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It was Constantinople. It's been Byzantium. Now, it's Istanbul. You'll witness flashes of these multiple personalities in the richness of its culture. Istanbul is gilded with spectacular remnants of its long and illustrious history. It bridges Asia and Europe, both physically and culturally. So pack your bags and take a cultural tour of this majestic city. Along with Islamic art and Byzantium architecture, the city has a lot for you to explore.

Before you travel to Istanbul, be sure to purchase travel medical insurance or travel insurance that offers suitable financial coverage for injuries, accidents, and other mishaps.

Top Tourist Destinations in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, now known as Aya Sofya, is the most spectacular example of Byzantine architecture. Originally built as a cathedral, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque after Ottoman armies conquered the city. Later converted into a museum in the 20th century, this place has remained one of Istanbul's most cherished landmarks. Displaying over 30 million gold tiles, intricate mosaics, and frescoes, the museum is a sight to behold. The museum was converted to a mosque again in July 2020, so familiarize yourself with the best practices of being in a mosque.

Topkapi Palace

This magnificent building served as the main residence of Ottoman emperors for nearly four centuries. The vast complex is a ravishing display of Islamic art. Take a stroll in the lavish courtyards lined with intricate, hand-painted tile work and majestic decorated rooms. Topkapi Palace is a great place to gain some perspective into the fanciful lives that the Ottoman rulers lived. Set aside at least half a day to fully enjoy what this palace has to offer to you.

Bosphorus Strait

Also known as the "Strait of Istanbul", the Bosphorus Strait forms a continental boundary between Asia and Europe. With Asia on one side and Europe on the other, the strait offers an opportunity to cruise international waters while enjoying some of the breathtaking sights of the city. You can take a tourist boat to cruise, or just step into a water taxi with the locals.

Grand Bazaar

Taking up a whole city quarter, this massive covered market is considered to be the world's first shopping mall. Lined by shops and stalls, the Grand Bazaar sells every Turkish souvenir you could imagine. With dedicated areas for gold, carpets, and leathers, you can buy souvenirs for your friends and families here. Don't forget to bargain and pitch your desired price.

Basilica Cistern

When Istanbul was ruled by Byzantine emperors, this palace-like underground hall was used for storage and supply of water. The hall is supported by over 300 columns arranged in 12 rows. Enjoy the spectacular sight of beautifully lit columns and the soft trickle of water all around you. Go to the northwest corner of the Cistern to behold the Medusa head carvings on the columns.

Key Guidelines for Travelers in Istanbul

Weather Conditions

The best time to visit Istanbul is during late spring (late May to early June) and early autumn (late September to early October). Istanbul has a temperate oceanic climate. The summer is hot and humid. The winter is cold and wet, and occasionally snowy. Snowfall occurs between the months of December and March. Due to the city's hilly topography, flash floods might occur after heavy rainfall.

Safety Concerns

Turkey's tourism industry is flourishing again following a slump caused by widespread political turmoil. Although crime rates in the city are low, it's better to travel with caution. Here's are a few tips to help you ensure your safety when you travel to Istanbul:

  • Don't take photos or videos of any sensitive military facilities. It might arouse suspicion even when you have no bad intentions.
  • Beware of the pickpockets and other lurkers, especially in the Old Town. Keep an eye on your belongings.
  • Be careful when buying Turkish rugs and other antique souvenirs. Some may not be what they are presented as (that is, they may be inauthentic).
  • When you're in Turkey, don't travel to destinations near its border with Syria and Iraq. The situation might get tense at any moment here.

Getting Around the City

If you're staying in Istanbul for more than a day, buying an Istanbulkart is a good way to save money on transportation. You can buy it from ticket kiosks and machines at bus, railway, and metro stations. With an Istanbulkart, you can travel on any public transport system. Traffic in Istanbul can be very bad. It can take an hour just to travel a few miles of the Old City. Better take a metro out of the Old City and then get on a taxi.

Medical Concerns

Although Istanbul is pretty safe to travel, it's always better to be cautious about your health. Unclean water and food can cause diarrhea. So always drink bottled water and eat food that is served hot. If you're staying outside for many hours in heat, eat salty snacks and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Travel Medical Insurance for Travelers in Istanbul- FAQs

From historical tours in Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace to a dazzling array of other activities, Istanbul has something to entice all its visitors. But accidents can happen at any time when you're traveling. The huge hospital bills will add to your problems. Traveling with a travel medical insurance plan is the best option when you're in Istanbul.

Why buy travel medical insurance before traveling to Istanbul?

Every attractive place has its downsides. Injuries and accidents are not uncommon when you're traveling. Medical treatment overseas can be expensive. Many domestic health insurance plans may not give coverage when you're traveling in other countries. A suitable travel medical insurance will give financial coverage to medical emergencies. It could cover the hefty hospital bills for you so that you can travel and enjoy yourself while you're in Istanbul.

What should I look for in my Istanbul travel medical insurance?

Travel medical insurance provides benefits such as coverage for emergency medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, the return of mortal remains, accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D), and more. Make sure you read your full travel medical insurance policy before purchase so you understand what you're buying.

Medical facilities in Turkey are expensive. To save yourself from paying hefty hospital bills during a medical emergency, be sure you buy travel medical insurance.

Trip Cancellation Insurance for Travelers in Istanbul- FAQs

When airlines and hotels are offering attractive discounts, you can't resist reserving your trip in advance. However, sometimes, you need to call off your trip if unexpected events come up. The cancellation would come with hefty charges that will ruin your plans entirely. With trip cancellation insurance, you have a chance of seeing some of that money again.

Why should I get trip cancellation insurance for my Istanbul trip?

Trip cancellation insurance can reimburse you for the full amount of your non-refundable, prepaid expenses if you have to cancel your trip for a reason explicitly listed in the policy's certificate wording. Be sure to review this list of covered reasons in the fine print for a full understanding of the coverage you're eligible for. These covered reasons vary from plan to plan, but most standard trip cancellation plans cover the most common reasons for trip cancellation like getting sick, illness or death of an immediate family member, weather-related cancellations or delays, and more.

What should I look for in my Istanbul travel insurance?

Trip cancellation coverage is just one benefit of purchasing travel insurance. Other benefits that it offers include trip interruption coverage for a covered reason, trip delay coverage, baggage loss coverage, missed connection coverage, and more.

Buy a travel insurance plan that could cover the cancellation charges for you. This helps you plan your trip without worrying about the financial setbacks of trip cancellation.

Before You Go to Istanbul - Do This

Carry warm clothing if you're traveling to Istanbul in winter. The chilly winds and high humidity can ruin your pleasant experience.

The public transit system in Istanbul can be difficult to figure out. With hundreds of intersections and routes, it's easy to get confused. Download applications such as "Trafi". It shows all the routes and makes your transit easier.

Buy travel insurance or travel medical insurance suitable for you and your travel mates. With good insurance, you can travel and enjoy what Istanbul has to offer to you with peace of mind. Enter some basic information about your trip and travelers, compare a wide variety of options, and select the plan that best meets your needs.

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Visiting USA?

Healthcare costs are very high in the U.S.

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Traveling abroad?

Did you know that your insurance may not cover you abroad or that it may only provide limited coverage?

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You could lose your non-refundable trip costs if you had to cancel your trip.

Buy a trip cancellation insurance package plan and be worry-free.

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The U.S. Department of State requires all J visa holders to purchase compliant insurance.

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Schengen countries require most non-US citizens to purchase Schengen visa insurance.

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