Istanbul as a megacity has an improved public transportation system and travelers can find a variety of great options to get around the city. The traffic in Istanbul is a major problem and lots of people still use taxis to move between various locations, but it’s often not the best choice.
Istanbul offers a huge network of public transportation that includes; buses and railways such as metro, tram systems, and Marmaray.
In this article, we’ll point out the benefits of using public transportation, the best time to use it, and how to pay for it besides introducing all types of public transportation.
Click here to see a map of public transportation in Istanbul www.metro.istanbul
What is Istanbulkart:
Istanbulkart is the public transportation card of Istanbul, the cheapest and the most efficient way to get around Istanbul. You can access the whole public transportation system of Istanbul via this single transportation card. It is owned and served by the Municipality of Istanbul.
These are the cards that you can purchase and use, providing a limited number of passes in public transportation. You can purchase the Istanbulkart from over 2,000 points such as subway, tram, ferry, Metrobus, and funicular stations via the yellow/blue vending machines or ticket-matics, and via kiosks located by the majority of the public buses’ stops.
You can purchase the Istanbulkart upon your arrival at the New Istanbul Airport (IST), from the 24 yellow/blue machines located at the -2 arrivals floor, or from the Havaist (airport shuttle) counters located along the exits or the authorized exchange offices.
We recommend obtaining your Istanbulkart upon your arrival at the airport because you’ll need to use it on the airport shuttles and public buses for getting to the city center. You can not pay cash to the shuttles or public buses.
Using Istanbulkart with HES Code: Due to the latest Covid-19 precautions, you’ll need to activate a HES code when using public transportation.
To activate the HES code, you should synchronize your HES code with your Istanbulkart. Otherwise, you’ll not be able to use the public transportation.
Firstly operated in Topkapı-Avcılar line the Metrobus system started by IETT in order to prevent the traffic intensity on the arterial roads and provide fast and comfortable transportation.
It serves a hundred thousand locals daily and provides fast transportation between the two ends of the Asian side and the European side.
Some Metrobus lines are open 24 hours a day and others are open from 6 am to 12 pm.
Marmaray is a train system connects the Europeand and Asian side under the sea. The Marmaray is a 76 kilometers tube tunnel that provides passengers to pass under the Marmara inner sea by train in only a couple of minutes. The fast way to travel between Kazlicesme stop through Sirkeci and Yenikapi on the European side and Ayrilik Cesmesi through Uskudar stops on the Asian side. Visit www.marmaray.gov.tr for more official information.
The Gebze-Halkali Suburban Train System also uses the Marmaray network which is also a fast way to travel between the Asian side to the European side, as well as from Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) to the Istanbul city center.
The metro system of Istanbul have a wide network and provide easy access to many of the major points both in the European and Asian sides.
The metro system of Istanbul operates from Aksaray – Atatürk Airport to Kirazli (M1 line), Haciosman to Yenikapi (M2 line) and Kirazli to Olimpiyat, Basaksehir (M3 line) on the European side. And operates from Kadikoy to Tavsantepe (M4 line) and Uskudar to Yamanevler (M5 line) on the Asian Side.
visit www.metro.istanbul for more official information.
Trams are also a fast and easy way to travel around the most popular districts in Istanbul.
The trams operate from Bagcilarto Kabatas (T1 line) (goes trough Eminonu and Sultanahmet), Topkapi to Mescid-i Selam (T4 line), as well as two nostalgic trams run between Taksim to Tunel (T2 line) through Istiklal Street on the European side and Kadikoy to Moda (T3 line) through Bahariye Street on the Asian Side.
There are also two funicular lines connecting Kabatas to Taksim (F1 line) and Karakoy to Tunel (F2 line) (end of the Istiklal Street). The Karakoy-Tunel funicular system is one of the oldest ones in the world, dating back to 19th century.
Buses are definitely the cheapest and the most economic means of transport. There are 400 bus lines in Istanbul, the majority work until midnight every night. Except for Sultanahmet (accessible by tram), buses go all over the city. Destinations and major stops are written in yellow on the sides of the buses.
For information on bus timetables and to see where they stop www.iett.istanbul
The Dolmuş is a public taxi runs on a fixed, short, circular route. It is fast, economical, and widely used throughout Turkey. They run on a specific path and leave when they are full (8 passengers). On the way, you can get out wherever you want. The payment method is simple, once seated, state your destination to the driver who will tell you (only cash is accepted).
Ferries (Sehir Hatlari) are the most easiest, cheapest and the most pleasant way to travel up, down and across the Bosphorus.They allow you to move from Europe to Asia. As with the metro, Istanbul residents use public boats/ferries – “vapur” in Turkish – every day and save considerable time by avoiding constant traffic jams on the two main bridges of the Bosphorus. y taking the ferry, you will realize the vastness of the city, it is also a good way to see the city from the water at a lower price.
There are ten main ferry docks that include: Karakoy, Kabatas, Besiktas, and five in Eminonu on the European side; Uskudar and Kadikoy on the Asian side. Ferries operate every 15-20 minutes from 07 am. until 11 pm. You can use your Istanbul Kart to access the boats.
These public boats are also useful for reaching the Princes’ Islands.
You can also find all Istanbul Public Ferry Lines Routes,Timetables and Prices from en.sehirhatlari.istanbul/en.
There are also sea-bus routes runs from Istanbul to main areas within the city limits and the cities around the Marmara Sea.The two inner city sea-bus lines include Bostanci-Besiktas and Bostanci-Kadikoy-Yenikapi-Bakirkoy lines.
The four inter city sea-bus lines include Kadikoy-Yenikapi-Armutlu-Bursa, Bostanci-Yenikapi-Cinarcik-Esenkoy, Bostanci-Yenikapi-Marmara.
Avsa Island and Kadikoy-Yenikapi-Bursalines.
The taxis in Istanbul are yellow. There are also luxury taxis in turquoise and black colors. It’s easy to find a yellow taxi almost anywhere in the streets but You can also take a taxi by using some of the existing applications such as (itaksi, bitaksi, uber).
Taking a taxi in Istanbul is an easy and comfortable way of transportation. Taxi fare in Turkey is calculated using a taximeter, depending on the distance to your destination. you should see 5,55 TL upon the taxi driver activates the taxi meter.
(6,38 TL for D segment turquoise taxis, 9,44 TL for E segment luxury taxis). The per kilometer price is 3,45 TL. (3,99 TL for D segment turquoise taxis, and 5,54 TL for E segment luxury taxis).
The Hop-on hop-off (stopover) price 15 TL. (19 TL for D segment turquoise taxis, and 25 TL for E segment luxury taxis) This is to avoid people taking taxi for very short distances. There is no day and night difference.
If you will take a taxi from Istanbul’s European side to Asian side or vice versa, the taxi must pay a toll and you will be charged for the toll. It can be bridges on the Bosphorus, tunnel underwater or some highways. And you are not responsible for the return fees of the taxi.