A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO THE ISTANBUL METRO: MAPS, LINES, FARES & TIMETABLE
Istanbul Metro has a 154,25 km long network that is expanding with each passing day with new projects to connect the whole city. In a metropolitan city like Istanbul, 2 million people use the metro every day. It is largely preferred due to its ease of use, speed and access to the majority of the city.
For the visitors of Istanbul, Istanbul Metro is the most recommended option for traveling. Yet, it may be overwhelming to learn everything about the metro lines, timetables and fares. We have prepared this comprehensive guide to answer some of the basic questions you may have in your mind and provide the most important information for your travels. Whenever you are confused, do not hesitate to ask the Istanbul Metro staff to help you with the issue. If you want to learn more about the Istanbul Metro and be ready for the next time you travel, make sure to read the entire guide not to miss out on any important information.
WHY IS IT BETTER TO TRAVEL BY METRO IN ISTANBUL?
Istanbul is a big and crowded city with around 15 million people. It is almost inevitable to have traffic on the roads. Metro, as well as the tramlines connected to it, are the fastest way to travel in Istanbul. Metro also connects most of the city and the important landmarks, making it easy for you to travel between the hotspots of Istanbul without needing to go on a bus or a Metrobus.
WHEN IS THE METRO OPERATING?
The Istanbul Metro is operating between the hours of 6:00 am and 12:00 am. However some lines may start later than 6:00 am, depending on their use. Therefore make sure to check the specific metro line’s timetable that you will be using. If the metro is your only way of traveling to your hotel, try to be back before 12:00 am as the metro stations close at midnight.
WHAT ARE THE METRO LINES?
These are the metro lines that are currently in use as of 2019. However, there are plans for future metro lines to connect the entire city. Make sure to check the official Istanbul Metro website to stay up to date with the current metro lines.
The 2019 map of the metro lines is here if you want to check them out or you can go on the official site to check the latest map.
M1A Yenikapı - Havalimanı
This is the metro line that was used frequently by the tourists in the past due to connecting the old Atatürk Airport to the Old City by tram lines.
M1B Esenler Otogar - Kirazlı
This line connects the bus terminal to the area called Kirazlı which then connects to the M3 metro line for further travel.
M2 Yenikapı - Hacıosman
This is the metro line that connects the Ferry Terminal as well as the Marmaray to the entertainment centers of Istanbul such as Taksim and Beyoglu.
M3 Kirazlı - Başakşehir- Metrokent
This is the line that is connected to the M1B metro line which takes you to the suburbs of the city and it is mostly used by locals.
M4 Kadıköy - Tavşantepe
This is the metro line on the Asian side of Istanbul that runs almost until the Sabiha Gökçen Airport. You can take the bus to reach the Sabiha Gökçen airport after getting off at the last station which is Tavşantepe as of 2019. This metro line is planned to be extended further to the Sabiha Gökçen Airport in the near future.
M5 Üsküdar - Çekmeköy
This is a line located on the Asian side and it is also mostly used by the locals.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER FAST TRAVEL OPTIONS?
There are also other fast travel options that connect to the metro lines to make traveling much easier.
Marmaray is the fastest way to reach from one continent to the other. It is basically an underground train line that travels fast and connects Europe and Asia in one line by going under the Bosphorus. Do not worry, you will not even realize you are under the sea and it is quite safe.
Trams are connected to the metro lines, reaching to the inner city as well as the Old Istanbul. They are modern trams yet they also blend in with the history of the city.
The Historical Tram
There are two old, red trams still operating in Istanbul which you may be familiar with from the photos of Istanbul, carrying the atmosphere of good old days.
The NT old tram line goes from Istiklal Street located in Taksim to Tünel.
The T3 old tram line is on the Asian side and travels from Kadıköy to Moda.
The funicular line links some of the most important travel destinations in the city such as Kabataş and Taksim Square or Karaköy and Tünel Square.
Karaköy - Tünel (T)
You can use this funicular to reach Galata without having to climb the slopes which could be difficult if you are tired. You can transfer to either the T1 tram line or the M2 metro line using this funicular line.
Taksim - Kabataş (F1)
You can travel from Taksim Square to Kabataş using the F1 funicular. Similar to the T line, you can also transfer to the T1 tram line or the M2 metro line from here.
WHICH METRO LINES WILL YOU BE USING MAINLY?
There are only two main metro lines you will be using the most to reach the important locations and landmarks in Istanbul.
The 2019 Istanbul Metro map is zoomed in and the important stations that will be used are highlighted in yellow for you to refer to when you need it.
M1A Yenikapı - Havalimanı
The M1A metro line is the backbone of the city as it connects to the T1 tram line that reaches Sultanahmet and Eminönü. If you are planning to visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia or Topkapı Palace, you will need to transfer to the T1 line.
M2 Yenikapı - Hacıosman
The M2 metro line is another important line for you. If you are planning to visit Taksim and Beyoglu, you have to take the M2 metro line. From the M2 metro line, you can take funiculars to reach the T1 tram line as well.
WHAT ARE THE FARES?
All the public transportations cost 5 TL for the first use and the transfer is 1.85 TL. However, we highly recommend you to buy Istanbulkart as it makes traveling around Istanbul 40% cheaper than regular tickets. With Istanbulkart, you only have to pay 2.65 TL and your transfer will cost less and less each time up to five transfers you make in two hours. Children who are older than 6 years old also need to pay the fare.
HOW CAN I USE ISTANBULKART?
You can buy the Istanbulkart in the major metro stops such as Sultanahmet, Eminonu or Taksim for 7 TL. Then, you can load cash into your Istanbulkart using the black and yellow colored machines found in every station. However, do not forget that coins are not accepted by the machine. After you are done traveling Istanbul, you can return the card and refund the 7 TL you paid for the card itself.
ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS FOR PAYING THE FARE?
Yes, there is one more option. You can use Elektronikkart which is a disposable card that allows you to travel for a certain amount of time. One time trip cards cost 5 TL and the list goes on till ten trips card which costs 32 TL. It is cheaper than having a one-trip card yet Istanbulkart is still the cheapest option.
CAN I TRAVEL WITH PETS ON THE METRO?
Guide dogs are allowed on the metro. Other than guide dogs, you can only travel with small pets that could fit into a cage. However, any animal that could potentially be harmful once escaped such as poisonous animals and reptiles are not allowed on the metros of Istanbul. Big dogs that cannot fit into a cage are not accepted on the metro as well.
CAN I TRAVEL WITH A BIKE ON THE METRO?
You can get onto the metro with foldable bikes at any time of the day. However, if you wish to get onto the metro with a regular, non-foldable bike, you can only do so between 09:00 am and 4:00 pm, and also after 8:00 pm for free.
DOES ISTANBUL METRO PROVIDE ACCESSIBILITY SERVICES?
Yes, and it is improving every day. Istanbul Metro believes in the equality of all to reach all the living spaces and understands that the real obstacles are not in the body but in the spaces. Istanbul Metro works hard to ensure safety and ease of use for the disabled passengers with escalators, elevators and ramps. Special, tactile pavings are used throughout the metro stations for visually impaired passengers to easily navigate. Labels with the Braille alphabet as well as audio-visual information are provided in the elevators. Announcements are regularly made to inform the impaired passengers of the stops, transfers and warnings. There are dedicated spaces for wheelchairs and seats available for disabled passengers to use safely. When in need, the Istanbul Metro staff is always happy to assist and guide you.
WHAT ARE THE TIMETABLES OF THE ISTANBUL METRO?
The metros come approximately every 6 minutes which means you do not have to wait for a long time for the metro to arrive. However, if you still want to check the timetable, you can go onto the official website of the Istanbul Metro and enter the details of the metro, tram or funicular line you wish to use to see the timetable: https://www.metro.istanbul/SeferDurumlari/SeferDetaylari
CAN I TRAVEL BETWEEN TAKSIM AND SULTANAHMET USING THE METRO?
Yes, you can. If you are in Sultanahmet, simply get on to the T1 tram line going towards Kabataş and get off on the last stop to transfer to the F1 funicular line to reach Taksim.
If you are in Taksim, take the F1 funicular line to reach Kabataş. Take the T1 tram line to reach Sultanahmet.
CAN I GO TO THE CITY CENTER FROM THE ISTANBUL AIRPORT USING THE METRO?
Unfortunately, no, you cannot. However, there are future plans for a new metro line that connects the new Istanbul Airport to the rest of the city. For now, you can take the Havaİst busses to reach the city center.
CAN I TRAVEL BY METROBUS?
Depending on where you want to go, yes you can. However, Metrobus only runs through the E5 highway. To reach the inner city, you would have to transfer to the metro or tram lines which would only be a waste of time and money. Therefore, using the metro lines are the most convenient way of traveling.
CAN I TRAVEL BY BUS?
There are hundreds of bus lines in Istanbul carrying the local to work, school or home every single day. However, taking the bus means getting stuck in the traffic for a while and it is not fun. Since you are only a visitor in Istanbul, there is no need to waste time on the busses unless you need to take the bus to reach somewhere otherwise you cannot reach such as the Sabiha Gökçen Airport. We do still recommend you to use the metro, tram, funiculars or Marmaray to reach anywhere in the shortest time possible.
ARE THERE ANY RULES TO FOLLOW?
There are certain rules to follow when taking the metro in Istanbul.
- Taking photos for commercial or educational purposes in the metro requires permission.
- Please do not carry luggage heavier than 30 kilograms and bigger than 120x50x60 cm in size.
- Do not use skates or skateboard in the metro stations for your safety.
- Do not get on the metro with flammable or explosive substances.
- In case of a problem or emergency, the nearest staff should be informed immediately.