Travel

Airports

There are two airports in Istanbul – Ataturk Airport (on the European side, oldest and biggest in Istanbul) and Sabiha Gokcen Airport (on the Asian side).

Many cities in Turkey have airports and big cities such as Ankara, Izmir and Antalya have international airports.

It is best to fly between cities and visitors can choose state-owned Turkish Airlines or other private airlines. In winter and autumn, fog often disrupts flights so it’s wise to factor in possible delays during these seasons. Private planes and helicopters are available for charter.

Ground transport

Taxis are plentiful and cheap, if you haven’t arranged an airport transfer with your hotel, taxis are readily available at airports and provide the best option. Generally the distance between airports and the city centre is approximately 30km.

All taxis are yellow, equipped with meters (a small red light will be evident on the meter) and can be hailed anywhere, anytime. It is essential that you have an idea or at least know of a landmark close to your destination, as street addresses are not well known and the driver is unlikely to consult a street directory.

Buses travel between most cities, choose a reputable company such as Varan, Ulusoy and Kamil Koc to ensure maximum safety and comfort.

Travel time by road between Istanbul and Ankara is about four hours on a modern expressway, though snow in winter months may cause delays.

Punctuality is a valued attribute in Turkey so planning your transport is important. If it is rainy, foggy or snowing leave earlier to make your appointment on time as the traffic deteriorates drastically under these conditions. For tourists there are buses and ‘dolmus’ (shared shuttle vehicles that run fixed routes).

There are various modes of boat transport used to cross the Bosphorus, including 10 Australian built vessels servicing the Bosphorus and Marmara Sea.

Dining

Dining is an important part of Turkish social life and long dinners are common. There are many well-known fish restaurants by the Bosphorus in Istanbul that are enjoyed by locals and tourists, as well as international restaurants in the Taksim, Nisantasi, Ortakoy and Sultanahmet areas. Many kebab houses cook traditional Turkish kebabs.

Tipping

A 10 per cent tip is expected at restaurants and should be paid in cash, as restaurants usually do not accept adding the tip on to the credit card slip. In taxis, rounding up the fare is appropriate.

Tourist attractions

There are many attractions to see in Istanbul including the Sultanahmet area with the Saint Sophia Museum, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Underground Cistern.

Grand Bazaar is a great stop for shopping. A boat tour on the Bosphorus is enjoyable, especially in spring, summer and autumn and the Prince’s islands are popular especially during summer.