Is There Uber In Istanbul?

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Written By Sean Lau

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Are you wondering if there is Uber in Istanbul? As of 2023, there is Uber in Istanbul. Users can order an Uber from anywhere within the Istanbul city limit, even the airports.

However, it’s worth noting that the Uber you call in Istanbul may be a regular yellow taxi that you would call on the street, which may operate on a metered fare as opposed to a total agreed price that you usually find on the Uber app.

While there is the convenience of being able to order transport directly through your phone, in the end you might have to pay extra for your Uber.

So before you order your Uber in Istanbul (or Turkey), make sure you read our guide on using Uber in Istanbul. We will talk about the different types of Ubers you can get, how to avoid scams, Uber alternatives in Istanbul, and more!

Planning a trip to Istanbul last-minute?


Make sure you book your tours, places to stay, and airport transfers ahead of time to ensure availability!

Looking for a shuttle from Istanbul Airport to the city center?

Here are our recommended tours in Istanbul:

  1. Luxury Bosphorus Cruise At Sunset (A must-do In Istanbul)
  2. Whirling Dervishes Show (Unique experience!)
  3. Historical Turkish Bath Experience
  4. Istanbul Food And Culture Tour

Here are our recommended places to stay in Istanbul:

  1. Magnuara Palace Hotel (Gorgeous hotel in the historic centre!)
  2. Pera Palace Hotel
  3. Cheers Hostel (Budget hostel near the Blue Mosque!)
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Is Uber Banned in Istanbul?

So why are so many people asking does Uber work in Istanbul?

If you look online, you might find that people mention Uber being banned in Istanbul. Historically, the company Uber has had a rough time in this Turkish city.

Uber first launched in 2014 and received mostly positive feedback. Locals and foreigners started to love its convenience and began to favor Uber over traditional yellow taxis of the city.

This put a huge detriment to the local taxi services and Turkey’s United Taxi Drivers Association started to protest saying it was unfair competition, eventually filing a lawsuit against Uber in 2019.

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Uber’s operation was completely halted in late 2019. Both the app and website were disabled and inaccessible. That is why some people think that Uber is banned in Istanbul, but in fact, it is not.

That is because in December 2020, an Istanbul court overturned the ban on Uber and officials said they could resume service with the city’s yellow and turquoise taxis. Their appeal was a success and Uber fully resumed its service starting in 2021.

Though the situation after the relaunch seems fairly stable at this point, it won’t surprise us if Uber has to discontinue its service in Istanbul (and Turkey) at some point.


Types of Uber in Istanbul

At the moment, there are types of Uber you can order through your phone or online. They are:

  • Courier (1-4)
  • Regular Yellow Taxi (1-4)
  • Large Taxi (1-8)
  • Clone Taxi Yellow (1-4)
  • Turquoise Taxi
  • Black Taxi (1-8)

Courier

A courier taxi is exactly what it says on the tin, it’s a courier vehicle, designed to transport packages over the city. Simply enter the pickup location, and local taxi drivers will deliver your items to the drop-off destination.

Regular Yellow Taxi Uber & Large Taxi

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Yellow Uber Taxi is the same as regular city taxi (Photo: Flickr)

The yellow taxi Uber is the regular city taxi that you can flag off the street and is for 1-4 passengers plus luggage. There is nothing unusual about this, except that because it is an Uber, and it’s likely going to cost more than getting a taxi off the street.

Well, that is unless the taxi driver tries to scam you by taking a detour, which happened to us! Don’t worry though, you can follow the route the driver is taking through the app and report to Uber if you feel unsafe.

Yellow Taxi Ubers are very common in Istanbul and an economical option for getting around the city. Yellow taxis are typically vehicles like Renault Clio and similar standards.

You can also find a Large Yellow Taxi, which has the same service as the regular taxi except that it’s equipped for 1-8 passengers, and is best for large groups. Because it’s larger in size, it will be more expensive than the regular yellow taxi.

Turquoise Taxi Uber

Turquoise taxis are premium taxis you can only order through the app. These taxis are usually a nicer vehicle, which might be something you want if you are going on a date at night in Istanbul and want a more luxurious ride. 

“Premium taxi ride with comfortable vehicle”

-Uber

Some of the different vehicles you get picked up in are Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes. Turquoise Uber Taxis are quite rare in Istanbul, so keep that in mind if you need to get somewhere on time. They are typically 15% more expensive than regular yellow taxis. 

Black Taxi Uber

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Black Taxis are an 8-seater Uber taxi or minibuses with a large seating area designed to accommodate families and groups of friends. They launched in 2022 and are a major hit for locals and foreigners alike. Black Taxi Uber in Istanbul utilizes premium vehicles so riders can travel in style and comfort.

On average, they are about 70% more expensive than traditional yellow cabs. But for double the capacity, it is worth it if you have a big group. Since this service has only commenced in early 2022, there is a limited number of black taxi Ubers in Istanbul. 


How To Pay For Uber in Istanbul

The benefit of using Uber is that you can download it onto your smartphone and pay directly through your bank. Paying for Uber in Istanbul is like paying for Uber in any other place. Visitors can pay one of the four ways:

  • Cash
  • Credit or Debit Card
  • PayPal
  • Google Pay or Apple Pay

Note that if you decide to pay with cash, it is important that you pay the amount said on the app. Taxi drivers can sometimes try to scam you and make you pay extra.


Uber Alternatives In Istanbul

There are two Uber alternatives apps in Istanbul that are rather popular:

Because these apps are local to Turkey, they are typically cheaper than Uber and much preferred by the locals.

Bitaksi and Itaksi are similar to Uber, in the sense that you can order a taxi from your phone. The price is computed beforehand and you pay with a credit card through the app or directly to the driver with cash.

Compared to hailing a taxi off the street, the price is actually about the same. In some cases, it might even be cheaper to use one of these apps because it forces the taxi driver to take the most direct route instead of taking a detour to rack up the meter. 

The challenging part is getting the apps to work. We tried multiple times and couldn’t get an activation code, even with a Turkish sim card and number. Some phones with international sim cards won’t work, but some travelers with UK sim cards have told us they managed to make it work.

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Bitaksi App As Seen On Google Play Store
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Bitaksi App As Seen On Google Play Store

Though with Bitaksi and Itaksi, users can only order regular taxi cabs, and because it’s a Turkish app, you may encounter some language barriers with the driver. So if you are a big group and you want an 8-seater vehicle, Black Uber taxi might still be the best option for you.

Another thing we have noticed with Bitaksi and Itaksi is that the drivers are more likely to scam you if you are a tourist. Many foreigners have reported getting ripped off by their taxi drivers from Bitaksi or Itaksi.

For a few bucks cheaper, maybe it is best to stick with Uber, an internationally recognized company!

Other ride-sharing apps such as Grab, Bolt, Lyft or Cabify do not operate in Istanbul.


How To Get Around Istanbul

The best part about Istanbul is how easy it is to get around, even without Uber or a taxi. Istanbul is a very walkable city, with many of the main attractions concentrated in Sultanahmet, the historic centre, or Taksim, the modern center.

Within the neighborhood, it is easy to walk around and see all the sights. But if you want to go from one neighborhood to another, you might want to take public transportation to get around Istanbul or a taxi.

Public Transportation in Istanbul

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The public transportation system in Istanbul is convenient and easy to use. There are many modes of public transportation in Istanbul – from trams to the metro, ferries, and more. Public transportation can easily connect tourists from one touristy area to another (such as Taksim with Sultanahmet for example), and even the airports in Istanbul.

All you need to take the metro is your contactless credit card (there used to be an Istanbulkart but you don’t need it anymore), which you can tap to enter. Nearly all public transportation stops (tram, metrobus, metro, ferry) use this method for payment now. You can also use your contactless card to pay for the bus straight into the city center from Istanbul Airport (IST).

Taxis And Uber in Istanbul

Taxis and Uber are also common ways to get around Istanbul, especially since that Istanbul is quite hilly. The metro or tram will usually take you to the bottom of the hill, where you’ll still have to walk up a considerable amount. Istanbul’s public transportation is also not the most luggage-friendly, especially the trams that are often crowded.

Taxis in Istanbul are metered, so make sure that the taxi driver uses it instead of negotiating the lowest price. That’ll always be a rip-off. It is also recommended to have your navigation up when the taxi driver is driving to ensure that he doesn’t take a detour and charge you more than necessary.


Is there Uber in Turkey?

Though there is Uber in Istanbul, is there Uber in the rest of Turkey? Uber does not operate all over Turkey. Uber is only in three cities in Turkey – Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara. That means there is no Uber in places like Cappadocia and Antalya. 


FAQs About Uber Istanbul

Here’s what people usually ask us about using Uber in Istanbul…

Can you use Uber at the airport in Istanbul?

Yes, you can call an Uber at any airport in Istanbul, except Ataturk Airport which has closed down. You can take an Uber to anywhere in the European side and Asian side of Istanbul.

How long will it take to get a pickup through Uber?

The time you get picked up will vary depending on where you are in the city and how far you are looking to go. Typically, fares get picked up almost immediately in the city center or at the airports, since drivers are usually in the area already.

Is using Uber in Istanbul safe?

Most people ask us whether using Uber in Istanbul is safe, and we feel that it’s safer to use Uber than to hail a taxi from the street. This is because Uber can track your journey and has a safety center where you can report drivers. Not to mention all Uber drivers need to undergo background checks before they can work for the company.


Final Verdict

Yes, Uber in Istanbul started operating again in 2021. There are several types of Uber vehicles you can pick from, and visitors should know what they are getting themselves into.

Besides Uber, there are also other taxi-hailing apps specific to Turkey, but again, you may even be able to negotiate a fixed price, though all taxis run on a meter. Though they might be cheaper, it is often harder to use and drivers are more likely to scam tourists.

23 thoughts on “Is There Uber In Istanbul?”

  1. Great article. If I request an Uber, does the Uber app not map out the route and give me a price like it does in other cities? Thus, I could see if the driver is taking the extra long detour. You mention having different payment options. I am just used to auto payment to the credit card linked to the Uber app. So does that mean that auto payment link isn’t linked in Istanbul? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Yes, Uber works just as you described and yes you can link your credit card to the Uber app. But if you are taking taxis, then they might overcharge you by taking detours since the cabs are metered.

      Reply
  2. Uber is the worst option in Turkey, sorry. I don’t understand this article because the Uber driver inputs the amount they want to charge u. It is not metered and shown upfront like Uber in other rxities. You ar better hailing a cab off the street and asking them to use the meter

    Reply
    • Hey Jade,

      I’m sorry that you encounter this issue, but that is not what our experience is. Uber in Turkey is just like Uber in other countries, you see how much you have to pay beforehand, and you pay the driver that amount at the end of your ride.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for the article. A tip: I just downloaded and registered with Bitaksi no problem at all using a UK phone number and SIM, you just have to get a verification code via WhatsApp, not text. If you are having trouble, just download that app first (I would recommend WhatsApp anyways for anyone traveling abroad as its the most widely used messenger in the world and you’ll likely use it to communicate with tour guides)

    Reply
  4. If you want to get an uber from the airport, walk away from the airport for a bit then request the uber otherwise the staff will snatch your phone out of your hand and cancel the ride and force you into a taxi twice the price

    Reply
  5. How would Bitaksi drivers scam you? I thought the Bitaksi app will calculate the fare before the ride and then charge your credit card based on the initial fare, no matter how much detour the driver may take?

    Reply
    • Yes, that is what we thought as well. We found that the taxi drivers can sometimes say the app is malfunctioning and not use it instead, or turn off the meter for some reason and then charge you extra at the end, or say that part of the route was a toll road (when it isn’t) and charge you extra. Most of the drivers don’t speak very good English and just demand extra money at the end without clarifying why, so it feels very scammy to us.

      Reply
  6. Two of want to go from IST to a hotel in Edirne. Is it better to get a taxi, uber, or rent a car. We return the next day to a hotel in the old city Istanbul.

    Reply
    • Hey Robert,

      It’s about a three-hour drive from Istanbul to Edirne, so no Uber drivers would be able to take you. Because your time frame is so short, we recommend you to rent a car and drive for economical reasons. You can also arrange transfers to take you from Istanbul to Edirne and back, but that would be a lot more costly. We found some of the best rental car prices in Istanbul with DiscoverCars here.

      Reply
  7. We are here in Istanbul in June 2023 and Uber is a disaster. Not usable. All taxi drivers are using it as a scam. We had a horrifying experience leaving the airport. Our diver met us, but then cancelled the trip as soon as we got in so he could ask for cash. But I didn’t realize that had happened and my request went to another driver without me knowing who started sending me messages that I had been kidnapped and that I needed to get out of the car immediately and that I wasn’t safe. But we were on the freeway by then and had no choice. Never been so scared. Ultimately we made it to our destination but for 45 minutes I wasn’t sure if we were going to be ok. We met other tourists with the same problem or would request an Uber but the driver would demand huge extra fees for the ride bc of “traffic”. Uber is broken in Istanbul as of summer 2023. Do not use. Hail a taxi and negotiate the price before you get in.

    Reply
    • Hey Jen, We’re so sorry that you had such a horrific experience. The taxi/Uber scene in Istanbul has been getting more complicated in the recent year. I would recommend you to report this incidence to Uber so they can look for the driver that did this because it is not an acceptable behavior and paints a poor picture on the good Uber drivers that are trying to make an honest living. With that said, the taxis in Istanbul are definitely NOT better from our experience. We’ve had mostly good experiences with Uber, but not once did we have a good experience with a taxi driver. They are always trying to find ways to get extra money from you, even if you have agreed on a price before. So my recommendation is to still take an Uber, but just be extra careful, and if the driver tries to do something dodgy (asking for more money, etc), report them.

      Reply
    • If a yellow taxi comes up as an option on Uber, then it will be fine to use them as you are protected by the terms and conditions of Uber and the price will be agreed on before your trip. The turquoise taxis are the same as yellow taxis but using electric cars, so I imagine the experience will be the same with them as the yellow taxi.

      Reply
  8. Hi we are in Istanbul right now and everyone keeps telling me uber is illegal and my Aunt is older and doesn’t want to take the risk. But the taxis are horrible they all want to charge a lot amount. Also the bittaksi is horrible the user keeps canceling rides or keeps asking for a high amount of euros and if you say no they cancel the ride.

    Reply
    • Hey Saba, Uber is not illegal in Istanbul, but you’ll get a standard taxi nowadays. Unfortunately, it has become quite a serious issue and there isn’t much you can do about it as a tourist. With Uber, we find that the driver is willing to use the meter, but they are likely to take detours or ask for extra money. If possible, we recommend taking public transportation in Istanbul.

      Reply
  9. Wow! Seems like a big hassle. I’m headed to Istanbul in a couple of days, and I’ll be getting there late, and didn’t feel safe arriving at after 11:00 pm, so I’ve made arrangements with my hotel to pick me up. It’s not far, but they quoted me $30. usd plus 15% above that.. I’ll get to my hotel (I hope) and then deal with my Uber for another hotel the following day. Hopefully I’ll be okay…

    Reply
    • Hi Enoch, it’s not too bad using Uber, it’s definitely better than flagging a taxi on the street. As you arrive late at night, it’s sensible to book a transfer as you cannot guarantee there will be cars available at night. In the day time, you can use the tram or metro in Istanbul, which are both convenient and easy to use.

      Reply

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