Top critical review
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Good general overview but not without flaws
on 4 July 2010
Rough Guides are an established part of my pre-travel planning. As ever, the July 2009 edition of the Istanbul guide gives a good general overview for anyone visiting the city for the first time. It's helpful for dividing the city into areas of interest, making it easier to decide where to concentrate, and it's particularly useful for introducing you to the transport system - essential if you're going to get out of the city centre.
One area where this guide falls down is in the accuracy of much of its information on opening times. As the book itself reminds us, "opening hours are notoriously fickle", but I experienced so many disappointments that I gave up trusting it, choosing instead just to turn up and hope for the best (which turned out to be a more reliable approach). I'm writing this review less than twelve months after this edition of the book was published, so I wonder just how much checking was undertaken last time. Hmm.
Nor is this a specialist book. If you're coming to Istanbul, say, because of your interest in Byzantine history or Islamic architecture, there are more useful books for you. As I say, the Rough Guide is a *general* overview of the city, trying to appeal to all visitors. Like any generalist guidebook, it therefore risks disappointing those with a particular reason for visiting the city.
Finally, as in other Rough Guides, maps are an approximation only, depicting roads where there are none, missing roads which exist, and locating sites in the wrong place. In my experience this is a common failing in Rough Guides, so don't rely on them for finding your way round - supplement your purchase with a separate, detailed map.
So, two cheers for this book. Definitely recommended if this is your first visit to Istanbul, but don't be surprised if it lets you down on some of the detail.