Getting around in Istanbul

Not surprisingly, Istanbul is well connected to every part of Turkey. Buses are frequent and plentiful, and the main coach station (otogar) is at Esenler, on the European side.

There are countless independent bus companies, all of whom have a ticket office at the station and the larger ones have offices dotted around town, especially in areas like Taksim, Sultanahmed and Besiktas. Prices vary slightly regarding quality of the vehicle. There are also departures from Harem, on the Asian side. For journeys further afield, there buses to Greece, Macedonia, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Russia, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria and Jordan.

Not as popular a mode of transport as buses, with a much smaller network, there are rail connections from Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir and Eastern Anatolian cities. Most of the services are slower than buses, although between the three main cities there are the mavitren, mototren or ekspresi, which are fast and comfortable. Reservations are essential for these journeys, and there are several classes of seats and sleepers.

Maritime Lines run both the urban and national transport. Marinas also have connections with European ports. Boats operate from Istanbul to the following Black Sea towns: Zonguldak, Sinop, Samsun, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, as well as Izmir. Marmara Lines run to Marmara Island, Bandirma and Mudanya.

Ataturk International Airport is 20 km from city centre. The new airport is the biggest in the country, with the most international flights. There are direct flights to every European capital, and many to Asia, USA and the Middle East. The domestic terminal has flights to every domestic airport in the country, with several a day to major cities like Ankara and Izmir. Turkish Airlines (THY) is the national carrier.

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