How Safe Is Istanbul for Travel?

Istanbul, Turkey
Safety Index:
58

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

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

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

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM

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

PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH

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

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

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

MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM

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 RISK : HIGH

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

SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

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

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

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.

How Does Istanbul Compare?

CitySafety Index
Istanbul58
Antalya74
Ankara58
Izmir73
Bursa66
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63

Useful Information

  • Visas - Some nationals do need a visa to enter Turkey, but they can be purchased online at http://www.evisa.gov.tr/ 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 www.doyouneedvisa.com 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
High
°C
9912172226282825201511
Low
°C
335812171919161285
High
°F
484854637279828277685952
Low
°F
373741465463666661544641

Where to Next?

16 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.

      1. Don’t go drinking with strangers

        That’s pretty dumb, did you do any research before you went to Istanbul? In your home country do you go drinking with friendly strangers? Duh 🙄

  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.

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      Please don’t give wrong info

  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.

    1. I am going there and I haven’t been able to find any travel agencies to get a ride with. Would you know of any? Please and thank you

  4. A
    Anonymous says:

    I went in 2010 to visit and I was not told Turkish men like black women. I was approached and immediately panicked. Told the man I was married and he continued to flirt stating he liked the way my hips looked. I thought I was going to be taken, walked passed police and showed I was in distress. No assistance forgot how to get to my hotel that was on the strip, never been so scared. But other than that Izmir and Istanbul was a lovely place to visit.

  5. R
    Ralph Daughtry & Bill Bernays says:

    My Turkey Review

    I have been to Istanbul four or five times over hee past 14 years and it is just wonderful.

    I never had a problem and the people are helpful and friendly, most speak fairly good English.

    I have been four times for several days and we made day trips all over Turkey. The people are handsome and friendly.

    There might be a bad apple here and there but in five or more trips I never saw any of that anywhere!

    Torley is beautiful, friendly, and flooded with American and European tourists.

    There is some wonderful food all over Istanbul, walked in the parks and took hotel taxis if we went out at night, Turkey is a truly wonderful country and the people are just handsome and friendly.

    Turkey and its cities, and people are world-class and I just love Turkey and Izmir is just as wonderful.

    Ephesus is a marvel. I have been many times. I don’t care what some say about Turkey. Turkey is wonderful, beautiful and the people are just the best.

    Go when you can, it is glorious! In my next life, I am going to live in Istanbul. Ephesus is truly a wonder.

    Turkish men are similar to Italian men and take care of their mothers way more than other cultures usually do.

  6. A
    Anthony Zammit says:

    Is it dangerious

    Ukrian conflict? I am scared to come?

    1. A
      AudreyH says:

      It's safe!

      No conflict at all, you can visit peacefully 🙂

  7. came back today 22/3/22…had a wonderful time here…..prices of good cheaper than home country zar.
    had lovely experience in snow,,,,came to old crown plaza which was very central.lots of things to do there.

  8. W
    William says:

    Avoid showing interest in Retail environment

    Cultural diversity and customs are very traditional still in Turkey and interpretation is very much in default of maintaining the status quo there. Business and conduct in retail is on a different wavelength. If you “stroll” through a Bazaar, the retail owners see your very presence there as an intended purchase of their wares. Browsing and window shopping are Western concepts that the Eastern business world do not comprehend the same way we do. If you find yourself in a hotel where the ” put on ” entertainment events and you do not immediately get up and leave, then that is considered you are staying for the show which has additional costs associated with it. Belly dancers do not dance for nothing in return. Salmone in the Bible expected King Harod to honour his promise. Whilst you are unlikely to pay with your head on a plate, you will however be expected to discharge money for photos taken of you at a belly dance . Your presence at these shows is a demonstration of intent to buy in East style business. As for friendly drink or dinner invites from locals to tourists, immediately decline with a smile or expect you will pay if you agree to the social interaction. Asking questions in a retail environment is an indication that you ” want” to buy. They don’t do product information demos in Turkey. Accept a free sample at your peril.

  9. D
    Danielle says:

    Wonderful and safe for family travel

    Traveling here currently with my husband and 3 kids. Felt pickpocketing was not an issue like Paris and Barcelona. We have felt very safe despite the crowds and free to browse the shops. The metro is safe and clean and the waterfront is great for evening strolls. Just as any big city-be street smart. We will be back!

  10. A
    Anonymous. Out of fear! says:

    I would never recommend Istanbul to anyone because of the horrendous experience we had. With my wife and a 3 year old daughter, I wanted to find a hotel to keep our bags after we check out from a 5* hotel and before we catch our midnight flight, we went to hotel in Fatih area. They asked for $40 to keep bags for 5 hours but they insisted me to check the room size before taking it. Leaving my wife and daughter at the lobby, I followed an young guy who claimed himself as the care taker of the hotel property. We took the lift to the 3rd floor and as we reached the room, he opened the room. After opening the door, he was keeping his hands on doors to block me since he didn’t want to let me in. His attitude has completely changed then he and started to scream and rushed to the lobby using the emergency exit staircase. I had no clue what was happening. Since I didn’t want to stand there alone and I decided to use the same stairs and as I reached the lobby, I noticed the the same guy was screaming at my wife in Turkish and telling something in their language to a senior guy from the hotel front desk. My wife and I started to run away without waiting a second there out of fear and sniffing something these guys are cooking up. But they chased us and one guy did beat me up right on my face and started yelling that I can’t leave the place before the cops arrives and they said they have already called the cops. Someone there translated to us in English that this guy is claiming that I have grabbed his buttocks when he was unlocking the door and they are ok to settle it before the cop arrives. My wife and I struggled to run away from the scene with an young child on pram. As much as we tried to run, the guys chased us
    and finally we found a few guys at an another alleyway who helped and talked for us holding the main guys and in the meantime, we ran from there and we did hide ourself in an car garage for good 15 mins. Finally we escaped from their and rushed to catch a cab to hagia Sofia and saved ourself from the ordeal. Never again to Turkey.

  11. b
    bella balbouleh says:

    dream of istanbul

    istanbul is really my dream. i visited it 6 times only one time i was stolen in the train. but after corona covid i m afraid to go there.
    but my hope is to continuou my life in istanbul nd buy a little apartment in sultan ahmet nd stay there

Rated 4 / 5 based on 15 user reviews.

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