Mission Istanbul: Getting There

You have lots of options about "getting there” if you are planning a trip to Istanbul. Whether by air, by sea or by land, you can find a vehicle for your taste.

Istanbul is an attraction center and it is at the junction of Europe and Asia. This makes all transportation means readily available for Istanbul.

Means of Transportation:

  • Air
  • Bus 
  • Train
  • Cruise Ships
  • Car

Getting There by Air:

Flying to Istanbul is the most common way of "getting there". It is convenient, quick and comfortable.

Istanbul's main airport, Ataturk International Airport, is 20km west of the city center.

The second airport is Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, on the Asian Side, approximately 70 km east of the city center.

  • International Flights:
  • You can fly anywhere from the world to Istanbul. All major and most of the minor airline companies have flights to Istanbul.

    The cheapest option is usually Easyjet flights.(www.easyjet.com)

    Easyjet has daily flights from London, Luton Airport to Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (on the Asian Side).

    I recommend you to fly with Turkish Airlines. THY is an award-winning airline company and has a very wide range of destinations on each continent.

  • Domestic Flights:
  • For domestic flights you can use the local airlines.

    The two major airlines flying domestic routes are Turkish Airlines (www.thy.com) and Onur Air (www.onurair.com.tr).

    Atlasjet (www.atlasjet.com), Fly Air (www.flyair.com.tr) and Pegasus Airlines (www.flypgs.com), Anadolu Jet are also flying domestic routes.

    Most of Istanbul’s airline offices are on the streets around Taksim Square, particularly Cumhuriyet Street.

    Turkish Airlines has offices all around the city.

    Travel agencies can also sell airline tickets and make reservations.


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Getting There by Bus:

A) European Side:

The International Istanbul Bus Station (Esenler Otogarı; 212-658 0505) is the city’s main bus station for intercity and international routes. ("Otogar" = bus station)

It is 10km West of Sultanahmet.

The options for reaching the city center are;

1) “Servis”:

If you will arrive in Istanbul by bus, the easiest way to reach the city is to use the “servis” from the Esenler Otogar.

“Servis” is simply a minibus that takesyou from the bus station and takes you to Taksim or Sultanahmet.

Most of the bus companies offer this service for free. Just ask your bus driver about the “servis” and he will show you where it is.

2) Light Railway Tram:

The Light Railway Tram service from Aksaray stops here (Otogar stop) on its way from the airport; you can catch this to Aksaray and then connect with a tram to Sultanahmet.

3) Bus:

If you’re going to Taksim, bus no: 83O leaves from the Esenler Otogar, daily between 5.45am and 1.40am. The bus takes off every three to 25 minutes (depending on the time of day).

It takes about an hour or more to reach Taksim square, depending on the traffic load.

4) Taxi:

Taking a taxi costs nearly TL25 to Taksim and TL20 to Sultanahmet.

B) Asian Side:

There’s a smaller bus station on the Asian Side of Istanbul, on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus at Harem (216-333 3763), South of Usküdar and North of Haydarpaşa Railway Station.

The options for reaching the city center are;

1) Car Ferry:

If you’re arriving in Istanbul by bus from anywhere on the Asian Side of Turkey, it’s always best to get off the bus at “Harem” and take the car ferry to Sirkeci/Eminönü (every 30 minutes from 7.30am to 9.30pm).

It is a very easy access to European side.Going to Esenler Otogar will only cost you precious time.

2) Taxi:

It is wise to take a taxi to European side only if you arrive Harem Bus Station after 01:00 a.m. Because you have other options to go to the European Side before 01:00 a.m..

3) Boats between Üsküdar - Besiktas:

You can take a taxi to Usküdar and pass the Bosphorus with boats until 01:00 a.m. These boats take you to “Beşiktaş” which is very close to Taksim.

4) Dolmus between Kadiköy - Taksim:

If you have arrived to Harem Bus Station late at night, you can take a taxi to Kadiköy and get on a “dolmus” (a minibus that takes off wen it gets full) to Taksim until midnight.

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Intercity & international bus companies:

Offices of the bus companies are at the Esenler Otogar and in Taksim near Taksim Square, on Mete Street and Inönü Street.

These two national bus lines companies are the best:

• Ulusoy Turizm:

Ulusoy runs bus routes to and from Greece, Germany and France twice-weekly. Ulusoy runs services to most major cities in Turkey too.

Tel: 0212 244 6375

info: www.ulusoy.com.tr

Adress: Inönü Street, no: 59, Taksim

• Varan Turizm:

Varan is a premium line runs bus routes to several points in Europe, including Athens. And it runs services to most major Turkish cities.

Tel: 0212 251 7474

info:www.varan.com.tr

Adress: Inönü Street no: 29B, Taksim

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Getting There by Cruise Ships:

"Getting there" by cruise ships is an adventure itself if you like sea travel.

If you are arriving in Istanbul by cruise ships your dock will be, Karaköy International Maritime Passenger Terminal (212-249 5776), just near the Galata Bridge.

It is very close to all major attractions.

Getting There by Train:

Train travel is always romantic. It can be a long journey but "getting there" by train would be a nice memory.

A) European Side:

All trains from Europe to Istanbul arrive at "Sirkeci Railway Station" (212-527 0051; Sirkeci), right next to Eminönü.

  1) Light Railway Tram:

  There is a tram stop right across the main door of the station. The tram goes to Sultanahmet and Beyazıt up the hill and opposite sirection goes across the Galata Bridge to Kabataş, from where you can catch a funicular to Taksim Square.

  2) Taxi:

  If you arrive past midnight, you will have to take a taxi.

International train services from Sirkeci Railway Station are:

  • Bosfor Ekspres to Budapest.
    Departing at 10pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
    Fee: TL 185.40, Total: 33 hours.
  • Dostluk/Filia Ekspres to Thessaloniki.
    Departing at 8pm daily.
    Fee: TL 89.30, Total: 16 hours.
    You can connect to Athens with train, bus or airplane from Thessaloniki.

B) Asian Side:

Trains from the Asian Side of Turkey, arrive at "Haydarpasa Railway Station" (216-336 4470; Haydarpasa Istasyon Caddesi, Kadiköy).

Haydarpasa Railway Station is on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, very close to Kadiköy and close Usküdar.

Haydarpasa has a left-luggage room (Turkish: emanet), a restaurant serving alcoholic beverages, numerous snack shops, left-luggage lockers, bank ATMs and a small post office (PTT).

1) Ferry to Sirkeci or Besiktas:

The ferry from the station is the best way to cross the Bosphorus. It is a nice orientation tour. Besides it is cheap and speedy.

Most of the ferries head to Sirkeci which is an easy access to Sultanahmet and Taksim. Besiktas is an easy access to Taksim.

2) Taxi:

Taxis across the Bosphorus are expensive and slow. It is wise to take a taxi to European side only if you arrive Haydarpaşa Railway Station after 01:00 a.m.

Because you have other options to go to the European Side before 01:00 a.m..

3) Boats between Üsküdar - Besiktas:

You can take a taxi to Usküdar and pass the Bosphorus with boats until 01:00 a.m. These boats take you to “Besiktas” which is very close to Taksim.

4) Dolmuş between Kadiköy - Taksim:

If you have arrived to Haydarpasa Railway Station late at night, you can take a taxi to Kadiköy and get on a “dolmus” (a minibus that takes off wen it gets full) to Taksim until midnight.

International train services from Haydarpasa Railway Station are:

  • Transasya Express to Tehran.
    Departing at 10.55pm on Wednesday.
    Fee: TL 98
  • Toros Express to Aleppo.
    Departing at 8.55pm on Sunday.
    Fee: TL 57

Getting There by Car:

"Getting there" gets more exciting if you drive to Istanbul from Europe. It would be a very pleasant trip on the European Highway. And ferry from Italy to Greece can be involved in this little journey too.

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