Stay home, carry on: A guide for self-isolation in Istanbul
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left no one unaffected. The best way to protect yourself and others is to take all the recommended precautions and follow the government’s instructions. Here are the latest developments on venue closures in Istanbul, along with a handful of tips for dealing with indefinite self-isolation.

Venue closures and event cancellations

  • Turkey lifts weekend and holiday curfew.
  • Metro service runs until 9pm every day and Tramway in Istiklal Caddesi and Moda will be closed.
  • People should wear masks in public places and on public transportation.
  • Citizens aged 65 and over and people who suffer from chronic illnesses are restricted to leave their homes and to walk in open areas such as parks and gardens.
  • All schools and universities have been shut.
  • Most public events, concerts and cultural activities have been canceled or postponed.
  • All museums, archeological sites and historical monuments run by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry have been closed indefinitely. Most private venues have also shut their doors until further notice.
  • All social and entertainment venues have been closed until further notice. This includes theaters, cinemas, exhibition centers, concert halls, wedding halls, restaurants and cafes with live music, casinos, pubs, cafeterias, indoor playgrounds, tea gardens, clubs, amusement parks, swimming pools, Turkish baths, saunas, hot springs, massage parlors, spas and sports centers.
  • Most of the shopping malls are closed.
  • The Grand Bazaar is closed.
  • Friday prayers at mosques have been indefinitely canceled.

How to get what you need without leaving home 

Supermarkets and grocery stores, along with some restaurants, remain open – so you don’t need to worry about getting your hands on food. If you would rather not go out, call your favorite restaurants to see if they will deliver. 

You can also place orders via Yemeksepeti, Istanbul’s most popular food-delivery platform. If you want to be especially careful, you can choose the ‘contactless delivery’ (temassız teslimat) option, which allows you to pay online while the driver will leave your order at your doorstep. Download the app or visit yemeksepeti.com for more information. Other reliable food delivery companies include Meal Box, Fedbox and Habit.

Buying groceries online, meanwhile, is easy. Migros, for example, offers online shopping and delivery services. If their offerings aren’t varied enough, Migros’ sister brand, Macrocenter, also offers online services. 

Other handy apps in this regard include Getir.com and Hepsiburada, by which you can purchase almost everything, from paper towels to food products.

Ordering drinking water from your favorite brand (Erikli, Hayat, Saka, etc.) also remains relatively easy. If your preferred brand doesn’t have a local distributor in your area, it can still be delivered from other parts of town. All the well-known bottled-water brands can be ordered through Yemeksepeti. 


What to do when you’re stuck indoors

Staying home doesn’t have to be boring; try to make the most of it. You can spend more time with your family, catch up on reading, watch movies, try out different recipes or even start a new hobby. Here are just a few ideas on ways to have fun while practicing social distancing.

Read informative books and magazines. To learn more about Istanbul from the comfort of your home, we recommend that you read at least one of these top-seven non-fiction books about this glorious city. E-book versions can be found online, while hard copies can be ordered from D&R. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out the digital version of The Guide Istanbul on the Magzter and Turkcell Dergilik apps.

Cook your own meals. If you need some help preparing good Turkish dishes, The Turkish Cookbook by chef Musa Dağdeviren is a great place to start. You can also follow Madem Evdeyiz on Instagram, where you’ll find a large compilation of recipes by renowned Turkish chefs.

Watch good movies and TV shows. For Netflix subscribers, ‘Rise of Empires: Ottoman’ has been one of the most highly-acclaimed documentaries in recent months. There are also a number of old movies about Istanbul that can easily be found and viewed online.

Go on an artsy virtual tour. With the Google Arts & Culture online platform, you can view stunning collections from Istanbul’s many artistic and cultural institutions. These include the Pera Museum, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum, the Istanbul Modern, the Borusan Contemporary, the Museum of Innocence, the Elgiz Museum, SALT, and the Istanbul Research Institute, among many others. 

Keep exercising. Self-isolation is no excuse to get lazy! Yoga is a great means of exercise and is easily practiced in an indoor setting. Cihangir Yoga, one of Istanbul’s most established yoga studios, provides a range of good demonstration videos – for all levels – on their popular Youtube channel.

Decorate your room. Celebrate the arrival of spring by ordering beautiful floral arrangements from Çiçeksepeti. There’s nothing like flowers and greenery to keep your spirits up during otherwise trying times.

Enjoy concerts online. Zorlu PSM streams concerts via its Instagram and Facebook accounts, and so does Kadikoy Municipality‘s Instagram account.


Keep yourself well-informed

  • For the latest health and hygiene information, visit the Turkish Health Ministry’s COVID-19 web page.
  • Anyone with particular concerns or questions can dial 184 for the ministry’s COVID-19 phone hotline. Services are provided in Turkish, English and Arabic.
  • Follow Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca on Twitter or consult the official Instagram page of the Ministry of Interior for important updates.