The meeting point of Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a magnificent city where ancient and modern live effortlessly side-by-side and a myriad of cultures, traditions and religions combine together to create a true capital of empires…
Istanbul is Turkey’s capital, and the country’s economic, cultural and historical heart, renowned particularly for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. The ancient trading city, which was once even the capital of the Roman Empire, has been site of fierce battles and has been rebuilt many times over the centuries; its heritage is reflected in ancient structures, which stand casually alongside their “modern” medieval counterparts. Not many cities can claim to have a history that dates back to 13 BC!
Your cruise ship will dock at the Yolcu Salonu passenger terminal in Karaköy, just a couple of kilometres from the old city, Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s historic centre and the area where you’ll find most of the city’s tourism highlights. If you’re fairly fit, simply walk along the boardwalk, cross the Galata Bridge and catch a tram to Sultanahmet, or you could walk up the fairly steep hill to get there. Taxis are also available.
Although public transport is cheap, it’s not immediately easy to figure out, especially since a lot of the instructions are in Turkish only. There are two types of bus services – private and public – a metro, and a tram system. Each time you use any of these forms of transport you will need to use a token that can be bought at various ticket kiosks and machines at stations, or if you’re staying in Istanbul for a few days, you can purchase an Istanbulkart. Most tourists make use of the tram and metro services in the Sultanahmet and Taksim areas. There’s also a 125-year old funicular connecting Karaköy to Tünel Square, which then connects with a century-old tram travelling from Istiklal Caddesi to Taksim Square and back. Of course, taxis can be found in abundance; all metered and relatively cheap.