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7 Ways to Save Money on an Istanbul Vacation

Istanbul is an amazing place to visit on vacation. Just like any other vacation, it is easy to go over your travel budget. Here are 7 helpful tips to save money when vacationing in Istanbul. This way, you can save your hard earned money for more spectacular excursions and exotic cuisines.

1. Public Transit

Public transportation in Istanbul is safe and efficient. You can even cross-continents on the Underwater Metro!

To really take advantage of public transit in Istanbul, buy an Akbil or an Istanbulkart, of which offer deep discounts on bus, tram and ferry transportation. You can purchase these passes at kiosks or vending machines at many of the public transit stations.

Another great way to save on transportation and get out of tourist mode is to take one of the Bosphorus ferries. This is how the locals travel and you'll get all the great views and photo opportunities of a cruise without the hefty price tag.

2. Eat Street Food

Istanbul is renowned for its scrumptious street food. Other than during Ramadan, when it's considered impolite to eat in public because of fasting, street fare is the place to go when you want to grab a quick bite. Look for simit, the Turkish version of a bagel enjoyed with tea, or kumpir, loaded baked potatoes that will fill you up all day while you sight see.

3. Stick to the Local Libations

Imported liquor can be pricey in Turkey, so if you want to save money, stick with the local beverages. Efes is a fine beer brewed in Izmir. For something stronger, try raki, an anise-flavored apéritif. Both pair well with traditional appetizers like smoked fish or mezes, the little plates that are Turkey's answer to tapas.

4. Know Tipping Customs

A typical restaurant tip is normally about 10 percent of the bill, and you can simply round up your cab fare by a few Turkish lira. Five or 10 lira to hotel bellboys and housekeepers is normal, and tour guides should get about 10 -15 percent of their fee.

5. Bargain at the Bazaars

The bazaars are a wonderful place to shop in Istanbul, but know that you are not expected to pay full price for items there. Bargaining is expected, so when you are quoted a price, offer something lower, and try to meet somewhere comfortable in the middle.

6. Take Advantage of Free Fun

As a major European and Asian destination, Istanbul has a steady stream of free fun available to you. If you like art, there are hundreds of sophisticated galleries where you can view free to your heart's content, and there is usually outdoor music and cultural festivals as well. Ramadan is a wonderful time to walk the city at night, especially around the carnival-like Blue Mosque neighborhood.

Istanbul is also full of beautiful parks where you can walk, picnic or enjoy sitting in the fresh air. If you like sports, try watching a soccer match from a local bar instead of buying a stadium ticket.

7. Purchase a Museum Pass

You could spend your entire Istanbul vacation drooling over nothing but incredible fine and decorative art at its many museums. If you think you'll be visiting a bunch of museums or are traveling with a group, consider purchasing a Museum Pass. You'll get discounted admission to many exhibits, so you can splurge a little in the gift shop.

What’s a great vacation without a great place to stay? Hotel Buyuk Keban is a beautifully renovated boutique hotel located on the European side of Istanbul’s “Old City” district in the center of all these attractions. Contact Hotel Büyük Keban for a reservation today. We can help you with all the money-saving tips above and suggest a room that meets your budget and exceeds your travel expectations.

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