Istanbul has two airports, the major Atatürk International Airport (IST) near Yeşilköy 23 km (14 miles) west of the city center, reachable by Metro (map); and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) on the east side of the Bosphorus. Taxis and public transport serve both airports, but a private transfer is often a better way to go.
Private Transfer: Private transfers can be arranged by Congress Organizer. For further information please contact Congress Organizer.
Airport Taxi: A taxi stand is located outside the arrival area, in front of the Terminal Building. Taxi service is provided by the Atatürk Airport Taxi Cooperative. Its drivers are well trained and usually speak foreign languages.
Airport Car Rental: Atatürk Airport is a convenient place to rent a car when you arrive.
Airport Shuttle: A special company named “Havaş” will take you form the airport to the city center, Taksim Area, for a designated price. You can catch the Havas bus every 15 minutes from the airport.
City bus routes get you to some places you’ll want to visit. Buy tickets before boarding at kiosks labeled “I.E.T.T” and/or “Bilet” (ticket)
Dolmuş means “filled,” which is what the vehicle needs to be before it departs on its customary route. The dolmuş (DOHL-moosh) is Turkey’s shared taxi or minibus. You may find them helpful occasionally in Istanbul.
You can pay be token, multi-use ticketor transit pass for Istanbul’s Metro, tram, bus, ferry, train.
Traditional white IDO ferries and private TurYol ferries serve shorter water routes, and are the most enjoyable way to get around Istanbul.
Special daily Touristic Bosphorus Ferries run from the Eminönü ferry docks up the Bosphorus almost to the Black Sea several times daily. Both Sea Bus catamarans and ferryboats travel to the Princes Islands near Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara.
The Füniküler (underground funicular) connects Taksim Square and Kabataş on the Bosphorus shore. At Kabataş you can board a ferryboat, sea bus, or the Zeytinburnu tram.
Istanbul has three intercity bus terminals, the major Istanbul International Bus Terminal (Büyük Otogar) at Bayrampaşa/ Esenler on the western side of the Bosphorus (reachable by Metro), serving the entire country as well as Greece, Bulgaria, the Balkans and Europe. The Emniyet Garajı serves the Balkans.
Two lines of Istanbul’s Metro system are in operation. The most useful for foreign visitors is the light-rail line connecting Atatürk Airport and Aksaray Square via Istanbul’s mammoth Otogar (intercity bus station), 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 reach Old Istanbul and Sultanahmet Square. Also, a standard-gauge Metro line goes north from Taksim Square to the commercial and financial districts.
“SEA BUS” CATAMARAN
Sleek modern 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.
SHIPS & CRUISE LINES
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 just to the northeast.
Thousands of yellow taxis, most 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.
TRAIN STATIONS, INTERCITY
Istanbul has two intercity train stations: Istanbul (Sirkeci) Garı on the Golden Horn, and Haydarpaşa Garı on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. Take the Zeytinburnu-Kabataş tram to Sirkeci for European trains, or to Eminönü or Karaköy for the ferry to Haydarpaşa.
Suburban commuter trains depart Sirkeci Station, trundle around Seraglio Point and continue along the Sea of Marmara shore stopping at the Yenikapı Ferry Terminal (for intercity car and passenger ferries across the Sea of Marmara) and at Yeşilyurt near Atatürk International Airport.
On the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, suburban trains depart Haydarpaşa Station and travel along the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara.
You’ll find Istanbul’s two tram lines useful (map), even though they’re as different as can be. Although the nostalgic 19th-century Istiklal Caddesi tram is more fun, the Kabataş-Zeytinburnu 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 Airport.
The old-fashioned jeton (token) is the most common way to pay a fare in Istanbul, though there are also electronic tickets and transit passes for Metro, tram, bus, ferry, train.
Tünel is Istanbul’s two-station underground train connecting Karaköy (Galata) and the southwestern end of Istiklal Caddesi. It’s convenient and fun.
The best way to get around Old Istanbul’s compact medieval core is on foot. Traffic is often so heavy, and traffic patterns so circuitous, that you can often walk somewhere faster than riding.