I've used the service of this company for my transportation in Istanbul and all was arranged in a perfect way.
Ogut Sokak No: 10,
Beyoglu 34437 Istanbul
Tel: +90 532 608 1470
Fax: +90 212 244 0649
Akbil is a prepaid travel token for use on buses, trams and ferries within Istanbul. An excellent idea if you plan to travel around the city. You can buy the Akbil at many places round the city and recharge it as necessary. It saves you having to keep on buying tickets or individual tokens to travel, and travel costs are slightly lower.
The best thing about Akbil is you can use one for the whole family/group. All you need do is bleep each person through the turnstile, or onto the bus.
All over the city at Akbil sales points (usually news kiosks as well as at bus and ferry terminals)
If you don't have time for the full day Bosphorus cruise then IDO (Istanbul Deniz Otobus) also offer a two hour trips along one of the world's greatest waterways without the lengthy (nearly three hour) stop at the north end of the Bosphorus. It is also kinder on the pocket costing 10 TL instead of 25TL for the full day tour. See the beauty of the city for less money and less time!
The ferry departs from Eminonu at 1430 returning at 1630 (it also collects from Uskudar for those staying on the Asian shore)
This is a great transfer service between Ataturk Airport and Istanbul city. You pay per journey. It is only 20 euros (or 45 TL) each journey- not per person. It is a private transfer in a comfortable people carrier and you pay the driver. This company can also arrange tours for you. I took the afternoon Bosphorus Tour for 30 euros and it was great. The mini bus collects you and returns you to your hotel. Again, no money up front- just pay the driver in cash or with credit card on the day.
Take the slow boat to Buyukada island. It takes about one and a half hours and only costs about four pounds each way. It is a lovely way to escape the scorching heat of Istanbul as the boat is open and breezy. You can watch the people getting on and off the boat and the tea sellers coming around- buy a cup it is refreshing and cheap.The boat stops at two islands before reaching Buyukada so you can enjoy the scenery. Buyukada is a great place for a day trip or overnight stay. You can buy an infinite variety of ice-creams, drink coffee by the port and watch the boats and people, or have a kebab. If you are feeling energetic hire a bicycle; but if you want to relax hire a horse drawn carriage taxi; then tour the island. You will be impressed by all the authentically restored wooden mansions. If you decide to spend a night, you have to stay in the iconic 1900's Hotel Splendid. Don't be surprised if you bump into Hercule Poirot in the elegantly faded drawing room.
Kadakoi ferry, Istanbul
Do what the Istanbullers do. Escape the heat of the city with a ferry day trip to the Princes Islands. Drink tea and eat bagels served to your seat during the 1 ½ journey as the ferry stops at four of the islands before terminating at the ornate Ottoman quay on Büyükada. Take an island tour by phaeton (no cars allowed on the islands). Stroll along the shopping streets. Marvel at the extraordinary ice cream parlours. Eat fish on the waterfront, then return to the city. For just three TL (£1.50) each way, a bargain.
Ido Ferries, regular departures from Kabatas quay, Istanbul. www.ido.com.tr/en/index.cfm
There’s a forgotten train ride through the middle east that no-one mentions or goes on; it lasts from 8am on Sunday to 8pm Sunday and goes through two vast countries. This train departs Istanbul and arrives in Damascus and on-route it meanders its way through the interior of Turkey bordering mountain ranges and plains and going through medieval cities such as Konya and the rarely visited town of Antep. You then you enter Syria and immediately hit the mecca that is Aleppo, with its bustling streets and many souqs and then you travel through Syria and finally end up in the oldest continually habited city on Earth, in one of the greatest cities in the middle east, Damascus… and all of this for £50.
Some of Turkey's best beaches are within an hour of Istanbul on the Black Sea coast, with massive expanses of sandy beaches and tourquise waters backed by forests.
It is relatively undeveloped because Turks generally prefer the warmer and calmer seas of the Aegean and Mediterranean.
Be careful about currents, but unless it is very windy the sea is safe to swim in.
The beaches may get crowded on summer weekends as the residents flock to the seaside, but otherwise there is plenty of room.
The best beaches can be found at Sile and Agva, about 40-50 miles north-east of Istanbul; closer to the city centre is Kılyos, with Solar Beach www.solarbeach.net/default.asp?lng=tr&id=67 and Burç Beach offering beach clubs and activities.
To reach Sile and Agva, take the number 130 and 139 municipal busses from Harem or Üsküdar on the Asian side. Kılyos, on the European side, is closer, but involves taking two minibuses (one from Beşiktaş to Sariyer, and another from Sariyer to Kılyos). Slightly further afield on the European side, Kiyiköy (about three hours’ bus trip) is a good getaway for a weekend; the hotel Endorfina www.hotelendorfina.com/index.htm is a boutique hotel, and at prices of £20 per person per night is much better value for money than the overpriced (and generally full) hotels in Sile and Agva.
It costs 1.3 lira (50p) for one journey on the modern funicular between Taksim Square and Kabatas and it is much better than taking a taxi. The trams and the ferry costs the same amount and the ferry, crossing from Europe to Asia, is a must.
Taksim Square, Istanbul.
The train is a really cool way to travel to/from Istanbul. Sleeper trains are much slower than the coaches, but do add a touch of class to your budget trip. We caught the Meram Expresi from Konya (daily at 17h50, 90YTL - about £35) for a private cabin for the two of us. Scheduled arrival was 06h30 but we arrived at Haydarpasa (Asian side) about 08h00 and caught the commuter ferry directly across to Eminonou. It is a lovely way to approach Istanbul.
Buying tickets in advance as a non-Turk was tricky. The website requires a Turkish ID #, and trying to buy by phone or from a local train station was fruitless. But despite being advised to buy tickets well in advance we had no problems at all when we turned up 3 hours before travel. If you are going to be in Istanbul during office hours before you travel then there are agencies that will reserve the cabin and collect the ticket for you.
Konya is 3 hours' coach journey from Goreme in Cappadocia so you can have a two-centre holiday with a cheap night on a train (to get to Goreme first we flew from Istanbul to Kayseri - 45 mins on a coach to Goreme)
As long as you don't have loads of bags and it's not the middle of rush hour, it's perfectly easy to get the train/tram into (and from) town. Take the LRT train from the airport to Zeytinburnu, then change to the tram that will take you all the way to Sultanahmet and beyond. You can also change at Aksaray, but I recommend Zeytinburnu (even though it will take a bit longer) because it's an easier interchange (just over a bridge) and you're getting onto the tram at the start of its journey (so you're more likely to have space to get on), plus there's an Akbil kiosk if you want to buy one of those multiple-trip gadgets. Otherwise, the trip costs 2.20 YTL for two tokens.
Istanbulites are more than eager to help visitors who appear to be in distress, even without being asked. We found that they were so eager in fact, that they would give us any information, even misleading us, rather than not help.
That's why we were suggested 5 different bus lines to get to the same place by people who actually took the trouble to get off their own bus to show us where they thought we needed to go. It is best to double check before you follow someone's very friendly advice.
The main central areas of Istanbul can quite easily be explored on foot. For longer distances there are taxis, as well as tram and metro systems.
An absolute essential whilst in Istanbul is to take a local ferry across the Bosphorus, for example to Uskudar on the Asian side of the city. The crossing will give magnificent views of many of the historical buildings whilst emphasising the city’s extraordinary setting, which sprawls over several hills. Regular ferries leave Eminonu on the Golden Horn for the Asian side. Tokens are best purchased from the official kiosks and not from touts who will happily overcharge or short-change the unsuspecting tourist before vanishing into the crowds.
To reach other parts of Turkey there are regular train services and a very good bus network offering cheap and frequent departures countrywide. Istanbul’s main otogar (bus station) is situated on the north-western outskirts of the city at Esenler and easily reached by local train.
Feeling nostalgic for London Routemasters? Ever imagined yourself in the cockpit of a Douglas DC3 Dakota or behind the controls of an Istanbul tram? Then a visit to this fascinating transport and industrial museum should be ideal. The museum is a massive personal collection of transportation assembled by the eponymous Turkish industrialist who founded the museum. You can also see speedboats, steam engines, a Formula 1 car, the Sultan's personal railway carriage, and most unexpectedly a Turkish submarine.
Rahmi M Koç Museum, Hasköy Cad. No: 27; Hasköy 80320 - Istanbul
Tel: 212 369 66;
Buses 47, 54HM and 54HT; www.rmk-museum.org.tr
My wife and I did this a few years back. We set out and watched the sunset over the Golden Horn. The ferries themselves are of a shabbily romantic variety, with all walks of Istanbul life crowded aboard.
One word of warning, however: make sure your ferry is returning to Istanbul! With slowly dawning panic, we became aware that our poor grasp of Turkish and ferry routemaps had put us on a one-way trip to the Black Sea.
Once we had realised this, we were halfway down the Bosphorus (having ogled many a fortress along the way) and more than a little worried. Fortunately, it was an all-stopper and we disembarked at an unnamable little town past the glassworks with a lively looking square.
We found a local store where they told us where to find a bus heading back to Taksim Square. Very kindly, they gave us a pair of bus tickets to get back.
Unfortunately, when we caught the bus, it turned out we needed three each! No worries, a collection was taken up and the passengers on the bus made up our deficit! It was amazing to be rescued and no one would accept any payment in exchange for their tickets. We sat sheepishly and grinned like idiots for the whole hour and a half journey back to the city.
It was dark, very late and we were very tired when we got back, but we had had quite an adventure. We will never forget the kindness of the Turkish people!
Eminonu Ferry Terminal by the Galata Bridge
Take a ferry from Eyüp to Uskudar at the cost of one Lira. This passes all down the Golden Horn stopping at port after port and then finally crossing over the Bosphorus to Uskudar on the Asian side. Leave just before sunset and sip tea along the way for the cheapest and most beautiful way to visit Istanbul.
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