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Blue Mosque at night, Istanbul

Practical info Istanbul, Turkey

Getting around the city

The best and easiest way to explore the old city is on foot, but to get to other areas there is a cheap public transport network consisting of buses, taxis or dolmuses (shared minibus taxis), tramways, and a metro system that has relieved some of the pressure on Istanbul's endless traffic. The rechargeable Akbil electronic transit pass, available from special kiosks, is a discounted way of using local buses, trams, the metro, and ferries. A useful underground metro line runs from Aksaray to the main city bus station at Esenler, and another runs north from Taksim Square, passing the Levent districts. Buses are slow and crowded; tickets must be purchased at outdoor kiosks, as bus drivers do not sell them. Dolmuses and private yellow taxis are more comfortable than the city buses and very inexpensive, but it is advisable for foreigners to have their hotel call a private taxi for them and check that the meter is working, as overcharging is common. A taxi's night rate can be up to 50 percent more expensive than the day rate. Dolmuses can be hailed anywhere along their set routes. Passenger ferries are a pleasant way to see the city. Driving or hiring a car is not recommended due to traffic congestion and poor driving standards.


GMT +3


220 volts AC, 50Hz. The European two-pin plug is standard.


The official currency is the Turkish Lira (TRY), which is divided into 100 kurus. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange booths, post offices, airports, and ferry ports. Note that banks have the worst rates but will exchange lesser known foreign currencies. Banks open mainly Monday to Friday, but some are open daily in tourist areas. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but Turkish ATM keypads usually do not have letters of the English alphabet on their keys. Major credit cards are widely accepted; the most popular are Visa or MasterCard, but American Express is also accepted in some areas. Some hotels in the most popular destinations accept US dollars as payment.


The international country dialling code for Turkey is +90. Mobile phone coverage is good with networks covering most of the country. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts, and wifi is increasingly easily available.

Emergency number

112 (Medical Emergency), 155 (Police).

Travel documents and health

Everything about travel documents

Everything about health and KLM Health Services

Public holidays


Istanbul Airport


Getting to the city

While there are plans to connect the railway, shuttles are currently the only form of public transport serving the airport. Havaist and IETT offer shuttle services and tickets/smartcards can be purchased at the airport. Taxis are also readily available.

Car rental

Car rental companies include Europcar, Comet, Enterprise, Garenta, Hertz, Budget, Avis, and Dokay.

Airport taxi's

Istanbul Airport is northwest of Istanbul and it takes around 45 minutes to an hour to reach the city centre by taxi. There are three main taxis: yellow economy taxis, blue comfort taxis, and black premium taxis.

Transfer between terminals

There is one large, modern terminal at the airport, consisting of seven entrances. Gates 1 and 2 serve domestic flights, while the rest serve international flights.


There are shops, banks, bureaux de change, prayer rooms, a large range of food and beverage outlets, bars, a duty free, and passenger lounges. There is also an airport hotel as well as tourism information centres.


Istanbul Airport boasts one of the largest multi-storey carparks in the world, consisting of five blocks with low-cost to premium options.


There is wifi available at the airport.