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The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

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

552 replies to this topic
Istanbul
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61. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

hkg, Yes, here are some slides of the ferries: "www.youtube.com/watch…".

enigma...

Ruhr Area, Germany
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62. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

We always stood outside to take some photos and to enjoy the view.

Dubai, United Arab...
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63. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Enigma, Borus,

Thanks for the great input.

So you mentioned that Havatas is one of the options to use for transportation between Sabiha Airport and SultanAhmet.

1- I should take the Taksim bus, and then a taxi to Sultanahmet?

2- Are all taxi cars metered?

3- How much does the trip by taxi for two persons cost between Taksim and Sultanahmet?

4- What discount will I get if I use the Istanbulkart in the Havatas bus and the taxi?

Thanks!

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

Aouni, welcome to Istanbul,

1- Yes, take the HAVATAS bus to Taksim (12 TL) and a taxi from Taksim to your hotel.

2- All taxis are metered and they should use a meter.

3- From Taksim to Sultanahmet taxis are 15-18 TL.

4- ıstanbulkart can not be used on Havatas buses or taxis, because they are not public transportation.

good luck,

enigma...

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

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Alameda, California
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66. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

My notes for our upcoming trip shows that it was recommended to put 20 TL on an IstabulKart. We have 4 people. I plan on buying 2 cards. Is 20 TL (in addition to the deposit for each card) for 2 people or for all 4? I thought I would put 20 TL on each of 2 cards. Is this about right? We will be there for 5 days.

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

Sparks, 20 TL on each card should be OK for starters. You can always reload the card as much as you want at every station or pier.

enigma...

san francisco
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68. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

Hello, I will be staying close to the kabatas tram station. Is there a place to buy an instanbulkart around the stop? From what I understand i cant get a card when I arrive at attaturk airport and only need one since my companion will always be traveling with me and we can simply touch twice for his fare? Or will i have to buy jetons? If jetons, are they used on buses, trams, and the metro?

thanks for any help!

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

Yes, you can buy an Istanbulkart in kabatas. Look for a kiosk with a signage of "istanbulkart satış noktası".

Best of luck,

Borus

san francisco
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70. Re: The Guide to Istanbul's Public Transportation System

wow...thanks very much for the quick response

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