İstanbul has an extensive public transport network with its highway, rail and funicular systems and sea transport services.
İstanbul has two airports, the major Atatürk International Airport (IST) near Yeşilköy 23 km (14 miles) west of the city center, reachable by Metro; and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) on the Asian side. Taxis and public transport serve both airports, but a private transfer is often a better way to go.
Airport Taxi: A taxi stand is located outside the arrival area, in front of the Terminal Buildings. Taxi service is provided by the Atatürk Airport Taxi Cooperative. The drivers are well trained and usually speak foreign languages.
Airport Car Rental: Atatürk Airport is a convenient place to rent a car when you arrive.
Airport Shuttle: A special company named "Havaş" will take you form the airport to the city center, Taksim Area, for a designated price. You can catch the Havaş bus every 15 minutes from the airport.
INTERCITY BUS TERMINALS
İstanbul has three intercity bus terminals, the major İstanbul International Bus Terminal (Büyük Otogar) at Bayrampaşa/ Esenler on the western side of the Bosphorus (reachable by Metro), serving the entire country as well as Greece, Bulgaria, the Balkans and Europe. The Emniyet Garajı serves the Balkans.
INTERCITY TRAIN STATIONS
İstanbul has two intercity train stations: İstanbul (Sirkeci) Station on the Golden Horn, and Haydarpaşa Station on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.
The most efficient and cheap way to get from a to b in İstanbul by public transportation is undoubtedly by metro. The İstanbul Metro is a mass-transit underground railway network system that currently consists of four lines and operates from Atatürk Airport to Aksaray and Kirazlı (M1), Hacıosman to the Yenikapı (M2), Kirazlı to Olimpiyatköy & Başakşehir (M3) on European side and Kadıköy to Kartal (M4) on the Asian side. More lines are under construction and existing ones are to be extended.
For a detailed map visit http://www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/passenger-services/network-maps.aspx
You'll find İstanbul's two tram lines, Bağcılar to Kabataş (T1) and Habipler to Topkapı (T4), very useful. Taksim, the cultural and entertainment center of the city is accessible from Kabataş by a short funicular railway (F1). Kabataş-Bağcılar tram is more useful, and can help you travel between the heart of the tourist district at Sultanahmet Square and the Otogar (bus terminal) and/or Atatürk Airport.
Taking a taxi is an easy and cheap way to get around. You'll find them useful and not overly expensive. You won’t have a problem finding a taxi, day or night. They are bright yellow, with a roof mounted “TAKSI” sign. If you cross the Bosphorus bridges, the toll will be added to the fare. There are many taxi stops around the city near most crowded places, hotels, restaurants and touristic spots where they can be acquired easily by phone. There is also a mobile application “taximetre” where you can easily call a cab and calculate the approximate fee for the trip.
Metropolitan buses in Istanbul are frequent and economic. They travel to almost any point within the city. The informative website of the I.E.T.T. (local transport authority) www.iett.gov.tr has an excellent English version that includes maps and timetables.
The "Metrobus", which operates between Söğütlüçeşme on the Asian side and Beylikdüzü on the European side, is another popular transportation alternative that can save a lot of time. More information can be found at http://metrobus.iett.gov.tr/
Anonymous Card is a customized Travel Card which anybody can buy and load credit. It can be used at all modes of transportation. It can be purchased from over 1500 IETT Counters and Private Vendors around Istanbul. Read more about Anonymous Card: http://istanbulkart.iett.gov.tr/en/istanbulkart/pages/anonymous-card/427
You may find them helpful occasionally in İstanbul. The dolmuş (DOHL-moosh), meaning full, is point to point shared taxi or jitney that runs between the city’s major centers. If you don’t get on at the departure point you can flag them down anywhere on their route. The destination of the dolmush is usually written on signs placed on the front window. Payment is made en route.
The Füniküler (underground funicular) connects Taksim Square and Kabataş (F1 line) on the Bosphorus shore. The older of these lines is the Tünel (the second in the world after London). Two trains run every 3.5 minutes on a single rail line with a passing loop half way between the terminals, and a trip takes 1.5 minutes. 15,000 people are transported daily.
TUNNEL (Tünel) is İstanbul's two-station underground train connecting Karaköy (Galata) and the southwestern end of İstiklal Caddesi. It's convenient and fun.
More information and timetables can be found at http://tunel.iett.gov.tr/en
Sea route is usually the quickest way between the Europe and Asian sides, particularly during rush-hour. Traditional white IDO ferries and private TurYol ferries serve shorter water routes, and are the most enjoyable way to get around İstanbul. Ferries connect the two sides of the city. There are city-line ferries that run the length of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, and also go to and from the islands. There are also special daily Touristic Bosphorus Ferries and excursions along the Bosphorus.
More information and timetables can be found at http://www.ido.com.tr/en
This is one of the major transportation infrastructure projects in the world at present. The entire upgraded and new railway system will be approximately 76 km long. The Project provides an upgrading of the commuter rail system in Istanbul, connecting Halkalı on the European side with Gebze on the Asian side with an uninterrupted, modern, high-capacity commuter rail system.
The old-fashioned jeton (token) is the most common way to pay a fare in İstanbul, though there are also electronic tickets and transit passes for Metro, tram, bus, ferry, train.
The best way to get around Old İstanbul's compact medieval core is on foot. Traffic is often so heavy, and traffic patterns so circuitous, that you can often walk somewhere faster than riding.