Transportation in Istanbul
Istanbul's yellow taxis are cheap, comfortable and prevalent. Flag them down on the street rather than picking up a stationary cab outside hotels or tourist sites. Make sure the meter is switched on (charges are 50% extra at night) and try and avoid rush-hour clogged streets.
With relatively few stops (but new ones being dug as you read this) the Metro is super clean, efficient, and the quickest way to get from Taksim Square to the business and shopping districts of Levent. Since 2006, an underground funicular travels from Kabatas, the end of the tramway, to Taksim Square's metro station. In stark contrast, a century-old metro shuttles between Karakoy and Tunel.
Most of the single-decker buses are now air-conditioned but can get packed and very hot in summer. The yellow dolmuç (minibus) is faster, slightly more expensive, but always guarantees a seat so is better for long journeys. Pick them up from designated stops around the city, or flag them down along the route. Larger blue-and-white minibuses have fixed stops.
Rent your car
Driving into Istanbul is a feat of endurance and patience with traffic chaos, honking horns and something of an ad hoc following of driving regulations. Due to severe congestion you need to allow plenty of time to get to your destination.
Pay a small deposit for an Akbil, a transport token which can be topped up then cancelled out for any journey on public transport including bus, metro, local ferry and tram. It means cheaper fares, and saves a lot of time as tickets would otherwise have to be bought before each journey. Avoid rush hour if possible on all public transport. When you want the dolmus to stop, say inecek var to the driver. The tramway then funicular are the easiest way of travelling between Sultanahmet and Taksim, without a taxi.
Travel underground to the 1st century's Byzantine Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet; pop in to the 19th-century Sirkeci Railway Station, built for the first routes to Europe and the famous Orient Express; then return to today's creations at the vast Istanbul Modern, housing the city's best contemporary art.