04-09-2020 - Tips & Guides

About IstanbulKart (Istanbul Transportation Card)

What is an IstanbulKart? (Istanbul Transportation Card)

Public transportation ranks first among the cheapest ways to visit Istanbul. An IstanbulKart is required to use public transport at all times. You can access all public transportation lines and types of vehicles in Istanbul with an IstanbulKart as the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is in charge of the operation of all public transportation in the city.

IstanbulKart offers several advantages, some of which can be listed as saving time and being a budget friendly option for urban transportation. That's why the locals of Istanbul always carry an IstanbulKart. The card is versatile and useful as it is valid for all types of public transportation in Istanbul.

What Are the Advantages of the Istanbul Public Transport Card?

IstanbulKart is preferred by the people who want to go from one spot to another via public transportation in the city. As Istanbul is a metropolitan that stretches over two continents, transportation can get quite costly. IstanbulKart offers a few advantages to prevent that. First of all, there is no need for different cards, tickets, or tokens to carry around. One card allows you to access all sorts of public transport modes easily, quickly, and with an affordable price. Since it is a prepaid card, you can load as much as you want and pay as you go. In the meantime, there are no problems such as cash or waiting in line to top up. There are booths all over the city, inside metro stations, as well as corner shops and kiosks that help you top up your IstanbulKart under 30 seconds. It is truly fast and time efficient!

Budget-Friendly Travel

IstanbulKart provides a budget-friendly travel in Istanbul. IstanbulKart prints 4.03 Turkish Liras for the first use each time you take a public transport of any kind, and discounted transfer fees apply from the second use onwards. However, keep in mind that the time between the first use in public transportation and the transfer should not exceed two hours. Up to five transfers are discounted after using your card. However, the price does not change in the fourth and fifth transfer and remains the same as the 1.38 TL fee in the third transfer. In other words, IstanbulKart offers you 3 discounts gradually after you get on a vehicle for the first time every two hours. In a very big city like Istanbul, the price difference provided by the transfer is too important to ignore. A few bucks here and there can make or break your budget.

Easy to Use

Using the IstanbulKart is extremely simple. You do not have to touch or contact the card reader, either.  When using the card, holding it to the card reader from a distance of 5-10 centimeters is enough for the machine to detect it. If the payment has been accepted, you will hear a specific sound notifying you to proceed and you will also be able to see the remaining amount of money on the screen of the card reader. If there is not enough money in the card, the text "Yetersiz Bakiye" will appear on the screen. You will also hear a different sound alerting you to top up. You will be able to quickly and easily recharge your IstanbulKart from the nearest top up point.


IstanbulKart is a pre-paid, rechargeable card. This means that you can have two options to choose from. Upon purchasing your IstanbulKart, you can either top up with an estimate sum that you deem enough for the whole duration of your trip. Or, you can pay as you go, which means you can top up your card with small amounts of money as you spend. If you are staying over 3-4 days, it is a better idea to top up the card from the get go, so you don’t have to worry about running out of money and missing the bus/metro/ferry. No matter which option you choose, you are always able to recharge your card anytime you desire.

If you are a traveler coming from another city or country, you can use Istanbul Tourist Pass® to visit the best places in Istanbul and participate in cultural activities, just like the locals who prefer IstanbulKart for transportation to every point of Istanbul. The working principle of IstanbulTouristPass® is similar in that it is pre-paid and affordable: You choose from 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 or 10-Day-Pass options and once you pay, you can participate in as many tourist attractions as you want within the allocated time period. While the IstanbulKart is a physical card that allows you entry to all public transport in Istanbul, Istanbul Tourist Pass® is an all digital pass that you can use to access 85+ top attractions in the city for a pleasant journey!

Personalized (with HES Code)  

Due to COVID-19, many precautions have been implemented by the Turkish Ministry of Health. Some of these precautions and measures are closely related to the use of public transportation and HES Code is one of them. HES abbrevetion means “Hayat Eve Sığar” (Life Fits Home) and it is a mobile application developed by the Turkish Ministry of Health to inform and guide Istanbulites about the new type of coronavirus, to minimize the risks associated with the pandemic and to prevent its spread. Each traveler in Turkey must have their own HES Code since the code allows the authorities to track down people infected with the virus, and it is aimed to minimize the risk of transmission. Your IstanbulKart’s digital code and your HES Code should be matched before you use your card to board a public vehicle. It is extremely crucial for you to connect your transportation card with your personalized HES code because otherwise you will not be admitted to any public transportation.

How to Get an IstanbulKart?

You can purchase your IstanbulKart from Biletmatik on the bus/service floor of Istanbul Airport. In Sabiha Gökçen Airport, you can buy an IstanbulKart from the kiosk on the Street level.

In the city, you can get the Istanbul public transportation card at every metro, tram, Metrobus, and ferry station. You can also buy your IstanbulKart, from kiosks and stores near the stations and start enjoying your trip in Istanbul instantly.


How Much is an IstanbulKart?

The card itself costs only 10 Turkish Liras. You can buy it from the yellow machines located in all public transport stations except for bus stations. The price of travel in Istanbul is shown below based on modes of transportation.

IstanbulKart Fares

IstanbulKart Full Fare (one pass)


IstanbulKart Full Fare (two pass)


IstanbulKart Full Fare (three pass)


IstanbulKart Full Fare (five pass)


IstanbulKart Full Fare (ten pass)


Blue Card (monthly subscription/for residents only)


Transfer Fares

1st transfer

5,49 TL

2nd transfer

4,17 TL

3rd transfer

2,63 TL

4th transfer

2,63 TL

5th transfer

2,63 TL


How to Activate an IstanbulKart? (Matching with HES Code)

In order to activate an IstanbulKart, you should visit the official website of IstanbulKart and fill out the form there. There are both Turkish and English language options available on this site. By filling out the form correctly and completely, your card is going to be activated instantly and ready to use right away.

You should get the HES Code when entering the country, but if you do not have this code for different reasons, get one by sending a text message to the number 2023.

The info you need to add to the message:

  • The term “HES”
  • Your national country code
  • Your passport number
  • Your birth year
  • Your last name

For example: HES UK 1234567891972 BLASER

Note: If you do not have a HES Code upon entering Turkey, you must have a local phone number for the second option above.

Can You Top Up the IstanbulKart Online?

IstanbulKart offers the opportunity to top up online as well as at top up points. You can quickly do the recharging process online via this website and right after topping up your card you can start using your pass to travel freely in Istanbul.

Where Can You Use the IstanbulKart?

The card is valid for all public transport options in Istanbul. These include nostalgic trams in Taksim and Kadıköy, buses, Metrobus, tunnels, funicular ride at Kabataş, cable car, IDO ferries or city lines, Turyol (Bosphorus cruise), Dentur (Bosphorus cruise), TCDD railways, and HAVABUS at Sabiha Gökçen airport and HAVAIST at Istanbul Airport.

Alternative to IstanbulKart: Tickets

If you find the investment into an IstanbulKart redundant as you will only need to use the public transportation a few times, you may want to check its best alternative: tickets.

Sold at the yellow machine booths by the metro entrances, where you top up your IstanbulKart, you can find tickets that allow you access to public transportation in seconds.

The advantage of this option is that you do not have to worry about HES code matching or whether you have enough credits in your IstanbulKart. The downside of this option is that, on the other hand, its cost. There are up to ten pass tickets that allow you to use ten seperate times. If you will be using several transfers however, keep in mind that the IstanbulKart is a more budget friendly option.



Cost per ride

Single Ticket


15 TL

Two-pass Ticket


25.00 TL

Three-pass Ticket


32.00 TL

Five-pass Ticket


49.00 TL

Ten-pass Ticket


88.00 TL


IstanbulKart for Children

Children under the age of 6 do not need to hold an IstanbulKart. This is only applicable when they are accompanied by their parents while using public transportation in Istanbul.


Where to Buy an IstanbulKart at Istanbul Airport?

You can use Biletmatiks located on the floor of -2 at Istanbul Airport, which is also called the public transport arrival floor.

You can also buy it from Havaist Airport Shuttle Bus Station tolls located on the same floor.

Where to Buy an IstanbulKart at Sabiha Gökçen Airport?

You can get an Istanbul public transport card from the kiosk on the street level opposite the exit of the arrivals terminal.

You can also buy it from IETT's (Istanbul electric tramway and tunnel establishment) supervision booth at the public bus station after you go out of the terminal if you will choose the public bus option to reach your destination.

Where to Buy an IstanbulKart in the City?

You can easily get the Istanbul public transportation card at every metro, tram, Metrobus, and ferry station. You can also buy IstanbulKart, from kiosks and stores near the stations to start traveling within Istanbul.

How to Check Your IstanbulKart Balance?

You can use kiosk machines to check your remaining balance during your Istanbul trip. If you want to check your balance online, you can do that instantly by downloading and using the IstanbulKart mobile application.

What is HES Code and How to Get It?

HES (Hayat Eve Sığar) Code is a code that allows you to securely share whether you carry any risk in terms of COVID-19 disease with institutions and individuals in your transactions such as transportation or visit within the scope of Controlled Social Life. Turkish citizens can get their HES Code from “Hayat Eve Sığar” mobile application. Foreigners can get the HES code from the menu of the same application but they need an Foreigner Identity Number. Passport Serial Number can also be used but only in the case where a foreigner doesn’t have a Foreigner Identity Number.

Matching your HES Code with IstanbulKart can be done at the IstanbulKart top up points and also online from the site easily.

Choose Your Pass

Choose from one of Istanbul Tourist Pass® options below providing Free access to 85+ Top Attractions, Tours and essential Local Services with over 80% savings.

5 Day Pass


€175 €150


€115 €100
7 Day Pass


€205 €175


€145 €125
10 Day Pass


€235 €195


€170 €145
1 Day Pass


€115 €95


€65 €55
2 Day Pass


€125 €105


€75 €65
3 Day Pass


€150 €125


€90 €75
4 Day Pass


€160 €135


€100 €85

Latest Posts


Nightlife in Istanbul: Best Nightclubs, Unique Places, and More in 2023

Istanbul is a surprising city full of wonders. Some of them are historical, some are natural but all of them are unique. This amazing cosmopolitan city has vibrant and rich nightlife as well! So it is fair to say that you're in luck if you appreciate...


Most Popular Historic Mosques You Must Visit in Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the most culturally rich and diverse cities in the world thanks to its deep history which is comprised of many empires, cultures, and religions. Because of this, you can find numerous historically significant sites here, from churc...


A Brief History of Galata Tower

Galata Tower is one of the most magnificent sights in Istanbul, overlooking "Beyoglu" and "Karakoy" from its incredible location. Its colorful lights can be seen at night from all over the city, so it is one of the most famous tourist destinatio...


Where to go in Istanbul with family

Where to go in Istanbul with family If you booked your flight and soon are coming to Istanbul with your children and wondering where to go in the city, we would like to let you know beforehand that there are plenty of great places to visit. Moreover...


August in Istanbul

What to do in August Dear guest, Istanbul lover-to-be! You finally arrived in one of the most popular cities around the world, we hope you throughly enjoy it! Whilst you just arrived, we have few recommendations and tips for making your experience e...


Where to Stay in Istanbul with Family

Where to stay in Istanbul with family You finally booked your flight, and are eager to see the beauty of Istanbul within days from your flight. For your trip here, you rightfully want to stay at one of the best hotels in Istanbul for families that w...


4 Best Indian restaurants in Istanbul

Indian cuisine is widely loved across the globe for its rich ingredients, intoxicating aromas, and fresh blend of spices. Its historic staple diet consisting of whole-wheat flour, rice, and vegetables makes it unique and flavoursome. Travellers, espe...


3 Best Nightclubs in Istanbul

Istanbul, a city full of zest, has so much to offer to its visitors from across the globe. Whether you're interested in its historic architecture, deep-rooted culture & heritage, delicious food, or the city's flashy nightlife, there's something f...


Istanbul Branches of World-Famous Eateries

If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.  Alphonse de Lamartine   Istanbul is full of surprises in every corner. The city can surprise you with its colours, sounds, and amazing views as well as t...


Restaurants in Istanbul: Where to Eat in Istanbul Old Town

Istanbul is not only the meeting point of cultures but also of cuisines! There are various options to taste delicious food from all over the world in the city. While visiting the magnificent Hagia Sophia or taking great Instagram photo...

4.8 out of 5 stars

Istanbul Tourist Pass® has an average rating of 4.8 /5 from 475 reviews

Read all traveler reviews →
Attractions Prices
Plan Save