Transportation in Istanbul
Tourists usually have problems with transportation in Istanbul because the geography of the city does not help very much. Istanbul is a city where two continents meet: Asia and Europe. You can have breakfast in Asia and enjoy your lunch in Europe ! To move around both continents you will need to use one of the two bridges or a boat. With this article I hope to help you understand how to move around Istanbul, which type of transportation to choose and when to choose. I hope it will be use full to the tourists !
Traffic in Istanbul is chaotic ! Watch out the for the rush hour! Istanbul has around 14 million inhabitants and as a big metropolis it has a lot of traffic problems. If you can, avoid moving around during the rush hours. There is no traffic jam in the morning around the hotel and tourist districts (Taksim-Beyoglu and Sultan Ahmet). If you are enjoying your day in Sultan Ahmet district ( where the Blue Mosque and Saint Sophia are located) and need to go back to your hotel, avoid the traffic jam and try to stay in Sultan Ahmet district until 19:30 ~ 20:00 o'clock. Ask in your hotel reception how long does it takes from your hotel to the airport. Try always to be on time ! For international flights it is recommended to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight departure. If you are arriving in Istanbul at night around 18:00 ~19:00 you will catch a very bad traffic until you reach your hotel.
Walking : it is a pleasure to walk in Sultan Ahmet, where you can appreciate the beauties of the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia and hippodrome, you can also visit Topkapi Palace and the Underground Cistern. Another place to walk would be the street of Beyoglu and you will get to the most central and commercial area of Istanbul. And if you have enough time in Istanbul, you should also walk nearby the strait of Bosphorus.You can make beautiful walks from the region of Bebek towards Arnavutkoy or Sariyer. You will appreciate the beauty of the sea, see some Turks fishing along the Bosphorus or enjoying their favorite drink: Turkish Tea !
Bus - Otobus: this kind of transportation is not recommended for the tourists unless you need to go to a specific neighborhood and you can not use the train or can not afford a taxi. Avoid to take a bus in the rush hours in the morning (between 7:30 and 9:00 o'clock) and in the afternoon (between 18:00 and 19:30 o'clock).
Boats : Boats are a very useful way of transportation in Istanbul . Istanbul is a city where two continents meet each other: Asia and Europe. The Bosphorus Strait divides the city into the Asian and European region. A lot of people live in Asia but work in Europe. There are just two bridges which connects both continents and a lot of people use boats to cross the Bosphorus strait. The government offers a service of public transportation through a lot of regions of the city. For the tourists it is interesting to take a one hour boat tour starting the tour at Ortakoy and returning to the same point. This boat tour is done in summer-spring-autumn at the afternoon with the duration of one hour and you will be able to see part of the Bosphorus Strait ( the boat make a tour until the second bridge). Another option would be taking a boat at Ortakoy or Uskudar and visiting the Maiden's Tower . At the Maiden's Tower you can drink coffee or tea and watch the panorama including the Topkapi Palace and the old Constantinople. For the ones who stay longer in Istanbul and want to make a longer boat tour, I suggest taking the boat at Eminonu and going until Anadolu Kavagi. The trip will take one and a half hour. It will take you until the last boat stop at Anadolu Kavagi at the Asian side of the city. You will need to stay there for almost 3 hours, and at your stay you can eat in one of the delicious fish restaurants and have a walk up the hill to see a beautiful view of the Black Sea from an old fortress. This is a nice boat tour but it takes almost a day and it is recommended for the tourists that spend more then 3 days in Istanbul.
Other ways of transportation...
Transfers airport-hotel: You can use taxis for airport transfers. If you can not afford a taxi, you can use a Havas Bus that will take you until the city center. After getting in the city center you will need a taxi to your hotel. But if your group has more than 2 persons, taking a Havas bus will not minimize your cost. Another option would be to take the metro. The inconvenient is that there is a train transfer, so you will have to move from one station to another with your luggage. And after getting to the city center you will need a taxi to go to your hotel.
Car rental: It is not a good idea to rent a car in Istanbul. As a tourist you will have serious problems trying to find your way, you will also have problems with local drivers and the local traffic which is not a piece of cake ! And your last problem would be parking your car ! Renting a car would be a good option if you want to travel at the interior of Turkey, so that you can stop wherever you want and take your time and enjoy the country side.
Date: March 2008
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