By Justin Mays:
We talk a lot on our blog about the myriad of different public transportation options and major roads of Istanbul, but we have never fully laid out exactly how one can travel around the city using public transportation only. Let us teach you how to explore this major city without renting a car or buying your own.
This month Uber Turkey announced that they were launching a new service on their local app. Uber Turkey does not act like the traditional ride-hailing application that you will find in the UK or the United States. When you open your Uber app and request a car, you will receive a regular city taxi but with added benefits. If you do not speak Turkish, worry not, all you have to do is get in the taxi because your destination has already been typed into the app. You have the option to use your credit/bank card or pay in cash.
You can also upgrade your taxi options and Uber also allows you to choose the luxury black cab option. This option is more expensive than a yellow taxi but has the capacity to fit eight people. There is also a local taxi-hailing app like BiTaksi that you can download once you move to the city. Of course, there are taxis moving around the city everywhere and you can also just hail one from the road and hop in.
Istanbul ferry boats are everyone’s favorite transportation option. These boats transverse the Bosphorus between Asia and Europe and the Sea of Marmara. There are stops even all along the waterways from North to South and East to West. There are also fast ferries to quickly get from places like Bostanci all the way to Bakirkoy and the Princes Islands. A favorite pastime of ferry passengers is to buy a simit (local bagel like bread) and tea on the boat then sit outside and watch the seagulls follow the ferry. It is by far the most enjoyable way to view the city and get where you need to go.
Unfortunately, living in a large city like Istanbul you will come across traffic. Luckily there are multiple ways to get from point A to point B without using a car. There is an extensive metro line, there are tramlines and even the Marmaray rail line which travels under the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia. For some of the hilly areas of the city you even have funiculars to get you from top to bottom and vice versa without having to navigate the steep hills.
Finally, there's a far-reaching bus system. There are bus stops all over the city that will allow you to explore to your heart's content. There's even a fast bus line called the metro bus that runs from Europe to Asia and it has its own designated lane to ensure a speedy way to get to where you need to go.
To use these public transportation options, buy a prepaid Istanbul card, this card permits you to use any of the above options. Top-up credit from machines located throughout the city or use your bank account to do it online. If you need to transfer between transportation lines you will get discounts on the subsequent fare. Istanbul is an incredibly affordable city for public transportation, and you will find that you can make ten transfers for the cost of a single tube ticket in London. Happy exploring!
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