Tips for Women Travellers

You will find here the most necessary tips for women travelers, prepared by an Istanbul insider.

Many women wonder if Istanbul is safe for them to visit as a solo traveler. Yes, it most definitely is. Most female visitors find Turkish people extremely warm, welcoming, accommodating and helpful.

Istanbul is statistically one of the safest major cities in Europe with low incidence of violent crime. But of course there are some reminders for women travelers.

Just take the same precautions you'd normally take while on vacation, and you'll be fine.

Here are some useful tips for women travellers:

General tips;

  • If you're a female, you'll definitely attract the attention of the young males. This attention is harmless, but it surely can be annoying. The best way to handle it is to remain calm, to avoid eye contact and to make it clear that you are not interested by your behavior. Don’t talk back, it’s no use.
  • If you are a single woman or a woman-only group, you should be a bit more cautious when someone or a group of men try to approach you or are following you. This rule applies in walking on a street, eating in a restaurant or drinking in a bar etc…
  • Be formal at all times, even on third or fourth encounter. Be pleasant, but don't smile readily at men you don't know, even you think it is totally normal (like when registering at a hotel, taking a taxi ride, ordering food…).
  • If a man approaches by being overly friendly, you should be overly formal.
  • If you're traveling alone and somehow you felt a little insecure, introduce yourself to Turkish women or families. You can simply start a conversation by asking a question. This informally includes you in their group.
  • Establishing eye contact and a polite smile is not the normal way of interacting with strangers in Turkey. These can be easily misinterpreted as a signal of more personal interest. Turkish men tend to interpret an innocent act very differently. So if you smile at a Turkish man just to be nice, he might assume it to mean that you're interested in being even friendlier. (Not every Turkish man, but the ones that you will encounter in touristic areas. No offence guys!)
  • Don't make eye contact with men on the street. If someone tries to talk to you, there is a great chance that he is trying to sell you something. Don't even bother answering and just keep walking.
  • There are cons in Istanbul too, like any other big city. You will encounter these people mostl in Sultanahmet. They are young men who approach very kindly and ask questions to start a conversation. Just ignore them.But this kind of behavior shouldn’t be considered as general. Usually, alone female travelers are treated with an almost exaggerated courtesy in Turkey. Turkish people will treat you as a member of their family and I’m sure you will be surprised by such behavior. Having all this warmth and hospitality at one hand and possible risks for encountering sexually hungry young men on the other side, it might seem difficult to balance your actions. It is not. You will soon learn to recognize how different these people are. It's important to find a balance between polite formality and the openness that North American, European, and Australian women find so normal.
  • Reported hassles include staring, minor groping and pinching, unpleasant sounds and comments, and unwanted romantic advances.
  • Hassle is not what happens to all female travelers. Absolutely not! Most Turkish men are extremely polite to women.
  • Violent crime, including assault and rape, is less common in Turkey than in many developed Western countries. Remember you will probably be in far less physical danger in Turkey than you'd be in many more "liberal" countries.
  • Many women traveler say they feel safer in Turkey than at home. Observe local norms, take common-sense precautions and you will be safe. As long as you adjust to local customs and attitudes (as you would do in any country you visit) and take normal, common-sense precautions, there is no need to worry.

Going out at night;

If you are a woman I'm sure you have felt unease at one point in your life when you were going out alone. These are my tips for women travelers who love going out at night;

  • If you're out late at night don’t wander in dark streets, take a taxi back to your hotel.
  • Do not wander into dark and deserted streets.
  • This is one of the most obvious tips among other tips for women travelers, but it works wonders; Dress neatly and act reserved.
  • Observe local customs. Dress and behave according to those local customs. Do things with others (a female or male companion you know, or a mixed group) when possible.
  • Try to be in public and do things in public mostly. If you will go to a private place, like a house, an office etc, make sure that you are in group settings in which you know most of the people.
  • This is one of the most important tips for women travelers; Do not go out with men you don't know. Avoid being alone in private with a man or men you do not know well, at all times. Do not get in a car alone with a stranger man or men under no circumstances.
  • If you are going to hang out with locals, mixed groups, including both Turkish men and Turkish women, you are usually fine.
  • If you go somewhere for the first time, observe the place to find out if there are any mixed groups. If so it is a safe place. If not, if there are only men staring at lonely women behind their mustaches, I don’t know how you got there at the first place but get out immediately!

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Just be aware, not over-precautious.

Enjoy Istanbul, it's one of the greatest cities in the world!

Those are my tips for women travellers in Istanbul.

You can see other travel advice pages full of essential tips for travellers if you want to know more.

Here is a page that you will find useful if you are interested in shopping in Istanbul:

"Shopping Tips"

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