Our guide to public transportation in Istanbul

Public transportation in Istanbul

Istanbul stretches over 5,000 km ² therefore moving is not always easy because on one hand it is one of the most congested cities in the world and secondly its topography makes the development of transport complex (Istanbul, like Rome was built on seven hills ). There is currently a major project in the city to develop public transport in Istanbul. This project is mainly in the development of the Istanbul metro and connecting the two continents. The first step of this project was inaugurated on October 29 of 2013, and allowed the connection between the Asian and European side via a rail tunnel under the Bosphorus.

Carte des transports en commun à Istanbul

Public transports map of Istanbul

During your stay we recommend that you use public transport and especially the tram to get to the old town. This will allow you to move quickly and cheaply saving time because Istanbul is really congested. During peak hours (between 8 and 9:30 and between 5 and 8pm ) it is very difficult to move.

To use all public transport in Istanbul (boats, subways, buses, trams , funiculars ) You will need the magnetic card (Istanbul Kart) . You find it in the small kiosks near all metro stations, piers, and also bus stations. It costs 7TL , you will then add credit as you know. Keep in mind that most trips cost 1.95 TL each way. When you leave you can cash it back in and get your 7TL back.

For more information you can visit the website of the municipality: www.istanbululasim.com.tr

La "Istanbulkart"

The “Istanbulkart”

The modern tramway :

Tramway à Istanbul

Tramway in Istanbul

In Europe there are two lines in service , the T1 line from Kabataş allows easy access to Sultanahmet and the T4 line that goes north – west of the city . It runs from 6am to 11pm. The tram in Istanbul is very clean and air conditioned.

The T1 line will allow you to reach the main attractions of the city. We recommend that you use it as is really cheap and fast and definitely easiest way to get to the old town.

  • Kabataş — Dolmabahçe Palace , Taksim connection with the funicular (F1 ) to go to the pier to the Princes Islands and Kadikoy .
  • Tophane — Museum of modern art in Istanbul
  • Karakoy —Connection Tünel funicular, (T) which will drop you on Istiklal Street .
  • Eminönü — Spice Market
  • Sirkeci — Train station and connection to the Marmaray
  • Sultanahmet — Topkapi Palace , Hagia Sophia , Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern , Archaeology Museum.
  • Beyazit — Grand bazaar

Plan du tramway Istanbul                                                                                                      tramway’s map

The funicular :

Karaköy-Tünel (T)

It allows you to go quickly down the Istiklal Street and you will avoid climbing the slopes to get in neighborhoods like Galata . Once in Tünel you can use the historical tram (NT) to go to Taksim Square . It runs from 7am to 9pm .

Taksim-Kabataş (F1)

It allows you to go from Taksim Square to Kabatas . From here you can take the tram (T1) to get to the old town and the boat to the Princes islands in Kadikoy . To go to the old town another option is to take the M2 metro directly to the Golden Horn (Haliç stop) from Taksim.

The historical tram :

They look like trams out of an old movie, two lines are in service ,the first on the European side (NT) which runs down the Istiklal Street from Taksim Square to Tünel .

The second (T3) is on the Asian side from the pier and it goes from Kadikoy to the Moda neighbourhoods.

Metro (Subway) :

Metro d'Istanbul


It is open from 6:15 to 0:00 , there are currently two lines on the European side . Unfortunately these two lines are not connected yet . There is also a line on the Asian shore but it is not of great interest to you because it is not yet connected to Sabiha Gokcen Airport .

Atatürk airport – Aksaray (M1)

If your hotel is located in Sultanahmet this line will get you from Ataturk Airport to Aksaray then you take the tram (T1).

Yenikapi-Hacıosman (M2)

It is the longuest  line of the Istanbul metro. This is the one you need the most during your stay. Since the beginning of the year it has been lengthened, it is now possible to visit the old city from Taksim Square and more. This is especially useful for business men residing in the district of Levent, or for travelers who have chosen to reside in more Turkish and less touristy areas like Nisantasi. Taksim Square is now only 2 stop Eminönü district where the spice market is located.

The main stops of the M2 are :

  • Yenikapi  — his station is intended to be the hub of transport in Istanbul. You can already use the Marmaray from Yenikapi (the metro passing under the Bosphorus ) to reach Uskudar on the Asian side .
  • Haliç — This is the most useful new station for tourists wishing to reach the old town or for those wishing to go from the old town to other areas that seem less accessible. You will be near the Spice Bazaar and Eminonu tram station (T1).
  • Şişhane — Just down the street Istiklal you will join the Tünel funicular located right next to the station  and the Galata district .
  • Taksim — Located in Taksim Square, the station can be reached quickly by foot from the districts such as Cihangir, Beyoglu or Cukurcuma . You can also use the funicular (F1) to get to Kabataş where you’ll take the ferry for Asia and the Princes Islands and the tram (T1) to get to the old town.
  • Osmanbey — Located just minutes from the upscale Nisantasi district . Very nice area with many bars and restaurants as well as luxury shops and many Turkish designers.
  • Levent — This is the business district of Istanbul. There is also close to the metro two major shopping malls : Kanyon and Metrocity
  • İTÜ Ayazağa — Located near the chic shopping gallery İstinye Park (you need a little walk or take a taxi or a minibus) . This gallery is a paradise for all lovers of fashion and luxury , you will find all the most luxurious brands .

Carte du métro à Istanbul                                                                                                       Metro’s map

Marmaray :

After long years of work the European side and the Asian side are now connected by the metro passing under the Bosphorus. It allows you to go to the Asian shores from Yenikapi or Sirkeci .

2 stops from the Asian side are Usküdar and Ayrilik Cesmesi . Uskudar  If all else fails you can use the M4 to get to the Kadıköy district .

Plan Marmaray Istanbul

Plan Marmaray Istanbul

Buses :

Bus de differentes couleurs de la municipalité d'Istanbul

Bus de differentes couleurs de la municipalité d’Istanbul

There are 400 bus lines in Istanbul, the majority work until midnight every night.  With the exception of Sultanahmet (accessible by tram) buses go all over the city. Destinations and major stops are marked on yellow signs on the sides of buses.

For information on bus timetables and to see where they stop click here : http://www.iett.gov.tr/en/main/pages/buses/156


These are buses that run on dedicated lanes to avoid congestion. These buses generally run around the outskirts of the city mostly and therefore are not of great interest to tourists. See map :


Boats :


 They allow you to move from Europe to Asia, and save a lot of time because the bridges over the Bosphorus are constantly congested . Once on the ferry you will truly understand the huge size of the city, it is also a good way to see the city from the water .

The main piers on the European side are Eminonu, Besiktas and Kabatas and on the Asian side Uskudar and Kadikoy .

From Kabataş and Kadikoy and you can also reach the Princes islands for 5TL .

see our article: A day at the Princes Islands

For more information on schedules visit: http://www.sehirhatlari.com.tr/

If you want to take a ride on the Bosphorus (see our article ideas for a day in Istanbul – The Bosphorus (2 days) ) – we advise you to take the boat from Besiktas or Ortakoy rather than departing from Eminonu which is always full and less comfortable .


photo de Dolmus

A Dolmus in Istanbul

These are shared taxis that operate 24/7. It is a 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 where you want. The payment method is simple, once seated, state your destination to the driver who will tell you the price and hand him the money.

The main lines are Dolmus Europe: Besiktas – Taksim ; and Taksim – Bakirkoy , Yesilkoy ; Sariyer – Besiktas and Kadikoy and Uskudar from Asia .

There are also lines connecting Europe to Asia from Besiktas and Taksim .

We hope that this article will help you get around in the huge metropolis of Istanbul.  If you have any questions feel free to ask us in the comments in order for all readers  to benefits of your questions and our answers



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  1. This information is helpful it’s true but old. There are more lines now in Istanbul, like Marmaray line, M3 metro, M6 metro, M5 metro, Yenikapi Transfer Centre for M1A, M1B, M2 and Marmaray and Metrobus is at Beylikdüzü now. M7, M8, M9, M10, M11, M12, M13, T5 and F4 lines are under construction they’ll open soon

  2. Your article was especially helpful. I had no idea how we were going to find our way in that huge beautiful city. Thank you

  3. Bonjour
    Je vous ecrit en français car je sais que tooistanbul a vu l’existence grace a deux francophones (un français et un turc). J’avais une confusion entre metrobus et metro, maintemant grace a vous je comprends la difference.

  4. Thank you! I’m planning to visit Istanbul in the spring or autumn this year.
    I’d seen google maps and few articles about Istanbul’s transportation but it still leaved me confused and a little bit overwhelmed. This article made me easily understand the layout and options for moving around Istanbul. Again, many thanks!

  5. Thank u so much
    Its realy helpfull specialy when u dont have any information about how to move there my case and also with family.

    • tooistanbul on

      Hello Yassine,

      Thanks a lot for the compliment! If you need anything else! We would be happy to help you organizing your stay!

      Best regards,

      Tooistanbul’s team