How Safe Is Istanbul for Travel?

Istanbul, Turkey
Safety Index:

Istanbul is Turkey’s most popular as well as the most populous city with an estimated population between 12 and 19 million people.

It is one of the largest cities in the entire world as well as Europe, and it’s the cultural, architectural, social and financial center of Turkey.

A geographically peculiar and unique trait of Istanbul is that it spreads along both sides of the Bosphorus, between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea.

If you go to Istanbul, you won’t easily forget its skylines, filled with domes and minarets of various sizes and heights and its vibrant streets filled with vendors, Turkish markets, restaurants, and unique eastern culture.

What tourists often emphasize as their favorite part of Istanbul experience is the unique Middle Eastern cuisine, with baklavas as their number one dessert specialty.

Warnings & Dangers in Istanbul

Overall Risk


Istanbul is safe to visit if you avoid some parts of it that are considered somewhat dangerous. You should be aware that tourist hotspots, restaurants, shops, and public transportation are places where most thefts and pickpocketing occur, and that violent crime exists here, too.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Generally, transport in Istanbul is rather safe and reliable, if you succeed to avoid pickpockets from public transport. If you're driving you should keep in mind that local drivers in the city are reckless and tend to ignore traffic rules and signs.

Pickpockets Risk


As for pickpocketing, it is a huge concern on the streets of Istanbul, which is a popular tourist destination, so be careful and hold your bags tightly by your side. Places, where you should watch out for pickpockets, are Taksim Square, Sultanahmet, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul.

Natural Disasters Risk


As for natural disasters, earthquakes have been known to hit Turkey, as well as severe droughts causing the lack of tap water in some parts of this country.

Mugging Risk


The majority of violent crime happens sometimes in Istanbul, and there have been reports of tourists being mugged, drugged and stolen from. Passports have known to be stolen from tourists, so be careful and leave them in your accommodation.

Terrorism Risk


Terrorism is the greatest worry for tourists, as it's been active in Turkey in recent years. The last terrorist attack happened in January 2017. Most of these attacks are linked to Kurdish separatist terrorist activities in south-east Turkey.

Scams Risk


The common scam in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey is locals befriending tourists, taking them out for a drink, or dinner and then expecting the tourist to pay for it. Taxi drivers might try to trick you into paying more, giving you wrongful information about the price of the ride.

Women Travelers Risk


If you're a woman traveling solo you should avoid walking alone after dark in this city. There have been reports of sexual assaults and verbal insults. These can happen even if you are accompanied by a group. Avoid isolated or poorly lit areas.

So... How Safe Is Istanbul Really?

Istanbul is mostly safe when it comes to crime and its biggest risks stem from the political situation in Turkey as well as terrorist threats.

However, that isn’t to say that violent, as well as petty crimes, don’t exist in Istanbul: snatching, pickpocketing, and mugging are the most common kinds of petty crime.

However, lately, with the newly developed camera network that supervises the streets of Istanbul 24/7, the mugging and purse snatching declined.

It is useful to know that once you leave the big city of Istanbul, you’re in a mostly safe zone where tourists have had nothing but positive experiences.

Another advice that might come in handy in Istanbul is that you should take every precaution while driving, as drivers in this city are mostly reckless and completely ignoring traffic signs, commonly causing traffic accidents.

Apart from this, transport is mostly safe in Turkey and works quite well.

The real danger in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey and the reason many tourists are skeptic when it comes to safety in this city, are the continuous and frequent terrorist attacks all around Turkey that have to do with the political situation in the state and most of them are linked to Kurdish separatist terrorist activities in south-east Turkey.

However, recently the situation has settled and the last attack happened in January 2017.

Useful Information

  • Visas - Some nationals do need a visa to enter Turkey, but they can be purchased online at before traveling to Turkey. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past the date of your arrival to Turkey. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit which will let you know whether or not you need a visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
  • Currency - The Turkish lira is the official currency in Istanbul. ATMs are widespread throughout the city and credit cards are widely accepted in most establishments.
  • Weather - No worries when it comes to climate - Istanbul has a temperate oceanic climate, influenced by a continental climate. This means the city boasts hot and humid summers, though it does have cold, wet and occasionally snowy winters.
  • Airports - Istanbul Atatürk Airport is the main and busiest international airport serving Istanbul and the biggest airport in Turkey. It is located on the European side of the city, about 24 km west of the city center.
  • Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we advise getting travel insurance when traveling to Istanbul, because it would cover not only medical problems but also theft and loss of valuables.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Istanbul Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 6° C
Feb 6° C
Mar 9° C
Apr 13° C
May 17° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 16° C
Nov 12° C
Dec 8° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Where to Next?

4 Reviews on Istanbul

  1. As a native

    Speaking as someone who lived in Istanbul for 15 years, remember that there’s all types of people that you could possibly see all over the world. Housing roughly 14 million, there are many people that moved from the eastern parts of Turkey, eastern and western neighbors of Turkey, US, UK and other Turkic countries. The information about terrorism is outdated as there hasn’t been any terrorism act for years. Go with the crowd, be careful at night as people of all intentions might be out there. Also don’t speak your opinion about inner affairs of Turkey as everybody is just very tense about it.

    1. D
      Debi Prasad Das says:

      Do not mix with locals who speak good English. Stay alert.

      Istanbul is famous for tourist scam which generally targets solo travellers. Locals speaking good English befriended with solo traveeler and take them to guide turkey in evening then tskes them to taksim square . Where lot of Turkish dznce bar are available. They serve you raki and persuade you to dance with girls. At the end the bills presented to tiu which is eye popping. I was trapped very first day and payed around huge euro. They will take you to atm to withdraw money. Due to fear of physical harm you better pay and leave and come back hotel. Very bad experience.

  2. You could be jailed for speaking about politics. Don’t criticise anyone to be on the safe side. Also don’t get into arguments with racists, as some see Kurdish and Armenians as the enemy.

  3. Great destination

    My wife and I visited and stayed a week. The place is very busy but it is fantastic. Never felt threatened and would recommend it to anyone.

Rated 3.75 / 5 based on 4 user reviews.

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