IstanbulKart Istanbul Public Transport Card: fares, buying & using tips

Istanbul is a massive city, and getting around can be daunting for first-time visitors. The IstanbulKart is a public transportation card that makes getting around the city much easier. The IstanbulKart is a rechargeable card that can be used on all of Istanbul’s public transportation, including buses, metro trains, trams, and even ferries. You can buy an IstanbulKart at any major public transportation station and using the card is simple. Here’s everything you need to know about the IstanbulKart so that you can begin your Istanbul adventures with ease!

What is IstanbulKart?

IstanbulKart is a rechargeable public transport card that can be used nearly everywhere in the city! When traveling in Istanbul, the IstanbulKart is required at all times in order to use Istanbul’s buses, metros, or other modes of transportation. In Istanbul, you cannot just hop on the bus or metro and pay cash, instead you need to pay using this card.

Istanbul’s public transportation system is extremely advanced and you can get nearly anywhere in the city by public transport and without a car. In many cases, taking public transport is even faster than driving! You can access nearly all public transportation lines in Istanbul with an IstanbulKart as the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi) is in charge of the operation of all public transportation in the city.

Where to use IstanbulKart?

The card is valid for all public transport options in Istanbul. This includes metro, buses, metrobus, tunnels, Marmaray, nostalgic trams in Taksim and Kadıköy, funicular ride at Kabataş, cable car, IDO ferries or city lines, Turyol (Bosphorus cruise), Dentur (Bosphorus cruise), TCDD railways, and HAVABUS at Sabiha Gökçen Airport and HAVAIST at Istanbul Airport.

This means you can use the IstanbulKart on nearly all forms of public transportation in the city, all within Istanbul’s Metropolitan Municipality borders. More recently, certain shops and kiosks are also beginning to accept the IstanbulKart as payment as well. Keep an eye out for the signs at the cash register if you would like to use your IstanbulKart as your form of payment in a shop.

Insider Tip: Dolmus (Mini-Buses) Do Not Accept IstanbulKart

There are smaller mini-buses throughout Istanbul, called Dolmus. They are usually a blue or light gray color with the bus stops printed on the side and they travel short distances through various neighborhoods. These smaller mini-buses do not accept the IstanbulKart or credit card and you need to pay with Turkish Lira in cash or coins only.

How Do I Get the IstanbulKart?

You can purchase your IstanbulKart from the yellow Biletmatik on the bus/service floor of Istanbul Airport. In Sabiha Gökçen Airport, you can buy an IstanbulKart from the kiosk on the street level. In the city, you can get the IstanbulKart at every metro, tram, Metrobus, and ferry station.

You can also buy your IstanbulKart, from kiosks and stores near the stations and start enjoying your trip in Istanbul instantly. If you are more technologically savvy, download the IstanbulKart app and use a virtual card instead.

How Do I Add Money to my IstanbulKart?

IstanbulKart is a pre-paid, rechargeable card. You have two options on how to add money to your card. You can either (1) top up with an estimated sum that you think is enough for the whole duration of your trip or (2) you can pay as you go, which means you can top up your card with small amounts of money as you travel.

If you are staying over 5 days, it’s a good idea to add a larger amount of money to your card, so you don’t have to worry about running out of money and missing your connection at inconvenient times. No matter which option you choose, you are always able to recharge your card at any time of day or night.

Cards can be recharged at yellow Biletmatik located inside or outside major metro and ferry stations. Some major bus stops may have the yellow Biletmatik but it is rare for the smaller stops. If you are traveling by bus, it is recommended to make sure that you have enough funds for your entire journey. Another option is to download the IstanbulKart app and add funds to your card that way also. This is a hassle free way to keep your card charged without needing the yellow Biletmatik stations.

How Much Is the IstanbulKart?

IstanbulKart provides a budget-friendly travel option in Istanbul. In today’s changing economy, the price of the IstanbulKart and the various fares are constantly changing. Upon arrival, you can check the yellow Biletmatik for the price of a card and the respective fares.

A deposit is required in order to purchase your first IstanbulKart card, before you can add money. The deposit is nonrefundable. If you are traveling to Turkey often, save your IstanbulKart and use it each time you come to Istanbul! If you worry about losing your card, download the IstanbulKart App and add your card numbers to the digital wallet.

For public transport pricing in the city, please check iett.istanbul

How to Use the IstanbulKart

Using the IstanbulKart is extremely simple. It is a magnetic card that you hold to a card reader from a distance of 5-10 centimeters. If the payment has been accepted, you will hear a specific sound notifying you to proceed and you will also be able to see the remaining amount of money on the screen of the card reader.

If there is not enough money in the card, the text “Yetersiz Bakiye” will appear on the screen. You will also hear a different sound alerting you to top up. You will be able to quickly and easily recharge your IstanbulKart from the nearest top up point.

Recently, the IstanbulKart App has also become a popular option. Users can download the application, put money onto their virtual card, and open a QR code to be read over the scanners in certain metro stations.

How to Check Your IstanbulKart Balance?

You can use the yellow Biletmatik machines to check your remaining balance during your Istanbul trip. Additionally, when you tap your card on the card reader, the first line will show you the price of your journey, and the second line will show you the remaining balance on your card.  If you want to check your balance online, you can do that instantly by downloading and using the IstanbulKart mobile application. See more on official bireysel.istanbulkart.istanbul

Insider Tip! – The Marmaray & Metrobus

The Marmaray and Metrobus are two of the most efficient ways to cross from one end of Istanbul to the other and go between Asia & Europe without the ferry. However, since they cover a longer distance in Istanbul, when you first board these modes of transportation, they will deduct the amount of 2 or 3 tickets from your IstanbulKart, depending on your point of entry.

Even if you are going a short distance, make sure that you have enough on your card for the charges for 2-3 tickets, or you will not be granted access through the turnstiles. When you arrive at your location, look for the Refund Machine “Iade Makinasi” and hold your card over the reader, to receive the appropriate refund. It will not refund the whole ticket. It will calculate how far you have traveled and refund the correct amount.

Insider Tip! Google Maps & Moovit App

While Google Maps is a great tool for helping you find your way around Istanbul, the most efficient and up-to-date is the Moovit application. The Moovit application will provide you with updates from the IETT and IBB if there is construction, route interruptions, or other important rule changes.

Summary of all

With an IstanbulKart, you’ll have everything you need to make the most of your time in this beautiful city. Enjoy every minute of your stay—the vibrant culture, delicious food, and stunning sights are sure to leave an impression that will last long after you return home. Make sure to take advantage of all that Istanbul has to offer; with a little bit of planning and the help of your IstanbulKart, there’s no limit to what you can see and do! Happy Exploring!

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