Guidebook Updates for Turkey

When we learn of critical changes to the information in our Istanbul 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!

Across Turkey

  • Travelers with a regular American or Canadian passport no longer need a visa to visit Turkey for up to 90 days. (US and Canadian citizens with an "official" military or diplomatic passport do still need a visa.) As is the case for many countries in Europe, you can be refused entry if your passport isn't valid for at least 6 months following your date of entry to Turkey; you must also have enough space in your passport for regular entry and exit stamps. The US Embassy in Turkey has all the details Americans need; otherwise check the Republic of Turkey's official visa info.
  • Short-term vacation rentals offered through Airbnb and other services are not currently advisable in Turkey (due to a new law that allows police to expel renters if neighbors object). It's best to book a hotel that carries a Ministry of Tourism badge (which applies to all our recommended places).


  • Ortahisar Castle in Cappadocia is now open daily April–Sept 9:00–20:00, Oct–March 9:00–18:00.



  • Turkey has been experiencing hyperinflation over the past several years, and travelers visiting Turkey in 2024 are likely to find that prices they encounter may be significantly higher than those printed in our guidebook. You may want to check prices for sightseeing admissions online ahead of your visit and keep an eye on exchange rates.
  • The tourist information office that had been near Taksim Square (on Mete Caddesi) has now moved to Taksim Square, in the lobby of the Atatürk Cultural Center.
  • All public transit now accepts the Istanbulkart, which costs about $3, and can be preloaded with credit (each ride costs about $1) and topped up as needed. It's available from kiosks at airports and all Metro, tram, bus, and ferry stations, and can usually be purchased with a credit card (some machines may take only cash). To use, tap the card upon boarding.
  • New tram line #T5 is now up and running between Eminönü and Alibeyköy, along the Golden Horn to the city walls and beyond. Most travelers, however, are likely to stick to the seven stops closest to the Eminönü end of the line.
  • New Metro line M11 is now up and running, providing direct service between the airport and the city proper, though it only gets you to the near side of the city's outskirts (Kağıthane stop); from there we recommend taking a taxi/Uber to your hotel.
  • We no longer recommend taking a shuttle bus from the airport, as they don't offer door-to-door service and transit time is over three hours without traffic.
  • The İtaksi app is now defunct; we recommend using Uber instead to hail a regular yellow taxi. If hailing a cab without Uber, be prepared to pay in Turkish liras — many taxis don't accept credit cards.
  • The upper galleries of Hagia Sophia are now a museum space open to all (daily 9:00–19:00 but closed Fri between 11:00 and 14:30, separate entrance; shoes can be left on), while the lower level is a mosque, open only to worshippers, Muslim visitors, and wheelchair users (open for morning prayer, then closed for maintenance until 10:00, after which it remains open until the last prayer of the day).
  • The new, family-friendly Hagia Sophia History & Experience Museum, aimed at filling in the gaps for those unable to visit the main area of Hagia Sophia, has opened nearby (next to the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum), with two floors of high-tech video capturing 1,700 years of Hagia Sophia and Istanbul history, and one floor of actual historical artifacts (about $27, $50 combo-ticket with Hagia Sophia; daily 8:00–20:00, includes audioguide, café, enter across from the Hippodrome's Egyptian Obelisk, +90 212 518 1805).
  • Renovations at the Blue Mosque should be complete by the time of your visit.
  • Historic mosques in the Old Town (including the Blue Mosque, Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent, and Rüstem Paşa Mosque) are closed on Fridays until about 14:30, when the noon prayer ends (as well as five times daily for prayer).
  • Topkapı Palace is back to offering just one combo ticket, which includes the Palace, Harem, and Hagia Irene ($50). The Harem is also now covered by the Museum Pass. While renovation of the Treasury is finished, the Harem and other parts of the palace may be under renovation when you visit. The palace now closes an hour earlier (at 18:00).
  • The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is now open daily (no longer closed Mondays) 9:00–19:00, and until 17:30 off-season.
  • The Basilica Cistern has reopened and is now open until 22:00 daily, though it closes for an hour between 18:30 and 19:30. Admission now costs $20 during the day, and $35 after 19:30.
  • The Galata Tower is now open daily April–Oct 8:30–24:00, Nov–March 10:00–20:00 (last entry one hour before closing).
  • Istanbul Modern, the city's modern art museum, has reopened in its snazzy new building in Karaköy.
  • The Chora Church has reopened as both a mosque and museum following a years-long restoration effort. The central nave is now part of the functioning mosque, so it is only open to men (but visitors can view its attractions from the doorway). Admission is currently free, but is expected to be $27. Hours: Daily 9:00–19:00, except closed during prayers. Visitors must now enter the mosque grounds on the north side, from Kariye Türbesi Sokak, and walk around to the mosque-museum's entrance on the south side of the building, passing through security on the way.
  • The Istanbul Archaeological Museums are now open daily (no longer closed Mondays) 9:00–18:30, and we no longer recommend purchasing advance tickets. (The Tiled Kiosk Museum and Museum of the Ancient Orient are still closed for renovation.)
  • Rumeli Fortress is now closed on Mondays (not Wednesdays).
  • The Pera Museum is no longer free to enter on certain days (and is now open Tue–Sat 10:00–19:00, Fri until 22:00, Sun 12:00–18:00, closed Mon).
  • Dolmabahçe Palace now has longer hours (Tue–Sun 9:00–18:00, closed Mon), and can now be visited without a guided tour (or reservations); an audioguide now helps visitors enjoy both wings of the palace at their own pace.
  • A free shuttle no longer connects the Istanbul Aquarium with the Old Town. To reach the aquarium, take the Marmaray train from Sirkeci and get off at the Florya Akvaryum stop.
  • A free shuttle no longer connects Santral Istanbul with Taksim Square, but it's easily reached by taxi/Uber; the best transit option is tram #T5 (use Silahtarağa stop, then walk about half a mile).
  • Tekfur Palace is now closed on Mondays.
  • The Military Museum is no longer closed Tuesdays, only Mondays. Janissary band performances now last just 30 minutes, but now two are held each day the museum is open (at 11:00 and 15:00).
  • The easiest way to get to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque is now tram #T5 (Eyüp–Teleferik stop).
  • Hop-on, hop-off buses run by Bus for Us and Hop On Hop Off Istanbul now leave just once per hour (rather than every half hour).
  • Istanbul's new cruise port, Galataport, has opened, with customs and transportation services all underground and a promenade with shops and restaurants aboveground, as well as a new tourist information office.
  • Bus #25E is no longer running. For those who want to cut their Bosphorus cruise short at Sarıyer and see some sights along their way back into the city center, it's best to hail a taxi or call an Uber. This option is only recommended on weekdays, since locals jam the roads on weekends. On weekends, and for those who want to head straight back, bus #25G still runs from Sarıyer to Taksim Square.
  • The Galata Dervish House is closed for renovation.
  • Two recommended cafés have closed: Café Grand Boulevard and Reis Café.