When traveling abroad, one of the intimidating aspects is getting around in your new destination. Taxis in Istanbul has historically had a bad reputation for ripping off tourists. After living in Turkey for over a year, I feel comfortable taking taxis in Istanbul at any time of the day or night. Taxis are SAFE to take in Istanbul. That may be a bigger concern for women, especially getting around at night. I would say the only concern is being ripped off, not physical safety. Here are some basic tips, tricks and things to look out for before entering a Taxi:
Taxis in Istanbul: All the Tips and Tricks
- Make sure the driver starts the Meter! Currently, Taxi Meters start at 7 Turkish Liras. Confirm that the driver will turn on the meter before getting in. Each additional kilometer costs 4.5 TL.
- Meter prices are fixed no matter the time of day. Riding at night is not suppose to cost you more.
- Minimum cost of a Taxi in Istanbul will be 20 liras. As of 2022, a new taxi law in Istanbul issued is that the minimum ride will cost 20 liras, no matter if the meter shows less. So if your meter is 16 liras, you will still have to pay 20 liras. This is to deter super short distance rides.
- “Fixed Price” is a way to rip you off. If the driver asks for a “fixed price”, you will most certainly pay more than if it were metered. It is recommended you DO NOT take a fixed price, unless you know the approximate cost and are desperate to get to your destination.
- Always have cash on you. Taxi cars may have stickers showing they take credit card, or even have the machine, but will unlikely take that form of payment.
- If there is a Bridge or Highway Toll crossing, it will cost about 8.25 TL which will be added on your meter. Taxis may add on 20+ liras and say it’s for additional “toll”. This is a way for drivers to trick you in paying more.
- The biggest scam areas will be the touristic areas of Sultanahmet and Taksim. Drivers may ask some ridiculous amounts like 80-120 liras to go near by that would otherwise cost 25 liras.
Taking a Taxi from Istanbul Airport
Taking a Taxi from the 2 Istanbul Airports: IST and SAW are a fast and convenient way to get to the city. There is typically a long line of taxis waiting right outside the Airport exit. You can follow the clear, easy sign to the official Taxi line. There is no need to speak to anyone inside or outside the airport in regards to taking a Taxi. Just go straight to the Taxi line. Yellow Taxis will be the most economic way. Light Blue Taxis are about 20% pricier (but slightly more spacious and comfortable).
Cost: A 35 Kilometer, 40 minute ride should cost approximately 180-220 TL.
For Example: IST Airport to Sultanahmet should cost around 250 TL. IST Airport to Taksim should be around 180 TL.
Other Options: Hotels in Istanbul have private Shuttle Transfer Services available at about 40 Euros each way.
You can arrange this ahead of time and someone will hold a sign outside the Airport door and lead you to the car.
What’s the Uber Situation in Istanbul?
Uber was banned for awhile, but then allowed again for only registered Taxi drivers. This means that they will only show up in Yellow Taxis. I prefer to order taxis through Uber instead of hailing one down. It saves time and is also a safety measure in case you lose something or have an awful driver you want to report. And this is an option to pay by credit card.
3 Tricks to Look out for when Taking Ubers:
The Taxi meter is not connected to the Uber App, and therefore the driver manually enters the ride total after. Look at the Meter Total before getting out (even take a photo of it), so that you can match that it’s the correct amount inputted. I would say 1 out of 3 times, I have been ripped off in this way. But Uber has excellent customer service and anytime I’ve reported it, they have refunded the amount within minutes. This sounds like a headache but I still prefer the Uber route over hailing Taxis as it saves time.
Uber drivers often message you to ask where you are going ahead of time. This is for them to decide if they want to take that route. While this is unconventional in America or anywhere else, it is common here. Once you tell them your destination, they may respond “too much traffic” or ask for a fixed price. Once again, if the fixed price sounds reasonable, take it, but it will be higher than the meter.
If you opt to pay for your Uber rides with your Credit Card through the APP, then the driver should NEVER ask for cash payment. Do not pay cash if you are certain your Uber account charges your credit card.
A Few More Things to Note:
Tips are not required or expected. But you can tip 5-10% if you feel the driver was respectful and a good driver.
Open your Google Map to your destination to make sure your driver is staying on track. Some may go extra route to rack up the meter.(Though sometimes, they do know better shortcuts. Your google map is usually good in guiding you.)
Cultural mannerisms of Taxi Drivers: Drivers often come off aggressive and may be shouting (at you, at other drivers, or in the air) and it’s just completely normal in Turkey. Most of the time, they are complaining about the heavy traffic or fed up about politics. Personally, I find this pointless, toxic and do not understand it as it is their job to drive. Complaining doesn’t change the situation. But hey, it is what it is. Welcome to Istanbul!
Personally, I only take Taxis from the Airport, after 8pm when there’s less traffic or if traveling in a group. Otherwise, I prefer the various, marvelous modes of Public Transportations in Istanbul. For additional Tips, read my post on 10 ways to Getting around Istanbul.
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