Is Istanbul Safe for a Woman Traveling Alone?



I never see a person who hates Istanbul, a combination of East and West, which is such a good and breathtaking city you can ever see in your life.

I think everyone should experience the uniqueness of Istanbul with Bosphorus, Maiden Tower, Blue Mosque, and many other places Istanbul is famous for. However, on the other hand, the reputation of Istanbul with crowded makes tourist and local travelers scared.



Is there any possibility to make money stolen? Will I face dangerous people who want to harm me?

These kinds of questions might be more in your mind, especially if you are a woman. In fact, is Istanbul safe for a woman traveling alone?

You will feel more relax when it comes to travel alone in İstanbul after reading my article as a person who was born in Istanbul and visited many places in this lovely city alone.

Why Are People Afraid of Traveling to Istanbul Alone?


Almost everyone agrees about the beauty of İstanbul, but what is the reason behind the scare of travelers toward İstanbul?

This purpose of this article to fix the misconception of being unsafe. At first sight, you can think that Turkey is a Middle East country with the majority of Muslims and it makes more dangerous this county.

One of the reasons for this misconception is the population of different ethnic groups in Turkey. According to Turkish Statistical Institute 2012 data, there are many ethnic groups living in this city such as Kurds, Zaza, Circassian, Arab, and Laz people.



There is a percentage of groups in Turkey and many of them living in Istanbul depending on economic and social status. This comes from Ottoman Empire times and there is no need to get worried about security issue as they live in a feeling of peace from those times.

There is a percentage of groups in Turkey and many of them living in Istanbul depending on economic and social status. This comes from Ottoman Empire times and there is no need to get worried about security issue as they live in a feeling of peace from those times.

However, Turkey and especially Istanbul is quite different when it comes to freedom of life and voice.



Unless you do start your travel with a kind of prejudice or bias, you will see how kind people here are. Unlike this, travelers coming to İstanbul generally see that people tripped over themselves to assist others who do not the place.

Is Istanbul Is Safe to Visit as Solo Female Traveler in Terms of Terrorism


Despite the peaceful corners of Istanbul, it is a fact that this city is such chaotic because of the population and tourist coming to travel this beauty.

This might make solo female travelers scared but there is no need to get worried. I will show you it is kind of misunderstanding of others living outside of İstanbul.



To begin with, it is hard to deny that there are some ‘bad guys’ in İstanbul, just like many modern and big cities. However, compared to other cities like Texas or other crowded cities in America, İstanbul is quite safe.

There are many security precautions. Especially when it comes to the touristic places, you will see how strong some regulations are to control in case any terror attack or that kind of things.

Should you worry about terrorism?  According to some statics, you are more likely to be shot at home than killed by a terrorist in İstanbul because İstanbul is such a big city and it makes the percentage decrease.

It is normal to be afraid of this kind of possibilities, but what I think is that you should not miss the chance to visit this beautiful city as a solo female traveler because I am sure it will expand your horizon and make your self-esteem increase when learning lots of historical stories and witness of ancient times architecture.



Just as a short reminder, I can say that the news about violence and terror attacks in Turkey is mostly about the southeastern part of Turkey. It might be because of the Syrian civil war, or mixed ethnic rooted people and their fighting, unfortunately.

Yet, İstanbul is different and as I said above there are many security precautions against the possible attacks. Therefore, there is no reason to make you scared when you see any news online or in your newspaper about Turkey.

What About Crime Rate in Istanbul?


It is a more complicated question because, with the high rate of population, it is quite inevitable to have relatively less crime rate in this city.

However, the places to travel are not a suitable one to live for those crimes. In other words, those who crime live in some rural side or the places with low economic facilities.

Despite this reality, again compared to other big cities including the biggest cities in the United States, the tare of murder and rapes are less.

Turkey is pretty safe actually when you come to travel. You can see almost everywhere police and police stations if you need something.

For example, according to statistics made by Statista in 2019, Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is in the list of the most visited tourist attractions worldwide top ten. Each year, 15 million people visit there and most of them is a solo traveler.

The other advantage, let assume that you witness any kind of crime, is that you can find police who will help you. And generally, there is at least one police officers knowing English if you are a foreigner traveling alone as a female traveler.



If your worries are about women violence and harassment, you can be sure about the respect of Turkish people to women.


You can hear many times that they call you ‘abla’ or ‘teyze’, if you are older. It is kind of saying that “I see you as my sister or mother and it means there is no harm to you from me.”

However, it is still better not to share your personal pieces of information such as your phone number, hotel address, and other personal pieces of information.

There is no need to say also that you should keep an eye on your belongings just in case because you know there are many other people in Istanbul other than Turkish people.

the Risk of on Being Catcalled in Istanbul?


It is another risk of making solo woman travelers afraid of. In fact, if you go to Grand Bazaar, you will see how many languages traders know there such as English, Malaysian language, Bahasa Indonesian and many more.

If you are a Turkish traveler from the rural side of Turkey, again it might make you shocked how traders and sellers behave you in Istanbul.

Yes, you can see many sincere behaviors or they can insist on you in order to make you buy more stuff but there is no way to be catcalled by them.

People in İstanbul know how to respect others especially travelers. In fact, Turkish people are such hospitable rooted society and you will see how helpful they are if you are into trouble.



Unlike other Middle East countries, Turkey and especially İstanbul is not strick when it comes to the dressing of women. Therefore, there is no rule like you can cover your hair. In other words, if you prefer to wear something like a short skirt, it is okay to walk in Istanbul street like that.

You will already see starting from the airport of İstanbul or bus station that there is a great many different dress choices people choice and nobody intervenes each other.

I think this is the best part for me when traveling İstanbul alone, which makes you free. Is not it one of the meanings of traveling alone as a woman.

Language Barrier When Travelling Alone in Istanbul for Tourists


Despite the fact that English is not a formal language in Turkey, as a center of civilization Istanbul is a city where you can find many people knowing English if you are a foreigner solo woman traveler knowing English.

Sellers, hotel waiters, policemen, and even local people generally know English. Their level is at least enough to direct you when you have a problem.

Apart from this, you can see the English version of Menus in a restaurant, or in transportation vehicles, which will make your life easier. In museums or the historical places you will visit in İstanbul, there are many language options to guide you.

Therefore, it does not really matter if you know Turkish or not when traveling alone in İstanbul. Actually, it is quite obvious that Turkish people in İstanbul are really willing to guide you and suggest some places to go and some foods to try and taste.


High Sofia Museum

Those people fall in love with this city and introducing the beauty of this city foreigners makes them happier. You will see how they will try to make you feel welcome and at ease.

In short, there is no language barrier when traveling Turkey alone but here is a tip for you:

If you lean some Turkish words like ‘Merhaba (Hi! Hello!), Tesekkur Ederim (Thank You!), Kendine iyi bak! (Take Care!) would make you seem more sympathetic and at the same time, you will see how happy it will make Turkish people happy when they hear something from your broken Turkish.



I recommend this since as you know traveling is to learn about the culture of that place and language cannot be separated from the culture. You will enjoy more if doing so!

the Economist Intelligence Unit Report

Analyzing digital security, health security, infrastructure security, and personal security, this report shows security issue has increased in a good way in this urbanizing world.

By ranking 60 cities across 49 indicators, this report says that man-made risks and increasing population together might be ended with unexpected results unless there is a rapid deployment of digital technologies in pursuit of the “smart city”.



Considering all those variables and dynamics, Istanbul is fortieth placed in the index 2017 after some Asian cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapur.

Istanbul as one of the mega cities in the world is able to follow technological and digital advances when fighting with the problems and challenges of getting wider as a mega city.


Best Things to Do in Istanbul


In this section, I will give you some instances of good places in Istanbul to go. There are quite many options in Istanbul, so I suggest you have some further search to see other wonderful places to go to.

  • Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi): With its enchanted beauty, it is one of the highest and oldest towers of İstanbul.

You can panoramic view of the old city and sense ancient feelings from 63 meters away from the ground. According to legend, those who climb this tower first time together, get married to each other.

  • Maiden Tower (Kiz Kulesi): It is known as Kiz Kulesi located off the coast of Uskudar district. You will read a legend when you go there from Byzantine emperor about a princess putting in this tower built. Go there and learn more about this legend.


  • Hagia Sophia Museum: Although this place is used now as a museum, it was a triumph of Christianity and the symbol of Byzantium, for almost a thousand years. You will a long queue when you go there for many people who are willing to see this beauty.
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museums: If you are interested in history, this place will take your attention. Near Topkapi Palace, you will see three big museums that The İstanbul Archaeological Museums consists: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Museum of Islamic Art.


  • Dolmabahçe Palace (Dolmabahce Sarayi): Here is a real place that even will make you feel like you are a princess. In fact, this place witnessed six different sultans towards the end of the Ottoman period.
  • Taksim Square and Istiklal Street: Here is the beating heart of the city of İstanbul. Despite the fact that it is too crowded street, everyone there enjoys walking during the street. Instead of walking 1.4 km long pedestrian walkway, you can just take the historic tram all the way to Taksim Square to view the monument of the republic.


  • Ortakoy: If you want to try kumpir and waffle in front of Bosphorus view, here is the best place. You should not leave there before trying these delicious tastes!
  • Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici):  It is İstanbul’s largest surviving Byzantine cistern as one of the historic sites in the city. Constructed in 532 for Justinianus I, this sprawling underground water reservoir when supplied water to the Great Palace of Constantinople. The story of there is quite interesting and the architecture is breathtaking.
  • Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii): Located in a famous district of İstanbul, which is Fatih by Golden Horn, Istanbul University, and the Grand Bazaar. It is known as one of the most impressive Ottoman mosques built between 1550 and 1557. This grand structure features multiple gardens and a large dome, and other structures such as mother-of-pearl window shutters, painted corbels, traditional ceramic tiles, and stained-glass windows.


Conclusion


So, you do not need to be worried about walking alone in Taksim Street alone at midnight anymore. You do not need to hesitate to buy something just because you think sellers deceive you by giving an extremely high price.

The only thing in your mind before starting your female solo trip to Istanbul should be the list where to go first and what to eat first. The rest will come easily.

You should not waste more time if you ever come to İstanbul before, regardless of you are Turkish citizen or a foreigner tourist. I believe that you will want to experience this city with the warmest hospitable people, the breathtaking architecture, and its delicious cuisine again after your first visit.

With 36.13 U.S. dollars per day, Istanbul is one of the top countries to visit by backpacking travelers. That means, here is one of the
most affordable cities for backpackers based on daily expenses. according to the European Backpacker Price Index.

It is time for sure to discover this truly wonderful city alone. Enjoy your trip!

Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I love Istanbul. I have been to 10 different countries. Istanbul is in the top 3 cities. I like to play soccer too :)

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