Turkey is a big country. There is no doubt on that. There are cities in Turkey that are bigger in size compare to some of the countries in Europe. Although the country is very big in size, the whole population lives so close in urban areas, causing transportation to be an ongoing problem during active times of the day. With this challenging transportation problem on mind, learning How do you get a taxi in Turkey is an essential need to avoid taxi scams. 

Even though Turkey has great highways, enough taxi alternatives for even Istanbul’s crowd, there are various things to know before you hire a taxi in Turkey. Not all, but most Turkish taxi drivers love to scam tourists, manipulate costs by not turning on the taximeter, manipulate exchange rates and only pick the customers that pays the highest amount (yes, it happens!).

Luckily, we will cover all the these factors to help you avoid fake taxis and protect yourself from taxi driver scams in Turkey.

Different Taxi Types in Turkey | Turkey’s Yellow, blue, black taxies and illegal taxies

You may have seen and searched for what is blue taxi in Istanbul? There are yellow taxies too. It may be confusing for someone who have never been in Turkey before. Culturally, yellow taxies are well known default taxi in all cities of Turkey. Whether you search for what is the difference between yellow taxi and black taxi in Istanbul or in other city, the answer is always the same;  yellow taxies are just taxies. Usually, Fiat Egea, Fiat Doblo or Renault symbol are preferred as yellow taxies as they have low carbon footprint. Just kidding. Taxi drivers don’t care about the carbon footprint. The main reason is, these cars have low fuel consumption, have large storage, spare-parts are cheap and easily findable due to cheap price of the car.

On the other hand, blue cars are default taxies too. The difference is, these blue cars tend to be more luxurious than yellow cars of Turkey. Some of the popular blue taxies in Turkey are Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo, Opel Insignia and Audi A4. The reason why there are such distinction is not about the service. It is actually more political. It has something to do with the purchasing process of a brand-new car. When a new car is registered as a taxi instead of personal car, it gets quite amount of tax-free benefits. This makes luxury cars an option to be registered as blue taxies. After serving as a taxi for 4-5 years, they can be transformed to a personal car; for almost half-price! Since tax for cars are quite high in Turkey; higher than the original price of a car, this genius move makes it quite profitable.

Illegal Taxies of Turkey (As the locals say; “Kacak taksi”)

There is also an illegal taxi type in Turkey that is mostly used by young people for cheaper alternative. Locals call it “kacak taksi”. The way these taxies work is quite similar to Uber. They are cheaper alternative to yellow,blue or black taxi, and ordinary drivers who are not officially taxi drivers but work as full-time taxi driver take you to your target destination with their personal car. However, this type of taxi is illegal for both the driver and the guest. Mostly, you may accidently find yourself against a kacak taksi scam if you find it from a quick google search or from google maps. It may seem like an official taxi booking business, but they are actually just individuals. I would not recommend getting into a kaçak taxi for a tourist; as the language will be a huge barrier for most tourists. You need to talk with the driver on the phone to order a taxi, so it will not be a smart thing if you do not speak the local language.

Turkey’s Unsolvable Taxi Scam Problem

You may be asking yourself; is it easy to get a taxi in Istanbul? Like, how hard could it be to stop and get on a taxi? Right? 

It really is hard. As a person who has spend +20 years in Turkey, I am exhausted of Turkey’s Unsolvable Taxi Problem. The debate between the government, and taxi owners & drivers has been an ongoing problem for years. For some reason, taxi drivers take all the risk and consider themselves above the law. Here are some of the scams that Turkish taxi drivers pull on tourists: 

Price Scam of Turkish Taxi Drivers | Asking target destination before you get in

The good thing about this scam is that it is always the same. By learning the process, you can easily avoid taxi scams in Turkey.  

The red flag is for taxi driver to ask where you will be heading before you stop and get in the taxi. Normally, taxi drivers have no right to ask any questions such as where are you heading to, where are you from, etc. If the driver asks you where you want to go through the window before they accept you in the car, it is possible that they are hunting for a juicy customer.  

If you tell them where you want to go through the window, that will be your first mistake.

First, you will be giving driver a chance to analyze if he actually wants to go where you want to go. I know, it sounds funny, but it is real. If there is traffic on the road to go there or on the way back home, they will be less likely to accept you as a customer. This is one of the popular taxi scams in Turkey. You should avoid answering their question.

Short distance rides will be a lot harder for you to successfully book a taxi.

The next thing is, if your target distance so close; such as within 0-3 km, it may not be worth for taxi driver to lose its hunting spot for a non-juicy customer. Thus, it is possible that they will not accept you by lying.

Not turning on the TaxiMeter Scam | The most popular one

There goes the second red flag. Not turning on the taximeter is the most popular one among all the taxi scams in Turkey. If the driver is trying to negotiate a price for your ride before turning on the taximeter, they will most likely try to overcharge you for your ride. Usually, drivers complain about the traffic, how big of a problem it will be to go there, and act like they can refuse you as a customer. What you need to do is to be confident and kindly ask for driver to turn on the taximeter. 

This is where the taximeter is located, and how it looks like when it is turned on; 

A picture of Turkey's taximeter. You can find it on the rear mirror while you book a taxi in Turkey.

If there are no red writings on the rear mirror as it is shown in the picture above, it is possible that the taxi driver forgot, or intentionally did not turn on the taximeter. This is one of the most popular taxi scams in Turkey. In this case, the driver may ask for an absurd price after the ride. If you realize that this is your case, immediately warn the driver to turn on the taximeter, and threat that you will have to leave or call the police (call 112) if else.  
Turkish law enforcements are aware of Turkish taxi scams. If you actually call 112 and complain about the driver, I can assure you that they will be on your side and very kind throughout the whole process. 

Currency Exchange Scam of Turkish taxi drivers

Even though Turkey has a good infrastructure for online payments, cc payments, contactless payment concepts, etc., taxi industry in Turkey has a long way to go. I must admit, there are some taxies that claims to accept payments through cc., but that does not always seem to work.

Here is how taxies with credit card payments to book a taxi looks like;

I have witnessed that some of these taxies’ pos devices are not working so they only accept cash. It may be to avoid tax as just another taxi scams in Turkey. In any ways, this truth would be devastating to find that out by the end of your ride. So, whether or not if your Turkish taxi driver accepts cc payments(“kredi kartı ile ödeme” in the local language) may be a question for you to ask before you get in. To be safe, I would recommend carrying some Turk lira cash for taxis. 

How Much Cash Should I Carry in Turkey to Book a Taxi?

Are taxis cheap in Turkey, no. If you are a tourist, hell no. The reason why I say it is important to carry Turkish lira cash is because you wouldn’t want the taxi driver to be the game maker in currency exchange. Turkish lira’s value compared to USD, EUR, GBP changes so quickly, and local people are having trouble with the rapidly changing exchange rates. Thus, they will exchange your foreign currency at a higher rate to be safe. 

a table showing taxi prices for a 5km taxi ride in Turkey for Istanbul, antalya, aydin and mugla cities.

You may be wondering, how much cash should I carry in Turkey? For my opinion, carrying maximum of $40 USD worth of Turkish lira cash should take care of any possible taxi rides in Turkey; even if it is long or short distance. As average, $11.5 – $15 USD worth of Turkish lira cash should easily cover a ride from club & bars back to your hotel. Consider multiplying it by 2 for both going and returning fees. 

Do not forget. These are the approximate prices for you to avoid taxi scams in Turkey.

Does Uber work in Turkey?

You may get used to call an uber for a quick taxi service. However, Whether Uber’s service works in Turkey or not has been an ongoing debate for a long time. You may be wondering, what is used instead of Uber in Turkey? We have researched taxi solutions for you and, well, there are actually more than a few options. But let’s begin by answering is Uber OK in Istanbul? The answer is both yes, and no. In order to fully answer this, let me talk about Uber’s first arrival to Turkey as a service.  

When Uber was first released in Turkey, the local taxi drivers protest against Uber in a panic to lose their jobs. When the government did not stop this nonsense(?) at once, taxi drivers wanted to solve the problem on the house. So, the taxi drivers ordered Ubers, literally boarded the Uber car right in the midst of their vehicles and attacked both to the cars and drivers to cause pain and property damage. As the physical torture against the drivers, and financial torture against luxury Uber cars continued, the prime minister of Turkey, Binali Yıldırım made a call to all parties to find a way in the middle. However, Uber did not adjust its service for Turkey, and withdraw its services from Turkey to let the problem to cool down.  

However, Uber’s Turkey journey does not end here. After a period of time, Uber made some modifications to its service and re-entered the Turkish market. So, Can you use Uber in Turkey? Yes. Uber is back to the business and online in Turkey for a couple of years. However, it is not similar to Ubers in the other countries. 

Turkey’s Uber is different from the rest of the world! 

While ordinary people like you and me drive Uber to make an extra income in other countries, only Taxi drivers are eligible to do Uber in Turkey. Unlike other countries, only official yellow and blue taxies can be registered as drivers in Uber. So, calling an Uber is like calling a local taxi service to order a taxi. However, due to Uber’s service fees, cost of tax for trackable payment, etc. factors, most taxi drivers do not prefer using Uber. So, there is a lack of available taxi in Turkey’s Uber. 

A picture showing 3 yellow and 1 blue uber cars within the whole istanbul europe area while we try to book a taxi. (The screenshot is taken at 7/5/23 9:30pm)

The picture shows 3 yellow and 1 blue uber cars within the whole istanbul europe area while we try to book a taxi. (The screenshot is taken at 7/5/23 9:30pm)

The second major difference is that there are no Uber services in all cities of Turkey.  

Here are the list of cities that are covered by Uber app in Turkey

  • Adana 
  • Adiyaman 
  • Ankara 
  • Bursa 
  • Diyarbakir 
  • Gaziantep 
  • Hatay 
  • İstanbul 
  • İzmir 
  • Kahramanmaras 
  • Kayseri 
  • Kilis 
  • Malatya 
  • Mersin 
  • Osmaniye 
  • Sanliurfa (source).

Since Uber did not charm in Turkey as it did in other countries, Uber seems to not focus too much on its service quality in Turkey as well. Here is how the price estimate feature of Uber looks like as of 7/5/2023 9:30PM in Uber Turkey Official Website;

Uber's website has a bug not showing the price calculator as of 7/5/2023 9:30PM.

In summary, when you put the limited available cities, limited available car and bugs on the website, Uber is not a preferable method to book a taxi in Turkey. So, what apps & taxi-booking services work in Turkey? We have made the research for you. 

What taxi app is used in Turkey? | As of 2023 

After complaining about Uber and showing Turkish taxi drivers as monsters, you may have a couple of questions on your mind. What are the options, and which one is the best taxi app in Turkey?

All right. Actually, there are a couple of taxi apps in Turkey; but we will not mention about a specific name here. Instead, You can visit Locate in Turkey’s Taxi booking Apps to review working cab booking services in Turkey. We will be updating this list as comments come to this post; or if the service providers reach out to us to notify about their service. 

Note: None of the App & Service providers have sponsored to this blog. Our solely goal is to direct you to the most useful app. 

Taxi alternatives in Turkey

If you are not thinking to book a taxi, or looking for a fun alternative, renting a car daily or hourly may be a fun option. The only thing to be careful about is Istanbul’s traffic; as it will cost a lot higher for you if you get caught in traffic with a timely rental car. 

Another alternative is to use public transportation. As a tourist, it may be a fun alternative to luxury rides if you are not in a rush. Besides, it always feels good to get involved with the local people. Evaluating the way they behave, sit, talk, dress; isn’t a trip abroad is all about culture exchange? In Locate in Turkey, we have a whole page for Tranportation Options in Turkey. Make sure to visit that it.

Until we see you in a next blog, Peace Out!


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