Istanbul, the enchanting city that straddles Europe and Asia, is a fascinating blend of history, culture, and modernity. Public buses in Istanbul offer an economical and authentic way to explore this vibrant city, allowing you to experience its many wonders at your own pace. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about navigating Istanbul’s extensive bus system.

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IETT: The Backbone of Istanbul’s Public Bus System

The Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel Company (IETT) operates the city’s public buses, providing convenient access to major tourist attractions and local neighborhoods. Istanbul’s public buses are easy to identify, with newer models boasting a sleek yellow and black design, while older ones feature green, blue, or red and blue livery.

Istanbul Bus Map and Public Transport Apps 2023

To plan your journey and identify bus routes, consult these websites and apps:

IETT offers an online Route Planner to help you find the right bus for your journey. Simply enter your desired ‘From’ and ‘To’ destinations and click ‘Plan My Journey.’ The planner will then display one or more suggested bus routes, complete with maps and additional details.

These digital tools offer comprehensive information on bus routes, schedules, and estimated travel times, making it easy to navigate Istanbul’s public transport system.

Operating Information for Istanbul Public Buses:

  • First Bus: usually 6:00 AM
  • Last Bus: usually 12:00 midnight, except for a few 24-hour buses.
  • Frequency: depends on the timetable.
  • Fee: 15 TL
  • Ticket Payment: IstanbulKart or jeton (pre-paid token).

Read about Istanbul transportation at night >>

How to Pay for Bus Fares in Istanbul

When using Istanbul’s public buses, you can pay fares using a Travel City Card, IstanbulKart or a prepaid ticket card.

The standard bus fare for an Istanbul card is 15 TL. Note that crossing the bridge to the Asian side or taking a bus after midnight incurs twice the standard fare.

Ticket Pass Prices for Public Bus without Istanbulkart (before August 2023)

  • A single pass ticket costs 20 TL.
  • Two-pass ticket costs 30 TL.
  • Three-pass ticket costs 50 TL.
  • Five-pass ticket costs 60 TL.
  • Ten-pass ticket costs 110 TL.

Children aged six years and older must pay a fare, while those younger than six years who do not occupy a seat may travel without a ticket.

What is the Istanbul City Card

The Istanbul City Card comes with 1-3-5-7-15 day options for you to choose from, so you can tailor your experience to the length of your stay and explore Istanbul to your heart’s content. Say farewell to ticket queues and embrace the freedom to roam, as this indispensable pass propels you on an unforgettable urban adventure.

Easily purchase it online and have it delivered to your hotel for ultimate convenience. To buy a transport card, click on the link below:

Buy City Travel Card

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How to Use Istanbul’s Public Buses: Boarding, Alighting, and Navigating

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, using Istanbul’s public buses can be a little daunting. Here, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to board, alight, and navigate Istanbul’s public buses with ease and confidence.

Boarding a Bus in Istanbul

  1. Identify the correct bus stop: Locate the nearest bus stop for your desired route. Bus stops are marked with a blue “D” (for “Durak,” which means “stop” in Turkish) and display the bus numbers that stop there.
  2. Check the destination and route: Buses display their final destination on the front and side windows. Consult the signboard next to the main passenger entrance to see the major stops along the route.
  3. Wait for the bus: Stand at the bus stop and wait for your bus to arrive. As the bus approaches, signal the driver by raising your hand to indicate that you wish to board.
  4. Board the bus: Enter the bus through the front door, next to the driver. If the bus is crowded, you may also board through the middle or rear doors.
  5. Validate your ticket: Upon boarding, tap your pass on the electronic card reader. The fare will be automatically deducted from your card or token.

Alighting from a Bus

  1. Monitor your progress: Pay attention to the announcements or electronic signs on the bus, which indicate the next stop. You can also use a public transport app or Google Maps on your smartphone to track your progress along the route.
  2. Signal your intention to alight: When your stop is approaching, press the stop button located on the poles inside the bus. This alerts the driver that you wish to alight at the next stop. For example, if you’re visiting Dolmabahçe Palace, press the stop button when you see the palace on your left.
  3. Prepare to alight: Gather your belongings and move towards the exit, being mindful of other passengers.
  4. Alight from the bus: When the bus comes to a complete stop, the doors will open automatically, or you may need to push a button or lever to open them. Step off the bus onto the sidewalk, taking care not to step into traffic.

Tours Harnessing Public Transport to Unveil City Wonders

Embark on enthralling tours that masterfully employ public transport to unveil the city’s many marvels. Immerse yourself in the rhythm of local life, effortlessly traversing between landmarks and uncovering hidden gems, all while sidestepping traffic and embracing the adventure.

More Public Buses in Istanbul

Sightseeing with Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

For a more tourist-friendly option, consider the hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses. These buses follow a fixed route and allow passengers to board and alight at designated stops near popular attractions. With a valid ticket, you can explore Istanbul at your own pace and tailor your itinerary to your interests. Hop-on hop-off buses generally offer audio guides in multiple languages, providing fascinating insights into Istanbul’s history and culture.

Metrobus: Fast and Efficient Travel

The Metrobus system is a rapid transit option that operates on dedicated bus lanes, bypassing Istanbul’s notorious traffic. This extensive network connects the European and Asian sides of the city, making it a fast and efficient transportation choice. Metrobuses run 24/7, providing a convenient option for travelers at any time of the day or night.

Istanbul Airport Bus Transfers

For travelers arriving at or departing from Istanbul’s airports, dedicated airport shuttle buses offer a convenient and affordable way to reach the city center. Havaist buses serve Istanbul Airport, while Havabus shuttles operate from Sabiha Gökçen Airport. These comfortable buses are equipped with free Wi-Fi and ample luggage storage, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free journey.

Read more about Istanbul Airport bus transfers >>

Make Your Arrival in Istanbul a Breeze with Welcome Pickups

We know that traveling to a new city can be both exciting and a bit daunting. That’s why we want to share with you our personal recommendation for a hassle-free airport transfer experience in Istanbul: Welcome Pickups.

Welcome Pickups provides reliable and affordable private transfers from Istanbul Airport straight to your accommodation. Their friendly, English-speaking drivers will greet you with a warm smile at the arrivals hall, holding a sign with your name on it. It’s like having a local friend waiting to welcome you to their city!

What makes Welcome Pickups our top pick for Istanbul Airport transfers?

Transparent, fixed pricing with no surprise fees

  • Round-the-clock customer support
  • Real-time flight tracking to adjust for any delays
  • Free cancellation up to 24 hours before your scheduled transfer
  • A range of vehicle options to accommodate your needs

Ready to simplify your arrival in Istanbul? Click the button below to book your transfer with Welcome Pickups. We’re confident that you’ll enjoy their service as much as we do. Safe travels and have a fantastic time in Istanbul!

Dolmuş: Shared Taxis and Minibuses

The Dolmuş is a unique and popular form of transportation in Istanbul, offering a shared taxi or minibus service that operates on fixed routes. These vehicles typically have 7-8 seats and travel along popular routes not covered by public buses or other forms of transportation. Dolmuş fares are generally higher than public bus fares, but they offer a faster and more direct route to your destination.

To use a Dolmuş, simply wait at a designated Dolmuş stop, and when the vehicle arrives, tell the driver your destination. You will pay the fare directly to the driver once onboard. Be aware that Dolmuş vehicles only depart when all seats are occupied, so there may be a short wait before the journey begins.

Read more about Dolmus>>


Public buses in Istanbul offer an authentic and affordable way to explore this captivating city. With a vast network of routes and convenient payment options, navigating Istanbul by bus has never been easier. Whether you choose to use IETT public buses, Dolmuş, Metrobus, or airport shuttle buses, you’ll find a mode of transportation that suits your needs and preferences. So, hop on a bus and immerse yourself in the enchanting sights, sounds, and experiences that Istanbul has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions about Public Buses in Istanbul

Q: Can I use my IstanbulKart on all types of public buses in Istanbul?

A: Yes, the IstanbulKart is valid on all public buses, including IETT buses, Metrobus, and airport shuttle buses. Simply tap your card on the electronic card reader when boarding the bus.

Q: How do I find bus routes and schedules in Istanbul?

A: There are several websites and apps to help you plan your bus journey in Istanbul, including:

These resources provide route maps, schedules, and real-time updates, making it easy to plan your trip and choose the right bus.

Q: What are the operating hours for public buses in Istanbul?

A: Most IETT buses start running around 6:00 AM and continue until midnight. However, some routes operate 24 hours a day, particularly on weekends and during major events. Metrobuses run 24/7, providing a convenient option for travelers at any time of the day or night.

Q: How much is the bus fare in Istanbul?

A: The standard bus fare in Istanbul is 15 TL. However, if you’re using an IstanbulKart, you’ll benefit from discounted fares and free transfers within a specified time frame. Fares for Dolmuş and airport shuttle buses may vary depending on the route and destination.

Q: How can I find information on bus routes and schedules in Istanbul?

A: Information on bus routes and schedules can be found on the official website of Istanbul’s public transport provider (İETT) at, or by using popular mobile apps such as Trafi, Moovit, or Google Maps.

Q: What is Istanbulkart and how can I get one?

A: Istanbulkart is a smart card used for making payments on public transportation systems in Istanbul, including buses. You can buy and top up an Istanbulkart at designated kiosks, major transit stations, or from vending machines located near bus stops.

Q: Are there different types of public buses in Istanbul?

A: Yes, there are different types of buses in Istanbul, including regular buses (İETT), private public buses (ÖHO), and metrobus services. Each type has specific routes and schedules, with varying levels of comfort and frequency.

Q: Is there a night bus service in Istanbul?

A: Yes, Istanbul has a night bus service called “Owl Buses” (Baykuş Otobüsleri) that operates on specific routes after midnight. You can find detailed information about the routes and schedules on the İETT website.

Q: Are buses in Istanbul accessible for people with disabilities?

A: Most of the public buses in Istanbul are wheelchair accessible and have designated seating areas for passengers with disabilities. The metrobus system is also accessible, with elevators and escalators at stations.

Q: Can I bring my bicycle on the bus in Istanbul?

A: Bicycles are generally not allowed on regular İETT buses, but they are permitted on metrobuses outside of peak hours (between 10:00 and 16:00, and after 21:00 on weekdays).

Q: Can I travel with my pet on public buses in Istanbul?

A: Yes, you can travel with your pet on public buses in Istanbul outside of peak hours, provided they are in a cage or wearing a muzzle.

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