Turkey
Dec 2022
1 month

Istanbul

A standout city for work, holiday or any other imaginable reason.

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Divided by the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

This unique location has fostered a vibrant cultural hub, attracting visitors from across the globe who are captivated by its rich and impressive history.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

Just book a ticket. Nothing more needs to be said.

🌎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

Just book a ticket. Nothing more needs to be said.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

Just book a ticket. Nothing more needs to be said.

👎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

Just book a ticket. Nothing more needs to be said.

🛫
Turkish Lira (TRY)
15.4 Million
💰 Great value
🏝️ Great for a holiday
💻 Remote work hub
🥇 Top rated
🧳 Would like to return

Summary

Istanbul is a city I've been back to 3 times during this stint of remote working and I have no doubts that I will be back again.

This particular trip to Turkey coincided with the 2022 Football World Cup, with the international demographic of the city being a great place to pick up on the buzz of the games.

Accommodation
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Airbnbs tend to be hit and miss throughout Turkey and Istanbul is no exception. Supply doesn't quite reach the high demand in the city so finding a good deal is harder than other in many other cities.

Book well in advance and pay close attention to the area you choose. If planning on working from home, I wouldn't assume the Wifi would be at the speed you require.

info
New legislation
Recent changes introduced by the Turkish government has made short-term rentals for under 100 days more restricted. Keep an eye on Reddit threads for up-to-date assessments of how the new legislation is impacting short-term rentals in practice.
Places to work
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

The city has a great range of coworking options, cafes and public spaces to work from but perhaps not quite as many as the size of it warrants.

Value
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Much to the the local population's dismay, the Turkish lira has been on a continuous slide the last few years which makes it a great value destination if travelling from the West.

info
The yen is currently at a 34-year low
While this is undoubtedly a negative for the Japanese, it makes for an exceptionally good time to visit Japan from abroad. Although this trend is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short term, it's still worth checking before visiting.
Read more
View the cost of living
open_in_new
Working hours
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Turkey adheres to GMT+2 in summer, reverting to GMT+3 in winter due to the absence of daylight saving time practices.

Sunset in Taksim Square looking towards the mosque.
Sunset in Taksim Square looking towards the mosque.
A Turkish breakfast is an essential part of any trip to the country. Prepared to be filled up.
A Turkish breakfast is an essential part of any trip to the country. Prepared to be filled up.

Where to stay

Due to the sheer size of the city, the location you choose to stay in will heavily dictate the nature of your visit more so than in other cities.

The city is well connected through a combination of the metro, Marmaray and ferry boats, but staying close to one of destinations below will minimise your need to be using public transport.

Would avoid
Recommended
Beşiktaş
Lively area full of bars and restaurants. No metro station but well connected by the ferry boats.
Would avoid
Recommended
Cihangir
Anywhere within a 15 min walk of here will place you in the heart of the European side of the city.
Would avoid
Recommended
Kadıköy
The main hub from the Asian side of the city. Still vibrant and hectic, but markedly less touristy than Beyoğlu.
Would avoid
Recommended
Bomonti
Only a short walk away from the madness of Taksim, Bomonti has a more local feel, yet still within close reach of everything.
Would avoid
Recommended
Fatih
Generally regarded as one of the more conservative areas of the city, you're unlikely to want to spend too much time in this district.

Where to work

CoBAC WorkSpace
Top Choice
☕️ Good Coffee
📍 Top Location
🥗 On Site Cafe
🧍Community Focused
⭐️ Quality Fit Out
🌳 Outdoor Space

A strong contender for my favourite place to work from. Ever.

The office is split over 4 floors, with an abundance of natural light in every area. Each floor has a range of coworking desks alongside private offices, giving a perfect t mix between vibrancy and peacefulness.

The roof top provides panoramic views over the Golden Horn with a cafe/restaurant serving tasty, fresh meals and coffee all day at very competitive prices.

Even though I'd strongly recommend not staying in the local area, (you are more likelly to find a Mosque than a Flat White in Fatih) Halıç metro and a ferry teminal are within a 5 minute walk making it easily reachable across the city.

Remote work visa

No remote work visa
Remote work visa available
Remote work visa coming soon
If staying for a prolonged period, you may want to consider a dedicated visa for this destination.
This country is actively working on a visa support for remote workers.
Check your government website for details of how to obtain a tourist visa.
View full details
To the best of my knowledge this information was correct as of 27th April 2024. If you notice something has changed drop me a message and I'll update it!

Citizen Remote is a great source of up to date knowledge for everything to do with remote work visas.

Safety

Off-work

Take a day trip to Büyükada

The largest of the 'Princes Islands' situated just off the coast of the Asian side of the city, this archipelago is easily reached from boat from the main land. Grab an early ferry to beat the crowds and venture out of the town centre to enjoy a moment of rare serenity.

Learn more
Watch the sunset at Moda Park

The whole area from Çocuk Parkı to Kadıköy Moda Sahil Parkı is blessed with incredible sunset views and 100% worth an evening drinking a cold Efes on the rocks. Moda İskelesi has a small library/coworking space to enjoy views of the water from.

Eat at a Meyhane

These style of restaurants can be found all across Turkey and you should definitely dedicate an evening to one. Numerous meze plates are served alongside plentiful Rakı, creating a unique piece of Turkish culture. There are countless in Istanbul, Asmalı Cavit, not far from Galata is worth a visit.

Take a Bosphorus tour

The best way to the city is to take one of the many boat tours that leave from the ferry piers near near Beşiktaş or Fatih. There's plenty to be seen on the journey up to Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and plenty of tea to be drank during the journey.

Visit the Grand Bazaar

The sort of place you are likely to go once and never return, it's well worth visiting this enormous indoor market where conceivably anything under the sun can be purchased. Would recommend visiting earlier in the day to beat the inevitable crowds.

Take a tour at Topkapi Palace

The former royal residence and administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire for over four centuries. A sprawling complex showcasing distinctive architecture and an array of chambers that previously hosted the sultans.

Take a day trip to Büyükada

The largest of the 'Princes Islands' situated just off the coast of the Asian side of the city, this archipelago is easily reached from boat from the main land. Grab an early ferry to beat the crowds and venture out of the town centre to enjoy a moment of rare serenity.

Watch the sunset at Moda Park

The whole area from Çocuk Parkı to Kadıköy Moda Sahil Parkı is blessed with incredible sunset views and 100% worth an evening drinking a cold Efes on the rocks. Moda İskelesi has a small library/coworking space to enjoy views of the water from.

Eat at a Meyhane

These style of restaurants can be found all across Turkey and you should definitely dedicate an evening to one. Numerous meze plates are served alongside plentiful Rakı, creating a unique piece of Turkish culture. There are countless in Istanbul, Asmalı Cavit, not far from Galata is worth a visit.

Take a Bosphorus tour

The best way to the city is to take one of the many boat tours that leave from the ferry piers near near Beşiktaş or Fatih. There's plenty to be seen on the journey up to Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and plenty of tea to be drank during the journey.

Duration & season

From experience, the winter and spring weather in Istanbul can be surprisingly grim and I haven't been unlucky in those experiences. Visiting after May and before November should give you the best chance of seeing the city at it's best. If visiting in the peak of summer, you'll definitely benefit from a room with A/C.

If you like the buzz of big cities, then there is more than enough for a couple of months stay. You could even split the stay in two to experience different parts of the citys diverse landscape.

Food & drink

İBB Maçka Democracy Park
·
Run
If you are staying in Beyoğlu, the undulating landscape of this park is an ideal place for a morning run away from the manic streets of Taksim.
Kadiköy Loop
·
Run
Reason enough to stay in the area, a perfect morning route around the edge of Moda Park and back into the heart of Kadiköy.

People

With roughly 15,000,000 inhabitants, Istanbul is a true melting pot of identities with an equal mix of people from across Europe to the west, the arab world to the east and the rest of the world sprinkled in between.

Unsurprisingly for a city of this size, there are no shortage of opportunities for meeting likeminded people and dating. Bear in mind the sheer enormity of the city brings with it it's own challenges.

Exercise

İBB Maçka Democracy Park
If you are staying in Beyoğlu, the undulating landscape of this park is an ideal place for a morning run away from the manic streets of Taksim.
keyboard_arrow_down
Kadiköy Loop
Reason enough to stay in the area, a perfect morning route around the edge of Moda Park and back into the heart of Kadiköy.
keyboard_arrow_down
İBB Maçka Democracy Park
If you are staying in Beyoğlu, the undulating landscape of this park is an ideal place for a morning run away from the manic streets of Taksim.
Kadiköy Loop
Reason enough to stay in the area, a perfect morning route around the edge of Moda Park and back into the heart of Kadiköy.

Verdict

Positives
  • A unique city layout.The Bosphorus runs through the heart of the city and unlike the Thames, the river boats are a viable form of getting around the city.
  • Great variety of food.Both local and International cuisines are well catered for in the city, better than anywhere else in the country.
  • Great value.Whilst the weakness of the Lira is of much enduring frustration to the local population, it does make it a great time to visit the city from abroad.
  • The activity goes on late into the night.It's not uncommon for İstiklal to be swarming with people well after midnight on the weekends.
  • English spoken well.Not necessarily universally but in the main areas you will be frequenting, it is spoken widely and fluently.
  • A perfect city to walk around.Istanbul is one of my favourite places to simply walk around. There is so much going on, pick any two points on the map and between them and there will be entertainment along the way.
Negatives
  • Istanbul is enormous.Plan where you are going to stay and where are intending to to minimise the amount of travelling you'll need to do.
  • It's super busy.If you don't like the hustle and bustle of big cities, it's probably not going to be for you.
  • Proper winter weather.Whilst it may not get as cold as in some parts of Western and Central Europe, the weather winter can be grim and not what you would associate with Turkey.
Tips
  • Really think about where you want to stay.Depending on where you choose, you can have radically different experiences.
  • Don't try and risk a slim flight connection between Istanbul & Sabiha Gökçen Airports. The airports are 85km between one another. Allow plentiful time if for whatever reason you need to get between the two.
  • Sample plenty of 'Simits'.These bagel shaped, circular breaded snacks are available across the city with vendors selling them out of small carts. Particularly good with Nutella.
  • If staying anywhere immediately south of Taksim, bring earplugs.Having stayed in a few places nearby, the techno clubs can start at 3AM and not finish until the sunrise.
  • You cannot cross any of the bridges over the Bosphorus by foot.Take my word for it, I have tried.
  • Consider getting a Dolmuş for some routes.These small minibuses can be effective between getting certain destinations, like between Kadıköy and Taksim/Beşiktaş at night.
  • Read up on Atatürk.The father of modern day Turkey, after a few days you'll probably wonder who this man who keeps popping up everywhere is.
  • Be sure to sample a Turkish breakfast.This is usually made up of a variety of salads, cheese, olives and Turkish sausage. Ideal on a weekend morning.
  • Eid al-Adha is a major holiday usually around June.Expect many offices to be closed during this time in a similar manner to Christmas in the UK.
Planning a trip?
I loved everything about this trip to Japan. I've put together some thoughts on my entire stay in the country, which may come in handy if you are planning a visit soon.
View from the beach at Büyükada. Picturesque and secluded but watch out for glass and jellyfish.
04:21 on a Saturday night - It is remarkable how continuously busy Istiklal Caddesi is at all hours.
If there's any data missing that you would like to see in these articles please leave some feedback and I'll aim to add it in.