Public Transportation in Istanbul

By / 20th February, 2015 / Blog, turkey / No Comments

Guide to Transportation and Getting Around inside Istanbul

Public transport systems and the convenient Istanbul Kart for getting on all of them

Public transport in Istanbul has been revolutionized in the last decade with new networks and extensions from Metro to Tram, making the city easier than ever to get around.

For visitors trying to explore the most famous sights of Istanbul, you’ll mostly be using the public transport system by Tram, Metro, Funicular and Tünel for cheap, efficient and fast travel.

As the majority of sightseeing is on the European side, this guide will focus on land transport for tourists getting to and from those including local tips, useful stops and real examples of using multiple transport connections.

The public transport discussed on this page are:

Tickets & Payment:

The IstanbulKart is the easiest way of using public transport in Istanbul

Instead of cash, you’ll need to buy a pre-paid travel pass (Istanbul Kart) or token (Jeton), available from most street kiosks or automated machines just inside the entrance of underground stations:

(1) Best Choice – ‘IstanbulKart’ (or ‘Akbil’):
This anonymous top-up card is cheap to buy (10 TL), works on all public transport types, benefits from discounted rates and can be used by more than one person.

Buy it at the start of your trip, load it with some credit (we suggest loading 10-20 TL to start), swipe it at the turnstiles to get through, then top-it-up again later if needed.

Highly recommended to all visitors planning to use public transport, even for short stays.

(2) ‘Jeton’:
Buy this pre-paid token resembling a plastic coin and deposit it at ticketing turnstiles to get through. It is more expensive, has no discounts and can’t be used on different transport types – advisable for rare or single use only.

Which Transport To Use?

Do as locals do and opt for metro, tram and funicular or boat whenever possible, rather than slow-moving buses and taxis.

This way you can get as close as possible to your destination first, and only use a bus/taxi for the last section of the journey if necessary, saving time and avoiding unnecessary delays and jams in Istanbul’s ferocious traffic, particularly at peak times.

We also suggest Smartphone Apps such as ‘Moovit’ or ‘BuradanOraya’ which offer route planners in English for connecting multiple forms of public transport.

Let’s take a closer look at these options:

Most Useful Transport for Tourists:

T1: Kabataş-Bağcılar Tram

T1 Tram in Istanbul

T1 Tram in Istanbul

This is a tourist-friendly and convenient line taking you past or nearby to most of the major touristic sights between the Old City and New City via the Galata Bridge across the Golden Horn.

This is mostly an over-ground ‘Light Rail’ or ‘Tramway’ system with modern air-conditioned or heated carriages to take you comfortably throughout the summer and winter.

This is a fast way to travel. As the tram uses a dedicated tram-only lane, it bypasses all road traffic, unlike some other countries.

Upcoming stops are announced in Turkish and English, shown on the LED displays and route map over the door, so it’s clear at all times where you are and where you’re going.

Local Tips for T1 Tram

  • Is sometimes signposted as the ‘Light Rail’, which may be confusing, but know that this means the Tram.
  • It can get very crowded at peak times, but if at first you can’t get on, at most you’ll only need to wait 2 minutes more until the next one.
  • If you’re the only person to get on/off, you may need to push the button on the door to open it.

Operating Information for T1 Tram:

  • First Train: 06:00
  • Last Train: 23:50
  • Frequency: every 5 minutes, or every 2 minutes at peak times
  • Ticket Payment: IstanbulKart or jeton (pre-paid token).

Useful Stops for Tourists on T1 Tram:

Tram StopNearby Sights Of Touristic Interest

Dolmabahçe Palace, Mosque & Tea Gardens by the waterfront, Hekimoğlu Paşa Fountain

Connect here for: Funicular F1 to Taksim Square, Ferries and sea buses to Asian side and Princes’ Islands, bus hub

FındıklıRainbow Stairs, Molla Çelebi Mosque, a small waterfront park by the Bosphorus, uphill walk to neighborhood of Cihangir.
TophaneIstanbul Modern (Art Gallery), Tophane Fountain, Kiliç Ali Paşa Hamam, water pipe (nargile) street, cruise ship docks

Karaköy trendy cafe area, cruise ship port, Galata Bridge, famous Gulluoglu Baklava.

Connect here for: Tünel (funicular) to Beyoğlu, Ferry Port.


Galata Bridge, Spice Market, Yeni Cami (New Mosque), Ferry Piers, Golden Horn.

Connect here for: Bosphorus ferries and piers for Princes’ Islands and Asian Side.

SirkeciSirkeci Train Station, many camera accessory shops
GülhaneGülhane Park, Archaeological Museum, Çağlaoğlu Hamam
SultanahmetHaghia Sophia, Underground Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome, Turk & Islamic Arts Museum, Mosaic Museum, Haseki Hurrem Sultan Hamam, Firuz Aga Mosque
ÇemberlitaşGrand Bazaar, Çemberlitaş Hamam, Şerefiye Cistern, Çorlulu Ali Paşa mosque and medrese complex with nargile cafes
BeyazıtGrand Bazaar, Süleymaniye Mosque, ornate gate of Istanbul University, Sultan II Beyazıt Mosque, Sahaflar Bazaar

Old City Walls (Byzantine city walls and Cannon Gate).

Connect here for: Metro M2 line.

F1: Taksim-Kabataş Funicular

F1 funicular in Istanbul

F1 funicular in Istanbul

This is a one-stop line climbing the steep hill between Kabataş and Taksim Square, connecting metro (M2) with the tram (T1) via an underground tunnel.

It uses a spacious and modern set of air-conditioned/heated rail carriages and runs every 5 minutes up and down the hill with the ride itself lasting only 2½ minutes. Despites escalators and elevators for access most of the way, some walking and steps are required.

Both stops at either end of this one-stop line are a common route for tourists for how to get between Sultanahmet and Taksim – this line is the missing link. Simply take the tram from Sultanahmet to Kabataş, then change to the F1 from Kabataş to Taksim, or vice versa. Duration is approx. 20-25 minutes in total.

Local Tips for F1 Funicular:

  • An overhead LED signboard shortly before the turnstile area indicates the minutes remain until next departure.
  • At the Kabataş end, an easy underground walkway links it directly with the Tramway, much safer than attempting to cross the busy highway above.
  • At the Taksim end, a short walkway and escalator links it to the Taksim Square exit. A flight of stairs are required for the last floor to reach the exit to Taksim Square, unless you look for the elevator around the corner.

Operating Information for F1 Funicular:

  • First Train: 06:15; 06:30 on Sundays
  • Last Train: 00:50; 01:20 on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Frequency: every 5 minutes
  • Duration: 2.5 minutes
  • Ticket Payment: IstanbulKart or jeton (pre-paid token).

Useful Stops for Tourists on F1 Funicular:

Tram StopNearby Sights Of Touristic Interest

Dolmabahçe Palace, Mosque & Tea Gardens by the waterfront, Hekimoğlu Paşa Fountain

Connect here for: T1 Tram to Sultanahmet, Ferries and sea buses to Asian side and Princes’ Islands, bus hub


North Istiklal Street, Taksim Square, neighborhoods of Taksim, Beyoğlu, Cihangir and Harbiye.

Connect here for: M2 metro line and underground bus hub.

F2: Tünel Funicular

F2 - Tünel in Istanbul

F2 – Tünel in Istanbul

Built in 1875, this is 2nd oldest urban underground rail system in the world (after the London Underground). This single-stop line climbs a 1km steep hill between Karaköy/Galata and Tünel Square on lower Istiklal Street in Taksim via an underground tunnel.

The line provides a connection to the tram (T1) at Karaköy stop at the bottom of the hill and with the metro (M2) at Şişhane stop at the top of the hill and to Taksim’s Istiklal Street, a 1 km walk to Taksim Square for those who prefer to walk.

It runs every 5 minutes up and down the hill with the ride itself lasting only a few minutes.

Local Tips for F2 Tünel:

  • The carriage is set slightly at a slope as it travels the hill so hold onto the bars if standing.
  • The entrance at the Karaköy end can be difficult to spot – look for the small sign above it’s entrance though a building near the tram line.
  • Enjoy an interesting walk up Istiklal Street to the top of Taksim Square, to see the downtown cosmopolitan cultural center of various shops, restaurants and nightlife.

Operating Information for F2 Tünel:

  • First Train: 07:00; 07:30 on Sundays
  • Last Train: 22:45 everyday
  • Frequency: every 5 minutes
  • Duration: 1½ minutes
  • Ticket Payment: IstanbulKart or jeton (pre-paid token).

Useful Stops for Tourists on F2 Tünel:

Tram StopNearby Sights Of Touristic Interest

Karaköy trendy cafe area, cruise ship port, Galata Bridge, famous Güllüoğlu Baklava shop, Karaköy fish market.

Connect here for: T1 Tram and Karaköy Ferry Port.

Tünel Square, Taksim-Beyoğlu

Galata Tower, Whirling Dervish Lodge, Lower Istiklal Street, Asmali Mescit & Nevizade restaurant streets

Connect here for: M2 Metro.

M2: Yenikapı-Hacıosman Metro

M2 Metro in Istanbul

M2 Metro in Istanbul

This is the most convenient way to get close to further-away suburbs, shopping malls and beautiful villages along the Bosphorus for a nice seaside walk.

This is the Green Line rapid transit underground train similar to the Underground in New York or the Tube in London. Started in 1992, this line is an essential line linking many of Istanbul’s leafier Bosphorus suburbs, popular shopping centers, financial, commercial, cultural and nightlife areas to the city center. Many new stops have opened in the last year as it is expanded across the new Golden Horn Metro Bridge joining Old City peninsula with the New City.

It’s a spacious modern and comfortable method of transport. It runs every 3-5 minutes at peak times with only FEW minutes ride in between stops.

Being underground metro, a number of escalators and elevators provide access down to the platform to minimize walking, however some steps are usually still required at some platforms.

Local Tips for M2 Metro:

  • Most metro stations have clean and well-maintained modern bathroom facilities located close to the entrance, in advance of the ticketing turnstiles. So they can be used without intention to board a train. A small fee is charged for the service – simply swipe your IstanbulKart or a pre-paid token (jeton) at the door to enter.
  • Don’t be surprised by queue skippers, and people boarding the train before letting others off, a daily reality of life in Istanbul!
  • Do as locals do to avoid traffic – Take a metro, tram or boat to get as close to your destination as possible to optimize your time, then connect the last section with taxi or bus if needed.

Operating Information for M2 Metro:

  • First Train: 06:15; 06:30 on Sundays
  • Last Train: 00:50; 01:20 on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Frequency: every 5 minutes
  • Ticket Payment: IstanbulKart or jeton (pre-paid token).

Useful Stops for Tourists on M2 Metro:

Metro StationsNearby Sights Of Touristic Interest
YenikapıKumkapi fish market and restaurants
VeznecilerIstanbul University, Beyazıt Square, Şehzade Mosque
Haliç (Golden Horn)Suleymaniye Mosque, Fener and Balat neighborhoods
ŞişhaneGalata Tower, Tunel (upper entrance), South Istiklal Street, neighborhoods of Taksim, Galata, Karaköy
TaksimNorth Istiklal Street, Taksim Square, Asmali Mescit & Nevizade Streets, neighborhoods of Taksim, Beyoğlu, Cihangir and Harbiye
Osmanbeymilitary museum, Harbiye convention congress center, open air theater, concert hall, Macka Park, neighborhoods of Nişantaşi, Kurtulus, Ferikoy and Harbiye
Şişli—MecidiyeköyCevahir (via underground passageway) and Profilo shopping centers, Ortakoy (few mins drive away), neighborhoods of Nisantasi, Kurtulus, Ferikoy and Harbiye
GayrettepeAstoria and Zorlu Shopping Malls
LeventKanyon Shopping Mall (via underground passageway), Akmerkez Shopping Center (few mins walk away), Rumeli Fortress, Arnavutkoy and Kurucesme waterfront neighborhoods (few mins drive away)
4. LeventIstanbul Sapphire (tallest building in turkey), Bebek (few mins drive away)
İ.T.Ü.—AyazağaIstinye Park Shopping Mall, Emirgan Park, Sakip Sabanci Museum, Yenikoy and Baltalimani waterfront neighborhoods (all 5-10 mins away by taxi) Maslak financial district, Istinye Port, ITU Technical University
HacıosmanSouthern Sarıyer and Tarabya neighborhoods

IETT: Local Public Bus

IETT public buses in Istanbul

IETT public buses in Istanbul

Istanbul’s public bus system is run by IETT with the European side’s main hub in Kabataş. Carrying over 1 million passengers a day, newer buses have yellow and black livery, older ones in green, blue or red and blue.

To see what destinations the buses passes through, check the signboard next the main passenger entrances on the sides of the bus.

Crossing the bridge to the Asian side, or taking a bus after midnight costs twice the standard ticket fare.

The bus is most convenient for short hops, or routes not covered by metro, tram, boat and funicular, as you may get stuck in traffic jams at peak times.

It’s easy to use and identify which bus and stops to get on at by using some of the online tools and transport apps, such as:

IETT Route Planner & Mobile App:

To make things easy, please try the IETT online Route Planner here or download the IETT mobile app to identify which bus you’ll need on which route.

  1. Choose English language for it to work when you enter place names with or without Turkish characters, for example ‘Kabatas’ or ‘Kabataş’ (notice the s) will both work.
  2. Enter your desired ‘From’ and ‘To’ destinations, for example, from Kabatas to Ortakoy.
  3. Optional – If you want to plan a route for a future time or date, you can choose this option by clicking the clock icon also. If you don’t choose it, it defaults to now and the next available bus.
  4. Click the ‘Plan My Journey’ button.
  5. The screen will change to show one or more suggested bus routes – click on these for more details and a map of the route to make your choice.


Useful IETT Bus Routes for Tourists

  • For visiting Dolmabahçe Sarayi: Look for a bus with destination of Besiktaş from Sultanahmet, Eminonu or Taksim. Press the stop button to get off at the next stop when you see the palace on your left.
  • For visiting European side of the Bosphorus: Look for buses with destination of Sariyer and be sure check it is taking the coast road – check the signboard on the side of the bus shows some of these places: Ortaköy, Arnavutköy, Bebek, Rumeli Hisari, Emirgan and Tarabya on the side of the bus.
  • For visiting Eyup: Look for buses departing from Eminonu. On board look out for the city walls on the left hand side, then Eyup is the next stop.

Local Tips:

  • Jeton tokens can be purchased in little IETT kiosks near bus stops and do not work on other forms of transport. Not all bus stops may have jeton kiosks nearby so plan in advance. It’s always easier to have your Istanbul Kart.
  • There are no buses operating in Sultanahmet anymore, so for this area please use the tram and metro.
  • As well as the IETT buses, there is a private bus system (Özel Halk Otobüsü) in turquoise and blue livery, which you can also use for similar prices.

Operating Information:

  • First Train: usually 6:00
  • Last Train: usually 00:00 midnight, except for a few 24 hour buses.
  • Frequency: depends on timetable.
  • Ticket Payment: IstanbulKart or jeton (pre-paid token).


Metrobus in Istanbul

Metrobus in Istanbul on dedicated lanes

Using a dedicated metro bus only lane, these rapid buses connect Europe and Asian sides on a single fixed line.

While fast method of getting to many locations, this is not one of the most user-friendly transport systems, particularly for first-time visitors so tram and metro are recommended where available first.

The approaching stop is announced in Turkish and appears on a media screen so you can follow where you are.

Local Tips:

  • During peak hours, metrobuses are usually overcrowded, platform signposting is poor, queues are long and access passageways congested, so if you’re a first time tourist, we recommend choosing metro/tram/boat combinations when available first.

Real Life Examples with Multiple Connections:

For common destinations requiring multiple transport hops, here’s some examples of how to get from A to B:

From:To:How To Get There:
SultanahmetTaksimTake the T1 tram from Sultanahmet to Kabataş, F1 funicular up to Taksim and you’ll exit at Taksim Square.
TaksimIstanbul ModernTake the F1 funicular to Kabatas, take the T1 tram to Tophane stop.
TaksimGrand BazaarTake the F1 funicular to Kabatas, take the T1 tram to Beyazit or Cemberlitas stop.
SultanahmetCevahir Shopping CenterTake the T1 tram from Sultanahmet to Kabataş, F1 funicular to Taksim, M2 metro to Mecideyekoy and there is an underground passageway connecting directly to the shopping mall.
TaksimHarbiye Conference CenterTake the M2 metro to Osmanbey, take the Pangalti exit and walk there within 5-10 minutes.
BakirkoyCevahir Shopping CenterTake the T1 tram from Bakırkoy to Kabataş, F1 funicular to Taksim, M2 metro to Mecideyekoy and there is an underground passageway connecting directly to the shopping mall.
LeventSultanahmetTake the M2 metro to Taksim, F1 funicular to Kabatas, T1 tram to Sultanahmet.
SultanahmetDolmabahce PalaceTake the T1 tram from Sultanahmet to Kabataş and it’s 5-10 minutes walk away.
Galata Bridge/KaraköyNişantaşıTake the Tünel funicular to Taksim, walk 5 minutes to Şişhane metro stop to enter the M2, take this line to Osmanbey and it’s 5-10 minutes walk to Nişantaşı.
TaksimSuada Club,
Kuruçeşme or Arnavutköy
Take the M2 metro to Levent then finish the journey with a 10-15 minutes taxi drive to the waterfront.
TaksimKabataş PierTake the F1 funicular down to Kabataş.
KabataşOrtaköyOne option of many – Take the 30D IETT Bus from Kabataş stop to Galatasaray University stop, get off and walk 5 minutes to Ortaköy (suggested by the IETT Route Planner App)

Map of Public Transport Systems

Please click the maps below to view them enlarged:



Resources & Credits

Suggested Transport Apps: Moovit, Buradan Oraya (From Here To There), IETT Route Planner (bus only)

Photo Credits: HowToIstanbul, IETT

Environmental Protection & Stewardship of the Black Sea

By / 4th February, 2015 / Blog, turkey / No Comments

The Plight Of The Black Sea Against Pollution

Water pollution is threatening the marine equilibrium of the Black Sea, so much so that the very existence of marine life itself is under threat for survival.

In this article, we’ll examine the effects of pollution in the Black Sea including examples relating to the Turkish Black Sea Coast, seeing how delicate marine ecosystems and co-dependent food chains are disrupted, followed by a look at how they may be protected through change and conservation.

Index of Content on this Page:

Endangered on Turkey’s Black Sea Coast – Did You Know?

  • That the Black Sea increasingly contains some of the largest marine “dead zones” (areas of no life) in the world?
  • That many wild-caught fish like ‘Anchovies’ (Hamsi), familiar household names on plates in Istanbul, are already on official “Endangered” lists?
  • That the dolphins sighted in the Black Sea and Turkish Straits are found nowhere else in the world but are on the world’s “Endangered Species”?

Read on to learn more about these issues. Aside to overfishing and geographical factors, water pollution is a major source of all three of these marine threats in the Black Sea region so lets examine the causes of this first.

Causes of Water Pollution in the Black Sea:

The Black Sea – Note the Danube delta at the North and the Turkish Coast & Straits along the South. Photo by Nasa.

The Black Sea is like a basin, collecting water from contributing rivers and estuaries from all its bordering countries, such as the Danube from its European neighbors, or the Yeşirmak River from North Turkey’s Black Sea Coast. So all the way along their route, these rivers pick up and carry many heavy metals, chemicals, sewage, toxins and other waste that run into them.

These toxins originate from land seepage and rain run-offs, deliberate dumping of waste and improperly managed or maintained infrastructure from various industries, farms, urban and construction areas, marine vessels and overhead aircraft.

Two everyday examples that were later found to have a huge effect were artificial fertilizers that were nitrate enriched for farming and phosphorus enriched detergents used in household across cities since the sixties and seventies.

As the rivers finally exit into sea, their waters loaded with pollution are eventually released there. And as they enter the Black Sea, the pollution levels are further compounded by its landlocked nature, where they wreak havoc on delicate marine ecosystems and cause environmental destruction.

Effects on Marine Life in the Black Sea:


(1) Plantlife – Spawning “Dead Zones”

Unfortunately these “pollution-enriched” waters, particularly from phosphorus and nitrates, cause over-blooming of plantlife, algae and plankton. Due to overcrowding and less air to share, a process scientifically known as “eutrophication” takes place, resulting in the water becoming de-oxygenated, acidified and stagnated, and changing in temperature and salinity.

Altogether these changes damage and disrupt sensitive marine ecosystems, to the point of creating marine “dead zones”, an area where marine life can no longer thrive or survive, effectively destroying habitats and killing entire species along entire food chains.


(2) Fish – Declining in Diversity & Number

Further along the food chain, the effects of the Black Sea’s marine pollution, loss of habitats, feeding and breeding grounds through marine dead zones have led to depletion in fish numbers, a loss in their diversity and an increase in their toxin-levels from pollutants such as heavy metals such as lead, chromium, mercury.

Sturgeon, a fish highly sought-after for its roe for caviar, are one of the most endangered species. Aside to overfishing, a major reason of their decline down to pollution and de-oxygenation of the shallow coastal waters they inhabit and where lay their eggs.

To see just how this is effecting fish off Turkey’s Black Sea Coast, please see the below annotation from the Black Sea Commission’sBlack Sea Fish Check List” – A Publication of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution – a surprising number of familiar fish found on our dining tables are already critically endangered or soon to be:

Critically Endangered Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild:Includes Giant Sea Bass and 10 species for Turkey including Sturgeon, Beluga and Northern Bluefin Tuna.
EndangeredHigh risk of extinction in the wild.Includes Black Sea Salmon (Alabalık), Turbot (Kalkan), Common Sole (Dil Balığı)
Vulnerable High risk of endangerment in the wild.Includes 36 species for Turkey including Round Sardinella (Sardines), Anchovies (Hamsi), Whiting (Mezgit), Angler (Fener Balığı), European Seabass (a kind of Levrek), Grey and Tub Gurnard (Kirlangiç)
Near Threatened Likely to become endangered in the near future.Includes Pisibalığı, Red Mullet (Barbun), Striped Sea Bream (Karagöz), East Atlantic Red Gurnard (a kind of Kirlangic), John Dory (Dülger)

(3) Mammals – Dolphins an Endangered Species

Unique ‘Black Sea’ dolphins and porpoises need protection

Endemic Black Sea Dolphins on Istanbul’s Bosphorus. Photo from Atdaa:

Higher up the food chain, marine mammals in turn suffer from a loss of food abundance and habitats due to pollution’s effect on depleting fish stocks, plant life and ecosystems below them. Sadly these factors are endangering a unique type of dolphins found only in the Black Sea and Turkish Straits.

According to the Turkish Marine Research Foundation and a research document by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the Black Sea and Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait sees up to up to 3 different species of cetaceans as permanent residents, the bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin and harbor porpoise, which also happen to be 3 unique subspecies, completely unique to this region and found nowhere else in the world.

Unfortunately their numbers have decreased so much so that they have become classified as Vulnerable or Endangered according to the IUCN “Red List” of endangered species. For example, the Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphin and Black Sea Harbor Porpoise are both on the Endangered List of the IUCN, with populations estimated to be under 1,000 and 10,000 mammals:

EndangeredHigh risk of extinction in the wild.

Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphin,

Black Sea Harbor Porpoise

Vulnerable High risk of endangerment in the wild.Black Sea Common Dolphin

Change Through Environmental Protection

Since the nineties, a united effort by many organizations, environmentalists and researchers across the region, has resulting in a gradual recovery in the scale of marine dead zones, some fish stocks have replenished and more is being done to protect and conserve marine habitats for the survival of their inhabitants.

According to the Global Partnership For Oceans, some of these positive changes resulted from increasing education, awareness and training about the issues: Farmers were trained in Eco-friendly cost-effective methods – recycling manure, reducing fertilizer usage and animal waste runoff. The general public were educated about avoiding phosphorus laden detergents through awareness campaigns. These helped to reduce much of the nitrate-phosphorus pollution, thereby reducing eutrophication and even reversing some of the former marine dead zones.

Other major changes resulted from investment, development and proper maintenance and refurbishment of waste water facilities, such as projects implemented by an international task force called DABLAS:


An Environmental Steward for the Black Sea

The DABLAS Task Force (for Black Sea & Danube) was set up to improve the protection of water and its ecosystems of the Black Sea region and its neighboring countries, through research and investment, pilot projects and cost-effective planning, united with governments and other major organizations such as the Black Sea Commission and ICPDR (International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River).

On Turkey’s Black Sea Coast, one such project by DABLAS was prioritized and implemented between Amasya and Tokat, called the DABLAS Phare Facility Project. Here it implemented an integrated, cost-effective and Eco-compliant Water Resource Management Plan for the basin of the Yeşilirmak River, the second longest river in Turkey at 519km, thereby reducing the level of pollution of the Black Sea from this region of the Turkish coast.  The results of the project was a success and it was used as a model for similar projects in neighboring countries.

Tourism Industry:

An Environmental Steward for the Coast

Outside of official agencies and government, other industries such as tourism are also responsible for protecting our waters from pollution, particularly along the coast where tourism resorts flourish and activities like dolphin-watching, sailing and swimming abound.

In the past people thought the sea could absorb and degrade everything, but research has shown that this is not the case. To prevent environmental destruction from pollution, we need to employ more sustainable tourism which can be implemented to find a balance between limits and usage.

Education, training and awareness of staff is the first crucial step for encouraging and fostering environmental responsibility. This helps makes better choices such as selecting Eco-friendly products and methods, sourcing fish supplies responsibly from sustainable fish farms and following proper regulations for garbage and waste disposal. This will help to keep our coasts and beaches cleaner for both visitors and wildlife.

Tourism campaigns can provide a face and branding for our wildlife, such as our endangered dolphins unique to the Black Sea. In fact if we view our marine life an important brand, this would pave a powerful way of marketing the marine environment with conservation as key. In turn this would be a driver for government and investors to research and designate ‘Marine Protected Areas’. For branded areas such as these, the tourism industry and local communities would have further incentive to support, donate and conserve them with pride.

As for dolphin-watching with tourism vessels, we can train staff to cut engines early to avoid distressing noise pollution to the animals and to maintain a no-go safety zone to avoid disruption of their natural hunting and feeding patterns. Operators can further choose to take a Tour Operator Animal-friendly Pledge, such as this one by the Right Tourism to promote ethical, responsible animal friendly tourism.


The Black Sea remains fragile with vulnerable marine life and endangered species of fish and dolphins. Extinct species may be irreversible but vulnerable ones can yet be replenished if we take action to reduce pollution and conserve known habitats. It is only through building awareness, training, monitoring and long-term planning across industries, neighboring countries, government and the general public, that the effects of human-induced environmental impacts can be managed, reduced and perhaps even reversed for the generations to follow.



Black Sea Commission –

Global Partnership For Oceans –

Suggested Further Reading & Information:

BlackSeaWet Initiative: Publication on Conservation of Wetlands on the Black Sea

TURSAB Magazine – a monthly publication by Turkey’s tourism authority

How to Find the Best Accommodation in Istanbul for Travelers

By / 21st January, 2015 / Blog / No Comments

A Practical Guide to Unique Properties, Considerations and Advice

The best accommodations are often those that offer something unique, desirable and memorable about your stay there, yet offer a convenient location and fulfill your practical needs. For Istanbul, this equates to those that will reflect an authentic experience of its history and character, an intriguing design or a breathtaking view.

However such unique factors also bring with them advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing accommodation such as unexpected rooming and unusual restrictions. Here we show you how to identify the best places to stay with these issues in mind, supported with practical advice and suggestions.

This guide will identify and discuss the following accommodations:

  1. Historic & Special Class Accommodation
  2. Contemporary Design Hotels
  3. Rooftops & Rooms With a View
  4. Architecturally Intriguing Apartments

1. Historic & Special Class Accommodation

A Dedicated Category for Special Class, Ottoman & Boutique Hotels


Historical Ottoman mansions, now Ayasofya Konakları hotel, lines a street in Istanbul’s Old City.

If you’re looking for unique charm and character, or a boutique hotel reflective of the Ottoman period, seeking out one of these authentic historic hotels can be a pleasant surprise.

Usually these are restored Ottoman houses in the traditional style of that period, or designed to resemble these. Typical features include timber-paneled facades, large bay windows, ornate wooden furnishings and a sprinkle of Turkish rugs and antique objects.

In fact there also exists an entirely new hotel category just for this purpose, the “Special Class” or “S Class” category, created by the Hotel Ministry in recognition that some (particularly smaller properties) fall outside of traditional 3-5 star requirements, yet are equally important to protect and maintain.

Practical Considerations:

At smaller premises you may find less staff or facilities and occasionally smaller rooms, however they will usually be extremely comfortable and offer a unique ambiance and charm in a more intimate space.

Due to a hilly topography, narrow streets and architectural restrictions, particularly in historic areas like Sultanahmet, some properties may not have the required space for an elevator, so be sure to enquire about these if taking the stairs and accessibility are an issue for you.

If space is important to you, check the approximate square meter of a typical room to gauge how much space you might actually have (particularly for Americans who are used to large expansive rooms at home). Often larger rooms or “suites” may be available as an upgrade if space is important to you.

Larger historic hotels with 5 star ratings won’t experience any of these issues but this will be reflected in their rates, examples below.

Locations & Examples:

In Sultanahmet: Original historical restorations are mostly located in the Old City of Sultanahmet, close the Topkapi Palace or nearby cobbled back streets as the oldest part of the city. Some classic examples include the Ayasofya Mansions and Yeşil Ev in Sultanahmet.

In Taksim: They are also found sprinkled in the former Pera quarter (Taksim Beyoğlu center), once the playground of international diplomats and wealthy merchants. A fine example is the historical Pera Palace Hotel.

Along the Bosphorus: Both sides of this strait dividing Europe & Asia contains the absolutely best of Istanbul accommodation with 5 star historic hotels, the most prestigious and luxurious, often former Ottoman Palaces and mansions now converted to hotels, such as the Çirağan Palace, Four Seasons Bosphorus, Ottoman Palace Hotel, Sumahan on the Water Hotel and Aija Hotels.

How to Find:

  • Check the TUROB (Turkish Hotels Association) website where you can search by location and class of hotel, including S Special Class or Boutique Class
  • Check members listed on the Historical Hotels of Turkey Association website:
  • Look for properties assigned with “S” for Special Class category, or with wooden facades or distinctive architecture when browsing hotel websites.
  • Search Google for Istanbul or Your Preferred Neighborhood + S Class Hotels, Special Class Hotels, Historical Hotels, Boutique Hotels, Charming Hotels or Small Hotels.

2. Contemporary Design Hotels

Innovative and Sophisticated Properties


Design Hotels in Istanbul are a showpiece for contemporary designers, such as Witt Suites by Autoban.

International award-winning designers, such as the local design studio “Autoban” continue to create an innovative signature for many of the trendiest and most sophisticated accommodations, restaurants and venues around the city in the last few years.

This trend has boomed in Istanbul creating a wave of new and beautiful “Design Hotels” and places to stay across all levels. Not only the realm of hotels, even apartment rentals and hostels are joining in this trend, to be on trend.

Practical Considerations:

If you enjoy contemporary design and elegant architecture with equally trendy guests and usually an equally trendy neighborhood, then you’ll feel right at home in these kinds of accommodation.

Bear in mind that demand for this kind of property is often high, and being popular means it will be reflected in the prices and availability, so it is best to book early.

Location & Examples:

You’ll find these mostly in the new city downtown, Taksim or Beyoğlu center, and other trendy areas such as Cihangir, Galata and Karaköy (the newest neighborhood on the seen to undergo a transformation attracting new design hotels, fashionable eateries and young Turkish designers and artists – much like Cihangir and Galata a few years ago).

Some examples include the Witt Suites, Tom Tom Suites, Gezi Park and Adahan Hotel in Taksim, the House Hotels. There are also beautifully designed apartment rentals around different areas of Istanbul, which you can read about in their own category further below.

How to Find:

  • Search Google for Istanbul or Your Preferred Neighborhood + Design Hotels, Contemporary Hotels, Hip Hotels, Boutique Hotels
  • Search websites catering to this niche such as Splendia or Mr & Mrs Smith for ideas.
  • Check your favorite newspapers travel section for recommendations as they will usually feature the latest additions to the travel scene, such as New York Times.
  • Check related travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler.

3. Rooftops & Rooms with a View

A unique geography affords stunning views


Find a room or rooftop with a view! This one is overlooking the Blue Mosque from Ibrahim Pasa Hotel (also an S Class hotel).

Like Rio in Brazil, Istanbul has a unique geography and hilly topography which makes for stunning views of the city from many areas, between European & Asian sides and the Bosphorus or across the Golden Horn between Sultanahmet and Galata/Taksim. Beautiful domes and slender minarets accentuate the skyline. So finding a room or accommodation with a view will also be one of the best features you can add for an unforgettable stay.

Many properties use this to their advantage by enclosing their rooftop terrace as an additional bar or dining area, be it top end hotels or budget hostels. So even if you don’t find a room with a view, check your accommodation has a rooftop terrace that you can enjoy instead, failing that be sure to dine one evening at once near you.

Practical Considerations:

Again consider many older narrow premises may not have an elevator so on some occasions stairs may be required to reach the rooftop.

Consider the time of year. Not all rooftop terraces are covered (although more and more are nowadays) and could be cold or windy in winter.

Rooftops that have restaurants tend to book up early by visitors and locals alike. A reservation is recommended, particularly for the new city Taksim area.

Location & Examples:

A view of Seraglio Point, the Bosphorus Bridge, Asian Side or Princes’ Islands are all easily attained by careful accommodation selection in Istanbul.

From Sultanahmet you’ll have chance of views over the top attractions like Blue Mosque minarets and Haghia Sophia domes or across the Marmara Sea to the Princes’ Islands.

From Sirkeci/Eminonu neigborhoods, you could be facing Galata Tower and the sea views of departing ferries from Karaköy.

From Taksim, Cihangir and Ortaköy, you could have the chance to look at the Bosphorus & its bridges illuminated by night or back across the city, or to Sultanahmet and the Golden Horn.

From the Asian side you’ll have the chance to see stunning sunsets over the Old City.

Some surprising examples that won’t break the budget include the 3 star Cihangir Hotel situated on a hill with views overlooking the Bosphorus, the family run Turkoman Hotel overlooking the Blue Mosque, or Cheers Hostel with a rooftop bar overlooking the Haghia Sofia.

How to Find:

  • Check the map to see where your hotel is located – even if you’re not by the shore, you may be on a hilltop and many properties on the same hill will have different angles but equally spectacular views because of the different heights of neighboring buildings everywhere.
  • Check if your accommodation has a rooftop terrace or chance of sea view/city view rooms.
  • In Sultanahmet the breakfast is often served on the rooftop terrace which doubles as a restaurant at night.
  • Search Google for Istanbul or Your Preferred Neighborhood + Sea View, City View, Bosphorus View, Rooftop Terrace.

4. Architecturally Intriguing Apartments

Not Just Any Old Apartment – Enjoy A Contemporary Twist


Local artwork, intriguing design and sometimes a great view! From Manzara Apartments in Istanbul.

The last few years has seen the bar raised on the quality of renovation and interior design. So why not equally raise your sights to stay at one of the beautiful architectural buildings of Istanbul for an authentic experience? You’ll enjoy unique character, fine art and design features, yet still with comfort as key.

Many historical buildings from the 19th century have recently been lovingly restored or renovated around the city and transformed into beautiful modern living spaces with a touch of luxury, contemporary or retro design. These make ideal accommodations for longer stays in comfort and style, particularly in Galata and the once historical neighborhood of Pera, or present day Beyoğlu/Taksim.

This means you can stay in new trending upcoming neighborhoods, with the benefit of cool design and modern facilities and potential to try Istanbul’s markets to create your own dining at home-while-away experience.

Practical Considerations:

Most apartments are fully serviced apartments so you’ll still get the benefit of a well-looked after and cared for property with everything you need. Some offer 24/7 reception or concierge service to help you with navigating the city and any other needs.

However it’s just as important to check the address of the premises and how far it is to walk to the main street, how well lit the area is by night and how accessible surrounding potentially narrow backstreets are should you require door to door transport for tours or airport transfers with heavy bags.

Be sure you don’t mind taking the stairs without elevators, even if you have found a top floor apartment with a panoramic view. Read previous customer reviews and ask the accommodation pre-booking.

Location & Examples:

Available throughout Taksim, Sultanahmet, Karaköy, Cihangir, Galata, Nişantaşi neighborhoods.

Some well-established companies combining contemporary design and historical architecture include those by House Apartments, Manzara Apartments, Istanbul Place Apartments, Stay Istanbul and Istanbul Sweet Home.

How to Find:

  • Search Google or Google Maps for Istanbul + your desired neighborhood + the word “Suites, Residences, Serviced Apartments, Apartments, Flats, Studios, Long or Short Stay Apartments, Short Term Rentals or Vacation Rentals” to bring up these kind of properties, for example:
    Istanbul + Taksim + Suites
    Istanbul + Galata + Short Stay Apartments
    Istanbul + Nişantaşi + Serviced Apartments
  • For the more adventurous can also try searches in Turkish for example “Gunluk Daire Kiralik” (Daily apartment rentals). You might be surprised to get an email reply in English even for Turkish sites.
  • Also sites like AirB&B offer both full apartments or rooms directly from locals, usually English-speaking young Turkish professionals eager to help you navigate your stay to the city. They can provide you with insider knowledge about the local neighborhood, their favorite cafes and restaurants, which will enhance your stay and help you experience small and authentic local haunts rather than typical tourist-fare venues more easily found.


A convenient location is also key to a successful trip, and almost all of the above suggestions and examples are located in city center neighborhoods, close to transport links, restaurants, shopping and attractions.

For both first-time and repeat travelers, we suggest to stay in Sultanahmet, Sirkeci, Eminonu, Karaköy, Galata, Taksim, Cihangir, Nişantaşi and Ortaköy or along the Bosphorus.

But after location, a stunning view and the unique character of the place you stay define the best places to stay in Istanbul. We hope this guide has helped you know what to look for and how to find some of them.

Spectacular Sightseeing: Zoe Yacht on

By / 9th July, 2014 / Blog / No Comments

Rumeli Fortress - Istanbul

Our most recent guest post, published on, explores in depth some of the gorgeous attractions you’ll see on one of our Bosphorus cruises.

As you float down the Bosphorus Strait, the beauty of your surroundings is evident. From modern bridges to ancient fortresses, grand palaces to humble fisherman, every facet of Istanbul can be glimpsed from your cruise along the Bosphorus. But what about the fascinating stories beyond these lovely views?

Read More

Where to Dine During Your Istanbul Incentive

By / 3rd July, 2014 / Blog / No Comments

Dinner at Beyti, near Ataturk airport, in Bakırköy, Istanbul

There are a few main components to a good incentive trip: accommodation and venues for meetings, entertainment, shared experiences and – dining! An incentive trip that doesn’t please the palate is a partial experience. After all, a great deal of a culture is revealed through its eating customs, its meals, how food is prepared and what spices are used.

Besides, food and beverage will probably be the second largest part of your incentive trip’s budget. A good Istanbul incentive must necessarily include a variety of dining experiences that highlight Turkish cuisine and reveal its great palette of tastes, scents and colors. Here are some restaurants you should consider when organizing your next Istanbul incentive and a few tips to keep in mind.  Read More

Istanbul Through the Eyes of Famous Writers | Zoe Yacht on TravelBlog

By / 26th June, 2014 / Blog / No Comments

Istanbul-Galata Bridge

Our latest blog post ‘Istanbul Through the Eyes of Famous Writers‘ has been published on

As every great city, Istanbul and its landmarks have often inspired writers, poets, travelers and others to write about it, to praise or lament it, to reveal its mysteries or to chronic its events. Plenty of reads have been set in Istanbul, with Orhan Pamuk being the most famous modern author known to the English reading audience.  Read More

21 Instagram Cat Pictures That Will Make You Pack and Leave for Istanbul Today

By / 11th June, 2014 / Blog / No Comments

Istanbul Cat 3

Cats in Istanbul… they’re everywhere. And without them Istanbul just wouldn’t be Istanbul. To a newcomer the amount of cats and the freedom they enjoy may be strange, but it soon becomes obvious how inseparable felines are from this grand city. They inhabit the city with a sense of entitlement, they sneak and peek around, take a nap whenever and wherever they want and go about their business with a cool and relaxed demeanour.

In Istanbul cats don’t simply survive, they are well taken care of and one secretly suspects them ruling the city and probably the country… until you join the ranks of those enchanted by them. So numerous are they, that even as you glide along the strait during your private Bosphorus cruise, you can spot them everywhere on the shore.

Have a look at these cool cats and let us know which one is your favorite!  Read More

3 Types of Camera Lenses you Need on Your Next Trip to Istanbul

By / 6th June, 2014 / Blog / No Comments

Aya Sofia, Istanbul

If you’re into photography more than the regular tourist with their tiny digital camera, you probably plan well before you travel. Knowing which lenses to take with you, depending on what awaits you at your destination, is an important choice, given luggage limitations. After all, even the most committed among photographers need to have a few clothes to change.

When it comes to Istanbul, you need to consider three types of lenses, some of which classic and common, others somewhat exceptional. Three lenses for three types of photos that you’ll be making: on the streets, the markets, in the mosques or on a Bosphorus cruise. So here they are:  Read More

Istanbul’s Food in 10 Photographs

By / 21st May, 2014 / Blog / No Comments

Fish sandwich, Karaköy, foot of Galata Bridge

In Istanbul food is everywhere. At every corner a street vendor offers you something delicious. Crowded markets present a feast for the senses, with fresh local and seasonal produce. Restaurants prepare numerous fish and seafood dishes, whose scent travels across long distances and entices you to take a seat.

And of course, with so much variety of ingredients and tastes, food is well appreciated in Istanbul. Everyone savours it and likes to sit down for lunch or dinner. As one article claimed: “With very discerning stomachs, Turkish people have been foodies before the term existed, ‘locavores’ without even trying. Everyone in Istanbul has opinions on ‘the best’ döner, pilav, kuru fasülye, dolma, and so on.”  Read More

5 reasons to choose Zoe Yacht for your Istanbul incentive Bosphorus cruise

By / 14th May, 2014 / Blog / No Comments

Istanbul incentive Bosphorus cruise

You’ve planned an Istanbul incentive and you’re considering including a Bosphorus cruise in the package. But of course you want to be assured of the quality and professionalism of the company you’ll be working with.

And quality can be measured in very concrete terms: the quality of the various services being offered, the company’s flexibility in terms of accommodating your unique needs, its legal status and certification, and its former clients.

Zoe Yacht can cover all of these. Here are 5 things that make Zoe Yacht your go-to company for a Bosphorus cruise as part of your Istanbul incentive.  Read More