Last Updated on November 17, 2020
Here you can read our ultimate guide to wheelchair accessible Istanbul, with insider tips on the best accessible attractions, modes of transportation, places to eat and stay.
First of all we should mention that Istanbul is a big metropolis with more than 15 million people living in. Everything in the city can be considered as living fast, like traffic, streets, buildings.
And if you don’t follow the city than you can find yourself moving backwards. In this point of view, Istanbul is a hard city for disabled visitors and not very wheelchair friendly if you are in public.
On the other hand, since a few years, the city works hard to improve the accessibility provisions and do lots of things to remove the barriers for people with disabilities, with the works of the Municipality and government support, there still lots to do.
General Information for Disabled Visitors
From museums, cultural centers and public buildings to accommodation and restaurants in Istanbul work hard by adating their facilities to make the city a more accessible place for visitors with reduced mobility or communication.
In Istanbul, about all public institutions are accessible for the disabled.
Majority of the city’s squares, sidewalks, public bus, tram and metro stations are marked for the blind. They all have accessibility for the wheelchair users.
You are able to find wheelchair accessible toilet and restroom facilities at the airports, shopping malls, museums and many other public buildings. You can be sure that they are consistently maintained in a clean state.
Majority of the popular attractions in the city are wheelchair-friendly and accessible. They all have ramps at the entrance and exit, as well as elevators leading to the visiting areas.
Several popular and iconic museums of the city such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, may not be wheelchair accessible due to their being a cultural assets and therefore no intervention and accessibility arrangements can be made to the buildings.
Parking areas has reserved spaces and widely respected.
Getting around in Istanbul for disabled visitors
Istanbul has two major airports: New Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW). All Istanbul airports are wheelchair accessible and has all the necessary services for the disabled visitors.
Accessibility Info Video for the New Istanbul Airport
About all subway stations in Istanbul are wheelchair accessible via elevators and escalators which provide easy and safe access of disabled passengers to stations and vehicles with inclined ramps in accordance with standards, direction signs, alternative information, sensible floor applications and guide road applications.
In addition to the audio and visual information, the elevators also have special information created using the Braille alphabet for visually impaired visitors.
There are free pass gates specially designed for disabled visitors in the turnstile passage areas of the stations.
In the platform area, a sensible floor application has been made as a warning for visually impaired visitors to notice the rail line. There are also guide roads that direct the visually impaired visitors from the entrance of the station to the vehicle.
Disabled visitors can also travel on the subway system with free travel cards.
In addition, in order to ensure that disabled visitors’ traveling safely, their positions are monitored by the staff in charge from the entrance to the exit of the station and when necessary, the station attendant is directed for help.
Check out Istanbul Metro Accessibility Info >>
Accessibility improvements continue on the tram lines as well. With the transition to low-floor tram vehicles on the T1 Line, all tram stations were lowered and ramps were built in the entrance areas in accordance with the standards.
There are ramps at the stations on the T4 Line, which is operated by high-floor vehicles. There are also elevators at the underground stations that allow access to the platform area.
Check out the Istanbul Railway Network Map >>
Public Ferry Lines
The public ferry services of Istanbul continues hard working to make the best of the transportation services it offers to individuals with limited mobility or vision difficulties. It provides easy and safe access to piers and sea vehicles for individuals with reduced mobility or visual difficulties, who carry out their transportation with free travel cards with inclined ramps, direction signs, alternative information, perceptible floor applications and guide road applications in accordance with the standards.
The ramps don’t exceed the six percent slope at the pier entrance, surfaces are made of non-slip floor material and there are direction signs, informative and warning announcements. Disabled visitors can reach the doors of the marine vehicles without steps and thresholds. Space and seats are allocated for more comfortable travel.
Check out Public Ferry Lines Accessibility Info >>
The municipal buses of the city is wheelchair friendly with low floor (no steps) entrance. They all have wheelchair ramp and reserved area for wheelchairs, as well as audio warning and information system with LCD monitor.
Besides all, you should know that while Istanbul is a huge metropolitan city, taking public buses can be hard for the disabled visitors especially during the rush hours.
The double-decker tourist buses are also wheelchair-friendly, except the upper deck.
Read more about Istanbul City Sightseeing Tourist Bus >>
While wheelchair users can take a taxi with the help of the driver/companion and put the wheelchair to the baggage by folding it, we can not accept this as a good accessibility option for taxis.
You can find wheelchair accessible taxi services in Istanbul with safe ramp and special designed seat.
Wheelchair Mobility within the City
Majority of the city’s sidewalks and streets have lowered footpaths for wheelchairs.
Majority of the shops, restaurants and bars located at the tourist zones are often accessible on the ground floor and wheelchair accessible. But the toilet facilities may not be often accessible.
The public toilets in the city are very limited. Few of them are disabled friendly and can be found on the popular tourist zones. On the contrary, about all public buildings and museums have wheel-chair friendly toilets.
Accessibility of the city’s popular attractions
Popular tourist zones & squares
Sultanahmet Square and Taksim Square are the top tourist taking zones of the city and they all can be considered as accessible.
Galata, Karakoy and Besiktas are the other popular tourist zones, but while they are not situated in a plain area, full of ramps, narrow streets and traffic jam, we do not accept these places as wheelchair friendly.
Sultanahmet square is the 4th century Hippodrome that was built by the Constantine the Great, after his declaration of Istanbul as the capital of the Roman Empire.
Today, it is Istanbul’s one of the most popular tourist places, and also where you’ll find superb array of city’s top historical sights, museums and iconic landmarks. Arrive at the square to start your walking tour in Sultanahmet early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
The square, nearby sights and the leading Divan Road to Beyazit is traffic free, has plain area, and you are able to find wheelchair accessible toilet and restroom facilities here.
Majority of the popular attractions along the square are wheelchair-friendly and accessible. Several ones such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace may not be wheelchair accessible due to their being a cultural assets coming and therefore no intervention can be made to the building and the necessary accessibility arrangements.
Wanna read more about Sultanahmet Square >>
Taksim square is a cosmopolitan one, a communications hub and also a popular meeting point and ideal place to have a nice Istanbul city walking tour from Taksim.
Today, it is Istanbul’s one of the most popular tourist places, and also where you’ll find superb array of city’s top tourist places like restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes, sights, museums situated along from the square to the Istiklal Street and through Galata.
The square and the leading Istiklal Street is traffic free, has plain area, and you are able to find wheelchair accessible toilet and restroom facilities here.
Majority of the popular attractions along the square are wheelchair-friendly and accessible.
Wanna read more about Taksim Square >>
Most museums in the city offer free admission or at least big discounts for disabled visitors. And they also include a necessary companion.
You can also access to all public areas of the most of the Istanbul museums including the galleries, shops and cafes.
Check out Top Accessible Museums in Istanbul >>
Accessibility of the hotels
The majority of the Istanbul hotels are accessible and have private rooms for disabled guests. However, many low cost hotels can be considered as not wheelchair friendly and accessible, and they need to work hard to improve themselves.
Reviews from real travelers
A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Istanbul
This is a very informative post by Laura (September 2019) from A Piece of Travel, about her experiences of for the wheelchair accessible things to do in Istanbul, as well as how to navigate Istanbul with a wheelchair. Read on apieceoftravel.com
Traveling Blind in Istanbul Video
This is a video recorded by James Rath (January 2020), and showcases his experience of Istanbul visit as being a blind abroad.