Packing for a jet-setting jaunt to Istanbul needn’t cause panic in the wardrobe department. Istanbul is just another city break destination and you should take much the same approach to your packing as you would for Rome, Barcelona or London. Istanbul is cosmopolitan, cultural and a wonderful melting pot of east and west, the traditional and the contemporary.
As with most city destinations, there are two key factors to consider when packing for a trip to Istanbul... One, the weather and two, your itinerary. Worrying about dressing conservatively for the city’s culture and religion (approximately 99% of its residents are Muslim) is to be considered, but it won’t have too much affect on your wardrobe. It is really only when visiting the Blue Mosque or any mosque for that matter, that women out of respect should cover their hair, shoulders, upper arms and knees. Apart from this, you needn’t worry and are not expected to cover up.
Most trips to Istanbul are likely to include haggling for bargains at the city’s Grand Bazaar, a visit to the key cultural sights including the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia museum, perusing the Istanbul Modern Museum and perhaps taking some time out on the waters of the Bosphorus. Come evening, there are some fab rooftop bars and glamorous restaurants to encounter - the perfect excuse for dressing up.
As the steamy summer comes to an end, so does Istanbul’s sweltering heat and autumn, as well as spring, is one of the best times to visit the city. Winter in Istanbul is usually cold and wet. In September, the temperature during the day is on average around 21°C with highs of 25°C, but can get cool in the evenings so it is an idea to have a light jacket or pashmina on hand. If jeans feel too stifling, a denim skirt or shorts are both ideal and great versatile city staples. Lightweight blouses, silky tanks and jersey tees are also all perfect for late summer/early autumn weather.
The Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque is really the only place in the city you will need to cover up. Similar to the requirements at the Vatican in Rome, a maxi skirt, long sleeved top and scarf will certainly do the job and look suitably boho luxe at the same time. You will have to take your shoes off, so a pair of your own socks will come in handy. (Men should also wear trousers and not shorts). Cover-ups are provided if all else fails.
The Grand Bazaar
This mega market can get extremely hot and stuffy as it attracts swarms of eager shoppers. A midi skirt and blouse combo is a sensible option, and will help keep your cool as the shopping mounts up. Opt for flat, comfortable shoes, as you will be on your feet for longer than you think.
The Istanbul Modern Gallery
Art galleries and museums are tried and tested ways to lose yourself in the very best of both Istanbul’s rich heritage and its contemporary offerings. A chic shirt dress, culottes and shirt or midi skirt and print or patterned top should fit the bill and if walking is kept to a minimum, head out in those heels. A pair of versatile wedges is ideal for the city and can be worn day to night, casual or glam.
On the water
Taking time-out from Istanbul’s hectic hustle and bustle is an agenda pre-requisite. While Istanbul is not a beach holiday, it does have some beaches as well as some gorgeous green spaces and of course the stunning waters of the Bosphorus. For a boat trip to the Asian side of the city or for a lazy afternoon by the beach, a silk chiffon kaftan dress is all that is required and should be in every Istanbul wardrobe, if only for sunset drinks at your hotel’s rooftop bar.