Monday 11 March 2019


When asked what to do for my 21st birthday, I didn't even have to give it a second thought - Turkey had been on my bucket list for the past 2 years. So after a very last minute thought, my mom and I booked our flights and were off to Turkey! In the next few posts I'll tell you a bit more about my adventures and what I got up to in Istanbul and Cappadocia.

Here are some travel tips and advice for planning your trip to Istanbul!

Travel Tips for Istanbul

These are some useful bits of information that I wish I knew!

  • First things first, us South Africans can get an e-visa for Turkey for FREE! 
  • I flew Emirates but there are direct flights to Istanbul from Johannesburg with Turkish Airline. Even better, the new Istanbul airport just opened!
  • There are 2 airports in Istanbul (Edit: The new Istanbul Airport just opened and will replace Ataturk airport.) Ataturk airport is on the European side and Sabiha Gökçen on the Asian Side. Ataturk is much close to the city and all the tourist places while from Sabiha it takes around an hour to get to the Old City. 

  • I flew into Sabiha Gökçen and took the Havabus shuttle into town. The Havabus is the cheapest option to get to the city and you don't have to book in advance - just find the bus outside the terminals.
  • I flew out of Ataturk Airport and took an Uber XL to the airport from Fatih, Sultanahmet area. It cost 100TL. You also have the option of taking the metro, taking a cab or taking a Havabus (I think).
  • The currency is the lira. 1 Lira = around R2,70/ 1$ = around 5,50 Lira

  • The 2 main tourist areas in Istanbul are the Old City (Sultanahmet) and Taksim. The Old City is where most of the historical places and tourist places are while Taksim is more modern and better for shopping. (I stayed in the Old City - in Fatih)

  • DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT use a taxi cab! THEY WILL SCAM YOU. I got scammed. Everyone else gets scammed. Just don't. You can read about the popular taxi scams in Istanbul. Basically what happened to me was a combination of making the ride longer, Turkish Lira note switch as well as dropping me off in the wrong place far away from the hotel. JUST DON'T TAKE A CAB.
  • As soon as you get to Istanbul get an Istanbul Card - it lets you use the metro super cheap - and the metro is pretty much the best form of transportation

  • When you're not using the metro you'll be mostly walking. Luckily most things are in walking distance so wear comfortable shoes.
  • In the less touristy areas people might stare at you. Well they stared at me. All the time. And I got asked about a gazzilion times what my nationality was.
  • The men are more... outgoing than the women. I got approached by men all the time (Harmlessly for the most part - asking where I'm from, giving compliments etc.) and it does get sliiiiightly annoying. 
  • The language barrier is SO REAL. People try to communicate with you and you try to respond but it's so difficult when they don't speak English. And most don't. Even officials. I would recommend perhaps learning a bit of Turkish or just learn to keep calm all the time even when you have no idea where you are or what's going on.
  • Turkish people are some of the kindest people I have ever come across. Like, seriously. They left such an impression on me that I already want to visit again.
  • Turkish food is delicious and healthy for the most part. Skip on the more fancy Western restaurants and enjoy the street food and local cuisine - you can thank me later. 

  • The breakfasts in Turkey are so different to what I'm used to. The entire breakfast is typically cold so healthy. So think cheeses, olives, tomatoes etc. and lots of Turkish coffee (Which is so strong!)

Typical breakfast in Turkey





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