Public transport in Turkey

How to get around in Turkey

Turkey offers a wide range of public transport, most of which is very affordable even to travellers on the tightest of budgets. Make sure you know which mode suits you best so that you are armed with the information before getting on board.  

Public transport in Turkey

Metro around Istanbul

The Istanbul metro network is run by Istanbul Ulasim A.S.  and offers 9 lines which are split into the M- and T-lines, plus Aerial cable car lines offering passengers views of the city as they make their way around it. The network provides access to 70 stations around the city, and with 30 more under construction, it will be a thorough and efficient way of getting around.

The M1 line is likely to be your first experience of the Istanbul network as it connects the Ataturk airport to the city centre. The usual running hours are from 6am til 12am, however the final departure time from the airport is extended until 1am.

Metro networks are also available in Ankara, Izmir and Burza. In all the networks, fares tend to be around ₺2 (€0.59), which is very cheap. With low cost, however, comes some organisational problems, for example the absence of network maps until through the ticket barriers.

Railways in Turkey

Almost 21 million passengers use Turkey’s railway system per year run by the State Railways of the Turkish Republic  (TCDD), which offers several different services:

  • High-speed (Hızlı Tren): High-speed rail services and TCDD's premier service.
  • Mainline (Anahat): Intercity trains connecting major cities.
  • Regional (Bölgesel): Trains operating within their respective region.
  • Commuter (Banliyö): Commuter trains, currently operating in Ankara and İstanbul.
  • International (Uluslararası): Trains extending beyond Turkey, toward Europe or the Middle East.

Buses

Tickets for most city buses in Turkey must be bought in advance from kiosks, either at the station or certain shops. Private buses exist which often run the same routes as the public buses which allow tickets to be bought onboard. If you’re looking for comfort, be aware that the private buses tend to be slightly older.

Prices are similar to those of the metro, hovering around the ₺2 (€0.59) mark.

An alternative to the bus is the dolmuş which, while a little more expensive, offers a faster, more comfortable journey.

Taxis

As with most countries, there is often one rule for locals and another for tourists (or foreigners in general). Taxi drivers will generally try to charge a flat rate for non-locals, but this will often mean you are paying through the nose. Insist on using the meter unless you are going to the airport.

Aeroplanes

If travelling around Turkey by road seems too arduous for you, there are several airlines offering domestic flights around the country:

  • Turkish Airlines
  • Pegasus Airlines
  • Atlasjet

While Turkish Airlines may be the best option when leaving the country, the two latter options are more economical when exploring what Turkey has to offer.

Metro around Istanbul

The Istanbul metro network is run by Istanbul Ulasim A.S.  and offers 9 lines which are split into the M- and T-lines, plus Aerial cable car lines offering passengers views of the city as they make their way around it. The network provides access to 70 stations around the city, and with 30 more under construction, it will be a thorough and efficient way of getting around.

The M1 line is likely to be your first experience of the Istanbul network as it connects the Ataturk airport to the city centre. The usual running hours are from 6am til 12am, however the final departure time from the airport is extended until 1am.

Metro networks are also available in Ankara, Izmir and Burza. In all the networks, fares tend to be around ₺2 (€0.59), which is very cheap. With low cost, however, comes some organisational problems, for example the absence of network maps until through the ticket barriers.

Railways in Turkey

Almost 21 million passengers use Turkey’s railway system per year run by the State Railways of the Turkish Republic  (TCDD), which offers several different services:

  • High-speed (Hızlı Tren): High-speed rail services and TCDD's premier service.
  • Mainline (Anahat): Intercity trains connecting major cities.
  • Regional (Bölgesel): Trains operating within their respective region.
  • Commuter (Banliyö): Commuter trains, currently operating in Ankara and İstanbul.
  • International (Uluslararası): Trains extending beyond Turkey, toward Europe or the Middle East.

Buses

Tickets for most city buses in Turkey must be bought in advance from kiosks, either at the station or certain shops. Private buses exist which often run the same routes as the public buses which allow tickets to be bought onboard. If you’re looking for comfort, be aware that the private buses tend to be slightly older.

Prices are similar to those of the metro, hovering around the ₺2 (€0.59) mark.

An alternative to the bus is the dolmuş which, while a little more expensive, offers a faster, more comfortable journey.

Taxis

As with most countries, there is often one rule for locals and another for tourists (or foreigners in general). Taxi drivers will generally try to charge a flat rate for non-locals, but this will often mean you are paying through the nose. Insist on using the meter unless you are going to the airport.

Aeroplanes

If travelling around Turkey by road seems too arduous for you, there are several airlines offering domestic flights around the country:

  • Turkish Airlines
  • Pegasus Airlines
  • Atlasjet

While Turkish Airlines may be the best option when leaving the country, the two latter options are more economical when exploring what Turkey has to offer.

Further reading

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