Welcome to Istanbul, a city that straddles two continents and offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the city’s extensive transportation network, so you can make the most of your visit to this captivating destination.

Istanbul’s Public Transport System

Istanbul boasts an extensive public transport system, comprising metro lines, tramways, funiculars, buses, ferries, and even nostalgic trams. To use the city’s public transport, consider purchasing an Istanbul Kart, which offers discounted fares and can be used across multiple modes of transportation.

Feel Free to Explore the City via Public Transport: More Guides

How to Use Public Transportation in Istanbul

Navigating Istanbul’s public transportation system is easy and efficient once you understand the available options and how to access them. Here’s a guide on using Istanbul’s public transportation, including information about the Istanbul Card and Istanbul Tourist Pass.

Istanbul Card

The Istanbul Card (Istanbulkart) is an electronic, rechargeable smart card that provides access to public transportation services in Istanbul, including buses, trams, metros, funiculars, ferries, and cable cars. It is highly recommended for tourists and residents alike, as it simplifies the process of paying for transportation and offers discounted fares.

You can purchase an Istanbul Card at:

  • Istanbul Card vending machines at major transit stations and stops
  • Ticket kiosks near the entrances of public transportation stations
  • Most newspaper stands and shops near transit hubs

The initial cost of the card is 50 TL. You can top up the card with credit as needed at the same locations where you can purchase the card.

The fare for public transport about 10-20 TL depending on the type and your route.

The Istanbul City Card: Your Key to Boundless Exploration

Unlock the wonders of Istanbul with the Istanbul City Card, a passport to unlimited public transportation throughout the city. Effortlessly navigate its vibrant streets, hopping between enchanting attractions and soaking up the rich tapestry of local life.

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 and click “Book this attraction” after that:

Buy City Travel Card

Istanbul Metro

The Istanbul metro system has several lines that are useful for tourists, with stops near many major attractions.

Atasehir Istanbul Metro

Istanbul Metro Map 2023

M2 – Yenikapı-Hacıosman Metro Line

The M2 line connects several popular districts and attractions, including:

  • Yenikapı: Explore the nearby Suleymaniye Mosque and transfer to the Marmaray line to visit the Asian side of Istanbul.
  • Vezneciler: Connect to the T1 tram line to traverse the Old City, Karaköy, and Kabataş.
  • Şişhane: Discover Istiklal Caddesi, Galata Tower, and transfer to the Tünel (F2) funicular.
  • Taksim: Visit Taksim Square, Istiklal Caddesi, Cihangir, Galata, and transfer to the Kabataş funicular (F1) and Eminönü/Sultanahmet tramway (T1).
  • Osmanbey: Stroll through the fashionable Nişantaşı district and visit City’s shopping center.
  • Gayrettepe: Shop at the upscale Zorlu Shopping Mall.
  • Levent: Explore shopping centers like Metrocity and Kanyon, and transfer to the M6 metro line.
  • İTÜ Ayazağa: Check out İstinye Park shopping center (a short walk or taxi ride away).

Trains run from 06:15 to 00:00, with a frequency of every four minutes during rush hour. At the weekends and Friday Metro line M2 operating 24 hours.

More about night transport in Istanbul…

M4 Metro Line: Kadıköy – Sabiha Gökçen Airport

The M4 Metro Line runs from Kadıköy on the Asian side of Istanbul to Sabiha Gökçen Airport, covering a distance of approximately 26 kilometers. With 19 stations along the route, the M4 line offers passengers a convenient way to explore various neighborhoods and districts in the city, as well as access to the airport.

Hours of Operation:

  • Trains run daily from 06:00 to 00:00

Some of the major stations on the M4 Metro Line include:

  • Kadıköy: The starting point of the M4 line, Kadıköy is a vibrant district on the Asian side of Istanbul, known for its bustling markets, shopping areas, and cultural attractions.
  • Ayrılık Çeşmesi: This station provides an interchange to the Marmaray line, allowing passengers to travel between the Asian and European sides of Istanbul.
  • Bostancı: A popular residential and commercial district, Bostancı offers a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
  • Maltepe: A thriving district on the Asian side, Maltepe is home to several parks, shopping centers, and recreational facilities.
  • Sabiha Gökçen Airport: The last station on the M4 line, Sabiha Gökçen Airport provides passengers with a convenient and efficient way to reach one of Istanbul’s main airports.

M11 Metro Line: Gayrettepe – Istanbul Airport

The M11 Metro Line is a vital transportation link connecting the bustling Gayrettepe district with the Istanbul Airport. As one of Istanbul’s most recent additions to its public transportation network, this line offers a fast, efficient, and comfortable journey for passengers traveling to and from the airport.

Route and Stations:

The M11 Metro Line begins at Gayrettepe, a vibrant neighborhood located in the Şişli district, and extends to Istanbul Airport, passing through several key stations along the way. The line covers a distance of approximately 37.5 kilometers and includes the following stations:

  • Gayrettepe (in construction)
  • Kağıthane
  • Kemerburgaz
  • Göktürk
  • İhsaniye
  • Istanbul Airport
  • Cargo Airport

Travel Time: The M11 Metro Line significantly reduces travel time between the city center and the airport. A one-way trip from Gayrettepe to Istanbul Airport takes about 35 minutes, making it a convenient option for both locals and tourists.

As of now, the Gayrettepe station on the M11 Metro Line is under construction. Until its completion, passengers can access the M11 line from the Kağıthane station. To reach popular destinations like Kabataş or to connect to the M2 Metro Line, passengers can make transfers at Kağıthane station.

At Kağıthane station, you can switch to the M7 Metro Line and head towards Kabataş. Alternatively, for connecting to the M2 Metro Line, take the M7 line from Kağıthane towards Mecidiyeköy-Mahmutbey and transfer at Mecidiyeköy station to the M2 line. This will enable you to reach various destinations along the M2 route, such as Taksim, Şişhane, and Levent.

Hours of Operation: Trains on the M11 line operate daily, with the first train departing at 06:00 and the last train at 00:00. During rush hour, trains run every 6 minutes, providing frequent service for passengers.

More about Metro to Istanbul Airport…

Stress-Free Transport Cards for Your Istanbul Adventure

We recommend to book transport card, pre-charged with 5 or 10 rides, for a seamless travel experience in Istanbul. Available for pickup at Havalines Kiosks at the airport or delivered to your hotel, this card allows you to effortlessly navigate the city and focus on soaking up the rich history and culture that Istanbul offers.


T1 – Kabataş-Bağcılar Tramway Line

The T1 line is highly useful for tourists, connecting several key attractions:

  • Zeytinburnu: Transfer to the M1a metro line for Atatürk International Airport.
  • Beyazit: Visit the Grand Bazaar and Süleymaniye Mosque.
  • Sultanahmet: Explore Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Basilica Cistern.
  • Sirkeci: Access the train station.
  • Eminönü: Discover the Spice Bazaar and ferry docks.
  • Karaköy: Transfer to Tünel (T2) for Istiklal Caddesi and Galata.
  • Tophane: See Istanbul Modern, nargile establishments, and cruise ship docks.
  • Kabataş: Transfer to Taksim via funicular (F1) and connect to ferries for the Princes’ Islands and Kadıköy. Dolmabahçe Palace is a short walk away.

Trains run from 06:00 to 00:00, with a frequency of every three minutes during rush hour.

Nostalgic Trams

Istanbul is home to two nostalgic tram lines, providing a charming way to explore the city:

  • Nosalgic Tram Taksim-Tünel (T2): This historic tram line operates between Taksim Square and Tünel (Karaköy), serving as a connection between the two main shopping and entertainment districts. With its vintage red trams, it offers a picturesque journey through the heart of Istanbul’s European side. The line runs daily from 07:00 to 23:00, with trams departing every 20 minutes. A one-way fare on the nostalgic tram costs the same as a regular public transport fare.
  • Nostalgic Tram Moda-Bostanci (T3): This second nostalgic tram line is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, connecting Moda with Bostanci. The trams operate daily from 07:00 to 22:00, running every 10 minutes. The line provides a pleasant ride through the historic district of Moda, offering a glimpse into the city’s past while taking in the stunning views of the Bosphorus.

More about nostalgic trams…

T5 – Cibali-Alibeyköy Cep Bus Terminal Tramway Line

The T5 tram line connects several key attractions and locations that are popular among tourists:

  • Cibali: Explore the historic district near the Golden Horn.
  • Balat: Discover the colorful houses, churches, and synagogues in this vibrant neighborhood.
  • Ayvansaray: Visit the ancient city walls and the Chora Museum (temporarily closed).
  • Fener: Admire the Fener Greek Patriarchate, Church of St. George, and the Phanar Greek Orthodox College.
  • Eyüpsultan Cable Car: Access the TF2 Eyüp-Piyer Loti Cable Car Line and enjoy the scenic ride to Pierre Loti Hill.
  • Eminönü: Transfer to the T1 Kabataş-Bağcılar Tram Line and access maritime transportation options.
  • Alibeyköy Metro Station: Transfer to the M7 Mecidiyeköy-Mahmutbey Metro Line for additional connections.
  • Küçükpazar: Connections will be available to the M2 Yenikapı-Hacıosman Metro Line.

Trains run daily from 06:00 to 00:00, ensuring a convenient travel experience for visitors exploring the city.

Istanbul Cable Car and Pierre Loti Hill (Pierre Loti Tepesi)

The Istanbul Cable Car (TF2 Eyüp – Piyerloti teleferik hattı) provides a unique and leisurely way to reach the top of Pierre Loti Hill, a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The hill is named after the French novelist Pierre Loti, who was known to frequent the area and admire its stunning views of the Golden Horn. Once at the summit, visitors can enjoy the panoramic vista, relax at the famous Pierre Loti Café, or explore the historic Eyüp Sultan Mosque and its surrounding cemetery.

More cable cars in Istanbul…

Explore the City with Guided Tours: a Cable Car Ride Included


F1 – Karaköy-Tünel Funicular

A historical and practical mode of transportation, the Karaköy-Tünel funicular (F1) connects Karaköy with Tünel at the end of Istiklal Caddesi. This quick 90-second ride takes passengers uphill through one of the world’s oldest underground railway systems, showcasing its charming vintage trains. After disembarking at Tünel, visitors can easily explore the Galata district, Istiklal Caddesi, or take the nostalgic tramway (NT) to Taksim Square.

F2 – Taksim-Kabataş Funicular

The Taksim-Kabataş funicular (F2) is a modern, air-conditioned transportation option that connects Taksim metro station with Kabataş tram line station. With a travel time of just 2.5 minutes, this funicular provides an efficient link between popular destinations. From Kabataş you can walk to Dolmahbaçe Palace, take the fast ferry boats to Kadıköy or the Princes’ Islands, and connect to the T1 tramway line to Eminönü, Sultanahmet, Grand Bazaar, etc.


The Marmaray is a crucial transportation system in Istanbul, serving as both a railway and metro line that connects the European and Asian sides of the city. It is an engineering marvel, spanning 76 kilometers with an underwater section that runs through the Bosphorus Strait. The Marmaray six most touristic stations: Söğütlüçeşme, Ayrılık Çeşmesi, Üsküdar, Sirkeci, Yenikapı, and Kazlıçeşme.

In order to travel from Eminönü to Kadıköy via the Marmaray line, you can take the following steps:

  1. From Eminönü, walk to the nearby Sirkeci station, which is one of the Marmaray line stations on the European side of Istanbul.
  2. Board a Marmaray train heading towards Ayrılık Çeşmesi, which is the final station on the Asian side.
  3. Upon arriving at Ayrılık Çeşmesi, you can transfer to the M4 Kadıköy-Tavşantepe metro line.
  4. Take the M4 metro towards Kadıköy and disembark at the Kadıköy station.

Or just walk from Ayrılık Çeşmesi (it is about 1 km on the beautiful streets of Kadikoy).

Explore Istanbul with Tours Including Ferry Rides

Uncover the wonders of Istanbul by choosing tours that feature captivating ferry rides, such as the Bosphorus Sightseeing Tour and the Princes’ Islands Guided Tour, providing a unique vantage point to appreciate the city’s rich history and diverse cultures.


Ferries in Istanbul hold a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. They offer a comfortable, efficient, and scenic way to travel across the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, connecting various districts and landmarks in the city.

The primary ferry operator in Istanbul is Şehir Hatları, which runs a fleet of both modern and traditional vessels. In addition to the popular routes mentioned earlier, there are numerous other ferry lines that provide easy access to different parts of the city and its surroundings:

Karakoy – Eminononu – Kadikoy Ferry Route

The Karakoy – Eminononu – Kadikoy ferry route is an excellent way to reach the Asian side of Istanbul while enjoying stunning views of both the European and Asian shores along the Bosphorus. The journey offers a unique perspective on the city’s skyline and its vibrant mix of architectural styles.

Ortaköy – Beşiktaş – Eminönü Ferry Route

The Ortaköy – Beşiktaş – Eminönü ferry route takes passengers through three iconic districts of Istanbul, allowing them to witness the city’s architectural marvels such as the Ortaköy Mosque and Dolmabahce Palace. This scenic journey provides an opportunity to experience the cultural richness and diversity of Istanbul’s neighborhoods.

Kadikoy – Besiktas Ferry Route

Connecting the Asian side to the European side, the Kadikoy – Besiktas ferry route offers breathtaking vistas of Istanbul’s skyline and landmarks. This popular route allows travelers to explore the city’s bustling atmosphere while enjoying panoramic views of its most famous attractions.

Karakoy – Besiktas Ferry Route

Offering a direct connection between two bustling districts on the European side of Istanbul, the Karakoy – Besiktas ferry route provides an opportunity to explore the vibrant streets and markets of these lively neighborhoods. The journey showcases the energetic spirit of the city while offering picturesque views of the surrounding areas.

Beşiktaş – Adalar (Princes Islands) Ferry Route

The Beşiktaş – Adalar ferry route transports passengers to the serene and picturesque Princes Islands, a perfect escape from the bustling city of Istanbul. The tranquil atmosphere of these islands offers a refreshing change of pace, allowing travelers to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings.


Istanbul’s extensive public transportation system makes it easy for visitors and residents to explore the city’s rich history, culture, and attractions. With options like the Istanbul Card and Istanbul Tourist Pass, navigating the city is both convenient and cost-effective. From trams, metros, and buses to funiculars, cable cars, and ferries, Istanbul offers a variety of ways to experience the city’s unique charm and beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I purchase an Istanbul Card?

A: You can purchase an Istanbul Card at Istanbul Card vending machines, ticket kiosks near public transportation stations, and most newspaper stands and shops near transit hubs.

Q: What is the difference between the Istanbul Card and Istanbul Tourist Pass?

A: The Istanbul Card is a rechargeable smart card used for public transportation, while the Istanbul Tourist Pass is a digital city pass that includes admission to top attractions, guided tours, and various discounts at select shops and restaurants.

Q: Can I use one Istanbul Card for multiple passengers?

A: Yes, you can use one Istanbul Card for multiple passengers by tapping it on the card reader for each passenger when boarding public transportation.

Q: How do I recharge my Istanbul Card?

A: You can top up your Istanbul Card at Istanbul Card vending machines, ticket kiosks near public transportation stations, and most newspaper stands and shops near transit hubs.

Q: Which pass should I choose if I plan to visit many attractions in Istanbul?

A: If you plan to visit many attractions, it’s recommended to purchase the Istanbul Tourist Pass, as it provides unlimited access to public transportation and admission to top attractions, guided tours, and various discounts.

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