Istanbul Airport (IST) – How to get there (Updated January 2024)

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The huge Istanbul Airport on the European side of the city opened in the district of Arnavutköy in 2019. It’s eventually expected to see 200 million passengers pass through its streamlined modern environment a year. However, for me and anyone who first arrived in Istanbul at the Ataturk Airport in Bakırköy, the big question is, how do I get to Istanbul Airport and back? Luckily, there are lots of options in place, from public transport to private transfers.

In exciting news, the Kağıthane-Gayrettepe link on the M11 metro line running from Istanbul Airport to Gayrettepe opened on 29 January, 2024. This means you can now catch the metro from Istanbul Airport direct to Gayrettepe, where you transfer to the M2 metro to Taksim or Yenikapı. If you’re like me and have to take several lines to the airport, you’ll be pleased to know there are toilets in the new Gayrettepe station. You’ll find them two flights of escalators down, after you’ve passed through the turnstiles.

Here’s the Metro Istanbul website for more information. From Yenkapı you can catch the Marmaray over to the Asian side of Istanbul.

If that sounds too complicated there are HAVAIST buses running directly from Istanbul Airport to Taksim and other locations in the city. Here’s the official HAVAIst website to work out the best one for you. I’ve also provided a summary below of some of the most useful destinations for visitors to the city;

Istanbul Airport to 4. Levent. Price 170tl.*
Istanbul Airport to Beşiktaş. Price 170tl.
Istanbul Airport to Kadıköy. Price 186tl.
Istanbul Airport to Taksim. Price 170tl.
Istanbul Airport to Otogar (Esenler). Price 132tl.
Istanbul Airport to Zincirlikuyu Metrobus. Price 170tl.
Istanbul Airport to Sabiha Gökçen Airport. Price 215tl.

Services provided through IETT.
H-1 Mahmutbey Metro. Price – two Istanbul card tickets
H-2 Mecediyeköy. Price – two Istanbul card tickets
H-3 Halkalı. Price – two Istanbul card tickets
H-8 Sarıyer, Hacıosman. Price – two Istanbul card tickets

At the time of updating this post on 29.1.24 there were still no bus services running directly from the Istanbul Airport to Eminönü or Sultanahmet. The cheapest way to get there would be to catch a HAVAIst airport shuttle either to Taksim or Beşiktaş. From Taksim you can catch the funicular down to Kabataş and then get on the T1 tram to Sultanahmet. From Beşiktaş catch a ferry to Eminönü and from there also get on the T1 tram to Sultanahmet. You can take a taxi from both locations. You can use the fare calculator on the Bitaksi app to get an idea of the cost.

You use an Istanbul transport card or cash on the HAVAIST shuttles and some IETT buses accept credit cards now as well as the Istanbul card. If you don’t have an Istanbul Card, there are Istanbulkart vending machines at the Istanbul Airport on floor -2 where the buses leave from. If you already have one, make sure you have enough credit to cover the fare. Capacity on HAVAIST shuttles is restricted to the number of seats on each bus and there are limited stops along the route. IETT H services run like normal buses, with multiple stops along the route making for convenience rather than speed. IETT Istanbul Airport services are an economical way to travel so they’re usually crowded. You have to be quick if you want to nab a seat otherwise you could be standing up all the way.

Both options are economical and useful to get you to various points of the city from where you can continue your journey to its end. However if you’re travelling with a lot of luggage, in a couple or a group, it can be more comfortable and convenient to arrange a private transfer from Istanbul Airport.

As always I’ve done my best to provide information that’s as accurate as possible. This being Turkey, things can and do change at short notice. If you’ve had a different experience getting to or from Istanbul Airport than I’ve written in this post, or know something I don’t, please drop me a note in the comments.

NB: With the new metro extension now open on the Asian side of Istanbul you also have the option of flying in via Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.


Planning to come to Istanbul or Turkey? Here are my helpful tips for planning your trip.

For FLIGHTS I like to use

Discover lesser known Istanbul with my new guidebook

Don’t pay extra for an E-VISA. Here’s my post on everything to know before you take off.

However E-SIM are the way to go to stay connected with a local phone number and mobile data on the go. Airalo is easy to use and affordable.

Even if I never claim on it, I always take out TRAVEL INSURANCE. I recommend Visitors Coverage.

I’m a big advocate of public transport, but know it’s not suitable for everyone all the time. When I need to be picked up from or get to either of the airports, I use one of these GetYourGuide website AIRPORT TRANSFERS.

ACCOMMODATION: When I want to find a place to stay I use

CITY TOURS & DAY TRIPS: Let me guide you around Kadikoy with my audio walking tour Stepping back through Chalcedon or venture further afield with my bespoke guidebook Istanbul 50 Unsung Places. I know you’ll love visiting the lesser-known sites I’ve included. It’s based on using public transport as much as possible so you won’t be adding too much to your carbon footprint. Then read about what you’ve seen and experienced in my three essay collections and memoir about moving to Istanbul permanently.

Browse the GetYourGuide website or Viator to find even more ways to experience Istanbul and Turkey with food tours, visits to the old city, evening Bosphorus cruises and more!

However you travel, stay safe and have fun! Iyi yolculuklar.


*prices are accurate as of 29.1.24 but are subject to change without notice.

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  1. A very useful piece, thank you Lisa.
    Mark spends an awful lot of time searching for information of how to reach Sirkeci. How we wish they would get on with the Metro links as that would make it so much easier for us. Still waiting to get over again but ‘things’ have been getting in the way!

    1. The new M11 Metro line to Istanbul Airport is slated to open this August, but I think it will take longer than that. With any luck it will be some time this year. We can only hope. Fingers crossed the things getting in your way are over and done with soon!

      1. At long last we can actually think about coming to Istanbul again. Need to wait for better weather and other things to be dealt with but we will be back. We might finally meet at last Lisa.

        1. That is great news! It’s raining today in Istanbul, much needed I might add, but the days are already starting to warm up. When you’ve more sure of your dates get in touch and if I am in Istanbul at the time, it’s a date!

  2. What a great publication. The blogger of this masterpiece deserve some accolades. Very educative and informative . Thanks team

    1. Hi Seth, thanks for the appreciation. I’m a public transport user from way back and know how stressful it can be getting to and from a new place for the first time. Lisa

  3. I’m sure the new airport will be magnificent but as a yabanci can anyone tell me how long is the walk from international to domestic please

    1. Hi Olive, I haven’t been able to find exact information. I do know both domestic and international are in the same building and don’t think the walk is too far. As far as timing goes you’ll have to factor in going through immigration. How long that could take will depend on when you arrive. Probably the best thing to do is tweet Turkish Airlines customer service. They are handling lots of questions and usually get back to you within a day. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

      1. Surely, if you are going from International Arrivals to Domestic Departures then you don’t go through Immigration, follow the Transit route and then go through to Departures & through Immigration at your destination.

        1. It’s not a given when flying to all points in Turkey that you’ll have the choice to go through immigration at your end point so it pays to factor in extra time to clear immigration at Istanbul. To date I’ve found it very fast.

  4. It’s all good for the locals but I feel for the poor yabanci who has no clue what area they need to get to. Even I had to look up which bus I needed to get to my hotel in June. But like most things, we will endure and it will become part of the joy in the journey.

    1. You never know, it might be easier for people who’ve never been there before. It will just be another new airport to get to grips with. Then again, ask me how I feel after April 30, which will be my first hands on experience …

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