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Travel to Istanbul

Flying to Istanbul

Turkish Airlines is the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, serving 304 destinations in Turkey and around the world. Other airlines that fly to Istanbul include Emirates, Etihad, KLM, Lufthansa, among many others.

From London Heathrow to Istanbul: British Airways and Turkish Airlines, both fly to Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
From Gatwick to Istanbul: Pegasus to Istanbul Sabiha Airport and Turkish Airlines fly to Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
From Stansted Airport: Atlasglobal and Pegasus both fly to Istanbul Sabiha Airport.

Flight times

From London - 3 hours 40 minutes; New York - 9 hours 50 minutes; Los Angeles - 13 hours; Toronto - 10 hours; Sydney - 21 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Driving in Istanbul is not for the faint-hearted due to congestion and the way the locals drive may be different from what you are used to. Also, all toll stations on highways and bridges do not accept cash or credit card - payment must be made using an electronic payment device attached to the car.

Driving is on the right and speed limits are as follows:
• Urban: 50kph / 32mph
• Main road: 90kph / 56mph
• Highway: 120kph / 75mph

Drivers bringing cars into Turkey must show their registration documents, passport and international driving licence at the place of entry. If arriving from Europe, you must have a Green Card - a document produced by car insurers to prove that a driver has adequate insurance cover for driving abroad. You must carry a valid driving licence, passport, logbook, insurance certificate and vehicle registration at all times. The Turkish Touring and Automobile Association (www.turing.org.tr) has reciprocal agreements with some international motoring associations.

Emergency breakdown services

Traffic Police (tel: 154).

Routes

There are many routes to Turkey from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Popular crossing points for Europeans are Kapıkule in Edirne (from Bulgaria) and İpsala, also in Edirne (from Greece).

The distance from Kapıkule to Istanbul is 259km (161 miles) via E80, while the distance from İpsala to Istanbul is 255km (158 miles) via E84.

Coaches

On the European side, Büyük Istanbul Otogari (International Istanbul Bus Terminal) in Esenler, about 10km (6 miles) west of Istanbul, serves all international and most domestic lines. Upon arrival, you can get metro M1 to the city centre.

On the Anatolian (Asian) side, Harem is the hub for the buses. Upon arrival, you can take a ferry to the European side.

Some of the best coach companies in Istanbul include Kamil Koç (www.kamilkoc.com.tr) and Ulusoy (www.ulusoy.com.tr); together they serve a wide range of destinations throughout Turkey, including Ankara, Antalya, Bodrum, Bursa, Çanakkale, Fethiye and Izmir.

Long journeys are usually made at night, leaving Istanbul after 2200 and arriving at the destination in the morning.

Time to city

From border crossing Kapıkule to Istanbul - 3 hours.
From Ankara to Istanbul - 5 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

The Bosphorus Express, also known as the Trans Balkan Express, is an international passenger train running between Istanbul, Turkey and Bucharest, Romania.

Operators

Turkish State Railways - TCDD (www.tcdd.gov.tr) operates the national railway network.

Journey times

From Bucharest (Romania) to Istanbul - 18 hours. 

Travel by boat

The Port of Istanbul for cruise liners is located in Karaköy, at the point where the Golden Horn flows into the Bosphorus. It has two piers: the Galata Pier and the Salıpazarı Pier.

Ferry operators

There are many passenger ferries taking locals and visitors to nearby islands and Marmara's southern shore.

Transfer

Once your cruise ship docks at Karaköy Yolcu Salonu passenger terminal (at Beyoglu's southern tip), walk along the boardwalk until you reach the Galata Bridge, and cross it, and you will be in the city centre, close to major tourist attractions.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Featured Hotels

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Sarı Konak

This family-run boutique hotel offers an old-world atmosphere trussed up with modern conveniences in an Ottoman-era mansion. The smallish rooms have polished wood floors and are classically styled while the rooftop cafe has views of both the Blue Mosque and the Sea of Marmara.

Ibrahim Pasha Hotel

Sleek design and ultra-friendly service make the Ibrahim Pasha stand out in the crowded Istanbul accommodation market. Little extras such as complimentary fruit in rooms and Molton Brown toiletries in bathrooms add a luxurious feel while staff go out of their way to help guests, creating a home-from-home vibe.

Hotel Empress Zoe

Quirky folk art touches, Central Asian textiles as bedspreads and the odd antique give the Empress Zoe’s rooms plenty of quirky appeal. Set within a row of Ottoman era mansions, with a lush garden and a rooftop terrace with views over Sultanahmet’s Byzantine period walls, this hotel brims with character.

Ottoman Hotel Imperial

A stone's throw from the Aya Sofya, this rather grand 19th century building once served as a hospital and school before being transformed into a hotel. The common areas here are full of elegant Ottoman character and the gardens and terraces provide tranquil respites from the city.

Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah

Everyone from Agatha Christie to Ernest Hemingway once stayed at this iconic Istanbul hotel, open since 1892. Rooms are a slice of old-world elegance, afternoon tea under the chandeliers in the lounge will transport you back in time, while the pool and spa provide ample 21st century updates.

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Understated luxury is the keynote here, and it's hard to believe that this century-old building was once an infamous prison. Each of the 65 rooms is classically designed with Turkish textiles and art adding eye catching details. The rooftop terrace and large, leafy courtyard are relaxing city retreats.