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Istanbul Metro - Guide for Tourists


Page update - Apr 8, 2023

How to use the subway in Istanbul? Is it convenient for tourists? How much is the ticket after the last fare hike? What is the best card to buy to pay the fare, where to buy it, how to recharge it? Read the answers on this page and see the map of the lines and stations.

The fares on this page were updated in April 2023. THE FARE HAS INCREASED. There has already been an increase in 2023, from 7.6 liras to 9.9 liras. The Istanbulkart already costs 50 liras (starting July 2022), while back in 2021 it cost only 6 liras. For the current prices and fares, read this page.

General description

The Istanbul Metro (Turkish: "Metro İstanbul") is the rail transport system in Turkey's capital city. The system includes 6 underground lines, one line of the Marmaray overground train, 3 tramway lines, a vintage tramway line, and 3 lines of funicular railways.

Also there are two cable car lines (Turkish: "Teleferik") TF1 and TF2 as a part of the metro system. They are useless as transport, but the views are wonderful.

The first important feature. You have to pay again for the transfers, but fortunately at a discounted fare.

The second important feature. Different lines have different fares, which will be discussed in detail later on this page.

Subway Map

See the subway map below, click on the map to enlarge it to full screen.

If station names are not easily visible, zoom in using Ctrl+wheel on PCs or two-finger gesture on tablets and smartphones.

Is the Istanbul subway convenient for tourists?

It is quite convenient. The Istanbul metro is almost always uncrowded, and even during rush hours there are no overcrowded carriages. In terms of travel prices, the subway is considerably cheaper than taxis. For the taxi fares, see our review "Taxi in Turkey".

Almost all underground stations are equipped with escalators and lifts. All stations have information boards where you can see the arrival time of the next train.

To get a quick visual impression of the stations and carriages, see the small gallery of photos below. Click on the photos to enlarge it.

How to buy the ticket or card and recharge

There are single and multi trip tickets and Istanbulkart (Turkish: "İstanbulkart") transport cards. The fare is different. We give the prices in Turkish liras below. For the current exchange rates see our review "Money in Turkey".

Single and multi trip tickets are the easiest option, but also the most expensive. 1 trip is 20 liras, 2 trips are 30, 3 trips are 50, 5 trips are 60, 10 trips are 110. These tickets are quite difficult to buy as they are not always available (and not all types available) from vending machines. You have to go to a ticket office.

It is often advantageous to buy an Istanbulkart transport card. This is a card with an electronic wallet. The card is priced at 50 Turkish liras. It is simply a fee for the card, and the money does NOT go into the account.

There are card vending and recharging machines near station entrances and at bus stops. There are yellow and blue machines. The blue machines accept credit cards and 200 Turkish lira notes and give you change.

The yellow ones are better for tourists because they have a simpler menu. But they do not accept credit cards and 200 Turkish lira notes, and do NOT give you change.

You need to select the bottom option of the machine where it says "İstanbulkart - 50.00 TL". Then insert 50 liras into the machine and you will get a card. See the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge it.

Topping up the card is even easier. Place your card on the window, see photo on how to do it. Wait a few seconds until the machine recognizes the card. Then you insert the note into the machine and the balance is topped up. In this case, you do not even need to select options in the menu, as the machine itself knows that you need to top up the card. The machine will show the current balance, see the photo.

Fares

Most metro, tram, and bus lines now cost 9.9 liras with the Istanbulkart. Back in 2021 it was 3.5 liras. The Istanbulkart was only 6 liras at the time. Prices in Turkey are rising rapidly.

Children under 6 years old travel for free, that is, no need for a ticket.

Transferring from one type of transport to another and changing between underground lines cost 7.09 liras.

Tourists often ask: is it possible to ride with one card for several passengers or does everyone have to buy a card?

Answer: it is possible to use one card for several persons, the rules do not forbid it. However, in this case you will not get the transfer discount. Or rather, you will get the discount, but for one passenger only.

On most metro lines, trams, and buses, it's very easy to pay. You touch your Istanbulkart to a validator and the system deducts 9.9 liras from the card. There is no need to touch the card at the exit. However, there are exceptions, which we will talk about in detail!

Fares on the Marmaray line

The Marmaray Line is a surface metro line which has one underground section in a tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait. It is an important line that connects the European and Asian parts of Istanbul.

On the Marmaray line, the fare depends on the number of stations. Up to 7 stations it is 9.9 liras, while further stations are more expensive. The maximum price (between the end stations) is 21.91 liras.

You have to lean your Istanbulkart to the turnstile at the Marmaray station entrance. The system will take away from the card the theoretical maximum amount you can spend. In the outer stations it will be 21.91 liras, in the central stations less. By default, the system assumes that you will ride the maximum number of stations.

An important point! You do not need to put your card to the turnstile at the exit. Exiting Marmaray stations is free. You need to find a special machine after the turnstiles. Look at the picture on the right, click on the picture to enlarge it.

You touch the card to this machine and it will return the difference between the maximum fare and the actual fare to your account. It looks like this.

If you forgot to refund, it's your own problem. It is designed to make extra profit from those passengers who forgot or didn't know. The tunnel under the Bosphorus for the Marmaray trains and the whole line cost 2.5 billion US dollars, money has to be recouped.

If you transfer to Marmaray from another metro line, tram or bus. Then the fare on the Marmaray will cost exactly 9.9 liras, regardless of the number of stations. There is no need to make a refund in this case.

Funiculars, ferries, and vintage tram

Trams, a vintage tram, funiculars cost the same - 9.9 liras. It is payable with Istanbulkart. The fare may be higher on some ferries.

Baggage regulations

You can carry your luggage for free in the Istanbul Metro. However, your luggage must weigh no more than 30 kilograms (66 pounds) and measure no more than 120x50x60 centimeters (3.94x1.64x1.97 feet). The instructions are pictured on the right, click on the photo to enlarge it.

Security checks

Controls are not strict these days. Large bags, suitcases, or backpacks need to be placed on the security scanner conveyor belt at the station entrance. All passengers pass through a metal detector frame.

Caution! Police officers perform random identity checks at station entrances. Passport must be carried at all times!

Opening hours

From 6 am to 12 am midnight (6-00 to 00-00). Some lines start a little earlier and are open longer. The exact information can be found on the official website at
www.metro.istanbul/en/SeferDurumlari/SeferDetaylari

Before the coronavirus pandemic, all lines were open 24 hours on weekends and public holidays. But during the pandemic, this was canceled due to the need for daily disinfection of stations and rolling stock.

All-day service at weekends and holidays was resumed on May 6, 2022, for 6 lines. These are the M1A, M1B, M2 (excluding the Sanayi Mahallesi-Seyrantepe line), M4, M5, M6. That is, trains on these lines run continuously from 6 am on Friday until midnight on Sunday. For the holidays calendar, see our review "National holidays in Turkey".

Important features

- The trains at underground lines can be long (full platform, usually 8 cars) or short (half platform, usually 4 cars). It can be unpleasant if you stand at the end of the platform and a short train arrives. Then you either have to run to the beginning of the platform, or wait for the next train. Try to stand at the beginning of the platform, so you are sure to get on the train. On some lines, the scoreboard shows which train is coming, see photo;

- The scoreboard shows the train's arrival times. The abbreviation 'dk' means 'minutes';

- Cases of pickpocketing on the Istanbul Metro are rare. However, you should still keep safety in mind. Read our in-depth review "What not to do in Turkey";

- To get in the subway train, tram, or the funicular, you have to go through a turnstile. In buses and vintage trams, you need to lean your card against the validator in the cabin;

- Smoking and drinking (alcohol) in the metro is strictly prohibited. Read our reviews "Alcohol in Turkey" and "Smoking in Turkey" for details;

- There are Akbil cards with very good fares. However, these cards are no longer for sale;

- Be careful on the M1 line. This line is branching out. Look carefully at the scoreboard to see whether the train takes the M1a to Ataturk Airport or the M1b;

- Great news! The metro now reaches Sabiha Airport. The station at the airport opens on October 2, 2022. Read more in our review "From Sabiha Airport to the city".

- Great news! The metro now reaches the New Istanbul Airport. The station at the airport opened on January 23, 2023. Read more in our review "From Istanbul New Airport to the city";

Have a fast and comfortable ride on the Istanbul Metro, and read our interesting pages about Turkey and Istanbul (find the pages list below).

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