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The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
4,017 posts
The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

On Istanbul Forum, we receive many questions related to public transportation. I have decided to put them in one post as to provide a handy guide with our future visitors.

Istanbul has an excellent transportation system utilizing almost all the known forms of public transit. Within the city limits one can ride on buses, metrobuses, subway trains, suburban trains, trams, funiculars, cablecars, ferries, fast ferries, seabuses and seataxis. So there are numerous modes of public transit in the city. Good thing is that most of them are linked to one another. And another good thing is that you can pay and use almost all of them by one single payment system called ISTANBULKART which is a contactless electronic card similar to the ones used in London (Oyster) and Paris (Navigo).

The Istanbulkart is sold at ticket booths near major transportation hubs like Eminönü, Taksim and Beşiktaş. Also it’s widely available at the nespaper stands and kiosks near major transit stops such as Eminönü, Sultanahmet, Sirkeci, Taksim, etc.

You pay a deposit of 10 lira (which is refundable when you’ll return the card) for the card itself, then you can load as much credit as you’d like on it using the self-service kiosks named as (ISTANBULKART DOLUM NOKTASI, meaning Istanbulkart refill point)

You can use your Istanbulkart for more than one person. It provides discounts for both each independent ride and every connecting rides within two hours.

To use your Istanbulkart, you will need to place the card on the electronic readers placed on top of the turnstiles. You will hear a bip sound which says that you are okay to pass. You can monitor the remaining credit from the digital screens on the turnstiles after each use.

If you will be in the city less than 4 days, maybe you will not bother having an IstanbulKart. In that case your only option is to buy “jeton” (token) or “elektronik bilet” (electronic ticket) from the vending machines clearly marked as JETONMATIK and BILETMATIK. Those machines are easy to use and accept both banknotes and coins and dinpense as many units as you’d like. Alternatively, you can find electronic tickets at the newspaper stands, kiosks and ticket booths near stations, piers and stops.

Istanbulkart is not sold at Ataturk Airport so you’ll have to use JETONMATIK to get your token for metro.


Metro stations are marked with letter M in blue and red colors.

Currently there is extensive work going on to extend the coverage of metro including the world’s first intercontinnetal tube project Marmaray (which will connect Europe and Asia through a tube beneath the Bosphorus Strait. Here is the map of metro in Istanbul:



They are basically metro trains that go only one stop connecting one sea-level point to a higher point on a hill. There are two funiculars in Istanbul. One is called as TÜNEL (F-2) which is one of the oldest subways of the world dated back to the Ottoman Empire. Tünel climbs the hill from Karaköy to Beyoğlu (Istiklal Street). There there is a connection possible with the nostalgic tram (T-5) that goes all way till the famous Taksim Square. The other funicular (F-1) is a modern one and climbs the hill from Kabataş to Taksim (it has seemless connection with the T-1 tram line and M-2 metro line.


There are two cablecars in Istanbul one of which is not operational at the moment. The other one connects Eyup and Pierre Loti where one can enjoy the fabulous views of the Golden Horn.


Istanbul is a city of the seas. Ferries are inseperable part of the urban life. They are clean, comfortable and inexpensive way of crossing to the other side of the city. Here is ferry timetables:



It’s also a good way to go in and around Istanbul with IDO ferries. IstanbulKart is accepted for the innercity routes. For more information have a look:


You’ll need Google Translator for English since their English pages are not available at the moment.


Istanbul buses come with different colors. Don’t be confused about it. They can be in green (means they are environment friendly), purple, yellow (means they are furnished specially for the disabled people), turquoise (meaning they are run by private companies). All them will accept your IstanbulKart and/or electronic tickets. For more info on the routes and lines:



They are vans (or minubuses) operated as shared taxis. They have routes as well and stops for sure. However it is very common that you can hail one of them as you do for a taxi. They will not accpet any payment other than cash.


It’s also very convenient to go one shore to the other just using these motorboats which provide a fast, customized and private journey around the clock. For more information:



There is no cheaper way to go from either of Istanbul’s airports to the city center. Their stops are conveniently located in front of the arrivals exit of the both airports. For their routes and fares, have a look:


enjoy the city


621 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
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42,855 posts
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1. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Borus gave us an excellent overview of Istanbul transportation. ı will add a few points.

DOLMUSHES - The shared yellow vans are called dolmushes. They usually carry 8 people and a driver and are excellent means of transport if you do not want to use the other options or if they are not available. The most popular dolmush routes for visitors would be Taksim-Kadikoy (Intercontinental ride), Taksim-Bostanci (intercontinental ride), and Kadikoy-Bostanci (Asian side). The Taksim-Bostanci ride costs 6.50 TL/person.

MUNICIPAL AIRPORT BUSES - In fact the cheapest method of transport from the airport to the city center(s) is the municipal airport buses. The E-9 bus operates between Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) Airport and Bostanci, and the E-10 bus operates between Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) Airport and Kadikoy. Here are the schedules for E-10 bus: "http://harita.iett.gov.tr/index.php?hat=93T#". These buses cost 3.50 TL/ride with Istanbulkart. There is also a municipal bus from Ataturk Airport to Taksim and it is numbered 96T. the cost of a ticket is 1.75 TL with Istanbulkart, 3.00 TL with a single ticket.

POPULAR BUS ROUTES - The popular bus routes for our visitors are 93T (Taksim-Olivium Mall), 110 (Taksim-Kadikoy), 83O Taksim-Otogar (Main Bus Terminal), E-4 (Kadikoy-Bostanci), 31E, 32, 37E all for (Eminönu-Edirnekapi) for Chora Church.

Buses do not accept cash. Only single tickets or Istanbulkart. Sometimes, if you have no Istanbulkart, one of the passengers will help you and use his/hers for you and you can pay them cash.

RAIL SYSTEMS NETWORK - the rail systems are metros, trams, suburban trains, cable cars, etc. Here is the map of rail systems network of Istanbul: "…wikimedia.org/wikipedia/…29.png". You can use your Istanbulkart at all these modes of transport.

ISTANBUL FERRIES - They are the most fun and relaxing mode of transport in Istanbul. Use them as much as you can. The most popular ferry rides are between Eminonu-Kadikoy (Asian side), Eminonu-Uskudar, Eminonu-Anadolu Kavagi (Full Bosphorus Cruise), Kabatas-Adalar (The islands ferries). No ıstanbul visit is complete without the ferry rides. You can use your Istanbulkart for the ferry rides.

enjoy Istanbul,


Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
1,535 posts
9 reviews
21 helpful votes
2. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Hey guys. Thanks. Can you park it in FAQ so it doesn't get lost when it slides to Page 2.


Aarhus, Denmark
Level Contributor
17 posts
3. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

So much useful! Thanks a lot :)

Ruhr Area, Germany
Level Contributor
16,304 posts
129 reviews
132 helpful votes
4. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Thank you very much for this useful collection and explanations:-)).

I will try to translate it for the German forum as well, then we are more current, because some links don´t work anymore after a while.

Alexandria, Egypt
Level Contributor
832 posts
50 reviews
55 helpful votes
5. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Brilliant explanation , exept one point i realized on using istanbulkart for 2 person in one time , yes if you change the ride during 2 hours it give a discount the price will be 1 lira instead of 1.75 lira but that goes for the first person not for the 2 person using the same card in the same time , the second person is paying the normal fare , also i paid 6 lira for the card deposit not 10 lira and i have obtained the card from newspaper stand in front of aksaray metro station

Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
4,017 posts
6. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Thanks egyptmmmx for the contributions. I'll crosscheck the deposit for Istanbulkart. I also paid 6 lira for mine but then they have announced that it is 10 lira. Soonest possible I'll clear this out. Here I'd like to give the prices for the disposable electronic tickets:

1 ride: 3,00 TL

2 rides : 5,00 TL

5 rides: 12,00 TL

10 rides: 23,00 TL


los angeles
Level Contributor
106 posts
64 reviews
76 helpful votes
7. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System


If I load the Istanbulkart with more money that I needed, will the excess be refunded when I return the card for refund of the deposit? Also can I return it at any place that sells them or is there a specific place for returns?

Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
4,017 posts
8. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

The unused money on your card is not refunded. Only the deposit is refundable. You can return the card to any "Istanbulkart Satis Noktası".

Hope this Helps,


los angeles
Level Contributor
106 posts
64 reviews
76 helpful votes
9. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Thank you. This will help me in planning how much to load on the card and just reload as needed.

Los Angeles...
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162 posts
3 reviews
12 helpful votes
10. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Thank you for the usefil information, as we will be in Istanbul in two and a half weeks and plan on using the piblic tranportation a lot.

Is Istanbulkart Satis Noktasi a manned or unmanned kiosk? And where are they found?

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