Istanbul Local Transport
İstanbul has a decent public transport network, which you'll appreciate once you get the hang of pre-buying tickets (try an Akbil pass instead, if you're in town for a few weeks), jumping on half-moving vehicles and avoiding armpits in tram jams. And if it all gets too much, a mad taxi driver is always ready to race you to your destination - and you won't pay too much for the thrill, either. But all public transport slows to a crawl around peak hours; this is the time to take to your feet. Walking is the best way to see İstanbul - though the ferries rate a close second.
Bus: Public and private buses are very popular. Those buses operate frequently to different destinations in the city. The problem is that because of the busy traffic, the time tables do not reflect the actual situation. You may wait a bus for 15-20 or 30 minutes. The buses are of three kinds. The first one is the blue-green buses which are privately owned. You pay money to get on them. The fee is 1.3 YTL) which is approximately. equal to 0.80 EUR or 1 USD. Foreign currency is NOT accepted. You can read the name of the place you would like to go, on the sign on the side window in the front. There is a person who will be sitting in front of the bus and after you pay him, you receive your ticket. People usually do not speak English, so you would better learn your destination.
Example:TAKSIM 30B BESIKTAS. 30B is the route number. TAKSIM and BESIKTAS are popular areas.
Second type of buses are the municipal buses which you can see lots of ads on them or regular ones in blue-green or blue- red. For these buses, you can either buy a ticket before you get into the bus or you can pay the fee to the driver. Close to the bus stops, you can come across small ticket offices called "GISE" in Turkish. Sometimes you can find tickets in little corner convinience shops. A ticket costs 1.3 YTL) You can see people using a ringing object as ticket. This is called "Akbil" which means Smart-ticket. It's like phone-cards, you accumulate them in the smart-ticket offices in return for a certain amount and you just touch it to the electronic device set on the bus. The amount is automatically taken out from your account like Electron Bank cards.This is not profitable for short-time visitors because you also pay for the empty device. This buses usually don't have air-con and are very crowded. There are plenty of seats as well as plenty of room to stand in the bus. You can read the destination of the bus on its front and side window.
There's the last type of buses which are double-deckers. They operate for longer distances and are more convinient. You give double tickets for them. If they are green buses, you can also pay cash instead of tickets. Don't worry, they will warn you.....
There are municipal buses which cross the bridge and go to the Asian side. If you plan to go to the Asian Side, you also use double tickets or double fee. I recommend you to try the ferries instead.
Ferry: The ferries in Istanbul operate from different points in Istanbul including Eminonu, Besiktas, Karakoy in European Side to Kadikoy, Bostanci, Uskudar and Bosphorus. If you like to see the Asian Side, you can simply take the ferry from Besiktas to Kadikoy every 30 minutes, 15 past and 15 to .It depends on where you plan to take the ferry. The ferries are also old but nice and convinient. The ferry operated by Dentur Avrasya has shuttle rings from Besiktas to Uskudar every 10 minutes. It costs 1 YTL. If you want to know about a Bosphorus Cruise, find the "Bosphorus Cruise" section. For further info, you can ask for a brochure from the ferry stations.
Minibus or Dolmush: Minibuses are small buses which do not have a specific time table. They begin operating at 6:00 in the morning and they finish very late at night about 1:00. . You pay cash to the driver and the fee changes depending on the line. The driver drives, changes your money, honks for new passengers and gives your change. He does four things together and you watch as if you are on the verge of having a heart-attack... It's still experience and quite a fun thing. You can stand in a minibus if no seats are left. When you want to get out, you simply yell as "Musait bir yerde lutfen" meaning "Drop me at a proper place please."
Dolmushes are slightly different. They usually operate between Besiktas and Harbiye, Besiktas and Taksim,Bostanci(Asia)and Taksim and Kadikoy(Asia)and Taksim . You cannot stand in a dolmush. Whenever it's full, it moves. Its fee is paid cash too. You can see the price written in front of the dolmush.. There are dolmushes which operate all night long, especially on the weekends
Tram: Trams are new and very convinient in the touristic areas. The destination writes in front of the tram and you also buy the ticket beforehand. There are ticket offices at the tram stops. It costs 1.3 YTL. You can simply buy your ticket and travel short distances in convinience. Some trams also go underground and some of them have air-cons.
Subway(metro): The "Istanbul Metro" was opened in 2001 and it is very convinient if you want to see the downtown and commercial centers. You can purchase the ticket upon entrance of the metro. It costs 1.3 YTL. It operates between Taksim and 4 Levent, 6 stations as Taksim - Osmanbey Sisli - Gayrettepe - Levent - 4 Levent.
Taxi: The taxi fee is determined by a taxi-meter. Its starting fee is 1.3 YTL between 6:00 a.m and 11:59 p.m. The night tariff starts from 2.0 YTL and 50% more expensive. There is usually no air-con in taxis. The taxi driver may probably not understand English, you'd better write your destination on a piece of paper or ask a Turkish person to write the necessary words for the cab driver. It's customary to round the meter amount as a tip. Be careful about your money calculation and seem as if you already know the route. The way from the airport to the city center takes about 20 minutes under normal traffic conditions, so arrange a transfer before you come, especially if you arrive at night. The driver may not understand you or he may not find your hotel. It's always more convinient to arrange an airport-hotel transfer in Istanbul.
Insider Note :
Metro is not a suitable way of transport if you are wandering around the old city and trams are usually crowded. Taxi fares are the cheapest around the Europe, so use taxis whenever possible. Beware of some scumbags trying to cheat you. Taximetres are available in all taxis and all taxi drivers must use them. When you get into a taxi, make sure the driver enables the taximeter. If not, kindly ask him to open it. Don't fool with the sentences like "Ohh, its broken - Ohh, we don't need it, its a short way". If thats the case get off the taxi and get another one. You will have no difficulties getting another taxi...