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Public transport in Istanbul

Public transport in Istanbul

Istanbul's public transit system can be difficult to figure out; maps are rare and you often have to transfer, and pay another fare, to get where you are going. However, if you put some effort into it, you can avoid taxis and not walk too much. Each time you use a tram, metro, bus, or boat on the public transport system, you will need to use a token. The small metal/plastic tokens cost 2 TL (September 2011) and can be bought at various ticket kiosks & machines at bus, railway and metro stations. Ticket fares across buses, trams and metros are at a flat rate (i.e. not dependent on how far you go). Only cash in Turkish lira is accepted at ticket kiosks of public transport, no credit cards or foreign currency. Also be aware that the Istanbul subway system does not offer transfer tickets and as such each new line requires a new fare, unless you use an akbil or an Istanbulkart, see below.
An Akbil device.
An Akbil device.
Buying an AKBİL (AKıllı BİLet - Turkish acronym for "Smart Ticket") is a good idea if you are in Istanbul for more than a day or two, and intend to use public transport. AKBİL is a small electronic device serving as a ticket which may be used on buses, trams, suburban trains, metro, local ferries, etc. You buzz the AKBİL when you get on the bus or enter the tram/metro platform. The great part for travelers is that you can buy only one and buzz it as many times as there are passengers. You can buy or refill them at designated booths located at any major bus, tram, to metro station, as well as some other places such as newspaper stands close to bus stops. An AKBİL provides slightly discounted rates (about 0.10TL cheaper) compared to regular single tickets, as well as discounts in transfers (when used multiple times within a limited period, roughly an hour and a half since the last time you used it). A deposit for the device itself is payable when you buy it (6 TL), which is refundable if you choose to return it later. However, the credit left in the AKBİL is not refundable, so plan ahead accordingly. The Akbil is currently being phased out in favor of the "Istanbulkart" smart card. Istanbulkarts can be purchased and refilled at the same locations as Akbils; however, reports indicate that they are not yet universally accepted. Readers seem to be in place at all tram/Metro stations and ferry terminals, though. Buses and streetcars tend to be very crowded during rush hours, especially on Mondays and Fridays. That can also create opportunities for pickpockets.

The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Istanbul

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Istanbul Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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