What to Wear in Istanbul Packing List

What to Wear in Istanbul Packing Tips for Women

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When I first learned I would be travelling to Istanbul I immediately started to worry about what’s appropriate clothing for travel to a conservative country? Now that I experienced it, I can be honest about my fears and share my tips for packing for a trip to Istanbul. In this post, I created an Istanbul packing list filled with packing tips for women wondering what to wear in Istanbul.

Turkish Fashion and Turkish Women’s Clothing

Istanbul is a modern and fashion-forward cosmopolitan city. That said some of their traditions and culture can fall on the conservative side. Most women I noticed dressed in smart fashions which included sleeved dresses, long tunic tops and straight cut pants and jeans.

Conservative travel fashions laid out flat on white floor

There are both very conservative women with their heads covered in scarves and those who are more modern who are not covering their heads. But overall dressing conservatively means no v-necks or low cut shirts, covering your knees and not wearing ultra-tight clothing that shows the form of your body.

In Instanbul, you’ll find a more modern approach to dressing so this need for conservative dressing is not as important. If you plan to visit some historic sites you’ll need a scarf and shawl to cover up, but otherwise, you should be ok with dressing how you like.

What to Wear in Istanbul Packing List - Accessories

Istanbul Essential Travel Accessories For Women

Depending on the time you will be travelling to Istanbul be sure to pack for the weather. In summer the most popular and busy tourist season make sure you have travel essentials like a hat, sunglasses in rainy or cooler months pack a raincoat or puffer jacket.

If you are planning to do some sightseeing, then the following items are a must.

Fashion Scarf

I’ve started buying more painted silk scarves for travel. Scarves can be used in many ways to boost a carry-on only wardrobe, as a fashion accessory, hair tie, belt and more.

For a trip to Istanbul, a scarf is a great way to cover up your neckline or your head when entering religious sites. This particular scarf is inexpensive and comes in many beautiful prints and colours. Amazon US | Amazon CA

Comfortable Shoes

The streets of Istanbul are cobblestone, and you will be doing a lot of walking, especially in the old city between historic sites. I recommend comfortable walking shoes, ballet flats or sandals as heals may be hard to wear on cobblestone sidewalks.

Vionic Women’s Spark Caroll Ballet Flat

Vionic shoes provide excellent arch support and work to support your natural alignment from your feet up. These ballet flats come in a variety of colours and won’t take up a lot of space in your luggage. The right ballet flat can be dressed up or down depending on the activities of your trip. Amazon US | Amazon CA

Vionic Women’s Splendid Kani Slip-on Walking Shoes

If you don’t’ want to wear sneakers, a slip-on walking shoe will give you the comfort of wearing a sneaker, have excellent arch support and cushioning and come in a variety of colours. Amazon US | Amazon CA

security lock Travel Bags Stylish security

Anti-theft Travel Bag and Purses

When visiting a busy city, especially in Europe where pick-pocketing is a profession I always travel with an anti-theft bag. It is not a 100% foolproof solution, but having my zipper locked while I’m running around taking pictures when I know I’m distracted is an extra line of defence I can’t live without.

Travelon Anti-Theft Quilted North South Bag

For those who have been visiting this site for a while, you know I’m a big fan of Travelon for travel accessories. The fact is I have bags that are four years old which are still going on trips with me. They offer the anti-theft features I love (slash-proof fabric, locking zippers) but are stylish and come in fun styles, patterns and colours. Amazon US | Amazon CA

What to Wear in Istanbul Packing List - Tops and Covers

Tops and Sweaters for your Istanbul Packing List

During hotter months consider layering a t-shirt and light tunic top with a sweater. There are some attractions like the Mosques and Topkapi Palace that require you to be covered adequately in religious sites. Some of these sites provide coverup skirts or scarfs to wear but I suggest carrying your own.

Read more: Places to Visit in Istanbul: 2-day Itinerary

Fashion T-shirts or Blouses

Be sure to dress for both day and night. T-shirts and blouses are great to layer (when needing a cover-up for a historical site, or for dressing an outfit up or down.

Amazon Essentials T-Shirt (2 pack): Amazon US | Amazon CA

Lightweight Button Top: Amazon US | Amazon CA

Women’s Short Sleeve Tunic Tops: Amazon US | Amazon CA

Kimono Cardigans

Another must-have travel accessory for me is a lightweight cardigan. When travelling temperatures change in a heartbeat or plane rides can get cold. Having a wrap style Kimono or long sleeve cardigan can make all the difference.

Read more: Crowne Plaza Florya Istanbul hosts a Turkish Airlines Layover

In Istanbul where temperatures can get quite hot in the summer, I opted for a Kimono style cardigan to use as a cover-up when entering religious sites and for a little warmth when on a windy cruise on the sea.

Kimono Cardigan with Bohemian Floral Print: Amazon US | Amazon CA

What to Wear in Istanbul Packing List - Bottoms

Pants, Dresses and Skirts for your Istanbul Packing List

Mix and match with pants, dresses and skirts to add a bit of style to your wardrobe. Another note as I saw this happen during my trip, ripped jeans at the knees or showing even a spot of skin on the legs will get flagged when entering religious areas. Some like the blue mosque provide a generic skirt to put over the top – but if you want to avoid wearing a public covering plan accordingly.

Read more: 1200 Derece Istanbul: Café and Glass Workshop

Straight Cut Leggings or Jeans

During my trip, I wore straight cut and bootcut jeans a lot, but I was travelling in fall when temperatures were cooler. I also recommend Hue Leggings which I love and have many styles including a full leg Capri style which I can’t live without.

Hue Leggins: Amazon US | Amazon CA

Flowy Pants

When travelling to Istanbul during the summer, you may want to invest in a pair of flowy linen pants. The loose Palazzo style pant is like a skirt but offers the comfort of a pant.

Palazzo Pants: Amazon US | Amazon CA

Maxi Skirt

Make your travels easy by packing a maxi skirt that can be worn over leggings or shorts. Many tourists wore shorts in the city and it was not an issue. When visiting religious sites, just slip on a flowy maxi skirt over your shorts. Amazon US | Amazon CA

Sleeved Wrap Dress

Finally, a sleeved wrap dress is the perfect complement to your Istanbul packing list. They are great for fancy restaurants or engaging in Istanbul’s nightlife. Amazon US | Amazon CA

Travel fashions for women travelling to Istanbul

Visit Our What to Wear in Istanbul Packing List on Amazon

As I know you all love to find the items on my lists easily, I’ve added the Amazon links for both the US and Canadian sites next to each piece. I’ve also put all the items mentioned in this post in a convenient list on my Amazon Stores. I’m going to try and do this on all future fashion articles, and I’m also committed to picking items for women of all sizes. If you have any more requests for me let me, know in the comments or shoot me an email here.

Istanbul Packing List: Amazon Store US | Amazon Store CA

6 thoughts on “What to Wear in Istanbul Packing Tips for Women”

  1. What about dress code for bars, clubs, lounges and nightlife? Do women wear short fitted clothes, heels etc like we do in NYC? Or are they a bit conservative there too?

    1. That is a good question, I didn’t participate in the nightlife, however, again I would show a degree of modesty here too. Heels are acceptable just be aware of the length of skirts, etc. Female tourists do wear shorts in Istanbul – but it does lead to awkward looks and unwanted attention.

      1. You are funny with your comments, have you really been in istanbul? i guess if you only visited the touristy places which are mosques etc it is normal you’d see only people dressed modestly like you but if you were to go to bars, night life, you’ll see people dressed totally differently! You should do proper research before writing an opinion on a huge city, not just a 1km parameter around the tourist spots!

        1. Yes, I admit I did not have time to visit the nightlife. But even in my hotel, I noticed people giving looks to women who were not modestly dressed. My comments are meant to help women travelling alone from being judged by their western wear, not to diminish the beauty of Istanbul which was truly an amazing city.

        2. I totally agree with you Selin. If you go to mosques, Grand Bazaar area and old town you can see conservative people who are gonna stare at you. To be honest, locals do not go there. Besides, “being judged” and “modesty” is not just about Istanbul, if you try to find conservative people you can find them anywhere. For instance, Ireland changed its abortion law in 2019. It’s a western country however before the change abortion was only allowed if a woman’s life was at risk or there was a danger of permanent and serious damage to her physical or mental health. It was because they were/are conservative. Next time, please try to see the “other” side of Istanbul. Try to experience Bebek, Zorlu Center, Istanbul Modern Museum, Sabanci Museum, Lucca, Dragon and many other globally known places such as Zuma, Nusret, La Petit Maison. Even the most Arabic women take of their hijab (obviously not in touristic places but when they going out to chic places) and wear dresses when they are visiting Istanbul. Your post really upset me, I wish you could have a chance to explore the real side of Istanbul again without any prejudices.

        3. Hi Lara, I didn’t mean this to be prejudice in any way. I loved Istanbul and it really opened my eyes, yes I only had time to explore some of the touristy sites, but now I’m more determined than ever to explore more of it in an effort to improve these recommendations. Thanks for your feedback.

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