How to Get an Istanbul Kart, and is it Worth It

Picture of the Istanbul Kart transportation card.

by Erlend Geerts

in Transportation

Istanbul Kart (Istanbul Card) is in essence an all-round public transportation boarding pass. To immediately answer the question raised in the title: yes it is worth getting one if you plan to use (the advantages of) public transportation multiple times during your stay in Istanbul. So, unless you prefer to do everything on foot or take a taxi to get around, please do continue reading to find out where to get it, how to use it, and the advantages it has.

What is Istanbul Kart?

The card was introduced in 2009. It’s a contact less or RFID (Radio-frequency identification) card for public transportation fare payment. It has the exact same size as a regular credit card, so it fits perfectly in your wallet. The card is pre-paid and easily rechargeable.

The Advantages of Istanbul Kart

There are quite a few advantages to getting an Istanbul Kart as opposed to buying tokens or ticket every time you’re going to use public transportation.

    1. Multi-Purpose — This single card enables you to pay for multiple types of transportation: buses, metros, ferries, funiculars, and tramways (yes, even the nostalgic one running on Istiklal Caddesi). Moreover, most of these transportation types no longer accept cash payments, so you’ll have to buy some kind of token or ticket before boarding anyway.
    2. Pre-Paid — Istanbul Kart is a prepaid and rechargeable card. This means that you don’t have to stand in line (and maybe miss the bus or tram) to get a valid boarding pass every time you plan to make use of public transportation. And uploading more credits can be done at designated machines, most of the times without a queue in front of you.
Waving the Istanbul Kart before the reader on a bus in Istanbul, Turkey.

Waving the Istanbul Kart before the reader on a bus.

  1. Ease of Use — It is not necessary to bring the Istanbul Kart in contact with the reader. You can pay for your fare by ‘waving’ the smart card within 8 cm (3.1 in) of the reader. In most cases you don’t even have to take it out of your wallet, purse or light hand bag. Upon making a successful payment, the reader will make a sound and the screen will light up showing the amount left on the card. In case of insufficient funds, the screen will read Kontör Yetersiz.
  2. Multiple Travelers — There is no need to buy multiple cards since one Istanbul Kart can be used for up to 5 passengers. After paying the fare for the first passenger, let him or her hop on or pass through the turnpike, wait a few seconds, and again wave the card in front of the reader.
  3. Discounts — By using the card, you already benefit from a 10% discount over the normal fare. Instead of paying 2 TL per ride, you pay 1.95. And there is more. You can make up until five transfers/connections within a two hour period, and you’ll pay less for every transfer, already only 1.25 TL for the first transfer.

Where to Get an Istanbul Kart

The easiest way to get the Istanbul Kart is at major transit stops such as the airport, Sultanahmet, and Eminönü. To buy an Istanbul Kart, you need to pay a non-refundable 10 TL fee (for the actual card and the service), and of course an amount of your choice to load onto the card.

How to Reload the Istanbul Kart

To reload the card, you can either go to newsstands and small shops (look for the phrase Akbil Dolum Noktası) which offer this service, use self-service special purpose machines at major transit stations. The machines accept notes of 5, 10, 20, and 50 TL and have instructions in multiple languages.

What's Next

{ 153 comments… read them below or add one }

David October 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Hello, a quick question, last year I brought a Istanbulkart on my visit. I plan to return again to Istanbul in December 2012, could I use my Istanbulkart and reload it ?

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Erlend Geerts October 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Hi David,

I obviously never waited a year to recharge it. Having said that, since the one you bought is probably not a personal or discounted one, I see no reason why it shouldn’t work after recharging, which actually works like reactivating it.

So yeah, bring it along, and reload it as soon as you can. Try the lowest possible amount (five Turkish liras I guess) and take it for a test drive. If it doesn’t work, you can buy a new one for only $4.

Erlend

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Amrita November 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Hi,

I’d like to know if there is any minimum charge which goes towards buying this card?

Thanks,
Amrita

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Erlend Geerts November 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Hi Amrita,

I think the minimum deposit/refill is 5 TL. Which makes sense, since a single ride is almost 2 TL.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Franci December 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm

On december 2012 it was possible to buy Istanbul card on airport, because i have buy it. One of machines directly from metro station sold them. So, you can use it from airport to town.

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Erlend Geerts December 25, 2012 at 12:31 am

Franci,

Thanks a lot for sharing this information. Glad to hear they finally made it possible for tourist arriving at the airport to get an Istanbul Kart. Which is only logical if you ask me.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Afiq Karim February 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I don’t understand the part when it can be used with multiple traveller! i hope u can explain a bit for me

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Erlend Geerts February 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Hi Afiq,

Let’s say you’re a party of three, you can do with only one card as long as you always travel together. For every person (one by one) the fare price will be deducted from the credits you put on the card.

Erlend

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Ivana February 10, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Hi,
I wonder if the discount you get for using the card within the 120 min still apply if two people use the same card?

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Erlend Geerts February 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hi Ivana,

If you travel with multiple passengers on one card, only one passenger will get the discount rate. That’s the downside of using it with multiple passengers.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Irtiza February 17, 2013 at 1:44 am

It says here something about “within a 2 hour period”.
I’ll be staying in turkey for 2 days, would i need to purchase a new card after 2 hr?

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Erlend Geerts February 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Hi Irtiza,

The two hour time span is for transfers at a discounted rate. Your card has no expiration date. Of course you need to refill it from time to time, as mentioned in the article.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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A. Khan February 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Interesting. I was in Istanbul in 2012 but never heard of this facility. Not selling them at the airport does not make sense specially when Ataturk Airport is connected to the city by metro.

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Erlend Geerts February 20, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Hi Khan,

That’s strange. They have been around for over a year. And I’m told they sell them at the airport too now.

Erlend

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Karmajauppa February 21, 2013 at 3:20 pm

What about the leftover value? Is it possible to gain it back?

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Erlend Geerts February 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I think you can, but you will have to go to a sales booth for that.

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Nade March 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Hi,
Is this card available at Sabiha Gokcen Airport and can it be used in Havatas busses?

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Erlend Geerts March 19, 2013 at 7:29 am

Hi Nade,

You can not use this card on the Havataş service. So be prepared to have some small notes. I have no knowledge of Istanbul Kart being available at Sabiha Gökçen, but the open new sales points all the time.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Marianne May 16, 2013 at 12:46 am

We’ve been in Istanbul in May 2013 an it was possible to buy an istanbul card at sabiha Airport (small booth behind Havatas and public bus departure Point)
It is possible to pay havatas busses with ist; i¨ve asked the driver!

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Erlend Geerts May 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Hi Marianne,

Thanks a lot for sharing this with our readers.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Rezaul K March 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Hi,
You wrote that the 10 TL to buy the Istanbulkart is refundable. Would you happen to know how I can get the money back? If that’s the case, I am planning to buy separate cards to get the transfer discount as well. Thanks in advance!

Best,
Rezaul

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Erlend Geerts March 24, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Hi Rezaul,

You can get the refund at the same booth where you buy the card. Ask the attendant when you buy the card, to make sure.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Sandra April 3, 2013 at 2:07 am

Thanks for all this information, it is extremely helpful especially since I will be travelling with kids. Do I need to pay for kids ? They are both under 10.
And can I also ask you, what is the best way to get to Sultanahmet area from Sabiha Airport? Thanks

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Erlend Geerts April 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

Hi Sandra,

I suggest you take the Havataş shuttle to Taksim, and from there a taxi to Sultanahmet. As for public transportation, since your kids already take up a seat, I’m afraid they’ll need to pay too.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Amir April 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Really helpful website.

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Dalia April 9, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I’ll be travelling to Istanbul with my husband next week for 3 days only. We’ll be arriving 6 am. What is the best and cheapest way to go to Sultanahmet? What are the must see places?

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Erlend Geerts April 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

Hi Daila,

Did you check out these post on transportation from the airport and getting around in the city?

Erlend

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Steven Panzek April 9, 2013 at 11:06 pm

This is a very helpful site. I did have a question concerning the 10 TL refund. Do you have to go the same vendor where you purchased the card? Or can any vendor refund the 10TL? Many thanks.
Best regards,
Steve

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Erlend Geerts April 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

Hi Steven,

Any authorized vendor will do.

Erlend

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Mona April 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm

This card can be used on havas bus also?

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Erlend Geerts April 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Hi Mona,

No, I’m afraid not.

Erlend

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Shaymaa Amir April 16, 2013 at 12:11 am

Hi Erlend,
What about Akbil Transit Pass? how to use it and what about the fares?
Another question please is it easy to use a baby stroller in Istanbul like in metro and trams and buses? And can i use it in sightseeing like the mosque or it’s forbbiden?
Thank you so much

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Erlend Geerts April 18, 2013 at 11:01 am

Hi Shaymaa,

The Akbil transit pass has been replaced by the Istanbul Kart, but you can still use it if you have one (for now).

Use of a baby stroller in Istanbul is challenging, because of the small historical streets and even smaller pavements. Also, Istanbul is very crowded.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Stiliana April 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Is there on Ataturk Airport vendors who bring us back the amount of 10 TL when we departure from Istanbul?

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Erlend Geerts April 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Hi Stiliana,

I don’t know for sure, but I doubt it.

Erlend

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Shaymaa Amir April 23, 2013 at 2:23 am

Dear Erlend thank you so much for your help:)

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Marly Rocha April 24, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Hi,

I just want to thank you for all the tips on Istanbul. A really very useful and pratical site. With your help, I’m sure I’ll enjoy my stay in Istanbul and now I can avoid some tourist traps.

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Erlend Geerts April 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Hi Marly,

Thanks a lot, glad I could help.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Sardaigne April 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi,

Can we use the istanbulkart (student card) for 5 passengers ?

I mean can we pay with one card a road in a bus for 5 people ?

If it is not convenient, do you have another system more cheaper to travel with 5 people ?

Thanks !

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Erlend Geerts April 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Hi,

As it says in the article, up to 5 people can travel with one Istanbul Kart. However, for your own convenience, I suggest to get two cards and split the group.

Unless you can fit in 5 people in one cab (and the driver allows you!), public transportation is the cheapest and the quickest way to travel.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Wiktor April 28, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Hi,
Can not find whether non-Turkish citizen can apply for Social Istanbul Kart? We are over 60 thus we are eligible as per info. Once purchased – what is the validity of the Card?
Thanks in advance for you reply,
Wiktor

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Erlend Geerts April 29, 2013 at 8:01 am

Hi Wiktor,

Since I haven’t reached that age yet, I have had no opportunity to try this out. If I were you, I would just give it a try. If they accept, all the better. There is no validity date on the card. As long as you have credits on it, you can use it.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Karolina May 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hello Erlend,

Just wanted to say thank you for your effort, great website !

Best regards,

Karo

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Erlend Geerts May 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Thanks a lot Karolina, really appreciate it.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Anette May 14, 2013 at 11:26 am

Hi Erlend,

Thanks for your useful information. I’d like to ask a question. Istanbul Kart can be used for up to 5 passengers. We are 6 people travle together, is it means we need to buy 2 Istanbul Karts ? Thank you.

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Erlend Geerts May 14, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Hi Anette,

Yes, you should. I always recommend to buy two anyway if the group is over three people.

Have a nice stay,
Erlend

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Franz May 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm

To clarify, there are no volume discounts on public transportation only discounts on transfers? I presume I can return the card for the deposit at the same places where it is sold.

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Erlend Geerts May 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Correct on both accounts.

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Mirna May 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Thanks for the really useful information – now, since no one has asked, it might be my lack of common knowledge, but do you need to pay in cash for the IstanbulKart and to load it, or is there an option to pay with a credit card?

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Erlend Geerts May 28, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hi Mirna,

Cash it is, always your safest bet in Turkey.

Erlend

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Hala May 25, 2013 at 11:39 pm

hi
i bought istabulkart with 6TL
and the saller siad that it will not come back

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Erlend Geerts May 28, 2013 at 7:52 am

Where did you buy it?

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René June 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Hi,

I just got back from a weekend trip to Istanbul. I liked the city a lot, although I’m a little sad I didn’t get to ride the Funicular to Taksim. When I went to Kabatas, the station was closed, as was the Tünel at Karaköy.

Anyway, regarding the Istanbulkart: I got mine at the airport (IST), there are vending machines right at the turn gates. I asked several people (booth an Eminönü, booth at the airport, Hotel reception at Doubletree in Moda), all of then said you can’t get a refund of the remaining credit.

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Erlend Geerts June 23, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Thanks for sharing René,

I’ll update the post accordingly.

Erlend

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Cristian June 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Hi

I am not clear for the following: the unused credit (previously loaded on Istanbulkart) could be returned to the user, together with the deposit of 10 TL ?

I’ve never visited Istanbul, but I’m preparing a future trip.

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Erlend Geerts June 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Hi Christian,

Apparently, you can no longer have the 10TL refunded. Think of it as money for the card and the service.

Erlend

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Karol June 24, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Hi,

Is there any discount for foreign students?

regards,
Karol

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Erlend Geerts June 25, 2013 at 9:34 am

Hi Karol,

I’m afraid not. But by using the card over the normal tokens, you already get a discount.

Erlend

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Daffyd July 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Thanks so much for this helpful site, it really helped me a lot with so many useful tips. I am in Turkey now and I can confirm that as Hala posted above, the fee was 6TL, non-refundable, rather than 10TL refundable. I paid 30TL and got an Istanbulkart which has 24TL of credit on it.

Also, I couldn’t find anywhere at Sultanahmet or Beyazit to buy the card – the stations are all unmanned apart from security personnel. I had to go to Eminou where there is a kiosk at the base of the bridge ( to the left as you are facing the water) which is dedicated to selling the cards. I’d recommend people buy the card at the airport, it would have been easier that way for me.

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Erlend Geerts July 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Hi Daffyd,

Thanks a lot for sharing this. You’re right, Eminönü together with Taksim are the main hubs. I didn’t know the recent status of the others (can’t check them all every week), so I’ll update the page accordingly.

What you suggest is spot on: if you plan to use public transportation, spare the extra 10 minutes at the airport, go one floor down and buy the Istanbul Kart at the metro station, and get it out of the way. Even if you plan to use a taxi or Havataş to reach your hotel. Once you have it, reloading is quick and easy all over the city.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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suzanne July 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

hallo, found this website really useful. my question is about currency I know we have to have TL but so we need euro’s as well, if so what establishments would take them? thanking you in advance for your advice.

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Erlend Geerts July 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Hi Suzanne,

Did you read the post on Istanbul money strategies?

Erlend

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Hasan July 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Great website. I have no question. I just want to thank you Erlend. Grettings from Bangladesh :)

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Erlend Geerts July 20, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Hi Hasan,

Thanks a lot for your nice remarks!

Erlend

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tal July 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Merhaba Erlend,
From the airport i am going to Sultanahmet and then after a few hours spending in that area i’d like to continue to Taksim before i head back to the airport.Should i buy jetons or buy the instanbulkart?
and what about if i decide to stop by Beyazit on the way to Taksim?
What do you suggest?
PS.Your website is great!

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Erlend Geerts July 26, 2013 at 11:28 am

Hi Tal,

I would buy the Istanbul Kart, simply because of its convenience. This way you also don’t have to worry in case you’re at a stop where they don’t sell tokens.

Erlend

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tal July 31, 2013 at 6:57 pm

thanks Erlend

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Bilal July 24, 2013 at 10:47 am

Hello Erlend,

Are there any charges for children under 3 on public transportation in Istanbul.

Thanks

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Erlend Geerts July 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

Hi Bilal,

I always wonder about that myself when I take my boy along, and never found an official answer to that. I guess as a rule of thumb, as long as you can lift the child and it can sit on your lap for the duration of the trip, the child can ride for free. Again, that’s how do it, this is not an official statement.

Erlend

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Margreet July 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I am going 17th. of September for 5 days to Istanbul. I think the Istanbul Kart is for me best way to stroll around the city and see all the highlights. For how much amount do I have to load up the kart to see all the highlights during this visit?
Can you also tell me where I can buy tickets for the Bosphorus Cruises and can I do this online?

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Erlend Geerts July 26, 2013 at 11:53 am

Hi Margreet,

How much you upload depends on the frequency you use it. You can always upload more if needed during your stay. You can’t buy tickets for the Bosphorus cruise online, you need to buy them from their dock in Eminönü.

Erlend

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John August 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Hi Erlend,

I will be visiting Istanbul in September after a three month gap. Will I still be able to use the Istanbulkart that I took home with me in June?

Thank you

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Erlend Geerts August 14, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Hi John,

Yes, in theory you should be able to reuse it. You may want to add some extra funds on it, to make sure it’s still/again active.

Cheers,
Erlend

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John August 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Many thanks Erlend.

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riddhi September 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Hi Erlend,
Thank you for all the information! this site is very helpful!

I have one question –
to buy the card we have to pay a 6TL as a non refeundable fee + a 10 TL non refundable deposit, right?

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Erlend Geerts September 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

Hi Riddhi,

You need to pay a non-refundable fee of 6 TL to obtain the card. All the extra money you put onto it you can use to travel.

Erlend

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TASSANEE September 22, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Though I ve already read all of the post above, if there is the rest of money in the card,
May I refund the rest at Ataturk airport ? Where is the exact point?
Thank for your answer.
TASSANEE.

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Erlend Geerts September 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Hi Tassanee,

As already mentioned before, you can not have the remaining money refunded.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Jamal October 4, 2013 at 3:43 am

Best Erlend

We ( Me, Wife, 9, 1) are spending time in Istanbul between 1 – 16 Jan 2014
we have a babywagon with us, is it a problem when traveling with public transportation

is it enough with 1 kart?

Best day

Reply

Erlend Geerts October 4, 2013 at 7:51 am

Hi Jamal,

No, a stroller is not a problem for public transportation. I would go for 2 karts to make things go smoother and in case you (accidentally) split up. But you could stick to one card too.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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paul October 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Is the Istanbulkart available for purchase at the otogat?

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Erlend Geerts October 21, 2013 at 7:59 am

Hi Paul,

I didn’t check this out personally yet, but given it’s a huge transportation hub, I think it’s safe to assume you can get the Istanbul Kart there.

Erlend

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paul October 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Thanks!

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Stefan October 29, 2013 at 11:22 am

Hi Erlend,

this page contains great info!

Do you know where one can buy Istanbul Card near Sultanahmet or Gülhane tram stop?
We are staying at Cheers Hostel close by these tram stops.

Kind regards,
Stefan

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Erlend Geerts October 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Hi Stefan,

The last time I checked, your best bet is around the Eminönü stop. But then again, sales points change every day.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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getilicio094 November 18, 2013 at 3:15 am

Just wondering if you get a discount being a student (France, with a student card) by buying the istanbulkart and/or by the tickes fare while you get in a public transportation.

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Erlend Geerts November 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Hi,

Local students get discounts, but I doubt you can get one as a foreigner. And even if you could, you would have to fill in an application form and wait for approval, which can take (many) days.

In short, not worth bothering with.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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john November 23, 2013 at 12:43 am

Is the Istanbulkart sale at atartuk international airport?

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Erlend Geerts November 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Yes it is.

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Iban December 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm

It is possible to buy Istanbulkart at GOKCEN airport?

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Erlend Geerts December 11, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Hi Iban,

To be honest, I don’t know.

I would expect it to be so, since they sell it at Atatürk Airport. Ask the information desk on how to get one.

And leave a message here if you can.

Cheers,
Erlend

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Brian December 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

Hi Erlend,

Great informative site.

My wife and I have been in Istanbul since Dec 8 visiting and on conference. We tried to get the Istanbulkart at Taksim (metro) but the machines were not dispensing it. So we’ve been using the tokens instead.

If one is looking to buy the card, one should try at Atatürk airport before coming into the city. (I haven’t checked at Eminönü yet.)

Brian

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Erlend Geerts December 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your nice words and sharing your experience.

I hope you had a great time in Istanbul,
Erlend

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J January 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Thanks for all the information on this website – it’s been very useful in my trip to Istanbul.

I stayed at the Doubletree Old Town, which is located next to the Laleli-Üniversite tram stop, and following the concierge’s recommendation I bought my Istanbulkart from the newsstand between the hotel and the tram stop. They charged 7 TL for the card itself (with a clear plastic sleeve), so they may be selling it at a 1 TL premium, but on the other hand I was able to return my Istanbulkart to them at the end of my trip for a 6 TL refund (5 TL if you return it without the clear plastic sleeve). You don’t have to buy your card from them to get this refund. As others have pointed out, there’s no way to get a refund of the remaining credit on the card.

If other places do not issue refunds, this might mean that the newsstand is reselling the cards they take back – which I don’t mind, considering that I save 5 TL.

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Erlend Geerts January 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Hi J,

Glad to hear our site was a great help for your Istanbul trip.

Thanks for sharing this tip.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Mrinal February 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Does one get refund for unused balance of AKBIL card ?What currency?

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Erlend Geerts February 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm

You can, but it’s often such a big trouble not worth the effort. Just make sure you don’t upload too much every time. Uploading can be done in a lot of places.

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Jerry Jarombek February 18, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Hi Erlend,
Thank you for offering this wonderful website. My wife and I just returned from a week in Istanbul and we found your advise to be accurate and helpful. I’d like to contribute a few comments.
We recommend a February visit as we just did. The weather was mild for winter, ranging from 45-60 degrees F. We did not face any lines when visiting attractions in spite of the 18 million residents of Istanbul.
We stayed in Taksim Square so the Havatas bus shuttle was convenient and an excellent bargain (1oTL), running every half hour for the 30 minute ride.
Mass transit took us everywhere. The Istanbul Kart made it easy and inexpensive. One note: we shared a card so when we took a transfer, only one of us received the discounted transfer price (1.25 vs 1.95). I guess we would each have had to purchase a card for the full discount (but we are really just talking pennies here).
We highly recommend taking the ferry (we went from Kabatas) to the Prince’s Island of Buyukada and rent bicycles there. Bike the long outer loop which will get you away from the heavy horse & buggy traffic. You’ll have the road largely to yourself and the views are fantastic. Horses apparently run free on their days off so you will encounter them strolling all over the place. Make the steep walk up the hill (you can park your bike at the base for 1TL) to the Yucetepe Monastery, have a wine at the cafe there overlooking the island and reflect on your good fortune.
We found Istanbul to be a young, vibrant, safe and friendly city that we had no problem negotiating once we became oriented; your website helped us quickly accclimate.
Thanks again,
Jerry

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Erlend Geerts February 18, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Hi Jerry,

Thank you so much for sharing all this, it makes all the work worthwhile.

I’m so glad you enjoyed your stay and the info I provided.

Just for the record: this year the weather has been extremely mild, with little or no rain. Please don’t take these temperatures as a guideline for next year, since we all know the weather is beyond our control.

Hope to welcome you back some day,
Erlend

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Kamilė :) February 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Hey!

I just want to ask: I have a student Istanbul card because I was Erasmus student in 2011-2012 and as far as I remember we were paying monthly (dont remember the exact amount but maybe 75 lira:?) and got around 200 passes. Well, Im not a student anymore but I still have that card so can I recharge it with any amount of lira? Or I should buy a new one?

Also maybe there is a possibility to pay like exact amount (for example 50 lira) and get the exact amount of passes?

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Erlend Geerts February 21, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Hey,

That’s a good question. I doubt you’ll still get the discount rate. My best advice is, upload 5 or 10 Liras and see what happens. If the (discount) card is rejected, you’ll need to buy a new one. If it still works, fine. If you get the discount rate, great.

Erlend

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Grace March 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I plan to stay four days in Istanbul with my husband, and will use public transportation services a total of 6 times round trip, is it worth buying this kard?

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Erlend Geerts March 18, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Yes.

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Pit March 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Hi Erlend,
thanks for all the information on this website, it’s really fantastic!
I ‘d like to know if it’s possibile to buy an Istanbul Kart directly at the Ataturk Airport using a credit card, because we’ve only euros.
Thank you very much!

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Erlend Geerts March 30, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Hi Pit,

Not to my knowledge. I suggest to have some Turkish liras, either brought along or exchange some Euros at the airport.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Sharon April 2, 2014 at 9:34 am

Is it possible to buy an Istanbulkart near the Gülhane tram stop? If there’s no machine/vendor in that area, then I will buy it at the airport (even though the hotel will be sending a transfer). Thanks.

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Erlend Geerts April 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Hi Sharon,

I’m not sure, sales points come and go all the time.

Erlend

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John Purchase April 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Good afternoon Erlend,

First of all my wife and I would like to thank you for all the information that you have provided for us during our 4 day stay in Istanbul, due to all this info we had a great time and have been able to see so much during such a short period. I recommend your site/magazine to all my friends. I have travelled to many countries in my 62 years and found the public transport in Instanbul one the best and cleanest.
Thank you again, and we are sure to return to this fantastic city.

Best regards
John & Nathalie

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Erlend Geerts April 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Hi John,

Thanks a lot for sharing this, and glad we could be part of making your Istanbul experience an unforgettable one.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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MARCO ANASTACIO April 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Good afternoon,
I wonder if there is a transport pass for 5 or 6 days in Istanbul, where I can buy and see prices.

Greetings.

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Erlend Geerts April 21, 2014 at 7:51 am

Hi Marco,

The only public transportation pass available for tourists is this one. It’s ‘unlimited’ in time, and you reload according to your needs.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Denise Dimmock April 24, 2014 at 6:25 am

Hi Erland,
How wonderful is the internet, that we can read information from locals to make our holiday so much easier! My question is the amount that we should load onto the card. Seeing that we cannot get a refund, and I don’t want to spend time reloading it, or waste left-over money, would you say that 50TL would be a good estimate for 3 days worth of city travel for 2 people? I know it is difficult to guess how much we would use! Also, how do we know the balance? Do we have to keep a running total in our heads? Perhaps a little difficult if we don’t know the exact cost of each trip.
Thanks again for your very helpful posts!
Denise

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Erlend Geerts April 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Hi Denise,

It’s really hard to predict, as you said. I mentioned in the post, that a ride costs approximately 2 TL per person.

Upon making a successful payment, the reader will make a sound and the screen will light up showing the amount left on the card. In case of insufficient funds, the screen will read Kontör Yetersiz.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Richard April 29, 2014 at 10:07 am

Just back from Istanbul, I bought the card for 7 TL at the “Mini-Shop”, just up from Sultanahmet on the left hand side, it was just a kiosk selling newspapers, sweets etc. was caught out twice before buying it with having to scramble to buy ferry tickets and paying over the odds for the nostalgic tram. The jeton/token us now 3TL and the fare in the Istanbul Kart is still 1.95TL, so it’s well worth getting if you take a few trams/metros. We have a 3 year old, we did not pay for her

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Erlend Geerts April 29, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Thanks a lot Richard for sharing this.

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David August 19, 2014 at 3:04 am

Is the fare still 1.95 TL with Istanbulkart? I just checked the transportation fare. It seems it went up to 4 TL for tram and metro. Please let me know. We are trying to decide how much to load the Istanbulkart. We will be traveling from Antaturk Airport to Sultanahmet by metro and tram and back.
Thanks

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Erlend Geerts August 19, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Hi David,

The fare varies according to the type of transportation and the length of the route. But somewhere between two and three TL is a good average for your calculations. Remember, you can always reload, even for as little as five Liras.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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SANDRA May 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Hi There

Can somebody tell me if Havatas is still running from Atatruk airport???
I read something about being susspended.. Is that true??

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Erlend Geerts May 18, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Hi Sandra,

Yes, it is. Only the Turkish version of the site os up though.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Kazeem May 18, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for this lovely blog. I’m excited about my upcoming trip to Istanbul.

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Erlend Geerts May 18, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Thanks a lot Kazeem.

I hope you have a nice trip.

Erlend

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Babak June 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

Thank you for the information and your help.

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jaideep June 11, 2014 at 11:37 am

Hi….
i want to visit istanbul in the month of august 2014 and would like to clarify few doubts.
1. Will havatas buses still be running from both the airports to taksim.
2. If i have to go from ataturk airport to sabiha airport on the same day can i catch havatas bus from ataturk to taksim and then again the same bus from taksim to sabiha. if yes how much time one has to wait at taksim waiting for the nest bus to sabiha.
3. Can we use istanbulkart in havatas buses running from both the airports?
4. I will be travelling with my wife and 2 year old son and would be visiting all the places in istanbul using public transportation, do you recommend buying this card to us.
5. I want to convert dollars to Turkish Lira, can u name few shops and location where it is cheapest to convert because in Cape Town it was a nightmare for me to convert dollars to South African rands at a local shop where they took huge commission on conversion.

thanks…..
It’s indeed a great help to know all about Istanbul on this site.

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Erlend Geerts June 13, 2014 at 10:14 am

Hi Jaideep,

1. Yes.
2. Yes, maximum waiting time between buses is 20 minutes.
3. No, not that I’m aware of.
4. Yes. One card for the two of you is enough, your son travels for free.
5. Don’t exchange money in shops. Make sure you exchange your money in exchange offices.

Erlend

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geert van rymenam June 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

When using the Istanbul-card with 2 persons the 2nd pays more than the first, sometimes more than the Tl 1,95? Why……?

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Erlend Geerts June 16, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Hi Geert,

That must have been a mistake on the reading. The second pays more indeed, but we’re talking small differences behind the comma.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Dr. Shagufa Anwar July 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Hi, We are going to Istanbul on 25th July 2014; can we use IstanbulKart for Hop-on-Hop-off bus tours?

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Erlend Geerts July 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I don’t think so. That’s a private company.

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Junaid patel August 10, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Hi there. I would like to know where i can buy a card in the old city sultanahmet. Pref near the blue mosque.

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Erlend Geerts August 13, 2014 at 12:26 am

Hi Junaid,

There should be shop across the Sultanahmet tram stop where you can buy some. Look for the sign “Istanbul Kart” or “Akbil”. Alternatively, ask the security personnel at the tram stop, they will point you in the right direction.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Natalia August 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

Hi Erlend,
is there the possibility to get some extra discount for students?
I remember reading something like this somewhere.
Thanks!

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Erlend Geerts August 19, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Hi Natalia,

There are discounts for Turkish students. As a foreigner, the application will be so difficult and bureaucratic, that it’s not worth the trouble really for a short stay.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Kevin August 22, 2014 at 12:36 am

Hi there. I would like to know if the price of using tokens per ride is still 2 TL?

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Erlend Geerts August 23, 2014 at 1:54 am

Hi Kevin,

Yes, if you stay within the city center. I just used my Istanbul Kart today to use the metro line, and paid the discounted fee of 1.55 TL.

Erlend

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James steller August 29, 2014 at 2:22 am

Hi ,

Im going to istanbul soon and wanted to know whether the metro journey charges you for different zones like london uk and whether you have to pay twice if you change lines . I want to go from atatuk airport to sultanahmet .

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Erlend Geerts August 29, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Hi James,

No, you pay per ride, regardless how long the line is or how many zones it passes.

Cheers,
Erlend

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Farzad September 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Hi Erlend,

Thanks for all the information. I have a question to ask. We are six people traveling together and we will use public transport many times. Do you recommend us to buy ,as you said before, only two cards or it would be better to buy a card for each person. We will stay there for 7 days.

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Erlend Geerts September 16, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Hi Farzad,

Since you’re staying for 7 days, I would buy somewhere between 4 or 7. Certainly since there may be times you will split up.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Wajib al-Qatl September 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm

It is fantastically hard to find where to buy an Istanbul Kart. This leaves room for the corn sellers around taksim to charge 10L for them instead of 6. This is all built into the system. The card won’t take more than 20L and doesn’t tell you how much you’ve used. And they won’t take a bill larger than 20L. If it runs out and you don’t have a small bill, the stores in the metro underground area will not give change.

In other words, it’s a metro card with turkish characteristics.

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Erlend Geerts September 19, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Hi Wajib,

You’re right to point out that Istanbul Kart sales points are not omnipresent, hence giving others the chance to sell them at common commuter points for a premium for them not to make the detour.

However, as mentioned in the comments, there are some specific guidelines on where to buy them, in major touristic spots. Having said that, more access points would be welcomed by tourists and locals alike.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Junaid September 20, 2014 at 9:26 am

Hi there. Will i be able to use my card to get to princes island by passenger ferry and what is the maximum i could top the card for. Thanks in advance.

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Erlend Geerts September 21, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Hi Junaid,

As far as I know, no. You’ll need to buy your ticket seperately.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Esma September 22, 2014 at 10:45 am

Hello,

we have a six years old boy, do we have to pay ticket for him?

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Erlend Geerts September 24, 2014 at 10:26 am

Hi Esma,

Normally children up to six years old don’t have to pay, but once six years old the should.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Melinda September 22, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Hello, I will be travelling my metro from Taksim to Sirceki, changing at Kabatas. Does this mean that I will have to purchase two separate fares or do I just change lines. Thanks for all the helpful info you post :)

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Erlend Geerts September 24, 2014 at 10:30 am

Hi Melinda,

No, you must pay for every line. With the Istanbul Kart you will get a (small) connection discount.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Ponting September 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

We are visiting Istanbul in first week of November for 4 days. We are a family of 4, two kids, 4 years and 10 months. We are planning to use public transport. I have few questions
1. Is it good to buy Istanbul Kart, if yes, do we need to buy for each adult.
2. How flexible is to roam around in city and stations with baby buggy(pram)
3. Where to exchange euros.
Thanks

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Erlend Geerts September 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Hi Ponting,

1. This has been explained in detail in the post and comments. Please check it there.
2. Not all areas are convenient to use a pram. Keep in mind that you will encounter non-moving stairs and small (cobble-stoned) streets.
3. Please read here for Istanbul money strategy details.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Aaida October 1, 2014 at 8:53 am

Hi Erlend,

Amazing work you have here!

I have a question on the Istanbul Kart. I noticed on the web there are a number of Istanbul Kart types. Confused on which one is suitable for me. My friends and I are traveling to Istanbul for a 10 days vacation,soon. ;)

Regards.

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Erlend Geerts October 1, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Hi Aaida,

As a foreigner / tourist you can only obtain the regular, non-discounted one.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Pettrina October 4, 2014 at 3:54 am

Merhaba! I’m currently in Istanbul and wanted to let you know that because of the specifics of your website that my trip here has been amazingly easy and enjoyable. I also wanted to comment that if you purchase an Istanbulkart from the Ataturk Airport Metro station, the new fee for the card is 10 TL (about $5). Thanks again!

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Erlend Geerts October 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Hi Pettrina,

Thanks a lot for the compliments and sharing this.

Kind regards,
Erlend

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Vidula October 22, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Hi, you are really wonderful in your updated comments. I tried to buy this card at SEVERAL locations, being newsagents, at Osmanye and Taksim stations. It was completely impossible. In the end, we took the ferry across to Kadikoy, and there it was possible to buy the card at the Information office. But nobody could give us any answers in English as to how to get a refund etc. Wonderfully Turkish! FYI there we got the card for 7 lire. And BTW the single metro fare is now 4 TL, whereas the discounted ferry fare with the card is 2.15 TL so that’s almost half, quite a big savings!

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