Using the Istanbul Card
Getting around in Istanbul is relatively easy, so you don’t need to worry about being unable to cope.
We want to travel a lot and therefore need to save where we can, so taking the subway from the airport instead of a taxi was an easy decision. And the metro can take you directly from the airport to the city center.
You can buy an Istanbul Card for a refundable 6 Turkish lira at an Istanbul Card machine. One card can be used by more than one traveler. There are a few machines located once you exit the airport and follow the subway signs. You can also buy a card in a shop, but when you do that you will pay the tourist surcharge (7-10 lira).
Once you have the card, you can add almost any desired amount directly to the machine.
Please be aware that any amount that is not used will not be refunded! So it is best if you estimate how many trips you might need and recharge it along the way if it isn‘t enough.
The rides are cheaper this way. A subway ride and tram ride cost only 2,60 lira instead of the normal price of 5 lira. That’s 44 € cents / 50 US cents (as of December 2018).
Ferries cost a little more, but you can also use them with the Istanbul card.