How to use the İstanbulkart for public transport in Istanbul & prices (Updated January 2024)

No need to search any further for answers to your questions about public transportation ticket prices, the İstanbulkart, and how to get one. Istanbul has an awesome public transportation network with its unique ticketing system. In this detailed guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the İstanbulkart, how to use it, step-by-step process of getting one, and why it’s worth it. Keep reading to become an expert navigator of Istanbul’s public transportation system!

In a nutshell, the İstanbulkart is a transport card provided by the local municipality, allowing you to easily pay for buses, trains, ferries, metros, and more. Learn how to get tickets and find out where to buy your İstanbulkart. It’s all covered here!

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Updated public transportation costs in Istanbul for 2024

We regularly monitor price changes in Istanbul’s public transport system and ensure that this article remains up-to-date. The latest price adjustment was announced by the Istanbul municipality in August 2023. As a result, both public transportation and taxi fares have increased, effective from August 11, 2023. Following the August adjustments, the cost of a one-way single ticket has risen to 15 TL from the previous 9.90 TL. You can find the latest prices in the municipality’s announcements at The most recent update to this article was made on Janaury 2, 2024. No price increases happened for 2024. For a more comprehensive understanding of tram, bus, ferry, and metro prices in Istanbul, continue reading.

Istanbulkart price 2024

The municipality of Istanbul has not yet announced any changes to the Istanbulkart prices for 2024. Typically, the prices of Istanbulkart are adjusted biannually to align with the prevailing inflation rate. However, as of now, the existing prices from August 2023 will remain unchanged. The current cost of an unloaded Istanbulkart in 2024 stands at 70 TL, and each ride using the Istanbulkart is set at 15 TL for the year 2024. Keep reading for detailed information on Metrobus and Marmaray prices. We will promptly update this page with any changes in Istanbulkart prices once officially announced.

Questions and answers about public transportation tickets in Istanbul

What is the İstanbulkart?

istanbulkart new

The İstanbulkart is a ticket card developed by Belbim, a subsidiary of the Municipality, primarily intended for use in public transportation. In addition to public transportation, the İstanbulkart is now accepted in public toilets, Hamidiye brand water vending machines, cafes and restaurants operated by the municipality, as well as certain supermarket chains. However, it is important to note that the primary purpose of the İstanbulkart remains public transportation, as it requires a valid and loaded İstanbulkart to be used.

How to use public transportation in Istanbul?

It’s not always easy to navigate public transportation in foreign countries, but in Turkey, there are a few things to keep in mind. When boarding a bus, metro, or tram, you won’t be able to buy a ticket from the driver. Instead, each Turkish city has its own pre-paid tickets. In Istanbul, for example, make sure you have a physical İstanbulkart or the İstanbulkart app with enough balance before you start your journey. Don’t worry, I’ll guide you through all the details of İstanbulkart – where to buy it and how to use it!

istanbul metro

Which card is best for tourist purposes? 

There are two types of cards: the anonymous rechargeable card and disposable cards with up to 10 passes. The so-called ‘Anonim Kart’ is perfect for tourists who plan to stay in İstanbul for more than two days and frequently use public transport. You can recharge the anonymous card as many times as you want and use it indefinitely. On the other hand, disposable cards have a limited number of trips. If you’re staying in İstanbul for a few days and want to use the bus, metro, or ferry more often, the disposable cards may not be cost-effective. The anonymous İstanbulkart can be shared among multiple people, like your family or friends, as long as there’s enough credit on the card. Similarly, the one-time cards can also be used by multiple people at the same time. So, regardless of the number of travelers, you only need to buy one card.

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 in busses. 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. 

For most of the rides you will be charged a standard single fare. Only Metrobus and Marmaray are more expensive. The reason for this is that the distance of the rides are longer than standard rides in busses, trams or metros. Therefore a higher price will be deducted from your card when entering the station. But don’t worry, you only have to pay for the amount of stations of your ride. Your can easily get a refund of the fare difference. To get a refund, you have to watch out for the refund card readers. They are usually placed after the exit of the Marmaray or Metrobus stations. You just have to tap your card agains the card reader again and the fare difference will be paid back to your card. 

istanbulkart for tourists

What are the advantages of İstanbulkart?

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. 

Who can buy the İstanbulkart?

As a rule, anyone can buy an 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. 

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.

Do you need a physical IstanbulKart to use public transport in Istanbul?

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. Unfortunately, this system is not very well developed and is not 100% reliable. Also note, that you pay two times more with a contactless payment methon than you would have to pay with an İstanbulkart.

What is the İstanbulcard mobile app?

istanbulkart app overview

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.

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.

How much does the İstanbulkart cost? 

First, you have to buy the actual physical İstanbulkart. The price of the İstanbulkart without any credits is 70 TL once. For each ride, you have to pay at least 15 TL in 2024, 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)70₺ + 15₺ per ride
1 pass30₺
2 pass50₺
3 pass80₺
5 pass90₺
10 pass170₺
istanbulkart pass tickets

How much does public transportation cost in Istanbul:

  • A trip by bus, metro, or tram costs 15.00 TL, for interchanges, you pay 10.74 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

Type of public transportTicket price (in TL)
Interchange₺10.74 (for Istanbul residents only)
Metrobusbetween ₺10.74 and ₺22.25 (depending on the distance)
Marmaraybetween ₺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

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. 

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
IstanbulKart kiosk

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
IstanbulKart top up machine

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, we advise you to use the İstanbulkart since the system for contactless payment methods is not well advanced yet and costs the double of what you would pay with an İstanbulkart.

Practical: 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. 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 a virtual İstanbulkart, which you can use to pay for your fares without the need for a physical card.

Istanbulkart used in the app

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.
istanbulkart payment app

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.

Where is the İstanbulkart valid?

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. 

Where is the İstanbulkart not valid?

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.

Overview: Price table of public transportation costs

istanbulkart price table
Source: IETT Istanbul Municipality

FAQ’s about the İstanbulkart in a nutshell

How do you pay for public transport in Istanbul?

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.

Can you pay cash on public transport in Istanbul?

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.

What is the price of the İstanbulkart?

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.

How can I recharge my İstanbulkart?

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.

How to activate the 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.

Where to buy the İstanbulkart?

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.

Where to buy the İstanbulkart in Sabiha Gökçen Airport?

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.

Where to buy the İstanbulkart in İstanbul 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.

Do you still need a HES code for the İstanbulkart?

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

Can you use your credit card for public transportation in Istanbul?

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.

Is the Istanbulkart worth it?

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.

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  1. Thank you for collecting all the information. Do you know if we need a separate card for every traveller or can I use one card together with my family?

  2. Hi Istanbul Travel Guide,
    Several questions arise: With the İstanbulcard mobile app downloaded, do I have to pay 50 TL just for the Card? Can several passengers use the same virtual Istanbulcard under the mobile app as in tha case of physical card? Is a foreign student eligible for students discounted fares? How does it work with the mobile app and the physical card especially when it is used by several persons (student and non students)? While for physical Istanbulcard you can pay only in TL in cash, can I use a Mastercard for the payment under the mobile app? Thanks

    • Hello, I try my best to answer your questions 🙂
      1) You don’t have to pay 50 TL for the virtual card in the mobile app. You only top up your credits. You have to pay the card fee if you buy a ‘real card’.
      2) Yes, there is no limit in how many passengers can use one card as long as you have enough credits. The only issue comes up if you use the Metrobus or Marmaray, if you don’t travel until the last stop you get money back at the exit but this won’t work if you use one card with more people.
      3) If you are not a student in Istanbul you are not eligible for a student card.
      4) You can use any credit card in the mobile app, that’s very convenient.

      I hope this helps 🙂

  3. Thanks for all these infos. If you pay contactless with debit/credit cards or your mobile, are the ticket prices the same as if you use the Istanbulkart?

    • Hi Alessandra, yes prices are the same both on the virtual card, debit/credit cards, contactless payments and istanbulkart card. Just keep in mind that your bank may charge a currency exchange fee.

  4. Hello,
    I’m planning to use the Istanbulkart to pay for all means of transports which will be necessary to get from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to the city centre and from the city centre to Istanbul airport.
    Do I have to tap my card everytime I change means of transportation?
    So for example from SAW to Sirkeci if I’m taking
    M4 to Ayrilik Cesmesi
    then B1 to Sirkeci
    do I have to tap for both persons in every station?
    Final cost will be the SUM of M4 + B1 transits (so I guess 9,90 + 9,90 x 1 passenger)?
    Thanks a lot

    • Hi Guilia, yes you have to tap your card every time you make an interchange. In almost all cases you can’t access the station without holding your card on the card reader. And yes, you have to tap for all travelers. The card readers are connected to a barrier and it only opens up for one person per use. You can use one card for more travelers. All transits are counted as a full fare, so you pay for two rides per passenger. If you are traveling after August, prices are up to 15 TL since the last price increase on August 11th. Hope this helps!

  5. I don’t find the Istanbul Kart fully useful. I prefer the german Wochenkarte or the one they use in Denmark which is very similar to the Wochenkarte. A tourist pays a fixed price for the Wochenkarte and he/she can take any kind of public transportation (trams, buses, metro, etc. except taxis or shuttles) as many times as necessary during 7 days without having to recharge the card. After 7 seven days the card expires.