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.


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

{ 12 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?


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,


Linette Ciprut July 6, 2014 at 12:43 am

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


Erlend Geerts July 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Hi Linette,

As far as I know it no longer exists.



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.



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,


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!


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,


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


Erlend Geerts January 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm


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,


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.


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,


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