Istanbul is serviced by two airports, Sabiha Gokcen International Airport and Atatürk International Airport. Many guests also travel to the city by car or train.
Arriving by Air - Atatürk International Airport
Arriving by Air - Sabiha Gokcen International Airport
Arriving by Rail
Arriving by Road
Atatürk is Istanbul's busiest internation airport and is situated 28 kilometers from downtown Istanbul. Visitors can rent a car at the airport from Holiday Autos, Alamo, Beneluxcar, and more, or take taxis, metros, or buses into the city. For more detailed information on Istanbul's Atatürk International Airport, see our dedicated Airports page.
Taxis abound at the airport – but remember to insist that your driver use the meter. To travel to Sultanahmet, in Old Istanbul, is costs about TL 25 to TL 30. Fares to Taksim Square should be about TL 30 to TL 35 from 6:00am to 12:00am. You may also make reservations to ensure you have a taxi waiting.
Travel by Metro takes about an hour and costs TL3. Look out for the “Hafif Metro” signs after the Customs area. You can buy a your tickets, or jetons, at the metro booth. You will need two jetons to travel to Sultanahmet, Eminönü or Kabatas, and three to get to Taksim Square.
Shuttles are a less expensive option however they travel via many hotels in the area, hence you could be in for a long journey time.
Havas operates shuttles for both airports however these are currently being phased out, and you may find they have been replaced by city buses. They can used airport buses to reach Taksim Sqaure, Kadikoy or Sabiha Gokcen Airport.
City buses run from Ataturk along the Sea of Marmara, stopping are made at Yenikapi Ferry Terminal, Aksaray Square, and Taksim Square. The IETT express bus 96T is a fast way to get to your city hotel.
There are several Car Rentals companis at the airport, including Avis, Budget, Hertz, Alamo, National and Sixt. Expect to pay at least TL 60 per day.
Airport Transfer Service
This is a more exclusive private transfer service is offered by Backpackers Travel Agency for arrivals at Ataturk and Sahiba Gocken Airports. The driver will take you to your hotel in a Mercedes-Benz minivan and help you with your bags. Drinks and snacks are provided free-of-charge. The service about TL 42.70 from Ataturk and Sultanahmet, TL 53.44 to Taskim Square, and TL 96.20 from Sabiha Gokcen to either of these locations.
Sabiha Gokcen International Airport is located on the Anatolian shore of Istanbul at Pendik. For more detailed information on Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, see our dedicated Airports page.
Havas shuttles operate every hour from 4:00am to 1:00am, and go to Taksim Square from Sabiha Gokcen.
Public buses travel from the airport to Levent, Kadiköy and Kozyatagi at a reasonable cost and are quite reliable. The E10 costs TL 3 and goes to the Kadikoy ferry dock, from where you can access other metro and bus stations. The E10 leaves every 30 minutes during the day, and roughly every hour at night (11:00pm to 6:00am).
A taxi journey to Taksim will cost about TL 75, with journeys to Sultanahmet costing more. It is not necessary to tip unless your driver has helped with your bags. Instead, it is more customary to round up the fare and not accept change. Always insist that they use the meter to avoid being over-charged.
Avis, Decar, Hertz, and WRC car rental companies are situated in the Arrivals area by the baggage claim. Car Rental can be expensive in Turkey so if you are on a budget, public transportation may be a more affordable option. The E6 expressway or E5 motorway takes you into central Istanbul.
Airport Transfer Service
Like Atatürk Airport, Sabiha Gokcen also offers this private transfer service for those who wish to arrive at their accommodations with the least amount of stress. It costs a fair bit more than taxis, but it may be worth it for the comfort and convenience; you are transported in a private Mercedes-Benz minivan direct to your hotel, and drink and snack refreshments are included in the cost.
Traveling to Istanbul by train from Europe or Asia is a lovely way to see the scenery of this magnificent city. Those arriving from Europe debark at the Sirkeci Station, near Sultanahmet. Daily trains come in from Sofia, Bulgaria, Belgrade, Serbia, Budapest, Hungary, and Bucarest, Romania. Less frequently, they come from Chisinau, Moldova. There are twice daily trains from Thessaloniki, Greece. Visitors from Asia arrive at Haydarpasa Station. Trains come from Aleppo, Syria and Teheran, Iran. The trains are run by the Turkish Republic State Railways (TCDD).
Many visitors enter Istanbul via the International Istanbul Intercity Bus Terminal (or more simply, the Main Terminal) which is about 10 kilometers from Sultanahmet. This sprawling terminal accommodates buses from Austria, France, Greece, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, and Switzerland. Buses from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria also arrive regularly. From the Terminal, called Buyuk Otoga, you can travel into the city by taxi, metro, or tram.
On the Asian side of Istanbul, travelers may come into the Harem Bus Terminal, or Harem Otoga. This is located in the Üsküdar district. There are rumors that this terminal will be relocated to another area of the city, Kurtkoy, or replaced with several smaller stations in Aricilar, Kavacik, Atasehir and Kurtköy. For now, Harem handles passengers who can get into the city by taxi, tram, or metro.
If you are planning on driving into Istanbul, be aware that traffic is often congested, road signs are spotty, accident rates are very high, and parking is hard to find and expensive. If you can, leave your car in a safe place and take public transportation to get around within the city.
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