Explore İstanbul
Accessible From All Around the World

Istanbul is accessible by air, sea, rail, and road. Air transport is perhaps the most significant considering overall congress requirements, but other modes of transportation may be more convenient for visitors from neighboring countries.


By Air

Served by more than 300 international airlines, Istanbul is accessible from all parts of the world. Most international and domestic flights arrive and depart from Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, which is 20 km (12 miles) from the city center. Istanbul’s second airport, Sabiha Gokcen International Airport is on the Asian side, 45 km (27 miles) away from Taksim Square in the city center. Most major European airports are 2-4 hours away from Istanbul by air. From the east coast of North America, Istanbul is about a 10-hour journey.

There are multiple alternatives of public transportation from the airports to the city center. Transportation to and from the Ataturk Airport is available by metered taxis as well as subway, which starts from the city center, and municipal buses. Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) has a really convenient traffic in terms of transportation with its 1.5 km connection to the TEM motorway. Public transportation (IETT) departs from Sabiha Gökcen to the city center. There are many ways to travel from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to several main locations of Istanbul by taxi or the public services (IETT). Also, at every half an hour Havatas Airport Passenger Service provides transfers to and from both airports to Taksim and Kadıkoy.


By Rail

There are trains from Sofia, Belgrade, Bucharest and Budapest (connections from Munich and Vienna) to Sirkeci Station in Istanbul. Main services are:

- Daily overnight train Balkan Express from Belgrade (Serbia) via Sofia (Bulgaria) 

- Daily overnight Bosphorus Express from Bucharest (Romania) 

- TransBalkan Express from Budapest (Hungary) also has one of its cars attached to Bosphorus Exp. in Bucharest, thus providing a direct service from Budapest to Istanbul. 

There are two main train stations in Istanbul; Sirkeci Station on the European side and Haydarpasa Station on the Asian side. These historic station buildings are nostalgic gateways to the city. Suburban trains also run from Sirkeci and Haydarpasa stations. Trams to Sultanahmet run past Sirkeci station, and city bus services are available. 


By road

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.

Coach services to all parts of Turkey are reliable, reasonably priced and convenient. Istanbul’s International Bus Terminal located in Esenler, about 10 km (6 miles) from the city center, serves all international and domestic lines.


By Sea

The Bosphorus Strait divides Istanbul’s Asian and European shores. Central Istanbul and the historical peninsula are on the European shore, which is itself divided by the natural harbor of the Golden Horn (Halic). 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 Uskudar.


Easy to Get Around 


Various transportation vehicles are available in Istanbul, one of the biggest cities in Europe. Railroads, bus lines and trams are supported by sea vehicles that travel between two continents. “Akbil” (smart ticket) devices and “Istanbulkart” -used in almost all transportation vehicles- can be purchased from offices near major transport interchanges all around the city. The website www.iett.gov.tr submits detailed information on transportation alternatives.



Metropolitan buses in Istanbul are frequent and economic. They travel to almost any point within the city and some villages around the city. Alternatives are privately operated buses using the same lines where you can pay onboard. The “metrobus”, which operates between Sogutlucesme on the Asian side and Avcilar on the European side, is another popular transportation alternative that can save a lot of time.



The modern subway and tram system is one of the most convenient means of transportation in Istanbul. Trains departing from Sirkeci and Haydarpasa reach the outer parts of the city. The Istanbul Metro, or the M2, is a mass transit underground railway network, running from the Ataturk Oto Sanayi station at Maslak in the north to the Sishane station at Beyoglu in the south. The tram lines are Zeytinburnu-Kabatas, Gungoren-Bagcilar and Edirnekapi-Sultanciftligi. Taksim, the cultural and entertainment center of the city is accessible from Kabatas by a short funicular railway. A light rail line, known as M1, runs from Yusufpasa, near Aksaray, to Esenler and Ataturk Airport.



The sea route is usually the quickest way between the European and Asian sides, particularly during rush-hour. 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 tourist excursions along the Bosphorus. Smaller private motorboats that depart from Besiktas on the European side drop their passengers at Uskudar on the Asian side in six minutes. The modern catamarans are for those who want to get about fast.



Licensed taxis in Istanbul are yellow and have registration numbers on the sides. They can be found on the ranks or hailed on the street. Also hotel, restaurant and bar staff s provide taxi. Bridge tolls are added onto the taxi fare.



One practical solution to transportation in Istanbul is the dolmus, a shared taxi seating 7 or 8 passengers that operates on specific routes through the busiest parts of the city until midnight. The destination is written on signs placed on the windscreen. 



For İstanbul Railway Network MAP click here