Telephone in Istanbul
Türk Telekom has a monopoly on phone services. You'll find most public phones in clusters, often near PTTs. International calls can be made from most of these phones. You pay for calls with a pre-paid telephone card (telefon kartı); some newer phones also take credit cards. There are two types of telefon kartı, the regular floppy version (manyetik kart) or a rigid 'smart kart'. Manyetik karts come in denominations of 30, 60 and 100 usage units and cost 1.20, 2.40 and 4.00 respectively. Smart karts come in denominations of 50, 100 and 200 usage units and cost 2.00, 4.00 and 8.00. You can buy them from booths near clusters of phones or from PTTs. In general, a 30-unit card is sufficient for local calls; 60 units for a short, domestic intercity call; and 100 units for longer domestic calls. You could use a 200-unit card if you're going to make an international call of more than a couple of minutes, but you'd be better off using an international phonecard. These can be bought from snack and phone booths near touristy spots, and cost around 2.40 for a 25 minute call to the UK, USA and Europe. Stick to reputable brands such as IPC or Bigalo.
Omit İstanbul's area codes if you're calling in the same area. Press '0' (zero) and the area code to make an intercity call within Turkey, or '00' to make an international call. Turkey's country code is 90.
Mobile Phone Overview
Mobile reception is very good in İstanbul and locals have embraced the technology whole-heartedly. At the time of research there were three local GSM networks: Avea (444 1500; www.avea.com.tr); Vodafone (444 0542; www.vodafone.com.tr) and Turkcell (444 0532; www.turkcell.com.tr). All offer pre-paid subscriptions. You can also invest in hazır kart (pre-paid SIM cards) at any Turkcell dealer (these are thick on the ground). You'll need to show your passport.