My family and I will be arriving in the early evening. Should we take the bus or pay the extra money for private transport to get to Sultanahmet? On the way out of town, I would definitely like to do private transport because it is an early flight but should I save our money and take the bus into town? Thanks!
If they have HAVAS buses running to that airport from the Old City, definitely take one. I was under the impression that they ran from Taksim Square, so I would confirm that. I would not hesitate to take any bus in Istanbul, I took a few local buses as well.
There is but the directions sound so confusing and we get in after dark. First we have to take one bus to Taksim and then either a taxi to our hotel from there or a tram? I looked at the Hava.ist website and it's very hard to understand and plan my trip. I'm concerned about not getting it right. I'm there in late December - will this ferry still be running?
Here are the very detailed instructions I found and I am still a bit worried: To reach Sultanhamet, you have two options. Either you take a 17 TL taxi ride after reaching Taksim Square (see option above), or you combine another airport shuttle line with a ferry ride, followed by a small taxi or tram ride as I’ll explain now.
First, hop on the Havabus heading for Kadıköy. The buses operate daily between 04:00 and 01:00. The ride costs 14 TL per person (luggage included) and takes approximately 60 minutes. In Kadıköy, walk to the Şehir Hatları dock and board the ferry to Eminönü. You can find the operating hours here. The ferry ride (with a nice view) takes about 15 minutes and costs 3 TL per person.If your hotel is in Eminönü, you can walk from there. If not you, must either take a small taxi ride (5 minutes maximum) or take the T1 Kabataş/Eminönü-Bağcılar tram in the direction of Bağçılar, and get off only a few stops later in Sultanahmet.
I see a roundtrip private taxi (kiwitaxi) for 81 euro. Thoughts? Or maybe the middle ground for cost and take taxi to Taksim and then HAVAS bus from there?
Since it's your first time there and you're not traveling alone and it's after dark on top of that, maybe it's best to take a taxi (as you suggested) especially if you have a long flight and are battling jet lag. Not too many people fly into SAW instead of IST (which is now in a new location), so I'm not sure you'll get many responses.
Yeah - we are flying from Prague so limited choices unless we paid a ton of money for our ticket.
I read the directions and they actually do make sense to me, since I've been to Kadikoy and taken the ferry over (but for your sake, that's a lot of transfers to make with luggage - so keep it simple). If you get a chance to go to the Asia side from the Old City (without your luggage), it's worth it. The ferry is really inexpensive and I loved the food markets/stalls and restaurants in Kadikoy (look up Ciya Sofrasi via Google, it's a real interesting place). You won't be surrounded by tourists and the area is very lively and not conservative like some parts of Istanbul. It was also nice not to be chased by touts on the Asia side (as is the case with the Old City, since every rug and tricket seller knows you're a tourist)
I think we'll do private transportation both ways. After calculating the total cost for 4 people it is not much more than a taxi or private hire. Thank you!