Essential advice for the world’s most interesting city

How to use Istanbul’s Metro

How to use Istanbul's metro system

Only launched in 2000, the sleek, fast, modern Istanbul metro system makes getting around Istanbul incredibly easy for tourists and locals alike.

The metro trains are air-conditioned and, compared to many other capital cities, extremely spacious and clean.

What are the lines on Istanbul’s metro?

Six metro lines are now operating, many providing easy connections to tram and funicular lines. There are two main lines on the European side. The M1 line (the red line on all metro maps) has two branches on its western side: The M1A line starts at the (now closed to passengers) Ataturk airport, while the M1B line begins at Kirazli, with both ending at Yenikapi.

The number of lines will be brought to seven when Istanbul’s new high-speed Airport-Gayrettepe  line (M11) opens in late 2020, connecting the city’s network to the new Istanbul Airport.

Both the M1 branches also connect to Istanbul’s main bus terminal (Otogar station).

Also serving the European side, the M2 line (the green line on the maps) runs from Yenikapi to Haciosman. The M2 line (Yenikapi Metro Stop) carries passengers from the historical Fatih area (featuring The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Suleymaniye Mosque, The Spice Bazaar, Valens Aquaduct and other points of interest) to the leafy villages of the Sariyer district on the Bosporus coast. The M2 – and the recently opened, three-stop M6 line that connects at the Levent station – provide excellent connectivity to many of Istanbul’s top shopping malls (Metrocity, Kanyon, Ozdilek Park, Sapphire-4th tallest building in Turkey), as well as to the city’s financial district.

On the Asian side, the two main lines are the M4 from Kadıköy to Tavşantepe, and the M6 from Üsküdar to Çekmeköy.

Istanbul public transportation map

Public transport map Istanbul Vacation Tips
Click to enlarge Istanbul public transport map

How Do You Buy A Ticket for the Istanbul Metro?

There are various ways to get metro ticket. Electronic card point of sales, Biletmatik or Jetonmatik token machines allow you to buy metro tickets. They are located at metro stations (at the street-level outside the metro station or mostly underground metro stations) major bus stops, tram stations and also ferry docks or you can buy the ticket at snack/newspaper kiosks. You can buy your ticket or reload your credit onto your Istanbulkart with coin, Turkish lira notes or credit card. The machines’ instructions are English, German and Turkish.

Is a Transport Pass available for the Istanbul Metro?

If you are planning to stay more than 2-3 days and need to use public transportation multiple times during a day, Istanbul Card (Istanbul Kart), prepaid and rechargeable, will come in handy. There are also different types of tickets to use the metro: electronic fare cards (single-use or reusable tickets which can be swiped twice, three times, up to 10 times), token (jeton) or Besi bir yerde kart which allows you to trip 5 times and saves you from buying 5 tokens at a time.

Locals’ tips for using the Istanbul Metro

  • Insider tip 1: If your children are younger than 6 years old and do not occupy a seat, they can travel without a ticket.
  • Insider tip 2: If ‘arızalıdır’ or ‘hizmet dışıdır’ is written on the machine, it means ‘out of order’, so do not use this machine to get your ticket.