Many people think of traveling to Istanbul, but don't no what to expect. I would like to share my experiences here for you--both positive and negative. As a seasoned traveler myself (42 countries, 45 states in the USA), I do like to have an idea about what to look out for in a new destination. You might too.
The people of Turkey are very sweet and accommodating. Even though I visited the country during a very busy season (July), it seemed like I never had to wait long for any type of service. Over the course of my holiday, I got to know many local people, and they always greeted me in a friendly manner and were ready to help and answer questions.
The food is fabulous! Very healthy and natural. Lots of fresh vegetables, good meat, and a large variety from which to choose. The prices in the restaurants vary widely, so look further for a bargain. You can smoke a hookah just about anywhere and enjoy having drinks at the many outdoor cages and rooftop bars. Very festive atmosphere.
Of course, the museums are wonderful too. I spent a lot of time in them, studying the rich history of this ancient city (once called Constantinople). The mosques that are ubiquitous in Istanbul will take your breath away. So peaceful and exquisite. Dress respectfully if you are planning to go inside. Women must cover their hair and shoulders in honoring this religious and cultural custom.
As far as clothing is concerned, women shouldn't wear skimpy garments. It really looks inappropriate in Istanbul. Avoid anything that is too short: shirts and short-shorts. You will feel self-conscious if you wear this.
I felt safe during both my trips to the city. Since I have traveled solo extensively, I do know what to do and what to avoid, so here's a heads-up for you.
Avoid the carpet shops (unless you are wealthy!). A handsome stranger will strike up a conversation with you first, and then slowly but surely lead you to his friend's carpet shop. They will chatter away and serve you delicious cups of apple tea for hours, if you please. It is not always easy to walk away without a carpet. You can say that you left your credit cards at the hotel and will be back later.
Men will also want to use this same technique in selling you jewelry.
I found this city to be the most saturated with, "How can I help you spend your money today, lady?" than I have ever experienced in the entire world. My best reaction was to walk by quickly and confidently and mutter, "No English.". They do not know where you are from anyway. No one guesses correctly, so you can pretend you are from anywhere. Do Not say you are American! They tend to think that we have tons of money to spend and they will follow you around. I didn't feel threatened, just a little annoyed.
You shouldn't have a problem with the locals, as the Turkish police are known for always taking the tourist's side of any story. They really want our continued visits, money, and support, and are concerned about maintaining a tourist-friendly environment. Just to be sure, enter the phone numbers of the American embassy in Turkey and the police into your phone. I didn't need to use it, but it is good to be proactive.
Ok, as far as the men are concerned: be forewarned! A number of Turkish men are very attractive and friendly and flirtatious. They are not concerned with your age, weight, or any other superficial factors. Their goal is to either have you spend your money on them, or they want sex. The Turkish Muslim women are virgins until marriage, so the situation is ripe for satisfying their 'needs' with foreign women. You will often see a plain-looking tourist walking around gleefully with an attractive, young Turkish man. This will not turn out well for the woman. It is also common for married Turkish men to pursue tourists as well. I found out all of this information in the past year from speaking with dozens of Turkish people and a number of tourists. There are many unfortunate stories about this problem circulating. Beware! A Turkish man will quickly and enthusiastically profess his love to you, call you, text, Skype, etc. But he is doing this exact same thing to several other women at the same time. If asked about details, background information, etc., they will tell you' whatever you want to hear', but it won't be the truth. However, I do need to say that Turkish men are very nice and that there some very good ones out there. Just be careful and do your homework first. Meet their families and friends, workplace, and so on.
Ok. I will be happy to answer any questions too. Hope this info helps.
I do love Turkey and am going back for my third visit in April. Enjoy this wonderful and magical place, where East meets West.:)