Istanbul Metro System’s most comprehensive guide

Istanbul is a city with a population of about 15 million people, where thousands of businessmen and tourists come daily. Of course, the transportation of such flows of people simply cannot do without an efficiently established public transport system. Today, more than 5 million people use its services every day. Public transport in the metropolis is represented by a network of shuttle buses, trams, lifts and ferries. But the most significant for city guests here is the metro of Istanbul. We talk about how the metro functions and how to use it in detail in our article.

And if you are looking for some inspiration to visit Turkey, then read this.

Istanbul Metro

Istanbul Metro Features

The metro in Istanbul is a fairly young and developing facility. Although its construction began back in 1988, and individual stations started operating the next year, the subway was opened as an integrated system only in September 2000. The prerequisites for the construction of the metro appeared in 1875, when a railway was laid in the city with a length of about 600 meters, connecting two districts – Galata and Karaköy. But until the 21st century, the project was not developed further

Istanbul metro map

Today, on the Istanbul metro map, you can see seven lines: five of the branches shown on the diagram are located in the European region of the city, and two in the Asian part. The total length of tracks for 2018 is just over 170 km. By 2023, municipal authorities plan to increase this figure to 625 km. Now there are 90 functioning stations, but their number is growing every year. Most of the underground tracks run in underground tunnels, although there are many routes that run above the ground.

Related entries:

Metro lines

The Istanbul metro scheme shows seven separate branches, each of which is highlighted in its own color. Some of the lines are quite long, others are shorter. To better understand the metro scheme, we will consider each branch separately.

1. M1A Yenikapı – Atatürk Havalimanı

This is the first metro railway line in Istanbul: from the airport to the city ​​center you can get it on this particular line. It began to function in 1989 and expanded until 2014. The laughter is marked in red.

M1A Yenikapı - Atatürk Havalimanı
  • Total length: 21 km
  • Number of stations: 18
  • Number of wagons in use: 105
  • Travel time: 35 minutes
  • Daily passenger traffic: 400 thousand
  • Daily rides: 169 one way
  • Interval of movement: 6 minutes (during peak hours)
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 to 00:00
  • Color chart: red

2. M1B Yenikapı –Kirazlı

This metro line is operated in conjunction with the M1A line, which can be seen from the diagram. At the Otogar station, the M1B departs from the M1A and follows in a westerly direction, making 4 more stops. On the metro map of Istanbul, it is also highlighted in red.

M1B Yenikapı - Kirazlı
  • Total length: 14 km
  • Number of stations: 13
  • Number of wagons in use: 105
  • Travel time: 25 minutes
  • Daily passenger traffic: 400 thousand
  • Daily rides: 168 one way
  • Interval of movement: 4 minutes (during peak hours)
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 to 00:00
  • Color chart: red

3. M2 Yenikapı-Hacıosman

The construction of the line began in 1992 and continued until 2014. It is on this branch that you can get to the famous tourist site in Istanbul – Taksim Square. On the metro map of the city, it is marked in green.

M2 Yenikapı-Hacıosman
  • Total: 23.5 km
  • Number of stations: 16
  • Number of wagons in use: 180
  • Travel time: 31 minutes
  • Daily passenger traffic: 320 thousand
  • Daily rides: 225 one way
  • Interval of movement: along the route Yenikapı – Hacıosman – 5 minutes, along the route Taksim – Hacıosman – 2.5 minutes, in the direction Sanayi Mahallesi – Seyrantepe – 9 minutes (during peak hours)
  • Opening hours: from 06:15 to 00:00
  • Color chart: green

4. M3 Kirazlı-Olimpiyat-Başakşehir

This is a pretty young metro line. The construction of the route started in 2006 and lasted until 2013, when the branch opened. In the city map, M3 is highlighted in blue.

M3 Kirazlı-Olimpiyat-Başakşehir
  • Total: 15.9 km
  • Number of stations: 11
  • Number of wagons in operation: 80
  • Travel time: 20 minutes
  • Maximum carrying capacity: up to 70 thousand passengers per hour
  • Interval of movement: 3 minutes (during peak hours)
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 to 00:00
  • Color scheme: blue

5. M4 Kadıköy-Tavşantepe

The opening of the M4 branch took place in two stages: the first one took place in August 2012, the second in October 2016. This is a very young line, today it is the longest branch with the largest number of stops. On the city map, on the Istanbul metro map is marked in pink.

M4 Kadıköy-Tavşantepe
  • Total length: 26 km
  • Number of stations: 19
  • Number of wagons in use: 144
  • Travel time: 82 minutes
  • Maximum carrying capacity: up to 70 thousand passengers per hour
  • Interval of movement: 4 minutes (during peak hours)
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 to 00:00
  • Color scheme: pink

6. M5 Üsküdar-Yamanevler

M5 is the youngest metro line, which began its work recently – in December 2017. Now the branch is only at the first stage of opening and is not fully functioning. In the diagram, it is marked in purple.

M5 Üsküdar-Yamanevler
  • Total length: 10.5 km (after the final opening, the length will be 17.8 km)
  • Number of stations: 9 (after the final opening, their number will increase to 16)
  • Number of wagons in use: 126
  • Travel time: 20 minutes (upon completion of all work, the route will take 32 minutes)
  • Daily passenger traffic: 100 thousand
  • Daily Trips: 288
  • Interval of movement: 8 minutes (during peak hours)
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 to 00:00
  • Color chart: purple

7. M6 Levent-Boğaziçi Ü. / Hisarüstü

M6 is the shortest metro line in Istanbul, which has been operating since April 2015. On the metro map of the city, it is indicated in brown.

M6 Levent-Boğaziçi Ü. / Hisarüstü
  • Total length: 3.3 km
  • Number of stations: 4
  • Number of wagons in operation: 12
  • Travel time: 7 minutes
  • Daily rides: 156 one way
  • Interval of movement: 5 minutes (during peak hours)
  • Opening hours: from 06:00 to 00:00
  • Color scheme: brown

Operating Hours and Intervals

In the subway

As can be seen from the description above, the time for the metro in Istanbul on most lines is determined by the interval from 06:00 to 00:00. Only on the way to M2, the compositions begin their work at 06:15. Depending on the workload of the routes, metro lines show different traffic intervals. So, the shortest of them is 2.5 minutes, the longest – 9 minutes. The average waiting time for trains is 5 minutes. To get to your destination on time, be sure to study the metro map in advance.

Note: The best way to see Istanbul in 3 days.

Metro Fare

The cost of a trip by subway in Istanbul directly depends on the means of payment. Today, there are several ways to pay for travel, each of which requires a separate consideration.

1. Tokens

Metro Tokens in Istanbul

The most common method of paying for the city metro among travelers is a token. The cost of one token is 5 tl, and it gives the right to make one trip. You can buy it at any metro station in the machine with the inscription Jetonmatik. It should be noted that machines accept only cash. At each terminal, the denomination of the coin and banknote is indicated on the machine. In general, this is a rather convenient way to pay for the metro, and it will be beneficial for those tourists who do not plan to stay in Istanbul for a long time.

2. Ticket

Mavi Kart Pass

If your stay in the city is estimated at 3-4 weeks, and you plan to use the subway often, then in this case it will be most profitable for you to purchase a Mavi Kart pass (“Blue Card”). This card gives the right to make 180 trips in the Istanbul metro, and its cost is 205 tl, so here one trip is 4.5 times cheaper than when using a token.

If you are not profitable to buy a Mavi Kart, then you have the opportunity to use other travel cards that are designed for one or more trips. The following e-tickets are provided:

  • 1 subway pass – 5 tl
  • 2 passes – 8 tl
  • 3 passes – 11 tl
  • 5 passes – 17 tl
  • 10 passes – 32 tl

Which of these options will be the most economical for you depends on the number of trips you plan to make.

See also: Which hotel to stay in the historical district of Istanbul?

3. Istanbul Card

Electronic card Istanbulkart

Perhaps the most profitable way to take the metro is to buy a universal electronic card Istanbulkart. Today, most locals use such a pass, but, unfortunately, not many tourists know about its existence. You will be able to pay for them with trips not only by metro, but also by other types of public transport (by bus, tram). The price of such a card is 6 tl. But you need to understand that this is the cost of only the card itself, which will give you the opportunity to move around in the subway with a good discount.

If desired, the amount of 6 tl can be returned through state points of sale of tickets when you are planning to leave the city. In order to use Istanbulkart, it is necessary to top up money in advance in a special device. How to do this, we will tell below. If you have this card, the price for one trip in the city metro will be only 2.6 tl.

Attention! In Istanbul metro, an extra charge is required when switching from one line to another. At the entrance to each branch there are turnstiles, therefore it is impossible to get without a pass from one path to another.

Each subsequent line change has its own tariffs:

  • 1st transition – 1.85 tl
  • 2nd transition – 1.40 tl
  • 3rd, 4th and 5th transition from branch to branch – 0.90 tl per shift

You will be interested: Where to eat in Istanbul overlooking the Bosphorus.

Where and how to buy a ticket

Satış Noktası Kiosk

So, with the tokens, everything is clear: they can be easily purchased at any Istanbul metro station. But travel and Istanbulkart are not sold everywhere. To purchase such cards you need to find special kiosks with the inscription Satış Noktası. They can be both public and private. Sometimes excursions are sold in these stalls, so many travelers simply pass by, missing the opportunity to buy a profitable ticket. As a rule, these kiosks are installed at traffic intersections with a large passenger flow. You can see the exact addresses of points in the districts of Istanbul on the official website of

Biletmatik Terminals

When you buy a “Blue Card” and travel cards for several trips, you do not have to replenish cards with cash. But on Istanbulkart you need to put a couple of dozen liras. This can be done in special Biletmatik terminals, which are also installed at important traffic intersections with large passenger traffic. For example, at the Atatürk Havalimanı station, located at the airport, such devices are available, there is also a kiosk for the sale of travel cards.

Recharge Istanbulkart card

To deposit funds through the terminal, attach your card to a special window on the right with the inscription “Istanbulkart”. On the blue screen, the amount available on the card will be displayed on the left. Next, you need to make banknotes in the bill acceptor one at a time and wait for the funds to be credited to the card (the device does not accept coins and does not give change). After, the pass can be removed from the window and proceed to the turnstiles. This is a fairly simple operation that will not take you more than 30 seconds. A complete list of addresses where the terminals are installed can be found here

How to use the metro in Istanbul

How to use the metro in Istanbul

Many travelers are looking for information on how to use the metro in Istanbul. And the algorithm of actions here is quite simple. Once you have purchased a ticket, go to the turnstiles. If you have a token, then lower it into a special turnstile slot and wait for the sound signal. If you have a travel card or Istanbulkart, then attach the card to the reading window and after the appropriate signal go further. When using Istanbulkart on the turnstile screen, the debited amount and the remainder on the card are displayed.

To navigate inside the subway, you can use the electronic display indicating the direction of train movement. In the wagons, each stop is accompanied by a voice announcement in Turkish and English, so it’s not difficult to figure out where to go. In order to be safe and not get lost, you can purchase or download the Istanbul metro map in Russian in advance.

Good to know: Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar) in Istanbul is one of the largest markets in the world

Istanbul metro rules

Istanbul metro has a number of strict rules, most of which are aimed at ensuring security and order:

    • All passengers, with the exception of children under 6 years old, must pay the fare. At the request of the metro personnel, the passenger must present their travel card. Transport cards for schoolchildren, students and senior citizens can be used only by the listed groups of people.
    • At stations and in cars it is necessary to maintain cleanliness.
Smoking at stations, platforms and in cars is strictly prohibited
    • Smoking tobacco and electronic cigarettes at stations, platforms and in cars is strictly prohibited.
    • Passengers must show respect for the metro staff and other passengers.
    • The metro in Istanbul has a strict working time: from the city airport you can get on the train from 06:00 to 00:00.
    • Photography within the metro for educational or commercial purposes is possible only with the permission of the administration.
    • In the city metro it is forbidden to transport combustible, explosive and flammable products.
    • The weight of your luggage should not exceed 30 kg, and its dimensions – 120x50x60 cm.
    • In the event of an emergency (detection of suspicious objects, a threat to the passenger’s health, etc.), you must contact the driver, security officers or other officials. You can also use the emergency stop button or the fire alarm button.
Do not enter the door labeled "Girilmez"
  • For your own safety, at stations and platforms, do not cross the yellow line and do not enter the door with the inscription “Girilmez” (“Entrance is forbidden”).
  • In the metro area it is forbidden to skate, skateboard and other such vehicles.
  • The Istanbul metro is allowed to transport small animals in cages and it is strictly forbidden to enter with large dogs (with the exception of guide dogs for the visually impaired), as well as transport poisonous animals.

Leave a Comment