One of the best ways to get to know a city is to use public transport. It gives a feeling that of living there and adds an air of authenticity. Istanbul is a busy city and traffic can be crowded so planning your journey is important. As in every cosmopolitan city, there are peak times for traffic and these are best avoided if possible. If you’re taking your own car there are parking places all over the city including the Ispark service offered by the municipality. Still, we recommend you get a map.
There are shuttle services from airports to the city. Istanbul is served by two airports; Sabiha Gökçen Airport on the Anatolian side and the Istanbul Airport on the European side. You can see the locations on your Istanbul map. When planning your flights to Istanbul, consider your visit plan and choose the right airport.
When you land at Sabiha Gökçen Airport, you can reach Kadıköy or Taksim by HAVABUS buses. HAVABUS services are available between 04:00 and 01:00. HAVABUS shuttle departing from Sabiha Gökçen Airport stops at Kavacık, FSM Bridge, 1st Levent, Zincirlikuyu Metrobus, Dolapdere and terminates at Taksim. The shuttle to Kadikoy departs from Sabiha Gokcen Airport and Tem Connection Road, and passes through Yeni Sahra to Kadikoy. HAVABUS services are chargeable. If your visit is for a short business trip, you may prefer Istanbul airport hotels.
You can reach Yenikapi, Marmara Park, Bus Terminal, Bakırköy, Güneşli, Beşiktaş, Kadıköy, Pendik, Avcılar, Bahçesehir, Halkali, Basaksehir, Taksim and Sultanahmet using HAVAIST services departing from Istanbul Airport. You can find the service you need to use for transfer from the airport to your hotel, and the fee you need to pay on the website.
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There are 7 Metro lines in Istanbul and the cheapest way to use them is to buy an Istanbulkart. In 2016, Istanbulkart was chosen as “The best transportation card in the world” at the “Transport Ticketing & Passenger Information Global Awards” held in the UK. Istanbulkart can be purchased from Metro stations, bus stops or tram stations. You need to charge your card from the prepay machines for Metro Istanbul. You can pay in cash in TL. The machines don’t accept coins and are often short of change so you can find yourself being short-changed if you use these! You can also fill up your card by prepaying at various places displaying the Istanbulkart sign. In such places, we recommend that you pay in cash and in TL. When you make line transfers within the Metro you get a discount on the first two lines. Here is some information about the Istanbul metro.
M1A: Runs between Yenikapı and Atatürk Airport. If you want to reach Istanbul Fair Centre, you should use this line.
M1B: Runs between Yenikapı and Kirazlı.
M2: Runs between Yenikapı and Hacıosman. This line passes through Taksim. You can use this line if you want to pass from Taksim to Golden Horn. If you want to see the shores of Istanbul that opens to the Black Sea, you can use this line.
M6: Levent – Boğaziçi University – Hisarüstü metro line. If you want to go to Etiler, you should transfer from Levent to this metro line.
M3: Kirazli – Olimpiyat – Başakşehir Metro Line
M4: Kadıköy – Tavşantepe Metro Line. If you reach Pendik from Sabiha Gökçen Airport, you can take the Metro line from Pendik Station to Kadıköy.
M5: Runs between Üsküdar and Çekmeköy.
For detailed information about the Metro lines, click here. We recommend you get an Istanbul metro map.
Open Hours: 06:00-00:00
The Metro line that connects the two ends of Istanbul, and connects Anatolia and Europe by going under the sea is called Marmaray. You can travel from Ataköy to Gebze by using Marmaray. Regional train lines were merged into Marmaray Railway Line.
T1: You can reach the most visited areas of old Istanbul such as Karaköy, Eminönü, Sirkeci, Gülhane, Sultanahmet, Beyazıt while soaking up the scenery on your journey, starting from Kabataş by Kabataş – Bağcılar Istanbul tram line. If you’re coming from Taksim, you can get to the first station of the tram using Taksim – Kabataş funicular line.
T4: You can reach Topkapı and Edirnekapı regions via Topkapı – Mescid-i Selam tram line.
T3: Kadıköy – Moda tram line is the line that provides transportation between Kadıköy and Moda. Your journey, starting from the İskele Camii stop, continues until Kadıköy İDO. For a pleasant trip between Kadıköy and Moda, we recommend this line.
Buses are available using your Istanbulkart. Bus routes cover all areas of Istanbul but you should try to avoid using them between 08:00 and 09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 18:30 in the evening as they can get very crowded. If you’re travelling by bus you can use İETT’s website to find the best route.
To use a taxi in Istanbul, you must download one of the taxi Istanbul apps or take a taxi from the taxi stand. When you arrive at the taxi stand, tell the driver where you want to go. Taking a taxi in Istanbul can be expensive and is not necessarily quicker than public transport. Taxis may not pick you up if you hail them from the roadside instead of using the taxi stand. Taxi drivers change over is between 14:30 and 15:00 so you’ll find that it’s almost impossible to get a taxi during these times. When you take a taxi, open your route from your navigation, determine the shortest route and ask the taxi driver to go that way. If the street on your route is closed, ask for the driver to use the parallel road. If you don’t want to use navigation make sure you’ve got an up to date map. Be prepared for taxi drivers trying to take a longer route to your destination to make more money.
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7. Rent a car
Driving around Istanbul is not always an enjoyable experience. In the morning and evening, the roads to the bridges connecting the two continents are often blocked. If you want to travel between the two sides at these hours, use Marmaray or city line ferries. However, if you want to go to the tourist areas outside of Istanbul, it makes sense to rent a car. Don’t forget to ask for the prices for the vehicle. There are many international car rental companies operating in Istanbul. Your hire car can be collected from the airport so make sure the company has your flight details so they know when you’re landing. Parking is available in many areas of Istanbul but prices vary. To avoid a nasty surprise, choose the parking lot of the nearest shopping centre or the Ispark car park in the area you’re visiting. Some shopping centres charge for parking, while others are free. You can get information about the prices when entering the shopping centre.
The most enjoyable way to go from one side of Istanbul to the other is by ferry. In addition to City Line Ferries, smaller boats are available which also depart from near the ferry port. Both accept İstanbulkart. You can also use the ferry to avoid peak-time traffic on the roads. Visit the website for detailed information on the lines.
“Beam me up, Scotty!” The Scotty app is designed to help you travel quickly at peak times. You can contact motorcycle riders going to your destination and travel with them. Please note Scotty is not a motor-cab company so both the motorcyclist and the passenger are Joe Public. Motorcyclists must comply with certain criteria and complete a driving test to ensure they drive safely in order to become a Scotty Driver. The app is easy to use and available on Android and iOS compatible devices. You can use this site to download the application.
Uber (Just for the taxi)
Although there are no more Uber cars around Istanbul, you can still call for a cab with the app. The UBER app connects you with your nearest taxi driver. When calling UBER taxis, you can get detailed information about the driver, including their mobile number. You can see the route information and how much you will pay in advance and you can pay at the end of the journey either by credit card or cash. You can visit the internet site for detailed information about UBER which is also used in many countries and cities in the world.
Bitaksi app allows you to call a taxi to your location. You can see detailed information about your driver before your journey, including their driver rating. The app is suitable for disabled travellers. You can see information about the route and how much you will pay, and you can pay by credit card in advance or after the trip. Visit the site to download the app.
itaksi app, like the other two apps, will call a taxi to your location and provide information about your driver. The itaksi is an Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality service. Since these apps may have promotional and payment facilities from time to time, it’s usually possible to download all apps and be notified of current promotions. The itaksi app can be downloaded from the website.
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Born and raised Istanbulite. Keeping an eye on the opportunity to explore this ancient city even more. Trying to do the best for nature.