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.
Etickets are available for the Ephesus Archaeological site (including the Terrace Houses). Buying tickets online enables you to skip the ticket-buying line; no refunds or exchanges are allowed.
If accompanied by an official tour guide, you can also skip the line without buying tickets ahead of time.
For books printed before March 2016, the following may apply:
- 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.
Etickets are available for the Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace Museum (including the Harem), İstanbul Archaeological Museum, and Chora Church. Buying tickets online enables you to skip the ticket-buying line at these sights; no refunds or exchanges are allowed.
If accompanied by an official tour guide, you can also skip the line at each of these sights without buying tickets ahead of time.
- The Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum has reopened.
- The Quincentennial Museum of Turkish Jews has moved to Neve Shalom Synagogue at Büyük Hendek Caddesi 61, near the Şişhane Metro stop.
- 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.
- The Sirkeci Train Station is currently under renovation and closed to long-distance trains, but remains a busy commuter hub. Travelers to Bulgaria are bused to the border from Sirkeci, where they switch to a train, and train lines to Greece are closed. The main Asian-side train station — Haydarpaşa Garı — is indefinitely closed for renovation. The suburban Pendik Station now serves as the city's main rail station.
- 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.
- The art shop called Sufi has moved from the Spice Market to Arasta Bazaar 27, near the Blue Mosque.
- To accommodate the renovation of the Karaköy Limanı cruise-ship port (expected to last through 2017), cruise ships are currently docking at Salıpazarı Limanı (also known as the Istanbul Cruise Port), located in the New District, across from the Old Town.