ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Istanbul Money-Saving Tips

Entry Requirements

Entrance to Turkey requires a passport and visa. Obtain visas from the U.S. Turkish consulate (202-612-6700;, or purchase one at the Istanbul airport for $20 – bring cash, credit cards aren’t accepted and there are no airport ATMs.

Phrase it Right

Master a few basic Turkish phrases. Although many Turks speak at least some English, you’ll bring a smile to people’s lips and earn a chance at better service if you approach them in their language.

Wardrobe Wise

Istanbul may be Turkey’s least conservative city, but it’s still wise to pack some less revealing outfits, especially for visiting mosques. Scarves – required for women entering mosques – can be picked up here (the Sultanahmet Mosque lends them out free).

Second Hand Smoke

Be prepared: most Turks are smokers. Few restaurants, let alone hotels, have no-smoking areas. One exception is the smoke-free city-center public transportation.

Say No

Some vendors in the Grand Bazaar (and, unfortunately, on the street) can be very persistent. If you’re not interested, look them in the eye and in a strong, no-nonsense tone tell them no in Turkish: hayır or yok.

Get Your Bearings

Istanbul is vast and spread out – take a short tour of the main sights via a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to get your bearings before diving into sightseeing. Inquire with Plan Tours at Sultanahmet Square.


If you plan on staying more than a few days, it's worth picking up an Akbil “electronic purse” to pay quickly, conveniently and at a discount for public transportation. Obtain one from booths marked Akbil Satis Noktasi all over town.

Take It All In

It costs nothing to admire the Blue Mosque’s cascading tiled domes and wander the courtyards of the Suleymaniye Mosque. You don’t have to buy anything, but the Grand Bazaar’s 4,400 shops (it’s one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets) is a must-see.

Parks and Recreation

Gulhane Park (just outside Topkapi Palace), formerly the Palace’s royal gardens, hosts free public concerts during the summer and offers pleasing Bosphorus views.

Free Museums

View the living quarters of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey, at the Ataturk Museum, and tour the barracks where Florence Nightingale improvised modern nursing standards (both museums offer free admission; advance requests required for Nightingale Museum).

Plan for Free Festivals

The city plays host to a number of festivals throughout the year offering free screenings and performances, such as the International Istanbul Jazz Festival (July 1-19) and Short Film Festival (Nov. 23-30).

Compare Rates to Istanbul

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