The Black Traveler's Guide To Navigating Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey, the largest city in the country, is overflowing with an incredible amount of history and culture. 

Straddling both Europe and Asia, the city offers a unique blend of cultures and is welcoming to people from all over. Not sure where to begin with planning your Istanbul adventure? 

Look no further, because TN’s got you covered with our Black Traveler’s Guide to navigating Istanbul, Turkey.

Where To Stay...

Sultanahmet

Located in the heart of old Istanbul, the Sultanahmet neighborhood is where you’ll find many of the city’s most popular historic attractions. 

Eminönü

Eminönü is another great neighborhood choice when staying in Istanbul. Arguably one of the best and coolest neighborhoods for families visiting the city, the area is vibrant and lively.

Beyoğlu

Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district is the perfect area for those seeking a blend of history and modernity. The area is home to trendy cafés, shopping, and beautiful architecture.

What to See and Do

Suleymaniye Mosque

Despite the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia being the most popular mosques and tourist attractions in Istanbul, the Suleymaniye Mosque was the one that really blew me away.

Hammam

A Turkish bath is not your typical spa experience. It involves you stripping down & sweating out your body’s impurities in a steamroom before being exfoliated, washed & massaged into relaxation.

Cruise the Bosphorus

There are a variety of boat rides and cruises available to take you for a scenic tour along the Bosphorus, the strait dividing European Istanbul and Asian Istanbul. 

Topkapi Palace

This is one Istanbul attraction that is most certainly not overhyped. The more than 300-room palace is much more than just a palace.

Grand Bazaar

Prepare to have all your senses ignited as you stroll through the seemingly unending corridors. The bazaar spans a whopping 30,700 square meters.

What to Eat

Baklava

You wouldn’t dare visit Istanbul and not try the baklava, would you? It’s one of the sweets the country is known for. 

Stuffed Mussels

These were a favorite of mine while in Istanbul. The mussels are stuffed with a savory blend of rice, herbs, and spices.

Fish Wrap 

There are various versions of the fish wrap available around the city, but the best is from Balık Dürüm Mehmet Usta. 

Mezes

Mezes consist of small plates, such as various flavored humuses, tabbule (a bulgur-based salad), or the eggplant-based babagannus, which can be enjoyed alone or atop a flatbread.

Other Tips

Currency

The most widely used currencies in Istanbul are the Turkish Lira & the Euro.

Public Transportation

Public transportation in Istanbul is safe, clean, and reliable. It’s a great option for those looking to get around more affordably and without the hassle of sitting in traffic.

Taxis

If you prefer to travel via taxi, avoid hailing one on the street. Istanbul taxi drivers are known for overcharging. Many will claim their meter is broken or take a longer route to charge you up.

Dress

As an Islamic country, avoiding revealing clothing is the best way to respect the culture. Especially when visiting mosques, modest attire is required by both men and women.

Tap Water

You’ll want to avoid drinking the tap water in Istanbul, as it contains a high concentration of chlorine. Bottled water is available everywhere and your safest option.

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