Transportation in Istanbul
Istanbul, one of the most populous cities in Turkey, offers a wide range of transportation options for locals and visitors alike. From public transport to private cars, taxis, and bicycles, there are many ways to get around the city. Public transport in Istanbul is the most popular choice, with many options such as buses, trams, metro, and ferries available. These modes of transportation can take you to almost any destination in the city, making it convenient and affordable to explore Istanbul. In addition, Istanbul also offers various private transportation options, such as taxis and car rental services. Whether you prefer to travel by public transport or private transportation, Istanbul has plenty of options to choose from to help you navigate the city.
To navigate the city efficiently and cost-effectively, we recommend using public transportation, particularly the tram system to access the old town. This will allow for quick movement while avoiding traffic congestion, which can be particularly heavy during peak hours from 8 am to 9:30 am and 5 pm to 8 pm.
Istanbul public transportation map
Click here to access the PDF and JPG versions of the public transport map in Istanbul
Istanbul Kart (transportation Card)
The Istanbulkart is a rechargeable smart card that is widely used as a payment method for public transportation in Istanbul. It is a convenient and cost-effective way to get around the city, and it offers many benefits to commuters and visitors alike.
The Istanbulkart can be used on buses, trams, metro lines, ferries, and even the funicular and cable car lines. You can easily purchase and recharge your Istanbulkart at vending machines located at major transit stops or at designated kiosks. The card costs a small fee, but it offers discounted fares on public transportation, making it an excellent choice for those who use public transit frequently.
One of the best things about the Istanbulkart is that it is transferable. This means that multiple people can use the same card, which is especially helpful for families or groups traveling together. Additionally, the Istanbulkart offers a more environmentally friendly alternative to single-use tickets, as it reduces waste and helps to minimize the carbon footprint of transportation in the city.
Overall, the Istanbulkart is an essential item for anyone using public transportation in Istanbul. It provides a seamless and efficient payment method, as well as cost savings and environmental benefits.
It’s important to note that when using the Istanbulkart at metro stations, the fare is calculated based on the number of stations you pass through during your trip. Before exiting the station, you can recharge your Istanbulkart at the available machines. The machine will automatically deduct the fare based on the distance you traveled and display the remaining balance on your card. This process is illustrated in the image below.
Buses in Istanbul
Buses in Istanbul are an essential part of the city’s public transportation network, with over 400 bus lines serving the entire city. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, buses in Istanbul are a convenient and affordable way to get around. Most bus lines operate until midnight every day, making it easy to travel around the city even late at night.
One of the advantages of using buses in Istanbul is that they cover a wide range of destinations, including areas that are not accessible by the metro or tram. The destinations and major stops are usually indicated in yellow on the sides of the buses, making it easier for passengers to identify the correct bus to take.
To use the buses in Istanbul, passengers need to purchase an Istanbulkart, which is a reloadable electronic card that can be used to pay for all types of public transportation in Istanbul. The Istanbulkart can be purchased and reloaded at major bus stations, metro stations, and other authorized vendors throughout the city.
Overall, buses in Istanbul are a reliable and affordable option for those looking to explore the city or commute to work. With the Istanbulkart, passengers can enjoy seamless travel on all types of public transportation in Istanbul
You can find bus timetables and stop locations by clicking here.
Istanbul metro (SUBWAY)
The Istanbul metro is a rapid transit system serving Istanbul and the surrounding metropolitan area. It is operated by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) and comprises both underground and elevated lines. There are currently two lines on the European side, and one line on the Asian side. Unfortunately, these lines are not yet fully connected.
The metro operates from 6:15 in the morning until midnight, and fares are based on distance traveled. The Istanbulkart is the most convenient and cost-effective way to pay for metro fares, as well as fares on other modes of public transport in Istanbul.
Here are the details of each metro line:
M1 – Atatürk Airport – Aksaray: This metro line mainly allowed tourists to get to the center of Istanbul from the old airport on the European shore – Atatürk Airport – via Yenikapı station to reach the M2 metro. From now on, Atatürk Airport only accepts cargo and VIP passenger flights. As the new Istanbul airport (IST) is not served by the metro yet, this line is not essential for walking in the city of Istanbul.
M2 – Yenikapı-Hacıosman: This is the longest metro line in Istanbul and the one you will use the most. This is the one you need the most during your stay. Since the beginning of the year, it has been lengthened, it is now possible for example to get to the old city from Taksim Square and more. This is especially useful for businessmen residing in the district of Levent, or for travelers who have chosen to reside in more Turkish and less touristy areas like Nisantasi. Taksim Square is now only 2 stop Eminönü district where the spice market is located. The main stops of the M2 are:
- İTÜ Ayazağa
- M4 – Kadıköy-Tavşantepe: This is the only metro line on the Asian side of Istanbul, running from Kadıköy to Tavşantepe. However, it is not connected to Sabiha Gökçen Airport yet, so it may not be of much use to tourists.
Marmaray is a rail transportation project that connects the European and Asian sides of Istanbul via a tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait. It was opened in 2013 and is operated by the Turkish State Railways.
The Marmaray line runs from Halkalı on the European side to Gebze on the Asian side, with stops at major transportation hubs such as Yenikapı and Sirkeci on the European side and Üsküdar and Kadıköy on the Asian side. The line is 76.3 kilometers long and has 43 stations.
In addition to providing a convenient way to cross the Bosphorus, the Marmaray line also connects to other forms of transportation in Istanbul. For example, at Yenikapı station, passengers can transfer to the M2 metro line, while at Sirkeci station, they can transfer to the T1 tram line.
The Marmaray line operates from 6:00 am to midnight every day. Trains run approximately every 5-10 minutes during peak hours and every 10-20 minutes during off-peak hours. The fare for a single journey is determined based on the distance traveled and can be paid using an Istanbulkart or a paper ticket.
Overall, the Marmaray line provides a fast, efficient, and affordable way to travel between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, while also offering connections to other forms of transportation within the city.
The Metrobus in Istanbul
The Metrobus is a rapid transit bus system in Istanbul that operates on exclusive lanes, providing a faster and more efficient way of transportation in the city. The system is known for its distinctive red and silver buses, and it runs on a network of dedicated bus lanes and highways.
The Metrobus operates 24/7, and it is one of the most popular modes of transportation in Istanbul, especially during rush hours. The buses are air-conditioned and equipped with WiFi, and they can accommodate up to 300 passengers at once.
The Metrobus network spans across the European side of Istanbul, with multiple lines connecting different parts of the city. Some of the major stops of the Metrobus include Söğütlüçeşme, Zincirlikuyu, and Beylikdüzü.
To use the Metrobus, you need to have an Istanbulkart or a Kentkart, which are contactless smart cards used for public transportation in Istanbul. The fare for the Metrobus is the same as the regular bus fare, and it is calculated based on the distance traveled.
It’s important to note that the Metrobus can get very crowded during peak hours, so it’s recommended to avoid traveling during those times if possible.
The public ferry in Istanbul
Do you want to enjoy a wonderful cruise while using public transportation in Istanbul? With the public ferries in Istanbul, you can add a special pleasure to your travel experience. It is one of the favorite means of transportation among locals and tourists due to its advantage of enjoying the time through the wonderful sea view in addition to the seagulls that always hover around the ferries. People are even keen to throw some bread crumbs for the seagulls during their ride. Locals and tourists alike also enjoy taking beautiful pictures on the backs of these marine ferries.
There are various ferry routes and lines available in Istanbul, serving both the European and Asian sides of the city. Some popular routes include:
- Eminonu-Kadikoy: This route connects the historic Eminonu district on the European side to the lively Kadikoy neighborhood on the Asian side, passing by various other stops such as Uskudar and Besiktas. This is a popular route for tourists and locals alike.
- Besiktas-Uskudar: This route connects the upscale Besiktas district on the European side to the traditional Uskudar neighborhood on the Asian side. The route offers stunning views of the Bosphorus Bridge and the historic Maiden’s Tower.
- Kabatas-Adalar: This route takes you from Kabatas on the European side to the Princes’ Islands, a group of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara known for their beautiful scenery and historic mansions. This is a popular route for tourists looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a day trip to the islands.
Ferry schedules and ticket prices can be found at the official websites of the Istanbul Seabuses (IDO) and Istanbul Ferry Lines (IDO). Additionally, passengers can use their IstanbulKart to pay for their ferry tickets. Using an IstanbulKart can be a convenient option as it eliminates the need to purchase a ticket each time you use the ferry.
Tramway system in Istanbul
The tramway system in Istanbul on the European side has two lines available for service, the T1 line starting from Kabataş providing easy access to Sultanahmet, and the T4 line running North-West of the city. It operates between 6 am to 11 pm, providing a clean and air-conditioned ride.
To explore the main attractions of the city, we highly recommend using the T1 line as it is not only affordable and quick, but also the most convenient way to reach the old town. The T1 line makes stops at the following key locations:
- Kabataş: Dolmabahçe Palace, Taksim (with connection to F1 funicular to reach the pier for the Princes’ Islands and Kadıköy)
- Tophane: Museum of Modern Art in Istanbul
- Karaköy: Tünel funicular (T) for Istiklal Street
- Eminönü: Spice Market
- Sirkeci: Train station and connection to the Marmaray
- Sultanahmet: Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and the Archaeology Museum
- Beyazit: Grand Bazaar
If you want to download the map of Istanbul’s public transport system in PDF or JPG format, click here.
Dolmuş is a popular means of transportation in Turkey, especially in Istanbul. They are shared taxis that follow a specific route, picking up and dropping off passengers along the way. They are usually minivans that can carry up to 8-10 passengers at a time.
Dolmuş routes are usually displayed on the windshield of the vehicle, and they operate from early morning until late at night. They are considered to be one of the cheapest modes of transportation in Turkey, and they can take you to some of the lesser-known parts of the city that are not easily accessible by other means of transportation.
It is important to note that Dolmuş may not be the most comfortable option for transportation in Istanbul, as they can be cramped and may not have air conditioning. However, they are a great way to experience the local culture and interact with locals during your travels.
To use the Dolmuş, simply flag one down along its route, and tell the driver where you want to get off. The fare is usually paid in cash to the driver, and the amount will depend on the distance you travel.
While Dolmuş is not as efficient as some of the other modes of transportation in Istanbul, it is still a popular choice among locals and tourists alike due to its affordability and convenience.
The Istanbulkart is a rechargeable electronic card that can be used on all public transport in Istanbul. It can be purchased and recharged at designated kiosks at metro and ferry stations, as well as at some convenience stores.
The cost varies depending on the mode of transport and distance traveled. A single trip with the Istanbulkart costs 5.50 TL, while a trip with the Marmaray metro costs 15 TL.
It depends on where you are going and at what time. Generally, the metro and tramway are the fastest and most efficient ways to get around, especially during rush hour when traffic is heavy.
Yes, there are discounted fares available for students, senior citizens, and disabled passengers. You can apply for these discounts at designated offices.
No, credit cards are not accepted as payment for public transport in Istanbul. You must use an Istanbulkart or purchase a paper ticket at the station.