There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Istanbul each year. The main ones are listed below.January 1: New Year's Day (national holiday) Twelfth day of the third month of the Hijiri calendar: Mawlid (Birth of the Prophet, celebrated nationwide)
This festival celebrated on the twelfth day of Rabi'al-Awwal commemorates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad and is one of the most important days on the Islamic (or Hegira) calendar. Turkish Muslims use this opportunity to recall the values advocated by the Prophet. It is also a day when families gather to share a traditional meal in a festive atmosphere.April 23: National Sovereignty and Children's Day (national)
This unique celebration is dedicated to all children of the world. The people's sovereignty (1920) was entrusted by Atatürk to them, whom he saw as tomorrow's adults.May 1: Labour Day (national holiday) May 19: Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day
This day was offered by Atatürk and dedicated to the country's youth, heir to and responsible for the new Turkish Republic.Ninth month of the Hijiri calendar: Ramadan (celebrated nationwide)
Although Turkey has been a secular republic since 1923, Islamic traditions hold considerable sway in the country. The Islamic holy month of Ramazan (called Ramadan elsewhere in the world), during which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, is an especially pious time. Fasting begins each day at sunrise and ends at sunset. For the entire month, Istanbul operates at a slower pace during the day and stirs into action at nightfall.First day of the month of Chawwal: Ramazan Bayrami (Eid al-Fitr, national holiday)
Also known as Şeker Bayramı (Sweets Festival), this three-day festival marks the end of Ramazan and takes its alternate name from the children who go from door to door asking for sweet treats. Their elders spend the festival visiting family members and friends to share tea and pastries, and everyone enjoys festive meals.August 30: Victory Day (national holiday)
On this day, people celebrate the victory of Turkish forces over the Greek army in the battle of Dumlupinar, which determined the outcome of the Turkish war of independence. The event is marked by military parades and ceremonies at monuments. Flags are adorned all over town, on shops, public offices and people's houses.September: Sacrifice Feast (Kurban Bayramı - national)
Four-day celebration during which Muslims commemorate Abraham's sacrifice (religious holidays depend on the Islamic calendar, and dates change every year).Tenth day of Dhou al-hiija, last month of the Hijiri calendar: Eid al-Adha (national)
Commemorates Abraham's submission, who, ready to sacrifice his son, saw a ram sent from the sky at the very last moment. Tradition asks that a sheep be sacrificed on that day, and then eaten as a meal during a large family gathering.October 29: Republic Day (national holiday)
Commemorates the proclamation of the Turkish Republic on this day in 1923, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became Turkey's first president. Celebrations include a street parade by school children, official ceremonies and speeches, military parades, and fireworks. Buildings are adorned with gigantic flags.December 25: Christmas (national holiday)
|Month||Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°)||Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°)||Average Rains (MM)||Best Time to Travel|
|January||3/37||9/48||101/4.0||Not the best period to go|
|February||3/37||9/48||79/3.1||Not the best period to go|
|March||4/39||11/52||70/2.8||Not the best period to go|
|April||8/46||16/61||45/1.8||Not the best period to go|
|May||12/54||21/70||35/1.4||Not the best period to go|
|June||16/61||26/79||37/1.5||Good period to go|
|July||18/64||28/82||39/1.5||Good period to go|
|August||19/66||28/82||49/1.9||Good period to go|
|September||15/59||25/77||63/2.5||Good period to go|
|October||12/54||20/68||101/4.0||Not the best period to go|
|November||8/46||15/59||108/4.3||Not the best period to go|
|December||5/41||11/52||124/4.9||Not the best period to go|
The Istanbul Atatürk International Airport is located about 15 kilometres (9 miles) west of the city centre, along the Marmara sea.
Istanbul covers a very large area and is split in two by the Bosphorus. The city's historic centre is about 7 kilometres long and 4 kilometres wide on average (4 miles by 2.5 miles). This means that it is impossible to avoid using public transport if you want to venture outside the city centre. But many districts are very easy to explore on foot.
Istanbul's buses are the most convenient way to discover the city. A token for a single ride costs TRY 3.
Useful tip: To save time and money, you can purchase a rechargeable IstanbulKart fare card, which may be used to buy tickets for all modes of transport (Metro, trams, buses, ferries). When purchased via this card, each trip costs TRY 1.95 instead of TRY 3.00. The card costs TRY 10.00 and comes with an initial travel value of TRY 3.00. It may be recharged with amounts up to TRY 50.00.
Istanbul's tram system is a very good transport option, especially the line crossing the entire historic centre, from the Theodosian Walls to Taksim Square. The Latin neighbourhoods across the Golden Horn are also served by the tram. A single ticket costs TRY 3.00.
Istanbul's metro system is constantly changing and now offers three lines (M2, M3 and M4) and 43 stations. The Galata-Pera (Tünel) is one of the oldest in the world, after London (1863) and New York City (1868). A more recent funicular also connects Taksim to Kabatas.
Very useful to visit the Dolmabahçe palace. It connects Taksim park to Maçka, offering a beautiful vista over the Bosphorus Strait.
Minibuses (dolmuş), which only run on the city's major thoroughfares, can be a convenient and inexpensive option for crossing Istanbul. Very common in Turkey, these buses have a specific route, stop if you hail them on the way and start only when full (hence their nickname ‘dolmus' – full). The same principles apply to the boat services (motor), linking different spots on both shores of the Bosphorus Strait.
However, they are not the quickest mode of transport. Fares run from TRY 2 to TRY 5, depending on the destination.
Taxis are a fairly convenient mode of transport in Istanbul. You can recognize the official ones, equipped with meters, to their yellow colour and they are everywhere to be found in town. Boat taxis now serve Istanbul, running 24/7, very practical to get around traffic jams. Trips within the city centre cost between TRY 6 and TRY 8.
A large number of ferries (vapür) cross the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. For the longest time, they were the symbols of Istanbul, tracing lines of smoke in the air when they ran on coal. They link several spots on the Bosphorus, as well as Prince Islands, making for a very pleasant journey. There are two boat stations: Uskudar on the northeast Anatolian bank, and Kadıköy on the southeast one. A single ticket costs TRY 2.
Upon your arrival in Istanbul, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.Ministry of Culture and Tourism local office
Offers practical information and useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).
Istanbul has several official tourist information offices, all located on the European side, where you can obtain information and recommendations for visiting the city and its surrounding area. Here are the main ones:
The official website operated by Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism provides a wealth of information on Istanbul.
The currency used in Turkey is the new Turkish Lira (TRY).
EUR 1 = TRY 7,36
TRY 1 = EUR 0,14
The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.
See your doctor before you travel. Istanbul counts several hospitals and medical institutions, as well as quality medical practitioners and health specialists. It is also recommended to take out insurance covering medical expenses and repatriation before your trip.Vaccinations
Vaccines and booster doses for protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio are necessary to enter Turkey.
It is also recommended to update vaccines for the following:
typhoid, hepatitis A and B, rabies (depending on the length of your stay)
For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:
It is recommended to drink bottled water in Istanbul.
For stays of less than 90 days, you do not need to obtain a visa if you are a citizen or national of one of the countries with which Turkey has entered into visa exemption agreements.
To find out if you will need a visa for travel to Turkey, visit the website of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs:http://www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa
To enjoy peace of mind during your stay in Istanbul, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.
Here are a few basic Turkish phrases that will make your stay in Istanbul a little easier:
Hello / How do you do?: Merhaba
Good morning / Good afternoon: Günaydın
Good evening / Good night: Iyi akşamlar
Good-bye: Güle güle (said to the person leaving) / Allahaısmarladık (said to the person staying)
See you later: Görüşmek üzere
Thank you very much: Çok teşekkür ederim
No, thank you: Hayır, teşekkür ederim
What time is it?: Saat kaç?
Excuse me: Pardon (to get past) / Afedersiniz (to get attention) / Özür dilerim (to say sorry).
Train station: Tren garı
Bus station: Otogar
I'm (…): (…)-im,- ım , -üm, -um
The verb “to be” takes the form of a suffix in Turkish and is subject to vowel harmony rules (examples: I'm French = Ben Fransızım / I'm a student = Öğrenciyim / I'm sorry = Üzgünüm / I'm happy = Mutluyum).
I'm looking for (…): (…) arıyorum.
How much is it?: Kaça?
Do you have (…)?: (…) var mı?
Where can I find (…)?: Nerede (…) bulabilirim?
Where can I buy (…)?: Nereden (…) alabilirim?
I'd like (…): (…) isterim.
In Istanbul and throughout Turkey, tipping is not necessarily required, although always appreciated. Fancier restaurants generally add a 10 to 15% service charge to the bill and it is customary to tip the waiting staff a further 5%. Round taxi fares upwards and leave a few liras for hotel staff.