Istanbul Metro system is a combination of the metro, light railway (tram) and funicular lines. Using Metro and Tram lines are the best way to get around in Istanbul.
Besides you can reach other public transportation options like ferries, funiculars easily and you can access Ataturk International Airport or Esenler Bus Station.
The means of public transportation are innumerable in Istanbul. At the beginning it can seem a little confusing but after you understand the basics, it will be very easy.
Read Public Transportation Made Easy first, if you haven’t yet.
There are 2 metro, 3 tram and 2 funicular lines within the Istanbul Metro System that concerns travellers.
It connects the Airport to Aksaray. You should get off at Zeytinburnu to take the “T1 Line, Zeytinburnu – Kabatas” tram that goes through Sultanahmet, Sirkeci, Eminonu and reaches Kabatas.
The M1 Line connects to the main bus station of Istanbul, “Esenler Otogar” the which serves for both international and domestic bus lines.
The stops are Osmanbey (entrance of Nisantasi, the chic shopping neighbourhood), Sisli, Gayrettepe, Levent, Levent 4th, Maslak, Ayazağa.
The full trip takes 25 minutes. Services run every five minutes from;- 06:15 to 00:30 Monday to Thursday, - 06:15 to 01:00 on Friday and Saturday, - 06:30 to 00:20 on Sunday.
An additional stop has been built recently; you can now also go to Sishane neighborhood by changing lanes in Taksim stop.
Sishane is close to the new “in” neighborhoods like; Asmalımescid, Galata, Tunel etc.
The 3 tram lines that travellers use mostly:
The most useful one for tourists starts in Zeytinburnu which rides through many major attractions in the Old City like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, Spice Market. Main stops are;
- Kabatas (for Istanbul Modern, Kılıc Ali Pasa Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace, taking a bus to Besiktas, taking the Kabatas Funicular to Taksim Square),
- Karakoy (for Karakoy, Karakoy Port, Galata through stairs, taking Tunel Funicular system to Istıklal Street),
- Eminonu (for Spice Bazaar, Rustem Pasha Mosque, Yeni Mosque, Tahtakale and Ports),
-Sirkeci (same as Eminonu, here you won’t go through an underpass to reach the main hubs),
-Gulhane (for Gulhane Park),
-Sultanahmet (you know, almighty Old City), - Cemberlitas (for Cemberlitas and Grand Bazaar), Beyazıt (for Grand Bazaar and Suleymaniye).
And it can be used to reach the Atatürk Airport with a transfer to Metro in Zeytinburnu.
This tram runs every five minutes from 06:00 to midnight. Ticket or Akbil can be used.
An antique tram runs along Istiklal Caddesi between Tünel Square and Taksim Square in Beyoglu.
The tram runs daily between 07:00 – 23:00 and makes three intermediary stops at “Hüseyin Aga Camii”, at “Galatasaray High School/Flower-Fish Market”, and at “Odakule”.
This can be a good sightseeing option if you plan to see the Asian Side. This tram runs, between Kadıköy Square and the residential neighbourhood of Moda.
There are two funiculars (Short underground systems) that combine to Istanbul Metro system.
This is an historic funicular called the “Tünel” carries passengers between Karaköy, from the base of the Galata Bridge, to Tunel Square, the Southwest end of Istiklal Street.
It is like travelling in time since it is the 3rd oldest subway in the world.
Tünel runs Monday through Saturday from 07:00 – 21:00 and Sunday from 07:30 – 21:00.
The second funicular is called “Füniküler”. It carries passengers from Kabatas (at the end of the tram line from Zeytinburnu, through the Old City and over the Galata Bridge) to Taksim Square in Taksim, the Northwest end of İstiklal Street.
It connects to the M2 Line in Taksim which takes you to the new modern city and the new shopping malls in Northern part of the city.
Both of these trips are short ones (2 minutes tops). Akbil can be used in both of them.
Istanbul Metro system gives travelers a very easy and budget-friendly option to get around.
Main line that a traveler in Istanbul will use is the T1 Line, (Kabatas-Zeytinburnu Tram) which goes through the major attractions.
The other ones that travellers might use are the funicular systems.
Istanbul Metro System is growing bigger each year. Here you can find the most recent Istanbul Metro Routes: www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/en/