Istanbul Airport, also known as Istanbul New Airport, (IST IATA) is the primary of two passenger airports serving the city of Istanbul, (the other being Sabiha Gökçen on the Asian side). It is 35 km north of Istanbul on the European side of the city. Just about every major city in Europe (including European Russia) has a direct flight to and from IST, and there are extensive connections across the Middle East, with destinations to the Far East, Africa and North America also served. Many of these are operated by the national carrier Turkish Airlines, either itself or via code-share agreements.
Istanbul has been a center for trade and travel for centuries, and at the nexus of Orient and Occident, its airport has come to serve the same role in the modern era. Turkish Airlines likes to claim (and Lufthansa likes to rival this claim) that they are the airline with destinations in the most countries; certainly many countries are reachable from Istanbul Airport. The only other airport that can challenge the FRA-IST rivalry when it comes to number of countries served is Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with the globally well-connected KLM and the Dutch tradition for trade and travel dating back centuries.
Overcrowding at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, one of the busiest in Europe, was compounded by the fact that there was no room for expansion there due to the urban buildup around the airport. Thus, a new airport started construction as one of several Turkish megaprojects in the 2010s.
There were many delays to opening, and flights were transferred to the airport in stages. Beginning October 29, 2018, a limited number of Turkish Airlines flights to Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, Baku in Azerbaijan, and Ercan in Northern Cyprus began operating from Istanbul Airport. In early 2019, some short-haul Turkish Airlines services to several European cities and Kuwait were added. Finally, on April 7, 2019, all flights were transferred when the airport became fully operational.
There are two websites for the airport:
- One about the construction of the airport, and
- the other for travellers, and for passenger information.
See Turkey#Get in for visa requirements. From 2020, most EU, UK, CIS and South American visitors do not need a visa. Those from many other countries including Australia, Canada and US can get an e-visa online, valid for 90 days. You can also get one on arrival at the airport, at a higher price.
You do not need a visa if you are just transiting the airport to another country, including to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
There is one terminal with 5 concourses (A, B, D, F and G). Due to the long distances between concourses and possible security checks the minimum connection time (MCT) is 60 minutes. Each concourse extends out from the central area where the check-in counters, security checkpoints and baggage claim are situated. The C and E gates connect directly to the main terminal and are therefore not considered independent concourses.
All major cities in Turkey, and quite a few medium-sized towns, have at least a daily flight to IST, and those from Ankara fly hourly. Concourse G (in the southeast) is reserved solely for domestic flights, although 3 passenger boarding bridges of Concourse F (which is directly to the north of Concourse G) have also been allocated for domestic flights.
For domestic flights use entrance doors No. 1 and 2 at departures level. Domestic check-in procedures can be completed at aisle D check-in counters, or alternatively at the self check-in kiosks at aisle E.
Upon completing procedures, all passengers need to pass through the security check opposite aisle D. Priority lanes and direct access to the Turkish Airlines Domestic Lounge is available to those with the appropriate ticket or status.
Turkish Airlines international economy class passengers can enter check-in areas using the entrance doors No. 3 and 4 at departures level. Check-in procedures can be completed at aisles F, G, H and J.
International business class and Star Alliance Gold card passengers should use entrance door No. 5
Special check-in counters are available in the following aisles:
- Aisle E for self check-in kiosks
- Aisle G for passengers with disabilities and those travelling in large groups
- Aisle H for family check-in counters and for unaccompanied minors
- Aisle K for flights subject to special security (US, UK and Canada)
- Aisle L for Turkish Airlines business class and Star Alliance Gold card passengers
- Aisles A to C and M to S for all other carriers (non Turkish Airlines flights)
Upon completing check-in, to reach the gates all passengers need to pass through the security check opposite aisles G, H, J and K.
As of 2020, the only direct way to access the airport is by car or bus. The journey time from Central Istanbul is about 60 minutes. The airport will eventually be linked by several lines of the Istanbul Metro. One starting from Gayrettepe station on the new M11 line is expected to open in late 2021. Another from Halkalı on the Marmaray rail line is also planned.
All buses depart from -2 level, which is one floor below the arrivals level. 19 bus routes by four operators run from the airport almost around the clock. Fare payment is by IstanbulKart (Istanbul's public transport smart card). These are available for both purchase (6 TL) and top-up (in case you already own one) at the airport from either the automated machines (cash only) or the Havaist ticket counters (cash and credit cards accepted). If you do not intend to use the expensive Havaist coaches, a payment of 15 TL (since only notes are accepted) for deposit and top-up is sufficient to get you into the city by iETT bus (7 TL). Note, some locals might recommend a top-up of 20 TL or so, but they generally expect tourists to take the more expensive Havaist services.
The operators are:
- Istanbul Seyahat have two routes as of August 2021. You can book online in advance, if you're confident of your arrival time.
- - Istanbul airport – Çorlu – Tekirdağ, every 2 hours 07:00-01:30, 85 TL. Change at Tekirdağ for frequent buses to the Gallipoli peninsula and Çanakkale.
- - Istanbul airport – Lüleburgaz – Babaeski – Edirne every 2 hours 08:30-22:30, 110 TL.
- BBUS a long distance coach operator serving the city of Bursa that commenced in April 2021. You can book online in advance via their website.
- - Istanbul airport – Bursa, (non-stop service). Twice daily 08:30 and 17:00. Adult fare 125 TL.
- - Istanbul airport – Yalova – Orhangazi – Gemlik – Bursa. Four times daily 01:45, 14:00, 20:00, 23:00. Adult fare 115 TL.
- Havaist - Composed of a fleet of over 100 forty-six seat luxury coaches with plenty of space for luggage, seat-back screens, onboard WiFi and at-seat USB power sockets. As of August 2021 they operate 10 routes covering 39 stops with frequencies varying from 30-90 minutes. As an alternative to using an Istanbulkart, fares can be pre-purchased online via their website or the Havaist app, although the interface is still mostly in Turkish. An account must be created and credit preloaded. The balance is then represented by a QR code within the associated Havaist App. When scanned by an onboard reader the appropriate fare is deducted. Children up to the age of 5 travel free. The most useful route for tourists is HVIST-16 serving Taksim. The former IST-20 service to Sultanahmet has not yet been reinstated post-COVID-19 shutdown. Stops that have interchanges with metro lines (or are within walking distance) are indicated in bold in the table below with a coloured roundel indicating the line.
|Route||Stops||Journey Time (mins)||Fare (TL)|
|HVIST-5 OTOGAR – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Esenler Otogar 1 – Hasdal – Goktürk – Istanbul Airport||60-75||27|
|HVIST-6 HALKALI – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Halkalı istasyon 2 – Halkalı Meydan – Güneşpark Evleri – Atatürk Mahallesi (Arenapark) – Demirciler Sitesi (Mall) 3 – Başakşehir Metrokent 4 – Istanbul Airport||60-75||25|
|HVIST-8 BEYlLIKDÜZÜ – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Beylikdüzü (Marmarapark AVM) – Tüyap – Büyükçekmece – Tepecik – Serbest Bölge – Istanbul Airport||75-90||33|
|HVIST-9 AVCILAR – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Avcılar Cami – Haramidere San. Sit (Torium) – Bahçeşehir Merkez – Ispartakule Blokları – Istanbul Airport||90||27|
|HVIST-10 BAKIRKÖY – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Bakırköy ido iskelesi – Ataköy 3. Kısım – Şirinevler 5 – Yenibosna (Kuleli) – Istanbul Airport||90||31|
|HVIST-12 BEYAZIT MEYDAN – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Beyazıt Meydan – Aksaray Metro 6 – Ulubatlı 7 – Ayvansaray – Nurtepe Viyadük – Istanbul Airport||90||35|
|HVIST-13 SABIHA GÖKCEN AIRPORT – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Sabiha Gökçen Airport – Istanbul Airport||110||43|
|HVIST-14 KADIKÖY – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Kadıköy – Acıbadem Metro Istasyonu 8 – Yenisahra 9 – Tepeüstü – Kavacık Köprüsü – Istanbul Airport||120||38|
|HVIST-15 BEŞİKTAŞ MEYDAN – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Beşiktaş Meydan – Zincirlikuyu Metrobus 10 – 4. Levent 11 – Istanbul Airport||75||29|
|HVIST-16 TAKSIM – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Taksim 12 – Piyalepasa – Nurtepe Viyadük – Istanbul Airport||90||35|
- iETT - These are regular buses with limited luggage space. Slower, but more economical than the Havaist coaches, they operate 6 routes as of September 2021. Stops that have interchanges with metro lines (or are within walking distance) are indicated in bold in the table below with a coloured roundel indicating the line.
|Route||Stops||Journey Time (mins)||Fare (TL)|
|H-1 MAHMUTBEY METRO – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Mahmutbey Metro 13 – Karacaoğlan ilkokulu – inönü Caddesi – (Ateştuğla) – Halkalı Caddesi – Pirireis – 15 Temmuz Mahallesi – Sanayi Mahallesi – ikitelli Köprüsü – Istanbul Airport||45-60||7|
|H-2 MECIDIYEKOY – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Mecidiyeköy Metrobüs 14 – Çağlayan Yolu – Nurtepe Viyadük – Afet Koordinasyon Merkezi – Karayollari 1 bölge Müdürlüğü – Hasdal – Kemer Yolu – (Orman Yolu) – Kıyı Emniyeti – Istanbul Airport||45-60||7|
|H-3 HALKALI – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Gümrük – Halkalı Marmaray 15 – Gültepe Mahallesi – Göl Konutları – Bezirganbahçe Toki – Toki Konutları – istasyon Mahallesi Muhtarliği – Sakarya Sokak – (Yenidoğan) – (Şehit Münir Alkan) – (Mehmet Akif Ersoy Hastanesi) – Avrupa Konutları 3 – Halkalı Polis Merkezi – Halkalı Park – Koca Ali Sokak – Güneşpark Evleri – Halkalı Yolu – ikitelli Caddesi – Atatürk Mahallesi – iETT ikitelli Garajı – (Tem Yolu) – imsan (Sanayi Sitesi) – (Masko 3) – Masko 2 – Masko 1 16 – Demirciler Sitesi – Istanbul Airport||45-75||7|
YUNUS EMRE MAH. – ISTANBUL AIRPORT
|Yunus Emre Mahallesi – Tuz Deposu – Mimar Sinan Bulvarı – Halk Ekmek Fabrikası – Hükümet Konağı – Haci Mehmet Cingil – (Malkoçoğlu) – Ortaokulu – Hayırlioğlu Camii – Mescid-i Selam (Camii)– Habipler Mahallesi – Habipler – Tepe üstü – Arnavutköy Yolu – Sıncanlar – Fenertepe Yolu – Fenertepe – Kayabaşı Yolu – Orman İşletmesi – Balcılar – Çamlık – Yol Bakım – Boğazköy Yolu – Arnavutköy Devlet Hastanesi – Fatih Caddesi – Gaziosmanpaşa Caddesi – Necip Fazıl Caddesi – (Arnavutköy Merkez) – (Mehmet Akif Caddesi) – Arnavutköy – Redif Sokak – Osmangazi Caddesi – Cemal Reşit Rey ilkokulu – Kozlar – Hazreti Ömer Camii – Kiptaş Konutları – Arnavutköy Belediye – Taşoluk Yeşil Cami – (Anafartalar Ortaokulu) – Taşoluk Yolu – Hasan Tahsin Cad. – Yavuz Selim Mahallesi – Çardaktepe – Nargül Sokak – Osmanlı Konakları – Sancaktepe – Taşoluk Belediyesi – Fatih Caddesi – Çangalçeşme Yolu – Çamlık Mahallesi – Terkos Yolu – Çamlıktepe – Mesire Yeri – Istanbul Airport||45-75||7|
|H-8 HACIOSMAN / SARIYER – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Hacıosman Metro 17 – Hacıosman – Hacıosman Bayırı Caddesi – Sarıyer – (Bahçeköy Öğrenci Yurdu) – (Şifa) – Yusuf Ziya Stadı – Hüseyin Kalkavan Lisesi – (Alt Sokak) – Köşebaşı – Maden Kocataş – Maden Mahallesi – Maden Üstü – (Rumelifener Yolu) – Acarlar – Nalbantçeşme – Gürgensu Sitesi – Nalbanttepe – Zekeriyaköy Trafo – Bahçeköy Yolu – Zekeriyaköy Yolu – Demirciköy Yolu – Ormanada – Kuzey Konakları – Yeşilvadi Fidanlığı – Yeşil Vadi – Uskumruköy Yolu – Şehitlik Mevkii – Aslan Fidanlığı – Kilyos Mezarlığı – Istanbul Airport||50||7|
CEVIZLIBAG – ISTANBUL AIRPORT
|Cevizlibağ 18 – incirli E-5 – Bahçelievler 19 – (Dr. Sadi Konuk Devlet Hastenesi) – Çocuk Sitesi – Ataköy Geçit – Şirinevler 20 – Kuleli – Kültür Üniversitesi – Istanbul Airport– Nakliyeciler Sitesi – Tınaztepe – Kocatepe – (Bakırköy Adliyesi) – incirli Metrobus||75-90||7|
There are three types of taxi at Istanbul Airport, orange (economy) taxis, turquoise (comfort) taxis and black (premium) taxis. Whichever you decide to use always insist on use of the meter as there are no fixed prices to the city. Many taxis now accept credit cards for payment, however there is a small surcharge which is indicated by an official sticker in the window.
Istanbul Airport has published some guideline fares (April 2021). These do not including highway or bridge tolls.
|Destination district||Orange Taxi||Turquoise Taxi||Black Luxury Taxi|
|Aksaray||155 TL||175 TL||300 TL|
|Bakırköy||175 TL||195 TL||340 TL|
|Beşiktaş||155 TL||175 TL||300 TL|
|Beylikdüzü||210 TL||240 TL||420 TL|
|Etiler||160 TL||185 TL||320 TL|
|Kadıköy||200 TL||230 TL||400 TL|
|Levent||150 TL||170 TL||300 TL|
|Maslak||140 TL||160 TL||280 TL|
|Otogar||150 TL||170 TL||300 TL|
|Sabiha Gökçen Havalimanı||260 TL||300 TL||520 TL|
|Şişli - Mecidiyeköy||150 TL||170 TL||300 TL|
|Sultanahmet - Sirkeci||170 TL||195 TL||340 TL|
|Taksim||150 TL||170 TL||300 TL|
|Tarabya||150 TL||170 TL||300 TL|
|Tuzla||290 TL||335 TL||580 TL|
|Yeşilköy||180 TL||210 TL||360 TL|
If you plan to rent a car for the duration of your stay, the airport has a glut of car rental companies on site including both well known International chains and local enterprises. Many are open 24 hours a day and their offices are clustered in the arrivals hall opposite meeting point 3 / exit door 9.
The airport is located at exit K7 on the O-7 / Otoyol 7 (English: Motorway-7). This is sometimes also referred to as Kuzey Marmara Otoyolu (Northern Marmara Highway). A typical journey into one of the European side districts will take about an hour.
Since there is only one terminal built so far, with no rail or bus transfer system in place, you will probably have to walk everywhere. It can take quite a while to walk between gates, especially if they are an opposite ends of the huge terminal with its long concourses, so allocate sufficient time for connections. Estimated times to walk from the central terminal area to furthest gates at the end of each concourse (gates A11, B15, D17, F16 and G11) are around 15-20 minutes.
There is also a buggy service priced at 5 EUR (free for iGA pass members; those over 65 years of age; families with children aged between 0-2 years old and expectant mothers). There are four buggy stations, three in the International departures area of the terminal and one in the domestic section. The locations are as follows:
- Western Buggy Station (international departures area): located across from gate C1
- Northern Buggy Station (international departures area): located after the stairs leading down to the D gates
- Eastern Buggy Station (international departures area): located across from gate E1
- Domestic Buggy Station: located across from the stairs leading down to domestic departures
For transfer passengers who are required to re-clear security and whose connection time is less than 60 minutes, there are Short Connection areas in each concourse which avoid the need to traverse the length of the concourse to the central transfer hall. The locations are as follows:
- Concourse A: Mid-concourse, opposite gate A5
- Concourse B: Opposite gate B8
- Concourse D: At the very far end of the concourse, near gate D16
- Concourse F: Opposite gate F8
Turkish Airlines offers free guided tours of Istanbul's sights to their passengers under a program called Touristanbul. This program includes transport from and to the airport and a traditional Turkish meal.
The conditions are: you need to have a layover of at least six hours and at most 24 hours, between 09:00 and 18:00 and, in addition, both your arriving and departing flights must be international and operated by Turkish Airlines. No prior reservation is needed for these tours, you only need to proceed through customs and immigration and after that to the "hotel desk" in the arrivals hall (near meeting point 4 / opposite Exit door 14) . The airline has more detailed information on their home page. Remember to check if you need a visa to enter Turkey.
Museums and exhibitions
As of Aug 2021, Istanbul Airport Museum is exhibiting 316 works from 29 museums, on the international departures floor. Various other semi-permanent exhibitions are dotted around the concourses, details of which can be found online.
- Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge (take up escalator near gate E1)
- Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles Lounge (take up escalator near gate C1)
- Turkish Airlines Exclusive Lounge (opening 2020)
- Turkish Airlines Arrival Lounge (close to door 14, arrivals level. Opening 2020)
- Turkish Airlines Domestic Lounge (take elevators opposite gate G6)
- IGA Lounge (pay per use lounge, priced at €50 + tax, (€32.50 if over 65) but includes Fast Track, Priority Check-in and Buggy service if pre-booked)
- Skyteam Lounge
- Emirates Lounge (opening 2020)
- Komyuniti Lounge (Landside, within the Yotel near entrance 7, departures level. €40 + tax inclusive of food and drinks. Showers also available.)
- Komyuniti Lounge (Airside, within the YotelAir. €40 + tax inclusive of food and drinks. €50 + tax inclusive of food, drinks and shower. Shower only access is €15 + tax.)
Istanbul Airport Library, which contains more than 2,000 books, is located in the domestic departures area just before gate G2.
This viewing terrace, overlooking runway 1 and the Air Traffic Control Tower, offers the opportunity to while away a few hours at the airport. Transportation to the spotter area is provided by İGA with vehicles departing from Istanbul Airport P6 Turkuaz car park. As of Aug 2021, it is only available by pre-booking and open on Saturday (08:00 - 17:30). It is free of charge, however it is landside, so remember to check if you need a visa to enter Turkey. Those unable to enter Turkey and still wishing for some fresh air can access the outdoor terrace near the B gates
Eat and drink
A wide variety of food outlets are available both airside and landside, with both Turkish and International cuisine being well catered for. A current list of outlets can be found on the official airport website.
As with most modern international airports, there are shops galore in addition to the obligatory duty free stores. In certain concourses you might be forgiven for thinking you were in a shopping mall. A current list of retailers can be found on the official airport website.
- WiFi: Up to 1 hour of free Wi-Fi internet service is provided. Users must register with their mobile phone number to receive a code via SMS for activation. For those without a mobile phone, access codes can be obtained from kiosks by providing your passport number.
The airport has been designed to be child and family friendly, including family priority car parking spaces, security check points, privacy rooms, stroller loans and free buggy services for those with infants aged up to the age of two. There is also a children's play area located at each of the five piers.
A non-smoking fresh air terrace is located on the left side, right next to the pier where the B gates are located.
Istanbul Airport has a number of service points to meet the health needs of passengers including Mobile health stations, First aid / emergency services, Pharmacies and PCR test centre.
Guests who wish to breastfeed or change the diapers of their babies may use one of 9 dedicated Infant Care rooms. All are equipped with breastfeeding chairs and baby changing units.
- Airside: You can find the iGA Lost and Found Property offices in front of gate C3 after Passport Control.
- Landside: To collect lost property landslide head to the Lost & Found Office located across from R check-in island (Entrance no. 7 on the departures level). Property is held for 3 months after which time if remaining unclaimed it will be disposed of. The exception is foodstuffs, these are destroyed after 24 hours.
The call centre can be reached on 444 1 442 by phone or WhatsApp. To report lost property at the airport you must complete the following form. Any property lost or left on an aircraft should be reported to the airline directly.
Left Luggage / Lockers
- Airside: You can only pay for this service by credit card. The fees as of September 2021 are as follows:
- Between 0-3 hours; luggage €5 (€3.25 if over 65), pochette-bag €2 (€1.30 if over 65), cloakroom €2 (€1.30 if over 65)
- Between 3-6 hours; luggage €9 (€5.85 if over 65), pochette-bag €3 (€1.95 if over 65), cloakroom €3 (€1.95 if over 65)
- Between 6-9 hours; luggage €16 (€10.40 if over 65), pochette-bag €6 (€3.90 if over 65), cloakroom €6 (€3.90 if over 65)
- Landside: There are two Left Luggage areas available in the arrivals level in addition to lockers. The initial fee for the lockers for up to 12 hours storage is 40 TL for small bags and 60 TL for large bags. A further fee of 40 TL (small bags) / 60 TL (large bags) is charged for every 24 hours thereafter. The locations are:
A free pet room and pet toilet, where you can see to the basic needs of our little friends, can be found after security checks on the Departures floor.
There are 3 prayer rooms in the airport in total, at the service of individuals from all religions.
- 1 in Departures Floor F Pier
- 1 in Departures Floor International Terminal Airside
- 1 in Arrivals Floor International Terminal Meeting Point Hall
In addition 44 muslim prayer rooms (half of them serving men and the other half women only) are dotted throughout the concourses.
- YotelAir, Tayakadın Mahallesi, Terminal Caddesi No:1 Arnavutköy (Airside: in the Duty Free Area after passport control and security. Landside: use entrance Door 7 at departures level.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The only on-site hotel at Istanbul Airport. It has 451 rooms (174 rooms airside and 277 rooms landside). From €70 for 4 hours.
- IGA Sleepods. Sleeping pods are located airside close to the entrance to the D gates. These are available at a price of €6 per hour (€3.90 if over 65) between the hours of 07:00-19:00 and €9 per hour (€5.85 if over 65) between the hours of 19:00-07:00 (pillows and blankets are a €2 option).
The airport is so far from anywhere (one of the main criticisms for the planned future closing of Atatürk Airport) that there is nowhere in particular worth seeking out nearby.
Provided that you have your papers in order and can arrange transportation, though, relatively close by places in the lush countryside of Istanbul's north include Kemerburgaz and the Belgrade Forest, with many Ottoman era aqueducts which blend perfectly with their jungle-like surroundings to the east of the airport, and peaceful Lake Terkos, extensive undeveloped beaches on the Black Sea and mysterious Byzantine ruins scattered in the forests to the west.