Travel options in Istanbul

Getting around Istanbul is fairly straightforward and easy to navigate.  The city boasts a highly integrated public transport system, with metro, buses, ferries, minibuses, and taxis all throughout the city.  Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular ways to get around the city.

Withlocals experiences in Istanbul are

100% With locals

Who you see is who you get.
The Withlocals host you book is the
host that welcomes you.

100% Private

All Withlocals experiences
are private, meaning exclusively
for you.

a 100% taste of the city

From city highlights to hidden gems.
From food essentials to home dinners.
Our hosts share it with you.

Getting Around in Istanbul

One card to rule them all

The IstanbulKart is the only card you need to get around the city!  This card can be purchased at most metro stations and at kiosks throughout the city, and you simply top it off and swipe it at the entry point to most public transport, like buses, metro, and ferry.  You buy the reusable card for a small fee then just top it off throughout your stay in Istanbul!

Avoid traffic on Metro and Metrobus

The metro system in Istanbul is easy to use and full of useful signs and maps so that you don’t get lost between your transfers.  Metro stations are clearly marked with the unique “M” logo, so they’re easy to spot when you’re above-ground. Also, for long-distance travel through the city, the Metrobus operates along the highway as a sort of above-ground metro. The bus comes every couple of minutes, bypasses traffic, and stops at every stop, just like a metro. These are the best options for avoiding that infamous traffic, and for efficient Istanbul travel.

Public Buses: Everywhere, all the time

Public buses are all over the streets, and they’re a really popular way to travel in Istanbul, especially through places that aren’t connected by metro.  Buses generally run on time. For up-to-the-minute bus info, you can download the MobIETT or Trafi apps on your smartphone and see exactly which bus to take, to which stop, and at what time in order to get to your destination.  Ask your local friend which app is best; everyone seems to have a favorite!

Top day trips in Istanbul

Private Day Trip to Princes' Islands


€27.00 p.p.

3-Day Cappadocia Road Trip


€200.00 p.p.

Road Trip & Camping in Magical Bozcaada


€170.00 p.p.

Other options to keep moving

Go local with the Minibus and “Dolmus”

Minibuses and “dolmus” (literally, “stuffed”) are the local flavor of travel in Istanbul.  A minibus is a small bus, and a dolmus is a large, shared taxi. Both of these options operate with cash only, so don’t try to use the IstanbulKart on these!  The drivers just wait until the vehicle is almost full, and then head out on a set route. For places further outside the city, the minibus often departs more frequently than the public bus. The other advantage of the minibus and dolmus is that many routes run late into the evening, or even all night!

And finally, the Ferries

The hands-down most beautiful way to travel in Istanbul is by ferry.  The ferries that cross the Bosporus are basically an institution in Istanbul.  From the ferry, no matter where you’re going, you can get a breathtaking view of the city.  You can also enjoy the company of hundreds of seagulls waiting for snacks to be thrown by passengers.  Relax with a cup of Turkish tea and pastry, listen to the buskers who love to make music on the ferries, and just watch the city float by.  Even if you don’t have a destination in mind, riding the ferry is an adventure in itself!

This is what guests are saying about our hosts

Withlocals guest
Withlocals host
Kaitlin Oğuz

Cozy Homemade Dinner with a Turkish Family

Oguz and his wife were excellent hosts for an evening meal at their home. Oguz met my wife and I at our hotel located near Sirkeci Istasyonu and guided us via tram and bus to his home (about an hour journey but easy to navigate with well-marked routes; he also unnecessarily accompanied us on the return journey as far as the tram making the travel logistics relatively easy). The food was absolutely wonderful. It was a perfect opportunity to enjoy good food and long informal conversation with a knowledgeable and hospitable local resident. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to experience local Istanbul and Turkish culture. As we expected, alcohol was not served and there was lots of interaction with Oguz’s two-year old son as well; both things that enhanced the experience for us. Can’t recommend this experience enough…it was an excellent value for money and in the end we felt more like family friends rather than paying customers.

Withlocals guest
Withlocals host
Sergey Alina

A customized trip with Alina

Alina was very nice and knowledgeable. She speaks fluently English and Russian. She is fun to be around and knows tons of cute little cafes around Istanbul.

Withlocals guest
Withlocals host
Levan Ceren

Hipster Kadikoy: Food, Hotspots & Beers!

The experience was great, I discovered a vibrant and beautiful part of the city thanks to Ceren. She was very helpful and accommodated my schedule on short notice, as well as goin out of her way to provide me with tips for the remainder of my stay. Splended experience, recommend highly.