Plan your trip to a vibrant and historically rich city!

Istanbul is a vibrant and historically rich city with a wide range of activities and attractions to explore. Here are some popular things to do in Istanbul:

1. Visit the Hagia Sophia: This iconic landmark was originally a church, then a mosque, and is now a museum. Marvel at its stunning architecture and historical significance.

2. Explore the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque): Admire the intricate blue tiles and impressive domes of this magnificent mosque. Remember to dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering.

3. Wander through the Grand Bazaar: Get lost in the bustling lanes of one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Discover a vast array of shops selling spices, textiles, jewellery, ceramics, and more.

4. Take a Bosphorus Cruise: Enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Istanbul between Europe and Asia. Marvel at the beautiful waterfront mansions, palaces, and the city’s skyline.

5. Explore Topkapi Palace: Step into the opulent world of Ottoman sultans by visiting this grand palace complex. Discover its stunning courtyards, royal chambers, and treasury filled with precious artefacts.

6. Visit the Spice Bazaar: Indulge your senses in this vibrant market known for its aromatic spices, teas, sweets, and Turkish delights. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs and experience the local flavours.

7. Explore the Istanbul Archaeological Museums: Discover a vast collection of ancient artefacts, including the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, at these three museums located within the same complex.

8. Stroll through the Sultanahmet Square: Take a leisurely walk in this historic square, surrounded by major landmarks like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Basilica Cistern. Enjoy the atmosphere and street vendors.

9. Visit the Chora Church (Kariye Museum): Marvel at the breath taking mosaics and frescoes adorning the interior walls of this Byzantine church-turned-museum. It’s a hidden gem worth exploring.

10. Experience Turkish cuisine: Indulge in the rich flavours of Turkish cuisine. Try traditional dishes like kebabs, baklava, Turkish tea, and Turkish delight. Don’t forget to savor a cup of Turkish coffee.

What currency will I need?

Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, uses the Turkish lira (TRY) as its official currency. The Turkish lira is denoted by the symbol “₺” and is subdivided into 100 kuru’s. The currency is regulated and issued by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.

The Turkish lira is available in various denominations, including banknotes and coins. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 lira, while coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 kuru’s, as well as 1 lira.

It is advisable to carry some cash, especially for smaller businesses, local markets, or transportation. Cash is accepted almost everywhere, and it’s generally recommended to have a mix of cash and cards for convenience.

Should I use travel cash or a card?

According to Mintel, 90% of British travellers take some travel cash with them. It’s perfect for tips, taxis, street-side vendors and locations which do not have card machines (or where they are not working). It’s easy to budget with, and share with other members of your party. It’s also not prone to technical faults, does not require internet access, and you won’t be charged to use it.

Having a debit card is also a great idea as backup – just make sure you know what fees the card issuer charges to make payments in the foreign currency (better still, find one that makes no charges at all). Bigger purchases should be made on a travel-friendly UK-issued credit card to get that additional Section 75 protection (see Make sure when paying by card that you ALWAYS pay in the foreign currency – do not let the card processor do the conversion to GBP as you will always get a worse rate. That applies even if the foreign currency is already loaded onto a prepaid multi-currency card – the card issuer will decide whether to settle from your foreign currency wallet or not.

Where can I buy currency?

You will typically get a better deal buying your travel cash here in the UK before you travel. Look for the highest possible foreign currency exchange rate to indicate the best deal. For example, a rate of TRY 22.7220 is better than TRY 21.3033 when buying Turkish lira (TRY). Airports tend to offer the worst rates – especially if you have not pre-ordered – and you may find a bureau de change on your High Street, in a supermarket or department store, in many travel agents, and at major transport hubs.

You can also buy Turkish lira from Travel Money Club for next business day despatch to home via fully insured Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm. Unlike the competition, we don’t hide fees and charges in our exchange rates – you just pay a fair and transparent handling fee based on how much you are exchanging. Get an instant quote now at

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