Istanbul’s Metro system of underground and surface rapid-transit trains, trams and funiculars is growing quickly and will be useful to you during your visit.
Hours of Operation
The Istanbul Metro and tram system runs from about 06:00 (6 am) to a little past 24:00 (12 midnight) or 01:00 (1 am), depending on the line and the direction of travel.
Istanbul Metro Map
Here’s my annotated map of the center of the system, the part you’re most likely to use. It’s easier to understand than the maps of the complete system published by Istanbul Metro.
How to Pay the Fare
There are multiple ways you can pay your fare.
The most useful lines for foreign visitors are shown in italics.
M1A Yenikapı – Aksaray – Havalimanı
You’re most likely to use the M1 Metro line that runs from Yenikapı and Aksaray Square in Old Istanbul via Istanbul’s main Otogar (bus terminal) to Atatürk Airport.
(The last Metro train from Atatürk Airport via the Otogar toYenikapı departs the airport at 01:00 am.)
Arriving in Istanbul by intercity bus, you can take Metro Line 1 right from the Otogar to Zeytinburnu and board the T1 Kabataş tram for Sultanahmet Square and Eminönü.
The Yenikapı Metro station, also a stop on the Marmaraysuburban train line, is near the terminal for “seabus” catamaran ferryboats and fast car ferries.
M1B: Esenler Otogar – Kirazlı
This line connects Istanbul’s main intercity bus terminal to the suburb of Kirazlı, meeting the M3 Metro line there.
M2: Yenikapı – Hacıosman
The M2 line connects Yenikapı (and its Fast Ferry Terminaland Marmaray suburban train station) with Şişhane (near Tünel Square) in Beyoğlu, Taksim Square, then north via Şişli through the modern business and residential sections of the Levents as far as Hacıosman, only 5 km (3 miles) southwest of Sarıyer on the European shore of the northern Bosphorus. This is the fastest way to reach northern Bosphorus destinations such as Emirgan, Sarıyer and the Black Sea beaches at Kilyos.
M3: Kirazlı – Başakşehir – Metrokent
Northwestern continuation of Metro Line M1B.
M4: Kadıköy – Tavşantepe
Going from Kadıköy on the Asian shore of the Bosphorussoutheast via Kozyatağı and Bostancı to Kartal, Pendik and Kaynarca, this line is convenient for getting to Sabiha Gökçen Airport (via İETT city bus) and to the fast ferry docks at Pendik for Yalova and Bursa. By 2019 or 2020 the M4 line should be extended all the way to Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
M5: Üsküdar – Çekmeköy
This line is under construction from the Asian-shore Bosphorusferry docks in Üsküdar eastward to the suburb of Çekmeköy. It will eventually extend to Sabiha Gökçen Airport (2020?)
Not technically a part of the Istanbul Metro system, the suburban trans-Bosphorus Marmaray underground train line is fully integrated with the Istanbul Metro system.
İstanbul Ulaşım also operates several surface tram lines, the most useful of which are the T1 Bağcılar-Kabataş tram and the T2 Taksim-Tünel Nostalgic Tram.
İstanbul Ulaşım operates the F1 Füniküler line linking Kabataşwith Taksim Square, and the historic F2 Tünel underground line between Karaköy and Tünel Square.
The Metro Istanbul website now has an English-language section and is improving in usability. The Journey Planner is still problematic, but the Network Maps remain the most useful aspect. Here’s their info on fares.
New Metro in an Old City
Imagine the difficulty of constructing a Metro in Istanbul, a city that is nothing but layers of history.
Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul—every excavation discovers some new archeological site that must be studied, catalogued, preserved.