Turkey is as intriguing as anywhere you can visit, and of course Istanbul is one of the world’s great cities. Over the last week, I’ve been exploring this ancient and vibrant part of the world, and have picked up a handful of tips and tricks along the way. Below are a few basics designed to help smooth your entry into Turkey:
1. You need a visa, but it’s easy and cheap to get online.
Travelers from both U.S., U.K., and many other countries need visas to enter Turkey. Luckily, however, they are available online here. You simply fill out a form and end up with a PDF of your visa. Then entire process takes a few minutes.
For U.S. citizens, a visa costs $20 and you can pay via credit card online.
2. There is a grocery store at the airport.
If you need a snack or a drink after your long flight to Turkey, follow signs for the metro. When you enter the long concourse between the international terminal and the metro entrance, look to the left and you’ll see a sign for a discount market.
I didn’t run across many stores in the city that were significantly larger or cheaper, so the one at the airport seemed like as good a place as any to pick up basics like bottled water.
4. Some travelers avoid the tap water.
Speaking of water, there are differing opinions about drinking the tap water in Turkey. One of my hotels, for example, had a sign advising against drinking it, and our guide book said some westerners get a case of “Istanbul intestines.” On the other hand, I talked to travelers who drank the tap water and did not have any problems.
I get an upset stomach pretty easily so I decided to just play it safe and only drink bottled water. In general I dislike being overly cautious, but bottled water is cheap and I’ve been sick enough times while traveling to know that it’s not fun at all.
4. Public transit is the cheapest ? and arguably best ? way to get into the city.
Istanbul’s airport h...