Istanbul has a wide selection of public and private transportation. There are bus and metro lines, trams, ferries and dolmuş/minibüs options.
Tokens & Istanbulkart
Each time you use a tram, metro or boat on public transport system, you’ll need to use a token. You can get your tokens from the kiosks and machines at the bus, metro or railway stations.
Having an Istanbulkart is a good idea if you’ll stay in Istanbul more than a couple of days. This card can be used at public transportation and gives an option of transfer between vehicles or lines for free or at a discount.
An Istanbulcard can be bought and refilled at the kiosks at any major bus, tram or metro station and also at some newspaper stands with a sign “Akbil Dolum Bayii” close to these stations.
Bus & Metrobüs
There are two types of public buses in Istanbul; those run by the private sector and those run by the city-owned İETT, and they can be differentiated by their colors. Privately run buses are blue-green with yellow non-electronic destination signs while İETT-run buses come in many colors like red and blue, with newer green ones and red double-deckers as well.
The Metrobüs is a long hybrid bus running in its own lane separated from all other traffic and thus saves a lot of time. The Metrobüs runs between Avcılar and Kadıköy on the Asian Side via Bakırköy, Cevizlibağ, which is just out of old city walls near Topkapı Gate, and Mecidiyeköy.
Most bus lines operate between 6AM and midnight. Service is generally reduced after 10 PM. There are some major lines that operate 24 hours. Note that after midnight, buses cost two tickets pp rather than the usual one.
24 hour Bus Lines:
▪ 73 Taksim Square-Ataturk International Airport
▪ 110 Taksim Square-Kadikoy
▪ 112 Taksim Square-Bostanci
▪ 25T Taksim Square-Sariyer
▪ 40 Taksim Square-Sariyer
▪ 89C Taksim Square-Basaksehir
▪ E10 Kadikoy-Sabiha Gokcen International Airport
▪ 15F Kadikoy-Uskudar
▪ 130 Kadikoy-Tuzla
▪ 34A Sogutlucesme(Kadikoy)-Edirnekapi (Metrobus)
▪ 34 Avcilar-Zincirlikuyu (Metrobus)
Istanbul’s metro consists of two lines, the northern line connects Şişhane to Hacıosman via Taksim Square and Mecidiyeköy and Levent.
There is also a funicular system connecting Taksim to Kabataş, where you can get on ferries and cross to the Anatolian side, and also transfer to trams bound for the old city.
The other funicular system, “Tünel”, runs between Karaköy and İstiklal Street. It is İstanbul’s first underground system, dating from 1875.
The separate southern Metro line connects Aksaray to Atatürk Airport, via the main bus station, Esenler Otogar.
On the Asian side, the M4 metro line is now running and connects Kadıköy to Kartal.
Click below for Istanbul’s Railway Network Map
A tram (line T1) connects Kabataş to Zeytinburnu, where you can change to the metro line to go to the Atatürk Airport. This line has 24 stations and serves many popular tourist sites like Sultanahmet and Eminönü.
There are two trams running on the same tracks, the line numbered as 38 runs along the entire T1 line between Kabataş and Zeytinburnu. Number 47 runs between the Eminönü and Cevizlibağ stations. Both trams call at stations through the Old City.
There are also two other tram lines linking residential and industrial districts in the northwest with the city centre: the T2, which heads for Bağcılar, and the T4 which heads for Sultançiftliği, connecting to the Zeytinburnu and Topkapı stations on the T1 line.
Sea transportation is widely used in İstanbul. By sea transportation you can avoid traffic and witness the eye-catching beauty of the Bosphorus. Ferries connect the two sides of the city from several ports and also there is also service to the Princes’ Islands.
There are also the Istanbul Lines (Şehir Hatları), sea bus (IDO) and private ferry options.
Istanbul liners (Şehir Hatları)
T: +90 212 444 18 51
▪ Karaköy – Haydarpaşa – Kadıköy
▪ Kadıköy – Eminönü
▪ Üsküdar – Eminönü
▪ Üsküdar – Karaköy – Eminönü – Eyüp (The Golden Horn Route)
▪ Kadıköy – Besiktaş
▪ Kabatas – Uskudar – Harem
▪ Istinye – Emirgan – Kanlıca – Anadolu Hisarı – Kandilli – Bebek – Arnavutköy – Çengelköy (The Whole Bosphorus Route)
▪ Anadolu Kavağı – Rumeli Kavağı – Sariyer
▪ Eminönü – Kavaklar (Special Bosphorus Tour-Recommended For Tourists)
▪ Sirkeci – Adalar – Yalova – Cınarcık (The Princes’ Islands Route)
Sea bus: (IDO)
T: 444 44 36
The sea-buses (deniz otobüsü) follow the same routes. They are usually much faster than liners.
Bostancı – Kadıköy – Yenikapı -Bakırköy
Bostancı – Kabataş
Kabataş – Adalar – Bostancı
Maltepe – Bostancı – Kabataş – Bakırköy
Private ferry routes:
There are some private ferry options for travelling between Asia and Europe.
▪ Besiktaş – Üsküdar
▪ Kabataş – Üsküdar (close to the tram and funicular system in Kabataş)
▪ Eminönü – Üsküdar (close to the tram in Eminönü)
▪ Eminönü – Kadıköy (close to the tram in Eminönü)
There are private motorboat options between Üsküdar, Karaköy, Kadıköy, Eminönü, Haydarpaşa and Prince’s Islands. For details and hours please click.
Shared taxi (Dolmuş)
A dolmuş, which is like a shared taxi, is one of the most widely used transportation options in İstanbul. They are mini vans, colored in yellow and can carry up to 8 people. A dolmuş costs more than a bus but less than a taxi and runs more often than public buses. Besides the main dolmuş stops, there are dolmuş stops almost every twenty minutes on the route. It’s easy to hop on a dolmuş by standing at the pavement and holding your hand up. You can hand the charge to the person in the seat in front of you; your charge will be passed on till the driver. When you want to get off, you should call out to the driver. The main and most important routes for these shared taxis are:
▪ Taksim – Eminönü (Taksim stop, near the Ataturk Cultural Center, in Taksim square)
▪ Taksim – Kadıköy
▪ Taksim – Bostanci
▪ Taksim – Aksaray (Taksim stop, Tarlabasi Avenue, close to Taksim square)
▪ Kadıköy – Bostanci (Bostanci stop, in front of the Bostanci ferry port)
▪ Taksim – Tesvikiye (Taksim stop, in front of Patisserie Gezi, in Taksim square)
▪ Beşiktaş – Nisantasi (Beşiktaş stop, in front of the Beşiktaş – Üsküdar ferry port)
▪ Kadıköy – Üsküdar (Üsküdar stop, Near the Üsküdar – Beşiktaş and Üsküdar – Kabataş ferry port)
Taxis are an easy way to get around. Drivers normally work with taximeters but occasionally you can run into some drivers who will refuse to start the meter and try to negotiate a fixed prize. It’s better to avoid these and to take another taxi. Istanbul’s traffic is full of taxis, it’s possible to hop on from anywhere as get a taxi from a cab rank 7/24.
Sea Taxi is a kind of transportation in Istanbul which has a capacity of 10 people. Operating 24 hours a day, there are more than 20 ports for boarding on sea taxi.
The clients can dial the call center (212) 444 4 436 and leave their names and the route. Daytime and night rates vary.
Sea Taxi Ports:
Anadolu Hisari, Anadolu Kavagi, Bakırköy, Bebek, Beykoz, Beylerbeyi, Bostanci, Burgazada, Büyükada, Cengelköy, Cubuklu, Eminönü, Emirgan, Heybeliada, Istinye, Kandilli, Kartal, Kinaliada, Küçüksu, Kuzguncuk, Moda, Ortaköy, Pasabahce, Rumeli Kavagi, Sariyer and Yeniköy.
There are airport shuttle services run between Taksim, Kadıköy and Istanbul Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen Airports. For details and hours of the shuttles, please click.
Marmaray underground railway
The line goes underground at Yedikule, continues through the Yenikapı and Sirkeci new underground stations, passes under the Istanbul Strait, connects to the Üsküdar new underground station and emerges at Söğütlüçesme.