Istanbul’s Fortress of the Seven Towers sure beats the any welcome sign to a city. Once well known as the Golden Gate, this place was the official entrance to the city with its walls shielding the townspeople from their enemies. It now lies a little out of the city, but not too far – only a short train ride away. Here’s some more info about Istanbul to read before you go.
Australian passport holders visiting Turkey will need a visa. But the good news is you don’t need to acquire it before leaving home. You can simply get it at the airport when you land. However, if you’d like to kick on with your holiday as soon as you land, you can save time by downloading an e-visa. Tourist visas last for 90 days, but if you’d like to stay a little longer you can apply for a long stay visa before you enter Turkey. Visa requirements change frequently. For the latest on entry and exit rules, contact your local Consulate or Embassy of Turkey.
In Istanbul, you’ll use the Turkish Lira. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Turkish Lira changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase the currency when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Because of its location, Turkish food is influenced by a multitude of cuisines – Mediterranean, Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan. It’s a melting pot of cultural awesomeness. The Istanbul diet is mainly influenced by Ottoman court cuisine with lighter spices and loads of rice, fish and vegetables in their signature dishes. Istanbul has arguably some of the best restaurants in the country and the locals here really take eating seriously. You can chow down on favourites like flavoursome meze platters, succulent kebabs and traditional fish dishes. For the most amazing seafood experience, dine at Adem Baba, Takanik and Fish Var Balıkçı-1. For delish street food, try pomegranate juice, stuffed mussels, popcorn and chickpeas on rice.
The nightlife in Istanbul is buzzing – there’s boat parties, a burgeoning alternative music scene, rooftop bars, shisha (waterpipe) cafes, gypsy haunts and glitzy clubs. You can kick off your night at Cezayir, a swish bar with a lovely back garden. Next, hit the most amazing nightspot in Istanbul, Su Ada – a floating club - is on an island, just a short boat ride away. If live music is your thing, head to Babylon to check out Turkish stars and international reggae, hip-hop and jazz bands. Indigo, Nardis, Dogz Star and Ghetto are also great live music venues. Electro lovers can head to Reina, Blackk or Sortie. If you want to dance ‘til dawn the traditional way, hit the Hodjapasha Culture Center. Witness the Islamic whirling dervish sema ceremonies and join in on the traditional dances.