1. Arriving in Istanbul is easier than ever before
Due to its prime location for visitors coming from both east and west, flights are both affordable and convenient. There are plenty of direct flights to Istanbul from most major cities around the world, and with the opening of the new Istanbul Airport, more flights will continue to be available for travellers.
For information regarding a Turkey visa, visitors should visit https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ to find out more. The Turkish government has gone to great lengths to facilitate the visa process for many foreign nationals coming in to the country, including e-visa application services. Many visitors who previously had to apply for their visa prior to travel can now get Turkey’s visa on arrival at the airport. To Turkey visa fee costs generally around $35 for a three-month stay.
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2. Turkish cuisine is more than just kebab!
It may be true that in Turkey they have great kebabs, but there are also many other great foods available, even many vegetarian options. Istanbul’s famous Bosphorous ensures that seafood is both fresh and plenty, and tourists will find many locals on the weekends enjoying a lively raki-balik meal, or fish with the strong spirit raki that Turks love.
Many mezes, or side dishes, feature hummus, eggplants, or vegetables made with olive oil, yogurt, or herbs. For other meat-free options, try some cigkofte, or a hand-kneaded bulgur-based kofte mixed with spices and eaten on lavash bread, or borek, a special pastry made with a variety of fillings.
For those who do love meat, Istanbul kebab is still a delicious option for those staying in the city, along with pide and lahmacun, which are akin to a Turkish pizza, and guvec, a casserole stew-like dish typically featuring meat with vegetables.
3. Turks are famous for their hospitality
For those wondering, “Is Istanbul safe?” Istanbul is no more dangerous than any other European destination, and perhaps even safer in some ways. Turks love visitors, and in spite of some extremism in past years, tourists will find a warm reception to the country. Do not be surprised if you are invited to drink tea or coffee with someone you just met on the street, as Turks are very curious about other people and love to learn more about them!
4. In spite of traffic, getting around Istanbul is easy
There is plenty of public transport available in Istanbul, which can be accessed with an IstanbulKart. This card can be purchased and refilled at nearly any metro stop, small street shops, airport, and other locations around the city. For transport options, there are multiple metro lines, buses, tramways, and a metro bus which spans both European and Asian sides of the city. There are also minibuses, called dolmus, which move around a set route picking up passengers along the way, but these do not accept the IstanbulKart. For finding your way around Istanbul, apps like Moovit and Buradanoraya provide an interactive Istanbul map to not only tell you which bus to take, but also follow the route in real time.
5. Istanbul experiences four distinct seasons
Weather in Istanbul depends on the seasons, although on average it experiences a much milder winter than most of Europe. The weather starts warming up in March generally and does not get cold again until October, with summers on average reaching highs of 30 degrees Celsius. The winter season can see large amounts of rain and snow, thus the best times to visit Istanbul are spring, April to early June, and autumn, September to November, when the weather is mild. Rain is often spontaneous, so be sure to bring a waterproof jacket and umbrella just in case.
If you are planning to visit Istanbul, you will probably want to stay connected all the way. Besides searching for a Wi-Fi connection here and there, you can also use mobile hotspot devices that is small enough to fit into your pocket. Bon voyage!
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