Istanbul at a Glance
Istanbul: Transportation & Neighborhoods
Taking the taxi in Istanbul may not be as fast and convenient as in your home country. Private metered taxis are easy to find unless you travel during rush hour. However, before you hop on a taxi, keep in mind that traffic can be extremely heavy and the drivers quite reckless.
Unfortunately, only very few taxi drivers speak English or any other foreign language. Write down the address on a piece of paper and show it to the taxi driver. Do make sure that the driver knows the location before you get in the car.
There’s a nighttime fare and a daytime fare, the latter being a lot cheaper. Taxi drivers sometimes try to scam passengers out of their money by charging the nighttime fare during daytime or taking longer routes. If your taxi ride takes you across the TEM highway or the Bosporus Bridge, you will have to cover the toll. Tipping the driver, however, is not necessary as it is included in the base fee.
You are not in the mood for a taxi ride? You can also take one of the water taxis for a trip across the Bosporus. Water taxis were introduced in 2008. The fee is calculated per trip, not per passenger. With the capacity to hold up to 10 people, water taxis are often cheaper and faster than regular taxis.
If you prefer public transportation to taxi rides, you can choose from various types of transport:
- Public buses (otobüs) are cheap and reliable with fares from 1.95YTL. Express buses to more distant destinations are also available. However, they are more expensive.
- Private buses (halk otobüs) and mini-buses (dolmus) also operate on different routes. The mini buses are a little more expensive, but you can negotiate the fare based on your destination. You are not tied to bus stops as the driver will let you off wherever you wish.
- The metro runs mostly in the downtown area with ten stops between Taksim and Atatürk Oto Sanayi.
- The tram and light rail (tren) cover a significant part of Istanbul and are connected to the metro system.
- Ferries (vapur) are used by many residents in Istanbul to cross the Bosporus. They also take you to the Prince Islands for a weekend get-away.
- Inter-city buses are not only cheap but also reliable and comfortable. They offer an on-board service similar to that on airplanes.
The most common way to pay your fare is via Istanbulkart. These are available as reduced fare cards, free ride cards, and passes. Unless you are a student, veteran, or a senior citizen, you will have to purchase a Blue Card for your daily commute. The fee for the card is 10 YTL, the monthly loading fee is 120 YTL. A single ride costs 1.65 YTL using the Blue Card.
The district of Beyoglu is often called Pera, too. Here the influence of people from various cultural backgrounds is still prevalent. Thus Beyoglu is not only Istanbul’s center of trade, but also the city’s hub for art and entertainment. With neighborhoods such as Taksim Square, Galatasaray, Tünel, or Tarlabasi, it also features the busiest nightlife in Istanbul.
The Asian side is Istanbul’s calmer corner. It was first known as Chalcedon and forms one of the city’s largest districts. Although Kadiköy is the first stop for most people who arrive here, the Asian side is famous for its historical market.
The Prince Islands, on the other hand, are ideal for a weekend get-away. Take the ferry to Kinaliada, Heybeliada or Büyükada on a sunny day. All three of these islands are famous for their monasteries and churches, which are open for visitors. Most visitors discover the islands via bicycle, which can be rented for a few Liras.
The historic peninsula is known for its vast number of museums and monuments. Constantine had chosen this part of the city as his capital, leaving behind many architectural and cultural treasures. Here you’ll find the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace or the Archeological Museum. Sultanahmet Square – Istanbul’s touristic center – is located on the peninsula as well.