Location – Istanbul

Istanbul which has served as the capital city of various empires in its history is the most crowded city of Turkey and Europe.

With its population of around 13 million, Istanbul is the third most crowded city in the world following Bombay and Mexico. Istanbul holds the 34th rank in the world with its annual production of 133 billion dollar. It is the cultural and financial center of Turkey. It extends along the coast of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus Strait in the northwest of Turkey and encompasses the Golden Horn. The European side of Istanbul is called Thrace and the Asian side is called Anatolia. Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. The city has 39 districts together with the new districts and 40 municipalities in total including the metropolitan municipality.

Being one of the oldest cities of the world, Istanbul was the capital city of Roman Empire between 330 and 395, East Roman Empire between 395-1204 and 1261-1453, Latin Empire between 1204 and 1261 and finally Ottoman Empire between 1454 and 1922.

How to get to Istanbul?

By air

The easiest way to get to Istanbul is by plane of course. Turkish Airlines and many other world airlines have regular daily flights to Istanbul. There are also local airliners that run charter flights to Istanbul especially during holiday season such as summer months or Easter and New Year’s period. Some of the direct flying times are: Newyork – Istanbul 10:20 hours, London – Istanbul 3:45, Milan – Istanbul 2:45, Hong Kong – Istanbul 11:50, Moscow – Istanbul 3:05, and so on.

Istanbul has two international airports; one on the Asian side (SAW – Sabiha Gokcen Airport) and the other one on the European side (IST – Ataturk Airport). From Istanbul you can fly to many other cities of Turkey as there are frequent daily flights of different airline companies. Istanbul – Izmir or Istanbul – Ankara flight takes about 1 hour, Istanbul – Adana about 1:30.

By land

Istanbul is well connected to many European cities by highways. Some private Turkish bus companies run scheduled buses to Istanbul from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Russia, Georgia, and Romania. Once you’re in Istanbul, there are countless of local bus companies that can take you to all corners of Turkey with their modern buses. Buses are frequent and plentiful, they usually depart from the Bus Station (Otogar) in Esenler neighborhood but they also have ticket offices all around the city, especially in Taksim, Sultanahmet, Besiktas, Kadiköy etc.

You can also easily drive to Istanbul from any European country with your own car or motorbike. By car, there are mainly two borders to get into Turkey: Kapikule in Edirne coming from Bulgaria, or Ipsala coming from Greece. There is a nice highway between Edirne and Istanbul, it’s about 225 kilometers (140 miles). After Istanbul, you can drive anywhere inTurkey as there is an extensive road network. However, it’s not recommend to drive with your own car in Istanbul because the traffic in this mega-city is pretty dense and sometimes caotic. The best way would be to park your car and use public transportation or taxis.

By rail

Turkish Railways Authority (TCDD) has regular train schedules from Istanbul to Budapest – Hungary, Bucarest – Romania, Kishinev – Moldova, Salonica – Greece and Sofia – Bulgaria in Europe, or to Damascus – Syria and Tehran – Iran in the Middle East. For example, Istanbul – Salonica takes about 12 hours by train, Istanbul – Tehran takes about 68 hours.

International trains arrive at Sirkeci station on the European side, or Haydarpasa station on the Asian side of Istanbul depending on where you’re coming; from the West or from the East. Once you’re in Istanbul, you can get a train connection mainly to Ankara, Eskisehir, Denizli,Van, Kars, Gaziantep, Adana, and Konya.

By sea
There are several maritime companies that run car and passenger ferries from Greece or from Italy to Turkey. Most of these arrive at Çesme near Izmir, but some to Istanbul as well, especially during the summer. There is also a regular ferry line between Odessa (Ukraine) and Istanbul which takes about 35 hours. Many cruise ships dock at Istanbul too for daily excursions.

From Istanbul, you can get a ferry connection to Izmir, to Bandirma near Balikesir, to Mudanya near Bursa, to Yalova, or to Marmara Island. Within the city, Urban Maritime Transportation (IDO) runs passenger ferries between both sides of the Bosphorus.

Transportation From Ataturk Airport
Taxis are the easiest way to get into town and are available outside the airport. All taxis are yellow and have fitted meters. The journey takes about 30 minutes. The cost of the getting from airport to Taksim or Harbiye area is about 50 – 60 TL (28 – 33 USD).

You may also take the HAVATAS Airport shuttle bus to HAVATAS bus terminal at Taksim. Journey time is 40 minutes approximately, but it may vary according to the intensity of the traffic. You can walk to congress venue Harbiye Cultural and Convention Center in 15 minutes. HAVATAS bus costs 10 TL / person and taxi costs around 7-8 TL.
You may check HAVATAS schedule from http://www.havatas.com/en/coach.aspx?i=1#