Getting to Istanbul
Turkey demands an official entry visa from the citizens of some countries. Before your departure to Turkey it is better to check with a Turkish consulate in your country to determine if you need a visa. In some cases, you can obtain a visa upon arrival at Ataturk airport for a small fee. The most updated visa information can be received from the website of Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Istanbul is accessible by air, sea, rail and road. Among these, air transport is perhaps the most significant in view of overall congress requirements, but other modes of transport may be more convenient for countries in the region.
Istanbul is readily accessible from all parts of the world, and served by more than 50 international airlines. There are direct flights to Turkey from 76 different cities around the world. There are around 700 flights to Istanbul per week. Almost all international airlines have convenient direct flights to Istanbul from all over the world. Turkish Airlines, which has been carrying passenger and cargo since 1933, today has a fleet of 64 aircraft and flies to a total of 103 destinations, 26 domestic and 77 international. It has consolidated its position on the international platform by linking the Caucasian countries and the Turkish republics in Central Asia, as well as the Middle Eastern and Asian countries, with Europe, Africa and North America; through the service network hub Istanbul.
Atatürk Airport serves domestic and international scheduled and charter flights 24 hours a day. It is located 24 kilometres west of the city centre. In view of public usage, the Atatürk Airport facilities are established on an area consisting of a total of 9,470,554 square meters, with a yearly capacity of 14 million passengers to serve at international terminal and 6 million passengers at domestic terminal.
The road network throughout Turkey is extensive, with motorways, dual carriageways and numerous three-lane highways. Drivers bringing cars into Turkey must show their registration documents and driving license at the point of entry. If arriving from Europe, visitors must have a Green Card (available from insurance companies) as well as appropriate insurance. Driving is on the right. Seat belts are mandatory and driving after consuming alcoholic drinks is prohibited. The speed limits are I20km/h on motorways, 90km/h on main roads and 50km/h in towns.
Intercity Coach services
Coach services to all parts of Turkey are reliable, reasonably priced and convenient. Istanbul's International Bus Terminal located in Esenler, about ten kilometers from the city center, serves all international and domestic lines. Most of the leading intercity coach companies provide free shuttle services from central Istanbul to the terminus. These leave a couple of hours before the scheduled departure time of the coaches from Siraserviler Caddesi in Taksim, which is also where the ticket offices are located. Visitors can book tickets here any time before departure.
Major European cities such as Frankfurt and Vienna are also well serviced by Turkish coach lines, and there are daily bus connections between Athens and Istanbul via Thessalonica.
Transportation Within City
A variety of public transportation modes such as metro, light railway, trams, buses and taxis make travelling in the city easy and convenient. Ticket system of public transportation called Akbil is widely used in most of the public transportation vehicles.
City Buses : There are numerous private and state-owned city buses in Istanbul. Bus and tram tickets are about 0.75 EURO each, are usually available near the main stops from a kiosk. http://www.iett.gov.tr/en/index.php
Dolmus or Minibus : A dolmus is a large car or a minibus, which is a kind of taxi shared by other passengers. They are a good option for short trips, and depart from dolmus terminals. Payment is in cash.
Taxis : Taxis are obliged to drive on the meter. Only in case you want an excursion, a mutually fixed price can be agreed upon before you depart. Yellow taxis line up in front of ferry terminals, stations, major hotels and can be hailed almost anywhere in the street.
Tram – Light Rail Transport System : Istanbul’s main tramline runs from Eminonu/ Sirkeci station via Aksaray to Zeytinburnu, just outside the Southwest city walls. Another line runs from Aksaray to the Esenler bus terminal (international and intercity connections) and again from Aksaray to the Ataturk International Airport. http://www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/en/default.asp
Underground Metro : The first phase of the Istanbul Metro, which spans the heavily congested Taksim - Levent route was opened in October 2000. The underground railway line runs from Taksim Square to ITU, financial district of Istanbul.
Sea Transport : Sea busses are by far the most pleasant way to travel in Istanbul. They service many destinations. The primary routes run every twenty minutes between 07:00 and 23:00. Fast ferries serve a total of 30 destinations in an around Istanbul with a fleet of 26 ships, including vessels able to accommodate up to 400 and more passengers. http://www.ido.com.tr/en/index.cfm
There are trains from Sofia, Belgrade, Bucharest and Budapest(connections from Munich and Vienna) to Sirkeci Station in Istanbul. Main services are:
-Bosphorus Express: from Bucharest, daily
-TransBalkan Express: from Budapest via Bucharest, daily
-Prietenia Express: from Kischinev, daily
-Balkan Express: from Belgrade via Sofia, daily
-1C 90/9 I: from Pythion via Thessalonica, daily (connection from Athens)
-Istanbul Express: from Munich via Slovenia, Croatia, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria
There are two main stations in Istanbul: Sirkeci Station on the European and Haydarpaşa Station on the Asian side. These historic station buildings are nostalgic gateways to the city. Both stations are well equipped with restaurants, newspaper kiosks, waiting rooms and ATMs. Both stations are conveniently located. Haydarpaşa Station on the Asian shore is connected to the European shore by ferry to Karakoy, and Sirkeci Station is a short walk or taxi ride from Eminonu ferry terminals. Suburban trains also run from Sirkeci and Haydarpaşa stations.
The Bosphorus Strait divides Istanbul's Asian and European shores. Central Istanbul and the historic walled city are on the European shore, which is itself divided by the natural harbour of the Golden Horn (Haliç). Tiny fishing boats and day cruisers share the Bosphorus with enormous international cargo ships, navy vessels, tankers and giant luxury liners from Europe. The two largest quays, Eminonu and Karakoy, are on opposite sides of the Golden Horn and linked by the Galata Bridge. Karakoy is where luxury cruise ships headed for the Aegean and Mediterranean dock, as well as smaller CIS vessels. Local ferry services mainly depart from Eminonu, Karakoy, Besiktas and Üsküdar. International ferry services
-Brindisi (Italy) or Ban (Italy-Cesme (Izmir)
-Various services from Turkish coastal towns to Greek islands
Turkey is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standart Time.
Banks and Currency Exchange
In Turkey the currency is the New Turkish Lira (YTL). Foreign currencies can be exchanged at the airport as well as at the private exchange offices throughout the city which are open from 8:30 to 20:00 hrs. Local banks, where Traveler's cheques and Eurocheques can be cashed, serve between 8:30 and 17:00 hrs. All major credit cards (such as Visa, MasterCard) are accepted in most of the Turkish restaurants, shops etc.
The electric current is 220V AC with a frequency of 50 Hertz. European standard plugs Type C (European 2-pin) with two round pins are used.
August is summer in Turkey and the weather in Istanbul is hot and humid. Average temperatures vary between 22oC and 32oC.
International country code: +90 ( Turkey )
Istanbul Area Code: 212 (for Europe) or 216 (for Asia)
Local phone numbers have 7 digits.
For additional travel information please visit