06-02-2023 - Tips & Guides

Easy Transportation in Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the world's most crowded cities, with a surface area of over 5,000 km². Getting around is not always straightforward. Furthermore, the topography of the area makes the construction of public transit difficult. Istanbul was built on several hills.

In order to improve public transportation in Istanbul, the city is currently undergoing a big project. This project primarily entails the expansion of Istanbul's metro system as well as the development of a connection between the two continents. The project's first phase connected the Asian and European sides of the Bosphorus through a railed tunnel underneath the Bosphorus which is called Marmaray.

We suggest taking public transportation, especially the tramway in Istanbul, to get to the old town during your visit to Istanbul. Since Istanbul is extremely crowded, this will help you to travel easily and affordably while saving time. It is very impossible to drive during rush hours between 8 AM and 9 AM, and 5 PM and 7 PM.

Unlimited Public Transportation Card

You need a transportation card to use all public transit in Istanbul; boats, subways, buses, tramways, and funiculars. There is a special Unlimited Public Transportation Card which is created only for tourists: Istanbul City Card.

Istanbul City Card is a specially designed public transportation card for the needs of tourists. It is valid in every public transportation vehicle including metro, trams, buses, metrobuses, and ferries. There is only one exception, dolmus and minibusses in Istanbul are still using cash, but don’t worry there is no place you can get by minibus instead of a bus!

If you are in Istanbul as a tourist, then this card is perfect for you! Since public transportation is the cheapest and most of the time the fasted way to transport, you can use this card to get wherever you want to visit in Istanbul. It is a beautifully designed physical card delivered at your hotel by Istanbul Tourist Pass® and after using it, you can keep it as a souvenir.

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The Istanbul City Card has 6 different designs each of them having a symbol of Istanbul. One symbolizes the famous cats of Istanbul, others have drawings of the Maiden Tower, the Galata Tower, a cup of Turkish tea, a ferry, and the famous red tram of Istiklal Street on them. Cards are delivered randomly so you may have only one of them for your visit; so another reason to come again to collect them all. You will have a physical card and you don’t need to return it, you can keep it to remember the amazing days you were in Istanbul. Let’s have a look at the transportation vehicles.

The Historical and Modern Tramway

For the modern tramway on the European side of Istanbul, two lines are in operation: the T1 line from Kabataş, which provides convenient access to Sultanahmet, where you will find the best landmarks in Istanbul such as Topkapi Palace, and the T4 line, which runs north-west of the capital. It works from 6 AM to 11 PM.

Istanbul's tram system is spotless and air-conditioned. The T1 line will take you to all of the city's major attractions. We strongly advise you to use it because it is the fastest and most convenient way to get to the old town. Especially if you have your Unlimited Public Transportation Card, you can use this tram line as many as you’d like.

As the historical tramway, They resemble trams from an old novel, and there are two lines in operation: one on the European side (NT), which runs down Istiklal Street from Taksim Square to Tünel, and another on the Asian side (T3), which runs from Kadıköy to the Moda neighborhood. You can also use your Unlimited Public Transportation Card in these beautiful trams and have a memorable journey.


Dolmus is a shared big yellow taxi that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is convenient, cost-effective, and commonly used in Turkey. They follow a set route and start when they are full with 8 passengers. You can stop dolmus anywhere you want along the way. The payment procedure is simple: once seated, tell the driver your destination, and he will tell you the amount. Give him the money -only cash is accepted. Beşiktaş – Taksim; Taksim – Bakirkoy, Yeşilköy; Sariyer – Beşiktaş and Kadıköy; and Üsküdar from Asia are the main dolmuş row. From Beşiktaş and Taksim, there are also lines linking Europe and Asia. You can travel around Istanbul easily with dolmuş.


There are minibusses as alternatives to buses in Istanbul. They are also called Dolmus the yellow ones. These minibusses can have 14 passengers on seats and up to 10 persons standing up. Especially in Sisli or Besiktas districts, you can use these minibusses. Only cash is accepted in these minibusses. Since there are no designated stops for these minibusses, you can get off anywhere you’d like along the route.

Ferries and Boats

They make it possible to travel from Europe to Asia. Istanbul people use public boats/ferries – “vapur” in Turkish – every day to escape regular traffic congestion on the two major Bosphorus bridges, similar to how they use the metro. Taking the ferry would allow you to appreciate the city's size, and it is also a cost-effective way to see the city from the sea. Eminönü, Kabataş, Karaköy, and Besiktaş are the main piers on the European side, while Üsküdar and Kadıköy are the main piers on the Asian side of Istanbul.

Besides these transportation methods, you can, of course, travel with the good old buses, subway, and metrobuses.

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Travel aroud Istanbul freely with Public Transportation Card
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