You will not have a great
one of Istanbul's
20,000 yellow taxis. (Here are examples
of bad experiences.)
The best you
can hope for is an acceptable
experience: the cab takes
you where you want to go by the shortest
route, and you pay the correct fare
as shown on the meter.
Far too often, you are likely to have
1. The taxi refuses to take
you where you want to go because
the distance is not far enough to
amount to a large enough fare. No
matter that you have lots of luggage,
or can't walk well, or are carrying
a baby, or simply have a legal right to
be driven to where you want to go. Tough luck!
2. The taxi takes you where you want
to go, but refuses to run the
and you are charged an exorbitant fare,
which you can only reduce by arguing
unpleasantly with someone who does
not speak your language.
3. The taxi runs the meter and takes
you where you want to go by a roundabout
route which wastes your time and cost
far more than it should.
4. The trip goes okay, but the driver expects
a big tip because you're a
foreigner (Turks don't tip taxi drivers).
5. The driver drives like
seeming happily to imperil not only
his own life, but that of other drivers,
and yours as well.
6. You exit the airport in Istanbul,
a taxi driver grabs your bags, locks
them in the trunk, you go with him
(because he has your bags), he takes
you to a bar where
others rob you. More...
There is some good news:
the first four rules above apply
mostly (but dependably) to taxis accepting
fares in and around
Square and other super-touristy
areas. (Rules 3 and 5 apply to taxi
drivers in much of the world.)
Here's a real-life example from a
"...every taxi ride, despite
settling on fares (even writing it
down so it was crystal clear), always
ended up being an issue, i.e., more.
From the airport in a yellow cab we
clearly settle on 30TL with no meter
turned on. Half way into town, driving
at over 150 kph sometimes, the drive
turns on the meter which somehow says
43 TL and when we got to [our hotel]
it was about 60TL. But I only paid
30 TL which I made the guy at the hotel
handle the transition."
(By the way, I do not recommend
that you haggle and settle on a fare
in advance. You should get the
taxi driver to use his meter so you
pay the official fare. If the metered
fare seems excessive (ie, if the driver
has taken "the long way"), do try to
get your hotel to intervene and mediate.—TB)
are examples of common
Here's how to avoid them,
to file a complaint if you
have a bad experience.
More About Istanbul Taxis
Most are powered by
clean-burning LNG (liquified
and all have digital meters which
the drivers are required
by law to run—though that doesn't
mean they always do run them.
Taksimetre & Rates
If your driver doesn't
start the taksimetre,
or tries to haggle at
the start of the trip instead of
running it, just point to the meter
emphatically and say Taksimetre! (TAHK-see-MEHT-treh)
It'll probably be cheaper on the
meter than if you let him just charge
you what he wants at the end of your
As the driver starts the meter it
should flash the rate: TL4.00
to start, and TL2.50
for each kilometer traveled. Short trips are charged at a minimum of TL10.
The rate is the same day and
night. (There used to be separate Gündüz (Day)
and Gece (Night)
rates. Now there is just one rate.)
for the 5-km (3-mile) 15- to 25-minute ride between Sultanahmet and Taksim
Square is TL18
35- to 75-minute ride from Atatürk
Airport to Sultanahmet the
is TL70 to TL80.
From Atatürk Airport to Taksim
TL65 to TL75.
on the Northern
European shore of the Bosphorus near
Sea, to Galata
Bridge is about
TL90 (but you can take Bus 151 to the M2 Hacıosman Metro terminus and ride the Metro to Taksim for only a few liras—no getting stuck in Bosphorus shore road traffic jams).
Vehicles & Capacities
Many taxis are small yellow
seat two comfortably in the rear
seat, three in a pinch
(or if you're all endomorphs). One
person can sit in the right-front
passenger seat if the driver allows,
the total a taxi can carry
is four passengers (plus
though most drivers prefer three passengers;
and if you have luggage, the taxi
may not even be able to take four
because few taxis have much trunk/boot
space because of the big
LNG tank already
in there. I doubt that a driver will
allow five passengers unless he has
a larger car than the standard size
(there are some larger ones).
Travel's excellent private
transfer service is
the better option from the airport
to the city center if you want a
vehicle to yourself. It's good for
any trip for which you can plan and
reserve in advance, and is much more
pleasant, comfortable and secure.
Turks don't tip taxi drivers,
they round up the fare. If it
ends up being, say, TL19.25,
a Turk will just round it up to TL20.
In many cases if the fare is TL20.50,
the driver will require only TL20,
and not bother with the change.
As a foreigner, your
driver may assume you'll give a tip,
but you needn't unless the driver
provides some special service, such
with lots of heavy luggage.
—by Tom Brosnahan