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

  • If your passport is due to expire within six months of your ticketed date of return from Europe, you need to renew it. Allow plenty of time to renew or get a passport, especially while a backlog of applications is causing significant slowdowns — see the US Department of State's travel site for current estimated processing times.
  • Turkey is again issuing tourist visas to Americans, but it's smart to monitor the Turkish Embassy’s website for the latest updates.


  • The Basilica Cistern has reopened.
  • The Galata Tower is now open daily 9:00–23:00, and admission is now 100 TL.
  • Istanbul Modern, the city's modern art museum, is expected to reopen in its snazzy new building in Karaköy sometime in 2023.
  • To our knowledge, the Chora Church is open to visitors again — but it's wise to check locally.
  • Parts of the Museum of Archaeology may still be closed for renovations.

For books printed before December 2020, the following may also apply:

  • The new Istanbul Airport, located northwest of the city center, is now operational, as is the Metro line connecting the airport to the city center. It's a one-hour taxi ride from either the Old Town or the New District, or 1.5 hours by bus (but can be much longer during rush hour; plan ahead to be at the airport 3 hours prior to international flights). The airport has five concourses, signed as "piers," that extend from the central terminal. There are no trains or trams between the piers, but the lofty ceilings and glimmering design may distract you from all the walking. Use the moving sidewalks when possible.
  • The cruise port has been completely rebuilt in a redevelopment project called "Galataport." The cruise terminal itself is now located underground, freeing up the waterfront for a new promenade with shops and restaurants along the Bosphorus.
  • While Istanbul's main train station, Sirkeci, is being remodeled, trains between Istanbul and Asian Turkey are served by Söğütlüçeşme Station, in the Kadıköy district (across the Bosphorus from the city center, but much more central than the recent terminus at Pendik). Trains to/from the west and north are still served by the suburban station of Halkalı (west of the city center). The Marmaray light-rail line now connects both Halkalı and Söğütlüçeşme with central Istanbul.
  • Golden Horn ferry cruises and ferries to Eyüp now leave from Karaköy İskelesi at the New District end of the Galata Bridge. They no longer leave from the Eminönü pier to the west of the Old Town end of the bridge.
  • Though Hagia Sophia has been officially declared a mosque again (rather than a museum), it remains open to visitors.
  • Turkey's state-operated museums are now under one website: Advance tickets can be purchased there.
  • You can no longer access the view platform on top of the wall at the beginning of our guidebook's City Walls walk (on Hoca Çakır Caddesi near Kariye Bostanı Sk). Fortunately, the nearby Tekfur Palace offers wall-top views (20 TL entry fee).
  • Bus #87 no longer goes directly to the Chora Church from the New District. It's better to take the funicular and then tram to the Eminönü stop, near the Galata Bridge, and catch bus #32, #91O, #37E , or #38 from there.
  • The Golden Horn ferry cruises now depart from the Karaköy pier in the New Town, east of the Galata bridge.
  • The Topkapı Palace and Harem are both now open Wed–Mon 9:00–18:00 (may close earlier off-season, closed Tue). You can use a Museum Pass to skip the ticket line, or purchase a fast-track ticket with a shorter security line (35 TL more than regular ticket). The Museum Pass no longer covers the Harem.
  • The correct address for Quincentennial Museum of Turkish Jews is Bereketzade Mahallesi, Büyük Hendek Caddesi 39, Beyoğlu, and its telephone number (also printed incorrectly in some editions) is +90 212 292 6333.
  • The Ucuzcular spice shop has changed its name to Hayfene.
  • Portus House is now Cheers Porthouse Hostel ([email protected]).
  • Istanbul Hostel is now Avrasya Hostel.
  • Hotel Golden Horn Sultanahmet is now Deluxe Hotel Golden Horn Sultanahmet ([email protected]).
  • Bada Bing Hostel in Karaköy has closed.