İstanbul is an enormous city with over 16 millions of people so don’t be surprized when you see the amount of cars on the highway and its traffic.
Istanbul’s roads are very good and government works on improving them. Driving is on the right-hand side. Also, traffic signs are not different from europeans and american ones. The only difference is that turkish drivers never pay attention to the signs and signals so be careful about all details and be prepared for anything. To drive in Istanbul without any kind of an incident you should predict actions of other drivers on the road, so always keep the eye contact with them.
Drivers in istanbul and Turkey in general don’t like to follow the rules and usually they ingnore the speed limits. But for you, as a tourist, we don’t recommend to break the rules and follow the crowd since there are a lot of radars on the highways and fines are very high as well. So obey the rules, it is for your own safety. Speed limits in Turkey are as follows: 120 km/h on highways, 90 km/h outside of the cities and 50 km/h inside of the cities and villages.
Red lights are also an important part of driving – when the red light is on, cars still keep on going so be careful when you are on the intersection. When the light turns into the green, make sure that there is nobody coming on your way, and then go.
Taxi and dolmus drivers always hasten so they can suddenly turn into left or right lane without any signals – be always ready for that. They honk too much when somebody goes too slowly or doesn’t let them go ahead. Dont’t be scared, just keep going as you did before and dont pay attention to their honks.
The most difficult time for driving are rush hours (morning and evening) especially in the city center, bridges and entrances to highways, so be ready to spend a lot of time in a traffic jam. Bridges between European and Asian sides of Istanbul are full of cars during the rush hours since locals usually drive from one side to another one to get to work in the morning and come back home in the evening. For driving accross the bridges in Istanbul you have to buy a KGS card. With that card you will pay for entering the bridges when you go from Europe to Asia, and going from Asia to Europe is free of charge. Cash is not accepted there and if you don’t have a card, you can buy it before the entrance to bridges.
Pay special attention to pedestians who can go to the road unexpectedly – they cross the road just in front of the moving car, on their red light on and completely do not notice cars around. Don’t forget about it and always be ready – they might appear on your way whenever and wherever they want. This became “a rule” in Turkey so just stop and let them cross the road.
It’s very difficult to find a parking in Istanbul since streets are very crowded. You will see that people park everywhere but we don’t recommend it because in some places it can be illegal to park the car there. It’s better to find a private parking, pay money and at the end don’t worry about your car. The word “otopark” means “parking” in Turkish. If you see “Park yapılmaz”it means that you can not park at this place.
Drunk driving and speaking on the phone while driving are highly prohibited. Fines for doing so are very high and you will get into a trouble.
We hope this rules will help and knowing this simple principles will make you more comfortable on the busy Istanbul’s roads.