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The Basics of Istanbul's Public Transport

April 22, 2021
Who wouldn't want to explore Istanbul? Not only is it one of the oldest cities in the world, but it's also full of history! There are so many structures, artifacts, and relics to discover here, many of which harken back to events that change the country and the rest of the world. Today, Istanbul is as urban and modern as any other capital city out there. Fortunately, this also means that the city's public transport is alive and well too! Here's what you need to know about it for when you go here!
The Basics of Istanbul's Public Transport

The Istanbul Kart

Firstly, as in many other cities out there, you'll benefit from buying a travel pass here in Istanbul. The best you can purchase right now is the 'Istanbul Kart' (Istanbul Card), a prepaid travel pass that gives you access to most public transport systems in the city. You can buy one in any of the major transit stations you'll find throughout the city and it only costs ₺10.00. You can deposit any amount you want at designated machines and once it has money, you don't have to pay for a ticket anymore. Talk about nifty, right?

The Subway in Istanbul

Istanbul's metro system is argubaly the most unique in the world. Even though those in London and New York are more famous, it's only the one in Istanbul that contains separate lines within two continents. On the European side of the Turkish capital, there are two lines, and on the Asian side, there's one. The former is relatively more popular because it also connects to Sabiha Gökçen Airport, one of the three international airports in Istanbul. Notably, all three lines start moving around 6:15 am and end at 12:00 am-midnight the next day.

The Basics of Istanbul's Public Transport

Buses and Metrobuses

Of course, there are also buses in Istanbul too! In fact, there are two kinds of buses to board here in the city. The first is kind is that standard bus that travels to most districts of Istanbul. With 400 separate routes in total, and operating up until midnight, most people board this type of bus to get around. The other kind is called the Metrobus. They run on reserved lanes and mostly travel around the outskirts of the city. Do note that most Metrobuses don't accept cash anymore. You'll really need to get an Istanbul Kart in order to ride one.

Istanbul's Modern Tramway

If you want to stay above ground when traveling in Istanbul but you don't want to ride the bus, you can always hop on the city's tramways. Just like the buses, there are two different kinds of tramways in the Turkish capital. The first is the modern tramway system. Operating on two lines, it travels just as fast as the city's metro system though it often gets affected by the traffic jams on the streets. Or, at times, they cause traffic jams too! Nevertheless, a lot of the stops of the modern tramway are located near or right beside various tourist hotspots in the city.

The Basics of Istanbul's Public Transport

The Historic Trams

The second type of tramways in Istanbul are the historic ones. Looking like they came straight out of a period movie, this tramway's appearance has not changed since the early 20th-century. They're actually akin to the charming cablecars in San Francisco. Both exhibit a nostalgic charm that just adds to the experience of traveling around Istanbul. You'll find that the historic tramways also have two separate lines on the European side of Istanbul and one on the Asian side. But unlike the modern tramways, the historic ones are not air-conditioned so you might want to for a different public transport option when it's hot outside.

Taking The Dolmuş

As Istanbul is a major city that's incredibly busy, you can expect that there are a lot of taxis available here. If you can't hail one off the street, you can always book one using a transportation app. There is, however, a unique type of taxi that you can probably only find in Istanbul. It's called the 'dolmuş' and they're the city's special shared taxis. Technically vans that operate like carpool services, dolmuş taxis run on specific routes and can fit a maximum of eight passengers at a time. You also won't be able to book one via a ride-hailing app.

The Ferries in Istanbul

Finally, there are ferries in Istanbul. Allowing you to travel from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side and back, it's a popular alternative to going on the metro or taking the bus. Since you won't get caught in traffic jams, rush-hour crowds, and the like while boarding a public ferry, it's actually one of the faster modes of public transportation in Istanbul. And just like the others, they run from 6:40 am until midnight. Some even operate 24/7 for people's convenience! As for the price, a single-ride ticket can cost around ₺3.50 to ₺5.00 depending on your destination. For an overnight ferry trip, it'll cost you ₺8.00!

The Basics of Istanbul's Public Transport

In a busy city like Istanbul, public transport is everything. Luckily, there are many systems in the Turkish capital that you can go for to get to where you need to be. From modern buses to historic tramways or even a ferry, the choice is yours!

Getting to know Istanbul's public transport will make it easier for you to explore the city and get back to your luxury home in no time!