Complete Guide to Public Transport in Istanbul
Our guide to public transportation, routes as well as tickets for locals and travelers in Istanbul.
How does public transportation work in Istanbul?
The electronic ticket for the public transport system in Istanbul is the Istanbulkart. The card pays off after three single rides and is usable during your whole stay in Istanbul. It applies to the entire transport system of Istanbul.
It is available and rechargeable at Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW), as well as at all major bus and boat terminals, at kiosks with the corresponding sign, and at the service stations and vending machines of the municipal transport companies.
There are fares for single tickets, but no day tickets in Istanbul. You can also get the advantageous Istanbul Welcome Cards Premium for travelers, specials deal transport cards that also provide tours and cruise on the Bosphorus.
Get Istanbul Welcome Cards for Transport
Check the different Istanbul Welcome Card options providing easy transport and guided tours. Pick the one that fits your trip and enjoy!
Information and pick up point at the Istanbul Airport [IST]
A local agent is waiting for you at the kiosk located at Istanbul Airport Transportation Hall, Floor Gate 17. They speak English and will help you in your requests.
Provided services :
- Public transportation map and indications
- Booking a shuttle or private transfer car
- Picking up your Istanbul Welcome Card
Contact the information point through this form and get early information about your transport card and lift to the city from Istanbul Airport [IST] or make a reservation right away.
Airport Transfer Options in Istanbul
Istanbul has two international airports. On the Asian side, is Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW), around 40 km from the city center, and on the European side is Istanbul Airport (IST), approximately 50 kilometers from the center. Check below the best options to get from the respective airport to Istanbul's center.
From Istanbul Airport (IST):
- Shuttle Bus: One of the most popular options to get from Istanbul airport to the city center and vice versa is a shared bus transfer. The official airport shuttle bus service in Istanbul is called HAVAIST and features 9 lines. One-way prices range from 40 to 60 TL per person. Buy your ticket here.
- Public transport: IST Airport is connected to the city by the new metro line M11 Gayrettepe - Istanbul Airport. This metro line is yet not finished, which is why it is involves a lot of transfers. Therefore, this metro line is not yet recommended for tourists, so we advise taking the shuttle bus or a private transfer. Another but slower option are the municipal public buses (H-1, H-2, H-3 and H-4). Buy your transportation card here.
- Private airport transfer (VIP transfer): The most convenient transfer option is a private airport transfer that will bring you directly to your hotel. Buy your VIP transfer here.
- Taxi: For a taxi ride from Istanbul Airport to Taksim, you will pay about 20 €.
From Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW):
- Shuttle Bus: HAVABUS is the official airport shuttle service of Sabiha Gökcen with 3 lines running every half hour to Taksim, Kadıköy and Yenisahra. Visit the official website for up-to-date information on HAVABUS schedules, routes and fares.
- Public transport: Sabiha Airport is well-connected with Istanbul city center by public bus lines, such as the regular bus line E-11 to Kadıköy, as well as the Metro line M4 (Kadıköy-Sabiha Gökçen Havalimani). It takes 22 stops and about 50 minutes to get to the metro terminus "Kadiköy". Travelers who want to go to Taksim or Sultanahmet can get off one stop earlier ("Ayrilik Cesmesi") and change there to the Marmaray, which will take you to Marmaray Sirkeci Station after 2 stops.
Buy your Istanbul transportation card here.
- Private airport transfer: A private airport transfer that takes you directly to your hotel would be the most comfortable transfer option, especially for family with children or VIPs.
- Taxi: A taxi ride from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Taksim cost around 25 €. You can calculate your estimated taxi fare in advance here.
Book Online Tickets for Airport Transfer
Buy your tickets thought these links and get a discount of 5 %:
AIRPORT SHUTTLE BUS [IST]
Book a Bus Shuttle provided by the official Havalines company. Departure for Istanbul Airport [IST].
SHARED TRANSFER [IST]
Book a Shared Shuttle in a luxurious minivan from Istanbul Airport [IST]. Affordable and comfortable.
PRIVATE TRANSFER [IST]
Book a Private VIP Transfer and enjoy a very comfortable ride from Istanbul Airport [IST].
Public transportation Network in Istanbul
Find below all the transport means available in Istanbul.
Fare: A single ticket costs 15 TL per person. There are no day ticket and no fare zones in Istanbul. In some means of transport, such as the bus, only the Istanbulkart is valid. In shared taxis (Dolmuş) only cash payments are accepted.
Children up to 6 years do not need a ticket.
What tickets are available?
Here is an overview of the most important tickets:
- 1Istanbul Welcome Cards: The Istanbul Welcome Cards include a loaded Istanbulkart. In addition, there are more benefits that will make your stay in Istanbul cheaper and more fun, including fast track entry, a Bosphorus Cruise, guided tours at Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, and Audio Guides for Istanbul's top museums. Another advantage is that the package will be waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive in Istanbul. More details here.
- 2Single ticket: One ride costs 15 TL per person. There are also 2-ride tickets for 25 TL, 3-ride tickets for 35 TL, 5-ride tickets for 45 TL and 10-ride tickets for 90 TL. You can find the current and official price list here.
- 3Akbil: There is also a public transportation card called Akbil. This is an electronic transit pass in the form of a steel button, and basically the older version of the Istanbulkart. Even though Akbil is slowly being phased out in favor of the Istanbulkart, it is still available and quite popular. Passengers using Akbil can transfer between different transport means and lines within 120 minutes at discounted prices, thus saving money. Another advantage is that two or more people can use the same Akbil. The downside is that there are currently only a few Akbil sales points left.
Istanbul Public transport network details with Maps
Find below all the Istanbul Public Transport network details. Check the Istanbul railway network map here.
Subway (Metro) daily from 6:00 to midnight
- Line M1A Yenikapı-Atatürk Airport
- Line M1B Yenikapı-Kirazlı
- Line M2 Yenikapı-Hacıosman
- Line M3 Kirazlı-Olimpiyatköy-Başakşehir
- Line M4 Kadıköy-Tavşantepe (Asian side)
- Line M5 Üsküdar-Çekmeköy (Asian side)
- Line M6 Levent-Boğaziçi University/Hisarüstü
Subway (Marmaray) daily from 6:00 to midnight
- Ayrılık Çeşmesi (Asian side) - Kazlıçeşme (European side)
The Marmaray train runs every 5 to 10 minutes.
Nostalgic Subway (Tünel)
- Line F2 Karaköy-Tünel Mon-Sat 7:00 - 22.45, Sun 7:30 - 22:45
- Line T1 Bağcılar-Kabataş daily from 6:00 to midnight
- Line T3 Kadıköy-Moda daily 7:00 - 21:00
- Line T4 Topkapı-Mescid-i Selam daily 6:00 to midnight
See here the Istanbul tram lines network map.
Nostalgic Tram (Nostaljik Tramvay)
- Line T2 Taksim-Tünel Mon-Sat 7:00 - 22:45, Sun 7:30 - 22:45
- Istanbul's municipal public bus network is widespread. Departure times and almost all bus stops can be found here.
- Line 34 Avcılar-Zincirlikuyu
- Line 34A Söğütlüçeşme-Cevizlibağ
- Line 34AS Avcılar-Söğütlüçeşme
- Line 34BZ Beylikdüzü-Zincirlikuyu
- Line 34C Beylikdüzü-Cevizlibağ
- Line 34G Beylikdüzü-Söğütlüçeşme
- Line 34U Uzunçayır-Zincirlikuyu
- Line 34Z Zincirlikuyu-Söğütlüçeşme
The metro buses operate in 1 to 2 minute intervals. Depending on the line, they run between 1:00 and 5:30 every 30 to 60 minutes. For more information about the stops, see here.
Funicular (Füniküler) daily from 6:15 am to midnight
- Line F1 Taksim-Kabataş
- Line F3 Seyrantepe-Vadistanbul
Cable Car (Teleferik) daily from 8:00 - 22:00
- Line TF1 Maçka-Taşkışla
- Line TF2 Eyüp-Piyer Loti
Suburban train (Banliyö)
- Line Halkalı-Gebze
- Line Gebze-Halkalı
The train runs in 8 to 15 minute intervals.
Shared taxis (Dolmuş)
- The minibuses, which operate as shared taxis, are a cheap alternative to the normal taxi. The minibuses do not drive until all seats are occupied. Hence, the Turkish name Dolmuş, which means "is full". In addition to the main routes Taksim-Beşiktaş, Taksim-Kadıköy, there are many other fixed routes on which you can get on and off anywhere you want. The price depends on your destination and is paid directly to the driver in cash.
Our Tip: If you're not sure how to get to your destination, you can use the route planner - a fantastic tool that will help you figure out what mode of public transportation to take, how long the trip will take, and how much it will cost.
Ferry connections in Istanbul
Being a seaside city, ferries are a very popular means of transportation in Istanbul. Sea transportation is a faster, more economical, and probably the most beautiful way to travel in Istanbul. Apart from the magnificent view, you can avoid the notorious traffic jams by traveling by ship. Ferries are especially popular for commuting between the Asian and European sides of the city, but there are also Bosphorus, Golden Horn and Princes' Islands lines.
There are daily regular connections by the main ferry lines and sea buses that operate from several ports of the city. In total, there are 10 main ferry docks. On the Asian side there is one in Üsküdar and in Kadiköy, on the European side there is one in Kabataş, Besiktaş, Karaköy and five in Eminönü. It is also advantageous that the ferry docks are well-connected with other transport systems, such as metro stations or major bus terminals.
Istanbul's public inner-city ferry lines run regularly every 15-20 minutes from 07 am to 11 pm. You can use your Istanbulkart or tickets for the ride. Tickets are also sold at the ferry docks. The price of a ferry ride ranges from 3.50 TL to 5 TL, depending on the route. Some lines also offer night rides (00:30 am - 05:30 am) on the weekends. These trips have a night tariff, which is why they are 2 times more expensive than normal trips.
See below the ferry connections and links with up-to-date timetables, prices and routes in detail:
Ferry, Sea Buses, Fast Ferries (Vapur, Deniz Otobüsleri, Hızlı Feribotlar)
- Ferries operate between the European and Asian side of the city, between the area north and south of the Golden Horn, and between the mainland and the Princes' Islands. They also drive through the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea.
- Istanbul Public Ferry Liners Şehir Hatları is a subsidiary of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
With a total of 22 routes, it carries out 600 trips a day via 50 ship terminals. For more information on the departure times and prices, check the website of Istanbul Liners Şehir Hatları.
- The private company Turyol also provides public transportation by sea. Check the official website for further details on routes, schedules and prices.
- Sea Buses are catamaran-type ferries. They are usually a faster option for sea transport. With a fleet of 28 catamarans, including six fast car ferries, the IDO (Istanbul Deniz Otobüsları) company serves 29 terminals. You can find attractive tours and offers of the IDO here.
Speedboats (Deniz Motor)
The speed boats of the private company Dentur Avrasya Grup operate daily and very often:
Üsküdar-Beşiktaş 6:10 – 0:45
Beşiktaş-Üsküdar 6:20 – 1:00
- Sundays & holidays:
- Üsküdar-Beşiktaş 6:20 – 0:45
Beşiktaş-Üsküdar 6:30 – 1:00
Üsküdar-Kabataş 7:15 – 20:00
Kabataş-Üsküdar 7:25 – 20:10
- Sundays & holidays:
Üsküdar-Kabataş 9:00 – 20:00
Kabataş-Üsküdar 9:10 – 20:10
Kabataş-Kadıköy 7:15 – 19:45
Kadıköy-Kabataş 7:15 – 19:45
Kabataş-Kadıköy 8:15 – 19:45
Kadıköy-Kabataş 8:15 – 19:45
- Sundays & holidays:
Kabataş-Kadıköy 11:45 – 19:45
Kadıköy-Kabataş 11:45 – 19:45
- Bebek-Arnavutköy-Ortaköy-Beşiktaş-Eminönü (only once a day, not on weekends)
8:30 – 8:35 – 8:50 – 9:00 – 9:15 * temporarily suspended
- Eminönü-Beşiktaş-Ortaköy-Arnavutköy-Bebek (only once a day, not on weekends)
18:30 – 18:45 – 18:55 – 19.05 – 19:15 * temporarily suspended
- You can check the up-to-date schedule of all Dentur lines here.
- See departures to the Princes' Islands as well as short and long Bosphorus tours here.
Book Online Tickets for Bosphorus Cruises
Buy your tickets thought these links and get a discount of 5 %:
Istanbul Bosphorus Cruise
Book a Bosphorus Cruise provided by the official Dentur company. Departure from Kabataş Pier.
Round-Trip for Princes Island
Book a Round-Trip boat to the Prince's Islands. Affordable and comfortable.
Golden Horn & Bosphorus Cruise
Book a Golden Horn & Bosphorus Tour and enjoy a very comfortable ride in Istanbul seaside.
Taxis and Uber in Istanbul
In addition to the public transportation means mentioned above, taxis and Uber are also frequently used in Istanbul.
Taxis: Taxis offer a convenient way to get around the city and are comparatively cheaper than in Europe. Since there are many taxis in the city, you will have no problem to find one. The most common taxis are the yellow ones, but there are also turquoise and black taxis, which are more luxurious but also more expensive. In Turkey, city or county authorities set taxi fares. The current switch-on price is 9.80 TL. The price per kilometer is currently 6.30 TL. Make sure to check that the taxi meter is always turned on. A popular application is the BiTaksi app, which allows you to book a cab from your smartphone and pay without cash. Read our article Taxis in Istanbul for more information.
Uber: Uber is a preferred mode of transportation for tourists and locals alike. From 2014 to 2019, the ride-hailing company also offered transportation services in Istanbul. After being banned in Istanbul in 2019, Uber re-launched operations in 2021 and now works with the yellow and turquoise taxis of the metropolis. You can arrange your ride by using the Uber app. There is also a price calculator that calculates the approximate cost in advance, which will help you plan your trip.
Public Buses in Istanbul
The public bus, operated by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, is one of the most used forms of public transport in Istanbul. This is likely because there are so many bus routes in Istanbul, serving a huge area throughout the entire city. With about 500 lines and 8,000 stops, the public bus network is widespread and very effective.
Public buses tend to be crowded and a bit slower than railway services, as they face traffic, which is often pretty bad in Istanbul, especially in the mornings and evenings. One advantage, however, is that they are one of the most economical means of transport. As with all other public transportation in Istanbul, the Istanbulkart is valid on all public buses.
Traveling by bus can be confusing for tourists because you don't always know which bus to take and there are no maps inside the bus. Therefore, buses are not very popular with tourists, but rather with locals. A good idea is to check the routes on the official IETT page, where they are all listed. You will find there the departure times, bus stops along the route and a map of the line. Alternatively, you can get a map at any bus terminal.
Transport company contact information
FAQ Istanbul Public Transport (Frequently Asked Questions)
There are no fare zones in Istanbul. Universal fares apply in the entire transportation system. However, there may be slight differences between municipal and private providers. The prices for a ride to the Princes’ Islands or a ride from continent to continent with the Marmaray subway are slightly higher.
No, there is no day ticket in Istanbul. You can use the Istanbulkart for public transportation.
Yes. The Istanbul Welcome Card is the ticket for public transportation in Istanbul and a discount card for entry to many top museums, sights and attractions in Istanbul. In addition to the public transportation card, you can benefit from Fast Track Entry to 12 top museums, guided tours of Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern, a Bosphorus Cruise and audio guides for Istanbul's top museums.
The card pays off after two rides. The single ticket costs 15 TL. With Istanbulkart you pay 7.67 TL per trip.
A single ticket for public transport costs 15 TL per person. There are also 2-ride tickets for 25TL, 3-ride tickets for 35 TL, 5-ride tickets for 45 TL and 10-ride tickets for 90 TL. In addition, there is an electronic card that is used for the entire public transport network in Istanbul, the Istanbulkart. With the Istanbulkart, you pay 7.67 TL for a ride. To buy one of these rechargeable cards, you need to pay a non-refundable 50 TL fee.
Istanbul has an extensive and developed public transportation network, making it easy to discover the city. You can use the bus, Dolmuş (minibuses), metro, ferry, tram, nostalgic tram, funicular and the cable car. In addition, taxis and Uber are also very popular with tourists and locals.
To use public transportation in Istanbul, you will need the Istanbul Kart. The rechargeable electronic ticket is valid for the entire Istanbul transport system (ferryboats, metro, buses, trams, funiculars). You can buy it at the airports as well as at all major bus and ship terminals, at kiosks with the appropriate sign and at the service stations and vending machines of the municipal transport companies.
Yes, the metro in Istanbul, as well as the trams and funicular, are constantly monitored by security personnel and well-maintained. Nevertheless, as in all big cities, you should always beware of pickpockets.
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