Things to Know

Below you will find some helpful things to know to make your stay easier when you are in Istanbul.

These might seem like small stuff but they are all essential things to know for a relaxing holiday.


Emergencies:

  • Fire Tel: 110
  • Police Tel:155
  • Ambulance Tel: 112
  • Traffic police Tel: 154
  • Tourism police Tel: 0212 528 53 69

These numbers are toll free when you use a regular phone but if you are using a public phone or a cellular phone there is a charge.

Business Hours:

A traveller needs to know when stores, museums and other public places are open or not. So this definitely made it on my "Things to Know" list;

- Banks are open on weekdays from 8:30-12:00 and 1:30-5:30. It is possible to find some banks that operate during lunch breaks.

- Government offices are open on weekdays from 08:30-12:00 and 13:30-5:30.

- Banks and Government offices are closed on national holidays and religious holidays.

- Generally, shops are open Monday through Saturday 09:00 – 19:00.

- Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market are open Monday through Saturday 09:00 – 18:00.

- Shopping malls are open seven days a week 10:00 – 22:00.

- Shops on Istiklal Street, Beyoğlu are open seven days a week 9:00 – 22:00, some are open till 24:00.

- Museums and palaces are generally open on Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30am- 17:00 or 17:30, and closed on Monday. These hours are generally extended by an hour or two in summer.

- Museums might stop selling tickets up to an hour prior to the official closing time.

Always check before you go, because each museum and palace has different closing days.

Electiricity:

This is the most useful one of the "Things to Know" because it might drive you crazy not being able to charge your cellphone or your notebook.

In Istanbul, electricity is supplied at 220 volts and outlets are compatible with the round European two-prong plug.

Don’t bother carrying your own hair dryer, as most hotel rooms has one for your use.

If you are a visitor from U.S. and Canada, it is advisable to bring your own adapter, transformer or both, for rechargeable electronics.

If you forget to get your own adapters you can purchase from one of the shops around Taksim.

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Weight and Measurement System:

Turkey uses the metric system. The distances will be named under "kilometres", the weight will be calculated by "kilograms".

It might take a while to get used to if you have other systems in your own country.

Language:

English is widespread. French and German speakers are less widespread compared to English.

You won’t have language issues in restaurants, hotels etc.

You may encounter some minor language barrier while you are on the streets though . But you will be surprised to see how the Turkish people are willing to help.

If you struggle about communication, with a little English and a little sign language you will be more than allright.

This is one of the most important things to know: Learning basic Turkish words and phrases can be a good help. If you say Good Morning, Thank You or Hello in Turkish, people will help you even more enthusiasticly.

Money:

The currency used in the Turkish Republic is the Turkish Lira (TL), which comes in;

  • Banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 TL,
  • Coins of 5, 10, 25, 50 KR (Kuruş) and 1 TL. (100 Kuruş = 1 TL)

This is one of the things to know for preventing from confusion:

You might encounter “YTL” sign on the prices along with "TL" signs. The “Y” in the YTL stands for “Yeni = New”. Starting from 2009 the name of the money will be “TL” again.

So don’t be surprised, you can see both of them in this site and in Istanbul. They are the same.

You won’t have to calculate the prices all the time, since many prices are quoted in U.S. Dollars and Euros, especially in the touristic areas.

ATMs can be found all over the city. A strip of logos is usually displayed above the ATM so you can see which card you can use or not. They usually accept international credit cards or bank cards.

All ATMs have a language key to convert the screen to English.

Visa and Master Cards are accepted generally everywhere, although American Express or Diners Cards can cause difficulties.

Most of the banks and exchange offices (Turkish: Döviz Bürosu) charge a sizable commission for Travelers' Cheques. Using them as direct payment where possible is much better instead of cashing them.

In Turkey, exchange rates for foreign currencies are published daily. You can change foreign currency at the exchange offices and bank branches at the airport and all over the city. They all charge commissions.

Banks are open from 9:00 – 17:30, Monday through Friday with one hour lunch break between 12:30 - 13:30.

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Restrooms:

Public restrooms (WC) (Turkish: tuvalet, read as: toilette) are easy to be found all around the city. And you can find them in public buildings such as museums and mosques too.

This is a must-know between the "Things to Know":

Not all of them have the proper paper service so it is better to have your own paper with you.

Smoking:

Now a good-to-know one of the "Things to Know" list:

Smoking is prohibited everywhere!

Thanks to the new legal arrengements, we are no longer secondhand smokers in movie theaters, airports and in all public places including bars, concert venues, restaurants, nightclubs, public transportation and in taxis.

But all of the above places find a way to make their smoker customers happy. They arrange a semi-open or fully open space for them.

Taxes:

The value-added tax (V.A.T.) (Turkish: KDV) is 18%. The V.A.T. is included in the price of almost everything you purchase.

Now another must-know issue on our "Things to Know" list:

Some hotels charge this tax over room rates. Be sure if it is included or decluded, for it can be a nice surprise to find out when you are checking out.

Certain shops are authorized to refund the tax, you can ask.

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Tipping:

Tips are considered as showing appreciation and tipping is often expected for nearly all services in Turkey.

Try to keep coins or small notes handy because not tipping is considered rude.

If you want to be appreciated you can:

- give the bellboy 1 or 2 TL per bag,- leave at least 10% of the bill for your waiter,- give your tour guide 20 TL to 30 TL, - give the rubber in the Turkish bath 3€ to 5€ before the rubdown.

And the chambermaid, the hairdresser and the usher who has shown you to your seat in a theater might expect tips too.

International Courier Services:

You can never know whether you might need courier services when you are on holiday So this can be a very handy one of the "Things to Know" list.

Most of the big companies have branches in Turkey.

- DHL: 0212 444 00 40

- Federal Express: 0212444 05 05

- TNT: 0216 425 17 00

- UPS: 0212 444 00 33

Alcoholic Drinks:

In most restaurants alcoholic drinks are readily available. Only the traditional restaurants don’t serve alcohol. In theory, you have to be at least 18 to purchase or consume it.

Newspapers and Magazines:

You can find nearly any newspaper and magazine in the magazine kiosks in Taksim and in major bookstores like “D&R” and “Remzi”.

For local and national information, the Turkish Daily News covers nearly all of the day's headlines.

For local listings, the Guide Istanbul and Time Out Istanbul contain essential info about what to do and where to go. They are available at newsstands too.

Tourist Information Offices:

Free maps are available at any tourist information office. And the staff will be helping you with the things to know.

  • Ataturk Airport Tourist InformationYesilkoy Tel: (0 212) 663 07 98
  • Beyazit Tourist InformationBeyazit Square Tel: (0 212) 522 49 02
  • Karakoy Tourist InformationKarakoy Ferry Docks Tel: (0 212) 249 57 76
  • Sirkeci Tourist InformationSirkeci Train Station and Sirkeci Shore, next to the portsTel: (0 212) 51158 88
  • Sultanahmet Tourist InformationHippodrome/ Sultan Ahmet Square Tel: (0 212) 518 18 02-5188754
  • Taksim Hilton Tourist InformationHilton Hotel Entrance - Elmadag Tel: (0 212) 233 05 92

These are the most important things to know that you might need.

If there are more issues that you'd like to know about, please feel free to contact.

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