The large and beautiful city of Istanbul has a sophisticated public transportation system that serves one of the largest and most populated cities in the world. Whether you are coming to Istanbul as a tourist, student, businessman, or for any other purpose, it is very important to know how to go around the beautiful and congested city of Istanbul. We advise you to use public transportation in Istanbul especially in the central and tourist places such as Taksim, Sultan Ahmet, and so on, as it will be much easier and quicker. In this article, we are going to get you familiar with transportation systems in Istanbul as much as possible. From knowing all Public transportation methods and lines in Istanbul to prices of public transportation in Istanbul and useful mobile applications for Transportation in Istanbul, everything you need to know will be included in this blog post.
Transportation prices and Fares in Istanbul
After the Municipality of Istanbul endorsed the second increase of Public transportation fares, a normal fare for all means of public transportation in Istanbul became between 4TL to 6 TL. However, there are different fares (cheaper) to students and people with certain criteria. Additionally, if you use public transportation daily, you can get a monthly pass for 316 TL for 180 points (credits). One trip by any Public transportation will cost you one credit except for Metrobus, which costs usually 2 credits. You must have Istanbulkart (Istanbul card) to be able to use Transportation in Istanbul.
Istanbul Kart (Istanbul Card)
An amagnetic card that everyone living in Istanbul should have. You must have an Istanbul card to be able to use public transportation in Istanbul but bear in mind that minibusses (Dolmuş) in Istanbul accepts only cash payments, at least for now. You can use Istanbul card to pay not only for all Transportation means in Istanbul, but you can pay for other things such as entry fees for some public toilets. Additionally, you can pay for Havaist Bus operates from and to Istanbul New Airport.
If you wonder where can you buy an Istanbul card, it is available in kiosks at the majority of stations of Public transportations including at Istanbul airports as well, you also can top up (load credit) to your Istanbul card from the same yellow Kiosks. Also, you can top up the transportation card from different mobile applications. The price of an Istanbul card is 10 TL. It is very important to know that that yellow machines (kiosks) don’t give change in return which means that you need to calculate exactly how much money is sufficient for your stay in Istanbul and insert a suitable amount of money in the machine.
How to obtain Istanbulkart from the New Istanbul Airport?
You can buy the Istanbulkart upon your arrival at the New Istanbul Airport (IST), from the 24 yellow/blue kiosks located at the second arrivals floor, or from the Havaist (airport shuttle bus) counters located at the exit gates.
The traveller card (Anonymous Istanbul card)
It is the basic and most common one. If you use this card for traveling in Istanbul, you will be charged 4- 6 TL for one trip by any means of Public Transportation in Istanbul. This card generally can be used by different people, even it was possible to pay for your friends using the same card at the same time. However, this is no longer available during the pandemic time.
Mavi Card ( The Blue Card)
It is a card made for passengers who use Public Transportation on daily basis and would like to have a monthly pass. 317 TL is the cost of a monthly pass package. Istanbul Mavi Card monthly pass comes with 180 points. One point is what will cost you for every time you use public transportation in Istanbul, except for the Metrobus as it costs 2 points for 1 trip. It is important to know that this card is only useable by one person who purchased the card (his\her personal information will be printed on the card)
Discounted and Free-Pass cards
There are some special Istanbul cards for some passengers with certain criteria such as students. Students card is made for students who study in an educational institution in Istanbul and it the fare for a student is 2 TL while the normal fare is about 4 TL. Additionally, there is a free-pass Istanbul card that is made for people with certain criteria including the elderly.
There are 3 useful apps that will make your experience with Transportation in Istanbul more seamless and comfortable:
An application created by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. With MobIETT, you can instantly access all the information you will need about public transportation from your smartphone at any time! For example, you can know bus stops and routes, bus location, the nearest bus stop to you.
Another application that provides you instant information about routes and stops of different public transportation means in Istanbul. After choosing your destination and your location, you can know the best way to go there. Additionally, you can see the tracking of the bus’s location, in other words, you can know how many minutes are left until your bus arrives.
Probably everyone is familiar with google maps but some people are not fully aware of the public transportation section in the app. After choosing your destination and location, the app will show you the different routes that are available for you. It is important to know that these applications are very useful but at the same time, they are not 100% accurate. Therefore, if you are having an important meeting or something like that, make sure to add extra time on the amount of time needed for your trip that the app shows you.
In Istanbul, there are different large-scale transportation means that span the most of districts in the City which are the Istanbul Metrobus line, Istanbul Metro lines, Istanbul Tramways, Busses, Minibusses, Ferries, and the sea busses. In addition, there are other small-scale means of transportation that are mainly in touristic places such as The Nostalgic Tramway, Funicular lines, and cable car lines.
Istanbul Metrobüs is basically similar to Metro but instead of railway vehicles, it has special busses. It is the most important public transportation in Istanbul as it is a 50-km long line and has a dedicated lane on the E-5 highway. Metrobus line pass through the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. It is also the only public transportation means in Istanbul that works 24 hours with high vehicle frequency. Istanbul Metrobus’s full Fare is 6 TL for the normal passenger. However, you can get refund money to the transportation card based on the length of travel distance. there are machines just next to the exit gates of the Metrobus station where you can get your money to your card.
Metro is one of the most convenient transportation means in Istanbul. It consists of 8 Metro lines covering different districts of Istanbul.
M1A Metro line: operates between Yenikapi and Ataturk Airport.
- M1b Metro line: operates between Yenikapi and Kirazli.
- M2 Metro line: operates between Yenikapi and Haciosman. M2 line is the longest line of Istanbul Metro with a length of 230km.
- M3 Metro line: operates between Kirazli, Olimpiyat and Basaksehir.
- M4 Metro line: operates between Kadikoy and Tavsantepe.
- M5 Metro line: operates between Uskudar and Cekmekoy.
- M6 Metro line: operates between Levent and Bogazici University.
- M7 Metro line: operates between Mecidiyekoy and Mahmutbey.
- M9 Metro line: operates between Bahariye and Olimpiyat.
The normal fare for Istanbul Metro is about 4 TL. It does not matter how many metro stations (how long your journey is) Metro of Istanbul has a fixed price.
Istanbul Tram is distinguished from Metro by having fewer vehicles and running on tracks on the ground (not underground). Usually, tramways are located in crowded tourist areas of Istanbul. Istanbul has a total of 7 different tramways:
- T1 Tramway: operating between Bağcılarand Kabataş.
- T3 Tramway: operating between Kadıköy and Moda.
- T4 Tramway: operating between Topkapı and Mescid-i Selam.
- T5 Tramway: operating between Cibali and Alibeyköy Coach.
- Tf1 Tramway: operating between Macka and -Taskisla Aerial Cable Car Line.
- Tf2 Tramway: operating between Eyup and -Piyerloti Aerial Cable Car Line.
- F1 Tramway: operating between Taksim and Kabatas Funicular Line.
Busses in Istanbul
Istanbul Municipality has thousands of busses operating in hundreds of lines in the Metropolitan city of Istanbul. In congested areas, taking a bus is not the best way to go around if the Metro or the tram is available.
Ferry and Sea busses in Istanbul
The beauty of Istanbul mainly comes from its Bosphorus canal. One of the things you can enjoy in Istanbul is a Bosphorus tour. Imagine when you have it while moving between the European side and the Asian side of Istanbul. Here come the most comfortable and enjoyable transportation means in Istanbul. Istanbul has 10 main ferry docks in districts like Karakoy, Kabatas, Besiktas, and Eminonu on the European side. And in the Asian side, Uskudar and Kadikoy. Ferry fees are relatively cheap. In addition to regular ferry trips, there are touristic tours to the Bosphorus which can last for few hours.
Minibusses (dolmuş) in Istanbul
The only transportation means in Istanbul that does not accept Istanbul card is the minibus. You will have to pay in cash. Minibus in Istanbul is providing an extra transportation option for you. It typically operates in some areas with narrow roads and in areas that are densely populated.
Nostalgic Tram (the historic Tram)
Yes, it is the tram that always appears in popular photos of Istanbul especially Taksim square and Istiklal street. The nostalgic Tram started operating in the 19th century, it was taken out of service in 1961 and replaced by buses before it was restored and revived in 1990 after After Istiklal Street became a pedestrian zone. Istanbul Nostalgic tram connects Taksim Square with Galatasaray and Tünel Square.
Istanbul Cable Car
One of the cool experiences that you can get in Istanbul is using an Istanbul cable car that operates between Eyüp and Piyer Loti which is a hill overlooking the Golden Horn in the Eyüpsultan district of Istanbul. It is always fun to have a panoramic view of the beautiful city of Istanbul.
Istanbul has few Funicular lines which are a short length transit system that usually operates between two stations. Funicular lines in Istanbul such as Taksim – Kabatas line and Karaköy – Tünel Meydanı line.