Transportation - Getting Around in Istanbul


Transportation in Istanbul and getting around is easy. Traffic in Istanbul is a major problem and often experiences gridlock particularly on the bridges.

Public Transportation
The two busiest areas for tourist that include Sultanahmet and Beyoglu are easy to get around on foot. Buses are very useful for travelling to the Bosphorus coast to Ortakoy. To travel from the European side to the Asian side, the best way of transportation is the ferries. For travelling to the shopping and business districts of Nisantasi, Etilier and Levent, the best way is via the metro line that runs north from Taksim.Bus, metro, ferry and tram tickets are cheap and mostly available near the main stops, either from a kiosk, all main bus and metro stops and ferry terminals. The electronic token named "akbil" is available for purchase in advance with a small returnable deposit. Akbil is valid for a number of journeys, slightly cheaper and more convenient for buses, ferries, tunel and the metro.

Buses
Buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Istanbul, though they are usually overcrowded and it’s not easy to find out which one you should catch. For public buses, tickets must be bought at kiosks before boarding, while other buses operated by private companies, accept cash payment on the bus. Buses operate from 7am till 11pm.

Tram
Trams in Istanbul is fantastic. There are two tramways on the European side of Istanbul. One line runs from Kabatas, then over the Galata bridge through Eminounu, Sultanahmet, Beyazit and onto outlying suburbs.

The funiculars connecting Kabatas, south of the Dolmabahce Palace, with Taksim Square and the Tunel, the 19th century funicular connecting Karakoy to Tunel in Taksim (end of Istiklal Street) can also be used. And the nostalgic Istiklal Street Tram operates at the Istiklal Street, Taksim every day till midnight.

Metro
The Metro line connecting Taksim to the commercial district of Levent, and a line serving the Old city and connecting it to the airport of Ataturk are the most popular transportation alternatives in Istanbul. Trains run from 6am to about 12pm

Ferries
Ferries in Istanbul are a great way to travel and easy way to travel up, down and across the Bosphorus. The closest ferry terminal to Sultanahmet is Eminonu. You need to buy a token (called a jeton) from one of the machines at the ferry terminal or the ticket booth. There are ten main ferry docks that include Karakoy, Kabatas, Besiktas and five in Eminou on the European side; Uskudar and Kadikoy on the Asian side. Service runs every 15-20 minutes from 7 am until 11pm. There are also fast sea buses that are a bit more expensive than ferries. Check official page www.ido.com.tr for updated timetables and info.

Dolmus
Dolmus is a large, yellow shared minibus taxi which runs a fixed short, circular route, such as Taksim-Besiktas with the starting points and final destination displayed in the window. With no set stops, flag down the driver to get on and shout to get off. For local journeys there is a fixed fare, which is around 1.50 TL. Payment is in cash, upon boarding, costing a little more than the bus, especially for longer journeys.

Taxis
The taxis in Istanbul are yellow and have taxi signs on the roof. It’s easy to find a yellow taxi almost anywhere in the streets. The night rate (24.00-06.00) is 50% more than the day rate, so the visitors should check the correct rate on the meter which is "Gündüz" means day and "Gece" means night and which should be digitally displayed. Alternatively, one light indicates the day meter and two lights the night meter. Taxis are cheap compared to European levels.

Airport & Transfers

Transfers fron the airports in Istanbul is very easy. Ataturk International Airport is located about 25km west of Istanbul’s city centre. The Havas Airport Shuttle Buses operating to Taksim and many districts is the best way to get into the city. If you are arriving earlier than the tour start date and have not booked an airport transfer, the easiest way to get to the hotel is by taxi. The day time fare will cost approximately 30TL, but after midnight it will cost around 50-55TL.

Sabiha Gokcen Airport is located on the Asian side of Istanbul and is much further from Istanbul’s city centre. The Havas Airport Shuttle Buses operating to Taksim and many districts is the best way to get into the city.

The Havas Airport Shuttle buses to leave every 30 minutes from 6am-11pm. more info on www.havas.com.tr

Car Hire
As the public transportation in Istanbul is excellent, car hire in Istanbul is not much recommended. It is also easy to walk around the most popular places and sights. Also parking is a big problem at the busy regions and most sights.