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 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 August 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 three 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 - Offering scheduled intercity coach services on two routes. (August 2020)
- Istanbul airport – Çorlu – Tekirdağ. 9 departures per day (08:00-01:30) with a frequency of 120 minutes. One-way fare with reserved seating: 60 TL which can be purchased online in advance.
- Istanbul airport – Lüleburgaz – Babaeski – Edirne. 6 departures per day (08:30-22:30) with a frequency of 120 minutes. One-way fare with reserved seating: 75-90 TL which can be purchased online in advance.
- 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 2020 they operate 9 routes covering 43 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. The most useful route for tourists is HVIST-14 serving Taksim. The former IST-20 service to Sultanahmet has not yet been reinstated post-COVID-19 shutdown.
|Route||Stops||Journey Time (mins)||Fare (TL)|
|HVIST-5 OTOGAR – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Esenler Otogar – Otogar Yolu – Hasdal – Istanbul Airport||60-75||22|
|HVIST-6 HALKALI – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Halkalı istasyon – Konut Birlik – Kanuni S.S.H Girişi – Çimentepe – Atatürk Mahallesi (Arenapark) – Demirciler Sitesi (Mall) – Başakşehir Metrokent – Istanbul Airport||60-75||21|
|HVIST-7 BEYlLIKDÜZÜ – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Beylikdüzü (Marmarapark AVM) – Cumhuriyet Mahallesi – Tüyap – Büyükçekmece – Tepecik – Çatalca Devlet Hastanesi – Istanbul Airport||75-90||26|
|HVIST-8 AVCILAR – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Avcılar Cami – Haramidere San. Sit (Torium) – Bahçeşehir Merkez – Ispartakule Blokları – Istanbul Airport||100||21|
|HVIST-9 KADIKÖY – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Kadıköy – Acıbadem Metro Istasyonu – Yenisahra – Tepeüstü – Kavacık Köprüsü – Istanbul Airport||100||32|
|HVIST-10 PENDİK – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Pendik YHT istasyonu – Tavşantepe Metro – Sabiha Gökçen Airport – Istanbul Airport||110||37|
|HVIST-13 BAKIRKÖY – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Bakırköy ido iskelesi – Ataköy 3. Kısım – Şirinevler – Kuleli – Istanbul Airport||90||24|
|HVIST-14 TAKSIM / BEŞİKTAŞ – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Taksim – Beşiktaş iskele – Zincirlikuyu Metrobüs – 4. Levent – Istanbul Airport||90||25|
|HVIST-15 YENİKAPI – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Yenikapı Sahil – Yenikapı Marmaray – Aksaray – Ulubatlı – Ayvansaray – Nurtepe Viyadük – Istanbul Airport||100||25|
- iETT - These are regular buses with limited luggage space. Slower, but more economical than the Havaist coaches, they operate 8 routes as of August 2020
|Route||Stops||Journey Time (mins)||Fare (TL)|
|H-1 MAHMUTBEY METRO – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Mahmutbey Metro – 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 – Çağlayan Yolu – Nurtepe Viyadük – Afet Koordinasyon Merkezi –
Karayollari 1 bölge Müdürlüğü – Hasdal – Kemer Yolu – (Orman Yolu) – Kıyı Emniyeti – Istanbul Airport
|H-3 HALKALI – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Gümrük – Halkalı Marmaray – 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 – 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-7 ALIBEYKOY BUS TERMINAL – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Alibeyköy Cep Otogarı – Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bulvarı – Bayramoğlu – Nato Evleri – Hasdal – Kemer Yolu – (Orman Yolu) – Kıyı Emniyeti –Mandıralar – Arıtma Tesisleri – Şantiye Şefliği – Role Istasyonu – Kemer – Lale – Kemer Evleri – Orman Işletmesi – Ragıp Kutmangil ilkokulu – Kemerburgaz – Cengiz Topel Caddesi – Pirinçliköy Yolu – Selanik Bulvarı – Bahçeler – Sur – Kartal Çeşme –Hisar Eğitimokulları – istanbul Caddesi – Göktürk Em.Amirliği – Istanbul Airport||45||7|
|H-8 HACIOSMAN / SARIYER – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Hacıosman Metro – 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 – Nakliyeciler Sitesi – Tınaztepe – Kocatepe – (Bakırköy Adliyesi) – incirli Metrobus – incirli E-5 – Bahçelievler – (Dr. Sadi Konuk Devlet Hastenesi) – Çocuk Sitesi – Ataköy Geçit – Şirinevler – Kuleli – Kültür Üniversitesi – Istanbul Airport||75-90||7|
OTOGAR – ISTANBUL AIRPORT
|Esenler Otogar – Otogar Yolu – Hasdal – Istanbul Airport||60-75||7|
|H-11 BAKIRKÖY – ISTANBUL AIRPORT||Bakırköy ido iskelesi – Ataköy 3. Kısım – Şirinevler – Istanbul Airport||90||7|
There are three types of taxi at Istanbul Airport, yellow (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 Taxis Trade Association (İTEO) have published some guideline fares (April 2019). These do not including highway or bridge tolls.
|European Side||Asian Side|
|Destination||Distance (km)||Average Fare (TL)||Destination||Distance (km)||Average Fare (TL)|
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 at each concourse from the central terminal area priced at 5 EUR
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 arrival hall. The airline has more detailed information on their home page. Remember to check if you need a visa to enter Turkey.
- 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. Also used by Oneworld carriers)
- 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.)
For those wishing to read, Istanbul Airport Library, which contains more than 2,000 books, is in the domestic departures area.
Eat and drink
There is a food court in the terminal serving fast food.
- 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.
- 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 within the terminal are available at a price of €6 per hour between the hours of 07:00-19:00 and €9 per hour 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.