How to Avoid the Steep Climb to Taksim or Cihangir?

Picture of the steep climb to Cihangir taken in front of the Witt Istanbul Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey.

by Erlend Geerts

in Practical Information, Transportation

Istanbul, just like Rome, is built on seven hills. So, when you’re exploring the city on foot – which is the best way – at one point or another you will be challenged with a rather steep slope to reach your destination.

This is for instance the case if you’re coming from Eminönü after visiting the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşı) or planning to take a stroll on Istiklal Caddesi in Taksim after disembarking from a Bosphorus Tour. Or if you just want to visit Cihangir, home to many excellent restaurants, cafés and bars as well as the luxury design Witt Istanbul hotel. Here are a few inexpensive and quick options to avoid the steep climb.

With the Funicular to Taksim Square

If Taksim or Cihangir is your final destination and you find yourself in Sultanahmet or Eminönü, the easiest and cheapest way is to hop onto the Zeytinburnu-Kabataş tram line (T1) in the direction of Kabataş. Since Kabataş is the final station, you can’t go wrong. There you will connect with the Taksim-Kabataş funicular (F1) to reach Taksim Square.

Then you can either hang around Taksim or walk down (always easier) to Cihangir. These tram lines operate daily from 6:00 till midnight. A token costs approximately 1.5 TL per person, per ride.

With Tünel to Istiklal Caddesi

If you want to reach the other end of Istiklal Caddesi and visit the Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) or walk the full stretch of Istiklal Caddesi in the direction of Taksim Square, then this is your best option. From Sultanahmet take the Zeytinburnu-Kabataş tram line (T1) in the direction of Kabataş and get off in Karaköy (the first stop after crossing the Galata Bridge) to connect to Tünel. If you’re already in Eminönü, just cross the Galata Bridge on foot and enjoy the view.

When looking in the direction of Taksim, you’ll find the Tünel entrance on your left in a building on a corner. Buy a token and hop on the world’s shortest and third-oldest underground system. A mere 90 seconds later, you’ll find yourself on Tünel Square. Don’t forget to check out the side streets of the square for some great cafes. Tünel operates from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

By Taxi

Taking a taxi is of course the easiest, but maybe not the quickest nor the cheapest way. During rush hour, you’re probably better of with public transportation. And unless you’re with a party of 3 or more, taking a taxi may not be the cheapest solution either. But, of course the taxi driver will drop you off in front of the door and you won’t get wet in case it rains.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

simhedges September 16, 2012 at 10:21 am

As of September 2012, the cost of a Jeton (tram token) is 3 Turkish Lira – still good value.


Erlend Geerts September 18, 2012 at 8:00 am

Thanks Simhedges for sharing this.


JAY January 28, 2013 at 4:32 am

Hi, My hotel is near Sishane and I would like to go to the Galata Tower. What’s the best way to get there by avoiding the steep hill. I’m a little bit confused. Thanks


Erlend Geerts January 29, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Hi Jay,

In that case take Tünel funicular from Karaköy up to Tünel (Istiklal Caddesi) and walk down to the Galata Tower.

Kind regards,


Rose April 9, 2014 at 11:09 am

Thank you for the very useful information. I am use crutches and would love to visit Istanbul but put off by slopes. I am thinking of going next week can you recommend hotels that are very close to main attractions and not on slopes? I would really appreciate that. I like the Ambassador hotel at the moment but not sure if it’s on a slope nor if it’s the closest to the main attractions.


Erlend Geerts April 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Hi Rose,

As you know we don’t give hotel recommendations here, but as far as I remember the hotel you mentioned does not have any floors yo conquer.



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