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The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

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Istanbul, Turkey
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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 and TRAMS:

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:

urbanrail.net/as/tr/istanbul/istanbul-map.htm

FUNICULARS:

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.

CABLECAR.

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.

FERRIES:

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:

http://www.sehirhatlari.com.tr/en/

IDO FAST FERRIES and SEABUSES:

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:

http://www.ido.com.tr/

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

BUSES:

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:

http://www.iett.gov.tr/en/

MINIBUSES:

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.

SEATAXI:

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:

http://www.deniztaksi.com/

HAVATAŞ SHUTTLES:

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:

http://www.havatas.com/en/

enjoy the city

Borus

532 replies to this topic
New Jersey
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31. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Thanks Borus and Enigma.

sg2000

los angeles
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32. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Borus or Enigma,

I have a question about the transportation schedules that I am hoping that one of you can answer. Is Republic Day, October 29 considered a holiday for the ferry or buses? Also when does the Bosphorus full day schedule change, i.e. will there only be 1 voyage in the morning vs. the 3 currently scheduled? We will be in Istanbul 10/26-11/1 and I am attempting to set up an itinerary.

Istanbul
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33. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

grmmybtty, welcome to Istanbul.

October 29 is Republic day but none of the public transport schedules are affected. So they are the same as those weekday or weekend (is Oct 29 a weekend?) regular schedules.

The ferry schedules change on September 17th to the winter schedules. Unfortunately, the system they use it is to announce it only two days before the change at the website. Most likely there will be only one full cruise like previous years but we really do not know yet. So a month before you come, you will already know the new winter schedules from the website.

good luck,

enigma...

los angeles
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34. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Enigma,

Thank you for the information. Oct 29 is a Monday, glad to hear that it will be the more frequent week day schedule. I'll be sure to check out all the schedules before we leave. We are so excited about visiting your beautiful city and have been scouring this forum for information. Thank you to all the DEs for making trip planning so much easier.

Betty

Split, Croatia
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35. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

One question: Dolmushes also run till midnight or they finish even earlier?

Istanbul, Turkey
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36. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Lolitatli,

Some dolmushes are 24/7. For example Taksim-Kadıköy and Taksim-Bakırköy are done around the clock.

Hope this helps,

Borus

Edited: 16 August 2012, 21:58
New Jersey
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37. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

I know that you have to put a deposit of TL6 for your Istanbulkart. However, reading some TA entries, a number of travellers indicated that they actually paid TL7 or TL8 purchasing the card from a kios. Does the card cost more (deposit-wise) when we get it from a kiosk?

Thanks in advance.

sg2000

Istanbul, Turkey
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38. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

sg2000,

The deposit is TL6 if you buy it from the white kiosks with the signage of "Istanbulkart Satis Noktasi". However, I understand some resellers (hotels, newspaper stands, convenience stores, etc) "add" a couple liras on top of that.

Borus

Edited: 16 August 2012, 22:26
Burbank, CA
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39. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

When you turn in your card with the receipt at the end of the trip, don't you get back the entire "deposit"? Or does the receipt from other than "Istanbulkart Satis Noktasi" show 6 TL with "additional" liras that you don't get back?

Istanbul, Turkey
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40. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Flennie, it's only the 6 lira deposit you get back when you turn in the card. However, all other money on the card is not refundable.

Borus

Edited: 17 August 2012, 07:35
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