Extremely well connected, you have a variety of transportation options at your disposal.
However, Istanbul is a crowded city, and you need to keep in mind that traffic becomes a major blocker when planning your schedule.
The two best methods of getting around this historic city are via bus and tram.
A refillable Istanbulkart can be used on all types of public transportation. A major plus is that it provides a 30% discount on public transport fares. The cards can be bought from the blue and yellow vending machines at several metro and tram stops, even at the airport. You will know which ones by the sign “Biletmatik.” You can add money to the card on the same device. The website and app can also be used for topping up your card, but non-Turkish speakers might find it difficult to use. The Istanbulkart credit can also be used to pay for the public toilets run by Istanbul’s municipality.
You can reach Istanbul from abroad via two airports, Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) and Sabiha. You can reach Istanbul from abroad via two airports, Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.
If you are traveling from within Turkey, then you can also reach this bustling city via car.
Walking around Istanbul is enjoyable in areas like Eminönü and Sultanahmet. On foot, you can explore the narrow alleys filled with unique shops and bazaars.
Bicycle and scooter
Bicycles and electric scooters are not highly used for daily transportation since bike lanes are lacking in the city. Hence, it is not a safe means of getting around the city.
On the other hand, you can take in the beautiful scenery through a pleasant bicycle ride along the Bosphorus and on the Marmara coastline
Driving is strongly not recommended since road signs are in Turkish making the roads difficult to navigate and accidents are common. Moreover, parking is difficult to find, and gas is pricey.
If you decide that you want to drive in Istanbul, you can rent a car at the airport, or at one of the international rental agencies whose offices are close to Taksim Square.
You'll need an international driving license to rent a car. The cost differs from company to company, but usually, it is $20-30/day for standard models.
Taxis are abundant, inexpensive, and convenient, but taxi drivers are known for scamming riders, especially foreigners. The scam usually starts with them telling you that the meter is damaged and then they charge you more.
Taxi drivers in Istanbul have a temper, most probably due to the traffic. They sometimes decide not to stop on the street when calling for them. In the scenario that they stop and your destination is not feasible for them; they may wish not to take you.
Yellow marked taxis are the ones you should take.
Before you get in, ask the driver how much you should anticipate paying and establish your pricing - most drivers go by the meter, but it is better to know the amount ahead of time.
Cab drivers have been vocal in their opposition toward Uber, which as a result exclusively uses normal yellow or turquoise cabs.
Dolmuş and minibus
This form of shared transportation only departs when it is full. A dolmuş is a yellow van with only a few rows of seats that travels back and forth between two places in Istanbul. They can be useful for going from Taksim Square to Beşiktaş, or from Taksim Square to Kadıköy when the ferries have stopped their services for the night.
Minibusses often travel longer distances on a scheduled timetable.
Minibusses pick up and drop off passengers at predetermined points along the route, whereas dolmuş passengers instruct the driver where they wish to exit. Another notable difference is that a dolmuş driver will only accept cash for the fare, rather than an Istanbulkart or token.
The "Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's Route/Station Search” provides timetables for all bus lines. Most buses operate between 6 a.m. and midnight every day.
They are the cheapest and most convenient mode of transportation. Buses also run till the early hours of the morning.
Two major bus stations can be found in a tunnel beneath Taksim Square and a parking lot at Eminönü near the ferry ports.
In Istanbul, there are two types of buses: regular and fast metro buses. This bus can also take you from the European side to the Asian side.
Six Metrobus routes run in their highway lanes, however, they largely service outlying residential and commercial districts rather than the city center.
The metro is a quick, dependable, and inexpensive way to move about; but, stops are far apart and not very well positioned for sightseeing.
Metro Istanbul has six lines, the majority of which serve the city's European side. The Metro operates from 6.15 a.m. until midnight.
The M2 between Hacıosman and Yenikapı, which goes through the business and retail districts of Levent, Taksim Square, and Şişhane in Beyoğlu, as well as over the Golden Horn, is likely to be used by the majority of tourists.
The Yenikapi-Atatürk Havalimani (M1A) bus runs between the airport and the central bus hub (Otogar). The Marmaray, a distinct underground rail system, links with the metro at Yenikapı and travels under the Bosphorus in a tube to Kadıköy on the Asian side.
The last service departs at midnight.
The T1, which begins at the Kabataş ferry terminal and travels across the Galata Bridge and through the landmarks of Sultanahmet, is the most likely to be used by visitors among Istanbul's four new tram lines.
Along the Golden Horn, there is also a tram (T5) that stops in the vibrant communities of Fener, Balat, and Eyüp.
The T3 tram runs through Kadıköy which is on the Asian side.
The breathtaking scenery makes a trip on one of Istanbul's ferries an excursion in and of itself. Boats cross the Bosphorus regularly between Eminönü, Karaköy, Kabataş, and Beşiktaş (on the European side), and Kadıköy and Üsküdar (on the Asian side).
Ferries sail every hour or so along the Golden Horn, every few hours to the Princes' Islands, and more sometimes up and down the Bosphorus.
While ferries may get pretty crowded, they're rarely overcrowded, making them a more comfortable method to cross the water.
The last service leaves at 11 p.m.