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  • Writer's pictureBurhan

What to Avoid in Istanbul: 12 Hassle-Free Travel Tips

Are you planning a trip to Istanbul? With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture, this city is a must-visit destination. However, to stay safe and make the most out of your trip, it's important to avoid certain things. When exploring the bustling Istiklal Street or the charming Sultanahmet district, be mindful of pickpockets. In the Esenyurt area, it's best to stay in well-lit and populated areas at night. Remember to also respect the customs and traditions of Turkish people during your visit.


Firstly, it's advisable not to carry too much cash on you while exploring Istanbul's popular tourist destinations such as the Sultanahmet district. While Turkish people are generally friendly and welcoming, pickpocketing can occur in crowded areas like Istiklal Street. It's also best to avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas like Esenyurt and be cautious of pickpockets in busy places.

Secondly, street vendors can be very persistent in trying to sell their goods in busy streets and bazaars. It's important not to engage with them aggressively or become too friendly as they may try to scam you. If you encounter any issues, it is suggested to seek help from the police. For more tips on how to stay safe while traveling, check out our suggested read.

Lastly, political demonstrations and protests can happen frequently in Istanbul, especially on Istiklal Street. These events should be avoided as they can turn violent quickly and may involve police intervention. If you are staying in Esenyurt, it is suggested to read up on the latest news and avoid any areas where protests are taking place.

By keeping these tips in mind and staying alert during your visit, you'll have an enjoyable and memorable time exploring all that Istanbul has to offer. Don't forget to take a stroll down Istiklal Street and explore the charming streets of Dolapdere. There are plenty of restaurants to try out along the way.

Choosing Safe Accommodation: Dangerous Areas to Avoid

When planning a trip to Istanbul, one of the essential things to consider is your safety on the streets. While Istanbul is a beautiful city with rich history and culture, some areas are known for their high crime rate or political unrest. Therefore, choosing safe accommodation near police stations can make a significant difference in ensuring your safety during your stay in Istanbul. Additionally, it's important to choose restaurants that are well-known and highly rated by locals and tourists from around the world.

Here are some crucial talking points you should keep in mind when selecting safe accommodation for people: - Check if the police station is nearby in the neighborhood. - Look for a safe neighborhood with good restaurants around.

Stay away from the outskirts of the city, especially at night.

The outskirts of Istanbul may not be as safe as central districts. If you're looking for accommodation options in a neighborhood outside the central area, make sure it's well-connected with public transportation, has good reviews regarding safety, and there are restaurants nearby. It's also important to know the police presence in the area and how comfortable people feel walking around at night.

Research the neighborhood before booking your accommodation.

Before booking any hotel or hostel in Istanbul, research the area thoroughly. Look for information on crime rates, incidents of theft backpack or mugging, and other safety concerns. You can also check online forums and blogs where travelers share their experiences about different neighborhoods. Additionally, make sure to verify the image source of any pictures you see online to avoid being misled about the appearance of the area.4

Avoid staying near Taksim Square due to frequent protests and demonstrations.

Taksim Square is a popular tourist destination; however, it's also known for its frequent protests and demonstrations that can turn violent. To ensure your safety, avoid staying in the neighborhood near this area or participating in such events if they occur during your visit.

taksim square

Stay clear of Aksaray, Esenler, and Zeytinburnu neighborhoods known for high crime rates.

These neighborhoods have been identified as high-risk areas due to their high crime rate. It's best to avoid them altogether when looking for safe accommodation options in Istanbul.

Don't stay in hostels or budget hotels located in deserted areas.

While budget-friendly accommodations may seem tempting at first glance, it's essential to prioritize your safety over cost-saving measures. Hostels or budget hotels located in deserted neighborhoods may pose a higher risk of theft, backpack or other safety concerns.


Avoid Peak Travel Times and Rush Hour Traffic

When planning your trip to Istanbul, it's essential to consider the peak travel times and rush hour traffic in the area. The city is known for its heavy traffic, especially during peak hours, which can be chaotic and stressful, especially in crowded neighborhoods. To avoid these issues, here are some tips to help you plan your itinerary without getting stuck in traffic.

Plan Your Itinerary Around Peak Travel Times

Istanbul is a bustling city with millions of tourists visiting every year. Hence, it's crucial to plan your itinerary around peak travel times to avoid crowds and traffic congestion. Typically, the rush hour in Istanbul starts from 7:00 AM until 10:00 AM and then again from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM. During these hours, the streets in certain areas and neighborhoods are crowded with people rushing to work or heading back home.

To avoid the rush hour chaos in Istanbul, plan your itinerary accordingly and make sure to choose a safe area or neighborhood to stay in. If you're going sightseeing, try waking up early and starting your day before the crowds start pouring in. You can also visit popular tourist spots like Hagia Sophia or Topkapi Palace during off-hours when there are fewer visitors.

Use Public Transportation During Off-Hours

Using public transportation during off-hours is an excellent way to avoid crowded buses or trams in your neighborhood or area. The metro system in Istanbul is extensive and covers most parts of the city. You can use Google Maps or other navigation apps to find out which route suits you best.

If you're not comfortable using public transport alone in Istanbul safe neighborhoods, you can always hire a guide who will show you around while avoiding busy routes during peak hours in your chosen area.

Try Not To Travel During Rush Hour Traffic

During rush hour traffic, taxis drivers tend to take longer routes as they try to avoid congested areas in certain neighborhoods. This means that you might end up paying more than expected for a taxi ride that takes longer than usual in those neighborhoods.

To avoid this issue altogether, try not to travel during rush hour traffic in your area or neighborhood. If you must travel, consider taking a tram ride instead of a taxi. Trams have their dedicated lanes and are less affected by traffic congestion.

Consider Using Alternative Routes

If you have a flexible schedule, consider using alternative routes to avoid heavy traffic areas like Sultanahmet or Taksim Square during peak hours. For instance, if you're traveling from the airport to your hotel in Sultanahmet neighborhood, take the Marmaray train instead of a taxi. This route is faster and less congested.

Another alternative is to walk around the neighborhood instead of taking public transport. Istanbul is a beautiful city with plenty of hidden gems that can only be discovered on foot.

Be Cautious of Scams: Common Tourist Scams in Istanbul

Istanbul is a beautiful city that is rich in history and culture. However, like any other major tourist destination, it has its fair share of scams and frauds that visitors should be aware of. To ensure that your trip to Istanbul is memorable for all the right reasons, here are some common tourist scams you need to avoid in any neighborhood:

Beware of taxi drivers who overcharge tourists by taking longer routes or tampering with meters.

Taxi scams are quite common in Istanbul, especially during peak tourist season. Some taxi drivers may take longer routes to your destination or tamper with the meter to charge you more than the actual fare. To avoid falling victim to such scams, always ask the driver to use the meter and make sure it's running from the beginning of your journey. If you're unsure about the route they're taking, use a navigation app on your phone to keep track, especially if you're traveling through an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Watch out for fake tour guides who offer cheap tours but end up taking you to expensive shops instead.

One of the most common scams in Istanbul involves fake tour guides who lure unsuspecting tourists with cheap tour packages but end up taking them to expensive shops where they receive commissions for bringing customers. To avoid this scam, always book tours through reputable operators and research beforehand so that you know what places you want to visit in each neighborhood.

Don't fall for scams where strangers offer free drinks or food as they may lead to theft or fraud later on.

Some scammers may approach tourists in the neighborhood offering free drinks or food at bars or restaurants only to disappear after racking up a huge bill on their credit cards. Others may drug their victims' drinks before robbing them later on. To stay safe in the neighborhood, never accept free drinks or food from strangers; if someone insists on buying something for you, make sure it's within your budget and pay separately.

Ignore people who approach you on the street claiming that they know you or want to practice their English skills with you; this is often a ploy used by scammers looking for an opportunity to steal from unsuspecting tourists.

Another common scam in Istanbul involves people who approach tourists on the street, claiming to know them or wanting to practice their English skills. They may ask for directions or offer to take you somewhere but end up stealing your belongings instead. To avoid falling victim to this scam, never engage with strangers who approach you on the street and always keep your valuables close.

Be wary of strangers offering help with your luggage at train stations or airports as they may demand a tip or steal your belongings.

Finally, be cautious when accepting help from strangers at train stations or airports. Some may offer to carry your luggage but then demand a hefty tip for their services, while others may use the opportunity to steal your belongings. To stay safe, always carry your own luggage if possible and only accept help from official porters who wear uniforms and have identification badges.

Women Travelers: Risks and Safety Tips for Istanbul

Traveling to a new place can be an exciting adventure, but it's important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Istanbul is a popular destination for travelers from around the world, but as with any big city, there are risks involved. Here are some safety tips for women travelers visiting Istanbul.

Dress Modestly to Avoid Unwanted Attention

Istanbul is a conservative city, and it's important to respect local customs and dress modestly. This means covering your shoulders and knees when you're out in public. Wearing revealing clothing may attract unwanted attention from men on the street.

Avoid Walking Alone at Night in Deserted Areas

It's always best to avoid walking alone at night in deserted areas, especially if you're unfamiliar with the area. If you need to get somewhere after dark, use licensed taxis or ride-sharing services instead of taking public transportation alone. Make sure you have the phone number of a trusted taxi company saved in your phone before you go out.

Use Licensed Taxis or Ride-Sharing Services Instead of Taking Public Transportation Alone

Taking public transportation alone can be risky, especially if you don't speak the language. It's best to use licensed taxis or ride-sharing services instead. Make sure that the taxi has a meter and that the driver turns it on before you start your journey.

Be Cautious When Accepting Drinks from Strangers, Especially in Bars and Clubs

Be cautious when accepting drinks from strangers, especially in bars and clubs where drinks can easily be spiked with drugs like Rohypnol or GHB. Always keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended.

Consider Staying in Women-Only Hostels or Hotels If You're Traveling Solo

If you're traveling solo, consider staying in women-only hostels or hotels where you'll feel more secure. These accommodations often have female-only dorms, and the staff is trained to deal with any safety concerns that may arise.

Don't Overpack Your Itinerary: Only Visit Major Touristic Places

Prioritize Top Tourist Attractions

Istanbul is a city full of history, culture, and beauty. With so many sights to see and places to visit, it's easy to get overwhelmed and try to fit everything into your itinerary. However, it's important to prioritize the top tourist attractions like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace over lesser-known places. These are popular for a reason - they offer unique experiences that you won't find anywhere else in the world. Plus, visiting these top sights will give you a better understanding of Istanbul's rich history and culture.

Limit Activities Per Day

It can be tempting to pack your days with activities from sunrise to sunset. However, this can quickly lead to exhaustion and burnout. To avoid this, limit the number of activities you plan per day. Instead of trying to do too much in one day, focus on quality experiences that allow you time to truly appreciate each place you visit. This way, you'll have more energy throughout your trip and will be able to enjoy each activity fully.

Avoid Crowded Places During Peak Hours

Istanbul is a bustling city with millions of tourists every year. Some popular places can become overcrowded during peak hours which can waste time waiting in lines or navigating through crowds instead of enjoying the experience itself. To save time and energy while exploring Istanbul's popular spots such as Sultanahmet Square or Grand Bazaar; try going early in the morning or later at night when there are fewer people around.

Don't Try To See Everything In One Trip

Istanbul has so much to offer that trying to see everything in one trip is impossible! Instead of cramming too many activities into your itinerary or rushing from place-to-place; take some time off from your busy schedule by relaxing at a cafe or taking a stroll along the Bosphorus. This way, you'll have a chance to recharge your batteries and enjoy Istanbul's vibrant atmosphere without feeling overwhelmed.

Take Breaks Between Activities

It's essential to take breaks between activities to rest and recharge. Istanbul is a city that demands a lot of walking, so it's important to give your feet some time off. Take advantage of the many cafes throughout the city or sit in one of its beautiful parks for a while. Taking breaks can help you avoid burnout and allow you to fully appreciate each activity when you return.

Shopping Tips: Haggling, Avoiding Istiklal and Bazaars

There are some things you should avoid to ensure a pleasant and authentic experience. Here are some tips on what to avoid when shopping in Istanbul.

Brush up on your haggling skills before shopping at bazaars or markets.

Bazaars and markets are an integral part of Turkish culture, but they can be overwhelming for tourists who are not used to haggling. It is essential to brush up on your haggling skills before visiting these places. Start by researching the average price of the item you want to buy and then negotiate with the seller. Remember that bargaining is expected, so don't be afraid to ask for a lower price. However, always be respectful as it is part of Turkish culture.

Avoid shopping at Istiklal Street as prices are often inflated for tourists.

Istiklal Street is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Istanbul. However, it's best to avoid shopping here if you're looking for good deals. The prices here are often inflated for tourists, so you may end up paying more than what an item is worth.

Be wary of counterfeit goods sold at markets like Grand Bazaar; always check for authenticity before purchasing anything.

The Grand Bazaar is one of the most famous markets in Istanbul, attracting millions of visitors each year. While there are many genuine products available here, there are also many counterfeit items being sold. To avoid getting scammed, always check for authenticity before purchasing anything. Look out for signs like misspelled brand names or logos that look slightly different from the original ones.

Don't buy souvenirs from street vendors as they may be low-quality or fake products.

Street vendors selling souvenirs can be found all over Istanbul's tourist areas. However, it's best not to buy anything from them as the quality of their products may not be up to par. Moreover, some street vendors may sell fake or counterfeit items, which is illegal and can lead to trouble with the authorities.

Research local shops that sell authentic Turkish goods beforehand to ensure a genuine shopping experience.

To have an authentic shopping experience in Istanbul, it's best to research local shops that sell genuine Turkish goods beforehand. Look for places that are popular among locals and have good reviews online. You can also ask your hotel staff for recommendations. By doing so, you'll be able to avoid tourist traps and find unique items that are not available at bazaars or markets.

Enjoying a Hassle-Free Holiday in Istanbul

Traveling to Istanbul can be an exciting and memorable experience. However, it is important to keep in mind some of the key things that you should avoid during your trip. By following these tips, you can ensure that your holiday is safe, enjoyable, and free from any unnecessary hassle.

Key Points to Remember

  • Choose safe accommodation in areas that are known to be safe for tourists.

  • Avoid peak travel times and rush hour traffic when possible.

  • Be aware of common tourist scams and take steps to protect yourself.

  • Women travelers should take extra precautions and follow safety tips.

  • Limit your itinerary to major touristic places so as not to overpack your schedule.

  • When shopping, haggle but be cautious of certain areas like Istiklal and bazaars.


By keeping these tips in mind while traveling to Istanbul, you can enjoy a hassle-free vacation. Remember to stay vigilant, but also have fun exploring all that this beautiful city has to offer.


Q: Is it safe for women travelers in Istanbul?

A: While Istanbul is generally considered a safe city for women travelers, it is important for them to take extra precautions such as dressing modestly and avoiding walking alone at night.

Q: What are some common tourist scams in Istanbul?

A: Common scams include taxi drivers taking longer routes or charging higher fares than necessary, fake carpet salesmen who pressure tourists into buying overpriced rugs, and street vendors selling counterfeit goods.

Q: Are there any dangerous areas in Istanbul that I should avoid?

A: Yes, some neighborhoods like Tarlabasi and Esenyurt are known for their high crime rates. It is best to choose accommodation in safer areas like Sultanahmet or Taksim.

Q: Should I visit Istiklal during my trip?

A: While Istiklal is a popular shopping and dining destination, it can be crowded and overwhelming for some tourists. It is best to exercise caution and avoid the area during peak travel times.

Q: Can I haggle while shopping in Istanbul?

A: Yes, haggling is a common practice in markets like the Grand Bazaar. However, make sure to negotiate respectfully and avoid getting scammed by inflated prices or fake goods.

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