02 May 2023 - 5 min read

Getting Around Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey is a unique country located between Asia and Europe. Its capital city, Istanbul, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In Istanbul, you can hear the call to prayer from thousands of beautiful mosques, including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia mosque.

In Istanbul, you can experience both the ancient beauty of Hagia Sophia and the modern architecture of the Atatürk Cultural Center all in one day. Istanbul's vibrant nightlife adds to its allure, making it a top destination for tourists worldwide.

Istanbul is a city located on the shores of the Black and Marmara Seas. These two seas are connected by the Bosphorus Strait, which also separates the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. Here, you can find various types of transportation, including both land and sea options.

Transportation Options in Istanbul

In Istanbul, you need one card to access all modes of public transportation in this city, namely the Istanbul Card or İstanbulkart, which can be purchased for 50 TL (not including balance).

Besides being practical, this card will help you save with a discount of around 50%. Check out this explanation first to find out the various types of transportation in Istanbul, complete with their fares!

1. Metrobus

Metrobüs Istanbul

Source: Shutterstock @dndproject

Pros: Metrobüs is Istanbul's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. It has dedicated lanes along the city's ring road, so you won't worry about getting stuck in traffic. Besides being traffic-free, Metrobüs's 45 stops connect you to anywhere in Istanbul, including metro and tram lines.

Routes: This bus service has a 50 km line from Söğütlüçeşme in Asia to Beylikdüzü Sondurak/TÜYAP in Europe. Of the eight routes, only one operates from end to end, namely 34G, which is available on a limited basis. Other routes pass through fewer stops but have more frequent trips.

Nearby attractions: Generally, Metrobüs is used more by locals than tourists. This is because not many tourist attractions are located near Metrobüs stops. However, you can take this bus to several large shopping centers, such as Akasya Mall, İstanbul Cevahir, and Marmara Park.

Fares: Metrobüs Istanbul fares depend on the number of stops, from 5.49 TL for one stop to 11.38 TL for 34 or more stops. Make sure your Istanbul Card balance is sufficient!

Operating hours: Metrobüs is available to transport passengers 24 hours a day. However, each route has its own operating hours. The 34G route, for example, is only available from the evening until early morning. Meanwhile, other routes generally start operating at 05:00 until the evening.

2. Istanbul Tram

Istanbul Tram

Source: Shutterstock @dndproject

Routes: Istanbul Tram is a modern tram system operated by Metro Istanbul — apart from the vintage trams that run around the Taksim area. This tram has three lines, all located on the European side, namely T1 (Kabatas - Bagcilar), T4 (Topkapi - Mescid-i Selam) and T5 (Cibali - Alibeyköy Coach Station).

Nearby attractions: For those who don't want to miss popular tourist attractions in Istanbul, the T1 line is your go-to. You can get off at the Beyazıt - Kapalıçarşı stop to look for souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar, Sultanahmet to witness the splendor of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, or Gülhane to enjoy the beauty of Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace.

Fares: You will be charged 15 TL for one trip on the Istanbul Tram. With the Istanbul Card, you only need to spend 7.67 TL.

Operating hours: Istanbul Tram operates from 06:00 to 00:00, with trains arriving every 2 – 6 minutes. You can check the tram schedule on the official website of Metro Istanbul.

3. Istanbul Metro

Istanbul Metro

Source: Shutterstock @Ahmetpektas

Pros: Traveling in a city of 5,343 km2 with often heavy traffic, you will be significantly helped by this comprehensive train network. With the Metro, you can cover long distances in a relatively short amount of time.

Routes: Istanbul Metro has eight lines consisting of six on the European side (M1, M2, M3, M6, M7, M9) and two on the Asian side (M4, M5). The Metro lines on either side are not directly connected. To get from Metro stations in Asia to stations in Europe and vice versa, you must take the Marmaray commuter rail line, which will take you to the neighboring continent in minutes.

Nearby attractions: Several routes frequently used by tourists include the M1, M2, and M4. Otogar station on the M1 line connects passengers with the city's main bus terminal, Esenler Otogarı. If you want to visit the Fatih district, where the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapı Palace are located, you can take the train on the M2 line. If you have a flight from or to Sabiha Gökçen Airport, take the M4 line, which stops directly at the airport.

Fares: Istanbul Metro fare is 7.67 TL for one trip (with Istanbul Card). If you need to transfer to another line, the fare will be even lower, namely 5.49 TL for the first transfer, 4.17 TL for the second transfer, and 2.63 TL for the third transfer.

Operating hours: Every day, Istanbul Metro serves passengers from 06:00 to midnight

4. Ferry

Source: Unsplash @alevisionco

Pros: There are several ferry operators in Istanbul, one of which is Şehir Hatları which has three types of services: passenger ferries, vehicle ferries, and Bosphorus tours. All three offer the convenience of traveling with ten central piers connected to other transportation systems, such as the Istanbul Metro. Best of all, you can enjoy stunning city views along the way!

Routes: The Şehir Hatları ferry has 22 routes, including the Princes’ Islands route, a small archipelago southeast of Istanbul. You can take ferries from Bostancı, Eminönü, Kadıköy, and Beşiktaş to reach this local favorite weekend destination. There are also special Bosphorus tour ferries that can be a cheap alternative to the Bosphorus Cruise. You can choose between the Short Bosphorus Tour for 2 hours, the Full Bosphorus Tour for 6 hours (including a stop at Anadolu Kavağı), and the Moonlight Tour, which departs at night.

Fares: Passenger ferry fares with the Istanbul Card range between 2.6 TL and 5.2 TL. Meanwhile, Bosphorus Tour tickets are sold for 12-25 TL, depending on your chosen tour. You can check the fares of all ferry routes on the official website of Şehir Hatları.

5. Taxi

Taksi Istanbul

Source: Shutterstock @FOTMA

Pros: Taxis are easily found in Istanbul and can be a convenient way to get around. In addition to hailing a taxi on the street, you can also call a taxi using an app on your phone.

Fares: There are three types of taxis in Istanbul. The cheapest is the yellow taxi with a basic fare of 9.8 TL and a fare of 6.3 TL per kilometer. Apart from the yellow taxis, there are also turquoise and black taxis with a base fare of 11.27 TL and 16.66 TL, respectively. However, for short taxi trips (up to 2.5 km), you will be charged a flat rate of 28 TL. This price does not include tolls if crossing between Asia and Europe, and vice versa. You can pay by cash or credit card.

Tips: Ensure your taxi driver turns on the meter and avoids taking a taxi during peak hours to avoid high fares.

To have a great trip in Istanbul, it is highly recommended to create a list of all the places you would like to visit and figure out the most efficient means of transportation. Additionally, remember to book all your travel needs with Traveloka for a hassle-free experience!

Always Know the Latest Info
Subscribe to our newsletter for more travel & lifestyle recommendations and exciting promos.