Good to Know
Climate & Weather
The Mediterranean Coast enjoys hot summers and relatively mild winters. The Black Sea coast is hot and humid in summer, and cold and wet in winter. The north-west and Istanbul can be balmy in summer but chilly in winter.
Spring appears particularly in April and lasts till May. It is the best time to visit Istanbul since the weather remains comfortable for tourists with enjoyable temperature, 15°C to 25°C. Officials adorn the parks and gardens in Istanbul with tulips and some other flowers.
Automated teller machines (ATMs, cashpoints) are common in Istanbul. Virtually all of them offer instructions in English, French and German and will pay out Turkish liras when you insert your bank debit (cash) card. ATMs will also pay cash advances on Visa and MasterCard. The limit on cash withdrawals is generally TL800 to TL1.500 per day, though this varies from bank to bank.
All of the major Turkish banks and some smaller banks have ATMs; Akbank and Yapı Kredi are the most common. The specific machine you use must be reliably connected to the major ATM networks’ computers via telephone lines. Look for stickers with the logos of these services (Cirrus, Maestro, Plus Systems etc) affixed to the machine.
There are 24-hour exchange bureaux (döviz bürosu) in the arrivals hall at Atatürk International Airport that offer rates comparable to those offered by bureaux in the city. Count the money you’re given carefully and save your currency-exchange receipts (bordro), as you may need them to reconvert Turkish liras at the end of your stay.
US dollars and euros are easily changed at exchange bureaux. They are also often accepted as payment without being changed. Rates are similar whichever bureau you go to, with the possible exception of those in the tourist precinct of Sultanahmet. Bureaux are open long hours (at a minimum, between 9am and 7pm). You will usually need to show your passport when changing cash.
As Turkish liras are fully convertible, there is no black market.
Most hotels, car-rental agencies, shops, pharmacies, entertainment venues and restaurants will accept Visa and Mastercard; Amex isn’t as widely accepted as the others and Diner’s isn’t accepted often. Budget hostels and hotels, and basic eateries such as lokantas, pidecis, kebapçıs and börekçis, usually accept cash only.
EET (GMT +2)
Tourist Police: +90 212 527 45 03
Click HERE for the list of hospitals including contact info.
Public holidays in 2019
1 January – New Year’s Day
23 April – National Sovereignty and Children's Day
1 May – Labor and Solidarity Day
19 May – Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day
5 June – Ramadan Feast
15 July – Democracy and National Solidarity Day
12–15 August – Kurban Bayrami Holiday
30 August – Victory Day
29 October – Republic Day
Hello••• Merhaba (mare-hah-bah)
Good Morning••• Günaydin (goon-eye-din) (said on meeting)
Good Day••• iyi günler (ee-yee goo -n-ler) (said on meeting or parting)
Good evening••• iyi akşamlar (ee-yee ak-sham-lar) (said on meeting or parting)
Good night•• iyi geceler (ee-yee gedge -e-ler) (said on meeting or parting)
Please••• Lutfen (lute-fen)
Thanks•• Tesekkürler (tesh-e-kiir- ler)
Yes•• Evet (e-vet)
No••• Hayir (higher)
I want••• istiyorum (ist-ee-your-um)
When?••• Ne zaman? (nay za-man)
Today•• Bugün (boo-goon)
Tomorrow•• Yarın (yah-run)
Where?•• Nerede (ne re-de)
My name is.......•• ismim......(is-mim)
Water•• su (sue)
Milk•• süt (suit)
Beer••• bira (beer-a)
Wine••• Şarap (shar-ap)
Tea•• cay (ch-eye)
Coffee•• kahve (car-vay)
Food••• yemek (ye-meck)
Be careful!•• Dikkat!
Turkish cuisine is considered to be one of the three main cuisines of the world due to its variety of recipes and its distinctive tastes. Olive oil is one of the most frequently used ingredients. Dolma (stuffed) dishes, the most popular in Turkey, are where vegetables such as vine leaves, green peppers, tomatoes and eggplants are stuffed with rice and spices and served cold.
Cheese is a popular menu staple especially at breakfast. There are a great many regional cheeses, with white cheese and kasar being the most popular. The best breakfasts consist of warm fresh bread, creamy white cheese, butter, honey and home-made preserves, home-cured black and green olives, garden fresh sliced tomatoes and a farm-fresh boiled egg. Tea is the traditional breakfast beverage.
The variety of snacks can be plentiful and provide a welcome alternative to the hamburgers and pizza offered in tourist cafes. Lahmacun, a thin round bread with spicy minced meat topping, can be tasty and in seaside resorts deep-fried mussels can be found.
Raki, the main alcoholic drink of Turkey, is made from grapes and anise and is best when consumed alongside a leisurely meal of mezes (appetizers). These starters are served on small plates and include fresh salads, white cheese, pickled tuna, mussels stuffed with rice, dolmas and pickles.
Turkish coffee, drunk after each meal and on every possible occasion, is unique in its preparation and taste. Turkish Delight is a specialty known around the world and almond and pistachio fondants are another Turkish treat exported throughout the Word.
Bargaining for everything except food is quite customary in Turkey, but make sure you know the price of the article before you begin to get more information about the article as the shopkeeper often become irate when after trying to sell an item for some time the customer decides it is beyond his budget. You may be offered water, soda coffee or tea to drink at the shop. Do not hesitate to accept this without a sale, but if alcohol is offered, the shopkeeper generally expects a sale.
Bargaining is a skill you must master for shopping in Turkey. Be careful as the shopkeeper may hike up the price knowing you may bargain. As a thumb rule you should start with 25% of the price you are willing to pay for an article. You must hold back your real offer for as long as you can.
Offices and banks are generally open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM from Monday to Friday, with a break between 12:00 to 1:30 PM
At various establishments like hotels, restaurants, Turkish baths, barbers and hairdressers, tipping at a rate of 5–15% of the total is common. Taxi drivers on the other hand, are contented with rounded fares.
For more detailed information please see the official website of the Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau: www.howtoistanbul.com. You may also download the mobile phone application: www.oneistanbulguide.com