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What should I know before visiting Istanbul?
Always accept tea offered by locals
Traditional Turkish tea is almost sacred to the people of Turkey. While holidaying on flights to Istanbul, you’ll find locals offering you tea all the time. This is the way Turkish people show their hospitality. While exploring between return flights to Istanbul, you may be offered a complimentary cup of tea in shops and definitely if you visit a local’s house. Accept the tea as many locals will get offended if you refuse it.
Dress conservatively after arriving on flights to Istanbul
It is best to follow a more conservative dress code when in Turkey. Avoid wearing anything that shows too much skin or clings to the body. This rule is especially important while visiting mosques. Both men and women should keep their legs and shoulders covered inside mosques. Women also need to cover their head, so it’s a good idea to pack a lightweight scarf to carry with you between return flights to Istanbul.
Most public toilets don’t supply toilet roll
While holidaying on cheap flights to Istanbul, you’ll quickly discover that most public bathrooms don’t supply toilet paper. Keep a packet of tissues in your bag while exploring the city. Be aware that most public toilets also cost a lira or two to use (about 25 to 50 cents NZD), so keep some small coins on hand as well.
What are the best things to do in Istanbul?
The Blue Mosque
When you book airfare to Istanbul, one of the city’s mosques that should make it onto your sightseeing itinerary is the Blue Mosque. It is one of the most iconic landmarks on the Istanbul skyline. It stands out due to its large domes and six towering minarets. While the mosque is actually white on the outside, its name comes from the vibrant blue tiles that decorate its interior. Step inside to admire the elaborate designs while visiting on cheap flights to Istanbul. Plan ahead before visiting the Blue Mosque, as it closes to non-Muslims during five prayer times each day.
Hundreds of ancient cisterns are hidden below the streets of Istanbul. When you book plane tickets to Istanbul, plan a visit to the city’s most famous, the Basilica Cistern. It was built in 532 and is the largest Byzantine-era cistern. In ancient times, the cistern was used to store water underneath the Stoa Basilica. Today, visitors holidaying on flights to Istanbul can venture into the depths below the basilica and explore the cistern. Walk along the wooden platforms and admire the detailed columns and haunting atmosphere. You may even recognise the Basilica Cistern from the James Bond film From Russia with Love and the Dan Brown book and film Inferno.
The Hagia Sophia was built in the mid-6th century as a Christian church, but was converted to a mosque when Istanbul became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1453. This blend of Christian and Muslim heritage and influence makes the Hagia Sophia unique. Today, the Hagia Sophia is a museum where you can learn all about Turkey’s history and religious legacy. Head here between your return flights to Istanbul to admire gorgeous mosaics, Ottoman-era tombs, and the intricate interiors.
What is the cost of visiting Istanbul?
Once you’ve booked your airfare to Istanbul, check out the many accommodation offers on Webjet. Hotels are available in a range of price points, with the average cost falling between $200 to $250 NZD per night.
Once your flights to Istanbul arrive, you can take advantage of a wide range of public transport. Buses are available from both airports into the city centre. The bus from Istanbul Airport (IST) costs an affordable 5.20 Turkish lira ($1.35 NZD). If your flight arrives into Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW), you can reach the city by bus for a fare of 12 lira ($3.10 NZD). Within central Istanbul, subways, buses, trams, and ferries will help you get around. Tickets to Istanbul transport cost 2.60 lira (67 cents NZD).
Sightseeing is another cost to budget for. You could purchase entrance to attractions individually, but if you’re hoping to explore many different landmarks, save some money with the Istanbul Tourist Pass. Different passes are available, starting from 620 lira ($160 NZD) for two days. Visiting a traditional Turkish bathhouse is another popular activity to enjoy when you book cheap flights to Istanbul. Entrance costs about 100 lira ($25.75 NZD). If you want to enhance the experience, add a treatment or massage for about 20 lira ($5.15 NZD) or 80 lira ($20.60 NZD), respectively.