Useful phone numbers Turkey, apps & more

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When I was a child my mother gave me a choice between taking ballet classes or joining the Girl Guides. For some reason I can’t remember now I didn’t do either but I do remember the Guides motto (OK, it was the Scouts I know, but I’m allowed some poetic licence, aren’t I?) ‘be prepared’. Most of the time my life in Istanbul goes along fairly smoothly, but like life anywhere it has its ups and downs. When illness strikes or something more serious happens I have a list of useful phone numbers Turkey as well as websites full of practical information about Istanbul (and Turkey) to consult to make life that little bit easier.

Emergency & other Useful Phone Numbers Turkey
I speak quite good Turkish now and so far have only had to call Zabita about noisy construction work. Luckily the man I spoke to was very patient with my then not so good language skills. If you don’t have much Turkish, it’s a good idea to have a friend or neighbour you an ask to call for you. Here are some of the essential useful phone numbers Turkey you should know.
Polis                    155
Fire brigade    110
Ambulance      112
Jandarma        156 (for rural areas)
Zabita                 Local council authorities. Check your local council website for their number. They’re the people to call if you’re woken up at 3am by gigantic machinery reversing down your street accompanied by loud yelling (yes, this really happened to me), rubbish is piling up in your area or you think a local shopkeeper is exaggerating his prices.
Tourism info  170

Book mark this post on practical information Istanbul and Turkey
Useful phone numbers Turkey is just the start

I hope you never need to use any of the above useful phone numbers Turkey but at least you have them. There are also other less serious things that can still stress you out if you don’t know how things work or where to find the information you need. Never fear, I’ve done the work for you.

Chemists (Eczane)
If you’re felled by flu on a Sunday or come up in a mysterious rash late at night you don’t have to wait until the next day to find a chemist open. Chemists in Turkey are open six days a week but are always nöbetçi ezcanesi (duty chemists) open all night and on Sundays. Every day chemists display a list of the nearest duty chemists in their window, or you can find yours using the Turkish Pharmacies website. First select your city/region (eg: Izmir), then select your district (eg. Aliağa). Finally choose the one nearest to you on the list. Geçmiş olsun!

Transport (Ulaşım)
I learned a lot of my Turkish when I first came to Istanbul and had to find out about public transport the old-fashioned way, by asking people. Even when timetables did become available they were conceptual more than actual and getting anywhere with confidence was largely hit and miss. Nowadays there are numerous websites and apps to get you where you want to go, including Bitaksi, Trafi and others. You’ll find more information about them here.

Getting to and from Istanbul Airport
I’m a big advocate of public transport, but know it’s not suitable for everyone all the time. When I need to be picked up from or get to Istanbul Airport or Sabiha Gokcen Airport, I use one of these GetYourGuide website AIRPORT TRANSFERS.

I’m not a big fan of taxis no matter the country I’m in, however when my husband became seriously ill I was grateful a taxi from my local taksi durağı came less than a minute after I called and took us to the emergency department. Every neighbourhood in Istanbul has its own taxi service so save their number in your phone. They’re less likely to cheat you because you can hunt them down in their office and make a fuss, as well as tell everyone in your neighbourhood why to avoid them. You can also use the Bitaksi App when you’re out and about and in need of transport.

Istanbul City Buses
Istanbul has an extensive and inexpensive bus system. I mean where else can you catch a bus like the 500T that takes 3 hours to complete its route and costs less than couple of dollars? The IETT website and their new as of 2023 Mobiett App have all the bus numbers, route maps and bus stop names you’ll need, as well as cross-references for each route showing other buses that stop in the same places. I’ve given the link for the English page but if that isn’t working, change it to Turkish because the original pages almost always work.

Istanbul Ferries
Getting round the city by ferry is like going on a minibreak every time you jump on board. Sit back, drink a tea and watch the waves (and pods of porpoises if you’re lucky). There are two types of ferries to catch, the government run Şehir Hatlar (City Lines) and private companies Dentur  and Turyol.  You can use your Istanbul Kart on all of them.

Weekly street markets (and no I won’t call them farmers’ markets)
Every mahalle (neighbourhood), village, kasabağa, town and city in Turkey has weekly outdoor markets called pazar. They sprawl over any number of streets and sell the freshest produce at the lowest prices. They’re a great place to practice your Turkish and people watch. The Turkish government has created an easy to use website listing weekly markets throughout the country. Choose your Il (Istanbul, Muğla etc), then your Ilçe (Kadıköy, Fethiye, etc) and select tümü (all) for tür (type). Click on the red Pazar Yeri Bul button and find the market closest to you on the list that comes up.

As well as knowing all the useful phone numbers Turkey, this general post about safety in Turkey might help. If you or a friend have moved here and are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, the Turkey Culture Smart book will help smooth your way. It’s full of invaluable advice from a long term resident in Turkey. Have a look at my review for more information.

all six books written by Lisa Morrow
Have you read my books yet?

Lastly, learn more about Istanbul and Turkish culture, what it’s like to live here, and how to visit lesser known part of Istanbul in my books. Buy one to read yourself or gift to a friend to discover more of the everyday extraordinary of life in modern Istanbul and beyond. You can buy them direct from me in Istanbul by getting touch via the ‘contact me’ page, at Mephisto, Homer and Minoa bookstores in Istanbul or online here.

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  1. Thank you for this post as only yesterday I was wondering how to have updated info as I live remotely. Would you kindly post in Antalya Expats Business & Services.
    Many thanks Nancy admin

    1. I’m glad the timing of this is so handy. As I’m not a member of that particular FB group I can’t post anything but if you are you’re very welcome to copy and paste the link so other members of the group can see it.

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