A client recently visited Istanbul and although they were a little apprehensive before they left, this is what they said on their return –
Just following up from this afternoon, as I said Istanbul was great, Carol and I really loved it and we are really pleased we went.
With regard to security, I suppose you can never say you are 100% safe but we never felt uneasy or uncomfortable. Every attraction, market, Mosque etc all had their own security and you were searched and scanned in all of places we visited. You were at more risk crossing the road.
With regard to our trip, as I said the Best Western hotel was in a perfect location, directly on the tram line, immediately near a station. It was in walking distance (10 minutes max) for a number of attractions (ie) Topkapi Palace (closed Tuesday’s), Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Bascillica Cistern, Hagia Musuem, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, The Bosphorus and others. There is a beautiful park (Gulhane) across the road as well.
We did a free walking tour on our first day (Viaurbis) you meet in the park next to the Sultanhamet Fountain near the Blue Mosque. This gave us a great insight into the City, we added a river trip in the afternoon, £13 each and then from that did our own thing for the other days, including visiting places we saw on the walking trip but spending a lot more time. It is very easy to get around, either on the Tram, Metro or by foot. What you must buy though is an “Istanbulkart” which is like an Oyster Card. You pay 8 TL, you only need one as it can be used by both people, you load it up, we spent around 50TL, it then discounts your tram and metro journeys and when you leave you sell it back for 7TL.
Getting from the Airport to the hotel was easy. Go on the Metro below the Airport to a place called Zeytinburnu. You then swap to the Tram and go to Gulhane (you need the tram for Kabatas).
The hotel was clean, tidy, friendly staff and good facilities. Breakfast was a basic Continental type and our room which was at the front was a bit noisy but it just added to the visit. There are lots of Restaurants at the back of the Best Western, a really good one was The New Hatay, just around the corner.
Hope that helps, if you need anything else just let me know.
Steve & Carol