Istanbul – Getting around

We did most of our travelling in Istanbul on foot and on the metro. My Up Band registered 8 to 12 km per day which pretty much blew my daily goal out of the water. We were in a very walkable neighbourhood with shops and restaurants close by.

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One of the traveller’s best friends is a clean, efficient metro system, and Istanbul has this in spades. Made up of subways, tramways (streetcars), buses, ferries, and a funicular, we used it extensively to travel throughout the area. You can buy an Istanbulkart at local street level vendors and then load it up at the metro stations. Without a card, a ride is 3 TL ($1.50) and transfers cost the same. WIth a card, the initial fare is under 2 TL and transfers are even cheaper. It makes sense to have each person carry their own card to effect the savings for transfers.

The stations are clean and well-lit, the subway cars are modern and air-conditioned, pristinely clean, with stop announcements and excellent signage.  The funicular takes you from Taksim metro station to the Kabataş ferry terminal and other important sights in that area.

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The other thing I loved about the metro system is that there is lots of art. Everywhere.

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I didn’t take a photo of the card readers, but I grabbed this one online. When you press your card onto the reader, the screen tells you what you just paid and how much is left on your card. These are on buses, in metro stations, and at ferry terminals.

Istanbulkart reader

As I mentioned in my previous post, we used taxis a few times, but unless you are going to a well-known venue or somewhere local, the drivers were not very knowledgeable and rather difficult to deal with, not only because of the language barrier. That being said, a 45 minute ride to a restaurant one night cost 45 TL which is $22, pretty cheap for that length of a ride.

Renting a car? We didn’t even consider it. Between the construction and roadwork throughout Istanbul and the sheer volume of traffic, It’s not for the faint of heart.

Turkish word-of-the-day: Füniküler = funicular

Turkish pronounciation-of-the-day:  ş is pronounced sh, which is why author Elif Şafak’s name is written Shafak in English.

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