Dolmuş is the Turkish word for filled, stuffed or full, and refers to the yellow shared taxis or minibuses that operate in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey. They are an easy, quick and useful means of transportation for small rides to and from destinations just outside the city center. But, what destinations do they cover, how do you take such a shared taxi, how and where can you get off, and how do you pay for it? And where can you find the dolmuş stops?
What is a dolmuş?
A dolmuş is actually a shared taxi that seats maximum 8 passengers. They drive day and night on pre-determined routes, but without set stops. The idea is that each passenger only pays one eight of the fee a normal Istanbul taxi would charge for the same destination. Therefore, the minibus normally only sets off when all the seats are taken.
How and where can you take a dolmuş?
You can either go to the dolmuş departure point for a certain route, or flag them down on the street. I suggest getting on the dolmuş at its point of origin, because on popular routes it’s very difficult to find a shared taxi with seats available once it’s on the road.
Before you get into the minibus, make sure you’re about to hop on the correct one. Their point of origin and final destination are displayed on the front window, usually on the passenger’s side. Once you’re sure it’s going in the right direction, just hop in and take a seat. No need to take a ticket or token, you’ll pay when once it starts driving (see below).
Here are some of the most popular or useful dolmuş routes, with their place mark on the map:
- Taksim – Kadıköy
- Taksim – Bostancı
- Taksim – Teşvikiye
- Taksim – Beşiktaş
- Taksim – Aksaray
- Taksim – Topkapı
- Taksim – Bakırköy
- Taksim – Yeşilköy
- Taksim – Şirineveler
View Popular Dolmus (Dolmuş) Starting Points in a larger map
How and how much do you pay for a dolmuş?
I can’t give you a pricelist. The prices vary from route to route, and you can even bargain if you intend to get of halfway the final destination. But to give you an idea, rates vary between TL 3 to 5. You can of course ask the driver, but it’s easier to watch what everybody else is paying.
Make sure to have small notes (maximum TL 5 or 10) or exact change. Paying starts after the dolmuş leaves its stand. In case you can’t reach the driver to hand him your money, just give it to a fellow passenger in front of you. He’ll forward it to the driver and give you back your change. You may be asked to do the same for locals seated behind you.
How and where can you get off the dolmuş?
If you want to get off before the shared taxi reaches its final destination, just shout inecek var – somebody wants to get out (you can check the correct Turkish pronunciation rules here). The driver will stop at the first convenient spot available and probably open the door beforehand. By all means, don’t jump out before the minibus comes to a complete standstill.
Is taking a dolmuş safe?
Yes. You may have the impression they drive a bit wild, but these drivers know their routs and minibus inside out. Accidents are rare.