Visiting Istanbul in 2023 - quick tips

Our recommendations after recent visit to Istanbul, Turkey

Taksim square

Istanbul, Turkey is one of the largest cities in the world with population of over 20 million people. We recently visited this city located on two continents (Europe and Asia) and wanted to share with you some tips in case you plan to visit it in 2023.

Here are some tips for visiting Istanbul:

  1. Plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time. Istanbul has many historical and cultural sites to visit, so it's important to prioritize which ones you want to see.
  2. Be prepared for the weather. Istanbul can be quite hot in the summer, so make sure to wear lightweight clothing and bring sunscreen.
  3. Dress appropriately when visiting mosques and other religious sites. Women are required to cover their heads, and both men and women should avoid wearing shorts or revealing clothing.
  4. Try the local cuisine. Istanbul is known for its delicious street food, such as kebabs and baklava.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to safeguard your personal belongings. As with any tourist destination, pickpocketing can be a problem in Istanbul.
  6. Make use of public transportation. Istanbul's metro, bus, and tram systems are efficient and affordable ways to get around the city.
  7. Learn some basic Turkish phrases. Though most of people will speak English, having a little Turkish can go a long way when you need help or directions.
  8. Be respectful of local customs and traditions. Istanbul has a rich cultural heritage, and it's important to show respect when visiting places of religious and cultural significance.

Before we proceed with the story of our recent trip to Istanbul, here are some interesting facts about the city:

  • Name - Istanbul, previously known as Constantinople
  • Population - official 15,840,900, unofficial around 22 million
  • Area - around 5,343.22 km for the metropolitan area
  • Average temperature - 15 C
  • Spoken language - Turkish
  • Currency - Turkish lira

To begin with, we have to admit that we really enjoyed our visit to Istanbul. It was our first visit and we were quite excited to have a trip around this enormous city. Locals claim that it is around 180km long and 90km wide. With area bigger than some countries and population 3 times more of Turkey's neighbor country Bulgaria this city does everything in scale.

cat in Istanbul near the Iron church

There is really a lot to see and do in Istanbul and one article wouldn't be enough to share everything interesting about the city but here are just some of the interesting locations and spots that you should consider when visiting Istanbul in 2023:

  • Hagia Sophia Mosque
  • Blue Mosque
  • Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı)
  • Dolmabahçe Palace
  • Galata Tower
  • Spice Bazaar
  • Bosphorus Strait cruise
  • Istiklal Caddesi and Taksim
  • Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium
  • Watergarden Istanbul's Dancing Water Fountains
boat trip Istanbul    Istanbul boat trip 2023

Spice Bazaar    water garden Istanbul
These are really just few of the interesting places to visit in Istanbul. We covered most of them and it was really worth the time. We especially enjoyed our cruise on the Bosphorus Strait, really great way to explore the city and enjoy amazing views.
Our good friend during this trip was the mighty Dell Urban Backpack 15 which handled all loads with ease.

What to do if you visit Istanbul in 2023 - our tips

There are some specifics that you need to consider in case you plan a visit to Istanbul this year. Here are some useful advices from our experience:
  • Consider buying some Turkish lira in advance - there are lots of exchange offices, but still you would be better with some liras in the pocket.
  • Language barriers - even though Istanbul is one of the popular tourist destinations in the world, still many locals don't speak English so you may find difficulties understanding each other.
  • Distance and time management - Istanbul and its huge metropolitan area require good planning, especially if you want to cover many objects for short period of time. Our city trips usually took 1 hour and above in one direction. 
  • If travelling by car expect huge delays on the Bulgaria-Turkey border. We lost some 10 hours cumulatively on the border just waiting and crossing the border. Vehicle queues at the border checkpoint Kapakule - Kapitan Andreevo get really long and exhausting.
Waiting queue Kapakule - Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint - video
We really enjoyed our visit in Istanbul last month and we would recommend it for its historical, cultural and geographical qualities. If possible, plan a visit for at least 5-7 days in case you want to explore the city, make some decent shopping and truly feel the local culture. 

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