Travel to Istanbul

Transportation in Istanbul

Traveling by Taxi

Taxis are important means of transportation and are available at all times of day and night. They are yellow cabs and has taximeter inside for calculating the taxi fares according to the distance of traveling in Kilometers however, you have to pay attention that the driver turns on the taximeter. Taxi fares have normal rates at day-time, from 6:00am to 12:00pm, and starts at 2 TL. Fares increase at night between midnight and 6:00 am with the taximeter starting at 2.5 TL. A taxi taken from Sultanahmet to Taksim can cost you about 5 TL on average ($3 to $4), however if you get the taxi from the airport to Taksim it will cost you some 20 YTL ($ 12) and the trip will take approximately 30 minutes.Traveling by Dolmush The dolmush is another means of public transport. They are point to point shared taxis or minibuses that are used usually to travel to places outside the city center. You can also flag down a dolmush anywhere on their route and get in if you can not get it from its departure point. Destination place is placed on the front window of the dolmush. You can pay fares in cash and payment is usually made after getting in. Available popular point-to-point routes are Taksim to Teşvikiye, Bostanci, Kadıköy, Bakırköy, Yeşilköy, Kadıköy to Bostancı. The large squarish minibuses are the poorer cousins to the dolmush operating in the same manner. The main minibus line runs from Beşiktaş to the business centers in Balmumcu, Gayrettepe, Levent, Maslak and back down to the Bosphorus at Sarıyer.Public Transportation Public transportation in Istanbul is based on a large bus fleet, the limited Metro (with its stations at Taksim – Osmanbey – Gayrettepe – Levent – 4 Levent), the light rail system departing from Sirkeci station in the historic Sultan Ahmet district, large number of ferryboats on the Bosphorus available from the main terminals at Eminönu, Karaköy and Beşiktaş, in addition to the historic tramway which shuttles up and down the Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu as well as the 19th century funicular subway, Tünel, located at the end of Istiklal Caddesi.Public and Private-Public Buses The Municipality have a large fleet public buses that can be identified by their red color, belediye otobüsleri. This fleet is complemented by other privately operated blue and green private buses, halk otobüsleri. Public buses ticket costs about $.75 and is taken only by the automated AKBIL, 'Electronic Ticket' which works on both systems. However, Private Public buses can accept AKBIL, ‘Electronic Ticket’, or you can also pay your fare in cash to the officer on the left of the front door in these buses. You may have to get AKBIL if you travel by bus frequently as they provide some advantages. There are about 2800 public buses and about 1300 private public buses available in the city. They start operating at 5:30 am and service become less frequent after 10:00 pm till the end of the service at 11:00 pm. You can know the departure and arrival points and the line number from the written destination sign at the front of these buses. If you want to get off, you must press the stop button before the bus arrives at the bus stop.Ferry Boats and Sea Transport Istanbul has a continuous sea transport service between the two Asian centers of Kadıköy and Üsküdar, and Beşiktaş, Kabataş, Eminonu/ Karaköy on the European side. There are ferry boats, motorboats and sea buses that depart from various piers. It is preferable to use either ferry boats or motorboats for getting into the other side of the strait as this will facilitate your transport. You can pay your fare either by Akbil or tokens that you can buy from pier booths, as both are accepted on ferry boats and private motorboats. If you want to get information about departure times, you find these information in the booklets available at piers. Be careful that regular routes of ferry boats and motorboats service may change at the weekend. Ferryboats operate from 6:30 am till 9:00 pm, but privately operated motor boats can continue to offer service until later hours.

The main form of sea transport are the sleek but slowish, vapur, managed by the Turkish Maritime Lines. The vapur run every 15 mins to half an hour from 6:30 AM to 9 PM depending on the line. There is also the Bosphorus that runs up and down the Bosphorus starting Eminönu up to Anadolu Kavağı with a special trip on Sundays. Prices begin at $0.50 for a one way ticket.

The much speedier, deniz otobüsleri, sea bus or hydrofoils, is operated under the IDO (Istanbul Sea Buses company that is an enterprise of the Municipality). The main line is between Kabataş, Karaköy and Eminonu in the center of the city, to Kadıköy and Bostancı, on the Asian Side, and Bakırköy in the western part of the city near the Atatürk Airport. It costs more than the vapor as the average one-way ticket is about $2. There are also some smaller ferryboats that run as dolmush. The most popular point to point line of these inexpensive dolmush is Beşiktaş - Üsküdar that costs about $0.50 and runs as late as 2:00-3:00 AM.Railway Transport Tramway and subway lines are important means of transport specially in Istanbul. There are two railway systems; one is a 20 km long light metro line running through the districts of Aksaray, Otogar, Esenler, Yenibosna and Ataturk Airport, the other is a 11 km long tram line running through Eminönü, Aksaray, Topkapi and Zeytinburnu and costs about $0.70 per ticket. The lines run from 6:00 AM to 12:00 midnight. The capacity of these two rail lines is about 300-350 thousand passengers a day. In addition, there is short (8 km) subway line running through the districts of Taksim, Osmanbey, Sisli, Gayrettepe, Levent, and 4.Levent, which is being extended to Maslak neighborhood from one end and to Yenikapi neighborhood from the other end. Lastly there is the two trams which are the Tünel and historic tram in Beyoğlu. The Tunel is considered one of the world's first subways. It is a 125 year underground funicular line connecting Karaköy at the head of the Golden Horn with İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu. From there the one car historic tramway of Beyoğlu goes up to Taksim Square from Tünel. Ticket for each tram costs about $.50.

Other huge rail system projects are ongoing in Istanbul today. The biggest one of all these ongoing projects is Marmaray project which includes an underwater tunnel passing underneath the Bosphorus connecting both continents. The rail tunnel will connect to a new Yenikapi - Halkali rail line on the European side and to a new Üsküdar - Gebze rail line on the Asian side. The total length will be about 76 km of railroads operating with high capacity and fast transportation system, and is supposed to be completed by the end of 2009.Transportation to Outside the City of Istanbul By Air:

If you want to get out of Istanbul to the rest of Turkey you can catch a Turkish Airlines flight out of the domestic terminal at Atatürk Airport. In addition, there are new privately run airlines which have been available recently which means there are many more options and prices available for traveling to Mediterranean and Aegean hotspots like Antalya, Bodrum, Izmir and Fethiye. Besides Turkish Airlines, there are Pegasus Air, Onur Air, Atlasjet, and Flyair that offer such air flights.

By Road:

The cheaper means of transportation are the inter city buses. You can find these inter city buses in two major bus stations on either side of the city, Topkapi on the European side and Harem on the Asian side. There are also the upmarket Varan and Ulusoy bus companies which run out of their own terminals and they also stop en route to their destinations at well appointed road side restaurants and rest stations on the route. For example, if you travel to Ankara via one of these buses, it will cost you on average $30 (45 TL) for traveling that lasts about 5 ½ hours.Communication Post Offices:

Post office buildings are painted bright yellow and have PTT (Post, Telegraph, and Telephone) signs on their front. Post offices offer many services including local and international postal services, transfers, foreign currency exchange, sales of credits for GSM or Calling cards for payphones available in the streets, American Express cheque transactions, and sales of TCDD (Turkish state railways tickets).

If you want to ship a parcel to outside turkey, it is better not to close your parcel before it has been inspected by a customs official. Parcels which are sent by surface mail to Europe cost 25 TL for the first Kg, then 3.50 TL for every extra Kg, however mailing to other destinations like US and Australia is more expensive. The PTT office located in the Istanbul Adtiye Sarayi (Istanbul Court House) can accept shipping parcels that weigh up to 2 Kg, but in case you want to ship parcels that are heavier than 2 Kg you have to send them from Buyuk Postane (Grand Post Office) located in Sirkeci. Express mail service is available but more expensive, and moreover you should not depend on the service for sending your valuables. Also, you may think of shipping your parcel by a carier company (like DHL, UPS etc., for which you can find their phone numbers below) The main Post office is open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 9 pm, and on Sunday from 9 am to 7 pm. Smaller offices are open Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 5.00 pm.

UPS Tel. No: 444 00 33

DHL Tel. No: (0212) 478 10 00

Pay Phones:

The pay phones are found in the booths you notice on the streets. They are available at many places such as streets or squares, hospitals and train stations. You can buy call cards for these phones from Turk Telecom offices and branches, PTT offices and some buffets. Call cards have different amount of credits in them and thus their price differs depending on the amount of credits each has. Country code for Turkey is (90). Take care that because there are two different codes used in Istanbul, you should observe that if you are in European Istanbul and wish to call a number in Asian Istanbul, you must dial 0, followed by 216, however if you are in Asian Istanbul and wish to call a number in European Istanbul, you must dial 0, followed by 212. Besides pay phones, you can also make calls from post offices, Turk Telecom branches and Internet cafes as well.

Mobile Phones and GSM operators:

There are three GSM operators in Turkey which are Vodafone, Turkcell, And Avea. The reception signal is very good in Istanbul and Turkey uses the standard GSM network operating on 900 Mhz or 1800 Mhz which most mobiles can connect with. You can also buy lines for any of the three GSM operators at cheap prices from the shops where you see the logo of the mobile operator. You may consider buying a pre-paid line and not an invoiced line, since the pre-paid one is more suitable for visitors. The line will be activated within 2-3 days after you fill the application form. When the credits is nearly used up, you can recharge credits by buying recharge cards available from most of the buffets and telephone shops.

Be aware that each one of the three mobile operators in Turkey has a different code, so you should dial the area code related to the number you are calling when dialing normal phones from a mobile phone.

Internet Access and Wi-Fi

There are many cafes and shopping centers with wi fi Internet access and most of them still offering the service for free. There are also many internet cafes that are inexpensive (cost about 0.50-1.50 euros per hour) and they usually have high speed ADSL connections.

The following places have free wireless internet Wi-FI access:

• Several of the nargile places in Tophane

• Several cafes in Cihangir, including Kahvedan, Meyva, Komşufırın and Kahve Altı

• Many cafés and restaurants along Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu

• Most McDonald's and Burger King restaurants

• There is one upstairs by the restaurants facing the side of Aya Sofia and behind the entrance to the Basilica in Sultanahmet.

• Starbucks has quite a few shops around, and (at least) those at the touristic zones, has a free wierless conaction.

Getting There For transportation from Atatürk Airport into town, you have the following choices:

Bus Shuttle – They are offered by the Havas bus company which provides transportation service from airport to Taksim Square and from Taksim Square to airport, at a charge of 10 TL between 05.00-06.00 every hour, between 06.00-23.00 every half an hour. The bus stop of Havas buses can be located outside on the street at ground level at International Arrivals of Atatturk Airport. They stop at the Sea Bus station Bakırköy (for transfers to Bostancı and Kadıköy on the Asian side), Aksaray and Taksim Square.

By Taxi – the minimum charge for transportation to Taksim is USD 15.00 - 12 Euro- 11 Pound - 25 TL (25 Turkish Lira)

Limousine - typical minimum charge is USD 110.00 + V.A.T.

Hotel shuttle buses - Many of the major hotels provide shuttle bus and transportation services to and from the Atatturk airport.

Travel to Istanbul Here you can find the best offers to travel and enjoy a peasant stay in Istanbul

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