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Getting Around Istanbul - How To Get Around Istanbul by Subway

Istanbul Subways - Istanbul Subway

Please click on the place name that you want to go and enjoy the ride..!

Eminonu Sirkeci Haydarpasa Kadikoy Kumkapi Bakirkoy Ataturk Airport Karakoy Tophane Findikli Atakoy - Sirinevler Beyoglu Eyup Pier Loti Zeytinburnu Yesilyurt Yesilkoy Florya Topkapi Fatih Zeytinburnu Bostanci Merter Otogar - Bus Station Bakirkoy Sagmalcilar Osmanbey Sisli Levent Halic Gulhane Beyazit Aksaray Pendik Aksaray Taksim Bayrampasa Laleli Sultanahmet Cemberlitas Bosphorus Marmara Sea Yedikule Topkapi




M1   Aksaray-Airport Subway        Karakoy Beyoglu - Tunnel
M2   Taksim-4. Levent Subway        Taksim-Tunnel Nostalgic Tramway 
T1   Zentinburnu-Kabatas Tramway (Fast Subway)        Sirkeci-Halkali Banliyo
T2   Zeytinburnu-Bagcilar Tramway (Fast Subway)        Haydarpasa-Gebze Train
T3   Kadikoy-Moda Ring Tramway (Fast Subway)        Teleferikler (Cableways)
T4   Edirnekapi-Sultanciftligi Tramway        
F1   Taksim-Kabatas Funikuler (Short Subway)        

Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul) is Turkey's most populous city, and its cultural and financial center. Located on both sides of the Bosphorus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges Asia and Europe both literally and figuratively. Istanbul's population is variously estimated between 12 and 19 million people, making it also one of the largest cities in Europe.

Istanbul was ranked third best city in Europe after Rome and ahead of Paris in the 2007 World's Best Cities rankings by Travel + Leisure magazine.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque at dusk

Sultan Ahmet Mosque at dusk



Expanding the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium by the order of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, the imperial city of Constantinople was for nearly a thousand years the last remaining outpost of the Roman (later termed Eastern Roman or Byzantine) Empire. It was finally conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in May 29th, 1453, an event often used to mark the end of the Middle Ages. It was the nerve center for military campaigns that were to enlarge the Ottoman Empire dramatically. By the mid 1500's, Istanbul, with a population of almost half a million, was a major cultural, political, and commercial center. Ottoman rule continued until it was defeated in WWI and Istanbul was occupied by the allies. When the Republic of Turkey was born in 1923 after the War of Independence, Kemal Ataturk moved the capital to the city of Ankara. However, Istanbul has continued to expand dramatically; today its population is approximately 16 million and increases at an estimated 700,000 immigrants per year. Industry has expanded even as tourism has grown. It continues to be a city that creates its own history at the intersection where both continents meet.


Istanbul is divided in three by the north-south Bosphorus Strait (Istanbul Bogazi), the dividing line between Europe and Asia, the estuary of the Golden Horn (Haliç) bisecting the western part and the Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) forming a boundary to the south. Most sights are concentrated in the old city on the peninsula of Sultanahmet, to the west of the Bosphorus between the Horn and the Sea. Across the Horn to the north are Galata, Beyoğlu and Taksim, the heart of modern Istanbul, while Üsküdar is the major district on the comparatively less-visited Anatolian side of the city. The Black Sea forms the northern boundary of Istanbul.

Get in

By plane

Duty Free area, inside Ataturk Airport
Duty Free area, inside Ataturk Airport

Planes arrive at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST), 20 km west of the city centre. From the airport, there are various options for getting into Istanbul: you can take a taxi (about 30 YTL), the express bus service run by the local airport service called "Havas", half-hourly, about 10 YTL to Taksim, the IETT bus (95) costing 2.5 YTL or by Metro to Aksaray and a tram on to Kabataş, which also passes through Sultanahmet, Eminönu and Tophane, among others for 1.4-2.8 YTL.

Note that people are working on commission at the airport trying to make you use special shuttle buses for high fees (30+ YTL per person), for people with an economic mind the Metro/tram-combination is easy and fairly quick, and offers very good value.

Depending on nationality, foreigners arriving in Istanbul may need to purchase tourist visas. This can be done upon arrival before queuing for passport control. The windows for purchasing the visa are located immediately to the left of the main passport control booths. You must pay using foreign currency - no Turkish money or credit cards are accepted. The fee varies depending on the visitor’s nationality. As of March 2008, the fee was $20 (or €15 or 10 GBP) for visitors travelling on U.S. passports. As of September 2008, Canadians pay US$60 (or €45).

Note that food and drinks at the airport may cost up to five times more than in the city proper. If you are travelling on a budget and plan to spend some time at the airport, it may be wise to take your own meals from town instead of buying them there.

Istanbul also has a smaller airport Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW), located in the Anatolian side of the city. Mostly charter flights as well as European low cost carriers operate from here. A Havas bus connects this airport with Taksim in the city center for 10 YTL. It takes about an hour. A cheaper option is to take bus E10 which brings you to Kadıkoy in 70 minutes (3 YTL). From there take a ferry to Eminonu or Karakoy.

By train

Inside Sirkeci Train Station
Inside Sirkeci Train Station

International trains from across Europe arrive at the station in Sirkeci, close to Sultanahmet. Asian trains arrive at Haydarpasa station. To get between the two, catch a ferry across the Bosphorus (see Get around). Marmaray, the Rail Tube Tunnel and Commuter Rail Mass Transit System is being built, and is being projected as one of the most challenging infrastructure projects in Turkey.

International trains: There are daily overnight trains to Sofia (Bulgaria) - continuing to Belgrade (Serbia) and Budapest (Hungary) - as well as Bucarest (Romania), and less frequently to Chisinau (Moldova). Twice a day there are trains to Thessaloniki (Greece) - the slow morning train that almost takes a whole day and the fast night train that is quicker but more expensive. There are also weekly trains to Aleppo (Syria) and Teheran (Iran) from Haydarpasa station. The train to Teheran drives on Wednesday, it is also a good way to drive in the eastern part of Turkey.

Schedule and price list of railway trips can be gathered from TCDD (Turkish Republic State Railways).

By bus

Buses and coaches terminate at the colossal Esenler Otogar, about 10 km west of the city center, located on the European side. Courtesy minibuses or taxis will easily get you into the center. The metro also stops at the Otogar. A list of destinations served from the Otogar terminal is available online. With 168 ticket offices and gates, shops, restaurants, hotel, police station, clinic and mosque, the Büyük Otogar is a town in itself. From/To Thessaloniki(Greece): ticketprices around 35€ (one way) Sofia (Bulgaria): 10-15€

"Harem" is the major hub for the buses on the Anatolian (Asian) side, which can be reached easily from the European side with a Ferryboat.

By boat

International ferries, carrying tourist groups from outside Turkey stop at Karakoy Port. The port is ideally located close to Sultanahmet and Taksim.

By car

Traffic in Istanbul can be manic; expect a stressful drive because you will get cut off and honked at constantly. The city currently holds more than 1,500,000 automobiles and there is a strong demand for building of new or alternate highways.

If you've arrived in Istanbul by car, and you're not familiar with the streets, it's better to park your car in a safe place and take public transportation to get around.

The city, lying on two different continents and separated by the Bosphorus, is connected by two bridges. The bridge on the south, closer to the Marmara Sea, is called the "Bosphorus Bridge". The bridge closer to the Black Sea is named "Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge" and is longer than the first one. Both are toll bridges, and you must pay a fee to cross.

Since 2006, the Bosphorus Bridge toll stations do not accept cash, and payment must be made using electronic cards, either manually (KGS) or automatically via a transponder mounted on the front of the car (OGS). Drivers without either of these two methods must take the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

On weekdays, drivers should be aware of potentially hour long traffic jams on the highways leading to both bridges, particularly heading west in the mornings and east in the evenings, since most people live on the Anatolian side but work on the European side.

There is a great shortage of parking in Istanbul, and existing lots are quite expensive. You will see many cars parked on the sides of the road, in front of garage doors even.

Drivers unfamiliar with the city should also be aware that street signs are rare. It is a common thing to pull over and ask for directions, something the natives and taxi drivers do quite often.

Get around

Public transport

Istanbul's public transit system can be difficult to figure out; maps are rare and you often have to transfer, and pay another fare, to get where you are going. However, if you put some effort into it, you can avoid taxis and not walk too much.

Each time you use a tram, metro, bus, or boat on the public transport system, you will need to use a token. The small metal tokens cost YTL 1.40 and can be bought at various ticket kiosks at bus, train, and metro stations. Ticket fares across buses, trams and metros are standard (i.e. not dependent on how far you go).

Buying an AKBİL (AKıllı BİLet - Turkish acronym for Smart Ticket) is a good idea if you are in Istanbul for more than a day or two, and intend to use public transport. AKBİL is a small electronic device serving as a ticket which may be used on buses, trams, suburban trains, metro, local ferries, etc. You buzz the AKBİL when you get on the bus or enter the tram/metro platform. The great part for travelers is that you can buy only one and buzz it as many times as there are passengers. You can buy or refill them at designated booths located at any major bus, tram, to metro station, as well as some other places. An AKBİL provides discounted rates compared to regular single tickets, as well as discounts in transfers (when used multiple times within a limited period). A deposit for the device itself is to be paid when you buy it, which is paid back if you choose to return it later.

You may also have AKBİL loaded with daily, weekly, two-weekly or monthly subscriptions for fixed prices.

By bus

Bus and tram, together
Bus and tram, together

IETT,  There are two types of public buses in Istanbul; those run by the private sector and those run by the city-owned IETT. You can differentiate these two types by their colors. Private run buses are blue-green with yellow non-electronic destination signs while IETT-run buses come in many flavors including old red-blue ones, newer green ones and red double-deckers. The Akbil Transit Pass is valid universally while tickets that can be obtained in kiosks near bus stops for 1.4 YTL are valid only on IETT buses and cash payment only on private buses, although if you get on an IETT bus the driver will normally accept cash (normally 1.5 YTL but this is dependent entirely upon what the driver wishes to charge) and hand you his Akbil for you to use.

As a relatively quick tourist, you might use the T4 bus the most. It connects Sultanahmet to Taksim Square (and so to Beyoglu and Istiklal Caddesi, the nightspots). The last bus from Taksim runs at about 11.30PM, though that's not fixed.

By metro

Istanbul's first underground system dates back to 19th century, when the funicular subway "Tünel" was constructed to operate from Karakoy to Istıklal Street in 1875. The distance travelled was 573 metres.

In 1990's, a modern tram line was constructed in the European side of the city, and now it's being extended to the inner parts of the city, as well as to the Anatolian side with a sea-tunnel named "Marmaray" crossing below the Bosphorus.

Istanbul's metro consists of two lines, the northern line is currently just a short stub connecting Taksim to 4.Levent. There is also a funicular system connecting Taksim to Kabatas where you can get on ferries and cross to the Anatolian side. The southern line is most useful for visitors, connecting Aksaray (with its connections to the tram line) to Atatürk Airport, via the Otogar.

By tram

A fast tram was put in service in 1992 on standard gauge track with modern cars, connecting Sirkeci with Topkapi. The line was extended on one end from Topkapi to Zeytinburnu in March 1994 and, on the other end from Sirkeci to Eminönü in April 1996. On January 30, 2005 it was extended from Sirkeci to Kabataş crossing Golden Horn after 44 years again. The line has 24 stations on a length of 14 km. 55 vehicles built by ABB run on the line. An entire trip takes 42 minutes. The daily transport capacity is 155,000 passengers.

(Hızlı Tramway stations are: Zeytinburnu, Mithatpaşa, Akşemsettin, Seyitnizam, Merkezefendi, Cevizlibağ, Topkapı, Pazartekke, Çapa, Fındıkzade, Haseki, Yusufpaşa, Aksaray, Laleli (Üniversite), Beyazıt (Kapalıçarşı), Çemberlitaş, Sultanahmet, Gülhane, Sirkeci, Eminönü (ferryboats), Karaköy, Tophane, Fındıklı, Kabataş)

Between Taksim and Kabatas, there is a modern underground funicular to connect this tram line to the Taksim metro. The tram is also connected to the southern metro line (for the Otogar and Ataturk Airport) at Aksaray station, though the metro and tram lines are a short walk from each other. Although you may use the same tokens or AKBİL on the metro and tram, you must pay another fare each time you change lines.

Information for disabled travellers


The process of replacing old buses with newer ones accessible for people using a wheelchair is ongoing. Many buses on central lines has a low floor and a built-in ramp (consult the driver to lean the bus down nearer to the ground, to open the ramp, and to assist into the bus, though any of these might unfortuately be impossible during peak hours in interval stops. Think of a sardine-packed bus unloading all of its passengers to lean down).

Unfortunately, no stops are announced neither on a display nor by voice in the buses.


Trams are accesible for people using a wheelchair from the station platforms if you can manage to get into the station in the first place. Some of the stations are located in the middle of very wide avenues and only access to them is via underground passages (tens of stairs) or overpasses (more stairs!). Otherwise, platforms in tram stations are low and equipped with gentle ramps right from the street (or sidewalk) level.

All stations are announced both on a display and by voice in the trams.


All stations and trains in the northern metro line are accessible for people using a wheelchair. Look around the station entrances for handicapped lifts/elevators. Only some of the stations in the southern metro line are equipped with such elevators (among the stations which have elevators are Aksaray-the main station of the city centre, Otogar-the main bus station, and Airport station), but whether there is an elevator or not, if you manage to get into the station (there is a good chance that you can do with a little assistance because the stations in the southern line aren’t located as deep as the stations of the northern line are; only about one floor’s height under the ground), all trains are accessible from the station platforms, though a little assistance more will be helpful for passing over the narrow gap between the train and the platform. You can ask the guys in grey/black uniforms (security guards, they can be seen in the entrances of the station platforms if not elsewhere) for assistance, it’s their duty.

All stations are announced by voice in the metro trains. In northern line it is also announced on a display, but not in the southern line. Instead, you should look at the signs in the stations, which fortunately are big and common enough.

 By boat

Unique Istanbul liners, sea-buses, or mid-sized private ferries travel between the European and Asian sides of the city. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and costs 1.40 YTL, and gives great views of the Bosphorous. Be aware that sometimes the ferry when arriving at a dock can bounce off the pier accidentally, even on calm days. This can cause people to fall over quite dramatically if they are standing up, so it is advisable to remain seated until the ferry has come to an absolute stop.

Istanbul liners travel on the following routes:

Furthermore, the sea-buses follow the same (or more) routes, please visit the link above for extra information.

Four main private ferry routes for travelling between Asia and Europe sides are:

Very useful are the fast ferryboats (travelling at 55 kilometres) running from several points, such as the Yenikapi - Yalova one, that allows you (with a connecting bus in Yalova) to be in Bursa centre in less than three hours. Prices are marginally higher and the gain in time is considerable, though the view is not as nice.

All of the ferries, including private ones, can be paid by AKBIL system.

 By taxi

Taxis are an easy and cheap way to get around. Start off rate is 2.05 YTL (€1.00) and then 0.1 YTL (€0.05) for each 1/10 km afterwards. A one-way travel from Taksim to Sultanahmet costs approximately 7-10 YTL. Tipping is generally unnecessary. Occasionally drivers will refuse to start the meter and try to negotiate a fixed prize. You should avoid these cabs and simply take another one, as you will almost certainly end paying too much.

Taxis that wait near a bus station usually are a tourist trap. They start the meter but charge you 20 YTL at least. Make sure that you will pay for the meter price before getting in. Don't buy their quick sell tricks. Always try to stop a taxi that is passing by on the road or find a legit taxi stop.

Beware riding a taxi other than "yellow-colored" since the other colored taxis are of different cities and have a different rating system.

Taxis have a fixed rate; the night rate is 50 % more expensive than during the daytime. The night rate starts at midnight and lasts until 6AM. If you are riding during the day, makes sure the fare begins at 2.05 YTL, the day rate, and not 2.90 YTL, the night one.

Be careful on what note you hand them for payment, more than one have tried to pretend that the 50 lira note handed was just a 5 lira note!

 By shared taxi

Dolmuş (Turkish: "it's full") is a shared taxi, travelling on a fixed route, which costs more than a city autobus but less than a normal taxi. They can carry up to 8 passengers. They are easy to recognize, because they also have the yellow painting as taxis and carry a Dolmus sign on its top. They will only start driving when all eight places are filled, which is also where the name derives from.

The main and most important routes for Dolmuses are :

If you want the driver to make a stop, you can say İnecek var.(EE-neh-djek war!) (Someone's getting out.) or Müsait bir yerde.(mU-sa-EEt bir yer-deh.) (At a convenient spot.).


 The European Side

There are many historical places in Istanbul.

Hagia Sofia
Hagia Sofia
Inside Hagia Sofia
Inside Hagia Sofia
A winter view of the Galata Tower from across the Golden Horn
A winter view of the Galata Tower from across the Golden Horn


 The Asian (Anatolian) Side

Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace

Çamlica Hill— One of the highest hills of Istanbul (268 metres high) and almost all major broadcasting antennas are located on this hill, since the hill dominates a great part of the city. On the top of the hill, a public park with cafes remind the visitors of an Ottoman atmosphere. Thıs public park is sponsored by the government so expect lower prices on food and drink than usual. The cafe located in a building at the top of the hill is moderately expensive, don't worry about it though because you'll get excellent food and service.

View of Istanbul from Camlica Hill, at night
View of Istanbul from Camlica Hill, at night

There is also a viewing area on the coast directly next to Kız Külesi where you can buy tea and sunflower seeds and sit down to look at the beauty of the Boğaz while listening to traditional Turkish music. It is recommended to visit right at sunset, when the sun is reflecting off the water and Kız Külesi's lights are turning on. Also at the viewing area, there are 2 person gondola rides.



A visit to a hamam (Turkish bath) is an essential part of any trip to Istanbul and is something you'll be sure to repeat before leaving. Take care in selecting a hamam, as they can vary greatly in cleanliness.

 Hooka /Narghile

Once upon a time, the narghile, or Turkish water pipe, was the centre of Istanbul’s social and political life. Today the locals still consider it one of life’s great pleasures and is something interesting to try. Most of the places where you can smoke a hooka are in Yaniceriler Caddesi, near the Grand Bazar. Corlulu Ali Pasa and Koca Sinan Pasa Turbesi are both in secluded internal courts, just around the corner from some tomb yards, while Rumeli Kahvesi is actually inside the cemetery of an old medersa, though it’s not as spooky as you might think. In the south of Sultanahmet, near the sea, is Yeni Marmara (Cayiroglu Sokak), where you can also sit in the terrace and enjoy the view. In Beyoglu, at the Ortakahve (Buyukparmakkapi), there’s even the choice of a wide range of flavours.

 Walking tours

Museums and such: Haghia Sophia, then on to the Topkapı museum (these two should take care of three to five hours), preferably along the road in the back of the Haghia Sophia, where there are some nicely restored houses. Then on to the Blue Mosque and the square with the obelisks on it (At Meydani). Along its side is the very good Museum of Islam Art. Descend slightly and find the small Haghia Sophia with its nice garden (it was under restoration, but you probably can get in). Then uphill to the Sokollu Mehmet mosque complex, top notch tiles inside.

Take a tram or walk to Eminönü (where the boats leave for trips to Asia or up the Bosphorus). Visit the New Mosque in the back of it, then the Egyptian Bazaar next to it, and going further in that direction, locate the Rüstem Pasha mosque with its excellent tiles. It's on a raised platform near an old clothes market, you may have to ask directions. Then take a cab or find a bus to Eyüp mosque complex, a mile or three up the Golden Horn. Visit this Eyüp complex at your leisure (the mosque is not particular, the court is, and the milling of believers, with many boys-to-be-circumcised amongst it; a Friday might be a good day to do this). Then, if you have the stamina, it might be nice to walk back too; maybe all the way (five miles or so), but taking a route along part of the city wall to first the famous Kariye Church with its mosaics, then on to Selimiye Mosque with its great view on the Golden Horn (and a fine mosque by itself), then the Fatih Mosque (passing through some very religious and lively neighbourhoods), then on to the well-restored Sehzade mosque, and next to Süleymaniye (don't forget to enjoy the view from the Golden Horn side). If you have some energy left, you might go on to the University complex, and by then you are very close to the Beyazit mosque. A book market (it’s small) is behind this good, unexceptional (nice courtyard though) mosque.

Once again go to Eminönü, but this time take the boat (those large ferries) to Üsküdar. You will arrive before a fine mosque in front, another one four hundred meters off to the right, slightly inland behind a traffic roundabout, and a third, very small, at the sea front. See the market stretching inland, walk about and don't forget to walk along the shore, maybe eating a fish meal in one of the bobbing boats along it. This is a good visit for late afternoon, early evening, fleeing the city. You will be joined by thousands of people going home from "town" but the way back will be on a near-empty ferry. The frequency of ferries will go down in the evening, so make sure there is a connection back.

Go to the railroad station and find a Sirkeci-Halkali suburban train, and get out at (from memory, Yedikule station). You will be quite close to Yedikule, a nice fortress, and will have fine views of the city walls. The trains leave every 15 minutes or so, the ride is peculiar (the material is bad, but if you are in luck every second stop another salesman will enter and try selling his wares, it’s fun). The ride is takes anywhere from twenty minutes to half an hour. This is not a "must", but it can be great fun.

You will have missed the covered bazaar in all this. That is because you will get there anyhow. If you go to Beyazit and the book market you are almost at two of its many entrances. Try and find the Nuruosmaniye Mosque and its complex at the other side, it’s worth it. And after having explored the covered part, take a relaxing walk downhill, into the general direction of Eminönü, where it is "uncovered bazaar" all the way. Cross the Galata bridge to see some things on the Northern side (for instance take the "tünel" teleferik ride up much of the hill (entrance close to the opposite side of Galata bridge, ask around)), then continue to Taksim. Shops are of the international variety.


Many foreigners visiting or living in Istanbul decide to study Turkish formally in a language school. Some of the biggest and most respected Turkish language schools in Istanbul are:

Both Boğaziçi University and Bilgi University have well established Study Abroad programs in English for foreigners.


 Ottoman Turkish

If you already speak Turkish, Ottoman Turkish Ottoman Turkish may also be interesting to learn. Ottoman Turkish was the form of Turkish spoken during the time of the Ottoman Empire, and is significantly different to the form of Turkish spoken today. Approximately 80% of Ottoman Turkish words were loanwords from other languages, mostly Arabic, Persian and French. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, language reforms were implemented, including the establishment of the Türk Dil Kurumu (Turkish Language Association), which is the official regulatory body of the Turkish language. This association, with a philosophy of linguistic purism, decided to cleanse the Turkish language of loanwords and replace them with more Turkic alternatives. As such, only about 14% of modern Turkish words are of foreign origin. See the major difference now?

Ottoman Turkish is the key to learning about Turkey's Ottoman past. With Ottoman Turkish, not only can you read historical archives, but you can also read Ottoman literature and letters dated back to the Ottoman period. In Istanbul, you can learn Ottoman Turkish from the following places:


There is always a high demand for qualified ESOL/EFL teachers in Istanbul. Many teachers work with private instructional companies. Others contract out on a freelance basis.

Istanbul is Turkey's financial capital. All big investment banks, commercial banks, large foreign retail and consumer companies have offices in Istanbul. The business district has been coming up with high rises and business centers in the last decade.


The currency used in Istanbul is the New Turkish Lira (YTL) though the euro and US dollar are also accepted at places frequented by tourists. Fortunately, currency exchanges and banks are plentiful in Istanbul and offer extremely competitive exchange rates with no commission. If you are planning to visit Istanbul, bring hard foreign currency and exchange them after you arrive, preferably at a bank or a currency exchange. Exchange only what you need as you will find difficulty exchanging your leftover YTL back to foreign currency after you leave the country. Alternatively, withdraw money from ATMs whenever you need cash.

Shops may be closed on Sundays. Most major shopping malls have security checkpoints you usually see in airports and museums prior to entry.

The Grand Bazaar during Republic Day
The Grand Bazaar during Republic Day



One thing not to be missed is the local ice cream sold on the street stands, called Dondurma. While flavors are relatively standard for the region, the ice cream usually incorporates orchid root extract, which gives it an incredibly chewy and stringy texture, also lending itself to be used for marketing and attracting attention while the sellers do tricks to try to sell the ice cream. Try it!

Also, be sure to try Ayran, a local drink based on yoghurt, although sour and much thinner.


Local Doner Restaurant (büfe-buffet)
Local Doner Restaurant (büfe-buffet)






Two of the hottest clubs of Istanbul are in Ortakoy:

Others night clubs are all over the city:

The liveliest part of the city is definitely Beyoglu and again the area of Istiklal Caddesi. Many clubs offer live music:

Adult entertainment




 Mid range



 Telephone codes

Istanbul is the only city/province in Turkey which has more than one telephone code: 212 for European side, 216 for Asian side and Princes’ Islands. When calling from one continent to the other, the usual dialing format used for intercity calls should be used, as if it’s an intercity call: 0+area code (212 or 216)+7-digit telephone number. It may appear as an intercity call, but it will be treated as a local call in respect to payment. When making an intercontinental call, if you forget to dial the code, your call will not be automatically routed to the other continent number, it is likely that you will be connected to the “wrong” number which is located in the same continent with you, because much of the number sets are used on both continents (albeit with different codes of course). When dialing a number that is located on the continent you are already standing on, only 7-digit number is enough. Don’t forget to dial the code first no matter which continent you are in if you are calling a landline number from a cell phone (even if it’s a number that is located in the same continent with you), though.



Cafés with free wireless internet (wi fi):

In the recent years, the number of cafes and shopping centers with wi fi Internet access has increased dramatically, most of them still being free. Most internet cafes have high speed ADSL connections, and they are very inexpensive compared to Europe (about 0.50-1.50 euros per hour).

 Stay safe

As with most European cities, but especially with crowded areas of Istanbul, watch your pockets and travel documents as pickpockets have devised all sorts of strategies to obtain them from you. Do not rely too much on the safe feeling you get from the omnipresence of policemen.


 Taksim bar/club scams

Tourists must be aware of high-drink price scams encountered in so-called night-clubs mostly located in Aksaray, Beyazit and Taksim area. These clubs, usually charge overpriced bills, based on a replica of the original menu.

Also be aware of friendly behaving groups of young men or male-female couples striking up a conversation in the street and inviting you to a "good night-club they know". This has frequently been reported as a prelude to such a scam. The person(s) in on the scam may offer to take you to dinner first, in order to lull your suspicions.

In either of these scams, if you refuse to pay the high prices or try to call the police (dial #155) to file a complaint, the club managers may use physical intimidation to bring the impasse to a close.

A recently encountered variant of this involved an invitation in Taksim to two male tourists (separately, within an hour of one another) to buy the tourist a beer (as they were "guests"). At the club, two attractive ladies, also with beers, joined them. When the time came for the bill, the person inviting the tourist denied having said he would pay for the drinks, and a bill was presented for 1500 Lira; when the tourists in question expressed an inability to pay such a high amount, burly "security" personnel emerged, who the manager explained would accompany the tourist to an ATM machine (presumably to clean out their bank account). In one of the above examples, the tourist escaped by shouting for the police once on the street; in the other, a much lower amount was accepted from the tourist.

Another recent incident occured at a bar/club named SIA, located near the interception of Acara and Istiklal Streets. 3 tourists were approached by 2 men, asking them to go for "drinks together". The tourists were led by the men into the club named SIA (these three letters appear in silver beside the club's entrance), and ordered drinks. Later, some ladies working for the club joined the group and ordered drinks, which the club put on the tabs of the 3 tourists. Overall, they were cheated of over 600 Lira. The original bill was much higher, and the tourists suffered verbal and physical intimidation when they did not have enough money to pay up. Finally the people at the club gave up and let them go. Travellers are advised to avoid the above-mentioned club, for their own safety.

All these point to these scams in Taksim becoming more serious, and likely the involvement of organized crime. Be careful.

 Lira/Euro Scams

A frequent scam, often in smaller hotels (but it can also happen in a variety of other contexts), is to quote prices in Lira and then later, when payment is due, claim the price was given in Euros. Hotels which reject payment early in a stay and prefer you to "pay when you leave" should raise suspicions. Hotels which operate this scam often offer excellent service and accommodation at a reasonable price and know most guests will conclude as much and pay without complaint - thus (ironically) this can be a sign of a good hotel.

Another scam is coin-related and happens just as you're walking into the streets. A Turkish guy holds you and asks where you are from. If you mention a Euro-country, the guy wants you to change a 50 Euro note from you into two-Euro coins he is showing. He is holding the coins stack-wise in his hands. For the trouble, he says he will offer you 30 two-Euro coins, so being worth 60 Euro. Do not agree with this exchange of money, as the first coin is indeed a two-Euro coin, but (many of) the rest of the coins will probably be 1 Lira coins (looking very similar), worth only 1/3 of the value of 2 Euro (in August 2007).

Many bars in the Taksim area give you counterfeit bills. They are usually well-made and hard to distinguish as fakes in the dark. One way to verify its authenticity is to check its size against another bill. Another is to hold the bill up to a strong light, face side up, and check for an outline of the same face which is on the bill. The value of the bill (20, 50, etc) should appear next to the outline, light and translucent. If either if these two security features are missing, try to have the bill changed or speak with the police.


Some people will walk around Taksim with a shoeshine kit, and the brush will fall off. This is a scam to cause some Western tourist with a conscience to pick it up and return it to the owner, who will express gratitude and offer to shine your shoes for free. While doing that, he will talk about how he is from another city and how he has a sick child. At the end, the shiner will demand a much higher price for "free" services provided than is the actual market norm.

If you actively decide that you would like your shoes shined, then expect to pay not more than 5 lira for both.

 Taxi drivers

Taxis are plentiful in Istanbul and inexpensive by Western European and American standards. They can be picked up at taxi hubs throughout the city or on the streets. Empty cabs on the streets will honk at pedestrians to see if they would like a ride, or cabs can be hailed by pedestrians by making eye contact with the driver and waving. Few taxi drivers speak languages other than Turkish, but do a fair job at deciphering mispronounced location names given by riders. It may help to have the name of the destination written down to show the driver. Be aware that taxis are harder to find when it is raining.

Try to avoid using taxis for short distances (5-10 minutes of walk) if possible. Some taxi drivers can be annoyed with this, especially if you called the cab from a taxi hub instead of hailing it from the street.

Few taxis have seatbelts, and some drivers may seem to be reckless. If you wish for the driver to slow down, say "yavaş lutfen" (slow please). Your request may or may not be honored.

Unfortunately, as in any major city, tourists are more vulnerable to taxi scams than locals. Be aware that taxi drivers use cars affiliated with a particular hub, and that the name and phone number of the hub, as well as the licence plate number, are written on the side of each car. Noting or photographing this information may be useful if you run into problems. In general, riding in taxis affiliated with major hotels (Hilton, Marriot, Ritz, etc.) is safe, and it is not necessary to be staying in these hotels to use a taxis leaving from their hubs.

Taxis have a meter that will say "GUNDUZ" if daytime rates are being charged (until midnight) and "GECE" if nightime rates are being charged (until dawn). Some drivers may try to charge a higher rate by setting their meter to "GECE" during daytime hours. Others may take unnecessarily long routes to increase the amount due (although sometimes alternate routes are also taken to avoid Istanbul traffic, which can be very bad). Some scams involve the payment transaction; for example, if the rider pays 50 YTL when only 20 YTL are needed, the driver may quickly switch it with a 5 YTL note and insist that the rest of the 20 YTL is still due or may switch the real bill for a fake one and insist that different money be given.


Men intent on stalking foreign women will, obviously, be present in tourist locations. Such men may presume that foreigners have a lot of money or liberal values and may approach foreign women in a flirtatious or forward manner looking for sex or for money (either by theft or selling over-priced goods). If you are being harassed, use common sense and go to where other people are; often this is the nearest store. Creating a public scene will deter many stalkers, and these phrases may be useful in such cases:

Or to really ruin him:

 Stay healthy

Similar to many European countries tap water is mostly drinkable, but it may not be healthy depending on where you drink it. Although the tap water itself is clean, many local water tanks are not maintained properly, suggesting one should try to avoid tap water if possible. Locals widely prefer bottled water and the same applies for the restaurants.

Food and drinks are mostly of international standards. Some Turkish foods are known to use a variety of spices which may affect international tourists who may not be accustomed to such ingredients, although most of it is edible for any tongue.

Use common sense when buying certain foods, particularly from street vendors. Delicacies such as "Firin Sutlac" (a kind of rice pudding) can go bad rapidly on a hot day, as can the oysters occasionally for sale on the streets.


Keep in mind that Istanbul's less-than-scrupulous hotel and restaurant owners are as market savvy as they come—they actually read the popular travel guides to Istanbul and when they get listed or favorably reviewed, they raise prices through the roof and skimp on costs. For mid-range and cheap hotels/restaurants, you may actually have a better time if you avoid places listed in your guide! Trust your nose.

 Get out

 Possible hitchhiking spots

Istanbul is a geographically huge city, spanning two continents, so it is hard to hit the road with your thumb up immediately, although not entirely impossible. Here are a few ideas for spots (accessible by public transport) where to raise your thumb up when leaving the city.

Subway Information



The 7.9 km km, 6 station section one of the Istanbul subway opened in August, 2000. The second section, consisting of 5.4 km and 4 stations, is under construction. The system is entirely underground; however, section two will include a bridge. Eventually, this city of 10 million, which stretches for over 100 km east to west, plans on converting many of it's suburban lines to metro status, including a subway connection under the Bosphoros.

As in all subways, watch out for thieves, rapists and terrorists.

Istanbul Ulasim (Istanbul Transportation) home page
Osamu's Istanbul page
Istanbul subway construction photos and information
Transport A Istanbul
Enka construction info on subway stations with pics

Light Rail (Mini-Metro, or, Hafif-Metro)

In 1989 a light rail line (Hafif Metro) was built from Aksaray towards the western suburbs. Until 1995 it was extended to Yeni Bosna. It has a total length of 18 km with 16 stops, running  underground for 4.4 km through the city centre. In the 1990's also a modern tram line was put into service through the older parts of the city. An airport extension from Yeni Bosna station is under construction. An extension from Taksim to Yenikapi is also underway, with a planned opening in 2003 or 2004.

Hafif Metro home page



The 10.3 km., 19 station Aksaray-Sirkeci Tram System opened in 1991. Built along the alignment of an old tram line system in the Historical Peninsula of İstanbul, the tramway line runs from runs from Eminonu/Sirkeci station via Aksaray to Zeytinburnu, just outside the South-Western city walls. A branch also runs from Aksaray to the Esenler bus station. At Aksaray you can transfer to the Hafif Metro.


Funicular Subway


Tünel connects the bridge of Galata to the bottom of Istiklal Cad., just on the level of the terminus of the tram. Price identical to the bus. The line, built in 1875, is perhaps the world's shortest subway - a mere 573 meters. Trains operate every 3.5 minutes and a trip takes 1.5 minutes. The upper station is linked to Taksim Square by a vintage tram.


    Heritage tramway

    The 1.6 km Beyoglu tramway runs along a single line along the length of Istiklal to it's end at Tünel. The line opened in 1990.  Beyoglu comprises the "night life" of Istanbul. In 2004, a new 8 station, 2.65 km heritage tramway opened in Istanbul.


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