Things to see and do - Istanbul
Unmissable tourist sites
Istanbul Leisure tips
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Practical A to Z
Practical A to Z
There is no lack of restaurants.
Kebabs, köfte, pide and traditional mezze are perfect for a delicious snack for next to nothing.
Eating out in Istanbul is very inexpensive. In working-class districts, a filling meal will cost less than €5. Allow €8 including drinks (wine, beer). In upmarket restaurants, the bill will be around €20 to 35.
Tipping is not compulsory, but always appreciated.
Tea (çay) is the national drink.
Turkish coffee (türk kahvesi) is also very popular and not quite as strong as in Arab countries. Instant coffee (called “nescafé”) is commonplace in restaurants in large towns.
Aniseed raki is another national beverage, as popular as tea.
Restaurants that don’t serve alcohol are called içkisiz lokanta, which is indicated in the establishment’s description.
Typical Turkish souvenirs include carpets (check the current customs’ regulations), copperware, onyx, leather goods, jewellery, gold and silver, narghilé pipes and spices, etc.
It is illegal to export antiques: anything over 100 years old must not leave Turkish soil, offenders run the risk of a heavy fine and even a few days in prison.
Apart from shops that display their prices, which are also much higher than elsewhere, bartering is standard practice in Istanbul.
Apart from the two main bazaars of Istanbul (Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar), the Çukurcuma and Galata districts are excellent for arts and crafts.
Avoid the shops near the Sultanahmet monuments: not only will you find the same thing elsewhere, but at a cheaper price and of better quality. Outside Istanbul, prices are lower in the countryside and the people are friendlier.
Shops are open Monday-Saturday from 9.30am-7pm. Many shops open even earlier and in tourist districts, they often stay open until late at night. The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is open Monday-Saturday from 8am-7pm (8am-6pm in winter). The Egyptian Bazaar is closed on Sundays.