10 Things Not To Do In Istanbul


Welcome to Istanbul, the vibrant and culturally rich city that seamlessly combines the East and the West. As you embark on your journey to this enchanting destination, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some essential tips to ensure a smooth and memorable experience. In this blog post, we will explore 10 things you should avoid doing in Istanbul to make the most out of your visit. From cultural etiquette to practical considerations, let’s dive right in!

Things Not To Do In Istanbul: Essential Tips for a Smooth Visit.

When exploring Istanbul, follow these key guidelines for an enjoyable trip. Respect local customs, dress modestly at religious sites, and avoid tourist traps. Refrain from drinking tap water, be cautious with street food, and avoid political discussions. By adhering to these guidelines, you can navigate Istanbul with ease and respect for its rich culture.

1. Don’t Underestimate the Traffic

Istanbul Traffic

Istanbul is notorious for its traffic congestion, especially during peak hours. Whether you’re traveling by car or using public transportation, it’s crucial to plan your itinerary accordingly and allow extra time for potential delays. Avoid rush hours, which usually occur between 7:00 am to 9:30 am and 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm, to ensure you don’t find yourself stuck in gridlock. Consider utilizing the efficient public transportation system, including trams, ferries, and the metro, to navigate through the city hassle-free.

2. Don’t Forget to Dress Modestly in Religious Sites

Dress Modestly in Religious Sites

Istanbul is home to numerous stunning religious sites, such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, which are must-visit attractions. However, it’s important to respect the cultural norms and dress modestly when entering these sacred places. For both men and women, make sure to cover your shoulders and avoid revealing clothing. Women are required to cover their hair when visiting mosques, and some places provide headscarves at the entrance if you don’t have one of your own. By dressing appropriately, you demonstrate respect for the local customs and traditions.

3. Don’t Drink Tap Water

tap water

While Istanbul has made significant progress in improving its water infrastructure, it is still recommended to avoid drinking tap water. Instead, opt for bottled water, which is readily available everywhere. This simple precaution will help protect you from potential stomach discomfort, ensuring your journey remains pleasant and illness-free. Stay hydrated, especially during the summer months when temperatures can soar, by carrying a bottle of water with you at all times.

4. Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Guides and Sellers

Fake Guides and Sellers

As a popular tourist destination, Istanbul unfortunately attracts a few dishonest individuals who may try to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors. Be cautious of self-proclaimed tour guides who approach you on the streets, offering their services at suspiciously low prices. It’s always safer to book tours through reputable agencies or your hotel. Similarly, be aware of counterfeit goods and overly aggressive sellers in popular marketplaces like the Grand Bazaar. Take your time to explore and bargain, but don’t fall for scams or end up with poor quality purchases.

5. Don’t Skip Trying the Local Cuisine

Local Cuisine

Istanbul is a true culinary delight, renowned for its flavorsome dishes that reflect a fusion of influences from various cultures. From mouthwatering kebabs and savory pastries to aromatic teas and delectable desserts, the local cuisine offers something for everyone. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge your taste buds in the unique flavors of Istanbul. Venture beyond touristy restaurants, and explore the local eateries frequented by the residents. Embrace the vibrant street food scene, and relish the authentic flavors that Istanbul has to offer.

6. Don’t Overlook the Pestemal and Hamam Experience

Pestemal and Hamam

When in Istanbul, immerse yourself in the rich bathing culture by visiting a traditional hamam, or Turkish bath. These historical establishments offer a unique and relaxing experience that combines elements of luxurious bathing, massage, and socializing. Before your visit, familiarize yourself with the rules and etiquette of hamams to ensure a smooth experience. Remember to bring your own pestemal, a thin towel used in Turkish baths, as it is rarely provided. Embrace the opportunity to unwind and rejuvenate in these centuries-old bathing rituals.

7. Don’t miss out on a ferry ride in Istanbul

Bosphorus Cruise

Istanbul is divided by the majestic Bosphorus Strait, offering breathtaking views of both the European and Asian sides of the city. To truly appreciate the beauty and grandeur of Istanbul, embark on a Bosphorus cruise. Witness iconic landmarks such as the stunning Dolmabahçe Palace and the historic Maiden’s Tower from a unique vantage point. Whether you choose a private yacht or a public ferry, the cruise is an unforgettable experience that showcases the city’s mesmerizing skyline and its timeless charm.

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle

Afraid to Haggle

When shopping in Istanbul’s vibrant markets and bazaars, haggling is not only accepted but also expected. Embrace the art of negotiation, and don’t be afraid to bargain for better prices. Engage in friendly banter with the sellers, and you might just walk away with a fantastic deal. However, remember to be respectful and keep in mind the value of the goods you’re purchasing. Strike a balance between getting a fair price and supporting local artisans and businesses.

9. Don’t Limit Your Exploration to Touristy Areas

Exploration to Touristy Areas

While Istanbul boasts an array of popular tourist attractions, don’t limit yourself to just the well-known spots. Step off the beaten path and venture into the lesser-explored neighborhoods to uncover hidden gems. Explore the vibrant street art in Kadıköy, wander the charming alleys in Balat, or indulge in the local charm of Ortaköy. By delving deeper into the city’s neighborhoods, you’ll discover a more authentic side of Istanbul and create unforgettable memories.

10. Don’t Forget to Respect Local Customs and Traditions

Local Customs and Traditions

Last but not least, always respect the local customs and traditions during your stay in Istanbul. Familiarize yourself with basic Turkish phrases, such as “hello” (merhaba) and “thank you” (teşekkür ederim), as a gesture of goodwill. Be mindful of cultural norms, such as removing your shoes before entering someone’s home. Adapting to the local customs will not only earn you respect but also enhance your overall experience by fostering meaningful interactions with the people of Istanbul.


As you prepare to explore the mesmerizing city of Istanbul, keep in mind these 10 things not to do in order to make the most of your journey. From navigating the traffic to respecting local customs, these tips will ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience. Remember, Istanbul is a city filled with wonders waiting to be discovered—the key is to embrace the culture, immerse yourself in the local experiences, and create lifelong memories. Now, pack your bags, embark on this adventure, and let Istanbul captivate your heart.

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