Sunday, December 3, 2023
Istanbul Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Istanbul, also known historically as Constantinople and Byzantium, is Turkey’s most populated metropolis and the country’s economic, cultural, and historical hub. Istanbul is a transcontinental metropolis in Eurasia, spanning the Bosphorus Strait (which connects Europe and Asia) between the Marmara and Black Seas. Its economic and historical core is located on the European side, while about one-third of its population resides on the Asian side. The city is the administrative seat of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (which is coterminous with Istanbul Province), both of which have a population of around 14.7 million people. Istanbul is one of the most populated cities in the world, as well as the world’s eighth-biggest city proper and the largest European city.

Around 660 BCE, the city of Byzantium was founded on the Sarayburnu promontory and grew to become one of the most important in history. Following its restoration as Constantinople in 330 CE, it served as an imperial capital for about 16 centuries, through the Roman and Byzantine (330–1204 and 1261–1453), Latin (1204–1261), and Ottoman (1453–1922) empires. It had an important role in the growth of Christianity throughout Roman and Byzantine eras, until being seized by the Ottomans in 1453 and turned into an Islamic fortress and the capital of the Ottoman Caliphate.

Istanbul’s strategic location on the historic Silk Road, rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have resulted in a cosmopolitan population, albeit one that has dwindled since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. During the interwar era, the city was overlooked in favor of the new capital Ankara, although it has since recovered much of its prestige. Since the 1950s, the city’s population has grown tenfold as migrants from all over Anatolia have settled here and municipal borders have extended to accommodate them. The city began hosting arts, music, film, and cultural festivals around the close of the twentieth century and continues to do so now. Infrastructure upgrades have resulted in a complicated transportation network.

In 2015, Istanbul had over 12.56 million international tourists, five years after being awarded a European Capital of Culture, making it the world’s fifth most popular tourist destination. The city’s most popular attraction is its historic core, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural and entertainment center can be found in the Beyoğlu neighborhood, which is located across the city’s natural harbor, the Golden Horn. Istanbul, a worldwide metropolis, has one of the world’s fastest-growing metropolitan economies. It is home to the headquarters of numerous Turkish enterprises and media outlets, and it accounts for more than a quarter of the country’s GDP. Istanbul has bid for the Summer Olympics five times in the last twenty years, hoping to capitalize on its rebirth and fast development.

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Istanbul | Introduction

Istanbul – Info Card

POPULATION : • City 14,025,646
• Urban 14,100,000
• Metro 14,657,434
FOUNDED :  Founded as Byzantium c. 660 BCE
Constantinople 330 CE
Istanbul c. 1930
TIME ZONE : • Time zone EET (UTC+2)
• Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
LANGUAGE :  Turkish (official)
AREA : • Urban 1,539 km2 (594 sq mi)
• Metro 5,343 km2 (2,063 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  39 m (128 ft)
COORDINATES :  41°00′49″N 28°57′18″E
SEX RATIO :  Male: 49.11%
 Female: 50.89%
AREA CODE :  212
POSTAL CODE :  34000 to 34990
DIALING CODE :   +90 212

Tourism in Istanbul

In ancient times, the city was known as Byzantium, but when it was restored by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, the name was changed to Constantinople. It was renamed Istanbul again in 1928, a name that had already been in use for centuries.

Istanbul, the most populated city in Europe, serves as Turkey’s financial center and firmly straddles the boundaries between Asia and Europe, as it has for millennia: the consequence of combining historic Christendom, a medieval metropolis, and the contemporary Middle East. Istanbul, located on either side of the Bosphorus, preserves its metropolitan status: the city’s population is believed to be between 12 and 19 million people, making it one of the world’s biggest cities.

This is a city where you should definitely explore – culture and excitement await you around every corner, and more than two thousand years of history await you.

From the old to the contemporary, Istanbul features a plethora of retail malls. The Grand Bazaar, which has been running since 1461, is one of the world’s oldest and biggest covered marketplaces. Mahmutpasha Bazaar is an open-air market located between the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar that has served as Istanbul’s primary spice market since 1660. Galleria Ataköy, which opened in 1987, heralded the era of contemporary retail malls in Turkey. Malls have now grown to be prominent shopping destinations outside of the historic peninsula. The International Council of Shopping Centers named Akmerkez “Europe’s best” and “World’s best” shopping mall in 1995 and 1996, respectively; Istanbul Cevahir has been one of the continent’s largest since opening in 2005; and Kanyon won the Cityscape Architectural Review Award in the Commercial Built category in 2006. stinye Park in stinye and Zorlu Center in Levent are two of the newest malls, both of which have retailers from the world’s best fashion brands. Nişantaş’s Abdi Pekçi Street and the city’s Anatolian side’s Bağdat Avenue have both transformed into high-end retail areas.

Istanbul’s classic seafood eateries are well-known. Many of the city’s most popular and affluent seafood restaurants border the Bosphorus (especially in Ortaköy, Bebek, Arnavutköy, Yeniköy, Beylerbeyi, and Çengelköy). Kumkap is a pedestrian zone along the Sea of Marmara with roughly fifty seafood eateries. The Prince Islands, which are located 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city center, are also well-known for its seafood eateries. The Prince Islands are a favorite holiday destination for Istanbul residents and international visitors due to its restaurants, ancient summer houses, and peaceful, car-free streets. Istanbul is also well-known for its exquisite and meticulously prepared Ottoman cuisine. However, since the 1960s, when an influx of immigrants from southeastern and eastern Turkey started, the city’s foodscape has radically transformed, with elements of Middle Eastern cuisine such as kebab assuming an important position in the food scene. Foreign cuisine restaurants are mostly located in the Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş,Şişli and Kadıköy areas.

Istanbul is well-known for its nightlife as well as its ancient pubs, which have been a feature of the city for years, if not millennia. The Çiçek Pasajı, which runs beside the stiklal Avenue, is now home to winehouses (known as meyhanes), taverns, and restaurants. İstiklal Avenue, formerly known for its bars, has changed toward commerce, while adjoining Nevizade Street still offers winehouses and pubs. Other areas around stiklal Avenue have recently been renovated to cater to Beyoğlu’s nightlife, with once business avenues now lined with bars, cafés, and restaurants performing live music. Nişantaşı, Ortaköy, Bebek, and Kadıköy are other hotspots for Istanbul’s nightlife.

Climate of Istanbul

Istanbul has a moderate oceanic climate affected by a continental climate, with hot and humid summers and cold, rainy, and snowy winters.

Istanbul has a high annual average rainfall of 844 mm (greater than London, Dublin, or Brussels, none of which have a terrible reputation), with late autumn and winter being the wettest and late spring and summer being the driest. Although late spring and summer are rather dry when compared to the other seasons, rainfall is considerable throughout these seasons, and as a consequence, there is no dry season.

If Istanbul has a poor reputation, it is due to its high yearly relative humidity, particularly during winter and summer, with the associated wind chill and concrete-island effect throughout each season.

Summer temperatures average approximately 27°C during the day and 18°C at night. High relative humidity and the ‘concrete-island effect’ exacerbate the situation. On the warmest days of the year, temperatures may reach 35°C. Summer is also the driest season, but it does rain on occasion. Showers often last 15–30 minutes, with the sun reappearing the next day. Due to the city’s steep geography and insufficient sewage facilities, flash floods are a typical occurrence following heavy rains (particularly during the summer).

Winter is chilly and damp, with temperatures averaging 2°C at night and 7°C during the day. Although temperatures seldom fall below freezing during the day, high relative humidity and the wind chill make it seem terribly cold and uncomfortable.

Snowfall is typical between the months of December and March, with an annual total snow cover of over three weeks; however, average winter snowfall varies greatly from year to year, and snow cover normally lasts just a few days after each snowfall, even in severe weather conditions.

The ideal periods to visit the city are late spring (late May to early June) and early autumn (late September to early October). It is neither cold nor hot at these times, and it is still sunny, however the evenings may be cool and rain is prevalent.

During the spring, autumn, and winter, as well as the summer, tourists should bring an umbrella to escape the sun and, on occasion, rain. However, that is not a major issue since the streets of Istanbul are immediately flooded with umbrella vendors as soon as it begins to rain. Despite the fact that the umbrellas they give are of poor quality, the typical charge is merely TRY5 per umbrella (though you can find much better umbrellas for that price at shops if you look around a bit).

Light clothing is preferred throughout the summer, with a light jacket and/or light sweater if the summer nights grow cool. Warm clothing is required during the winter, and a combination of the two is advised during the spring and fall.

Also, owing to its vast size, terrain, and marine influences, Istanbul has a plethora of diverse microclimates. As a result, various parts of Istanbul may experience varying weather conditions at the same moment. For example, it may be violently pouring in Saryer in the north, gently raining in Levent in the business district, and wonderfully sunny in Taksim in the south at the same time.

Geography of Istanbul

Istanbul, which has a total area of 5,343 square kilometers, is situated in northwestern Turkey inside the Marmara Region (2,063 sq mi). The Bosphorus, which links the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, separates the city into two parts: the European, Thracian side, which includes the historic and commercial areas, and the Asian, Anatolian side. The Golden Horn, a natural harbor that bounds the peninsula where the previous Byzantium and Constantinople were established, divides the city even further. For thousands of years, the confluence of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn in the center of modern-day Istanbul has prevented hostile troops and remains a major part of the city’s topography.

The ancient peninsula is claimed to be distinguished by seven hills, each crowned by imperial mosques, similar to Rome. Topkap Palace on the Sarayburnu is located on the easternmost of these hills. Another conical hill rises on the other side of the Golden Horn, housing the current Beyoğlu area. Buildings in Beyoğlu were formerly built with the assistance of terraced retaining walls, and roadways were planned out in the shape of steps due to the topography. On the Asian side, Üsküdar has similar hilly qualities, with the terrain gradually stretching down to the Bosphorus shore, although the scenery around Şemsipaşa and Ayazma is more abrupt, resembling apromontory. Çamlıca Hill, with an elevation of 288 meters, is Istanbul’s highest point (945 ft). The northern half of Istanbul has a greater mean elevation than the south shore, with some areas exceeding 200 meters (660 ft) and some coastlines with steep cliffs resembling fjords, particularly around the northern end of the Bosporus, where it opens out to the Black Sea.

Istanbul is located along the North Anatolian Fault, which separates the African and Eurasian Plates. This fault zone, which stretches from northern Anatolia to the Sea of Marmara, has been the source of multiple disastrous earthquakes in the city’s history. The 1509 earthquake, which created a wave that smashed through the city’s walls and killed nearly 10,000 people, was one of the most destructive of these seismic catastrophes. In 1999, an earthquake with its epicenter in adjacent zmit killed 18,000 people, including 1,000 in Istanbul’s suburbs. The inhabitants of Istanbul are still fearful that an even more devastating seismic catastrophe would occur in the city’s near future, since hundreds of buildings recently erected to accommodate Istanbul’s fast growing population may not have been built correctly. According to seismologists, the likelihood of a 7.6-magnitude or higher earthquake impacting Istanbul by 2030 is more than 60%.

Economy of Istanbul

Istanbul ranked 29th among the world’s metropolitan areas in 2011 with a PPP-adjusted GDP of US$301.1 billion. Istanbul’s economy has been one of the fastest expanding among OECD metro-regions since the mid-1990s. Istanbul accounts for 27 percent of Turkey’s GDP and employs 20 percent of the country’s industrial work force. Its GDP per capita and productivity are 70% and 50% higher than the national norms, respectively, due to a concentration on high-value-added businesses. Istanbul is responsible for two-fifths of the nation’s tax income due to its large population and major contribution to the Turkish economy. This includes the taxes paid by 37 US-dollar billionaires based in Istanbul, the fifth-highest number in the world.

Istanbul has a broad industrial sector, as one would expect from a city of its size, manufacturing goods as diverse as olive oil, tobacco, automobiles, and electronics. Despite its emphasis on high-value-added labor, Istanbul’s low-value-added manufacturing sector is significant, accounting for just 26 percent of the city’s GDP but four-fifths of total exports. In 2005, enterprises located in Istanbul generated $41.4 billion in exports and received $69.9 billion in imports; these statistics accounted for 57% and 60%, respectively, of national totals.

Borsa Istanbul is Turkey’s single exchange body, having merged the previous Istanbul Stock Exchange, the Istanbul Gold Exchange, and the Turkish Derivatives Exchange. The old Istanbul Stock Exchange was founded in 1866 as the Ottoman Stock Exchange. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) in Galata was the Ottoman Empire’s financial hub, housing the Ottoman Stock Exchange. Bankalar Caddesi was Istanbul’s primary financial area until the 1990s, when most Turkish banks relocated to the contemporary central business districts of Levent and Maslak. The Istanbul Stock Exchange (now Borsa Istanbul) relocated to its present location in the Saryer district’s stinye sector in 1995. A new central business area is also being built in Ataşehir, which will eventually house the headquarters of many Turkish banks and financial organizations.

The Bosphorus is one of the busiest waterways in the world since it is the sole marine route between the oil-rich Black Sea and the Mediterranean; more than 200 million tonnes of oil flow through the strait each year, and traffic on the Bosphorus is three times that on the Suez Canal. As a consequence, there have been suggestions to construct a canal, known as Canal Istanbul, parallel to the strait on the city’s European side. Istanbul has three main maritime ports: Haydarpaşa, Ambarl, and Zeytinburnu, as well as other minor ports and oil terminals around the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. Until the early 2000s, Haydarpaşa, located near the southeastern extremity of the Bosphorus, was Istanbul’s main port. Since then, activities have shifted to Ambarl, leaving Haydarpaşa underutilized and with plans to decommission the port. In 2007, Ambarl, on the western outskirts of the city, had an annual capacity of 1.5 million TEUs (compared to 354,000 TEUs at Haydarpaşa), making it the Mediterranean basin’s fourth-largest cargo port. The Port of Zeytinburnu benefits from its closeness to highways and Atatürk International Airport, and the city’s long-term plans aim for increased connection between all ports and the road and rail networks.

Istanbul is becoming a more popular tourist destination; in 2000, just 2.4 million international visitors came to the city; in 2015, it received 12.56 million foreign visitors, making it the world’s fifth most-visited city. After Antalya, Istanbul is Turkey’s second-largest international gateway, attracting a quarter of the country’s foreign visitors. The tourism sector in Istanbul is focused on the European side, with 90% of the city’s hotels situated there. Low- and mid-range hotels are mostly found on the Sarayburnu, while higher-end hotels are mostly found in the entertainment and banking districts north of the Golden Horn. Each year, Istanbul’s seventy museums, the most popular of which are the Topkap Palace Museum and the Hagia Sophia, generate $30 million in income. Istanbul’s environmental master plan also mentions 17 palaces, 64 mosques, and 49 churches of historical value.

Internet, Communication in Istanbul


Istanbul is Turkey’s sole city/province with more than one telephone code: 212 for the European side, 216 for the Asian side, and 216 for the Princes’ Islands. When phoning from one continent to another, use the same dialing format as you would for an interstate call: 0 + area code (212 or 216) + 7-digit phone number It may seem to be an interstate call, but it will be considered as a local call for paying purposes. If you neglect to dial the code while making an intercontinental call, your call will not be automatically routed to the other continent number; instead, you will most likely be connected to the “wrong” number that is on the same continent as you, since many number sets are used on both continents (albeit with different codes of course). When calling a number on the continent you are now standing on, simply a 7-digit number is required. If you’re calling a landline number from a mobile phone (even if it’s on the same continent as you), don’t forget to dial the code first, regardless of which continent you’re on.


Prepaid SIM cards (about TRY30 with TRY5 useable amount) may be purchased at Vodafone, Türk Telekom, or Turkcell kiosks at the airport or in businesses across town. They may request a copy of your passport.

You may use foreign phones for around two weeks before the IMSI is prohibited by all carriers (except while travelling with a foreign SIM card) and you must register the phone, which you can only do every two years.



Every hotel has its own Wi-Fi network. Some hotels have issues with network configuration or connectivity owing to their historical location, but at the very least, you will enjoy free wi-fi at your hotel. To access the internet, all you need to do is learn the wifi password.


Every café, bistro, and restaurant provides internet access to its customers. Even modest eateries now have access to the internet. The stability and pace of a café, bistro, or restaurant are determined by where you are and the kind of café, bistro, or restaurant you are in. Unless it is really packed, Starbucks, Nero, and other similar establishments usually feature consistent wi-fi. If you’re in a Starbucks, all you need to do is connect your device (SSID should be TTNET or DorukNet, AND if you’re in Nero, DorukNet) and fill out some simple information for authentication. After that, you’re all set to go. If you are at another restaurant or café, just ask your server for the SSID and Password, and you are set to go. The device is installed in several cafés and restaurants along Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu.

Squares and public spaces:

The Istanbul Municipality has announced that free public wi-fi would be offered in major city centers and squares. All you have to do is register your ID through your mobile phone (when you are near one of these facilities, of course) and you will be given an access password.

On-the-Go Wi-Fi:

During your stay in Turkey, you may hire a mobile wifi hotspot. It operates on a 3G connection across the nation and allows you to connect up to ten devices at the same time. These little gadgets may be readily reserved online.



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