Guidebook Updates for Rick Steves Mediterranean Cruise Ports

When we learn of critical changes to the information in our Mediterranean Cruise Ports guidebook, we post them here. (Of course, it’s still smart to reconfirm critical transportation and sightseeing details locally.) Armed with a Rick Steves guidebook and these late-breaking updates, you’re set for a great trip!

Barcelona

  • Bus routes that go to Barcelona’s beaches have changed. Bus #41 no longer runs to the farther beaches, but new routes #V15 and #D20 are helpful. See tmb.cat for details.
For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • The Picasso Museum has new hours: Tue–Sun 9:00–19:00, until 21:30 on Thu, closed Mon.
  • The Articket BCN combo-ticket no longer covers La Pedrera (Casa Milà).
  • It’s no longer possible to pick up or purchase advance tickets for Sagrada Família from ServiCaixa ATM machines (the best advance-ticket source is the church's own site).
  • The Church of Santa Maria del Mar is open daily with free admission 9:00–13:30 & 16:30–20:00; the church is also open 13:30–16:30 but costs €3 during those hours.
  • Elipsos TrenHotel night trains on the Barcelona–Paris, Barcelona–Milan, and Barcelona–Zürich routes are no longer running.
  • Hostal Campi, in Barcelona's Old City, has closed.
For books printed before November 2013, the following may also apply:
  • Visitors to Park Güell are now charged €8 to visit the Monumental Zone, the area of the park with the famous Gaudi structures, such as the grand stairway, ceramic dragon fountain, and "Hall of 100 Columns." Because admission is limited, it's smart to reserve tickets in advance (doing so also saves you €1). Also at Park Güell, the blue Tourist Bus no longer drops visitors at the side entrance — you'll now get off about two blocks below the main entrance and walk about 10 minutes uphill.
  • In some printings of the second edition of Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports, the map titled "Barcelona's Cathedral Neighborhood" was printed incorrectly. The correct version of the map is here.
  • Hotel Ginebra is under new management; prices and other details may have changed.

Marseille

For books printed before January 2014, the following may apply:
  • The Marseille History Museum has reopened after a lengthy renovation with new prices, hours, and contact information: €5, Tue–Sun 10:00–18:00, closed Mon, 2 Rue Henri-Barbusse, tel. 04 91 55 36 00.

Aix-en-Provence

  • Hotel le Manoir has closed.
For books printed before September 2014, the following may also apply:
  • Pasta Cosy restaurant has closed.
For books printed before November 2013, the following may also apply:

Nice

For books printed before September 2014, the following may also apply:
  • The all-day bus and tram pass no longer covers express buses #98 or #99 to the airport. You must buy the €6 Aéro ticket if you are going to the airport.
For books printed before November 2013, the following may also apply:

Villefranche-sur-Mer

For books printed before November 2013, the following may apply:

Across Italy

For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • In all Italian state-run museums, photos are now allowed (without flash), including at the Accademia and Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and at the Accademia in Venice (this change, however, may be temporary).
  • In all Italian state-run museums, admission is now free on the first Sunday of each month.

Florence

For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • At the Uffizi Gallery, where renovation work is underway, several works mentioned in Rick’s Uffizi Tour have been temporarily moved:

Rooms 19–23 (Northern Renaissance) are closed. While Baldiung Grien’s Adam and Eve are MIA, Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve, Martin Luther, and Katharina von Bora are in room 45, farther down the main hall (after the Michelangelo rooms).

Rooms 25–34 (High Renaissance) are also closed; some of its works are currently downstairs on the first floor, on the way to the exit: Parmigiano’s Madonna with the Long Neck is in room 74, while Titian’s Venus of Urbino is in room 83.

For books printed before August 2013, the following may also apply:
Orientation
  • Medical Service Firenze has moved its clinic to Via Roma 4, between the Duomo and Piazza della Repubblica. The clinic on Via Porta Rossa has closed.
Sights
  • The Firenze Card now costs €72. In addition to the sights already listed as covered by the card, it now covers several Duomo-related sights (dome climb, Campanile, Duomo Museum, and Baptistery), the Church of Santa Maria Novella, the Santa Croce Church, Casa Buonarroti, and Casa di Dante. For a complete list of included sights, see www.firenzecard.it.
  • The Duomo Museum will be undergoing a major renovation until fall 2015. While some rooms will be closed and some works sent on loan, the Gates of Paradise and Michelangelo's Pietà will remain on display.
  • To see the Duomo sights, you need to buy a €10 combo-ticket, which covers the Baptistery, Campanile, dome, crypt, and Duomo Museum (no individual tickets or other combo-tickets will be available). Combo-tickets can be purchased on-site or online at www.operaduomo.firenze.it (online buyers will exchange an emailed voucher for a ticket on-site).
  • Also at the Duomo, the "Terraces of the Cathedral and Dome" tour is no longer offered.
  • At the Brancacci Chapel, reservations are recommended (and free), but on weekdays and any day in the off-season, it's usually possible to walk right in if you arrive before 15:30. Tickets are cash-only.
  • At the Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo's Holy Family has been permanently relocated from Room 25 to a new gallery, Room 35.
Sleeping
  • Soggiorno Magliani hotel has closed.
  • Arti e Hotel has changed owners, and has been renamed Beato Angelico Hotel.
Eating in Florence
  • The correct address for Trattoria Nerone Pizzeria is Via Faenza 95–97 red.
  • The Metà Supermarket in Oltrarno has closed.

Pisa

For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • Online bookings for the Leaning Tower are accepted no earlier than 20 days and no later than one day in advance. Print out the voucher and bring it to the Tower 15 minutes before your entry time.
  • The Duomo Museum will likely be closed for renovation through 2016.
  • La Lupa Ghiotta Tavola Calda restaurant has closed.
  • The direct bus from Pisa’s Field of Miracles to Lucca’s Piazzale Giusseppe now takes about 50 minutes (up from 30 minutes). You can also catch this bus at Pisa’s airport, the Pisa Centrale train station, and around the corner from Pisa’s tourist information office.

Lucca

For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • Hotel Rex no longer offers a 10 percent discount; instead ask for the best Rick Steves reader price when you call or email to inquire about a room. Prices include a buffet breakfast; the hotel also offers an elevator and free parking.
For books printed before August 2013, the following may also apply:
  • La Magnolia B&B has new owners, and no longer offers a Rick Steves discount.
  • Di Simo Caffè and the restaurant Vineria I Santi have closed.

Rome

For books printed before October 2014, the following may apply:
  • The Trevi Fountain is pumped dry and under repair for restoration, but a temporary miniature replica is available for coin-tossing. The repairs should be finished by the end of 2015.
  • A cheaper version of the Roma Pass (€28) is valid for 48 hours, and offers similar coverage to the 3-day version, but provides free entry only at the first sight you visit with it.
For books printed before August 2014, the following may also apply:
  • If booking online for a Walks of Italy tour, enter the code “10ricksteves” to receive the 10 percent Rick Steves discount.
  • Colosseum tickets are now available online through CoopCulture (€2 service fee).
  • The Archeobus from Termini Station to sights along the Appian Way only runs Friday–Sunday. There is no service Monday–Thursday.
  • The city’s elettrico minibuses may not be operating this year, thanks to budget cuts.
  • The night train between Rome and Paris is no longer running.
  • Hotel Cisterna has closed.
For books printed before October 2013, the following may also apply:
Orientation
  • Basic taxi charges have gone up. Taxis start at €3, and the surcharge for Sundays is now €1.50, and for late night (after 22:00) it’s €3.50.
  • Metro Line B now has a new spur line on its northern end. If you’re taking Line B to the Tiburtina train station, be sure to get on a train in the direction of Rebibbia. Trains going in the direction of Conca d’Oro do not stop at Tiburtina.
  • To qualify for the Rick Steves discount for Through Eternity walking tours, enter the promotional code "RICKSTEVES" when you book online.
Sights
  • At the Capuchin Crypt, a new six-room museum shows the clothing, footwear, books, and other religious artifacts used by members of the order. Admission is now €6, and the crypt is open daily 9:00–19:00 (last admission 30 minutes before closing).
  • Santa Susanna, the American Catholic Church in Rome, no longer lets you pick up pre-booked papal audience tickets on Wednesday mornings (but tickets are still retrievable there Tuesday evenings 17:00–18:45).
  • In winter (Oct–March), the dome at St. Peter’s now closes to visitors at 16:45 (last entry at 16:15).
Sleeping

Pompeii

The "info point" kiosk at the train station does not sell tickets to Pompeii; they are misleading tourists by selling €12 tours and taking groups to a guide at the entrance, where they are then charged for the actual admission ticket.

For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:

Sorrento

For books printed before October 2013, the following may apply:
  • Il Palazzo Starace B&B has a new contact person — Massimo — and new contact info: tel. 081-807-2633, mobile 366-950-5377, www.palazzostarace.com.
  • L’Antica Trattoria no longer offers a 10 percent discount to Rick Steves readers.
  • Cruise-ship travelers: To get from the harbor in Sorrento to Piazza Tasso, first follow Lift signs to the elevator. Pay €1 to ride it up into a city park, exit through the park gate and bear left; Piazza Tasso is about four blocks away. Or, you can hike uphill along the road for 15 minutes. Other options are the red-and-white city bus #B or #C (buy €1 tickets at the tobacco shop, 3/hour), or the small blue private bus (€1, buy ticket from driver, day passes not valid, 4/hour). The train station is a five-minute walk from Piazza Tasso.

Amalfi Coast

For books printed before October 2014, the following may also apply:
Paestum
For books printed before October 2013, the following may also apply:
Positano
  • Residence la Tavolozza prefers that you use the form on their website to reserve; they don’t take reservations by email.
Amalfi Town
  • The town’s launderette has closed.
Ravello

Venice

For books printed before October 2014, the following may apply:
  • ACTV no longer offers 12-hour and 36-hour transit passes. Also, pass prices have increased for 72-hour passes (now €40) and 7-day passes (now €60).
  • Vaporetto passes are no longer valid on ACTV’s mainland bus #5 to the airport. Passholders must purchase a supplement (€4 one-way, €8 round-trip) for all ACTV buses that originate or terminate at Marco Polo Airport.
For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • Walks Inside Venice’s English-only walking tours no longer run on Sundays (but do still run Mon–Sat at 14:30).
  • The Vaporetto dell’Arte service on the Grand Canal is no longer running.
  • Hotel Riva is closed for renovation.
  • Pension la Calcina is now Hotel la Calcina.
  • The recently renovated Ca’ San Trovaso has new phone numbers (tel. 041-241-2215, mobile 349-125-3890), a new manager (Anna), and slightly higher prices: Sb-€100, Db-€150, bigger canal-view Db-€170, Tb-€195.
  • If your train to “Venice” terminates at Venezia Mestre (on the mainland), you now need to buy a €1.25 Mestre—Santa Lucia ticket at a machine and validate it before hopping any non-express, regional train for the 10-minute ride across the causeway to Venice.
For books printed before September 2013, the following may also apply:
Orientation
  • Several of Venice’s tourist information offices have changed their hours: The two convenient branches near St. Mark’s Square (one in the far-left corner with your back to the basilica, the other next to the Giardinetti Reali park near the San Marco vaporetto stop) are open daily 9:00–19:00. There’s also a TI desk at the airport (daily 9:00–20:00). At the train station, in the summer (from Carnevale through October), you’ll find TI staffers in a big, white kiosk out front near the vaporetto #2 stop (daily 9:00–14:30, closed off-season; as this kiosk is shared with the private Alilaguna boat company, be sure to seek out a TI representative). The TI inside the station is open on summer afternoons (daily 13:00–19:00) and all day long in winter (daily 9:00–19:00; likely near track 1, though this may change with station renovation).
  • Venicescapes has a new phone number: 041-850-5742.
Sights
  • San Giorgio Maggiore now has somewhat longer hours: The church and tower are both open April–Oct Mon–Sat 9:00–19:00, Sun 9:00–11:00 & 12:00–19:00; Nov–March daily 9:00–17:30. The last ascent in the tower elevator is still 30 minutes before closing time.
Eating
  • Trattoria alla Madonna is now closed on Wednesdays (and open on Tuesdays).
  • Rizzo sandwich shop has closed.
Sleeping
  • Pensione Accademia offers a 5 percent discount on the balance due at check-out. To receive the discount, request it when you book in advance, show the current edition of Rick Steves Venice at check-in, and pay in cash.

Split

For books printed before May 2014, the following may apply:
  • Villa Art has closed.
  • If using a GPS to find Villa Ana, enter the address "Kralja Zvonimira 14."
  • The high-speed Krilo passenger boat connecting Split to nearby islands no longer sails from Split or Hvar to Korčula. Fortunately, Jadrolinija operates a similar high-speed, passenger-only daily catamaran service connecting Split, Hvar town, and Korčula town. In summer (June–Sept), the Jadrolinija catamaran departs Split daily at 17:00, and Hvar at 18:15, arriving in Korčula town at 20:05; the northbound departure leaves Korčula each morning at 6:00, arriving in Hvar at 7:50, and arriving in Spit at 9:05. Off-season (Oct–May), the southbound boat departs Split daily at 16:00 (departs Hvar 17:15, arrives Korčula 18:40); the northbound schedule depends on the day of the week (Mon–Sat departs Korčula 6:00, arrives Hvar 7:25, arrives Split 8:40; Sun and holidays departs Korčula 13:00, arrives Hvar 14:25, arrives Split 15:40). The Krilo express catamaran still runs between Split and Hvar; however, it sails daily only in peak season (July through early Aug). It's wise to double-check both the Jadrolinija schedules and Krilo schedule a day or two ahead.

Dubrovnik

For books printed before May 2014, the following may apply:
  • The World Center of Croatian Naive Art has closed.
  • There is no longer single-ticket entry for the Rector's Palace, Maritime Museum, or Rupe Granary and Ethnographic Museum. A 70 kn combo-ticket covers all three.
  • The Institute for the Restoration of Dubrovnik has closed its wartime photo gallery.
  • Paulina Čumbelić's rented rooms (in the Pile neighborhood) are no longer available.
  • The Sugar and Spice dessert shop has closed.

Athens

  • At the Acropolis Museum, you can enter without a ticket to shop at the museum store or to visit the restaurant on the upper floor.
For books printed before April 2014, the following may also apply:
  • Taverna O Thespis restaurant has closed.
For books printed before April 2013, the following may also apply:
Orientation
  • Public-transit tickets have new prices: Basic metro ticket-€1.40, bus/tram ticket-€1.20, Metro ticket to airport-€8, express bus to airport-€5, 24-hour metro/bus pass-€4, seven-day metro/bus pass-€14.
  • The city's main tourist information office has moved to a convenient new spot on the pedestrian street leading to the Acropolis Museum, and has slightly longer hours (April–Oct Mon–Fri 8:00–20:00, Sat–Sun 10:00–16:00; Nov–March Mon–Fri 9:00–19:00, Sat–Sun 10:00–16:00; on pedestrian street leading to Acropolis Museum at Dionysiou Areopagitou 18–20, Metro line 2/red: Akropoli; tel. 210-331-0392, info@gnto.gr).
  • The airport branch of Athens' tourist information office has closed.
  • Public bus #200 is no longer running. (However, bus #035 can get you from Athinas street, near Monastiraki, to a stop near the National Archeological Museum, and taxis are fairly cheap).
  • Compendium Bookstore has moved to a spot far outside the city center. The smaller branch of the Eleftheroudakis bookstore has closed (the main branch on Panepistimiou/Eleftheriou Venizelou still very much open, though it has moved a few doors down to #11).
  • Local guide: Faye Georgiou is another good Athens guide who really knows her archeology (€50/hour, tel. 210/674-5837, mobile 697-768-5503,fayegeorgiou@yahoo.gr).
Sights

The hours for sights in Greece are constantly prone to change, so make sure to check before you head out for the day.

  • The Acropolis is open daily June–Aug likely 8:00–20:00, Sept–May 8:00–18:00. Restoration work continues at the Pathenon, with scaffolding now marching around to the west end of the building. Funded by Greece and the European Union, the project began in 1984, which means that they've been at it more than twice as long as it took to build the Parthenon in the first place.
  • The Theater of Dionysus is open Mon–Fri 8:00–17:30, Sat–Sun 8:00–14:30 (may be open until 20:00 in summer, likely closed at 15:00 in winter).
  • The Acropolis Museum is now open until 22:00 on Fridays (otherwise Tue–Sun 8:00–20:00, closed Mon).
  • The Byzantine and Christian Museum is open Tue–Sun 9:00–16:00 year-round, closed Mon.
  • The National Archaeological Museum is open Tue–Sun 9:00–16:00, may be open later in summer; Mon 13:30-20:00, may close at 15:00 in winter. While bus #200 is no longer running, #035 can still get you from Athinas street to a stop near the museum.
  • The Temple of Olympian Zeus is open daily in summer 8:00–20:00, Sept 8:00–19:00, off-season 8:00–15:00.
  • The Panathenaic (a.k.a. "Olympic") Stadium is open daily March–Oct 8:00–19:00, Nov–Feb 8:00–17:00.
  • The Ancient Agora is open daily 8:00–15:00 (possibly open later in summer). Its museum has the same hours, except on Mondays, when it opens at 11:00.
  • The Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture is closed on Mondays as well as Tuesdays (Wed–Sat 9:00–17:00, Thu until midnight, Sun 9:00–15:00). Entry is free on Thursdays, though a €1 donation is requested.
  • The Roman Forum and Tower of the Winds is open daily 8:00–14:00 (possibly later in summer).
Sleeping
Eating
  • Ouzou Melathron, in Monastiraki, has closed.
Athens Connections
  • The rail line between Kiato and Patra, en route between Athens and Patra, is closed for construction as a faster standard-gauge line is being built. In the meantime, travelers have two options: 1. ride the regular replacement bus (operated by the Greek rail system) between Patra and Kiato, and the train between Kiato and Athens (covered by railpasses), or 2. take Superfast Ferries' direct bus between Athens and Patra (takes about 4 hours, not covered by railpasses; customers headed to Athens can buy tickets on board ferry — bus departs soon after ferry arrives in Patras; buses from Athens leave from the Superfast Ferries office).
  • Ferries: There may no longer be high-speed catamaran service between Piraeus (Athens) and either Mykonos or Santorini; it's also possible that the other ferries are running a bit slower than the times cited in the guidebook (e.g. ferries between Athens and Mykonos are more likely to take 6 hours, rather than 4.5).

Mykonos

For books printed before April 2014, the following may apply:
  • Ferries: There may no longer be high-speed catamaran service between Piraeus (Athens) and either Mykonos or Santorini; it's also possible that the other ferries are running a bit slower than the times cited in the guidebook (e.g. ferries between Athens and Mykonos are more likely to take 6 hours, rather than 4.5).
For books printed before April 2013, the following may also apply:
  • Several of the tavernas on St. Monis Square have closed. (Fortunately countless charming restaurants are tucked in the town's winding back lanes.)

Santorini

For books printed before April 2014, the following may apply:
  • Ferries: There may no longer be high-speed catamaran service between Piraeus (Athens) and either Mykonos or Santorini; it's also possible that the other ferries are running a bit slower than the times cited in the guidebook (e.g. ferries between Athens and Mykonos are more likely to take 6 hours, rather than 4.5).
For books printed before April 2013, the following may apply:
Fira
  • The replica frescoes from the Petros Nomikos Conference Center have moved into the new Santozeum (€5, May–Oct daily 10:00–18:00, closed Nov–April, on Gold Street near the cable-car station — look for bright orange lettering, tel. 22860-21722).
  • The beautiful Kamares Apartments were wildly misplaced on the map on page 429 of the second edition of Rick Steves' Greece; instead they're on the very south end of town.
Oia
  • Lauda Traditional Rooms and Apartments has closed.
Other Sights on Santorini
  • The archaeological site at Akrotiri has reopened, with more than 30 buildings now excavated and viewable in a new structure that makes it easy to explore the ruins. Ramps let you climb around and through the streets of the prehistoric city, where careful observers can pick out sidewalks, underground sewage systems, and some ceramic vases left behind. However, the most interesting items discovered here — wonderful wall frescoes, fancy furniture, painted ceramics — are on display elsewhere, mainly at Fira's Museum of Prehistoric Thira and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (€5, one-hour guided tours-€10, open Tue–Sun 8:00–17:00, closed Mon, last entry 30 minutes before closing, tel. 22860-81939. Akrotiri is reachable by frequent buses from Fira (roughly hourly, €1.80; from the bus stop, backtrack up the road a minute or two) or taxi (€18–20).

Olympia

For books printed before April 2014, the following may apply:
For books printed before April 2013, the following may also apply:
  • Local guide Niki Vlachou now has a website and email address: www.olympictours.gr, niki@olympictours.gr.
  • Parking: Contrary to the "P" parking icon on the map on page 278, there is no public parking immediately south of the Archeological Museum at the Sanctuary of Olympia.
  • As of our most recent visit, the sanctuary of Olympia is open mid-April–mid-Sept Mon–Sat 9:00–19:00, Sun 8:00–15:00; may be open one hour later mid-April–Aug; off-season hours generally daily 9:00–15:00 — though most likely at least a little longer, especially in early fall and late spring. Last entry generally 45 minutes before closing.
  • As of our most recent visit, the Archaeological Museum is open mid-April–mid-Sept Tue–Sat 8:00–19:00, Sun–Mon 9:00–16:00; may be open one hour later mid-April–Aug; off-season hours generally daily 9:00–15:00 — though most likely at least a little longer, especially in early fall and late spring. Last entry about 30 minutes before closing.
  • The Museum of the History of Olympic Games in Antiquity now costs €2, and is open Mon–Fri 9:00–16:00 (closed Sat–Sun).
  • Taverna Dionysos and Taverna Gefsis Melathron have closed permanently.
  • We no longer recommend Katakolon Express.
  • A new tour company, Olympic Traveller, offers a package combining round-trip transport from the cruise port to Olympia with a two-hour guided tour of the site and museum, likely with recommended local guide Niki Vlachou (€35/person, groups never larger than 25 people, mobile 697-320-1213, info@olympictraveller.com). For €15 less, you can skip the guided tour in Olympia, but enjoy a narrated ride and quick pick-up times (they won't dally at the port waiting for the bus to fill up).

Crete

For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • The Palace of Knossos has new price and hours: €6, €10 combo-ticket with archaeological museum, daily April–Sept 8:00–18:00, Oct 8:00–18:00, Nov–March 8:30–15:00, tel. 2810-231-940. (As with any other sight in Greece, the palace’s opening hours are in constant flux — call a day or two in advance to get the latest.) One-hour group tours are €10 per person; private tours are €100. The entrance of the palace has snack bar, shop, WCs, and a guy who might be Greece’s most enthusiastic purveyor of fresh orange juice.
  • Heraklion’s archaeological museum is now open late May–Oct Mon 13:00–20:00, Tue–Sat 8:00–20:00, Sun 8:00–15:00; Nov–late May Mon 11:00–17:00, Tue–Sun 8:00–15:00. (As with any other sight in Greece, the museum’s opening hours are in constant flux — call a day or two in advance to get the latest.) Renovations underway until at least fall of 2014. Cost: €4, possibly €6 when renovations are complete. Tel. 2810-279-070.

Rhodes

For books printed before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • The town of Rhodes no longer offers a sightseeing combo-ticket.

Across Turkey

For books published before September 2014, the following may apply:
  • Turkey now requires all US and Canadian visitors to obtain Turkish visas before entering the country; visitors can no longer get entry visas upon arrival in Turkey. Before you fly, get your “e-visa” online or visit a Turkish consulate or embassy.
    Cruise-ship passengers do not need a visa if they are only doing day trips in Turkey while spending the night aboard their ship. However, cruise passengers arriving in Turkey to start their cruise or staying overnight on Turkish soil after their cruise must have a visa prior to their arrival in Turkey.
  • The Turkish lira has a new symbol: Turkish lira symbol 8x10px.png — though travelers can still expect to see "TL," "YTL," and "TRY" used to denote the currency.

Istanbul

  • There are now two versions of the city’s museum pass (both of which now include the Harem at Topkapı Palace): The three-day pass (85TL) covers the Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace Museum (including the Harem), İstanbul Archaeological Museums, İstanbul Mosaic Museum, Museum of Turkish and İslamic Arts (currently closed for renovation), and the Museum for the History of Science and Technology in Islam. The five-day pass (115TL) also covers the Chora Museum, Galata Mevlevi House Museum, Yıldız Palace, Rumeli Hisar Museum, and the Fethiye Museum.
  • Hotel discounts promised in the Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook are valid only when readers book their rooms directly through the hotel’s official website, not through third-party booking sites. Also, readers need to have the latest edition of the guidebook to benefit from the discount (currently the sixth edition).
  • A high-speed train line now connects Istanbul and Ankara in about 3.5 hours. The new service terminates in the Istanbul suburb of Pendik, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.
For books printed before March 2014, the following may also apply:
Orientation
  • Tram and bus prices have changed. A single tram ride is now 3 TL. Also, the transit system no longer offers the Akbil Pass. Travelers staying more than a few days and planning to use public transportation frequently should consider the İstanbulKart.
  • Tipping is now expected in Turkey (an average of 10 percent).
  • Beware of a worsening taxi scam: Many dishonest drivers will take your 50-TL bill, then insist that you’ve given them only a 5-TL bill. If you need to pay your fare with a large bill, announce the bill’s denomination as you give it to the cabbie.
Sights
  • The Blue Mosque is now closed on Fridays until the end of the noon service.
  • Free entry at the Istanbul Modern Arts Museum on Thursdays is now limited to residents of Turkey; free entry is no longer available to tourists.
  • The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum may be closed for renovations during your visit — call ahead to confirm that it’s open (tel. 0212/518-1805).
  • It’s smart to reserve ahead for a tour of the Dolmabahçe Palace (tel. 0212/327-2626).
Experiences
Sleeping
  • Hotel prices are increasing rapidly in Istanbul, which is quickly gaining in popularity among tourists. Be sure to book well in advance. While hotel prices are up, hotels with the efficiency of online booking engines play with rates constantly. Most hotels follow a flexible pricing system now which lets them lower rates when they have less occupancy and increase when they have more occupancy. These may not be announced on hotels’ websites (which tend to be fairly static), but are available through different booking sites (such as www.booking.com).
  • The Istanbul Holiday Apartments chain, including the Glorya and Bereket Apartments, has closed.
  • The Eklektik Guest House SC has changed its name to Noble House Galata, though its website remains unchanged.
  • The Obelisk Hotel is now the Azade Hotel (info@azadehotel.com).
  • The Triada Hotel no longer offers a discount to Rick Steves readers.
  • The Richmond Hotel has a new website and email address: www.richmondint.com.tr, info@richmondint.com.tr.
  • The W Hotel has a new email address: wistanbul@whotels.com.
  • House Apartments have a new email address: reservation@thehouseapart.com.
Eating
  • The Rejans Russian Restaurant, mentioned in our New District Walk, has closed.
  • Frappe Istanbul no longer serves food (now just beverages).
Entertainment
  • The Galata Dervish Monastery’s renovation is complete, and whirling-dervish performances have resumed (40–50 TL, Sun at 16:00). Tickets are available at the monastery on the day of the performance, but usually sell out by 14:00. To buy advance tickets, try contacting Tebit Çakmut (mobile 0536-607-4163).
  • The Foundation of Universal Lovers, which offers services featuring whirling dervishes, now charges 40 TL per person for admission.
Nightlife
  • Incisu Boats no longer offers individual dinner cruises.
Connections
  • The best online resource for info on public transportation to the airport is www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/en.
  • The Havatas Airport Shuttle Bus has a new website: www.havatas.com.
  • The night train to Ankara has been suspended because of construction.