If you plan to use public transport in Istanbul we recommend you read this post. In our experience not a lot of people in Istanbul speak English so asking locals for help is not always easy. However, despite the language barrier the Turks will definitely get out of their way to try and help you, so in case of need, do not hesitate to approach someone. Don’t forget to check out our 3 day itinerary to see how we have spend our days in Istanbul!
What is an Istanbul Kart?
If you are planning to use public transport more than once you should definitely get an Istanbul Kart (Istanbul card). It is a contactless, pre-paid and rechargeable public transport card. You can use it on the bus, metro, tram, train, funicular and ferry. Most of these transportation types no longer accept payment by cash so you will have to buy some form of ticket beforehand anyway. One card can be used for maximum 5 passengers, so after one person passes through the turnpike you can exchange the same card and tap again. By using the card you immediately get a 50% discount on the regular price!
How to get an Istanbul Kart?
The easiest way to get an Istanbul Kart is to do it at the airport (go to -2 arrivals floor and look for the yellow and blue ticket machines), at Eminönü station or at Sultanahmet station. You will have to pay a non-refundable 25 TL for the card itself. Beware that the yellow machines do not give you any cash back, only the blue ones do, so the extra amount you put in will be automatically used as credit on the card. We recommend you get the card at the airport because you can also use it to pay for the airport shuttle to the city center. You will not be able to pay cash for the airport shuttle.
How to use the Istanbul Kart?
Before boarding you should tap the card against the yellow-orange machine. You will hear a sound and your leftover funds will be displayed. In case of insufficient funds the machine will say: Kontör Yetersiz. There is no need to tap your card again after your ride. The cost of one public transport ride is 7,67TL but with the unstable Turkish economy prices can always fluctuate.
How to reload the Istanbul Kart?
In order to reload the Istanbul card you can go to a newsstand or small shops which offer: Akbil Dolum Noktası. An alternative is to go to the black-yellow self-service special purpose machines at major transit stations. There you can pay with 5, 10, 20 and 50 TL notes. Instructions are available in multiple languages. Apparently there is also a mobile app (search for IstanbulKart on your Play store) that allows you to reload your card, but we haven’t tried it.
How to get from the airport to the city center?
Go to -2 arrivals through the exit. There you will see an array of buses. We took the HAVAIST bus from Istanbul airport to Beyazit square (HVIST-12) and paid 25 TL for the one hour journey. The bus was very modern, had Wifi service, USB charging units and quality TV screens. HAVAIST runs 10 different bus lines that go to 50 different destinations in Istanbul. Beyazit and Sultanahmet lie in the city center from which you can reach the old town. If your hotel is located in Beyoglu, you will want to take a bus close to Taksim square. They run every 15-20 minutes during the day and every 30-60 minutes at night.
Feel free to check out our 3-DAY ITINERARY FOR ISTANBUL to make the most out of your holiday.
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