When we learn of critical changes to the information in our guidebooks on Turkey, 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!
For books published before October 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: — though travelers can still expect to see “TL,” “YTL,” and “TRY” used to denote the currency.
- 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, 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.
- The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum has reopened.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- It’s smart to reserve ahead for a tour of the Dolmabahçe Palace (tel. 0212/327-2626).
- The correct email address for the culinary experts at Turkish Flavours is firstname.lastname@example.org (with a second U).
- The Istanbul Culinary Institute no longer offers a discount to Rick Steves readers.
- The Istanbul Food Workshop has closed.
- 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 (email@example.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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The W Hotel has a new email address: email@example.com.
- House Apartments have a new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Rejans Russian Restaurant, mentioned in our New District Walk, has closed.
- Frappe Istanbul no longer serves food (now just beverages).
- 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.
- Incisu Boats no longer offers individual dinner cruises.