The İstanbulkart is a public transportation card handed out by the local municipality and is a rechargeable card that you have to show if you want to use public transportation in Istanbul. Find out how to get tickets for bus and train, as well as other means of transportation such as ferry and metro. We explain how much the İstanbulkart costs and where you can buy it.
Public transportation costs in Istanbul for 2023
The Istanbul government has announced that prices for public transportation and taxis will experience an increase on the 11th of August 2023. The previous significant price adjustment occurred in January 2023. With this upcoming adjustment in August, the cost of a one-way single ticket will rise to 15 TL from the current 9.90 TL. This article was last updated on the 18th of August 2023. Keep reading to discover further details regarding the revised Istanbulkart pricing.
How to use public transportation in Istanbul?
It is not always easy to judge the situation of public transportation in foreign countries. In Turkey, it is not possible to buy a ticket from the driver when boarding a bus or train. Each Turkish city has its own city pre-paid tickets. In Istanbul, you will need to make sure you have an İstanbulkart to show before you start your journey. Here you can learn all about the İstanbulkart, where to buy it, and how to use it.
Questions and answers about public transportation and tickets in Istanbul
The İstanbulkart is a ticket card developed by Belbim, a subsidiary of the Municipality, mainly for the use of public transportation. Nowadays, in addition to public transportation, the İstanbulkart can also be used in public toilets, Hamidiye brand water vending machines, cafes and restaurants operated by the municipality, and some supermarket chains. The primary use, however, is public transportation, as it cannot be used without a valid and loaded İstanbulkart.
As a rule, anyone can buy a İstanbulkart. There are different types of İstanbulcards. Many locals, such as students, pupils, teachers and elderly people can apply for a card at a discounted price. Besides, there are subscriptions, where you can travel at comparatively cheaper prices. However, this only pays off for above-average trips, which a tourist is most unlikely to make.
There are two different İstanbul cards for tourists: disposable cards for one, two, three, five or ten trips, and the ‘Anonim Kart’, which can be reloaded again and again.
The so-called ‘Anonim Kart’, the anonymous card is best suited for tourists. The card can be recharged over and over again and used indefinitely, while the disposable cards are limited in the number of trips. The disposable cards do not pay off financially if you stay a few days in İstanbul and want to take the bus, metro, or ferry more often. The anonymous İstanbulkart can be used by several people at the same time. So you can buy one card and share it with your family/friends. Just make sure that you have enough credit on the card. The one-time cards can also be used by several people at the same time. So it is always enough if you buy only one card regardless of the number of travelers.
The biggest advantage of the İstanbulkart is that you can use all means of public transportation without any worries. Unfortunately, it is not possible to pay the drivers directly in cash or with a card. An anonymous İstanbulkart can be recharged indefinitely and used again and again. The one-time cards, on the other hand, must be purchased again after the credit is used up. The cards are anonymous, which means that one card is quite enough. Children under 6 years of age may travel free of charge.
No, a physical IstanbulKart is not required to use the city’s public transportation system. Istanbul has adopted a contactless payment system that enables you to pay for your fares with a credit or debit card, a mobile phone with a contactless payment function.
How to use the İstanbulkart?
Using the İstanbulkart is as easy as pie. First, make sure you have enough credit on your card, then you can use it in all means of transportation. You will find card readers in the entrance at the stations for the metro, tram, Marmaray, Metrobus, and driving. You have to hold your card to the card reader, the credit for the ride will be deducted from your card and the barrier to the entrance of the waiting area or track will open. For bus rides, board at the front with the driver, where you will find the card reader. Again, you must hold your electronic ticket up to the card reader. The credit will be automatically deducted from the card.
How much does the İstanbulkart cost?
The anonymous İstanbulkart costs 60 TL once. For each ride, you have to pay at least 15 TL in 2023, depending on the route and the means of transportation. The İstanbulkart comes without credit after purchase, so you have to recharge it once before you can start trips.
|Anonymous card (one time)||60₺ + 15₺ per ride|
How much does public transportation cost in Istanbul:
- A trip by bus, metro, or tram costs 9.90 TL, for interchanges, you pay 7.05 TL if you are a resident of Istanbul.
- For the metro bus, you pay between 10.74 TL and 22.25 TL depending on the route. You will be charged the highest price when you start your journey. After you get off, you can hold your card up to the reader again and get the overpayment back.
- In the Marmaray, the train that runs under the water and connects the European side with the Asian side, a ride costs between 15 TL and 33 TL. The same principle applies here as with the Metrobus, you will be charged the maximum amount when you start your journey and when you get off you can get the difference back. For this you have to hold the card at the reader in the station, otherwise, the system will think that you have traveled to the final station.
- The price for a ferry ride varies from 15.50 TL to 58.50 TL depending on the route. Most of the routes that tourists use cost around 15.50 TL to 25.50 TL. A ticket for the ferry to the Princes Islands costs 45.23 TL. You can find the overview of ferry prices by route on the website of the Istanbul Municipality.
Overview of ticket prices for public transport in Istanbul
|Means of public transport||Ticket price (in TL)|
|Interchange||₺10.74 (for Istanbul residents only)|
|Metrobus||between ₺10.74 and ₺22.25 (depending on the distance)|
|Marmaray||between ₺15.00 and ₺33.00 (depending on the distance)|
|Ferry (general)||between ₺15.50 and ₺58.50 (depending on the route)|
|Ferry (Princes Islands)||₺45.23|
Where to buy the İstanbulkart?
You can purchase the anonymous İstanbulkart and one-time tickets at the metro stations and train stations at the yellow ticket machines of the public utilities. In addition, you can also buy the tickets at the small kiosks that you can find almost on every corner. Many small stores in tourist areas also sell tickets. Look for the signs ‘Akbil’ and ‘İstanbulkart’. Most outlets make it clear on their windows and doors that they sell the card. You can also buy the Istanbulkart at Istanbul Airport or Sabiha Gökcen Airport. Please be aware that you have to pay with Turkish Liras.
How and where to recharge the İstanbulkart?
Please pay attention to the balance of your İstanbulkart. If you do not have a balance on the card, you will not be allowed to use public transportation. You can recharge the İstanbulkart at the same place where you purchased it. You can recharge the card at the yellow ticket machines at train and metro stops. Note, however, that the ticket machines only accept bills and do not give change.
Many small kiosks and stores that identify themselves as vending and reloading points can reload your card for you in exchange for cash. As a rule, there are always recharging points near tourist sites, whether they are ticket machines or points of sale such as kiosks. However, please keep in mind that there are only ticket machines at train, metro, Marmaray, Metrobus, and ferry stations. There are no ticket vending machines at bus stops. If you download the İstanbulkart mobile app, you can easily top up your card on the go. More about the app in the next section.
Pay for public transportation in Istanbul with your debit or credit card
No, you do not necessarily need a physical IstanbulKart for public transport in Istanbul. Istanbul has implemented a contactless payment system for its public transportation, which allows you to use your credit or debit card, or your mobile phone with a contactless payment feature, to pay for your fares.
However, if you prefer to use an IstanbulKart, you can purchase it at any Istanbulkart vending machine, located at metro and tram stations, bus stops, and ferry docks. The IstanbulKart is a rechargeable card that you can use for multiple modes of transportation, including buses, trams, metro lines, funiculars, and ferries.
Use a virtual İstanbulkart with the İstanbulkart mobile app
The Istanbulkart app is a mobile application developed by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality to help users manage their Istanbulkart accounts, which is a rechargeable card used for public transportation in Istanbul. The app allows you to perform various tasks related to your Istanbulkart, such as checking your card balance, viewing your travel history, and topping up your card balance.
The Istanbulkart app also provides real-time information about public transportation services in Istanbul, including bus, metro, tram, and ferry schedules. You can plan your journey, find the nearest public transportation stops, and get directions to your destination.
In addition, the Istanbulkart app allows you to purchase and activate virtual İstanbulkart, which you can use to pay for your fares without the need for a physical card.
How to use the İstanbulkart app for public transportation?
To use virtual Istanbulcards via the Istanbulkart app, follow these steps:
- Download the Istanbulkart app from the App Store (for iOS) or Google Play Store (for Android).
- Create an account and sign in to the app.
- Click on the “Virtual Card” button in the bottom menu.
- Select the type of Istanbulkart you want to purchase, such as a standard card or a discounted student card.
- Choose the amount you want to top up on your virtual card.
- Enter your payment information and complete the transaction.
- Once you have completed the purchase, your virtual İstanbulkart will be available in the “Virtual Card” section of the app.
- To use the virtual card, simply tap the “Use Card” button on the card screen and hold your phone close to the card reader on the turnstile or the card reader on the bus.
It’s important to note that virtual İstanbulkart are only available for use on public transportation in Istanbul and cannot be used for other services such as parking or museum entrances. Read more about free admission to museums in our Istanbul Museum Pass Guide. Additionally, you need to ensure that your phone has a stable internet connection and enough battery life to use the virtual İstanbulkart.
Load credit on your İstanbulkart at a kiosk
- Find an İstanbulkart service point
- Give your card to the person at the kiosk
- Mention the amount you want to have credit on your card
- Take your card with the new balance
Load credit on your İstanbulkart at a vending machine
- Go to a vending machine
- Put your card on the reader
- Wait for the machine to recognize your card
- Put in your banknotes
- Wait until your new balance pops up on screen
- Pick up your card with your new credit
With the Istanbul card mobile app, you can check your balance and also top it up, as well as view past trips. The app also shows you recharge points near you. However, the most important feature is that you can use the QR code scanner to pay for your trip without a card. To do this, you simply need to scan the QR code on the card reader. However, this is not possible on the Marmaray.
The İstanbulkart can be used on all public transport operated by the municipal utility. In total, the electronic ticket can be used in up to 9088 places throughout Istanbul. These include buses, metro buses, subways, driving, cable cars, streetcars, ferries and the Hava-Ist airport shuttle bus lines. In addition, you can also use the İstannbulkart to enter public restrooms and pay in public parking lots. The card is also valid in the restaurants and cafes of the public utility company, as well as at the Migros supermarket chain.
The card cannot be used on the shuttle buses to and from Sabiha Gökçen Airport. Furthermore, it cannot be used for Bosphorus tours that are not operated by the public utility company. The electronic ticket is also not valid in cabs and shuttle cabs.
Frequently asked questions about the İstanbulkart:
You can pay for public transportation using a rechargeable smart card called “Istanbulkart”. This card can be obtained from kiosks, vending machines, and authorized retailers. Once you have the card, you can add credit to it at any of the kiosks or vending machines or through the mobile application. When you board a bus, tram, metro, or ferry, you simply tap your Istanbulkart on the reader device located near the entrance of the vehicle and the fare will be automatically deducted from your card balance.
The only way to pay for public transportation in Istanbul is by using an Istanbulkart, a rechargeable smart card with sufficient credit. If you don’t have an Istanbulkart, you can purchase one at vending machines, kiosks, and authorized retailers.
You can purchase the İstanbulkart for a price of 60 TL. Pay attention: this is only the cost of the card itself. You also have to top up the card with money. The prices for public transport vary from 15 TL to 33 TL depending on the route. You can also buy a single pass, two passes, three passes, five passes, and ten passes tickets for a price between 30₺ and 170₺ depending on the number of passes.
You can fill up your İstanbulkart with cash money at the ticket vending machines that you can find in the train stations. They are usually placed close to the waiting area inside the station or directly at the entrance. The İstanbulkart can also be topped up at some small kiosks and shops. Watch out for the signs on the shop’s windows. Participating shops show clearly that they recharge your İstanbulkart.
You don’t have to activate the İstanbulcard. The card is already active when you purchase it. Once you have the card, you have to load money on your card. You can do this at ticket machines or some local shops.
The easiest way to obtain an İstanbulkart is by buying it at the ticket machines at the stations. Some local shops in busy areas also sell the card.
You can buy the İstanbulkart directly at the Sabiha Gökçen Airport. After leaving the arrivals, you will find a white kiosk directly across the street. At the kiosk, you can buy and charge your İstanbulkart in SAW airport.
There are ticket vending machines for the İstanbulkart in İstanbul Airport. The ticket machines are located in floor -2 of the arrivals terminal. You can also buy the İstanbulkart at the exit of the international and domestic arrivals next to the airport shuttle busses Havaist. These are also located in the -2 floor.
The HES code installation on İstanbulkarts, which came into force with the pandemic, made the existing cards unusable without the code. According to the new decision, the HES code application has been abolished. Thus, the HES code will not be requested when using public transportation vehicles
Istanbul offers a contactless payment system for its public transportation, which allows you to use your credit or debit card, or your mobile phone with a contactless payment feature, to pay for your fares. This eliminates the need for a physical Istanbulcard. You can easily tap your credit card on the contactless reader on the turnstile or the card reader on the bus to deduct the fare for your trip from your card balance. If you prefer to use your mobile phone, simply hold it close to the reader to complete the payment. Keep in mind that some credit cards may not be accepted by the contactless payment system, so it’s best to check with your card issuer beforehand.
Yes, the Istanbulkart is definitely worth it if you are planning to use public transportation frequently in Istanbul. It is a rechargeable smart card that can be used on all forms of public transportation in Istanbul, including buses, trams, metros, ferries, and funiculars. It makes travels more convenient and offers significant savings compared to purchasing individual tickets. Additionally, it contributes to reducing waste generated by single-use tickets, making it an eco-friendly option.