Best Time to Go
Consider mid-to-late September or late May/early June for the best weather, prices and itineraries.
Citizens of Canada and the U.S. need a passport and a visa. The visa is available on arrival (at Ataturk Airport, a special booth for visas can be found just to the left of passport control) for tourist visits of 90 days or less and requires a processing fee of US$20 for Americans and US$60 for Canadians. Visas must be purchased with the currency of your home country, and the fees for them can change.
Citizens of Canada and the U.S. need only a passport. Check travel-document requirements with your carrier before departing.
Passports are needed by citizens of Australia, the U.S. and Canada. A tourist visa is not required for a visit of three months or less. Proof of onward passage and sufficient funds are needed by all.
Spain, Greece, France, Italy, Portugal and Monaco all use the euro, making it a good “go-to” currency for your trip. Egypt, Turkey and Morocco all use their own currency (Egyptian pound, Turkish lira and Moroccan dinar),
Do’s & Don’ts
Depending on your itinerary, you might include more conservative clothing for shore visits than you would wear in American or Caribbean resorts. Muslim and Catholic countries may expect people to be more covered up.
Do praise Turkey (and Istanbul) at every possible instance. Turks are proud of their country and will often ask you if you like it there. Express enthusiasm, and don’t join in if they express criticism of the country—they’ll be offended if you agree.
Don’t be afraid to brush off aggressive vendors or people who pester you on the street. A good firm but polite phrase is “Yeter! Lutfen!” (pronounced ye-ter loot-fen), or “That’s enough, please!”
Don’t be afraid to try street food, even kokorec, which is grilled sheep intestines. It’s better than it sounds, and hygiene standards are actually quite high.
Do remember to look where you’re going. Istanbul sidewalks are notorious for manholes and especially dangerous entrances to cellar-level workshops. The architecture above may be magnificent, but stop walking as you look at it or you may fall into a hole.
Do engage with the locals. Most are friendly and happy to chat with tourists.
Do venture off the beaten track if at all possible. Get away from Sultanahmet, however briefly, and you will discover a different Istanbul geared to local rather than tourist needs.
Don’t let yourself become obsessed with being ripped off. While some locals will certainly take advantage of visitors, others will go out of their way to be helpful.
Do be careful with money when you first arrive. The five lira and 50 lira notes are very similar in color, which can lead to confusion.
Don’t be surprised if you’re hugged by the stranger standing next to you when The Blues soccer team scores a goal.
Don’t expect traffic to stop when you cross the street. Locals appear fearless: Follow them across the street.
Do try the street food, particularly arancini (deep-fried risotto balls).
Do order a glass of Campania’s white wine, which is some of the best in Italy, particularly the Fiano di Avellino D.O.C.G.
Don’t be surprised if a moped brushes you while walking in the Centro Storico.
Do order an entire pizza per person: They are thinner and more delicious than you might think.
Do be careful where you light up. Spain’s antismoking law took effect in 2011. The law bans smoking in enclosed public spaces, which include bars, restaurants, hotel lobbies, casinos, clubs, office buildings, open-decked tourist buses and airports. There is also a ban on smoking in outdoor spaces around schools, hospitals and children’s playgrounds.
Do keep your eyes open for pickpockets. The areas around La Rambla and La Sagrada Familia are particularly dicey. In addition to light-fingered pickpockets, there are also a number of tricks thieves use to distract and defraud you.
Do dress modestly in the city. Spain is a conservative country, so skimpy tops and too-brief clothing are inappropriate for visits to churches. Catalonians normally dress well and stylishly, so save the shorts for the countryside or the beach. In any case, shorts in the city will mark you as a tourist and as a more likely target for thieves.
Don’t litter. You may see some people throwing trash in the street, but most people are tidy and have great respect for public areas.