Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, is the economic, historical and cultural heart of the country. A former capital of empires, Istanbul holds a significant place in world history. Today, it is steadily growing into a centre of industry and finance in the region.
Language: Turkish, English
TimeZone: GMT +2 hours
Measures: Metric System
Voltage: 220 volts
MobilePhones: GSM 900 / 1800
Most international travelers require visas to enter Turkey. Travelers holding passports from Germany, France or Japan, among other countries, can enjoy visa-free access to Turkey for up to 90 days. For further details, consult your travel agent or any Turkish embassy or consulate. View visa requirements from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The best time to visit Istanbul is in April, May, September and October, when guests can take full advantage of the city’s mild temparatures, low humidity and light, cooling breezes.
9am – 5pm, throughout the week
9am – 5pm, Monday through Friday
10am – 10pm, throughout the week
The electricity current is 220V AC with a frequency of 50 Hertz. European standard plugs with 2 pins are used at the hotels.
Banking & Currency
TL – Turkish Lira Banknotes: 1 TL, 5 TL, 10 TL, 20 TL, 50 TL, 100 TL and 200 TL
TL – Turkish Lira Coins: 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c and 1TL
Most Turkish Banks change traveler’s cheques as well as cash.
1 EUR = 4 TL (approximately)
1 USD = 3, 5 TL (approximately)
Monday to Friday / 08:30 – 12:00 / 13:30-17:00
The Turkish currency is known as the Turkish Lira (TRL). Credit cards are accepted in major hotels and most shops and restaurants. Here are the most recent exchange rates for some
Traveller’s Cheques & Credit Cards
Traveler’s cheques and Eurocheques may be cashed in banks. Major credit cards like VISA, American Express, MasterCard are accepted in most of the hotels, restaurants and shops.
Turkish Telecom Inc is the only telecom service provider. All hotels are direct dial telephone systems in the rooms. There are 3 GSM operators in Turkey namely Avea, Vodafone and Turkcell. Please consult with your own local GSM operator to find out if they have roaming agreement with Turkish operators.
Post offices are opened from 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday.
Sizes & Measures
Turkey uses continental European sizes for clothes and shoes. Drink and food are sold in metric measures.
Optional City Tours
The hospitality desk team will be happy to process additional bookings on your behalf during your stay, which will be subject to space availability.
Turkey has a value-added tax (KDV) of 8% or %18 depending on the item, which is included in the price of most goods and services. If you purchase an item from a store that participates in the national ‘Global Refund: Tax Free Shopping’ scheme and then take the item out of the country, you are entitled to a tax refund. There aren’t many shops participating in this scheme, however, it is always worth asking the shopkeeper if it is possible to get a Tax Free Invoicer or Tax Refund Cheque. Please note that your purchased goods must be available for inspection.
To claim a refund, you must obtain a Turkish Customs stamp on the Tax Free Invoice or Tax Refund Cheque before visiting the Tax Free Refund Office. At Ataturk International Airport, you’ll find these offices located before Passport Control at counter C31 – C32 for all flights, counter A13 – A14 for Turkish Airlines flights and also after Passport Control at Gate 219. You must then present your stamped and completed Tax Free Invoice or Tax Refund Cheque at a Tax Free Refund Office. One location is within the ‘food court’ area while the other two are situated next to gate 223. The refund is available in the form of cash or a credit to your chosen credit-card account.
Hailing a yellow taxi on the Street is an easy and affordable way to travel around the city, though these can be scarce during peak hour. A light on the roof will signify availabality and, generally, taxis that display their company telephone number are more reputable, safer and better maintained. The drivers are supposed to switch on the meter before setting off. If there is no meter, fares should be agreed upon in advance. Occasionally, drivers do not understand English, so it is advisable to carry written details of your destination in Turkish. It is useful to know the landmarks near one’s destination because Street adresses are not well known and the driver is unlikely to consult a directory. Due to unpredictable traffic congestion, plenty of time should be factored in.
Taxis are plentiful and a convenient way of getting around Istanbul. Fares are relatively inexpensive. The fare for the 15-to-25-minute ride between Sultanahmet and Taksim Square is about €10. The approximate fare for the 35-to-75-minute ride from Atatürk Airport to Sultanahmet is €25. From the airport to Taksim Square, it’s about €25. The fare from Sarıyer, on the Northern European shore of the Bosphorus near the Black Sea, to Galata Bridge is about €35-€40.
Tips are generally modest in Turkey and in recognition of good service. Try to keep coins or small notes handy and follow these guidelines when you are undertaking independent arrangements. By the way, please note that gratuities are not, generally, accepted by credit card.
Upscale Restaurants: 10% of the bill
Cafes: 10% of the bill
Taxi Drivers: Round up the fare to the next 5 or 10 Turkish Lira.
Although Turkey is relatively safe, keep a close check on your belongings and beware of pickpockets and bag-snatchers. Additionally, drivers do not necessarily obey to the road rules so be cautious when crossing the Street in the absence of traffic lights. Please carry out your valuables in a very secure fashion. Items such as passports, mobile telephones, iPad, laptop, camera, cash and jewellery should be stored in your in-room-safe when they are not required. The hotels will not accept any responsibility fort he loss of items from guestrooms.
There are 2 airports in Istanbul.
Ataturk Airport: located at the European Side. Driving time to downtown is approximately 30 minutes from this airport.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport: located at the Asian Side. Driving time to downtown is approximately 1 hour from this airport depending on the traffic on the bridge.
Drinking tap water is not recommended. Bottled mineral or spring water is plentiful in Turkey and of good quality.
Medical services are of a reasonable standard, though public hospitals can be crowded and private clinics may be expensive. The hotel recommends that you drink only boiled or bottled water during your stay in Istanbul. Complimentary bottled drinking water is available in every room and is replenished daily.
Dress is generally informal, but a suit and tie will be appropriate for social, diplomatic or government events. In the spring and autumn, temperatures are comfortable during the day, but bring a warm jacket or sweater as nights can be chilly. In the summer, light clothing is appropriate for the day but a light sweater is advised for cool evenings. For winter, warm clothing and rain gear are recommended.
Istanbul’s weather can be described as temperate, with warm and humid summers and mild and wet winters. Average daytime temperatures vary from 28°C (82°F) in the summer to 7 – 8°C (46 – 50°F) in the winter. December: Min 6.2 ºC – Max 11.2 ºC
Istanbul’s municipal buses can be taken to many destinations in and outside the city. The buses, which can be identified by the acronym IETT (Istanbul Electricity, Tramway and Tunnel), accept tokens or electronic transit pass. Privately owned bus companies, regulated by the city, also operate on major routes. These private buses may accept cash or electronic transit pass.
Istanbul’s rapid Metro system offers a cheap and efficient way to travel. There are currently four metro lines. The M1 and M2 lines are especially useful for most visitors to Istanbul.
The M1 Aksaray – Ataturk line connects Ataturk Airport and Aksaray Square via the main intercity bus terminal in Istanbul.
The M2 Sishane – Haciosman line is a good option for reaching commercial and financial areas in the north. Trains leave from Sishane (located in Tunel Square) and Taksim Square.
The other two lines are M3 and M4. In the west of Istanbul, the M3 Basaksehir-Olimpiyatkoy line serves Basaksehir, Kirazli and the Olympic Village.
The M4 Kadikoy-Kartal line provides swift travel from the Asian shore of the Bosphorus to stops along the shore of the Sea of Marmara.
Istanbul’s Füniküler (funicular) runs between Kabataş on the European shore of the Bosphorus, south of Dolmabahçe Palace, and Taksim Square, the busy centre of Beyoğlu.
This short underground funicular tram is a crucial link in Istanbul’s transportation system, linking the Bağcılar-Kabataş tram and the Kabataş ferry docks to the Metro and Nostalgic Istiklal Caddesi tram at Taksim Square.