Our guide to public transportation in Istanbul

Getting around, The Guide | 11 comments

Public transportation in Istanbul

Istanbul stretches over 5,000 km ² therefore moving is not always easy because it is one of the most congested cities in the world. Moreover, its topography makes the development of the public transportation complex (Istanbul, like Rome, was built on seven hills). There is currently a major project taking place in the city in order to develop public transport in Istanbul. This project mainly consists of the development of the Istanbul metro and in the connection between 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 sides via a railed tunnel under the Bosphorus.

During your trip we advise you to use public transport and especially the tram to get to the old town. This will allow you to move quickly at a lower cost and save time because Istanbul is really very bottled. At peak hours (between 8 am and 9:30 am, and between 5 pm and 8 pm) it is almost impossible to travel by car.

Map of public transport, and useful application for getting around

To download the map of public transport in Istanbul in PDF and JPG, click here.

Useful application: To help you move around Istanbul we can advise you on the City Mapper application. A little less reliable, and less complete, Google Maps is not bad either.

The Istanbul kart (transport card)

La Istanbulkart
Istanbul Kart

In order to use all public transportation in Istanbul (boats, subways, buses, tramways, funiculars), you will need the magnetic card, Istanbul Kart. You can find it in the small kiosks near all metro stations, piers, and also bus stations. It costs 70 TL, you will then add credit. Keep in mind that most trips cost approximately 17 TL each way. For more information you can visit the website of the municipality: https://www.iett.istanbul/en If you buy a card with a limited number of trips, you can do it directly in front of the turnstiles. The prices are 25 TL for one way, 45 TL for two ways, 70 TL for three ways, 105 TL for five ways, and 200 TL for ten ways.


On the European side, 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 6 am to 11 pm. The tramway in Istanbul is very clean and has air-conditioned.

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

  • Kabataş — Dolmabahçe Palace, Taksim connection with the funicular (F1) to go to the pier to the Princes’ Islands and Kadıköy.
  • Tophane — Museum of Modern Art in Istanbul.
  • Karaköy —Connection Tünel funicular, (T) which will drop you on Istiklal Street.
  • Eminönü — Spice Market.
  • Sirkeci — Train station and connection to the Marmaray.
  • Sultanahmet — Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Archaeology Museum.
  • Beyazit — Grand Bazaar.
  • Zeytinburnu — Connection M1 .

Another line that may be of interest is the new T5 streetcar line. It will take you to the districts of the Golden Horn, such as Fener and Balat, or to the foot of Pierre Loti Hill, where you can take the funicular up to the cemetery. The main stops are:

  • Eminonü — Departure/terminus, Spice Market – Connection with tramway T1
  • Fener — One of Istanbul’s most fascinating districts, once predominantly populated by Greeks.
  • Balat — Right next to the Fener district, historically populated by the Jewish community.
  • Eyüp Sultan — Here you can take the funicular to Pierre Loti’s hill.


Karaköy’s funicular

– Karaköy-Tünel (T): It allows you to go quickly down 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 7 am to 9 pm.

– Taksim-Kabataş (F1): It allows you to go from Taksim Square to Kabataş. From here, you can take the tramway (T1) to get to the old town, and the boat to the Princes’ Islands from Kadıköy. To go to the old town, another option is to take the M2 metro directly to the Golden Horn (Haliç stop) from Taksim.


Taksim Tramway on Istiklal Street in Istanbul

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, and the second (T3) is on the Asian side from the pier and it goes from Kadıköy to the Moda neighborhood.


It is open from 6:15 to midnight, 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 (M4) but it is not of great interest to you because it is not connected to Sabiha Gökçen Airport yet.

– Atatürk airport – Aksaray (M1): This metro line mainly allowed tourists to get to the center of Istanbul from the old airport on the European shore – Atatürk Airport – via Yenikapı station to reach the M2 metro. From now on, Atatürk Airport only accepts cargo and VIP passenger flights. As the new Istanbul airport (IST) is not served by the metro yet, this line is not essential for walking in the city of Istanbul.

– Yenikapi-Hacıosman (M2): It is the longest metro line in Istanbul and the one you will use the most. 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 for example to get to the old city from Taksim Square and more. This is especially useful for businessmen 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:

  • Yenikapı  — This station is intended to be the hub of transport in Istanbul. You can already use the Marmaray from Yenikapı (the metro passing under the Bosphorus ) to reach Üsküdar on the Asian side.
  • Haliç — This is the most useful 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 market and Eminönü tram station (T1).
  • Şişhane — Located at the bottom of İstiklal Street, it will allow you to reach the Tünel funicular located right next to the station, as well as the Galata district.
  • Taksim — Located in Taksim Square, the station can be reached quickly by foot from the districts such as Cihangir, Beyoğlu or Çukurcuma. 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 Nisantaşı 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.

– Marmaray: After long years of work, the European side and the Asian side are now connected by the metro which passes under the Bosphorus. It allows you to go to the Asian shores from Yenikapı or Sirkeci. Two stops from the Asian side are Üsküdar and Ayrılık Çesmesi. You can use the M4 to get to the Kadıköy district.


Istanbul bus

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 click here.


Istanbul Metrobus

These are buses that run on reserved lanes to avoid congestion. Most of the areas served are on the outskirts of the city. Therefore, its use is not of great interest if you are visiting the city. Only the Istanbul Kart and the Mavi Kart (which is for monthly subscriptions) are accepted to access Metrobus. You can buy or recharge your Istanbul Kart at all stations.


The public ferry, “vapur” in Turkish

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. By 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. The main piers on the European side are Eminönü, Kabataş, Karaköy, and Besiktaş, and on the Asian side, Üsküdar and Kadıköy.

Unlike the metro, Metrobus, and certain bus lines, ferries are in service between around 7 am till midnight (depending on the pier). You can use your Istanbul Kart to access the boats.

These public boats are also useful for reaching the Princes’ Islands for the price of 58 TL: One day in the Princes’ Islands.

For more information on timetables, click here.

If you want to cruise on the Bosphorus (see our article in the section “Ideas for days in Istanbul”: The Bosphorus). We advise you to take the boat from Beşiktaş or Ortaköy rather than the one from Eminönü which is always full and less comfortable.


Dolmuş in Istanbul

These are shared taxis that operate 24/7. 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 the price and hand him the money (only cash is accepted). The main dolmuş lines are in Europe: Beşiktaş – Taksim; and Taksim – Bakırköy, Yeşilköy; Sarıyer – Beşiktaş and Kadıköy and Üsküdar from Asia. There are also lines connecting Europe to Asia from Beşiktaş and Taksim.

We hope this article will help you get around this huge city of Istanbul. If you have any questions, you can ask us them in the comments so that all readers can benefit from your questions and our answers.

Who are we ?

Passionate about travel, food and current affairs, we created Too Istanbul with the desire to share our love and knowledge of Istanbul to give you the opportunity and desire to participate in the vibrant life of Istanbul, and make your trip a unique and rewarding experience and not just a visit.

Follow us

Visit with us

JOIN our culinary and cultural walk on two continents 

CRUISE on the Bosphorus with an aperitif 

DISCOVER the contrasts of Istanbul, Fatih, Fener, Balat, Beyoğlu

EXPLORE Kadiköy the new arty district of Asia

VISIT with us the great classics, Sultanahmet

CREATE your tailor-made trip

Most commented


  1. Nice

  2. Hello, This blog post was a great help when I first moved to Turkey. I was struggling to find my way in Istanbul and was confusing between all the options in the city. I’m sure this post is helping so many like me however it would be more helpful if you can include more information about transport prices. Otherwise, this post from capetocasa blog would be a great help as well https://www.capetocasa.com/istanbul-public-transport-guide/

  3. Thanks for the information.

    I would like to confirm if there is 24/7 transportation from any of the airports, because I have an international one that arrives at 11 PM.

  4. 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

  5. Thank you so much for all the Helpful information.
    I would like to know one more thing.
    Is there a Tram connecting from the Asia side to the European side, specifically at the Sultanahmet Area.
    Please assist me in this regard and if not could you please advice on the best form of transport to use from Asia to Europe side with the best time saver.
    Thank you in Advance


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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

    • 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

  10. Nice article and easy read.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A découvrir aussi

Istanbul in April

Istanbul in April

WEATHER, WHAT TO SEE, WHAT TO DO IN ISTANBUL IN APRIL?  Is the April weather pleasant for discovering Istanbul? What to do in Istanbul in April? April is the month when Istanbul awakens to spring. The city emerges from its winter slumber,...

Ramadan in Istanbul

Ramadan in Istanbul

Ramadan in Istanbul : What's the difference? Is it a good idea to visit Istanbul during Ramadan? Imagine a city where the minarets rise majestically into the sky, where the streets vibrate with an infectious energy, and where the flavors and...

The best swimming pools in Istanbul

What are the most beautiful swimming pools in Istanbul? Summer in Istanbul is very warm, especially in July and August. During your stay, you will wonder how you can refresh and relax in a city that never stops. A good idea may be to go to the pool...