Istanbul’s Public Transportation – How to get around Istanbul?
Travelers can find variety of great options to get around the city. The Bosphorus divides the city into two parts and that makes the ferries and sea-buses become a practical means of daily transportation in Istanbul. The three busiest areas for tourists, that include Sultanahmet, Galata and Taksim, are easy to get around on foot.
To travel from the European side to the Asian side, the best way of transportation is the ferries. For travelling to the shopping and business districts of Nisantasi, Etilier and Levent, the best way is via the metro line that runs from Taksim Square.
And the whole public transportation system can easily be accessed with a single transportation card, which is Istanbulkart.
Note that traffic in Istanbul is a major problem and often experiences gridlock particularly on the bridges. Also note that the Sultanahmet Square and most of the connecting roads are closed for vehicle traffic except tram and tour busses. Getting to Sultanahmet by your private car is not recommended. You’ll need to leave your car far away.
Istanbul’s Public Transport Options
Istanbul offers a huge network of public transportation that include; buses and railways such as metro, tram systems and Marmaray.
Bus & Metrobus
Buses are definitely the cheapest and the most economic means of transport, though they are usually overcrowded and it’s not easy to find out which one you should catch.
There is also a private lined express bus service which is called Metrobus. It serves for hundred thousands of locals daily, and provides a fast transportation in between the two ends of Asian side and the European side. Visit www.iett.istanbul for more official information.
Metro & Tram
The metro and the tram 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.
Trams are also a fast and easy way to travel around the most popular districts in Istanbul. The trams operate from Bagcilar to 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.
Check the Istanbul Railway Network Map for all lines. Also visit www.metro.istanbul for more official information.
Marmaray & Gebze-Halkali Train System
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 with train in only a couple of minutes. The fast way to travel between Kazlicesme stop through Sirkeci and Yenikapi in European side and Ayrilik Cesmesi through Uskudar stop in Asian side. Visit www.marmaray.gov.tr for more official information
The Gebze-Halkali Suburban Train System (fully operational from March 2019) also use the Marmaray network which is also a fast way to travel between Asian side to European side, as well as from Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) to the Istanbul city center.
Yellow Shared Taxi (Dolmus)
The Dolmus (yellow shared taxi) is a public taxi runs on a fixed, short, circular route. It is an easy and practical way of transportation through the city.
Dolmus (Yellow Share Taxi)
Many locals use Dolmus and there is fixed fare, payment is in cash upon boarding (a little more than the bus). Below are some of the main Dolmus circular lines in Istanbul.
- From Kadikoyto Taksim, Nisantasi, Sisli, Uskudar and Bostanci.
- From Bostancito Taksim, Sisli and Pendik.
- From Uskudarto Kadikoy, Acibadem and Beykoz.
- From Besiktasto Taksim and Harbiye.
- From Taksimto Besiktas, Aksaray and Bakirkoy.
The taxis in Istanbul are yellow and have taxi signs on the roof. It’s easy to find a yellow taxi almost anywhere in the streets. Taxis are cheap compared to European levels. As of 2019, taxi fares in Istanbul is; taximeter opening fee is 5 TL and 3,1 TL per kilometer. There is no day and night difference. You can calculate the approximate taxi fare for your journey with this formula.
Read more on our Istanbul Taxi Guide (2019 Fares, Tips) page for Istanbul taxis.