place that matches your tastes. We may recommend some places where that you can visit at night in Istanbul. 
Some of the entertainment locations of Istanbul, which offers entertainment and dining possibilities suitable for all tastes, are located on the Bosphorus. The most famous one of these is Reina. You can experience history in the cafes and restaurants in the district of Sultanahmet. Terraces of the hotels in the district offer you a different enjoyment of Istanbul. You can have dinner, drink a cup of coffee or smoke a water pipe in cafes and restaurants below the Galata Bridge.
Turkish Night Show 
This show is prepared for tourists but brings to you what the Turks themselves enjoy most in parties. It is a cultural event which will give you an idea of how Turks amuse themselves. 
Restaurant  - Bar – Café 
Kumkapi is the most famous traditional entertainment site of Istanbul where you can drink raki with fish and sample a rich range of appetizers, right place for raki-balık. Kumkapi is comprised of bistros that cover a great part of the district. Although they are closed places, all bistro chairs and tables on the street and entertain their guests there. Raki accompanied with a rich menu selection and authentic music performed by local artists are important characteristic of Kumkapi. 
Nevizade Sokak in the district of Beyoglu also offers visitors a similar possibility of dining and entertainment. A menu of fish, two appetizer dishes and double raki costs 60 TL at most, although fish prices change from season to season in these two locations.
There are smaller places that odder similar entertainment in different districts of Istanbul.
If you prefer bars for entertainment Beyoglu, Nisantasi or Ortakoy are the most appropriate areas to visit. 
Galata Bridge is also another important places for fish and rakı with a nice bosphorus view.
Traditional Shows 
The Whirling Dervishes Show:  SEMA 
Know to the west as Whirling Dervishes, the Mevlevi Order was founded by Mevlana Rumi in the 13th century. The Order wrote of tolerance, forgiveness, and enlightenment. They survive today as a cultural brotherhood. They are not theatrical spectacles but sacred rituals. The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the sema, is a serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priest in a prayer trance to Allah. Mevlevi believed that during the sema the soul was released from earthly ties and was able to freely and jubilantly commune with the divine. Dervish literally means ‘’doorway’’ and is thought to be an entrance from this material world to the spiritual, heavenly world. The Whirling Dervishes played an important part in the evolution of Ottoman high culture. 
You may join to the Whirling Dervishes Show by providing the entry ticket from one of the travel agents in Istanbul.