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Istanbul Travel Guide

Istanbul Travel Guide

Istanbul is a modern city with beautiful local art, historic markets, and ancient mosques. If you’re visiting Istanbul, here are some local customs to keep in mind, and things to do.

Mosque clothing

A common question for visitors to Istanbul is how to dress, specifically for visiting the mosques. Women must cover their knees, shoulders, and head, men must cover their knees and shoulders, and everyone must remove their shoes. Outside of the mosques, there are coverups that you can borrow if you don’t have any of the parts covered up that need to be, and there are plastic shoes for you to place your shoes in as you walk around the mosque. Conservative clothing is not just a suggestion in a mosque, it is mandatory, and they will stop you if you try to enter not appropriately dressed.

Shoe polisher scam artists

Shoe polishers are known to try to catch visitors in a scam. The trick is simple: Shoe polishers will pass you in a quiet narrow street and “accidentally” drop a brush. You then pick up the brush and let the man know he dropped it. He seems to be thankful and offers you a “free” shoe polish (no words spoken here). After he finished your shoes, he demands money and as soon your wallet is open he will rob you or attempt to guilt you into giving him more money.

Turkish Ice Cream

Traditional Turkish ice cream is made from milk, sugar, salep flour and mastic gum, and it’s called dondurma. When it comes to buying dondurma from the street vendors, be prepared to get involved in a real show. A salesman dressed in a traditional costume from the Kahramanmaras region (southeastern Turkey) attracts the customers by ringing the bells in his stall. Then he fills the cone, and now the whole game begins. He seems to be giving you your ice cream but he plays a trick, and you grab the air instead of your cone. The whole thing keeps repeating for several minutes with lots of laughter.

Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews to create an Istanbul travel guide.

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