Istanbul Airport (IST) is the main international airport of Istanbul. The airport is located next to the Black Sea on the European side, about 40 km away from Taksim and 49 km from Sultanahmet. To reach your hotel, you have several options, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s an overview of these various options.
To Ensure a Successful Trip
In order to pay for your transportation, make sure to use one of the many ATMs in the airport to withdraw Turkish Lira cash money. Most of the transportation options mentioned below will not accept credit cards, foreign currencies or big Turkish lira notes.
If you plan to use public transportation, make sure to get an IstanbulKart at the airport, and load sufficient funds on it. Using the card is mandatory on most public transportation lines.
Last but not least, make sure that you write down or print out the exact address of your hotel, together with its telephone number. It’s not unusual for a taxi driver to ask for directions at traffic lights or call the hotel.
Traveling between Istanbul Airport and City Center
How to get from Istanbul Airport to City Center by Public Bus
IETT public buses are the Municipal public bus service operating several bus lines between the Istanbul airport and many spots all over Istanbul.
While the public buses have 7 lines for city center transfer, they mostly run to non tourist destinations. You are unable to fine a public bus top neighborhoods such as Sultanahmet, Taksim, Besiktas, Galata, and Beyoglu. You also need to buy Istanbulkart, Istanbul’s public transport card.
Please visit iett.istanbul for more information and timetables.
How to get from Istanbul Airport to City Center by Airport Shuttle Bus
HAVAIST is an airport shuttle service operating several bus lines between the new Istanbul airport and spots all over Istanbul. Havaist buses run around the clock with every 30-minutes route (every 45 in the early morning hours).
The bus station is located at the -2 airport level. In that area, you can also purchase an Istanbulkart which is valid for all public transportation means, even for the public toilets.
Moreover, you can also pay using your credit card via Havaist App or book your tickets in advance and simply download a QR code. Cash isn’t accepted.
To reach Taksim, take the line IST-16 which will drop you off in front of the Point Hotel, near Taksim square. From there you can either walk to your hotel, take a taxi or the metro.
To reach Sultanahmet take the IST-20 which will drop you off at Sultanahmet Square bus stop (only a breath away from Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque) in about 100 minutes (depending on the traffic congestion).
How to get from Istanbul Airport to City Center by Metro
The metro line M11 which will link Istanbul airport to the city center is expected to be put in operation in 2023.
If you wish to get to Istanbul Sultanahmet area from Istanbul airport by metro, you will have to take the line M11 to Gayrettepe Station and then transfer to line M2 to Vezneciler Station, a 15-20 minutes walk from Sultanahmet Square.
How to get from Istanbul Airport to City Center by Car
Another alternative for your transfer from Istanbul airport to Istanbul city center is renting a car. A car rental will give you freedom and independence, but you will have to deal with the traffic jams and navigating through the hectic streets of Istanbul.
Istanbul Airport to Istanbul City Center Hotel Airport Pick-Up
Most hotels will offer an airport pick-up upon request. These pick-ups are rarely free of charge, and often much more expensive than the options mentioned above. It’s up to you to calculate the difference and decide which option best suits your needs or preference.
How to get from Istanbul Airport to City Center by Taxi
Taking a taxi from Istanbul Airport guarantees a comfortable transfer but not a quick one due to the heavy traffic on Istanbul streets. Nevertheless, with an Istanbul airport taxi, you will reach your exact destination in the Sultanahmet historic area stress-free.
A trip from the new Istanbul airport will set you back a minimum of €30 to Taksim and €34 to Sultanahmet. However, these are NOT fixed prices since the fee varies according to travel time as taxis don’t offer fixed prices. If the taxi hits traffic, uses toll roads or takes a longer (but according to the taxi driver) quicker road, the fare may increase quickly.
In case you must take a taxi, just walk to the official taxi ranks located just outside the terminal. Never take a ride from the hustlers inside the airport terminal, and always ask to switch on the metre. Yellow taxis are the ordinary and cheapest ones while you can also hire a more comfortable blue taxi (15% more expensive) or a black luxurious taxi vehicle (100% more expensive).
How to get from Istanbul Airport to City Center by Private Shuttle
Tip: This is the best option especially for the ones traveling in group, or having much luggage.
A private shuttle is a great alternative for both the taxi and the standard airport shuttle. They are more comfortable than taxis, have a fixed rate, hence offer a much more relaxed (and safe) drive to your hotel. Unlike the Havaist airport shuttle, private shuttles bring you to the hotel’s doorstep. They are also the best option when you travel with very young children and offer child seats.
The advantage of using a private shuttle is that you pay a fixed price. You can also pay in advance using dollars or euros so that you don’t have to deal with local currencies or getting an IstanbulKart. You can find a listing of private shuttle companies on Google.