Public transportation in Istanbul varies greatly. Municipality
busses, public busses, inner city and general ships, car ferries,
the tunnel, metro and suburban train systems all vary in price
and have either tokens or ticket fares to pay. If your decision
lies with living in Istanbul, it is essential that you obtain an
"Akbil", a smart ticket key.
Akbil, means smart ticket. An Akbil comes in different colors
and has a refillable battery on the end of a plastic key. It is
possible to buy your Akbil at major bus stops for about 6 YTL
and have it filled to the amount you desire. There are Akbil
filling stations around all major bus stops, ports and Tünel.
Your Akbil is valid on all busses, ships, sea busses, metro and
tunnel systems. It gets you different discounts from 10-25% on
all transport listed above.
Taxis are numerous in all Turkish cities and are recognizable by
their yellow color and word "taksi" on top of the car. All taxis
have the letter T in their license plates. The fare shown on the
meter reads according to distance traveled. Be sure that the
meter is on day rate "gündüz", from 06:00 a.m till midnight,
that starts at 2 YTL, and 1.30 YTL per kilometer. Night rate
"gece" is from midnight till 06:00 a.m, starts at 3 YTL, and
1.95 YTL per kilometer.
Please note that the passenger pay the crossing fee of the
Bosphorus bridges whether destining to European or Asian side.
Turn off the music - müziği kapatın, Close the window -
camı kapatın, Open the window - camı açın, Stop
here - burada durun, Left - sol, Right - sağ,
Turn on the meter - taksimetreyi çalıştırın, Wait please
- lütfen bekleyin, Wait here - burada bekleyin,
Dolmus is a special service found only in Turkey. This is a
collective taxi, which follows specific routes. It may be a car
or a minibus. Each passenger pays according to distance traveled
and can get off at specific or requested stops. In order to get
off, the passenger need only say, "inecek var" meaning "someone
to get off here" and the dolmus stops. This is a very practical
means of transportation and much cheaper than a taxi. You pay
the fee to the driver. Prices differ depending on distance
traveled. They usually have a sign in the lower or upper right-hand
corner of their windshield that specifies the direction to which
they will be traveling. The relatively cheap prices are set by
the municipality and displayed somewhere visible within the
There are two types of bus lines in Istanbul.
- One is run by the municipality, Belediye Otobüsü, these
busses are red, green or covered with colorful advertisements.
On these buses you can use your Akbil, special discount cards or
tickets that you can buy around any major bus stop.
- The second type of bus is privately run, Halk Otobüsü,
orange or blue and again, allowing you to use your Akbil,
special discount cards or, in this case, money. Tickets are not
welcome on these buses but the price is the same.
On some of the more lengthy destinations the double-decker buses
can pleasantly surprise you. These buses require 3 tickets if
passing over the Bosphorus bridge and 2 for other regular
destinations. The green colored double-deckers are privately
owned thus require cash payment and not tickets. However your
Akbil is valid on these buses, as well.
Metro (Metro, Hafif Metro)
It is quite unfortunate that Istanbul, a city with a population
of 10 million is home to one of the most inadequate metro lines.
There are three lines presently; one stretching from Kabataş to
Eminönü and to Zeytinburnu via Aksaray and another line from
Aksaray to Atatürk International Airport via Yenibosna, passing
through Otogar. The last line is a real under ground system and
connects Taksim to 4. Levent via Sisli. Your Akbil is valid
here. It is possible to obtain a discount metro card from any of
the metro stations.
It is the easiest way to get from Karaköy to Beyoğlu, instead of
climbing the steep streets. The coaches were pulled by horses
when it was first opened to the public in 1875 but today it is
pulled by electricity. The Tünel tokens are .90 YTL and can be
bought at any of the Tünel entrances while you can also use your
Akbil. It is a common joke for foreigners to wait for the
non-existent second stop of the Tünel Coach since the ride seems
to promise more than the short trip up or down. mymerhaba.com
would strongly suggest that you take your time one day and walk
down (not up!) the famous Yüksek Kaldırım Street (High Pavement
Street) that ties Karaköy to Beyoğlu; it is an unforgettable
experience. Tünel is open every day from 07.00 to 21.00 (Sundays
from 07:30 to 21:00).
The Istiklal Street (or Pera as it was once known) between
Taksim and Tünel, is closed to traffic, making the only way of
transportation the old trams. You may acquire a tram ticket
before you board or ask the conductor "nicely" to let you buy
one where you embark. You may use your Akbil but keep in mind
that there is almost no difference between the amount of time it
takes to walk briskly or take a tram.
Another tramway line is between Kabataş and Zeytinburnu. This 14
km line provides fast and comfortable transport. This line was
extended to Bağcılar with its Zeytinburnu-Bağcılar and makes
connection to the light rail (Hafif Metro) system at Zeytinburnu
and Aksaray stations.
Taksım Kabataş funicular railway system links
Zeytinburnu-Kabataş tram and the Kabataş ferry docks to Taksim-4
Levent metro. Sea busses and ferries sail from Kabataş to
Kadıköy, Üsküdar and Princes Islands. Busses run from Kabataş
to Mecidiyeköy and the Bosphrorus. The tram provides
transportation from Kabataş to Eminönü and Aksaray.
You can use your Akbil, special discount cards or can purchase
The ships in Istanbul travel from one side of the Bosphorus to
the other or to distant points on the same side. Please bear in
mind that prices for tokens vary for the Princes' Islands ships
or Bosphorus cruises.
These are small to medium sized boats that travel between short
distances such as Kadıköy-Eminönü-Kadıköy,
Beşiktaş-Üsküdar-Beşiktaş, Karaköy-Üsküdar-Karaköy. They are
reminiscent of the Dolmuş at sea and payment is made to the
captain's assistant after you board. They can be found next to
Ferry Car (Araba Vapuru)
The car ferries that travel between Sirkeci - Harem (every
day) can be a breath of fresh air for the driver tired of rush
hour traffic. Tickets can be purchased before boarding. There
are a number of car ferries that leave Istanbul and travel to
other city ports.
Sea Bus (Deniz Otobüsü)
The fastest way to travel in the city. It is ideal if you need
to bridge distant destinations such as Bostancı-Bakırköy, or
Kadıköy-Sarıyer. There are, again, many that go to other city
ports and to the Islands. You can purchase tokens at the sea bus
ports or use your Akbil for discount.
Suburban Train (Banliyö Treni)
There are suburban trains traveling from Sirkeci on the European
and from Haydarpaşa on the Anatolian side. They can be an
alternative when traffic is an issue but it is best to remember
that since these trains are the most affordable way to travel
longer distances, they can be extremely crowded, dirty and not
very preferable. Tickets can be bought at the station. Monthly
discount cards are also available. You can also use your Akbil
at the trains