Most expats in Turkey find themselves living in cities, where they can rely on extensive networks of public transport (including the metro, buses and trams) as well as on numerous taxis for their daily trips. Public transportation within inner cities is typically inexpensive (around 2 Turkish liras a ride) and the fleets are usually clean and well-maintained, with frequent and punctual departures.
Taxis in Turkey
Taxis across the country are equipped with a meter, although some drivers will offer you fixed-price deals for specific trips (to and from airports for example). This is not problem confined to Turkey, but some indelicate taxi drivers may try to take advantage of your being a foreigner to charge you unduly. Should that happen, know that the Turkish police takes such swindles very seriously. Firmly explaining to the driver that you know your rights may help solve the situation.
Turkey also has a more unexpected means of transportation - the 'dolmus', a minibus used as a shared taxi. 'Dolmus' (which in Turkish means “should be full”) do not run on a predefined schedule but rather depart once they have reached an adequate head count. 'Dolmus' typically follow a fixed route along which they can stop anytime at the behest of passengers.
Most 'dolmus' do not run at night and on Sundays.
City transport in Istanbul
The metro is comparatively under-developed, with only a handful of lines servicing this huge city, but tramways and buses are omnipresent.
Besides, ferries called 'vapur' frequently shuttle between the city’s many piers on the European and Asian banks.
Istanbul is built upon several hills, some of them fairly steep, so funiculars have been installed to spare passengers the uphill climb. For the same reason cycling is not common practice in the city.
All forms of public transport tend to get very crowded at peak times. The so-called metrobus, a bus driving on a dedicated fast lane, is especially infamous for being cramped.
To pay the transport fare, you can either purchase single-use tokens (jeton) or get a permanent magnetic card, the IstanbulKart or Akbil. Subscription-free, the IstanbulKart can be purchased for 10 liras from small kiosks located near the main metro stations, and charged with credit at automatic vending machines inside the stations. It is valid in all public transports within the city, regardless of their type.
The charging stations do not accept credit cards, you can only pay cash to top up your IstanbulKart.
City transport in Ankara
Ankara boasts 4 metro lines, plus a subterranean train connecting the outer suburbs to the city’s main bus station, the Ankara Intercity Bus Terminal.
Trams and public or private buses routes form a dense network covering the whole city.
As in Istanbul, you can either buy single-use tickets called Kullan-At AnkaraKart (i.e. disposable AnkaraKart), or a proper AnkaraKart.
The AnkaraKart is not accepted in privately-operated buses (Halk Otobüsü), where you should pay cash.
City transport in Izmir
In addition to 2 lines of metro (one of which services the Adnan Menderes Airport) Izmir has an extensive network of buses and 8 ferry services linking several coastal parts of the city.
Here again you can choose between the disposable Üç-Beş (Three-Five) card, valid for a couple of trips, or the permanent KentKart to pay your fare across all types of public transport.