Is Istanbul Safe For Tourists? How to Travel Safely?

Istanbul, formally identified as Constantinople, stands as Turkey’s largest city. It also serves as a center hub for historical, cultural, and economic activities. With a population of over 15 million, Istanbul constitutes approximately 19% of Turkey’s total populace. 

Moreover, this city is one of the most tourist destinations in the world, attracting 16 million visitors yearly. This high acceptance is rooted in deep history, cultural significance, and renowned attractions. Istanbul boasts numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. 

But the foremost question on travelers’ minds is: Is Istanbul Safe? The good news is that Istanbul is not only a treasure trove of history and culture but also a destination known for its safety. In this guide, we’ll explore the safety measures in place and essential tips to ensure a worry-free visit to this incredible destination.

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Is Istanbul Safe For Tourists Right Now?

Turkey currently holds a Level classification in the  U.S. Government Travel Advisory, indicating the recommendation for increased caution during your traveling. However, this designation should not affect your decision. Istanbul itself maintains a predominantly secure environment for tourists, when compared to areas outside its city limits, this area boasts a low crime rate.

Similar to many global vacation spots, there is a potential for travelers in Istanbul to fall victim to minor crime. Pickpocketing is a common occurrence in tourist zones, additionally, taxi driver scams that aim to extract funds from passengers are prevalent happening.

Overall, Istanbul stands as a secure destination for traveling. It’s essential to recognize your role in safeguarding yourself and research the city before visiting it. 

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Top Crime and Scams in Istanbul Affecting Tourists

As we mentioned, Istanbul is mainly safe for tourists, whether solo travelers or family travelers. There are some potential crimes and scams that you should be aware of before traveling to Turkey:

Pickpocketing and Purse Snatching

Perhaps the most common petty crime in Istanbul is pickpocketing. It is often conducted by individuals, including children, in crowded tourist areas. You should remain alert and consider using hidden purchases or hotel safes for valuable items.

Taxi Driver Scams

One of the most frequent tourist encounters at least once is a taxi driver who attempts to overcharge by quoting fixed rates more than the usual metered fares. Taxi drivers claim to lack change, keeping the excess. You should always insist on using the meter and carrying some cash.

Shoe Shine Scam

This is a unique scam in Istanbul. Shoe cleaners pretending to drop their brush in front of tourists. When the tourists pick it up and return it, the cleaner offers a free shoe shine and a sob story. After the service, they demand an exorbitant fee.

To avoid this cam, it’s best not to try to help them at all.

Currency Scam

Due to higher exchange rates, some shops and vendors may attempt to charge tourists’ credit cards in Euros rather than Turkish Lira. The best advice for avoiding this scam is to ensure that card machines are set to charge in the local currency or use cash instead.

Unofficial Tour guides

Beware of individuals offering unrequested tours or assistance at popular tourist sites. Even at first, they mention it’s free assistance, they demand payment afterward. Stick with licensed tour operators and official guides.

Fake Goods

If you want to shop for souvenirs or brand-name items in markets, be careful of counterfeit goods. Ensure authenticity by shopping at reputable stores or markets and avoiding shopping from Peddler.

Restaurant Scams

Some restaurants may be overcharging or adding undisclosed fees to the bill. To avoid this, review the menu carefully, confirm prices, and ask for an itemized bill.

Street Performances Scams

Street performances may be offering you to take their pictures or engage in friendly conversation, only to request payment afterward.

Begging Scams

Be aware of beggars seeking financial assistance. While many are genuinely in need, some may attempt to exploit tourist’s generosity.

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Is Istanbul Safe to Travel Alone?

Istanbul is generally safe for solo travelers. The city boasts a relatively low crime rate, and incidents of violence against tourists are rare. Turkish hospitality is renowned, making this country one of the welcoming destinations for solo explorers. While standard safety tips are advisable, such as avoiding dark areas at night and staying informed about local conditions, Istanbul offers a rich and memorable experience for everyone.

Neighborhoods to Avoid in Istanbul


This area is within walking distance of Taksim Square and Istikal Street. Extreme poverty and violence related to poverty are very common.


Another district near Taksim Square and Istikal Street is actually in the Beyoglu district. Visitors easily walk into this area accidentally if they are not aware enough. This neighborhood is known for its sex workers and aggressive vibe.


This area is on the Asian side and far from any renowned Istanbul landmarks. During the daytime it is calm, but at night everything will get more unruly.


This location is not known to tourists but should be avoided. It can be quiet during the day, but it’s the top spot for street fights and drug deals.


Located near historic places, a common area where people may be armed.


It’s located in Beyoglu and most of the buildings are falling apart and the streets are very dirty.


This neighborhood is in the Şişli district. The Şişli is one of the best places in Istanbul, but the Kustepe is something else. This small area has a strong history of crime. Drugs, beggars, and other crimes happen every day.


How can I stay informed about safety in Istanbul?

Monitor travel advisors from your governments and stay updated on local news

What are the common scams to be aware of in Istanbul?

Common scams include pickpocketing, taxi driver overcharging, fake goods, and restaurant billing scams.

Is Istanbul’s public transportation safe to use?

Yes, Istanbul’s public transportation is generally safe. However, watch out for pickpocketing in crowded hours.

What should I do in case of an emergency in Istanbul?

For every kind of emergency, you can dial 112 and get help from the related department.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Istanbul?

Tap water in Istanbul is mainly safe to drink, but many people prefer to drink bottled water for taste and convenience.

Should I dress modestly while visiting religious sites in Istanbul?

Yes, it’s respectful to dress modestly when visiting mosques and other religious sites. Women should cover their shoulders and wear long skirts or pants, and men should avoid wearing shorts.