Riding a bicycle around Istanbul is a really, really bad idea. Do not try driving down the bustling streets, as you are sure to put your life and health at risk. If you want to ride around for exercise, visit one of the parks in the city, but do not use a bike as a method of transportation.
Ferry rides are loved by the locals, as they provide a pleasant way to travel through the city. The ferries also provide quick transfers between the Asian and European sides of the city, with most ships cruising through the Golden Horn and Bosphorus, and some even to the Princes’ Islands. The tickets usually do not cost more than ₺5, but make sure to check the local timetable as it tends to change often.
Buses are one of the better methods of transportation in the city, as they are fast, efficient, and cheap. However, keep in mind that the frequent traffic jams can easily slow the bus down and create long delays, but the dedicated bus lanes tend to limit the problem. These lines are, however, only present in the centre, making going outside of it a bit risky. The most important bus stations are located at Taksim Meydani and at Besiktas, and the buses run between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Make sure to look at the timetable of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn routes, as these are two of the most relevant routes to tourists.
Car and Motorcycle
Similarly to riding a bike, driving around the city in your own car can be very dangerous. The locals usually know how to drive safely, but if you have never been to such a bustling city, and you probably haven’t, then you should probably not try your luck with a car. Moreover, the parking is not only difficult to find, but also quite expensive.
A dolmus is an interesting alternative to a bus. It is a minibus which waits at its departure stop until it is full and then drives towards its destination. The cost of the tickets vary from dolmus to dolmus and are always paid onboard directly to the driver. Remember that you will probably have to shout to the driver if you want to get out, or else he will not stop. The biggest advantage of the dolmus is that they usually run all the way through the night and are a cheap alternative to a taxi.
Istanbul has two funicular lines in the city, which use the same tickets as the rest of the public transport. The first line of the funicular services between Karaköy and Tunel Meydani, between 7 a.m. and 10.45 p.m., and costs ₺4 to travel with. The second line drives between Kabataş and Taksim Meydani, connecting the route to the metro, and departs every five minutes from 6 a.m. to midnight., and costs ₺5.
There is also a single cable car line in the city which connects the Eyup to the Pierre Loti Café and Maçka to the Istanbul Technical University. It runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and costs ₺5.
Metro is a great way to travel quickly around the city for a small fee. A train usually departs every five minutes, and the metro services from 6 a.m. all the way to midnight. A single ticket costs ₺5, but you can also use a card or a pass. The first line of the metro runs from Yenikapi to the airport, making it a good and cheap way of transferring after you arrive in Istanbul. The second line connects Yenikapi and Taksim, with stops near the Grand Bazaar and the Tunel Meydani.
Taking a taxi in Istanbul can be a risky business, as most of the drivers ride insanely fast and do not pay much attention to what's happening on the streets. Make sure to ask if the meter is running before you depart, as some of the drivers try to scam tourists by giving them a flat fare or lying about the actual price. If a driver tells you that he does not use a meter, get out of the vehicle and do not use the services of that company again. However, a regular taxi fare is quite cheap, with identical rates both during the day and night. Keep in mind though that most of the taxis do not have seat belts and you may end up afraid for your life.
While in the centre of the city metro is much more efficient than trams, they are still a good way to travel outside of the centre and in the suburbs. The two main tram lines run from Bacilar to Zeytinburnu and Kabatas, and from Cevizlibag to Kabatas. The trams usually depart every five minutes or so, from 6 a.m. to midnight. You can buy tickets at machines present on all tram stops in the city, and a single ticket costs ₺5. There is also an antique tram which travels from Tunel Meydani to Taksim Meydani, but it needs a separate ticket which costs ₺4.
Tickets and Passes
Istanbul Kart – while most of the methods of transportations tolerate single tickets, you must have an Istanbul Kart to use buses. The card is both pre-paid and rechargeable and offers various discounts. The easiest place to get the Istanbul Kart from is the airport, but there are also kiosks at most of the major transit stops which can sell you one. The fee is ₺10 to get the card, and it is non-refundable, which is a bummer, but the fare with the card is ₺2.60 instead of the usual ₺5.