a large, congested, bustling city. You'll
enjoy your visit much more if you
know how to get around before you
here for maps of Istanbul & Region.
Istanbul has two airports,
the major Atatürk
International Airport (IST)
near Yeşilyurt 23
km (14 miles) west of the city center,
reachable by Metro (map);
Gökçen Airport (SAW in Pendik/Kurtköy)
30 km (19 miles) east of the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.
The two airports are 55 km (34 miles) distant, or about 70 km (44 miles) by highway.
Taxis, airport buses, and public
transport serve both
airports, but a private
a more pleasant and still economical way to go for many travelers, especially families. More...
Cable cars (teleferik) lift passengers from Eyüp on the Golden Horn to the hill from which French novelist Pierre Loti used to survey Istanbul. Another cable car can take you across the valley between Elmadağ and Teşvikiye in Beyoğlu.
City bus routes get you to some places you'll want
to visit. Plan how to pay your fare before
You can pay by token, multi-use ticket, or RFID transit
pass for Istanbul's Metro, tram, bus, ferry, funicular, cable car, and suburban trains. More...
Traditional white Şehir Hatları ferryboats, and smaller ferries by TurYol, Dentur Avrasya and other companies, serve shorter water routes,
and are the most enjoyable way to get
around Istanbul (map). More...
Bosphorus ferries run frequently from the Eminönü ferry
docks, from Kabataş docks, and from Kadıköy and Üsküdar up the Bosphorus.
Bus catamarans and ferryboats
travel to the Princes
Islands near Istanbul in the Sea
of Marmara. More...
The Füniküler (underground
funicular) connects Taksim
Square and Kabataş on
the Bosphorus shore.
At Kabataş you
can board a ferryboat, sea
bus, or the Bağcılar
Istanbul has three intercity bus terminals:
—The major Istanbul
International Bus Terminal (Büyük
Otogar) at Esenler on the
western side of the Bosphorus (reachable
by Metro: map),
serving the entire country as well as Greece, Bulgaria,
the Balkans, Europe and some Middle East destinations.
—The Emniyet Garajı near Aksaray Square and the Yenikapı Marmaray and Metro stations, serves the Balkans.
Otogar on the eastern
shore of the Bosphorus between Üsküdar and Kadıköy,
serves Anatolian Turkey and the Middle
Here's a list of buses from Istanbul to other Turkish cities.
Marmaray is Istanbul's regional commuter rail line connecting Europe and Asia through a rail tunnel beneath the Bosphorus. Inaugurated on Republic Day (29 October) 2013, the 90th anniversary of the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, the system currently has five stations open in the heart of the city, with the farther stations to east and west to be opened in the future. More...
Three lines of Istanbul's Metro
system are in
—M1, Airport—Aksaray: The most useful for foreign visitors is the light-rail
line connecting Atatürk
Airport and Aksaray Square via
Istanbul's mammoth Büyük Otogar
(main intercity bus terminal), at which you
can board a bus to any part of Turkey or to virtually
any country within 1000 miles (1600 km) of Istanbul.
Change from the Metro to the tram
at Zeytinburnu to
Istanbul and Sultanahmet
—M2, Yenikapı—Hacıosman: A standard-gauge Metro line goes
north from Yenikapı near the fast ferry terminal, past Aksaray, over the Golden Horn to Şişhane (Tünel
Square) and Taksim
Square, then to the northern commercial and financial
districts and nearly to Tarabya on the Bosphorus. More...
—M4, Kadıköy—Kartal: Speed from the ferry docks in Kadıköy, on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, to Kartal, 25 km (16 miles) to the southeast along the Sea of Marmara shore, then take a bus to Sabiha Gökçen Airport or the Pendik YHT high-speed train station.
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 Bandırma on
the sea's southern shore. More...
Foreign cruise ships and
international ferries dock at the Yolcu
Salonu in Karaköy at
the northern end of the Galata
Bridge over the Golden
Horn, right in the center of the
city, and at Salıpazar (Galataport) just to the
Thousands of yellow taxis
powered by clean-burning liquified
natural gas, throng Istanbul's
streets. You'll find them useful and
not overly expensive, though the incidence
of unpleasantness can
be high. More...
two historic train stations: Istanbul
(Sirkeci) Garı on the Golden
Horn, and Haydarpaşa
Garı on the Asian
shore of the Bosphorus.
Sirkeci is now a station on the Marmaray regional underground cross-Bosphorus line.
The station no longer serves surface rail lines. Take the Bağcılar-Kabataş
tram to Sirkeci.
Haydarpaşa is currently out of service. YHT high-speed trains now terminate at the Pendik YHT Gar, 12 km (7.5 miles) southwest of Sabiha Gökçen Airport and 30 km (19 miles) southeast of Haydarpaşa Station. More...
The old suburban commuter train lines are being upgraded to be incorporated into the new Marmaray system. More...
You'll find two of Istanbul's tram
even though they're as different as
can be. Although the nostalgic 19th-century İstiklal
Caddesi (Nostaljik) tram in Beyoğlu is more fun,
tram is the more useful,
and can help you travel between the
heart of the tourist district at Sultanahmet
Square and the Otogar (bus
terminal) and/or Atatürk
The old-fashioned jeton (token) is the most
common—and expensive—way to pay a fare in Istanbul. It's much cheaper to use electronic
tickets and transit passes for Metro, tram, bus, ferry, train, Tünel, Füniküler and more. More...
Istanbul's historic (1875) two-station
underground train, second oldest in the world, connecting Karaköy (Galata) on the Golden Horn with Tünel Square at the southwestern end of İstiklal
Caddesi. It's convenient and fun. More...
The best way to get around Old
Istanbul's compact medieval core is
on foot. Traffic is sometimes so heavy,
and traffic patterns so circuitous,
that you can often walk somewhere faster
than riding. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan