Getting Around Istanbul

    Istanbul is quiet big and, more often than not, you will need some sort of vehicle to get around the city.   Are you confused about how to get around? Our Istanbul guide will let you know all the options so you can best manage your time/money.

    Istanbul on Foot

    Image by Greenwich Photography

    Don’t try getting around everywhere by foot – you will quickly tire! Keep in mind that Istanbul’s streets may not be as ordered and easy to navigate on foot as you might think. You may find that some neighborhoods are lacking in pavements or that the pavements are too narrow or damaged. A good tip is to always look where you are going as unexpected holes and dents can be found around the city—even in the most posh neighborhoods. Keep in mind that Istanbul’s streets are not made with mothers in mind, so it is quite difficult to go around with a stroller in most areas. You should also take note that Istanbulian drivers can be notoriously reckless and often do not stop for pedestrians—even at pedestrian crossings—which is why you should always exercise extreme caution, even when crossing at lights.


    Taxis are bright yellow cars with a ‘Taksi’ sign on the roof. You won’t have a problem finding a taxi day or night, and they can be hailed on the street at any time or found at taxi ranks. It is advisable to catch a licensed taxi from a taxi rank late at night. Taxi drivers are not always streetwise and it is usual for them to ask for directions from other drivers or shop owners, so it’s wise to carry a map. Since most drivers don’t speak any English, it’s also a good idea to have your destination written down.


    Dolmuş is a form of shared transportation commonly used by locals. Dolmuş can either be yellow station wagons (mainly on the Asian side) or blue minibuses (mainly on the European side). These vehicles run on a fixed route (which is displayed on the vehicle’s front and side windows). You may have to wait after you get on the dolmuş, as drivers will usually set off when the vehicle is full. You can get on or get off a dolmuş pretty much anywhere along the route by informing the driver. These shared taxis offer a cheaper option than taxis and a more frequent schedule than buses. Dolmuş usually operate until the evening and some major routes (such as the ones from the Asian Side to Taksim Square) operate until late.

    City Buses

    City buses are plentiful and in various colors (blue, red, green). The buses offer numerous routes around the city and are an inexpensive option. Keep in mind that buses tend to be quite crowded and you may have to wait extended periods of time. The local transport authority IETT’s website offers detailed information on routes and maps in English.

    Metro and Metrobus

    Istanbul has a small but well-functioning metro system that started operating in 2000.  Metrobus refers to buses that operate on special lanes that allow them to run without getting stuck in traffic. There are three lines of the Metrobus extending between the European and the Asian sides.

    Ferries/Sea Buses

    There are ferry (vapur) and sea bus (deniz otobüsü) services along the Bosphorus for those wishing an alternate route. Ferries, a more nostalgic version of sea travel, are cheaper than sea buses, which are faster, more modern, and more comfortable. The ferries and sea buses operate quite frequently and their timetables can be viewed at the terminals.

    Sea Taxis

    This innovative, 24/7 commuting service is a (more expensive) alternative for those who wish to cross the Bosphorus or visit the Princes’ Islands on their own schedule.  Deniz Taksi boats can hold up to 10 people and prices are calculated based on the distance traveled.


    If you will be in Istanbul for an extended period of time, it is worth investing in an Akbil, a smart, electronic pass that makes getting around in public transport easier and faster. Akbil can be used with all forms of public transport except for dolmuş.   Akbil can be purchased from ticket offices close to main bus, metro, and train stations by paying a small deposit. Keep in mind that you can’t purchase an akbil inside train or metro stations.

    I have spent the past 15 years in the travel industry. Today focused on promoting different ways of traveling, I'm in the process of creating few travel websites, which will be launched shortly. I have a great passion for travel and the travel industry. My goal here atTtripOutlook is to connect to other proffessionals in the travel industry and to exchange experience.

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