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It’s unsurprising that a city like Istanbul, with a population of about 12.6 million, offers an endless list of sight-seeing must-visits. Considering that even small expenses can add up, here are five pointers to help keep your budget in check.
Transport: Use one-ways wisely
Getting around Istanbul can be tough to figure out. One of the most important things to know is that the city’s public transport fares are one-way. The driver will charge about 1.5 Turkish Lira each time you hop on. In short, plan a destination route from Point A to B as directly as possible before boarding the bus or tram. This will help avoid frivolous spending, getting dumped in an unfamiliar spot, and developing a serious headache.
Bazaar Tip: Shop outside the Bazaar’s center
Istanbul’s Bazaar is full of flavorful smells, sights, and sounds… most of which is available for purchase. Bargaining is common, although prices can start high and flexibility might not be as loose as desired. The best way to find a cheap price is to venture through the 60+ alleyways that cut through the heart of the Bazaar. In the end, finding the “local’s corner” can mean finding scarves for one-fourth of the price quoted in the Bazaar’s center.
On the Bosphorus: Regular ferries are the cheapest
Many boat companies advertise similarly-routed tours along the Bosphorus at high prices. The best price, however, for a few-hour’s journey along the strait will be found by simply taking the local ferry. For 7.50 Turkish Lira (roundtrip) take the ferry from Eminonu leaving at 10:35 AM (winter and summer), noon, and 1:35 PM (summer only). The ending point is Anadolu, a scenic area from where the Black Sea is visible.
Nightlife: Head to Taksim for moderately-priced Istanbul fun
Forget about finding affordable meals and deals near the Sultanahmet area. Head to Taksim to experience a lively nightlife scene to which the city’s locals flock. Nargile cafes, restaurants, and a slew of clubs are packed into the district, and prices won’t shock your budget. Places along Taksim Square and the major shopping street are still costly and lack the local flavor found within alleys and side streets.
A Breather: The easiest escape for peace and romance
In-between the Europe and Asian side of Istanbul is the Maiden’s Tower (or Kiz Kuelsi), a small island smack dab in the middle of the Bosphorus ideal for gazing at sunsets and panoramic photo ops. At the bottom sits a restaurant a bit on the steep side; on top you’ll find a more modestly priced café. Ferries frequently run back and forth from both sides of the city (7 Turkish Lira roundtrip). It’s an overall incredible view of Istanbul’s sparkling city landscape in a quiet, tranquil setting.