Istanbul is a large,
congested, bustling city. You'll enjoy your
visit much more if you know how to get around
before you arrive.
Istanbul has two airports, the major Atatürk
International Airport near Yesilköy 23 km
(14 miles) west of the city center, reachable by Metro (map);
Gökçen Airport on the
east side of the Bosphorus.
City bus routes get you to some places you'll want to visit. Buy tickets
(less than US$1)
before boarding at kiosks (often white fiberglass cubes) labeled "I.E.T.T"
and/or "Bilet" (ticket), or use the Akbil
prepaid electronic fare system. More...
Istanbul has two intercity bus terminals, the
Bus Terminal (Büyük
Bayrampasa/ Esenler on the western
side of the Bosphorus (reachable
by Metro: map),
serving the entire country as well as Greece, Bulgaria,
the Balkans and
Europe; and the Harem
the eastern shore of the Bosphorus north
Station, serving Anatolian Turkey and
the Middle East.
You'll find Istanbul's two tram lines useful
(map), even though they're as different as can be. Although the nostalgic
Caddesi tram is more fun, the Eminönü-Zeytinburnu tram is
the more useful, and can help you travel between the heart of the tourist
district at Sultanahmet Square and
Otogar (bus terminal)
Several lines of Istanbul's Metro system are in operation (map), and
two are particularly useful to visitors: starting in Aksaray Square,
one goes northeast through the city walls to Istanbul's mammoth Otogar
(intercity bus station), at which you can board a bus to any part
of Turkey or to virtually any country within 1000 miles (1600 km) of
Istanbul. Another line connects Atatürk
Airport with Old
the Otogar. More...
Tünel is Istanbul's little 19th-century two-station underground train
connecting Karaköy (Galata) and the southwestern end of Istiklal
Caddesi. It's convenient and fun. More...
Suburban commuter trains depart Sirkeci
Station, trundle around Seraglio Point and
continue along the Sea of Marmara shore stopping
at the Yenikapi
Ferry Terminal (for
and passenger ferries across the Sea
of Marmara) and at Yesilyurt
International Airport. More...
Slightly better suburban trains depart Haydarpasa
Station and travel along the northern shore
of the Sea
of Marmara on the
Asian side of the Bosphorus. More...
Traditional white ferries serve shorter water routes, and are the
most enjoyable way to get around Istanbul. More...
Special daily Touristic
Bosphorus Ferries run from Eminönü's
Dock 2 up the Bosphorus almost
to the Black Sea several
times daily. Both catamarans and ferryboats travel to the Princes
Islands near Istanbul in the Sea
of Marmara. More...
"SEA BUS" CATAMARAN
modern passenger catamarans zoom around the city at rush hour, and out to
the Princes Islands several
times daily. There are even Sea
of Marmara routes to Yalova and Bandirma on
the sea's southern shore. More...
Thousands of yellow taxis, most powered by clean-burning natural gas,
throng Istanbul's streets. You'll find them useful and not overly expensive.
Dolmus means "filled," which is what the vehicle needs to
be before it departs on its customary route. The dolmus (DOHL-moosh)
is Turkey's shared taxi or minibus. You
may find them helpful occasionally in Istanbul.
The best way to get around Istanbul's compact medieval core is on foot.
Traffic is often so heavy, and traffic patterns so circuitous, that you can
often walk somewhere faster than riding. More...