Is Uber in Turkey? 11 tips for catching an Uber in Istanbul (2023)

Have you been wondering, “Is Uber in Turkey”? I’ve got you covered!

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Since I set foot on Turkish soil back in 2018, the crazy streets and lively cities of this captivating country have become my daily canvas.

As a resident who has navigated the chaos of a 20M+ megacity, my journey here has been nothing short of life-changing.

Part of that journey has been learning to navigate my way through the world of taxis. I have definitely overpaid and been taken advantage of my share of times.

Countless taxis have carried me through the heart of Istanbul’s chaotic traffic and web of ruleless driving. Each ride has grown my experience with taxis.

It is a love/hate relationship for sure.

One thing I didn’t know about was Uber. I used it in the States but I didn’t know it was a popular thing internationally.

Uber has also had a tumultuous relationship with this beautiful country.

I am sure you have heard horror stories of foreigners with taxis and perhaps you’re wondering if Uber is safer…if it is even a thing.

So, let me explain Uber’s presence in Turkey and get you some answers.

Need to book a transfer? Check prices now!

Uber app on a samsung phone

Is Uber in Turkey?

The short answer is, currently yes, but that has not always been the case.

Though Uber was introduced in Turkey in 2014, in 2019, they began impacting the local taxi services which led to issues.

The local taxi association worked together to file a lawsuit against Uber in Turkey. 

Uber was told to cease operations in Turkey with a ban on them being placed. They couldn’t operate here for a couple of years.

In 2021, however, the Istanbul court overturned the ban. Local taxi drivers don’t like it but the government sees it as proper market competition which only forces everyone to be better. 

Is Uber available in Istanbul?

Uber is available in Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara. If you’re in smaller cities it is hard to even get a regular taxi because of the lack of supply much less an Uber.

The interesting thing, however, is they use regular yellow taxis. Some drivers will just accept Uber fares as well as other BiTaksi and iTaksi fares.

Using Uber in Turkey

Setting up the App

If you’re not familiar with Uber here are a few tips for how to use it.

  1. Download the app. Pro tip: if a friend has it, they can share a code with you and often you will both benefit from it. But do it while in the States.
  2. You will then have to fill out your account as well as add payment information. You will get to select your preferred form of payment.
  3. Make sure you enable location services or the taxi won’t be able to locate you.
  4. When you order a taxi, just put in the destination as your current location is already populated.
  5. You will see an estimated fare for your route as well as other pertinent information.
  6. Then after you confirm everything, the app will work to find a driver. You will be able to see the driver’s live location as well as the taxi number so you get in the correct taxi
  7. Then when it is all done, payment happens in the way you have already specified.

Vehicle types

Uber has 3 different vehicles in Turkey.

  1. Yellow taxis – these are the same taxis you see everywhere and are the lowest price point.
  2. Turquoise taxis – these are usually a bit nicer cars (great for a date night) and run about 15% more than the yellow taxis
  3. Black taxis – these are larger vehicles, like a minibus. Although the price is 70% more, the capacity is doubled as well. If you have a large group, this is the way to go.
light traffic on the highway in Istanbul taken from a bridge with a city landscape in the background

How to pay for an Uber

When you set up your account you will have to put in credit/debit card information as a backup. You will, however, be able to select which form of payment you want to use for a given fare.

  • Cash – make sure you pay what the app says not what the driver says – in an ideal world you could get a receipt but probably impossible
  • Credit/Debit Card – in the app
  • PayPal – in the app
  • Google or Apple Pay – in the app

This is incredibly light traffic in Istanbul. You’ll also notice this guy on the right just doing whatever he wants.

Pros and Cons of Using Uber in Istanbul

Pros

  • More payment options
  • Hailing a cab from anywhere is easy
  • Estimate your trip fare
  • Using the app (like the alternatives) adds an extra layer of safety.

Cons

  • More expensive than normal taxis
  • Some drivers won’t accept an Uber fare because it isn’t as advantageous for them.

Other ways to get around: Uber Alternatives

There are many who say they get scammed by taxi drivers. If you pick one off the streets it is much easier to be scammed but if you use the app it insulates you from much of the potential. 

BİTAKSİ

This app is mostly used in Istanbul and Ankara.

You will need a Turkish number for this. You can get a local SIM card quite easily. Read more about getting a Turkish SIM card.

This means that it won’t work if you have an eSIM (without a Turkish number, just using data). 

How to use BiTaksi?

  1. Download and install the application.
  2. Open the application and allow location services when prompted.
  3. Press the “Start Now” button. Begin with your phone number followed by pressing “next”.
  4. You should receive an activation code. Type that activation code as prompted. Then press “verify”.
  5. Enter where you want to go and choose your preferred vehicle type.
  6. If you want to pay in cash, press the “Send BiTaksi” button to bypass adding a credit/debit card.
  7. If you want to pay by card, click the “Add Card” button and proceed to add the information.
  8. Select the card instead of “Cash” from the options and then “Send BiTaksi”.
Taxi driving down the roads of Istanbul

İTAKSİ

This app was developed by the Istanbul local government.

It isn’t as popular as BiTaksi but it has one feature that makes it worth mentioning.

The main feature of this app is that you can link your Istanbul Kart to it and use that for payment. Both iTaksi and BiTaksi are preferred by locals.

It is used quite similarly to BiTaksi.

Carmel Limo

Some people mention this one but I would say that it isn’t really worth mentioning. I have never used them as I haven’t needed a big transport.

The one time I did, I used a local company.

Rent a car

The other alternative is that you could rent a car. But honestly, if you’re only staying in Istanbul it just isn’t worth it. 

The traffic is a nightmare and the streets can be confusing. Not to mention drivers make up their own rules. It is quite stressful if you’re not used to it.

I would recommend renting a car, however, if you are traveling outside of Istanbul.

Once you leave Istanbul, the public transportation solutions begin to dwindle and having a car becomes quite handy.

Public Transportation

Honestly, for most places, public transportation is quite good and covers a lot of ground.

President Erdogan has done a lot to build up the public transportation infrastructure. Getting around is much easier today than it was 10 years ago.

  • Buses – there are a ton of buses but honestly they stressed me out when I first got here. I never knew which direction and without Turkish to ask they can be a bit tricky.
  • Marmary/Metro/Trams – These, however, are the bread and butter for tourist transportation. They cover a lot of ground and are incredibly easy to use.
  • Dolmus & minibus – These like the buses can be a bit confusing. To this day I only really take the ones that someone has shown me before.

Airport Transfers

If you’re specifically looking for an airport transfer from/to Istanbul Airport or the Sabiha Gökçen Airport, I would recommend GetTransfer.com.

What I love about them is that there are no surprises. Your toll and bridge fees are included.

You may be paying about the same price as a taxi but you know what it is beforehand as well you don’t have to wait in the taxi line.

Also compared to other transfer services they are consistently less expensive and known worldwide with 22 different languages used.

Typically they are also much roomier. All around win.

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11 Pro Tips for riding in a taxi

1. Be patient. There is a shortage of taxis in Istanbul right now which makes finding a taxi difficult, especially at peak times.

Grabbing an Uber in Istanbul then will be even more challenging to find.

2. There is a minimum fee. The base fee for a taxi has just risen from 40 tl to 70 tl. So if you’re going somewhere close and the rate show is only 40 tl for instance, be aware that you will have to pay the minimum fare of 70 tl regardless. 

3. Don’t take them into traffic. After you sit for more than 5 min or so, the fare starts to increase by time not moving instead of by kilometer. It adds up quickly. 

4. Rates are the same regardless of what time of day it is. Don’t be fooled by someone telling you there is a night rate. It’s not true.

5. Much pricier than public transportation. Taxi rides are pricy but if there are many of you it might be worth it. They usually can hold two large suitcases. Sometimes they are especially worth it after a long flight.

6. Beware. Don’t accept a ride from a taxi driver that comes to you as opposed to you going to them. They are likely unlicensed or something is wrong. It’s not worth it. 

7. Use the app. Using the app when possible makes sure you’re getting the best fare as well as building in a bit of security. 

8. Always make sure the meter is running. I have been told a price for a given fare when I knew it would actually be much cheaper.

If they are trying to give you a rate, you are overpaying. If they say their meter isn’t working, get out. It is a lie because they have to have a working meter to drive a taxi. 

9. Legitimate extra fees are possible. If you cross a bridge or go on a toll road, those fees won’t show up on the app or on the meter…it will cost more. 

Depending on which bridge and toll road, it could be a couple hundred lira extra.

10. You don’t have to tip. It is becoming more popular but tipping is not a big thing in Turkey

11. Pay attention. If paying in cash, try to pay without needing any change back to avoid any discrepancy over the fee. Also, make sure they are charging the correct fee.

Driving along the suspension bridge in Istanbul, headed toward the European side on a clear, sunny day.

Frequently Asked Questions about Taxis in Turkey

Why is my taxi rate more than I thought it would be?

Your fare might be more than the meter if you went over a bridge or took a toll road. Those fees will not show up on the meter. They will add the fees in. If you didn’t, maybe you’re being overcharged. You could have also been stuck in traffic. There are many potential reasons.

What is the Turkish version of Uber?

BiTaksi is the most common taxi app used in Turkey. Your regular Uber app will work here, however. There is no Turkish Uber app.

Is BiTaksi safe?

I love ordering taxis through the app because not only is it safer, showing where you are on the map and having some accountability, but you can also easily pay through the app without worrying if the driver has a card reader. 

Is Uber expensive in Turkey?

Uber is comparatively more expensive in Turkey compared to other countries. There are regular taxis in Turkey as well with rates regulated by the government. Typically, Uber prices are also more expensive than normal taxi rates.

Is it safe to use Uber?

Generally speaking, it is safe but it is always important to take standard precautions to keep yourself safe. Especially being aware of your surroundings and making sure the meter is running. See the tips above.

Does Turkey use Lyft?

No, Lyft is not currently available in Turkey. 

Can I use my credit card to pay for a taxi fare?

Most of the time yes but sometimes the card reader doesn’t like foreign cards. It is best to either always have cash on hand or pay through the app. You could also use a Wise card which is recognized internationally.

Final Thoughts on getting a taxi in Istanbul

While Uber might be slightly pricier than a traditional taxi for the wandering tourist, the true value is an extra layer of peace of mind.

Navigating the bustling streets of Istanbul, where the dance of vehicles seems like choreographed chaos, can be both exhilarating and daunting.

While a regular taxi might save a few liras, the assurance that you can pay for your Uber and that it is an app you are familiar with can make the experience all the more worthwhile.

For those who speak Turkish and have a Turkish SIM card, I would say don’t bother. But for the tourist on their first, second, or even third trip here, it just may be worth it to pay an extra dollar for each taxi ride.

In the end, whether you use Uber or a traditional taxi, is entirely based on your comfort level. Happy travels!

Read More:

Turkey vacation basics

When I plan a trip these are the websites I use. Hope they help you plan your next adventure as well!

FLIGHTS: I am a huge fan of Skyscanner and WayAway.

VISAS: You can use the free e-visa portal here but for a few extra dollars you can use iVisa and someone else will handle any issues that may come up.

E-SIM: When I traveled to SE Asia I discovered e-sims and I’m never going back. Airalo has been easy and cheap!

TRAVEL INSURANCE: I use TravelInsurance.com for my trips abroad.

CAR RENTAL: I have loved working with Discover Cars when I rent cars in country.

AIRPORT TRANSFERS: I have used these transfers many times and they are always great. If you’d like more options, I also recommend GetTransfers.com as they allow you to compare companies.

ACCOMMODATION: Find the best Turkey hotel deals on Booking.com.

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: You can browse GetYourGuide’s website to find just the tour you’re looking for!

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