The European culture capital of 2010, Istanbul is the only city situated on two continents, Asia and Europe and is the fourth largest city proper in the world and the second largest metropolitan area in Europe by population. Istanbul is a unique city where culture meets history, East meets West and the metropolitan life meets authentic venues. From the magnificent view of the Bosphorus to the numerous historical landmarks and its never-ending liveliness, Istanbul has countless distinguished attractions to offer its locals and tourists. Here are some practical information and Istanbul's best sites put together to help you enjoy the city in your limited free time.
- Istanbul's time zone is GMT +3.
- The country phone code is +90. The city land line phone codes are 212 for the European side and 216 for the Asian side.
- Electricity is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. You might want to consider bringing adapters; outlets in Turkey accept plugs with two round pins used in most European countries.
- The weather in Istanbul is mostly mild in spring. It is a good idea to bring both t-shirts and sweatshirts to be prepared for both warm and cold weathers and rain. We suggest you to bring warmer clothes for the boat trip since the Bosphorus might be cold during the night.
- Istanbul is a large and congested city where public transportation is used very commonly. Electronic tickets and transit passes are used in public transportation like the metro, buses, ferries, and minibuses. Tokens can be bought from desks near stations and stops. You might consider getting an Akbil ticket – a token that can be used on buses, trams, the subway and ferries. You can reload it when necessary at stations and pay desks displaying the Akbil sign. A blue token operates as a 1-day, 1-week, 15-day or 31-day travel card. You can find more information in: http://www.iett.gov.tr/en
- Shops are usually open Monday through Saturday from 9.30 to 19.00 and closed on Sundays. However, most shops in the malls and crowded streets are open seven days a week from 10.00 until 22.00, including lunch breaks.
- Banks are open weekdays; from 9:00 to 17:00 with a one hour break at noon.
- The currency in Turkey is TL (Turkish Lira). You can exchange foreign currency at banks or exchanges offices. Some large stores may accept USD or Euros. You may visit this link for up to date and detailed information: http://www.turkey4travel.com/turkish-money-exchange-rate/
- Museums and palaces are generally open Tuesday through Sunday from 9.30 to 17.00 or 17.30.
- The values-added-tax (VAT) (KDV in Turkey), is %18 for general consumer items and %8 in food and nutrition. Restaurants usually expect a tip of %10.
- Most tourist hotels, of any standard, have a computer with free Internet access in the lobby. Many also offer free Wi-Fi, as do some cafes. In some cafes, a password to access to the Internet is given for a small charge.
- Important Numbers: Traffic Police 154, Police 155, Fire Station 110, Ambulance 112, Tourism Info 170.