Istanbul City Guide for Nomads & Expats
Are you a nomad or an expat looking for the perfect city to explore and call home? Istanbul is a vibrant city that has something to offer for everyone! With its rich culture and history, bustling nightlife, delicious cuisine, and thriving business opportunities, Istanbul is the perfect city for nomads and expats alike.
In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive city guide to help you find your place in this amazing city. From the best neighborhoods to live in, to the must-see attractions and hidden gems, this guide will make sure that you get the best out of Istanbul.
What are the Best Places to Work Remotely In Istanbul?
Istanbul offers several great places for remote work, whether you’re looking for a coworking space, a coffee shop, or a quiet spot with a reliable internet connection. Here are some of the best places to work remotely in Istanbul:
- Kolektif House: Kolektif House is one of the most popular coworking spaces in Istanbul. It has multiple locations across the city and provides a vibrant and professional environment for remote workers. You’ll find amenities like high-speed internet, meeting rooms, and comfortable workspaces.
- Impact Hub Istanbul: Impact Hub is a global network of coworking spaces focused on social impact. The Istanbul branch offers a collaborative atmosphere and hosts various events and workshops. It’s a great place to connect with like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs.
- ATÖLYE: ATÖLYE is a multidisciplinary creative space that combines coworking, event hosting, and design consultancy. It’s known for its inspiring atmosphere, diverse community, and well-designed workspaces. They also organize workshops and events related to design, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
- The Populist: The Populist is a trendy café located in the heart of Istanbul, near Taksim Square. It’s known for its spacious seating, cozy ambiance, and excellent coffee. The café has a dedicated area for remote workers, complete with power outlets and free Wi-Fi.
- Urban Station: Urban Station is a global coworking chain with a branch in Istanbul. It offers flexible workspaces, meeting rooms, and a comfortable lounge area. The location in Istanbul provides a modern and well-equipped environment for remote work.
- KüçükÇiftlik Park: If you prefer working outdoors, KüçükÇiftlik Park is a beautiful park in the city center with ample seating and green spaces. It’s a popular spot among remote workers who enjoy working in a natural setting while still having access to Wi-Fi and facilities nearby.
Remember to check the availability and specific amenities of each place, as they may vary. Additionally, it’s a good idea to inquire about pricing options and membership plans to find the best fit for your needs.
Culture In Istanbul
Istanbul is a city rich in culture, history, and diversity. Its unique location at the crossroads of the East and West has served as a major influence in the development of its culture throughout the centuries. From its ancient Byzantine churches to its iconic mosques and grand palaces, Istanbul’s culture is a testament to its rich heritage.
Its vibrant art scene, bustling nightlife, and delectable cuisine are just a few of the many reasons why visitors flock to this enchanting city. Whether you’re looking for a unique cultural experience or simply want to take in some of the city’s most iconic sites, Istanbul has something for everyone. There are plenty of opportunities to explore Turkish culture and customs, from its amazing food, music, and dance, to its art, architecture, and language. You can also experience the city’s rich history through its many museums, galleries, and monuments.
With its mix of Eastern and Western influences, Istanbul is a city unlike any other. Be sure to experience its culture to the fullest when you visit this amazing city.
Food In Istanbul
The city is home to a wide variety of foods, from traditional Turkish cuisine to international flavors. Istanbul is a city filled with culinary delights. Traditional Turkish cuisine is a must-try when in the city, as it is an integral part of the culture and the flavors are unique and delicious.
Traditional dishes include a variety of kebabs, dolma (stuffed vegetables), mezze platters, and much more. Be sure to try the local fish sandwich, which is a popular street food. Turkish tea is also ubiquitous and can be found almost anywhere.
For those who want international flavors, Istanbul has plenty of options. The city is home to many restaurants serving cuisines from around the world, such as Italian, French, Greek, and Middle Eastern. There are also plenty of international fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and KFC, which can be found throughout the city.
For dessert, the city is known for its Turkish Delight and Baklava, a traditional Turkish pastry made of layers of filo dough, butter, and a sweet filling of ground nuts (typically pistachios or walnuts) held together with syrup or honey. It’s a must-try dessert in Istanbul!
With its wide variety of flavors, it is easy to find something that will appeal to everyone.
Healthcare in Istanbul
Healthcare in Istanbul is of a good standard, with both private and public hospitals available.
Healthcare in Istanbul is of a good standard and is becoming increasingly popular with expats and nomads looking to experience the city’s vibrant culture. Private and public hospitals are available in Istanbul, with both offering a range of modern medical services. The private hospitals, such as Acibadem Maslak, American Hospital and Florence Nightingale Hospitals, provide comprehensive medical care ranging from diagnostic tests to complex treatments. Public hospitals, such as Istanbul Training and Research Hospital and Istanbul University Hospital, also offer a wide range of medical services, including emergency services, and are available to both locals and foreigners alike.
When it comes to health insurance, many expats and nomads opt for private health insurance, as it can provide access to the best hospitals in the city. Private health insurance will often cover both inpatient and outpatient care, as well as surgeries, diagnostic tests, and other treatments. However, public healthcare in Istanbul is also of a good standard and is often more affordable than private healthcare. It is important to check your local embassy’s website for further information on the public health system in Istanbul.
No matter which option you choose for your healthcare in Istanbul, it is important to be aware of the best healthcare practices in the city. It is recommended to always have comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of your stay
Staying Fit and Healthy in Istanbul
Staying fit and healthy in Istanbul is achievable with a combination of regular exercise, mindful eating, and prioritizing your well-being. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle in Istanbul:
Enjoy Traditional Turkish Cuisine which offers a variety of healthy options. Embrace traditional dishes rich in vegetables, legumes, lean meats, and olive oil. Try delicious dishes like grilled kebabs, fresh salads, lentil soup (mercimek çorbası), and stuffed vine leaves (sarma). Be mindful of portion sizes and limit your intake of sugary desserts and pastries.
Istanbul’s vibrant markets, such as the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, offer an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices. Incorporate these wholesome ingredients into your meals and enjoy nutritious snacks. While exploring the city, you’ll likely come across tea houses serving Turkish tea (çay). While tea can be enjoyed in moderation, remember to prioritize water as your main source of hydration.
Things to Do In Istanbul
Istanbul offers a wide range of attractions and activities to explore. Here are some popular things to do in Istanbul:
- Visit the Hagia Sophia: This architectural marvel is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was originally built as a Byzantine cathedral in the 6th century. It later became a mosque and is now a museum. Admire its stunning dome, intricate mosaics, and rich history.
- Explore the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque): This iconic mosque is known for its beautiful blue tiles and six minarets. Visitors can enter the mosque outside of prayer times to appreciate its intricate design and peaceful atmosphere.
- Wander through the Grand Bazaar: Lose yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. With over 4,000 shops selling a wide variety of goods, from textiles and ceramics to spices and jewelry, it’s a shopper’s paradise.
- Cruise along the Bosphorus: Take a boat tour or ferry ride along the Bosphorus Strait to enjoy breathtaking views of Istanbul’s skyline, historic landmarks, and the crossing between Europe and Asia. Sunset cruises are particularly picturesque.
- Explore Topkapi Palace: Discover the opulent residence of the Ottoman Sultans at Topkapi Palace. Marvel at its stunning architecture, exquisite courtyards, and impressive collections of art, jewelry, and historical artifacts.
- Visit the Spice Bazaar: Immerse yourself in the scents and colors of the Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar. Browse through countless stalls selling aromatic spices, teas, Turkish delight, and other local delicacies.
- Take a Bosphorus Bridge Walk: Cross the Bosphorus Bridge by foot to experience the unique feeling of straddling two continents. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and capture memorable photos.
- Explore the Basilica Cistern: Descend into the underground world of the Basilica Cistern, an ancient water reservoir built in the 6th century. Admire the impressive columns, dim lighting, and mysterious atmosphere.
- Visit the Istanbul Archaeological Museums: Discover a treasure trove of artifacts at the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, which comprise three separate museums showcasing an extensive collection of ancient artifacts, including sculptures, sarcophagi, and ceramics.
- Indulge in Turkish Cuisine: Treat your taste buds to a culinary adventure by sampling traditional Turkish dishes. Enjoy kebabs, mezes, baklava, Turkish tea, and more in local restaurants, street food stalls, and trendy cafes.
These are just a few highlights of what Istanbul has to offer. Exploring the city’s neighborhoods, historical sites, markets, and cultural events will provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of this fascinating destination.
Best Time to Visit Istanbul
Spring and fall are the optimal times to visit Istanbul. During these seasons, temperatures are mild and comfortable and the city is alive with blooming flowers and lush green parks.
If you visit in the spring, you can attend Istanbul’s Tulip Festival, where you’ll be able to admire the city’s stunning tulips and take in the bright colors and fragrances of the season. If you visit in the fall, you’ll be able to experience the enchanting autumn foliage and the mild weather will make sightseeing and outdoor activities a pleasure.
These mid-seasons also provide the best opportunity to explore the city’s many historical and cultural attractions without experiencing the sweltering heat of the summer or the frigid cold of the winter. The city’s bustling streets and vibrant nightlife come alive with locals and tourists alike, making this an ideal time to explore and take in the culture of Istanbul. You’ll be able to experience all of the city’s many attractions, from its grand mosques to its colorful bazaars and streetside cafes.
Weather in Istanbul
The city experiences hot summers with temperatures often reaching above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).
Istanbul is an exciting city to visit or live in for nomads and expats. Its unique location at the crossroads between Europe and Asia gives it a special cultural mix, combined with remarkable historical sites and attractions. But when it comes to the weather, Istanbul can be quite extreme.
During the summer months, temperatures can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). This can make it difficult to enjoy the city’s outdoor attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, without feeling the heat. But if you plan ahead and take some precautions, you can still enjoy the warmth of the sun in Istanbul. Make sure to bring a hat and sunscreen, and try to stay away from the direct sun during the peak hours of the day.
Also, keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan your outdoor activities accordingly. For those who don’t like the summer heat, the spring and fall months offer a milder climate, which can be ideal for exploring the city.
Cost of Living in Istanbul
The cost of living in Istanbul can vary depending on factors such as your lifestyle, accommodation choices, and personal preferences. Overall, Istanbul is considered to be more affordable compared to many other major cities around the world, but certain expenses, such as housing, can still be significant. Here’s an overview of the cost of living in Istanbul:
- The cost of accommodation in Istanbul can vary significantly based on factors such as the neighborhood, size of the property, and its proximity to amenities. If you choose to live in popular areas like Beyoglu, Besiktas, or Kadikoy, you can expect higher rent prices compared to neighborhoods further away from the city center. For a one-bedroom apartment in the city center, monthly rent can range from approximately 2,500 TRY to 5,000 TRY ($285 to $570 USD). In the outskirts of Istanbul or less central neighborhoods, you can find more affordable options, with average prices ranging from 1,800 TRY to 3,500 TRY ($205 to $400 USD) for a one-bedroom apartment.
- The cost of food in Istanbul can vary depending on your eating habits and choices. If you cook your own meals and buy groceries from local markets, you can find fresh produce, fruits, vegetables, and basic food items at reasonable prices. On average, a monthly grocery bill for a single person can range from 400 TRY to 800 TRY ($45 to $90 USD), depending on your dietary preferences. Eating out at restaurants and cafes can also vary in cost. A meal at an inexpensive local restaurant can cost around 20-40 TRY ($2.30 to $4.50 USD), while dining at a mid-range restaurant may range from 50-100 TRY ($5.70 to $11.40 USD) per person.
- Istanbul has a well-developed public transportation system, which is relatively affordable. The cost of a single journey on public transport, such as buses, trams, metros, and ferries, is approximately 3-5 TRY ($0.35 to $0.57 USD), depending on the distance traveled. You can also purchase transportation cards that offer discounted fares for frequent travelers. Taxis are another transportation option, starting at around 4-6 TRY ($0.46 to $0.68 USD) with additional charges based on distance.
- Utility costs in Istanbul will depend on factors such as the size of your accommodation and your usage. On average, monthly utility bills for a small apartment can range from 200 TRY to 500 TRY ($23 to $57 USD). This includes expenses like electricity, water, heating (during winter months), and internet. Keep in mind that utility costs can vary based on your consumption and the efficiency of the building’s infrastructure.
- Healthcare expenses in Istanbul can vary depending on the type of healthcare provider you choose. Public healthcare facilities are more affordable, with nominal fees for services, but they may have longer waiting times. Private healthcare facilities offer quicker access to medical services but tend to be more expensive. It is advisable to have health insurance that covers medical expenses, especially if you prefer private healthcare.
Entertainment and Leisure:
- Istanbul is a vibrant city with numerous entertainment options. Cultural events, museums, cinemas, and nightlife activities are available. Ticket prices for cultural events and museums can vary, with prices typically ranging from 20-100 TRY ($2.30 to $11.40 USD), depending on the event and venue. Many cultural institutions offer discounted rates for students, seniors, or certain days of the week. Eating out at mid-range restaurants or enjoying a drink at a bar or café can cost around 50-100 TRY ($5.70 to $11.40 USD) per person, depending on the location and type of establishment.
It’s important to keep in mind that these figures are approximate and can vary based on individual preferences, lifestyle choices, and market fluctuations.
Visa Requirements in Istanbul
Istanbul is a vibrant and exciting city that has a lot to offer to both nomads and expats. One of the most important things to consider when planning a stay in Istanbul is the visa requirements.
Visa requirements for Istanbul and Turkey depend on your nationality and the purpose and duration of your visit. Here is an overview of the visa requirements for most visitors:
1. Tourist Visa: Citizens of many countries are eligible for an e-Visa, which can be obtained online prior to travel. The e-Visa allows for tourism and short-term visits, with a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period. The e-Visa is generally valid for multiple entries and has a validity period of 180 days.
2. Visa-exempt Countries: Citizens of some countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and most European Union countries, do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This applies for tourism, business, or family visits. However, it’s important to check the latest visa requirements as they can change, and additional documentation may be required.
3. Visa on Arrival: Some nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival at Istanbul Atatürk Airport or Sabiha Gökçen Airport for a fee. This option allows for a stay of up to 30 days, primarily for tourism purposes. However, it is recommended to obtain an e-Visa beforehand to avoid any inconvenience or potential changes to visa policies.
4. Residence Permit: If you plan to stay in Istanbul or Turkey for an extended period, such as for work, study, or long-term residence, you will need to apply for a residence permit. The specific requirements and application process may vary depending on the purpose of your stay. It is recommended to consult the nearest Turkish embassy or consulate or visit the official website of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for detailed information on residence permits.
It’s essential to check the most up-to-date visa requirements and regulations for your specific nationality and circumstances before traveling to Istanbul or Turkey. You can consult the official website of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs or contact the nearest Turkish embassy or consulate in your home country for accurate and detailed visa information.
Jobs & Work Requirements in Istanbul
Istanbul is an excellent city for nomads and expats seeking a new job or work opportunity. Many exciting industries are available in the city, including technology, finance, and engineering.
Additionally, the city has a growing hospitality sector, with jobs available in restaurants, hotels, and tour companies. There are also many opportunities for freelancers and entrepreneurs in Istanbul. To work in Istanbul, you will need to obtain a work permit and a residence permit, both of which can be applied for within Turkey.
Many employers in Istanbul also provide language classes and other benefits to help expats and nomads adjust to life in the city. With its vibrant economy and diverse culture, Istanbul is an ideal destination for those looking to start a new life abroad.
Enjoy your trip to Istanbul, Turkey!
Always blue skies ✈️