Istanbul Ili Transportation Tips by June.b Top 5 Page for this destination
Istanbul Ili Transportation: 37 reviews and 68 photos
The first time I went to Istanbul, I took the Havas Bus from the airport to the city which costs around 10YTL...juz bcuz my hotel is in Taksim area.
This time around (my hotel is in Sultanahmet) I took the cheapest yet very comfortable way --- the metro-tramvay combination that costs only a dollar or so. This is how it works:
We arrived at the Ataturk Airport very early in the morning so we have plenty of time before the check-in time at the hotel. So we decided to take the public transport.
Upon exiting from the main arrival gate of the airport, walk just a little follow the M (Metro) sign approx. 10 to 15 meters and you will see the escalator going down - either of the 2 exits the escalator is at the middle - just on the same side of the exit, you don't need to cross the road. Don't worry you wont miss that, that's where the people are smoking since smoking inside the airport terminal is totally prohibited.
Go down the escalator (underground) and walk past the supermarket to your right until the end and on your left side you will find the token machines to buy your way to the Metro, buy two of those as you'll be needing the other one when you reached Zeytinburnu. Insert the coin you purchased (or Istanbul Kart - if you already have one, buy the Istanbul Kart, it's more convenient, you can buy it at many shops selling cigarrettes and candies at the city centre, they have a sign board for it) and get in the turntile, go down another escalator or stairs again to the train platform.
Here, there are two rails don't worry both are just the same train because the airport (Havalimani station) is the last stop if you're coming from the city to the airport. So take the metro train... until Zeytinburnu station - again, you won't miss this because you will hear the station names everytime it stops and the train route is just on the header of the train's main entrance, so if you're new to the city stay close to the map.
Get down at Zeytinburnu and walk just a couple of meters to the turntile for the tramvay platform and use your second token, and from there take the next available tram that will take you to Sultanahmet. The tram is called Zeytinburnu - Besiktas (or Kabatas tram). This tram will pass to almost all the places where tourists popularly stays - Aksaray - Laleli - Beyazit - Cemberlitas - Sultanahmet - Gulhane - Sirkeci - Eminonu (in that order of stops)......... EXCEPT for Taksim or the Beyoglu district as it is in another area and Havatas airport shuttle would be your best option.
continue reading the next.......
There are two ways to reach the lively Istiklal Cadessi (street) from Sultanahmet:
One - From Sultanahmet tram station board the tram that goes to Kabatas and get off at the 3rd stop called Karakoy. Walk a minute to the Tunnel station of the funicular train and take that train going up to the end of Istiklal Cadessi and you're there. See this walking map for directions between stations:
Then, walk the the 1.5 kilometer length of Istiklal Street from the Tunnel station to Taksim Square, that's about 20 minutes of walk along a very lively pedestrian streets full of musicians and street performers in the evening, and of course hundreds of shops, cafes, restaurants, etc. When you reach Taksim Square and don't want to go back to where you've started - the Tunnel, from Taksim Square, there's the underground Metro train station where the modern funicular train goes up to Kabatas tram station. When you emerge in Kabatas tram station, take the tram that goes to Bagcilar or Zeytinburnu and get off at the 6th stop which is Sultanahmet tram station.
The second option is the reverse of the second paragraph:
Take the tram from Sultanahmet tram station, get off at the end of the line which is Kabatas (6th stop), from Kabatas go down the stairs (at the back of the tram) and take the funicular tram and you'll be in Taksim Square - the start of the 1.5 kilometer pedestrian street of Istikalal Cadessi.
I would say, the best option for transport from airport to Taksim is by Havatas Airport Bus.... unless, you would opt for the long way of taking the Metro-Tramway-Funicular multi-combination.
Take the metro underground the airport terminal, get off at Zeytinburnu, then take the tramvay from there until the end of the line - Kabatas - then take the funicular train from Kabatas, called "Kabatas - Taksim Funikuler" and you'll end up at Taksim.
Or another option is ---- get down at Karakoy tramvay station (this is still the same tramvay from Zeytinburnu that am talking about) and connect to the old (historical) funicular tunnel train called Karakoy-Beyoglu Tunel.
Believe me, it's not really that hard, you'll be surprised that the public transport is easier done than being said or being described by people on several tips online. I was!
The last resort on my list of transport options ..... i said last - not that I was victimized by a scambag driver - but because, personally it's my last option out of several transport choices in Istanbul (bus, tram, metro) if all else fail! I prefer public transport... they're cheaper and fun.
There are a lot of taxis around Istanbul, but before taking it for first-timers find out the ongoing average fares on your destinations. Check my "Tourist Trap" page. I've taken several honest taxis but still lots of them are preying on uninitiated tourists who are unaware of taxi fares. So be careful before it's too late and you don't have any choice anymore but to pay the fare on the meter. BTW it's always turkish lira on the meter, not EUR or $.
Type: Car/Motor Home
Don't miss taking the public ferries even if you don't want to go to the asian side, cruising along the bosphorous is fun and you'd get to see lots of Istanbul's landmarks situated just along the Bospohorous. If you're in Sultanahmet, take the tramvay from Sultanahmet station and get down at Eminonu station, the ferry docks is at the other side, take the underground passage and you're there. Oh by the way, there are people who will approach you for a ferry ride... not that ... those were private ferries which are more expensive (at TL12 - 20), unless, you want it. Go directly to the ferry station with a big sign of the ferry's route. Fare costs 2YTL going to Uskudar - the Asian side. And by the way, the Akbil Pass (Istanbul Kart replaces the Akbil) can also be used for ferries.
My advise, don't sit inside, take the seats on the sides of the ferry especially if you want to take photos or feel the cool breeze of the ocean..... envigorating! Except during winter -- you'll freeze!
The Istanbul tramvay is another fun way of getting around. It runs from Zeytinburnu to Eminonu (where you can catch ferries going to the Asian-side) or Kabatas (the end of the line where the ferries to Princess Islands are) . I always take this tram going to Sultanahmet from Beyazit (where the Grand Bazaar is, if I'm too lazy to walk) or Laleli & Aksaray which is on the other side, it's airconditined so it's very comfortable during some hot summer days.... and it's cheaper at 2YTL near or far. This is also the connection of the metro from the airport (Zeytinburnu stop). It can get really packed during peak times.
Simply called as "The Tunnel", the short 573 meters tram line that opened to the public in 1875, is the second oldest subterranean urban rail line in the world after the London Underground (1863).
The tunnel which was ridden with interesting history was the project of a french engineer. During those days most of the people who live in the Pera area (Beyoglu now) which is up the hill, are working around galata neighborhood (Karakoy, and where there are lots of bank offices now).
So going up and down the only street that conencts the two districts (lower and upper) is a daunting task on a daily basis, and so the tunnel was built with the permission granted from the Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz.
While The Tunnel is a historical sight, it is a well functioning mode of transport.
Tourists who are staying at nearby Karakoy or around Istiklal Caddesi frequently use this tunnel tram.
I always use this tram whenever I go to Taksim area from Sultanahmet, instead of getting off at Kabatas trma station, I get off at Karakoy tram stop and a little walk to the tunnel station will lead me to the end of the Istiklal Caddesi, the french quarter and Galata Tower.
If you're staying in Sultanahmet - take the tramvay to Kabatas, the route going to the bosphorous side not the airport, the station on the sultanahmet park side. The tram terminate at either Kabatas or Eminonu, if it does in Eminonu, don't worry just get off like everyone on board the train do and wait for the next tram that goes to Kabatas (no extra fare). Kabatas is the end of the tram line and the Kabatas Ferry port if just infront of the tram station.
From Taksim - much easier - there's an underground Metro station at Taksim Square, go down there and find the funicular tram to Kabatas - in 2 minutes you're there.
Once at the ferry port, buy your ticket on the bilet or ticket machines, there are about 4 of them standing outside of the ferry terminal. There are people who will approach you and teach you how to insert the coin TL4 per person. It's actually easy but those friendly people are mostly "advance party" / representatives of restaurants or hotels located in Princes Island, they will give you their business card or piece of paper to persuade you to go to their restaurant, don't worry just take the card, if you decide to go to their place, try it, if not, they wouldn't know.
Go an hour early than your planned ferry schedule as there are a lot of people at the terminal especially during weekends. Get in the turntile half an hour before the ferry departure time. We took the 12nn ferry and the trip was for about 1 hour and 45 minutes docking at 4 stops - Kadikoy, Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada before finally Buyukada.
See photo of ferry schedule here of Sehir Hatlari, the ferry we took, although there are I t hink 2 more ferry lines that goes there - IDO and Mavi.
I've been visiting Turkey for 5 years now -- for 2 weeks to 1 month vacations, and I was able to get used to using the public transport. Landing at the Ataturk airport, I normally use the Metro+Tramvay.
But there is this company that I trust very much whenever I need an impromptu private transfer at Istanbul airport. I've used their transfer service several times, most of the time for friends who aren't familiar with the city and the public transport.
It's called Backpacker's Travel (Istanbul Airport Transfer).
They are so reliable that they always have a prepared vehicle even booking on arrival date, or few hours from arrival time. The rates are so so competitive that even backpackers in couple or group could easily afford them.
They have presentable vehicles and pleasant drivers, so I recommend them even for our top executives.
Airport to city costs only EUR30 per car per way. They also do rent cars with english-speaking driver at very reasonable cost too. I normally call their office (overseas call) in Istanbul for spur-of-the-moment pick-up service, and the staff are really kind and very pleasant to talk to on the phone. Ask for Mr. Atilla Caliskan.
I highly recommend these guys, they haven't let me down.
Although I've never tried their tours, I know that they have a department that offer reasonably priced city sightseeing tours or group tours in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey. Check their website for that.
Other Contact: http://www.backpackerstravel.net
Phone: +9 0212 638 63 43
Type: Car/Motor Home
Topkapi station, see the "M" Metro sign nearby
Most people say take the bus from Eminonu, quite complicated for me esp. the part where you have to either guess the bus stop to the place or asking someone inside the bus.
So I tried figuring out using the google map. After all, a tramvay + metro will do it more conveniently plus of course a few minutes walk.
From Sultanahmet take the tramvay that goes to Zeytinburnu (not the one going to Eminonu or Kabatas which is the other way). Get off at Topkapi - the 8th stop from Sultanahmet station.
At Topkapi station, walk up the stairs and you will see the Metro station few meters (see pics), just follow the people most of them goes to that metro station. Take the Metro that goes to Mescid-e-Selam, on the 3rd stop get off, it's called Edirnekapi.
On ground level, walk all the way to the walls and you'll see what looks like a gate. it's a road actually, on the left wall side there is a small stairs, go up there and walk until you reach the first street on your right, walk down until the end - you'll see some sign that says (Kariye or Chora Church, so you won't get lost), at the end of the street, the church is on your left.
Fare is TL3 total for the two rides.
See the picture on the left for landmarks to help you find the church.
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