You must have heard that Istanbul is a wonderful city to travel to, but you are wondering how safe is Istanbul for tourists?
While we understand your concern, the truth is that Istanbul is a beautiful, safe city to visit right now, for the most part.
And, in our post below, we will provide you with tips on safety in the city.
- How Safe is Istanbul?
- Safe Neighbourhoods of Istanbul
- Is Istanbul Safe at Night?
- Are the Trains and Buses Safe to Ride?
- Safety Tips While in Istanbul
How Safe is Istanbul?
Istanbul, like any large city, has varying safety levels across its neighbourhoods.
While it's generally safe for tourists in well-travelled areas like Sultanahmet and Taksim Square, petty crimes like pickpocketing can occur in crowded places.
There have been occasional instances of terrorism and civil unrest in the past, but security measures have been heightened to mitigate such risks.
The last terrorist attack happened in January 2017.
Due to its location in seismically active region, there is also a possibility of natural disasters in the form of earthquakes.
The city has a visible police presence in tourist hubs, contributing to a sense of safety.
Istanbul is also considered okay for solo female travelers and persons traveling alone, but everyone needs to be careful because some people might try to trick you, cheat you, or steal from you.
Which Areas of Istanbul Are Safe?
Istanbul, like any major city, has neighbourhoods that are generally considered safe for residents and visitors alike.
These areas tend to have a lower crime rate and are popular among both locals and tourists due to their vibrant atmosphere, cultural attractions, and security measures.
When deciding what neighbourhoods to visit during your trip, we recommend starting with these.
Located on the European side of the Istanbul, Sultanahmet is the heart of Istanbul's historical district, home to iconic landmarks and tourist attractions like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Spice Bazaar and the Basilica Cistern.
It's a well-patrolled area and generally considered safe for tourists.
Taksim Square and Beyoglu
Taksim Square is a central hub with hotels, restaurants, shops, and lively nightlife.
The surrounding Beyoglu district offers a vibrant atmosphere and is known for its cultural events, making it generally safe for visitors.
Nisantasi is an upscale neighborhood known for its fashionable boutiques, designer stores, elegant cafes, and restaurants. It's considered safe and attracts both locals and tourists.
Located on the Asian side of Istanbul, Kadikoy is a diverse and bustling neighborhood known for its vibrant food scene, markets, and lively streets.
It's generally considered safe and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
While all these are a safe area overall, with so much activity from the local bars, restaurants, shops, and hotels, visitors should keep the safety tips in mind to blend in and watch out for scam artists or pickpockets in this area.
Our best advice is to ignore or say, “no, thank you,” to anyone who tries to stop you or steps in your path, and keep moving.
Is Istanbul Safe at Night?
Like anywhere, nighttime is more dangerous than daytime in Istanbul.
When the sun goes down, it is time to be extra mindful and cautious about where you travel and how you behave.
That is not to say that Istanbul becomes an active crime land at night, it does not, but rather that the possibility of crime can increase.
Here are some tips to actively follow and remember which will make your night trip to Istanbul sweet and safer.
- If you are going out to enjoy the nightlife, or visiting bars or clubs, take only what you need and keep a close eye on your belongings and your drinks.
- Stick to the popular tourist areas like Sultanahmet, Taksim Square, and Kadikoy which are generally safe at night. These areas often have a significant police presence and are well-lit, making them safer for visitors.
- Travel with someone else or in a group whenever possible.
- If you are walking, stay in well-lit areas. Use Google Maps for navigating popular, safe routes.
- Avoid alleyways or empty lots or spaces.
- Be cautious when using public transportation at night. Stick to reputable transportation options and consider using licensed taxis or ride-sharing services.
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers and know how to reach out for help if needed.
Besides all these, if something feels unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Don’t wait for something bad to happen.
Are the Trains and Buses Safe to Ride?
It’s easy to take public transportation in Istanbul!
Istanbul's has a well-developed metro, tram, bus, and ferry network which offers comprehensive coverage across the city including Istanbul's airport and grand bazaar.
Trains and buses are an affordable, fast way to see more of the city, and we highly recommend riding them with safety in mind.
The best way to get around the city is by using smart RFID card known as Istanbul Kart.
However, the problem with both trains and buses is that they can become very crowded, especially during rush hours.
You can use this card to pay for multiple types of transportation: metros, ferries, buses, funiculars, and tramways.
This is the time when many thieves focus on train stations and buses and it is also when most pickpocketing incidences can happen.
The best way to prevent yourself from such incidences is to keep a watch on your belongings and your surroundings.
Keep your wallet or mobile phone safe and don't leave them in your pocket where they can be easily snatched.
If you take care of these tips, public transportation will make your Istanbul trip much easier and fun.
Tips to Stay Safe While Visiting Istanbul
Stay alert. Always be mindful of who is around you and use all your senses. When enjoying our fabulous nightlife, moderate your alcohol or drug consumption so that you can stay aware of potential threats.
Travel with others when you can. Walking with a friend or group is always a good idea. If you are traveling solo, consider exploring Istanbul on a group tour.
Take a rideshare or taxi at night. Sometimes it is worth the peace of mind to spend money on a safe ride home. In night public transportation can become gloomy so it’s better to avoid using them in nighttime.
Keep your bags and valuables secure. This means bags zipped, snapped, and across your shoulder. Avoid putting your wallet in any pocket where it can be seen and stolen.
Avoid bad neighbourhoods. Like every city, Istanbul has both good and bad neighborhoods. Its better to keep yourself away from some dangerous neighbourhoods like Tarlabasi, Dolapdere and Gaziosmanpasa.
Dress like a local. This will not prevent you from unwanted attention, but also help you to visit all the places seamlessly as some places require to be dressed modestly.
Avoid strangers. Stay away from those who try to become over friendly and offer to have a drink with you. You can end up paying heavy bills for your stranger friends.
Don’t use the ‘OK’ sign. This symbol is sometimes used derogatorily to call someone homosexual. Avoid using it while in Turkey.
Don’t discuss politics or internal affairs. Avoid talking about politics or internal affairs of the country with locals. Also don’t criticize anyone as you may never know which topic can offend them.
Apart from that, shoe shine scam is also a common scam in which shoe shiners charge you hefty price by initially offering the service for free.
Currency scam is also popular where shops and vendors charge a tourist’s credit card in Euros instead of Turkish Lira.
Remember, if you stay alert and mindful of potential danger, you are unlikely to run into any problems while visiting Istanbul.
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