Public Transport In Turkey: Everything you need to know
Are you planning a trip to Istanbul? Istanbul has an excellent transportation system utilizing almost all the known forms of public transit. After living in Istanbul for a year I have created the ultimate guide to traveling around the city and included a list of apps that will also give you a piece of mind as you explore unknown cities and top sightseeing destinations, and the best part, most of them are FREE!
Istanbul Metro Map 2019
Public Transport Lines for Istanbul Tourist Attractions
- The Tram T1 operates between the Old City and Modern Istanbul.
- Metro M1 connects the Ataturk Airport to Sultanahmet and Taksim.
- Metro M2 helps you reach Business Districtsand Shopping Malls of the city
- Marmaray under-sea tunnel for passengers from Europe to Asia or vice versa
How to get there
- Funicular helps you climb up the hill to Taksim Square from Kabatas (Final tram stop)
These are metro trains that go only one stop connecting one sea-level point to a higher point on a hill. There are two funiculars in Istanbul. One is called as TÜNEL (F-2) which is one of the oldest subways of the world dated back to the Ottoman Empire. Tünel climbs the hill from Karaköy to Beyoğlu (Istiklal Street). There there is a connection possible with the nostalgic tram (T-5) that goes all way till the famous Taksim Square. The other funicular (F-1) is a modern one and climbs the hill from Kabataş to Taksim (it has seemless connection with the T-1 tram line and M-2 metro line.
- Ferry nostalgic boats that makes trips between Europe and Asia Continents.
Istanbul is a city of the seas. Ferries are an inexpensive way of crossing to the other side of the city. Find the timetable HERE! The most popular ferry rides are between Eminonu-Kadikoy (Asian side), Eminonu-Uskudar, Eminonu-Anadolu Kavagi (Full Bosphorus Cruise), Kabatas-Adalar (The islands ferries).
- Metrobus public bus with a private lane. Best to cross Bosphorus Bridge.
Green: environmentally friendly
Purple and Yellow: Furnished specially for the disabled people.
Turquoise: Owned by private company. They all accept IstanbulKart and/or electronic tickets.
They are vans (or minubuses) operated as shared taxis. They have routes as well and stops for sure. However it is very common that you can hail one of them as you do for a taxi. They will not accept any payment other than cash.
Havaş Airport Buses
Havas is the cheapest way to get anywhere from the airport. The company operates airport shuttle buses serving Istanbul’s Airport on the European side of the city and also Sabiha Gökçen Airport on the Asian side. You can pay in cash (Turkish Lira) or with an Istanbul transportation card. Check the timetables HERE.
More than likely, you already have the Uber app as this app can be invaluable for navigating unknown cities and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, its illegal in Turkey
but it still operates in some cities like Istanbul. Keep in mind that there are a limited number of drivers available.
BiTaksi is similar to Uber but it’s legal and uses yellow (meter) taxis. You can book through a trip through the app, you can see how long the car will take to reach you as well as track its location on the map as it moves your way. With BiTaksi, you’ll never be late again even in unfamiliar areas.
The ultimate offline map for travelers who want to be prepared wherever they go. The app shows you the best routes and public transport prices and timetables.
WhatsApp is a free messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook. I mostly use WhatsApp to call my family for free. I noticed in Turkey everyone, from work to tour guides make use of WhatsApp for all communication instead of email. (Available on iTunes and Android for free).
Turkey has 3 mobile operators: Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea. If roaming is available on your home network operator, you will automatically connect one of those. I made a huge mistake of choosing Turkcell (It’s actually the most expensive, rather opt for Avea). In order to purchase a sim card you will only require your passport, it cost me 55TL (Price in November 2015) for a Turkcell Simcard and I got 1GB of data, 100 free texts and 4000 call minutes.
Download Dijital operator if you’re using a Turkcell SIM.
What is the local currency?
The Turkish Lira (Türk Lirası, TL or TRY) is the local currency. Turkish Lira are available in the following denominations:
Banknotes: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 & 100 TL
Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 & 50 Kurus (pronounced kurush).
Debit and Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere except most markets only accept cash (Turkish Lira) and if you have Euros or Dollars you can exchange at an ATM but for other currencies you will have to find a money exchange office also known as doviz koro in turkish to exchange your money.
Where to get Liras?
The easiest way to get cash liras is to withdraw from a Turkish ATM (bancomat/cashpoint, cash machine) or pay with your debit/credit card when shopping.
Banks are open between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday. They are closed Saturdays and Sundays. Keep in mind that withdrawing from ATMs is more expensive than bringing your own currency and going to a currency conversion office (doviz koro) in town to exchange currencies. Download the XE Currency App to make sure you’re getting the right amount.
This app’s use is much less obvious unless you’re a veteran of traveling abroad. Converting currencies on the spot is difficult to do if you didn’t get it all exchanged beforehand. XE Currency provides live exchange rates. You can monitor up to 10 currencies at once, and it allows you to access the app offline.
Food and Entertainment
Yemeksepeti is an on-demand food delivery app more than 20 thousand restaurants in 69 cities worldwide. In Turkey they operate in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana and many more. See full list of cities HERE.
Doing a web search for the things you specifically want to do while in a new town can be limiting. This is where Biletix comes into play. It acts as a one-stop shop for entertainment and other fun amenities within your general location. By telling the app what you enjoy, it can customize to your specific tastes, allowing you a more personalized traveling experience.
For movie theater locations, movie times, and buying tickets.
Online marketplace to buy and sell locally! No need to visit the flea market to find the best deals on preowned items!
Where to Stay
Once you know where you’re going, it’s time to book a hotel. There are tons of apps for this purpose, but Booking.com is great at finding unique deals for last-minute travel plans. The app will find great same-day deals on hotels in the area you’re traveling to, making last-minute worries a thing of the past.
Click HERE to get $45 OFF your first stay!