Whether it's for work or for a short vacation, if you're flying to Istanbul you will probably need to reach the city center. Here are some tips and practical information to guide you through the thousand ways to get to Istanbul from its airports (and back).
TIPS AND GENERAL INFO
Istanbul taxi fees are calculated by adding a certain fee per kilometer (2.10 TL) to a fixed initial fee (3.45 TL). An additional fee is applied in case you cross the bridge — it is not included in the sum that appears on the taximeter, so don’t be surprised if the taxi driver asks around 5 TL more than what you see there. You can calculate the distance and the price of a taxi on Taksiyle.
Please note that the same fees are applied 24 hours, there is no extra charge for your luggage, and you do not have to tip the driver — you only have to pay the price shown on the taximeter. However, if the driver has helped you with your luggage, you might want to give him a small tip — we recommend a maximum of 5 TL (the tip does not have to be proportional with the total on the taximeter).
Don’t forget to note the number of the taxi you are riding — in case you realize that the taxi driver scammed you returning a wrong amount of money or handing you fake money, or if he was driving too fast, call +90 212 325 1515 and explain what happened or what went wrong, specifying the taxi number.
Public transportation (İETT, metro, ferries, and tram)
For any info on bus lines, stops, departure times, maps, and directions, insert the name of the line in the box that appears on İETT’s home page.
Using any public bus, metro, tram, or ferry costs 4 TL if you use the token (jeton), and 2.30 TL if you already have an Istanbul card (İstanbulkart). For info on where to purchase it click on this section of İETT’s website.
In case your luggage is heavy or difficult to carry, we suggest to check if the metro station you are heading to is provided with lifts and/or escalators — not all of them are, so when in doubt, just go for the direct shuttle or take a cab.
The city’s biggest international airport is Istanbul Atatürk Airport (İstanbul Atatürk Havalimanı), which is located in Yeşilköy, on the European side of Istanbul. Transportation to and from the airport is possible with taxis, buses, metro, or with fast ferries. A car rental service is also available.
You can’t miss the bright yellow taxis as they line up on the street at the exit of the airport. To go to Taksim Square you should be asked between 45 and 60 TL.
The private Havataş bus service offers rings between the airport and central locations in Istanbul. In Taksim, the stop is located in front of Point Hotel.
To Taksim: Havataş buses to and from Taksim Square operate between 4am and 1am, and leave every 30 minutes from both ends of the line. The buses departing from the airport pass by Coast road, Bakırköy İDO port, and Yenikapı (Marmaray station) before getting to Taksim. The price for the Atatürk Airport-Taksim and Taksim-Atatürk Airport routes is 12 TL and the duration of the trip is around 40 minutes but may vary according to the traffic situation.
To Yenikapı İDO port: İDO and Havataş collaborate to offer this service, catered for the travelers coming by boat to Yenikapı. The service offers buses to and from Yenikapı port, leaving from both ends of the line at 9:05am, 11:45am, 4:45pm, and 7:45pm. There is a margin of 15 minutes on the departure time from the port, according to possible delays of the ferries. The buses departing from the airport pass by Bakırköy İDO port, and Coast road. The price for the Atatürk Airport-Yenikapı İDO Port and Yenikapı İDO Port-Atatürk Airport routes is 5.5 TL.
İETT buses (public transportation)
To Taksim: the TH-1 line, going from and to Taksim square, operates between 4am and 1am, with departures every 30 minutes from both ends of the line. The Taksim stop is located in Abdülhak Hamit caddesi, on a curve after passing Point Hotel — click here to see its exact position on the map. The bus makes several stops, including Şişhane, Yenikapı (Marmaray), and Zeytinburnu.
To Yenikapı: the YH-1 line to and from Yenikapı port leave from both ends of the line at 9:05am, 11:45am, 4:45pm, and 7:45pm. Halfway stops from Yenikapı include Aksaray, Bahçelievler, and Ataköy. The route from the airport to Yenikapı is very different, stopping in Zeytinburnu and Havagazı.
Metro & tram
The M1 metro line operates between Yenikapı and the airport with stops including Aksaray, Topkapı-Ulubatlı, Bayrampaşa-Maltepe, Merter (metrobus), Zeytinburnu (metrobus), Bahçelievler (metrobus), Ataköy-Şirinevler (metrobus), and Yenibosna.
In order to get to Sultanahmet, get off at the Zeytinburnu stop on the M1 line and transfer to the T1 line, direction Kabataş. Get off at the Sultanahmet stop on the T1 line, which operates between Bağcılar and Kabataş with stops in Topkapı, Beyazıt, Çemberlitaş, Sultanahmet, Eminönü, and Tophane.
In order to get to Taksim, Şişli, and Levent, get to the last stop of M1, Yenikapı, and hop on M2 metro, direction Hacıosman.
After reaching Yenikapı by Havataş bus (see above) you can take a ferry to different destinations all over the city: to Bostancı, Kadıköy, or Bakırköy. Check the official website of the ferry company İDO and click on the section ‘Timetables’ to check the schedule and the duration of your trip. Make sure to double check the company’s website before travelling, as (especially in winter) the ferries may be cancelled due to weather conditions.
Car rental & transfers
To rent a car from the airport check the list of companies and agencies offering this service or click here to check the cars’ availability. In case you prefer to book a transfer from or to the airport, click here to search for the best option.
Istanbul’s second international airport is Sabiha Gökçen Airport (Sabiha Gökçen Havalimanı), located on the Asian side in Pendik. Transportation to and from the Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) is possible with taxis or buses.
Such as in Atatürk Airport, taxis can be found outside the airport. A trip to Taksim should cost approximately 90 TL. Check the introductory section for more info on taxi fees and handy apps to download.
The private Havataş bus service offers rings between the airport and central locations in Istanbul. You can see them at the stop right in front of the Arrivals exit, going right from the luggage withdrawal area. In Taksim, the stop is located next to Point Hotel, while in Kadıköy it is located in the bus terminal in front of the ferries port, and in Yenisahra just by the metro station.
To Taksim: Havataş buses to Taksim Square operate between 4am and 1am, while the ones from Taksim to the airport start 3:30am. Buses leave every 30 minutes from both ends of the line. The buses departing from the airport pass by Kavacık, FSM bridge, Levent, Zincirlikuyu (metrobüs), and Dolapdere before getting to Taksim. The price for the Sabiha Gökçen Airport-Taksim and Taksim-Sabiha Gökçen Airport routes is 14 TL and the duration of the trip is around 1 hour and 30 minutes, but may vary according to the traffic situation.
To Kadıköy: Havataş buses to Kadıköy operate between 4am and 1am, while the ones to the airport operate between 4:15am and 00:45am. Buses leave every 30 minutes from both ends of the line. The buses departing from the airport pass by Tem access road and Yenisahra. The price for the Sabiha Gökçen Airport-Kadıköy and Kadıköy-Sabiha Gökçen Airport routes is 10 TL and the duration of the trip is around an hour but may vary according to the traffic situation.
From Yenisahra: Havataş buses from Yenisahra operate between 4:30am and 1am. Buses leave every 30 minutes. The buses departing from the airport pass by Tem access road. The price for the Yenisahra-Sabiha Gökçen Airport routes is 10 TL and the duration of the trip is around 20-40 minutes but may vary according to the traffic situation.
İETT buses (public transportation)
There are 12 bus lines running between the airport and central parts of the city. Check the company’s website and insert the number of the line to see the schedule, the map, and the stops.
To the European side: operating every day between 4am and 1am, the SG-2 line will take you to Taksim passing by Kavacık, Levent, and Zincirlikuyu (metrobus); the line E-3 requires a double ticket as it is an express line, operating between 7:40am and 4:15am every day and going to 4. Levent metro station, passing by Teknopark, Benzinci, and Kavacık; running only at 6am, 6:50am, 3:15pm, and 3:40pm in working days, the 122H line arrives to 4. Levent metro station.
To the Asian side: operating every day between 4am and 1am in the direction of Kadıköy and between 4:15am and 00:45am in the direction of the airport, the SG-1 line will take you to Kadıköy; passing by Kartal metro station, the KM22 line goes to Cevizli; the E-9 line will take you to Bostancı, where you can find connections with İDO ferries to Yenikapı; the E-10 and the E-11 lines arrive to Kadıköy, but not that E-10 works 24 hours a day, while E-11 leaves at 5:40am and stops at 10pm; E-18 goes to Altunizade through Umraniye only twice a day; running from 5:40am to 9pm on working days, 16S line goes to Uzunçayır metrobus station; lines directed to areas that are closer to the airport are 132H to Pendik, and 130H to Tuzla.