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    Car Rental in Istanbul – A City on Two Continents

    A city dating back millennia, Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in the world. Having been influenced by so many empires throughout its existence has made Istanbul a gem, full of culture and history, and a superb melting pot of traditions and beliefs. A relaxing yet vibrant city, its local inhabitants are welcoming. From its Grand Bazaar to its numerous mosques and grand buildings, Istanbul has something for everyone. A car rental in Istanbul is the ideal solution for getting you around this exciting city, and once done, allowing you to explore other nearby places of interest.

    With over 60 years of global car rental experience, Auto Europe is well positioned to be able to provide you exceptional car hire quotations from a large selection of vehicles. Having partnered with local, national and international brands allows us to provide the best possible service, pick-up locations and local knowledge. Along with our highly sought after car rental service, we also offer motorhome rentals and a luxury car hire service. Contact one of our reservation agents today to find out more.

    How is the traffic in Istanbul?

    As one of the worlds most congested cities, Istanbul is ranked amongst the top 15 in terms of population. Due to this, traffic congestion is a common occurrence especially in the old town and inner city areas. It is best to avoid the rush hour whilst driving around Istanbul. This is normally between 08:00 to 10:00 and 17:00 until 20:00 Monday to Friday. The weekends can also experience traffic jams, particularly along busy interchanges and on main roads.

    When driving around Istanbul the following road rules and regulations should be taken into consideration:

    • Drive on the right-hand side and overtake on the left
    • Seatbelts are compulsory for the driver and passengers
    • It is prohibited to use your mobile phone whilst driving without a hands-free kit
    • Drink driving is totally prohibited whilst carrying passengers. If driving alone then the limit is 0.05%
    • Children must have an adequate child car seat
    • You must be at least 18 years of age to drive. However, car rental suppliers impose their own age limit.

    Where can I park my car hire in Istanbul?

    Istanbul is an extremely crowded city and as such on-street parking can be extremely difficult to come by. Some streets provide free parking but these get taken very early on during the day, therefore if you wish to park on the street, you’re best bet is to find a metered parking bay. An alternative would be to park in one of the numerous city car parks. These are more secure, with costs varying from 5 Lira for two hours, to around 40 Lire for a whole day. It is also good to note that many hotels offer free parking, therefore try and book a hotel near to what you want to see.

    Istanbul Airport

    The new Istanbul Airport started its operations in 2019 but is still undergoing works even today. Once fully complete, it is expected to be one of the most modern and biggest global air transport hubs, with an estimated 200 million users per year. The airport with its four terminals and six runways, will serve the whole region and Istanbul, with routes to include numerous national and international destinations.

    Istanbul Airport (IST)
    Address: Tayakadin Mahallesi, Terminal 1, 34283 Arnavutkoy/Istanbul
    Website: Istanbul Airport
    Telephone: +90 444 1442

    What to do in Istanbul

    Inundated with magnificent historical monuments and attractions, Istanbul is every historians dream. The Grand Bazaar beautifully mixes eastern and western cultures, to create a place like no other, full of exotic smells and a lively atmosphere. An atmosphere made rich by the numerous local tradesmen passionately haggling with other locals and tourists alike. Magical Istanbul is on par with Turkey’s capital Ankara, in terms of entertainment and cultural significance. Whilst in Istanbul we would recommend you visit the following:

    • The Blue Mosque: Pay a visit to the beautifully decorated Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, its construction from 1609 until 1616 was during the reign of Ahmed I, to which his tomb is currently housed. The mosque is still active, and is regarded as the most important mosque in the city. Inside the blue mosaic hand painted tiles – to which the mosque gets its nickname - are simply striking.

    • Grand Bazaar: Get sucked into the energetic atmosphere that is the Grand Bazaar. With more than 4000 stores and spread over fifty streets, this vibrant covered market has been in existence since 1461. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul, there isn’t much you can’t buy or find here. The food smells, incense aromas and rush of activity, bartering customers and overly enthusiastic shop keepers, will transport you back to medieval times.

    • Hagia Sophia: World renowned Hagia Sophia was constructed in 360 AD and was once a Christian Greek Orthodox Cathedral until it was captured by the Ottoman Empire and converted into a mosque in 1453. Currently used as a museum, the Hagia Sophia, with its iconic beautifully crafted domes, will leave you mesmerised. It is regarded as one of the most important Byzantine buildings – a monument of architectural and artistic feats.

    • Culinary Tours: If you’re a food lover, then consider taking a culinary tour of the city. Commencing at the Grand Bazaar, make your way through Istanbul’s streets, together with your guide, and stop off at numerous restaurants and eateries. A melting pot of eastern and western foods, try out a traditional Turkish Kebab with all the trimmings or a Karniyarik dish, to name but a few. During your walk consider picking up some authentic Turkish Delights.

    • Head to the Topkapi Sarayi Palace and become mesmerised by the beauty of this Ottoman building. Historically a residence to some of the Ottoman Empires iconic leaders, a wander through its majestic halls will transport you back to a time of empire and Ottoman influence. You will no doubt be delighted by some of the many treasures on display – a symbol of Ottoman richness and power.

    Best day trips with my car rental in Istanbul

    With a car rental in Istanbul you can easily drive to some of Turkeys’ other beautiful destinations. The city is well connected with motorways and a bridge that links the European continent to Asia. We would highly recommend you visit the following destinations to experience all that Turkey has to offer:

    True Burc Beach: Located on a stretch of the Black Sea coastline, you’ll find a beautiful sandy beach known as True Burc Beach. It is only 40 km away from central Istanbul by car. Here you can spend the day trying out various water sports or simply spending a leisurely day with the whole family overlooking the Black Sea. If you stay until the evening you’ll be gifted with a superb sunset over the sea. True Burc Beach is an opportunity not to be missed, vibrant and full of entertainment for everyone.

    City of Antalya: Taking just over 8 hours to reach by car from Istanbul, the city of Antalya is located on the Mediterranean coastline. Along with amazing beaches, the views of the Toros Mountains are equally as impressive. The Antalya Museum houses over 5,000 archaeological specimens, some as old as 50,000 years! Enjoy the city’s historical quarters – Kaleiçi – as you enter it through Hadrian’s Gate.

    City of Ankara: In just under 5 hours from Istanbul by car you’ll reach Turkey’s capital city of Ankara. Along with its imposing castle, and its numerous restaurants and shops, you should also visit the Museum of Anatolia. The museum is packed full of wonderful artefacts from the Stone Age to Hittites and more. Ataturk Mausoleum and the Citadel of Ankara should also feature high on your list of places to visit in this wonderfully exotic city.

    City of Bodrum: It will take you around 7 hours and 40 minutes to reach the seaside city of Bodrum by car from Istanbul. Long known as a hot-spot for Europeans, both rich and famous, Bodrum is also known as the St. Tropez of Turkey. It has beautiful sandy beaches, ample of luxury hotels and spas, a marina packed with glamorous sailing boats and yachts. This city is so much more than just its 15th Century castle. Savour some amazing Turkish food and enjoy its vibrant market - a must visit for fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, olives and herbs! The best bit however, will be the opportunity to take a dip in the blue turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea.

    Geographic Information & History

    Istanbul is built upon seven hills and occupies the northwest part of Turkey. Located in the Marmara Region, it has an area of 5,343 kmsq. The city is strategically positioned at the mouth of the River Bosphorus, the only entrance into the Black Sea – connecting Marmara Sea with the Black Sea. The city is further divided across two continents. The western side, known as Thracian is located on the European continent, whilst the Anatolian side is located on the Asian continent. Istanbul has an oceanic climate, together with a humid subtropical one.

    The first known settlement was on the Asian side of the Bosphorus River. Established in the 7th Century BC, the colony of Byzantium came into existence after their leader Byzas consulted the Oracle of Delphi. Byzas decided on establishing the colony in this area due to being the only entrance to the Black Sea. From the 6th Century BC, the Persians took over the city and kept hold of it until Alexander the Great of Greece captured it in the 4th Century BC.

    After a long spell of peace, the Romans conquered the city in 193 AD. In the 4th Century AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great moved the Roman capital to Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople. In the 5th Century AD with the Roman Empire becoming too big to administratively manage, the empire was split into two, the Holy Roman Empire in the west and the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) in the east. Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, whilst Rome the capital of the Western Roman Empire.

    From the 7th Century AD until the 10th Century AD, Constantinople witnessed many sieges, both from the Arab forces and Barbarians. From 1204 until 1261 it came under rule of the fourth Crusade, which pillaged much of the city. Diminished in wealth and power, the city was eventually captured by Sultan Mehmet II of the Ottoman Turks in 1453 – and renamed to Islambol. Becoming the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the city grew in wealth, power and culturally. Grand mosques, monuments and buildings were built during this period and its population flourished.

    As the population grew to over 500,000 inhabitants in the 1500s, the city once again altered its name from Islambol to Istanbul, to which it remains today. The Ottomans ruled over the city until World War I, when the allied forces captured the city. After the end of the war, resistance grew towards the occupying forces and rebellions erupted. In 1923, the Republic of Turkey finally emerged – with Ankara becoming the new country’s capital city.

    How to get around Istanbul

    Istanbul’s public transport network is a cost-effective way of getting around the city. When you arrive at the airport, we advise you buy a Kart card. With a Kart card you can top it up and use it on trains and trams throughout the city. In addition, local buses and taxis are also available for more remote areas.


    The local bus network is a cost-effective although rather frustrating way to get around the city. Due to traffic congestion this option could take the longest to get around, although it is ideal should you wish to head further out into the city’s suburbs. We would advise purchasing a Kart card and topping it up with enough funds to get you around uninterruptedly.


    Istanbul taxis are bright yellow in colour with a yellow “Taksi” sign upon its roof. City taxies are metered but you should always discuss your journey costs with the driver before setting off. A taxi will only accept cash payments, no bank cards are accepted. You can either pre-book a taxi or catch it at one of the numerous taxi ranks.


    Also accepting the Kart card, trams are a great way of cutting through the traffic and reaching your destination with minimum fuss. By far one of the cheapest ways to get around the city, tram stops are located on main routes around the city, linking you to numerous tourist attractions.


    The city is a great place to explore by bicycle. For around 40 Lira per day, you can hire a bicycle from one of the numerous bike companies on offer. This is an ideal way to gain first-hand experience of life in Istanbul, whilst you cycle through the old town and the grand bazaar.


    Istanbul is serviced by the country’s national high speed trains. Routes run through the city and connect it to all the major Turkish destinations, such as Ankara and Izmir. Trains run daily and tickets can be purchased at main train stations. International train routes also exist from Istanbul to Sofia in Bulgaria, and Bucharest, Hungary. The train timetables are both available to view online and in the city train stations.

    Useful links

    Tourism Information