Solo Travel Destination: Istanbul, Turkey

We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Amy, to complement an earlier one from Alison. Both are members of the Solo Travel Society: Amy is from the United Arab Emirates and Alison is from Australia. They both submitted reports from their solo trips to Istanbul, each from their own unique perspectives. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!

Languages spoken: Turkish, French, English, Kurdish

photo, image, istanbul, turkey

The epic beauty of the sky and blue water was best seen from a Bosphorous ride.

Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Amy’s Story

Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)

Istanbul, Turkey has it all! From historical monuments to amazing landmarks to lively nightlife, Turkey, the mesmerizing destination which connects Asia and Europe will leave you enchanted.

It will be the opportunity of a lifetime to explore this vast beautiful country and it is so worth visiting once. The natural scenic beauty, traditional culture, the wooden villas on mountains, and the hospitality of the people will win your heart. I absolutely fell in love with Turkey.

My first decision to travel solo to Turkey changed my life’s perception completely. It made me so bold and confident. The hospitality shown by the people in Turkey made me feel really comfortable. Turkish tea, Turkish coffee, the taste of the fruit, Eskander Kebaps, the clothes, monuments, the old city of Istanbul, wooden houses, the streets…they all left me amazed and wanting to visit again.

photo, image, bursa city, istanbul, turkey

Bursa City – a birds eye view from the top of the mountain.

Solo Travel Destination Rating System

Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)

Language – 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)

Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)

Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)

Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)

photo, image, fishing, Istanbul

Fishing on the Galata Bridge.

Alison’s Story

Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)

Istanbul is fascinating, culturally and historically, and an absolute visual feast. One of the world’s great waterfront cities, it has the Bosphorous, the Golden Horn & the Sea of Marmara on three sides. There is great shopping, a plethora of historical sites, a rich live music & night club culture, and wonderful food.

You can tour palaces and museums – Hagia Sophia (once a church, then a mosque, now a museum), the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace – and get a glimpse into the opulent life of the Ottoman Empire. Cruise up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea or out into the Sea of Marmara to the Princes Islands.

The Roman mosaic museum and the nearby Rasta Bazaar are full of beautiful silks, embroideries, leather goods, and carpets, carpets, carpets! Check out Kumkapi for freshly caught seafood, Haci Abdullah for classic Ottoman dishes, or take a ferry ride to the Eastern side for fabulous regional foods at Ciya. Visit Yanothererebatan cistern or the hamam for a turkish steam bath and a good scrub down and massage. If you have more time to spare head to Cappadocia for a balloon flight, or the Turquoise coast for a gulet cruise.

photo, image, istanbul, turkey, crowd

Busy, bustling Istanbul.

photo, image, istanbul, people, turkey

Friendly locals.

Solo Travel Destination Rating System

Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)

Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)

Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)

Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)

Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)


    hi, i am planing my first solo trip as traveler, i have travel 12 countries alone but for business. never got time to go around.. so this time i have decided to get 1 week for my self and experience the solo travel., i wanted to stay in where i can meet people from other culture and other country. from my childhood, i always wanted to do backpacker kind of travelling.. i need your advice where to stay and where to go in turkey, i have 6 full days starting from 2nd oct – 7th oct 2015

  • ماریس

    Nobody goes to Turkey without saying they fell in love with the place once they came back home.

  • ماریس دیملا

    I couldn’t agree more. Did a solo 15 day trip last dec 2014 spent new year’s eve at the Bosphorus. Although there were little fireworks as it was raining it wasn’t that bad. The whole trip was life changing. Went to Cappadocia, izmir, Selçuk, Pamukkale, Bursa and Istanbul. I didn’t prebook any group tours, only did it ince I got there and only duting the green tour in Cappadocia and in Selçuk, otherwise you can hire audioguides in a lot of places! Not to mention it’s very cheap and people are the most friendly and hospitable ones I have ever met! I am looking forward to doing it again in august this year in southern turkey along the Mediterranean coast!

  • Renata Asprino

    Hello Sandifer, I am planning a trip to Turkey in May 2015, and i would like to know what´s the best way for a solo traveler to get from a city to another, like from Istambul to Ephesus, to Cappadocia, etc… is it ok for a woman to travel with the local bus on its own? Any recommendations?

  • Marisa

    I share the same opinion about Turkey! My friends don´t understand my passion for Turkey, so I’m very happy when I find a person you understands me:) I want to see so many places in the world, bu I always come back to Istanbul:)

  • Mariam

    Hello Carrie,

    I happened to go to Turkey last September and fell in love. The hotel I stayed in was a 2 star and it was amazing!

    The staff were amazing and the breakfast was good too! It is 5 minutes walk from the grand bazar and all the tourist places are near by. I went to Ephesus, Cappadocia and Pamkula with this amazing travel agency called true blue.

    The contact person out there is Cameron Johnson and she is amazing!
    I will be heading to Turkey on the 2nd week of April for 8 days as I feel I have left my heart out there. Want to visit other UNSECO sites.
    Just FYI… if you go to the grand bazar, you need to bargain for the things you want to buy. People are friendly however, the Turkish men are sweet talkers so be careful!! :-)

  • Anupa R

    WOW.. This gives me courage to go alone. :)

  • Carrie

    I would like to plan a trip to Turkey in April/May 2015. Any travel recommendations (bookings, places to stay, etc.)?

  • Kristel

    I am going to Istanbul next week for my birthday. I always wanted to do this but it’s my first time to solo-travel, I’m quite anxious…. Should I have a plan to go with tour company? Or is it better to be solo and plan only as I arrive there… Many things are new for me.

  • Yolanda

    I was also in Izmir and Ephesus, and I always felt safe, even in the Bazaar , you don’t feel harassed by the vendors.

  • Yolanda

    I have travel to Istanbul and experience was amazing, its a beautiful and safe city. The food , the people and the whole experience was amazing!

  • Anne Dunlop

    Very timely report as I am headed to Istanbul on Sunday. Thanks!

  • Agnieszka

    I’ve travelled to Istanbul 3 times already and planning to come back. Very safe for a solo female traveller, harmless but still annoying hassle only around very touristy spots like Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque but when you go to Eyup or Uskudar (Asian part) it’s almost non existent. very nice, friendly and helpful people.

  • Rory

    I have been to Turkey 4 times, and I would still love to come back! So relaxing yet so much to see and enjoy! I would definitely recommend to anyone who loves to travel and get a wonderful experience in return!

  • Malaya

    anyone would like to join me? from oct 25 till Nov 1 2014


    hey guys, I’m planning for a 8 day trip to turkey. first-time solo traveller. btw im Malaya from Malaysia, 24

  • Pamela

    Hey Charlotte- great info. My BF & I are going in October. Do you have the name/address of the hammam you went to? I keep trying to find one, but all the expensive ones are what get reviewed. Any other hidden treasures you would suggest? Thanks Pamela

  • lona

    I just returned from a solo trip to Istanbul in nyc to niagara falls bus and enthusiastically agree with your are right istanbul has best culture and traditions.

  • Charlotte Randløv

    Hey, I love travelling solo, but friend and I went to Istanbul 3 weeks ago and found the whole experience wonderful. I really see no difficulties in travelling alone there next time! Oh be sure!! to visit one of the many beautiful Hammams. My friend was not fond of the idea at first, but at the end I had to drag her out of there:) nearly dehydrated. (Remember a bottle of water) We lived at a hostel in Sulthanamet, the old part of the city, with a rooftop terrace (plus kittens) and the fine, fresh food and all the 2-liras appelteas you could drink.. Just walk around and once in awhile, when it gets to hot, step into a mosque.


  • Nil Paşalıoğlu

    Yes exactly it is the galata bridge..

  • Ismail Acar

    Yes you are right Martin..It’s Galata Bridge (first photo)

  • Erana Leiken

    Are there any group tours or private guides fellow solo travelers would recommend in Istanbul? I’m a senior female traveler…haven’t traveled solo in a long time. Any suggestions welcome.

  • Reydan

    Hello Sandifa,

    Are you planning to go to Cappadocia, Pamukkale directly?

    If you stop in Istanbul I would highly recommend to stay at Retaj Royale Istanbul, On my recent stay I stayed at that hotel they have free shuttle service to historical sites and airport. I enjoyed a lot!

  • Reydan

    Hello Janice, it seems that you had a good time in Istanbul

  • martin

    i dont think that is the bosphorous bridge, i think it is the galata.

  • Arthi

    Thank you for writing this post, and I am very happy to read the endorsements of Turkey as a safe place to travel for a solo, female traveler. I am planning a trip in a couple of months, and concerns for safety have been on the top of my mind – this eases them considerably.

    @em_s:disqus I am planning on going to Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Ephesus. Would you recommend any particular hotels/hostels or tour companies that you used and loved?

  • Janice Waugh

    Thanks Lee-Ann. It’s always helpful to have additional perspective in the comments. Maybe you have another destination in Turkey you could share information on. Just click the link in the post and complete the form if you’re so inclined.

    Happy New Year,

  • Lee-Anne – Australia

    I travelled solo to Istanbul and Fethiye (on the southern coast) earlier this year as part of a 4 month trip and like many others I fell in love with Turkey. I was very apprehensive about going, but I felt safe and had no problems getting around. People went out of their way to help. Yes, the men are the biggest flirts around, but accept that and be firm but polite and keep moving. It is all part of the game they play and if you don’t stress about it, it can be fun! When I ate in restaurants the staff always had a chat and and made me feel really welcome. Staff at my hotel even took me about for a night on the town. I am planning another trip very soon to see a lot more this beautiful country. Enjoy!

  • Janice Waugh

    What a ringing endorsement. I just have to get there. Thanks for sharing.

  • Em S

    I just returned from a 10-day solo trip to Turkey, visiting Ephesus (Izmir/Selcuk), Cappadocia, and Istanbul. Of all the trips I’ve been on, THIS ONE will be my all-time fave when I look back upon my life 40-50 years from now. I’ve never met a friendlier, more generous, and passionate group of people in my life. I’ve already decided to spend my 40th bday there in 2014. I’ve never thought I would return to a country due to all the many places I want to see before I die; however, I will be going back to Turkey repeated times, I have no doubt. That says a lot! Gorgeous country, wonderful people, great economical intra-country transportation (bus and flights), magical, enchanting, mysterious….all in one! I LOVE TURKEY!!!! What else can I say?!#@!

  • Mango

    I just returned from a solo trip to Istanbul and enthusiastically agree with your assessment.

    As a tall blond American woman, I was a bit apprehensive about wandering around by myself in a city that swells to 20 million during the workday. It took me a day or two to figure out how to deal with the banter from the shop guys (“American?” “Australian?” Come see my shop” “Why won’t you stop and talk to me?” yada yada yada). For me, the best solution was to politely ignore them — I wasn’t rude, I just kept walking, eyes forward, without saying one word. (If you say anything or even smile, you invite the hand shaking, the questions, the sales pitches. If you want to politely avoid all that, just keep walking. Trust me, they don’t take it personally.)

    Bottom line: I felt 100% safe, mostly because Istanbul is a 24/7 city — it’s non-stop and there are always people on the streets.

    At least in the the tourists areas, it’s incredibly clean. No trash, no dog poop, no graffiti (although I did see graffiti on the Galata Tower side).

    I can’t say it better than you did. Istanbul is a place you must experience if you’re interested in architecture, art or world history. The food is incredible and not expensive. Everyone I encountered spoke English. Here’s my number one tip: don’t miss “” for a totally off-the-beaten track cultural experience. It was a highlight of my trip.

  • Auddie A.

    sounds great! although i had a friend who went and she said it was difficult to get around because hardly anyone spoke English and luckily she stayed with a local..hmm..
    I’ve always wanted to go to Turkey for the culture and to see the great historical sights, being a student of history. This is reassuring =)


    Turkey = high on the travel list

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