Istanbul is the city that figuratively has a foot in the east and the west: one part of the city sits in Europe and another part of its city in Asia. Where these two vastly different continents come together in Istanbul, you will find a veritable stew of different influences and cultural diversity.
Istanbul offers many ways to get around and depending on your budget, you’ll have no problems navigating from one world-famous attraction to another—and for almost no cost!
Istanbul’s metro system has four lines that travel through the city. Most tourists will use M1A which takes its passengers to the airport and the bus station. If you are looking for transportation to the sights and specific neighbourhoods, check out the M2 as it travels from Sultanahmet to Taksim.
The bus line in Istanbul is an easy way to let you travel around town without breaking your budget. Most trips will cost around 1.50 TL. A majority of the bus lines run from 6am to midnight, but there are also a number of 24-hour bus lines. When taking the bus, be careful to note which bus you get on because there are two companies on the road. One is run by a private company (look for the blue & green buses) and the other is the public transit (which are usually red double-deckers).
The taxi system is cheap and easy to use. This will be the best method of transport to get around if you are nervous about getting lost. Always determine your trip’s total cost before agreeing or getting into the cab so you don’t end up getting swindled by the cab driver.
For the duration of your stay in Istanbul, the Istanbulkart will be the most efficient way to get around. This card looks much like a credit card and it works as a ticket on buses, trams, suburban trains, the metro, and the undersea metro.
Being a large city, Istanbul has a variety of places to stay. You can have a 5-star luxurious night of sleep or you can choose from any number of well-run hostels. Instead of telling you where to stay specifically, these are two parts of Istanbul where you may want to narrow your search. Depending on what nightlife and ease of access you are looking for, one option will appeal to you more than the other.
Taksim is the premier district for shopping and entertainment. As such it offers many reasonably priced hotels surrounded by the buzzing culture of Istanbul. For the budget-conscious, there are two hostels in this area. You can get a cheap night’s stay and spend more on the attractions you had your heart set on or travel across Turkey and explore some of the other areas.
This area of the city is perfect for those that want to be near the airport or in a more quiet side of town. This is also an area for the higher proceed luxury hotels for those seeking royal treatment.
You’ll find that Istanbul has hot and humid summers with cold, wet, and sometimes snowy winters. Another unusual weather-related tip about Istanbul is that the city gets a lot of rain each year—even more than well-known rainy cities like London. As such, you should pack an umbrella for your visit, no matter the time of year. Autumn, winter, and spring all have high rainfall and though it is less likely in the summer, you may want it to use the umbrella then as a parasol to block the sun’s harsh rays.
Monuments and history are, of course, a huge part of the attraction for cities like Turkey, but in this case there is so much beyond the mosques, buildings, museums and history that are worth seeing and experiencing first hand. Above all else are locals, who won’t hesitate to make sure your time spent in Istanbul is amazing. This community of people work hard and party harder and if you are lucky enough, you’ll be invited to join them in the celebrations. Save your worrying by getting covered before you leave and enjoy the never-ending fun to be had in Turkey.
Image courtesy of Flickr user if you love me