Why go to Istanbul?
Famous landmarks, like Hagia Sophia, can be seen from a variety of vantage points around the city
Some sellers in the Old City and Grand Bazaar can come across as too pushy
Istanbul is rich in history and culture, thanks to its location between Europe and Asia
Istanbul Cruise Port Facilities?
There are no facilities inside the port, but just outside there's a collection of cafes, though these are generally oriented to young people enjoying the Turkish tradition of Narjile (which my guide described as "hubble bubble" -- hookah in other countries). Better yet, head over to the cafe and bar at the Museum of Modern Art, which is also within easy walking distance.
Good to Know?
In Istanbul's bazaars and many tourist shops, sellers can be quite brazenly and annoyingly persistent. When shopping for rugs, know that it's customary for the seller to offer shoppers cups of tea. It's considered good manners to accept, particularly if you are genuinely shopping (as opposed to browsing casually).
Also, in deference to Istanbul's beautiful mosques, churches and synagogues, it's advisable to wear respectful attire -- long pants or long skirts if you want to enter these historic sites.
Gratuities are expected, even at restaurants that levy surcharges. (Locals tell us to plan to tip 10 percent of the check and to pay in cash; otherwise the waiters don't get the money.) In taxis, just round up.
By Cab: Metered taxis are plentiful, and they line up right at the pier; credit cards are generally not accepted. Be wary of any taxi driver who doesn't operate on the meter system.
By Tram: There's also a convenient tram, located a few hundred yards from the pier.
On Foot: If you have strong legs, it's possible to walk up one of Istanbul's infamously steep hills to the Beyoglu, the heart of the city's shopping district. Walking between the major sites, including the Bazaar, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, is also quite doable.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Currency is the Turkish lira. For the latest currency conversion figures, visit www.xe.com. ATMs are readily accessible.
Turkish is spoken there. English is generally spoken at major tourist sites and hotels, but not necessarily otherwise.