7 Aralık 2013 Cumartesi

Get In

By plane

Atatürk Airport

Duty Free area, inside Ataturk Airport
Most planes arrive at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA: IST), 20 km west of the city centre. From the airport, there are various options for getting into Istanbul: you can take a taxi (about 35-40 TL to Taksim. There is no night fare in Istanbul anymore - the price would be the same at midnight or midday. About the same to Sultanahmet), the express bus service run by the local airport service called "Havataş"  which departs half-hourly between 4AM-midnight and costs 10 TL to Taksim and Aksaray, the public bus (line #96T) run by İETT costing 5 TL(3.5 with İstanbulKart), which has fewer departure times now, due to Havatas, which is also a municipality engaged bus service.

Then, there is the metro (06:00 - 00:05) (signposted "light rail" in the airport, when you get outside the baggage claim its about a 10 minute walk in the airport to the metro line. Just follow the signs), which will take you directly to the Otogar (bus station) or to numerous stops within Istanbul (Aksaray in the city centre is the last stop, transfer stations for tram heading for deeper into old city is available at Zeytinburnu and Aksaray). It costs 3 TL, by token (+an extra 3 TL when boarding the tram) and getting to Aksaray takes around 45 minutes. It is possible to be at your bus departing from Otogar within less than one hour after landing by taking the metro.
When entering the metro station, you need to buy a jeton (token) for 3 lira. Just hand the cashier 3 lira and he'll give you a token, or use the automatic dispenser (Jetonmatik), which accepts banknotes (5 TL, 10 TL) as well as coins. Use 'select' to choose the number of jetons and then push 'ok'. They don't accept credit card or foreign currency here. This will get you on the red metro line (towards Aksaray). From this line, if you are going to Sultanahmet, you can transfer at Zeytinburnu and buy another jeton (3 lira) - see the section on "Istanbulkart" if further travel within Istanbul's metro system will be undertaken. Note that the jeton token here is different than the first one. From Zeytinburnu, take the blue tram line T1, towards Kabataş which passes by: Sultanahmet, Eminönu and Tophane. The trip from the airport to Sultanahmet takes about 45 min.
Other Notes: Note that people are working on commission at the airport trying to make you use special shuttle buses for very high fees (30+ TL), so for people who wish to travel more economically the Metro/tram-combination is easy and fairly quick, and offers very good value. Travel by metro/tram cost 1 token per trip which is equal to 3 TL. No matter how long you travel, it cost 1 token per trip.
Visa: Depending on nationality, foreigners arriving in Istanbul may need to purchase tourist visas (USA and some EU citizens, depending on exact nationality, do). This must be done upon arrival before queuing for passport control. The windows for purchasing the visa are located immediately to the left of the main passport control booths. On payment the visa will be to a page of your passport. You must pay in cash - US dollars, Euros, or British pounds. Turkish lira is NOT taken, but there is an ATM where you can withdraw your own currency should you not have any (this ATM is frequently out of Euro and US $). You can pay by Mastercard/Visa at the visa desk as of May 2012. The fee varies depending on the visitor’s nationality. The fee is $20 for visitors traveling with U.S. and $60 for Australian passports (May 2012). Canadians pay US$60 (or €45). EU pays €15 (note that GB citizens may pay cash in Pounds (£10) but if you use a debit or credit card it will be charged 15 Euro). Greek citizens do not need a visa to enter Turkey.
As of May 2013 the Turkish government has launched the e-Visa system in which you can apply and pay for your visa online and print it out at home prior to your trip to avoid waiting in line at the visa desk at the airport.[ https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/info/]
Note that food and drinks at the airport may cost up to five times more than in the city proper, like in other international airports. If you are traveling on budget and plan to spend some time at the airport, it may be wise to bring your own meals from town instead of buying them there. If you come from the Metro, there is a supermarket in the tunnel leading to the elevators / stairs to the airport proper where you can do some last-minute shopping.

Sabiha Gökçen Airport

Istanbul also has a second airport, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (IATA: SAW), located in the Anatolian side of the city.
The cheapest way to arrive from Sabiha Gökçen in the European side of Istanbul is by bus (E10 line, from Sabiha Gökçen to Kadiköy) + ferry(from Kadiköy to many ferry stations, including some in the Sultanahmet area). It costs no more than 7TL for the bus ride and then you pay only 2TL for the ferry ride (which is linked to the public transport system, meaning you can also use akbil or electronic transport prepaid cards to pay for the ferry). That's less than €4 in total. Every other option priced at €10 and above ( 23 lira and above-by Feb 2013 rates) makes sense ONLY if you can't use this. And BEWARE of the company running the "HOTEL INFORMATION" office in the Sabiha Gökçen airport, see below.
A Havatas bus connects this airport with Taksim in the city centre for 13 TL (July 2013) and takes about an hour (closer to two or more in heavy traffic). There is also a Havatas service to Kadıköy, a transportation hub of Asian Side, which costs 8 TL. If you arrive in the middle of the night, you can move to the departure hall after passing customs and rest on very comfortable seats — you will even find coin-operated Japanese massage chairs. Then, at 05:00 the first Havatas bus will take you to town. The Havatas bus schedule is sometimes linked to the arrival/departure times of planes.
A cheaper option is to take public bus line #E9 to Kaynarca (get off at Tersane Lojmanlari) in (30 min, 2 TL); see timetables [2]). From Kaynarca, you can take a suburban train (Banliyö Treni) to Haydarpasa (50 min, 2 TL), from where you can take a ferry to Karaköy (2 TL). Total travel time is approx. 1 h 40 min and the cost 6 TL.
Various private operators offer internet bookable shared minibuses to central locations — a good choice when arriving late. A typical price being EUR 90 for 4 people to a hotel in Laleli. A taxi to Sabiha Gökçen airport from Taksim, which lies around 50 km from the airport, takes ~35 minutes at 3:30am with no traffic. The meter will show ~75 lira, plus there is ~6 lira in tolls. Note the security screening is before the check-in counters, so add some extra time to make the cutoff times (45 minutes for international, 30 for domestic).
Beware of the company running the "Hotel Information" office in the Sabiha Gökçen airport which offers "shuttle-to-hotel" services from €15 (they pretend to make a discount based on your group size, you can get it as low as €12.5 for 4 people) because their drivers are totally uninformed about any hotel address and they may get lost/the trip may take 2-3 times more than normal because of their lack of knowledge with hotel addresses.
When arriving at Sabiha Gökçen airport, there are people offering shuttle services to the European side of the city, most costing €10, which is much cheaper than booking a taxi with your hotel/hostel (about €50-60). It is the best option after the Havatas airport buses. For the return journey, officers are quite zealous with luggage checks and they systematically remove the cap from bottled water once at the gate. It is recommended not to buy water before the flight although you can take the open bottle on board. Another surprising feature of Sabiha Gökçen airport is the luggage check at the main entrance, but fortunately you are allowed to take drinks in the airport at this point.

By train

Travel Warning
NOTE: Due to construction of the Bosporus Rail Tunnel and new high-speed lines between Istanbul and Ankara all long-distance train services are suspended until 2015. Trains from Europe terminate at the border where designated buses are avalible for the rest of the journey. On the Asian side, trains from south (Konya and Adana amongst others) will have their terminus in Eskişehir. Trains from eastern Turkey and Iran terminates in Ankara. The sole exception of this are the trains from Gebze, a suburb 45 km east of Istanbul.

International trains from across Europe arrive at the station in Sirkeci, close to Sultanahmet. Asian trains arrive at Haydarpasa station. To get between the two, catch a ferry across the Bosphorus (see Get around). Marmaray, the Rail Tube Tunnel and Commuter Rail Mass Transit System is being built, and is projected to be one of the most challenging infrastructure projects in Turkey.
Inside Sirkeci Train Station
International trains to Sirkeci
  • Daily overnight train Balkan Express from Belgrade (Serbia) via Sofia (Bulgaria).
  • Daily overnight Bosphorus Express from Bucharest (Romania) (departure at 12.16PM from Bucharest, arrival at 8.30AM in Istanbul, but expect about 2 hours delay) Cost: 170 RON (about 40 euro) for a second class sleeper, plus an additional fee if you wish a sleeping compartment (77 euro for a single-bed cabin or 10 to 33 euro for twin/up to six beds/cabin). No restaurant.
Trains from Budapest and Thessaloniki are cancelled since 2011.
International trains to Haydarpasa
Haydarpasa Station
  • Weekly trains to Aleppo (Syria) - taken out of service in 2008; it is unknown whether and when this service will resume.
  • Weekly train to Teheran (Iran) (from Haydarpasa station) every Wednesday 10.55PM, costing 105 Turkish lira. It is also a good way to drive in the Eastern part of Turkey. You change trains on Friday at Lake Van which requires a four hour ferry ride to get across. Both the Turkish and Iranian trains are comfortable and clean. Waggon restaurants are rather cheap. Arrival in Tehran on Saturday at 6.45PM (but expect up to 10 hours delay…).
Schedule and price list of railway trips can be gathered from TCDD (Turkish Republic State Railway
When arriving at the Turkish border from Europe, you may need to buy a visa before getting your passport stamp. This counter accepts only Euros or USD, not Turkish Lira. You need to go to the visa counter first to purchase your visa, then to passport control to get it stamped.

By bus

Most buses and coaches terminate at the colossal Esenler Otogar, about 10 km west of the city center, located on the European side. The station can be easily reached via the Otogar stop on the M1. Companies may also have courtesy minibuses or taxis which will allow you to easily access the center of the city.
Buses depart/arrive for all regions of Turkey as well as for international destinations including cities in Bulgaria, Greece, Republic of Macedonia and Romania. The terminal is huge and each company has a separate office. The area can be a tourist trap with people wanting to help get you to the right office -- for a fee. It is easiest if you know who you want to travel with when you arrive.
With 168 ticket offices and gates, shops, restaurants, hotel, police station, clinic and mosque, the Büyük Otogar is a town in itself. From/To Thessaloniki (Greece): ticket prices are around €45 (one way),€80 with return . From/To Sofia and Varna (Bulgaria): ~30€ (one way). From/To Skopje (Macedonia): ~40€ (one way). Ticket prices may change related with petrol costs but on an avarage 100 kilometers costs 5€ (Euros). Some bus companies selling online tickets from their individual webpages. Varan, Ulusoy, Metro and KamilKoç are considered as best bus companies of Turkey.
"Harem" is the major hub for the buses on the Anatolian (Asian) side, which can be reached easily from the European side with a Ferryboat.
Turkish bus companies mostly don’t have a toilet inside the bus. Buses stop for rest and needs usually every 4 or 5 hours. Rest duration is 30 minutes.

[edit] By boat

Maiden's Tower, located on an islet at the southern entrance of Bosphorus
International ferries, carrying tourist groups from outside Turkey stop at Karakoy Port. The port is ideally located close to Sultanahmet and Taksim.
Cruise ships often dock close to downtown. Passengers not on tours will find taxis readily available at the port entrance, and modern streetcars a short walk away.

By car

Traffic in Istanbul can be manic; expect a stressful drive because you will be cut off and honked at constantly. The city currently holds more than 1,500,000 automobiles and there is a strong demand for building of new or alternate highways.
If you've arrived in Istanbul by car, and you're not familiar with the streets, it's better to park your car in a safe place and take public transportation to get around.
The city, lying on two different continents and separated by the Bosphorus, is connected by two bridges. The bridge on the south, closer to the Marmara Sea, is called the "Bosphorus Bridge". The bridge closer to the Black Sea is named "Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge" and is longer than the first one. Both are toll bridges, and you must pay a fee to cross.
Since 2006, the Bosphorus Bridge toll stations do not accept cash, and payment must be made using electronic cards, either manually (KGS) or automatically via a transponder mounted on the front of the car (OGS). The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge does not accept cash either, only KGS or OGS. The minimum amount of credit which can be purchased for a KGS card is 50 Turkish Lyra (October 2012).
On weekdays, drivers should be aware of potentially hour-long traffic jams on the highways leading to both bridges, particularly heading west in the mornings and east in the evenings, since most people live on the Anatolian side but work on the European side.
There is a great shortage of parking in Istanbul, and existing lots are quite expensive. You will see many cars parked on the sides of the road, in front of garage doors even.
Drivers unfamiliar with the city should also be aware that street signs are rare. It is a common thing to pull over and ask for directions, something the natives and taxi drivers do quite often.

Get around

Rapid transit map of Istanbul (urban rail and metrobüs systems)

Public transport

Istanbul's public transit system can be difficult to figure out; maps are rare and you often have to transfer, and pay another fare, to get where you are going. However, if you put some effort into it, you can avoid taxis and not walk too much.
Each time you use a tram, metro, bus, or boat on the public transport system, you will need to use a token. The small metal/plastic tokens cost 3 TL (September 2012) and can be bought at various ticket kiosks & machines at bus, railway and metro stations. Ticket fares across buses, trams and metros are at a flat rate (i.e. not dependent on how far you go). Only cash in Turkish lira is accepted at ticket kiosks of public transport, no credit cards or foreign currency. Also be aware that the Istanbul subway system does not offer transfer tickets and as such each new line requires a new fare, unless you use an an Istanbulkart or Akbil, see below.


An Akbil device.
Buying an Istanbulkart is a good idea if you are in Istanbul for more than a day or two, and intend to use public transport. This is a plastic card that looks like a credit card. It can be used as a ticket on buses, trams, suburban trains, metro and even the cross-Bosphorus ferries. You touch the Istanbulkart to a reader when you get on the bus or enter the tram/metro platform. The great part for groups of travellers is that you can buy only one and touch it as many times as there are passengers (unlike London's Oyster card, there is no need to touch out). You can buy or refill them at designated booths located at any major bus, tram, to metro station, as well as some other places such as newspaper stands close to bus stops. An Istanbulkart provides a flat fare of 1.95TL for the first ride, which is a cheaper option in comparison to tokens used in Metro and speed trams (jeton, 3TL), but more expensive for buses. It is also 3,50TL to the Prince's Islands, instead of 5TL for a token. Istanbulkart also allows discounts in transfers (when used multiple times within a limited period, roughly an hour and a half since the last time you used it). A deposit for the device itself is payable when you buy it (10 TL - or 7TL? - confusion reigns!), which is not refundable, and neither is any credit left on the Istanbulkart (when bought at the Ataturk airport metro terminus, 4TL deposit will be already on the card when bought). Note that there are different booths for buying the card and for charging it, and charging booths accept only 5, 10, and 20 lira banknotes.
Once you have bought and loaded the card, your first journey costs 1.95TL (except for Metrobus, which costs around 3TL), then any change within approximately 2 hours costs progressively cheaper; second journey is 1.25TL, third is 1.00TL and so on. Note that changing metro line or travel type, i.e. ferry to bus, or metro to tram, requires you to go out of the turnstiles then to check back in to the new line or travel type. Therefore this is extremely more economic than buying individual jetons at 3TL per journey.
The Istanbulkard is relatively new, and is replacing the older Akbil metal touch-token which is being phased out (but is still in wide use). It is now just about impossible to buy an Akbil. However, there are still some places that do not yet accept the Istanbulkart, so if you have an Akbil token left over from previous trips to Istanbul, keep hold of it: they still work. Some Kiosks still have Akbil signs rather than Istanbulkart signs - but you can usually buy or top up your Istanbulkart at any kiosk where the Akbil sign is displayed.
Buses and streetcars tend to be very crowded during rush hours, especially on Mondays and Fridays. That can also create opportunities for pickpockets.
  • Smart passenger information system
  • Contactless smart card
  • RFID( radio-frequency idenfication) card
  • Pre-paid and rechargeable card
  • TYPES of Istanbulkart

The New İstanbul Kart is a RFID (Radio-frequency identification) card which fits perfectly in a wallet since it has the dimensions of a regular credit card. It is a pre-paid and rechargeable card, which can be used to cover fares and entrance fees. It will enable passengers to cover any kind of transportation fees, including bus, tram, metro, funicular, ferry and sea-bus fares.
The Electronic Fare Collection System is an information management system that is secure, fast and accurate. It provides pre-paid rides in the mass transportation system. Smart cards are widely used for their ease of use and high security. istanbulkart is the contactless smart card introduced by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for urban services and electronic ticket applications. It is up to the international standards for contactless smart cards (ISO 7816 and ISO 14443).
Work is underway to utilize "istanbulkart" as a loyalty card and a membership card in civic services, event ticketing, car parking, social aid identification and access control, e-health, electronic passport, electronic ticket, e-campus, etc. The first step of the project was to transfer the conventional electronic fare collection system into the card system in addition to AKBİL.

Istanbulkart is the transit pass card of Istanbul public transportation A plastic RFID chip card that you load money onto then use for transit fares. It's the most convenient way to travel on public transit in Istanbul (http://www.istanbul-kart.com/Veriler.asp?Veri_id=Bilgi_3)

By bus
Bus and tram, together
There are two types of public buses in Istanbul; those run by the private sector and those run by the city-owned İETT. You can differentiate these two types by their colors. Privately run buses are blue-green with yellow non-electronic destination signs while İETT-run buses come in many flavors including old red-blue ones, newer green ones and red double-deckers. The Akbil Transit Pass is valid universally while tickets that can be obtained in kiosks near bus stops for 1.40 TL are valid only on İETT buses and cash payment only on private buses, although if you get on an İETT bus the driver will normally accept cash (normally 1.50 TL but this is dependent entirely upon what the driver wishes to charge) and hand you his Akbil for you to use.
Recently installed Metrobüs, long hybrid buses running on their special lanes separated from all other traffic and thus saving lots of time in Istanbul's usually congested roads, connect western suburb of Avcılar with Kadıköy in Asian Side via Bakırköy, Cevizlibağ which is just out of old city walls near Topkapı Gate, and Mecidiyeköy.
Most bus lines operate between 6AM and around midnight, usually with a reduced volume of services after 10PM. Some lines between major centres operate 24 hr, though, as is the Metrobüs, with about an hour intervals. After midnight, buses cost two tickets pp rather than the usual one.
24 hr Bus Lines:
  • 73 Taksim Square-Ataturk International Airport
  • 110 Taksim Square-Kadikoy
  • 112 Taksim Square-Bostanci
  • 25T Taksim Square-Sariyer
  • 40 Taksim Square-Sariyer
  • 89C Taksim Square-Basaksehir
  • E10 Kadikoy-Sabiha Gokcen International Airport
  • 15F Kadikoy-Uskudar
  • 130 Kadikoy-Tuzla
  • 34A Sogutlucesme(Kadikoy)-Edirnekapi (Metrobus)
  • 34 Avcilar-Zincirlikuyu (Metrobus)

As a tourist, you are most likely to use the tram and the metro in the Sultanahmet and Taksim area since there are no bus lines operating in the area anymore.

By metro

Istanbul's first underground system dates back to 19th century, when the funicular subway "Tünel" was constructed to operate from Karaköy to Istiklal Street in 1875. The distance travelled was 573 metres. Recommended option to go up-hill from Galata Bridge (Beyoglu side) to the famous Istiklal Caddesi (main street).
In 1990's, a modern tram line was constructed in the European side of the city, and now it's being extended to the inner parts of the city, as well as to the Anatolian side with a sea-tunnel named "Marmaray" crossing below the Bosphorus.
Istanbul's metro consists of two lines, the northern line is currently just a short stub connecting Şişhane to Hacıosman via Taksim Square, and Mecidiyeköy and Levent in business district. There is also a funicular system connecting Taksim to Kabataş where you can get on ferries and cross to the Anatolian side, and also transfer to trams bound for old city. The separate southern line is most useful for visitors, connecting Aksaray (with its connections to the tram line onwards to old city) to Atatürk Airport, via the main coach station (Otogar). A connecting line between southern and northern lines, crossing Golden Horn on a bridge, is under construction, but don't hold your breath.
M4 line started operating in August 2012 on the Asian side and runs between Kadiköy and Kartal with extension further east being under construction as well as tunnel under the Bosborus.
Nowadays, most metro stations do not have a staffed ticket booth, so you will have to obtain your token from automatic token dispensers (called Jetonmatic). Insert coins (except 1 or 5 kuruş) up to 3 TL and then press the button marked onay (Turkish for "approval", no English translations are given on all the machines).
A token costs 3 TL (around €1.30) on any urban rail in Istanbul.

By tram

  • Istanbul Metro & Tram
A tram (line # T1) connects Zeytinburnu (connection to the metro line to the airport) to Kabataş (connection to the underground funicular to Taksim). The line is 14km long, has 24 stations and serves many popular tourist sites (e.g. in Sultanahmet) and ferries (e.g. Eminönü). An entire trip takes 42 minutes.
There are two tram lines running on the same tracks, the line numbered as 38 in front of tram cars runs along the entire T1 line between Kabataş and Zeytinburnu, while significantly shorter line #47 runs between Eminönü and Cevizlibağ stations (the latter of which is abbreviated as C.bağ-A.Ö.Y. on the signage of tram cars). However, both lines call at stations that are of most interest to travellers through the Old City. During morning and evening rush hours every alternate tram runs as #47, while during the rest of the day, most run as #38.
Although you may use the same tokens (2 TL) or AKBİL on the metro and tram, you must pay another fare each time you change lines.
The tram was put in service in 1992 on standard gauge track with modern cars, connecting Sirkeci with Topkapi. The line was extended on one end from Topkapi to Zeytinburnu in March 1994 and, on the other end from Sirkeci to Eminönü in April 1996. On January 30, 2005 it was extended from Sirkeci to Kabataş crossing Golden Horn after 44 years again. 55 vehicles built by ABB run on the line. The daily transport capacity is 155,000 passengers.
Tramway stations are: Zeytinburnu, Mithatpaşa, Akşemsettin, Seyitnizam, Merkezefendi, Cevizlibağ, Topkapı, Pazartekke, Çapa, Fındıkzade, Haseki, Yusufpaşa, Aksaray, Laleli (Üniversite), Beyazıt (Kapalıçarşı), Çemberlitaş, Sultanahmet, Gülhane, Sirkeci, Eminönü (ferryboats), Karaköy, Tophane, Fındıklı, Kabataş.
Between Taksim and Kabatas, there is a modern underground funicular to connect this tram line to the Taksim metro. The tram is also connected to the southern metro line (for the Otogar and Ataturk Airport) at Aksaray station, though the metro and tram lines are a short walk from each other.
During morning and evening rush hours (roughly between 7AM-9AM and 5PM-7:30PM respectively), tram cars run jam-packed so if you intend to take it for a couple of stations down the way, don't even bother—walking instead is not only less tiresome than standing in what is essentially more crowded than a sardine can, it's also quicker as you will most likely be able to get in the second or even third tram calling at the station due to the crowd.
There are also two other tram lines linking residential and industrial suburbs in the northwest with the city centre: T2, which heads for Bağcılar, and T4 (which is more like metro-tram systems of northwestern Europe, as it lies underground for part of its route), which heads for Sultançiftliği, connecting to the Zeytinburnu and Topkapı stations of the T1 line respectively. However, these lines are of very little, if any, use to the average traveller.

Information for disabled travelers

The process of replacing old buses with newer ones accessible for people using a wheelchair is ongoing. Many buses on central lines have a low floor and a built-in ramp (consult the driver to lean the bus down nearer to the ground, to open the ramp, and to assist into the bus, though any of these might unfortunately be impossible during peak hours in interval stops. Think of a sardine-packed bus unloading all of its passengers to lean down).
By September 2011 LCD screens showing the stop names while approaching to the stop, and voice announcement is made.
Trams are accessible for people using a wheelchair from the station platforms if you can manage to get into the station in the first place. Some of the stations are located in the middle of very wide avenues and the only access to them is via underground passages (tens of stairs) or overpasses (more stairs!). Otherwise, platforms in tram stations are low and equipped with gentle ramps right from the street (or sidewalk) level.
All stations are announced both on a display and by voice in the trams.
All stations and trains in the northern metro line are accessible for people using a wheelchair. Look around the station entrances for handicapped lifts/elevators. Only some of the stations in the southern metro line are equipped with such elevators (among the stations which have elevators are Aksaray-the main station of the city centre, Otogar-the main bus station, and Havalimanı (Airport) station), but whether there is an elevator or not, if you manage to get into the station (there is a good chance that you can do with a little assistance because the stations in the southern line aren’t located as deep as the stations of the northern line are; only about one floor’s height under the ground), all trains are accessible from the station platforms, though a little assistance more will be helpful for passing over the narrow gap between the train and the platform. You can ask the guys in grey/black uniforms (security guards, they can be seen in the entrances of the station platforms if not elsewhere) for assistance, it’s their duty.
All stations are announced by voice in the metro trains. In northern line it is also announced on a display, but not in the southern line. Instead, you should look at the signs in the stations, which are big and common enough.

By boat

Istanbul liner crossing the Bosphorus
Unique Istanbul liners (large conventional ferry boats), sea-buses (high speed catamarans), or mid-sized private ferries travel between the European and Asian sides of the city. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and costs 1.50 TL, and gives great views of the Bosphorus. Be aware that sometimes the ferry when arriving at a dock can bounce off the pier accidentally, even on calm days. This can cause people to fall over if they are standing up, so it is advisable to remain seated until the ferry has come to an absolute stop.
In Istanbul, liners from any given quay generally take only a certain route, and these quays are signposted ‘X Iskelesi’ (“X Landing stage/pier”). For instance, Eminönü alone has more than 5 landing stages (including the ones used by other ferries apart from liners), so if you should head for, say, Üsküdar, you should take the ferry which departs from ‘Üsküdar Iskelesi’. Replace ‘Üsküdar’ with the destination of your choice.
Istanbul liners  travel on the following routes:
  • Karaköy - Haydarpaşa - Kadıköy
  • Kadıköy - Eminönü
  • Üsküdar - Eminönü
  • Üsküdar - Karaköy - Eminönü - Eyüp (The Golden Horn Route)
  • Kadıköy - Besiktaş
  • Kabatas - Uskudar - Harem
  • Istinye - Emirgan - Kanlıca - Anadolu Hisarı - Kandilli - Bebek - Arnavutköy - Çengelköy (The Whole Bosphorus Route)
  • Anadolu Kavağı - Rumeli Kavağı - Sariyer
  • Eminönü - Kavaklar (Special Bosphorus Tour-Recommended For Tourists)
  • Sirkeci - Adalar - Yalova - Cınarcık (The Princes' Islands Route)
Furthermore, the sea-buses (deniz otobüsü) follow the same (or more) routes, usually much faster than liners. Returning to Yenikapi from Kadikoy by sea-bus is a fast and convenient way to cross the Bosphorus; at Yenikapi there is a railway station with frequent trains to Sirkeci/Eminönü and the Yenikapi fish restaurant area is close by (or one stop on the train).
Four main private ferry routes for travelling between Asia and Europe sides are:
  • Besiktaş - Üsküdar
  • Kabataş - Üsküdar (close to tram and funicular system in Kabataş)
  • Eminönü - Üsküdar (close to tram in Eminönü)
  • Eminönü - Kadıköy (close to tram in Eminönü)
Very useful are the fast ferryboats (travelling at 55 kilometers) running from several points, such as the Yenikapi - Yalova one, that allows you (with a connecting bus in Yalova) to be in Bursa centre in less than three hours. Prices are marginally higher and the gain in time is considerable, though the view is not as nice.
All of the ferries, including private ones, can be paid for using the AKBIL system or the new Smart RFID Card that is in the process of introduction.
A new metro line extension crossing the Bosphorus in a tunnel is under construction. This will change the ferry provision and is perhaps a good reason to visit Istanbul before it is completed.

By train

Suburban/commuter trains (banliyö treni) using somewhat dilapidated stock and running on national rail network, connect suburbs along the European and Asian coast of the Sea of Marmara to main stations at Sirkeci and Haydarpaşa, respectively. These trains are one of the fastest connections between the old city and western suburbs, especially Bakırköy, although they, especially the line on European Side, are best avoided late at night.

By taxi

Taxis are an easy and cheap way to get around. As of December 2011, start off rate is 2.70 TL (€1.2) and then 1.7 TL (€0.73) for each km afterwards. A one-way travel from Taksim to Sultanahmet costs approximately 10-15 TL. Tipping is generally unnecessary. Occasionally, drivers will refuse to start the meter and try to negotiate a fixed price (but most drivers will start taximeters at all times). You should avoid these cabs and simply take another one as you will almost certainly end paying too much. To be sure, before getting in, just ask "how much to go to ...?" (most of the drivers understand basic English) since the price they tell then is quite accurate. Tell them then to put the taximeter on. Drivers do normally work with the taximeter, so they will not be surprised at all when you ask them to put it on. The price at the end will be quite close to the one they tell you at the beginning. There is now, as of October 2009, just one fare unit, it means, there is no extra fare at night.
Taxis that wait near a bus station are usually a tourist trap. They start the meter but charge you 20 TL at least. Emphasize to the driver that you will pay for the meter price before getting in. Do not buy their quick-sell tricks. Always try to stop a taxi that is passing by on the road or find a legitimate taxi stop.
Insist on going to the destination that you want because some drivers are payed by commission for each time they have someone go to a certain site.
Beware riding a taxi other than the "yellow-colored" ones since the other-colored taxis are registered under different cities and have a different rating system.
Be careful on what notes you hand them for payment; some drivers have tried to pretend that the 50 lira note that was handed was just a 5 lira note. Occasionally taxi drivers may actually also rip notes you give them, and tell you it is no good, in order to make you hand them a 50 lira note. So, make sure the notes are not ripped, and is actually the right one before you hand them over. Also, if you are not familiar with the city the taxi driver may drive a detour in order to charge you more.
Traffic can be very bad, it can take an hour for a few km through the old city. You might be better off taking the metro out of the old city and then a taxi from there.
Some important routes with distances and estimated taxi prices are :
  • Ataturk Airport (IST) - Taxim Square ~ 21 km.
  • Ataturk Airport (IST) - Sultanahmet Square (Old City) ~ 18 km. 
  • Taxim Square - Sultanahmet (Old City) ~ 5,5 km. 
  • Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) - Kadikoy (Chalcadonia) Ferry Terminal ~ 36 km. 
  • Esenler (Bus Terminal) - Topkapi Palace (Sultanahmet) ~ 10,5 km. 
  • Esenler (Bus Terminal) - Ataturk Airport (IST) ~ 15 km. 

By shared taxi

Dolmuş (Turkish: "full") is a shared taxi, travelling on a fixed route, which costs more than a city autobus but less than a normal taxi. They can carry up to 8 passengers. They are easy to recognize, because they also have the yellow painting as taxis and carry a Dolmus sign on its top. They will only start driving when all eight places are filled, which is also where the name derives from.
The main and most important routes for Dolmuses are :
  • Taksim - Eminönü (Taksim stop, near the Ataturk Cultural Center, in Taksim square)
  • Taksim - Kadıköy
  • Taksim - Bostanci
  • Taksim - Aksaray (Taksim stop, Tarlabasi Avenue, close to Taksim square)
  • Kadıköy - Bostanci (Bostanci stop, in front of the Bostanci ferry port)
  • Taksim - Tesvikiye (Taksim stop, in front of Patisserie Gezi, in Taksim square)
  • Beşiktaş - Nisantasi (Beşiktaş stop, in front of the Beşiktaş - Üsküdar ferry port)
  • Kadıköy - Üsküdar (Üsküdar stop, Near the Üsküdar - Beşiktaş and Üsküdar - Kabataş ferry port)
If you want the driver to make a stop, you can say İnecek var.(EE-neh-djek war!) (Someone's getting out.) or Müsait bir yerde.(mU-sa-EEt bir yer-deh.) (At a convenient spot.).


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