Istanbul Health Tips To Consider Before You Leave

Picture about common health tips and precautions while travelling to Istanbul, Turkey.

by Erlend Geerts

in Health & Fitness

For most people, planning a city trip to Istanbul does not require any special medical precautions. It’s one of the major world cities — well developed and pretty Western.
Nevertheless, I suggest to make sure you have a proper travel insurance and go over the list of recommended vaccinations. Also, if you’re on prescription medicines, do keep on reading.

Vaccinations

Do you need to get any special vaccinations for a holiday in Istanbul? No, you don’t. It’s very likely you’ll do just fine. However, every travel agency and governmental travel advice will recommend you to be immune to Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio and Typhus. Chances are you already received shots against most of these diseases in the past … and are still immune — check with your physician.

(Prescription) Medicines

Most medicines that require prescriptions in Europe or the US are freely available in any Istanbul pharmacy (Eczane). You can even buy antibiotics without prescription. So, if you’re in need of a certain medicine, no need for a doctor’s visit first. Just enter any pharmacy and ask for it. The only exceptions are the real strong or habit forming drugs. To top that exception, medicines in Istanbul are usually cheaper that in European countries or the US.

The biggest obstacle you may experience is making the pharmacist understand what medicine you actually need. Pharmacists normally speak some level of English, but different pronunciation may cause a communication hiccup. Writing it down after a few attempts may solve the problem.

However, some medicines also have a complete different name. So, despite your pronunciation or spelling efforts, the pharmacist will still have no clue what you are talking about. To prevent such inconveniences, copy the generic/chemical name of your medicine and bring it along, and not just the brand name.

Bottom line: in case you get ill, medicines you are used to take to cure the illness are readily available in any pharmacy (even if they are prescription drugs in your country) and often even cheaper. In case you are on prescription drugs bring yours along, but write down their chemical name in case you run out or they get lost.

Travel insurance

Make sure your health insurance covers medical treatments in Turkey – even if Europe is included in your policy. Istanbul is indeed partly located in Europe, but the majority of Turkish soil is not! Your health service may categorize Turkey (and Istanbul) in a different region of the world. Turkey has both public and private hospitals. Private doctor offices are uncommon. Private hospitals (where you want to go in case something really nasty happens, God forbid!) can prove to be quite expensive if you are not covered by any insurance or social security scheme.

(Photo Source)

What's Next

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise March 3, 2013 at 7:48 pm

I’m a 60 year old woman visiting Istanbul for the first time in May. I will be on my own for a day or two before others join me. Are there any places I should avoid or things I should avoid or watch out for?
I’ll be there during a national holiday (May 19th) – will the tourist sights still be open?

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Hi Louise,

No need to take any special precautions, just use common sense. Go with the flow, avoid empty streets, and maybe keep night walks for after your company arrived.

As for this holiday, most attractions should be open.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Linette Ciprut July 6, 2014 at 12:43 am

Hi
I am originally from Istanbul , I was wondering if the jewish Orphan House still exist , if so and where is it located?
Many thanks

Reply

Erlend Geerts July 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Hi Linette,

As far as I know it no longer exists.

Erlend

Reply

Philip December 14, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Hi Erlend,

I will be visiting Istanbul in December for the first time ever, are there any considerations I should take into account because of the season / weather, etc. What do you think about the double decker buses or taking a Bosphoro cruise?

Thanks for so many advice, it’s been very helpful.

Regards

Reply

Erlend Geerts December 15, 2014 at 7:30 am

Hi Philip,

Istanbul is pretty cold and rainy this time of the year, so bring warm clothes. The Bosphorus tour is an excellent idea, the hop-on-hop-off bus is something I would skip.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Sue January 18, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Hi, I will be transiting for a night. I know that my origin country require me to have a visa to enter. I can apply for e-visa according to the list. My question is, which one is better for me, to get e-visa or visa on arrival?
Another question is, what is your recommendation on hotel near airport that provide transportation?

Thank you very much!

Reply

Erlend Geerts January 18, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Hi Sue,

I would go for the e-visa. As you know, I don’t suggest hotels.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Abdullah January 28, 2015 at 1:24 am

Hi Erlend,

I am prescribed for Lyrica 150mg, every time i go to a pharmacy in istanbul they say i need the prescription!! I ran out 2 days ago and i am dying already! Please help me, I need your advice.

Thanks in advance

Reply

Erlend Geerts January 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Hi,

If they don’t want to give it to you without a prescription, go to a hospital to see a doctor and ask him or her to prescribe it.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Diane March 2, 2015 at 11:18 am

Hello, I am bringing my granddaughter to Istanbul and Cappadocia for a holiday the end of March through April 7th. How will the weather be at this time? Do we need to bring coats and other warm clothing, esp in Cappadocia. I keep seeing conflicting info.
Thanks,
Diane

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 3, 2015 at 7:56 am

Hi Diane,

Istanbul can have very nice days at that time, but can also still be cold and rainy. So, I do suggest not to skip warm clothes.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

mira safitri March 10, 2015 at 5:46 am

hi Erlend,

I will visiting on 26 April, is the tulip flower still there?

thanks dear

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 10, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Hi Mira,

No official press release yet, but last year it ran from the first till the 31st of April, so I would guess yes.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Nola March 28, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Hi Erlend
We are visiting on the cruise ship Celebrity Constellation late April. Is it easy to catch public transport from the cruise port to Topkapi Palace.
Thank you

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 28, 2015 at 9:35 pm

Hi Nola,

Yes it is. There is a tramline running close to the docks. Just go to the nearest stop and take the tram in the direction of Zeytinburnu or Bağcılar, and get off 4 or 5 stops later (about 5 minutes) in Sultanahmet.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

brad March 29, 2015 at 6:55 am

hi just wanted to say thanks for this very helpful site!!!

and also to ask if you could help with the names / turkish brands of some basic antibiotic that could be bought over-the-counter at a chemist to treat travellers diarrhoea?

I’d like to have some antibiotics on hand when I visit in April 2015 just in case :^)

thanks!

Reply

Erlend Geerts March 29, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Hi Brad,

As of recently it is much harder (if not impossible) to buy antibiotics without a prescription.

Besides, if you have tourist diarrhea, you don’t need antibiotics. What you should do is buy Ercefuryl, take Immodium every time you need to go the toilet, stay clear of spicy and oily food (until you’re better), and drink plenty of room temperature water. None of the medicines I mentioned are antibiotics.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

Steve lawes April 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Hi, thanks for your very informative site, we are arriving in istanbul on 14 April 2015 for couple of weeks for golipolli this is our second trip to this wonderful country, we never had any problem with scammers last trip just need to keep your wits about you and never walk alone of a night we usually tag along with a tour walking in the area and get lots of info that way looking forward to returning and keep up the good work cheers Steve

Reply

Christine April 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

Hi Erlend
Ive just moved to Istanbul and am working here temporarily. The one thing I can’t find anywhere is vitamin and mineral supplements, specifically magnesium glycinate. One small shop in my neighbourhood offers very common things like vitamin C, and it has dissolving magnesium tablets (that burn my tongue and gums when I take it) but I cannot find magnesium tablets and am about to run out of my supply from home. I also tried to order them online and have them shipped, to no avail.

Are there more Westernised pharmacies somewhere in Istanbul where I can get a wider variety of supplement brands? Thanks for this great website: it’s invaluable.

–Christine

Reply

Erlend Geerts April 21, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Hi Christine,

The more fancy, bigger pharmacies have them. You may not find the exact same brand, but you should be able to find the same supplements. Some shopping centers have healthy living shops like GNC where you may be able to find those too.

Kind regards,
Erlend

Reply

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