Turkey has the unique distinction of being situated on two continents. You can see the influence of both the Asian and European cultures. Istanbul is the most populous city of this beautiful country and is the historical and financial center of Turkey.
Istanbul overlooks the Bosporus strait, a water body that separates Asia and Europe. Millions of travelers visit every year making it one of the world’s most popular destinations. You can visit UNESCO world heritage sites, old architectural monuments and also experience the cultural heritage.
Istanbul consists of popular shopping malls. Spread over a huge area, the Grand Market is the first mall in the world that has a covered market style. The city is also famous for seafood restaurants and hotels serving Ottoman cuisine. Istanbul also offers a very active nightlife with many wine houses lining the streets. It also hosts many cultural and music festivals. Some of the renowned museums and monuments add to the list of attractions for tourists.
A recent study reveals that the city is becoming a well-known location for extraordinary healthcare facilities. People from all over Europe, Asia, and other countries come to Istanbul for surgical and non-invasive procedures. It has the advantage of providing an excellent medical system and housing well-qualified doctors as strict medical protocols regulate the industry.
Another interesting fact is that clinics here have affiliations with world-renowned hospitals of the USA and Europe. People come here for different types of surgical procedures. Some of the more common types are Rhinoplasty and breast augmentation procedures.
The medical techniques used here is comparable to any other world-class facility. At the same time, the medical procedures cost only a fraction of the price of developed countries like UK and USA. You can come here for any medical treatment and combine it with a relaxing vacation.
There are many excellent Hospitals in Istanbul such as the Hisar Intercontinental Hospital, Medipol Mega University Hospital, and Medicana International Istanbul Hospital.
Popular Areas in Istanbul
Istanbul is divided into 39 districts which all comprise multiple areas and neighborhoods.
Sultanahmet is the most popular area for tourism in Istanbul as it holds the Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, and the movie-famous Basilica Cistern. You can stay here but it's a little more expensive in this area for shopping and food.
Beyoglu is the best area to stay in and ensure that you are close to Istiklal Street, Taksim Square, and Galata Tower. In these areas, you will be in the heart of the city’s never-ending hustle and bustle while feeling like a local. The food and nightlife are excellent here, and the areas are picturesque and beautiful.
Sisli is one of the high-end business areas in Istanbul and much quieter than Taksim or Sultanahmet.
Weather and Climate in Istanbul
Istanbul experiences hot summers and cold winters with snow being a common feature. Spring (April to May) and autumn (September to late November), are the best times to visit Istanbul when temperatures are cooler.
Getting around in Istanbul
Istanbul has three international airports. The oldest is Atatürk, which was the third busiest airport in Europe. The airport is now closed for commercial aircraft and is open only for cargo, business, and government flights. The new airport, the Istanbul Airport, caters to most of the travelers coming from other countries. Turkish Airlines and other major world airlines connect the City to other big cities in Asia, Europe, and other countries. The third airport, İstanbul Sabiha Gökçen, operates some international flights, but It usually operates more domestic flights.
Istanbul has a vast network of trains, trams, buses, and ferries. These connect all the different parts of the City. In fact, the City has one of the largest ferry services across the Bosporus and the Black Sea. There is an integrated card-less trip enabled system across the city in different modes of transport.
Tourist Visas in Istanbul
Citizens from other countries in the European Union can visit Turkey with their national ID card and do not need a visa. You can find out if you need a visa to visit Turkey from the official website of the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs.
The country has an easy system of e-visa to help travelers from other countries. Citizens from countries like the US, UK, Australia, and others can also obtain a visa on arrival. People from most countries in Asia need an e-visa.
The pre-conditions to obtaining a visa are that your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay and for 60 days longer. The visa issued for visit and trade purposes is valid for 90 days. For longer durations and for medical reasons, you will have to apply to the consulate to get a long-term visa. E-visa fees and visas on arrival are not expensive and you can pay using your credit card.
The Local Currency is Turkish Lira or TL. The currency code is TRY. Shopkeepers do not mind taking Euros if you run out of the local currency. The exchange rate fluctuates and depends on political turbulence. Even then it is very inexpensive to live here. The usual exchange rate against the US Dollar may range between 4.0 TRY to 5.5 TRY per Dollar.
You can use credit cards in all big places such as hospitals, hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, you must carry a minimum amount of cash to be on the safe side. Taxis, transport and small shops may not accept card payments. Cash payment may also get you some lucrative discounts in certain places. ATMs are safe and you can withdraw the local currency from one.
It is customary to tip at least 5 to 10 % of the bill amount in most places. The staff prefers local currency only.
Turkish is the official and the most common language spoken. In most hospitals and tourist places, people speak decent English. In fact, people here are fluent in English and other European languages.
Turkey has been influenced by all of the major religions including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Yet most follow Islam.
Culturally, Istanbul is a diverse country. People celebrate religious and national festivals with a lot of enthusiasm. January 1 New Year’s Day, April 23 National Sovereignty & Children's Day, May 1 Labor & Solidarity Day and August 30 Victory Day are some of the national holidays here. Apart from this, the Ramadan feast is a significant festival. Dates, however, change every year due to the differences in the religious calendar.