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


€20.00 p.p.

3-Day Cappadocia Road Trip


€230.00 p.p.

Road Trip & Camping in Magical Bozcaada


€186.00 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
Marianna İbrahim

All About Mezes: Private Cooking Workshop

Ibrahim showed us how to prepare lots of different mezze and explained nuances between different dishes. Clear explanations and recipes and very friendly. And ofc the food is delicious. Would definitely recommend!

Withlocals guest
Withlocals host
James Aysegul

Private Turkish Breakfast with a Chef!

We both had a great tour with Aysegul, we not only learned a lot about the food and the culture of Istanbul but we also saw a lot more than we would have done on our own. Aysegul went out of her way to make the rest of our trip complete by sending through via WhatsApp lots of recommendations for Hamman, restaurants and many more tips. It definitely felt very personalised and more of a “local” experience with Aysegul. If we had our time again we would have asked even more questions and encouraged Aysegul to tell us even more about the day in the life of someone living in Istanbul .. definitely would
Recommend Aysegul to others thinking of combining breakfast with a local guide. James and Jasmina

Withlocals guest
Withlocals host
Frederic Riccardo

Best Views from the Asian Side Private Tour

I really enjoyed the tour in eastern Istanbul with Riccardo (11 Sept. 2018). First, I liked it because he’s good with language: we spoke (fluently) in English and French (he knows also Italian, Spanish and of course, Turkish) and he taught me some useful words in Turkish. Secondly, he’s a quite relax and flexible guy, so you feel really comfortable with him, and he’s open to adjust the tour in any way that you’d like. Finally, he knows interesting things about Istanbul...I’m glad to have met him and have done this tour.