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Is Istanbul Safe For Americans

Istanbul is among my favorite cities (top 3 cities on my travel list). It’s worth visiting, but I understand your concern might be safety. Like many other cities, it has its sketchy places and neighborhoods. I visited Istanbul for 4 days on my trip to Turkey and felt safe throughout my entire visit.

My answer is YES; it’s safe if you follow the safety tips in this article and use your common sense when visiting the city.

In this article, I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about safety in Istanbul and give you my top safety travel tips. It’ll make your Istanbul vacation worryless and enjoyable. So, let’s dive into it.

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Is Istanbul Safe For Americans? Answered!

Yes, Istanbul is safe for Americans. There are potential scams you can experience as an American in Istanbul, such as taxi scams, money scams, or theft. But overall, if you use your common sense and follow my safety tips in this article, you’ll be safe in Istanbul.

Istanbul ranks n. 36 on the list of the safest cities in the world in 2024 by World Population Review. These statistics show it’s safer than Mexico City, Lima, Bankong, or Kuwait City.

If you’re subject to crime, you can contact local police by calling 155. For any emergency cases and medical emergencies, use the number 112.

Is Istanbul Safe To Visit Right Now?

Yes, Istanbul is safe to visit right now. I understand many people are concerned about safety and terrorism in the city. Still, as long as you’re aware of possible scams tourists experience in Istanbul and use your common sense, there is no reason to be afraid of visiting Istanbul.

Local authorities are taking measures for visitors to feel safe in the city. If you stay in the safe areas of Istanbul, you’ll have an incredible experience.

NOTE: The conflict between Gaza and Israel doesn’t directly influence Turkey and Istanbul. It’s almost 900 km/560 miles away, and visiting Istanbul right now is safe.

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Is Istanbul Safe At Night?

Istanbul is less safe at night than throughout the day. I don’t recommend walking around at night, especially if you’re alone or a solo woman traveler.

However, it depends on the area you’re in. Sultanahmet neighborhood (historical and cultural city center) is safe even at night if you stay and walk around. I would avoid staying late at night in other areas such as Eminönü and Karaköy.

Is Istanbul Safe For Women?

Yes, Istanbul is safe for women, even for American women. If you want to feel extra safe, walk in a group or at least with a guy. I travel as a solo female often, and it always helps me feel extra safe if I explore a place with someone else.

You don’t have to cover your hair when you walk around the city, only if you go inside a mosque.

PRO TIP: As a woman in Istanbul, I’d avoid wearing clothes that make some parts of your body stand out – you’ll prevent weird looks and comments from people on the streets. It’s best to wear loose, rather long-sleeve trousers and a T-Shirt or a long loose dress.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans - solo woman travellers
Me traveling as a solo woman – Istanbul

Is Istanbul Safe For Solo Female Travelers?

Yes, Istanbul is safe for solo female travelers as long as you stay in the safe areas of the city. Explore Istanbul’s central and touristy areas like Sultanahmet, Eminönü, and Karaköy, and you’ll be fine.

Avoid walking alone in sketchy and dangerous areas of the city, such as Dolapdere or Tarlabasi.

Is Istanbul Safe For Families With Kids?

Yes, Istanbul is also safe for families with kids. The same applies to everyone – as long as you stay in the safe neighborhoods of Istanbul, you’ll be safe and have a great experience.

My advice for families with kids traveling to Istanbul is always to stay together, watch your children, and don’t let them walk around alone or go too far away from you. Otherwise, there is nothing to be afraid of.

Is English Widely Spoken In Istanbul?

You might be surprised, but locals speak English well in Istanbul. The younger generation widely speaks English, so you can communicate easily. The older generation speaks at least a few words in English, too.

You can use English bargaining in local markets, bazaars, restaurants, hotels, and shops around Istanbul.

Turkey Landmarks Hagia Sophia mosque Istanbul
Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul

👉 READ ALSO: What Is Istanbul Known For? 21 Reaons To Visit

Safety Tips For Your Visit To Istanbul

Here are my top safety tips to help you feel safe during your visit to Istanbul as an (American) tourist. I’ve divided them into safety factors, so check them out below.

Thanks to these tips, you’ll know the typical tourist traps and what you should watch out for when visiting Istanbul. Considering these safety tips, you’ll feel safe in Istanbul.

Transportation & Taxi Safety In Istanbul

The best way to get around Istanbul is public transportation – trams, trains, buses, and metro. Istanbul is also a walkable city; walking around and exploring the city on foot was my favorite.

It’s safe to use public transportation in Istanbul. Only be aware of pickpockets – keep your bag closed and belongings inside your bag, not in a pocket.

Taxis are safe in Istanbul, but some travelers experience scams. While you shouldn’t be afraid of taking a taxi in Istanbul, there is one thing to be aware of.

Some taxi drivers can take you on a longer route to your final destination as they can charge you more.

PRO SAFETY TIP: So my tip is to watch Google Maps and see how your taxi driver takes you. If he is making a detour, tell him and be angry. He’ll see you’re not a typical tourist and have more respect for you.

Is Istanbul Public Transportation Safe?

Yes, public transportation in Istanbul is super safe. It’s the best way to get around the city. I took trams, trains, buses, and the metro while exploring Istanbul and always felt safe.

You should be aware of pickpockets in trams and buses, especially in the touristy area. Watch your bags, and don’t travel with your backpack/pockets open.

PRO SAFETY TIP: Buy an Istanbul Card for public transportation in the city. You can top it up as you go, and it works for trams, metro, buses, and even boats to get from the European side to the Asian side of Istanbul. It’s affordable, easy to use, and gives you a lot of flexibility.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans - public transportation
Public transportation – Second oldest underground transportaion connecting Karaköy and Beyoğlu

Pickpockets Risk In Istanbul

Pickpockets are real in Istanbul. But again, there is nothing to be worried about. It’s like in every major city, such as London, Paris, and Rome, Istanbul also has its pickpockets.

My tip is to walk around with a smaller bag you can always watch/have in front of you. I’d avoid walking with a big backpack that someone might open from behind, and you can’t notice it.

PRO SAFETY TIP: Overall, don’t wear anything too fancy or pricy jewellery so that you don’t attract pickpocketers. Also, walk with fewer things and have a good and safe spot for cash and credit cards when exploring the city.

Crime In Istanbul

Crime in the city is moderate. But it depends on the neighborhood and area of Istanbul you’re staying in. If you stay in the historical city center (Sultanahmet), there is a very low chance for you to experience crime.

It mostly happens in the dangerous areas of Istanbul, such as Tarlabasi. A stolen car, smuggling cases, being robbed, broken windows, or drug dealers are common in this neighborhood.

PRO SAFETY TIP: To avoid crime in Istanbul, stay in the safe areas of Istanbul and avoid dangerous neighborhoods. This way, you’ll be safe and have a great time in the city.

Common Traveler Scams In Istanbul

Istanbul can sometimes be tricky when you interact with locals in shops, restaurants, and around the city. While there is no reason to fear for your safety, you should be aware of these common scams and watch out for them when you explore the city.

So here are the most common scams travelers experience (and I’ve seen around) to watch out for when you visit Istanbul.

To make you feel better – none of these scams happened to me. Because I’m generally aware of them when traveling, I take my time to think (when I take a taxi, bargain, do shopping, exchange money). I’m direct with saying NO to let locals know I’m not a typical tourist they can easily scam.

Bargaining in Bazaar Istanbul
Bargaining in Bazaar Istanbul

Taxi Scams

Some taxi drivers may take advantage of you being a tourist and not knowing the city, so they’d drive a longer route to charge you more.

As mentioned above, use Google Maps to check if he’s driving correctly. If not, tell him you won’t pay him more just because he’s going the wrong way. Be direct and strict.

Bargaining & Shopping Scams

Be aware when you bargain on the market. Some locals are very good at selling their products and they’ll convince you to buy everything even if you don’t want it. Just say NO and walk away.

Also, make sure you get the exact change when shopping in bazaars/markets. Take your time to count it before leaving.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans? Street Food Istanbul
Street Food Istanbul

Shoe Cleaning

You’ll see older men on the streets of Istanbul brushing and cleaning shoes. Some might just take your foot/a shoe and start brushing it without you even asking for it. They might even say it’s for free, and after, they’ll ask for money. Again, just be strict, say NO, and walk away.

Card Payments – Lira & USD

They might automatically charge you in USD if you pay with your credit card. This adds more conversion fees than the transaction fees involved in the card payment. Remember to always pay in local currency when you travel abroad.

In Istanbul, it’ll be Turkish Lira, so make sure the terminal says Turkish Lira. If not, tell the person in the shop to change it and make the transaction in Turkish Lira. It’ll be a lot cheaper.

‘Free Food’ Scams

Some restaurants and food places may offer you a plate or bring it directly to your table, and after, they’d charge you for it. So always double-check whether it’s free of charge and how much it costs. It’s fine to say I am sorry, but I didn’t order this food, or that you didn’t want it.

Istanbul itinerary 3 days boat cruise Bosphorus straight
Boat cruise – Bosphorus straight

Money Safety In Istanbul

As I mentioned above, my general money tip for traveling is to always pay in a local currency when using your credit/debit card. It’ll be cheaper. So make sure to always pay in Turkish Lira when visiting Istanbul.

Cash Payments

You can pay with a card in almost all restaurants and shops. However, most bazaars and shops inside the bazaars don’t accept credit cards. Make sure you have enough cash with you. Also, always count the change you were given.

Some people might take advantage of you not knowing the bills and coins and give you the wrong change. So only leave the shop after you count the change.

ATMs & Withdrawals

If you need to withdraw money from ATM, it’s safe. Make sure to avoid the touristy ATM called Euronet (blue-yellow ATM). It charges higher transaction fees. So choose a local ATM instead.

Currency Exchange Places

If you want to exchange money in Istanbul, make sure it’s an official currency exchange place. Read reviews online before you visit it. Once you go inside, see if it looks legit, and always check the fees before. After getting Turkish Lira, count the amount you got before you leave the exchange place. Make sure you get the correct amount.

PRO TIP: When exchanging money in Istanbul, use XE.com and convert the USD amount to Turkish Lira. Remember the amount in Turkish Lira you should get at the exchange place. Ask first how much Turkish Lira they can give you for XXX USD. Find the place that offers you the amount closest to what XE.com showed you.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans bargaining and shopping in bazaar
Bargaining and shopping in Istanbul’s bazaar

Health Risks In Istanbul

There are no high health risks in Istanbul you should be afraid of. Generally speaking, water might not be the best in the city, and some foods different from America can make you sick. But this is a general risk when you travel to a new country.

Eating Istanbul street food is also pretty safe. Always check whether the place looks clean, read Google reviews if you’re unsure, and use common sense.

PRO SAFETY TIP: Make sure to eat in a clean place (use your common sense), wash your hands regularly, and avoid eating food that might make you feel bad.

Is Tap Water Safe To Drink In Istanbul?

Tap water in Istanbul is not the best, so I wouldn’t drink it. During my stay in the city, I always bought water bottles rather than drank tap water.

There is a high chance of getting sick from tap water in Istanbul. So rather buy water in local shops or supermarkets to avoid being sick.

Risk Of Natural Disasters In Istanbul

The most common natural disasters in Istanbul are earthquakes, snowstorms, and floods. As we all know, the weather is unpredictable, and you can’t know and prepare for any catastrophes. But you definitely shouldn’t be worried.

PRO SAFETY TIP: I recommend checking the weather forecast and news before traveling to Istanbul if there are any possible risks of natural catastrophes.

Travel Insurance For Your Visit To Istanbul

When traveling anywhere, not just to Istanbul, I’ve learned that travel insurance is essential. You never know whether something will happen: your flight gets canceled, or the airline loses your luggage.

I’ve been using Safety Wings as my travel insurance because it’s affordable and flexible. I didn’t like insurance companies back home, who told me I could have insurance only for a specific time or otherwise I have to pay more. With Safety Wings, I can apply for specific days and extend it whenever I want, even while traveling. And it’s also super cheap.

Get your travel insurance and learn more about Safety Wings here.

Best & Safest Neighborhoods In Istanbul

Like many other cities, Istanbul has safe areas and neighborhoods you should avoid (if you don’t want to be scammed or feel unsafe).

You’ll have an incredible stay as long as you stay within the safe places in Istanbul. So here are the best and safest neighborhoods you can visit in Istanbul without being concerned about your safety as an (American) traveler.

Sultanahmet – Sultanahmet is Istanbul’s historical and cultural center and the safest area you can visit. It’s fine to walk around here, even at night. It’s where the most landmarks are, too. You’ll feel very safe visiting this part of the city and have no safety issues.

Karaköy – Another safe area in Istanbul, a very stylish neighborhood, is Karaköy. It has many restaurants, street vendors, cute little shops, and smiley locals. So definitely check it out.

Eminönü – Eminönü is another safe area where all the shopping craziness awaits you. From a Spice Bazaar to thousands of mini shops where you can buy everything that comes to your mind, this neighborhood is great for practicing your bargaining skills and hanging around with locals.

Fatih – Fatih is another safe area in Istanbul, slightly further from the main city center. Still, you can be sure it’s safe if you are around.

Beyoğlu & Taksim – I’ve put these two areas last because they’re not the safest at night. It’s all right walking around during the day and exploring the area. However, I’d rather avoid walking here at night. While it’s still pretty safe, use common sense, don’t walk to the back streets, and stay aware if you are here in the evening/night.

Istanbul itinerary 3 days Europe and Asia boat time
Me crossing from Europe to Asia on a boat – Istanbul

👉 READ ALSO: 9 Best Cappadocia Tours From Istanbul

Dangerous Areas In Istanbul – Neighborhoods To Avoid

Istanbul has some poor neighborhoods in which a lot of crime occurs. I don’t advise you to visit these areas when you’re in the city. You’ll be safe in Istanbul if you avoid these parts and stay around the main city center.

Tarlabasi – Tarlabasi has long been considered the most dangerous area of Istanbul, even for some locals. It’s sketchy, and this neighborhood’s crime rate is very high. So definitely avoid walking through.

Gaziosmanpasa – Even though Gaziosmanpasa is quite far from the city center of Istanbul and there is not a high chance you would visit it, I included it in the list. Avoid visiting this area, too, as it’s another dangerous place in Istanbul, especially for tourists.

Dolapdere – Dolapdere is another area you should avoid. It’s a poor area, and pickpocketing and tourist scams are common here.

Where To Stay In Istanbul – Safest Neighborhoods & Best Hotels

Perhaps the most important factor to feel safe during your visit to Istanbul is the area where you choose to stay and book your hotel. This is an essential decision as it’ll be crucial for your safety in Istanbul.

To be safe in the city, choose hotels within these 3 areas of Istanbul as they’re the safest:


When I visited Istanbul, I stayed in the Fatih area, and it felt safe all the time. I didn’t experience any safety issues walking around and felt well throughout my stay.

Best Hotels In Sultanahmet – Istanbul

These are some of the best hotels in the historical city center of Istanbul. It’s a great area if you want to treat yourself and stay in a more luxurious hotel with amazing facilities. But you’ll also find many budget-friendly options.

Check out the prices and book your hotel stay by clicking on the hotel names below:

🔆 Efzen Hotelbudget-friendly hotelbook here
🔆 Hotel Novanomid-range hotelbook here
🔆 Tria Hotel Istanbulluxury hotelbook here

Best Hotels In Fatih/Eminönü – Istanbul

Here are some of the best hotels in the Fatih/Eminönü area of Istanbul. Check them out and click on the hotel names to see prices and book your room:

🔆 Crowned Plus Hotelbest budget-friendly hotelbook here
🔆 Golden Royal Hotelbest mid-range hotelbook here
🔆 Cronton Design Hotelbest luxury hotelbook here

BONUS: Best Of Istanbul Itinerary For 3 Days

When I visited Istanbul and fell in love with the city, I wanted all other travelers to have the same experience. So I’ve created a 3-day Istanbul itinerary that you can follow to visit the highlights and have a great time. It also includes my tips on bargaining in the bazaar and avoiding scams.

The itinerary will bring you to the safest areas to feel safe throughout your visit. Get it by clicking on the image below:


To give you even more details about safety in Istanbul, I’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions. So check them out below.

Is It Safe To Live In Istanbul?

Yes, Istanbul is a safe city to live in. As long as you rent or buy an apartment in safe areas such as Sultanahmet, Karaköy, Eminönü, and Faith, you’ll feel safe living in Istanbul. It’s a lively city with many opportunities, offering everything you need for life.

Avoid city areas such as Tarlabasi and Dolapdere, as these neighborhoods are very poor and have a high crime rate.

Is Istanbul Airport Safe?

There are two international airports in Istanbul, both of which are safe. The Istanbul Airport (IST), with all major international flights, is very safe. The second airport, Sabiha Gokcen Airport, mainly serves low-cost airlines and is also a very safe airport.

So you’ll have no issues arriving in Istanbul and feeling unsafe right away.

WRAP-UP: Is Istanbul Safe For Americans?

Istanbul is safe for travelers, including Americans, if you use your common sense and stay in the touristy areas of the city, such as Eminou and Sultanahmet, and the entire old town. There is no reason to feel unsafe. If you feel so, get a guide for your first day so he can show you around and give you further tips. It’ll make you feel safer and better, for sure.

If you have any questions, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you or design a customized travel itinerary for your trip.

Happy Travels!

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

TURKEY: Interested in more articles for Turkey?
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