The Ultimate Guide to Getting Around Istanbulby HarryPrince, 15 December 2022
Hello there! We know a new city can take some getting used to especially when you’re busy planning an event. That’s why the last thing we want you to worry about is getting around Istanbul so we’re here to help.
While public transport in Istanbul is pretty straight-forward, we’ve made it even easier. Welcome to our Ultimate Guide to Getting Around Istanbul.
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about travelling in Istanbul. From how to pay for public transport in Istanbul to how to hire a car in Istanbul, to what apps to download, and much more, we’ve got you covered.
By the time you get to the end of this article, we bet you’ll know how to travel in Istanbul like a local. But it doesn’t end there! We’ve also got some bonus expert advice so make sure you read right till the end.
Car Hire in Istanbul
If you’d like to get around the city on your own, there are several car rental companies to help you get a car hire in Istanbul.
However, before you decide to hire a car in Istanbul, take into consideration the duration of your trip and what you need to do in Istanbul.
Public transport in Istanbul is well-connected and unless you’re planning to go to a few remote locations, it might be better to skip the car hire in Istanbul.
However, if you’re still convinced that you’d like to experience Istanbul’s roads for yourself, we’re here to help.
There are several agencies for car hire in Istanbul. One of the best things about the city is that almost all the agencies you’ll find are legit businesses. That means when you go to an agency for car hire in Istanbul, you don’t need to worry about being scammed.
When you’re hiring a car in Istanbul, be sure to carry your international driving licence and credit card with you. One thing to note is, the credit card needs to be registered in the driver’s name.
Once you’ve got your documents ready, all you need to do is walk into a car hire agency in Istanbul and sign the contract to lease your car.
Taking the Bus in Istanbul
When it comes to buses in Istanbul, there’s definitely an abundance in Istanbul!
The city has over 400 bus lines with most of them ferrying passengers until midnight. That means if you fancy a doner kebab at 10 PM, chances are you’ll find a bus in Istanbul to take you to get one!
While you might be hesitant about taking a bus in other parts of the world, taking a bus in Istanbul is very safe and easy to navigate, even for tourists. The destination and major spots are written in yellow on the sides of the bus.
If you miss it, don’t worry. You can still plan your trip on bus Istanbul by checking the schedule and routes on the Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnels Operation (IETT) website.
Buses go to almost everywhere in the city (after all, there are over 400 bus lines!) except Sultanahmet which is accessible by tram.
Riding a Tram in Istanbul
Istanbul is a city of both old and new. And the trams in Istanbul are no different!
On one hand, we have the modern tramway. This has two lines of service on the European side of the city. The first line, T1, starts from Kabataş all the way up to Sultanahmet. The T1 line is the best way to get to most of the major attractions in the city. The second line, T4, goes to the North-West of the city. Both the lines operate from 6 AM to 11 PM.
On the other hand, experiencing the city on the older Historical Tramway is an unmissable ride. A scene straight out of a vintage film, these bright red trams operate on the streets of Istanbul and offer two lines of service: NT and T3.
The NT line runs on the European side of Istanbul and runs down Istikal Street from Taksim Square to Tünel. The other line, the T3, runs on the Asian side of Istanbul from Kadıköy to the Moda neighbourhood.
Hailing a Taxi in Istanbul
The unmistakable bright yellow of taxis in Istanbul (or taksi) is unmissable. The city has nearly 18,000 taxis that are available 24/7 to ferry passengers across Istanbul.
All taxis in Istanbul have taxi metres that start at 9.80 TL(USD 0.53) and increases by 6.30 TL (USD 0.34) per kilometre after.
To book a taxi in Istanbul, you can simply hail one from the street or use an app to book one (Uber is available in Istanbul).
If you’re wondering if taxis in Istanbul are safe, the answer is yes. But like most major cities in the world, it helps to be aware when you’re taking a taxi.
Here are a few other tips for safe travels in taxis in Istanbul:
- Keep small bills with you. Not only does this make it easier to pay your taxi drives, most scams happen when you use big bills in an unfamiliar currency.
- Always check the metre before you start your ride. Taxis in Istanbul are required by law to use their taxi metre, if a driver refuses to switch it on, hail another taxi.
- Ask for change. Tipping is not mandatory in Istanbul and if you don’t wish to tip your driver, you can ask for change.
Taking the Metro in Istanbul
The metro in Istanbul is one of the most convenient ways to get around the city.
Perfect for both early risers and the night owls, the metro in Istanbul operates from 6:15 AM until midnight. There are two lines on the European side of the city and one line on the Asian side.
The airport is connected to the city via. the European line (M1) while the second European line (M2) connects all the major areas of the city to each other.
The M2 line is probably what you’ll need to use most during your stay in Istanbul.
Last but not least, The Marmaray line passes under the Bosphorus Strait and connects the metro system on the European and Asian sides of the city.
All the metros in Istanbul are air-conditioned, clean, and spacious making them one of the most convenient ways to commute around the city.
Take a Ferry in Istanbul
For a different kind of public transport in Istanbul, you might want to check out the ferry in Istanbul.
The ferry system or vapur transports you between the Asian and European sides of the city. Not only that, it’s also a really cool way to see the city from the water.
The main piers on the European side are Eminönü, Kabataş, Karaköy, and Besiktaş, and on the Asian side, Üsküdar and Kadıköy.
Catch a Dolmus in Istanbul
We’ve reached the end of our list of modes of transport in Istanbul and we’ve saved the cutest one for last.
A unique sight in Istanbul, dolmus are yellow mini vans that are similar to taxis but ferry around eight passengers at a time.
Dolmos are operational 24/7 and are extremely economical. They usually run on a set route but if your stop is on the way, just ask the driver and he will drop you off where you want to go.
Please note that you can only pay for a dolmus with cash.
How to Pay For Transport in Istanbul
While cash is widely accepted, if you’re in the city for more than one day (or plan to commute a lot), we recommend you get yourself an IstanbulKart.
The IstanbulKart is a single prepaid card that allows you to pay for almost all modes of public transport in Istanbul.
If you are paying by cash though, make sure you carry small bills with you to make the transaction easier.
Helpful Apps for Transport in Istanbul
- BiTaksi- a local taxi ordering app
- Uber- international taxi ordering app
- Trafi- live traffic updates
- Moovit- transportation schedule app
We’ve reached the end of The Ultimate Guide to Getting Around Istanbul. We hope that this guide makes your commute around Istanbul a little easier.
If you still have any questions or queries on transport in Istanbul, feel free to reach out to our expert advisors. They’re always happy to help you!
Before you go, make sure you check out our Istanbul City Guide. It’s full of fun and helpful information that’ll have you feeling right at home in Istanbul.
That’s not all, we know that event planning can be tough. That’s why we’ve put together 6 Tips for Event Planners to Cope with Stress (we told you, we’re always here to help!)
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