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Istanbul

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, Turkey (Photo: Peter Adams/Index Open)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 21, 2011. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, airfare, Barbados, beach, Cook Islands, destination, Dubai, Ecuador, Hawaii, hotel, Istanbul, Morocco, Nepal, New York City, Sarah Pascarella, Shanghai, shopping, vacation package.

A bargainer's paradise, Istanbul welcomes visitors who are ready to haggle. The price for many goods and services is negotiable, including luxury items, souvenirs, and even hotel rooms. Currency exchange rates may work in your favor, too. While the euro is widely accepted, the Turkish lira is still the primary currency, and at publication time, $1 will get you 1.56 lira (see XE.com for the most current exchange rates).

Of course, no visit is complete without a trip to the Grand Bazaar, the city's ubiquitous marketplace. You'll find everything to tempt your senses—including carpets, souvenirs,foods, and spices—often at negotiable prices. Other budget-friendly experiences include stopping for tea at a local cafe, seeing the Hagia Sophia in person, or just taking in the scenery along the banks of the Golden Horn. And, you can skip pricey admissions by choosing your own self-guided tour from Turkey travel expert Tom Brosnahan. His do-it-yourself trip kits feature itineraries from just one day to over a month in-country.

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You can save the most money by traveling in the off-season (November through March), as opposed to the peak summer months. At publication time, Gate1 Travel was featuring a four-night Istanbul Value Vacation from $789 per person, including airfare, hotel, fuel surcharges, and daily breakfast.

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