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Facts and information about Istanbul
In Istanbul Turkish is spoken. Locals also communicate in different foreign languages such as English and German.
In Istanbul, the currency is the Turkish lira, however it is also possible to pay in Euros at some places.
Best travel time
There is a continental climate in this area. In Istanbul it gets very hot and humid however, very strong winds can also occur. Average summer temperatures reach over 28 degrees. Winters are rainy and quite cool.
To travel to Istanbul, it is necessary to carry a valid passport that will still be valid when returning from this city. As for the visa, a visa is not necessary to obtain if you plan to stay for less than 90 days.
When traveling to Istanbul you do not need any specific vaccinations.
For European citizens it is not necessary to bring an adaptor as the plug ins are the same as in Europe.You can use your mobile phone, as there is connection as long as you have the roaming option registered on your mobile phone.
Country and People
Traditions and Culture
Customs / Culture / Traditions Istanbul is often seen as a country with a flair somewhere between Europe and Asia. The Southern area is located at the Mediterranean Sea whereas the northern part is located at the Black Sea. Istanbul is divided into two parts by a 32-kilometer canal called Bosphorus. The western part of this canal belongs to Europe and the eastern part belongs to Asia. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul has been home to various very important rulers, traders and artists. The Golden Horn represents Bosphorus’ division of Istanbul and the natural harbor. In 1453 Istanbul was put into the hands of Ottoman sultans. Due to its specific location, the city was able to avoid numerous invasions and wars. The city became the first Christian city in the Middle East and was also home to the largest Muslim empire. Therefore, its current identity is marked by the East and Europe. In Istanbul you can see the marks all this history has left upon the city such as the beautiful street from the Byzantine Empire, Ottoman mosques and classical, ancient, city walls and churches.It is ranked one of the largest commercial and cultural areas, with over 11 million inhabitants. When it comes to the lives of Turks, especially in the summer people are quite calm. Kyraathane is a special pub for men, where they can sip a cup of tea and smoke a shisha (water pipe). Kyrathane pubs are strictly for men, but that does not mean that women cannot drink tea in Turkey.
In this town you can see several kinds of religions most inhabitants however, are Muslim.
A popular manner of transportation are buses. Bus tickets can be purchased at kiosks or main bus stops. You can also choose to travel via tram lines when travelling through Istanbul. Metros are also a travel option; they operate in the European part of Istanbul and consist of two lines (south and north.) Dolmus buses are minibuses which travel all around Istanbul, departing only when the mini-bus is completely full.. Other transportation options are also ferries, buses and taxis.
When travelling to Istanbul you can get there via the Ataturk international Airport which is located near the Sea of Marmara. It has two terminals, domestic and international. You can reach Istanbul from the airport via taxi or bus, the buses run every 30 minutes. It should be noted that the Turkish customs office pay particular attention to the possible export of art works, since in the past many smugglers, robbed the country of such possessions. Sometimes collected stones will even be confiscated and will demand travelers to pay heavy fines. Therefore it is recommended to pay careful attention to all items you take back with you from the visit. In Istanbul, you can easily rent a car, however it is not advised for tourists as driving can be dangerous on the roads since Turkish drivers ignore speed limits or traffic lights.
There are Taxis everywhere in Istanbul and are identified by the yellow color. Each taxi has a meter; however you can also negotiate a price with the driver when getting in the taxi. If you encounter any problems with the driver, you should write down the registration number of the vehicle and call the police for tourists.
Discover and Enjoy
Istanbul consists of a great variety in monuments and architecture. From historical monuments from the time of the Ottoman Empire, up to the time of the famous Hagia Sophia are over 3,000 mosques, hundreds of palaces, summer residences, castles, churches, Temples and other monuments which are scattered throughout the city. Most of these however lie on the European side of the city. The most important museums are located in the Sultanahmet district, where there is the Topkapi Palace, and other impressive buildings such as the Grand Bazaar. Due to the great variety of things to see it is recommended not plan too much during the trip if you want to see all of these unique sights. If you decide to visit the Topkapi Palace and the Church of Divine Wisdom you should ensure you have a couple of hours free, in order to make sure you have seen absolutely everything they have to offer.
In Istanbul there are events ranging from classical concerts in historic churches to modern performances by well known celebrities. If visiting Istanbul in the Summer there are two major events which are worth a visit. The first is a concert in the Church Aya Irini which is a music festival held in June / July. The second event is the dance of the dervishes made on the premises of the monastery of the Order. March / April: International Film Festival and the Tulip Festival which takes place in the park which turns into a paradise. May: Biennale Theatre which includes classical art, theater, dance and street theater, performed by local artists and some from abroad. June / July: International Music Festival: Music, dance and opera all in one, ending with Mozart's opera "The Abduction from the Seraglio." The outdoor stages, and the Byzantine church in the garden of “Ms Aia Topkapi Palace”, invite you to an unforgettable musical experience. International Jazz Festival - takes place not only in theaters but also in the streets. September: Since 2003 there is the Tünel Art Festival, located in the center of the Galata Tower.
In Istanbul the Byzantine kitchen has an incredible combination to offer consisting of butter, olive oil, flour products, fish, meat dishes and dairy products. Fish, of course is very popular in Istanbul. Here you can taste some of the best grilled fish, for example Lufer (bass), Palamut (bonito) and sardalya (sardines), others are fried such as Kalkan (turbot), barbunya (dumbbells), and Hamsa (sardines Black Sea). The delicacy is swordfish (Kılıç) which comes from the grill. Another specialty is Cuttlefish (ahtapot) or grilled shrimp (Bocek) which is served with salad. Locals in Istanbul eat for breakfast a few pieces of white bread with olive oil, sheep's cheese and honey tea. Most of the hotel however offers a rich buffet for breakfast. For lunch it is common to go to small local restaurants (Lokanta), offering local homemade food such as: tomato soup (domated) or lentil soup (Mercimek Çorbası), meatballs with additives (kofta) or chicken with rice (pilav tavuklu) and of course the famous döner kebab.Istanbul locals do not eat dinner before 20:00. Eating is a ritual, first served with drinks - raki, aniseed liquor, beer (bira) or wine (serape). It is recommended to try Efes Pilsen beer or wine.It is common to have a starter called “meze” and after the main course which consists of meat or fish, an Arabic / Persian desert is followed. A dessert specialty is baklava, which consists of a thin pastry soaked in sugar syrup with pistachios. Other deserts are puddings called (muhallebi). At the end locals usually drink a mocha.