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9 Wheelchair Accessible Travel Tips for Istanbul

By John Sage

Istanbul Wheelchair Accessible Travel Tips  Istanbul has noticeably more accessibility challenges than many popular tourist destinations in Europe.  From cobblestones to hills to steep ramps, wheelchair travelers to Istanbul are likely to encounter challenges on their trip.  The 9 Accessible Travel Tips for Istanbul Turkeybelow will help minimize the challenging experiences while in Istanbul.

1. Double and triple check accessibility at your hotel before you arrive – Every European city has some hotels that claim to be accessible but really are not.  Istanbul has more of these than any other city I’ve visited in Europe.  Many of the “accessible” hotels have no ramp at the hotel entrance or a ramp that is so steep no wheelchair user could get up it without assistance (example shown in the image on the right).  In room accessibility also varies greatly.  Double and triple check the accessibility at your hotel before you arrive or you risk having a serious complication on your trip.

2. Avoid trying to approach the New District by walking or rolling – The Taksim square in the New District is a 2.2 km (1.5 mile) uphill journey from the Galata Bridge that spans the Golden Horn.  Wheelchair users should hail a taxi rather than wear themselves out pushing up the hill.

3. Accessible bathroom location – Many of the bathrooms in Istanbul are not wheelchair accessible.  When looking for accessible toilets during the day, your best bets are to try modern hotels, restaurant chains, and museums.

4. The Basilica Cistern is accessible from the exit – Although not well advertised, Istanbul wheelchair travelers are actually able to visit the Basilica Cistern. The exit is locate 2 blocks downhill from the entrance and has a wheelchair lift (shown in the photo on the right).

5. Group the sights by proximity – The Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia are within 1 km of each other.  It may be a stretch on your time to see them all in a day, but if you only have 1 day in Istanbul, make sure that you visit these three attractions.

6. Start each day at the high spots – The advice is both figurative and literal.  Visit the can’t-miss items in the morning when your energy is high.  If you get tired and need to end your sightseeing early, you can cut out some of the lesser sights.  You should also literally start your day in the high spots and roll downhill during the rest of your day.

7. Accessible transportation from the Istanbul airport – A combination of trains (shown in the image on the right) and trams can bring wheelchair users from the Istanbul airport to the Old Town.  Unfortunately, nearly all of the accessible hotels are located in the New District, and the tram does not cross the bridge over the Golden Horn to get up there.  Istanbul disabled tourists should use a normal taxi or arrange for accessible private transportation to get from the airport to their accessible hotel in Istanbul.

8. The Topkapi Palace and National Archaeological Museum are next to each other but worlds apart – That is, at least for wheelchair users.  Although when you look at a map they look right next to each other, there is actually steep cobblestone street that connects the two of them (shown in the photo on the right).

9. Choose your wheelchair accessible seat on the Bosporus cruise carefully – Sit on the left-hand (western) side on the way up the Bosporus and the sun will be at your back making for much better pictures.  On the way back to Istanbul, sit on the right-hand (eastern) side to get good pictures of the Asian side.  On the way you will see both ancient and modern sights (shown below).

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Read more:

Istanbul Accessible Travel – main page 
   Pros and Cons of Istanbul Disabled Access 
   9 Wheelchair Accessible Travel Tips for Istanbul Turkey 
   8 Keys to Success for Istanbul Disabled Travel 
   Istanbul Cruise Port Disabled Access Review 
   Hagia Sophia Disabled Access Review 
   Blue Mosque Wheelchair Accessibility 
   Disabled Access at Istanbul Topkapi Palace 
   Travel Insurance for Disabled Travelers 
   Istanbul Accessible Travel Packages 
Accessible Walking and Driving Tours in Istanbul 
   Sultanahmet Istanbul Accessible Private Tour 
   Panoramic Istanbul Wheelchair Accessible Tour 
   Half-day Highlights of Istanbul Handicap Accessible Tour 
   Half-day Turkish Istanbul Accessible Guided Tour 
   Old City Istanbul Accessible Group Tour 
   Blue Mosque Istanbul Accessible Cruise Excursion by Tram 
   Highlights of Istanbul Accessible Shore Excursion by Tram 
   Turkish Istanbul Accessible Walking Tour by Tram 
Accessible Hotels in Istanbul 
   Istanbul Accessible Hotel Rooms 
   Istanbul Handicapped Accessible Hotel 
   Wheelchair Accessible Hotel in Istanbul 
   Disabled Hotel Rooms in Istanbul Turkey 
   Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Rooms in Istanbul 
   Handicapped Accessible Hotel in Istanbul 
Istanbul Accessibility Guide by John Sage 
Istanbul Trip Planning by Sage Traveling – Travel with Ease! 
Accessible Cruising with Sage Traveling – Receive our Istanbul Accessibility Guide & Istanbul accessible hotel recommendations for free!


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