View breaks >>
Istanbul has a comprehensive and well integrated public transport network, including buses, trams, local trains, metro, funicular and ferries. One feature of the system that is useful for visitors is the Akbil Tag, an electronic ‘smart button’ attached to a plastic holder, which contains credits for journeys. Akbil Tags can be bought for a refundable deposit of 6YTL at major bus and Metro terminals including Aksaray, Eminonu, Sirkeci and Zeytinburnu. They can be charged with any amount of credit and used to pay for journeys by pressing the button into the electronic machine at turnstiles and on buses. Akbil fares are around 10 percent lower than regular fares, so you save money as well as time queuing for tickets. Akbil Tags are valid on buses, trams, metro, urban trains, ferries, sea buses, funiculars and the cable car.
Read more on this destination in the AA Citypack Guide to Istanbul.
Ways to get around in Istanbul
Dolmuses and Taxis - The most common form of transport in Istanbul is thee ubiquitous yellow taxi. Although taxis are more expensive than other means of transport, they are still relatively inexpensive and are easily the most convenient way to get around. All fares are metered. Higher rates apply after midnight. Dolmuses (shared taxis) are even cheaper. They follow assigned routes and stop on demand. Destinations are indicated on the windscreen. You are charged for the distance covered.
Metro - A short commuter line heads north from Taksim to Levent, convenient for the Akmerkez and Metro City shopping malls. A second metro commuter line connects Ataturk International Airport to Aksaray, 3km west of Sultanahmet. One of the stops is as the Otogar (Bus station). The stations at Aksaray and Zeytinburnu are convenient interchanges for the tram line to Sultanahmet and Eminonu. Jetons are sold at stations and must be fed into the turnstiles to enter the platform.
Trams - The main tram route begins at Zeytinburnu and passes through Aksaray, Beyazit, Cemberlitas, Gulhane, Sirkeci and Eminonu before crossing the Galata Bridge to Karakoy and continuing via Tophane to Kabatas. Trams run every few minutes from 6am to midnight. Jetons are sold at kiosks beside the tram stops and must be fed into the turnstiles to enter the platform. A vintage tram service runs along Istiklal Caddesi, linking Tunel with Taksim Square.
Bus - The bus network is extensive, but travel is slow and vehicles are often crowded. Maps are displayed at bus stops and at major bus stations such as Eminonu and Taksim. The destination is shown on the front of the bus. Tickets can be bought at bus terminals and kiosks that display the sign ‘IETT otobus bileti’. Drop the ticket into the box near the driver.
Suburban Trains - From Sirkeci follow the Marmara shore to Kumkapi, Yenikapi and Yedikule.
Furnicular - The Tunel Furnicular railway, opened in 1875, connects the Karakoy end of Galata Bridge with Tunel Square, at the southern end of Istiklal Caddesi. Trains run every few minutes from 7am to 9pm. A modern funicular, opened in 2006, links the end of the tram line at Kabatas with the Metro station beneath Taksim Square.
Ferries - Ferries ply up and down the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Timetables are posted outside the waiting room at ferry docks. Buy a jeton from the ticket window and drop it into the turnstile to enter the waiting area. When the boat is ready to leave, the doors will open for you to board. The main departure point is Eminonu, where jetties (iskele) serve the Golden Horn, Bosphorus (round-trip), Uskudar, Kadikoy and Harem (car ferry). Ferries to the Princes’ Islands depart from Kabatas. For timetables and routes pick up a leaflet at Eminonu dock. Fast catamarans or sea buses ply busy commuter routes from Yenikapu and Kabatas.