Izmir makes a great base to explore the Aegean region, and there are many modes of transport by which you can do so. The major sites of Izmir are fairly spread out, so understanding the options for public transport is important and can save you a lot of money during your stay. In navigating all major cities in Turkey, including Izmir, Google Maps is a great tool that can direct you via public transport. Google Maps knows each mode of transport, aside from the dolmuş system, and can direct you with the most efficient transit to reach your desired location.
How to Use Public Transportation
There is one transport card that will give you access to every mode of transport in the city of Izmir. There are machines at which you can purchase this card at each Izban, metro, and ferry stop. This card will give you access to the bus system, Izban, metro, tramway, and ferry boat. When transiting between one mode of transportation to another, you receive a discount and do not need to pay the full fare again.
It’s possible to buy an Izmirim card at all of the major stations, but smaller metro stations are not always equipped with a kiosk or an information desk. Tramways do not sell Izmirim cards nor do they have a place to load money onto your card, therefore it’s always best to top up your card when at a train/metro station or ferry terminal.
Izmir is one of the few cities in the world which has ferryboats as a mode of public transport. One swipe from your Izmirim Kart will give you access to what feels like a paid boat tour of the Mediterranean Sea. The ferryboat is not only the same price as any other public transport, it is also a much more efficient mode of transport, as it avoids city traffic.
Ferries depart at varying times, but expect to wait no more than one hour. The major ferry stations include: Bostanlı İskele, Karşıaya İskele, Bayraklı İskele, Alsancak İskele, Pasaport İskele, Konak İskele, and Üçkuyular İskele. There is also a car ferry that goes from Bostanlı İskele to Üçkuyular İskele. Each of these connects to one another and is a great way to navigate the seaside portions of the city.
The İzban, Metro, and Tramvay are Izmir’s three train/tram lines. There are many connection points between these 3 modes of transport, making it easy to navigate most of the city once you’ve boarded one of the three. Not all connection points are direct, but transitioning from one train line to the next will be no longer than a quick walk.
The Izban stretches 155 km from Selçuk to Aliğa. This train is often crowded and does not move as quickly as the metro or tramvay, but it is a great way to access many parts of the city. The Izban connects to Adnan Menderes Airport, and stops in both Alsancak and Karşıyaka, which are two heavily populated and toured portions of the city, and there are many connections at Basmane Station. It’s possible and quite easy to take the Izban to Selçuk to visit Ephesus.
Izmir’s Metro stretches from Evka 3 to Fahrettin Altay, which is close to Balçova. This line connects with the Izban at Halkapinar and Hilal. It passes through Bornova’s center, Ege Üniversity, Konak and Hatay. It’s currently in the process of being expanded.
The Tramvay is a recent addition to Izmir’s public transport system. This tram is separated into two lines: Karşıyaka tramvay which stretches 8.8 km, and Konak tramvay which stretches 12.6 km. These two tramlines stretch along major portions of the “sahil” or seafront, making for a more scenic transit.. If you need to take transport a few miles down either side of the bay, this is a great option. This tram works well in conjunction with the Metro or Izban.
Intercity trains run between Izmir and many other cities, such as Konya/Ankara (via Blue Train Mavi Tren) as well as Eskişehir (via Aegean Express Ege Ekspresi).
Izmir’s city bus system (ESHOT) is also a good way to navigate the city. If you take the right bus, it is possible that the bus system will save you some walking as bus routes reach each street in the city. However, it is not quite as straightforward to navigate as other modes of transport.
Izmir’s Otogar (intercity bus terminal) is located in Bornova.
Dolmuş mini buses are similar to the bus system, however, they are smaller vehicles and the entrance fee is paid in cash, rather than with your Izmirim Kart. These buses do not stop as frequently as city buses, making them a bit more efficient. Dolmuş buses are labeled on the front with 3-5 stops. It is possible to ask your driver to stop at any point during your transit.
In addition to hailing a taxi from the street, taxi stops are plentiful throughout the city. In recent years, the application BiTaksi was introduced as a way to order a taxi through the convenience of your mobile phone. It is similar to Uber, which has been only intermittently available in Turkey. I’ve occasionally encountered taxi drivers who speak English in Izmir, but showing the name of the place you’re going will get you to your destination, regardless of language barrier. Luckily, taxi scams in Izmir are uncommon and drivers use the taxi meter automatically.
--by Abigail Goosen