New Istanbul Airport (IST)

Last Updated on April 28, 2024

Istanbul Airport (IST) Walkthrough 

Istanbul Airport is much more than just an airport, as it is now Istanbul's only airport serving the European continent after the closure of Atatürk Airport. The largest infrastructure plan of the Republic of Turkey was inaugurated on October 29, 2018, on Republic Day. This mega project has continued to evolve since 2018 and it is estimated that it will not be finalized until 2028. Eventually, when all phases are completed, it will have an annual capacity of 200 million passengers, more than any other airport in the world. The airport has 2 terminals, 143 passenger bridges, and 6 independent runways. The size of the main terminal building is 1.3 million m2.

Ground Transport

The new airport is 50 km (31 miles) northwest of Sultanahmet, the heart of historic Istanbul, a trip of less than an hour by car/taxi at present depending upon traffic.

Airport Buses

Istanbul Otobüs A. Ş., a company associated with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, operates an airport bus service named Havaist serving the new Istanbul Airport.

Havaist buses are one of the most comfortable options to reach the airport, which is a little outside the city. You can easily take these buses from various central points of Istanbul. You can visit this page to find the flight times and departure times. When you land at Istanbul Airport, you can find out which bus you should take depending on where you want to go and how long your journey will take according to traffic hours, from the information boards at the exit to reach the city. From the exit of the airport, you can reach the bus location after walking for a while, following the Havaist signs. You must pay in cash on the bus. If you want to pay by credit card, you can pay by card at the box office before getting on the bus. If you have an Istanbulkart, you can also pay with it, but it is recommended to pay with cash.

Private Transfer

More comfortable and reliable than a taxi, and not much more expensive, a good private transfer service is recommended for any traveler, and especially for couples with several pieces of luggage each, or any traveling party of three or more. (Read about Istanbul taxis here.)

Efendi Travel, a TurkeyTravelPlanner.com partner, operates a time-tested transfer service with high value for money. The fare for up to four passengers between Istanbul Airport and the city center is 45 euros single/one-way, and 81 euros return/round-trip. Note that this is the fare for the entire vehicle, not per passenger. (The ride in a taxi should cost about 35 euros—if the driver takes the shortest route....) 

Efendi Travel also provides transfer services between Sabiha Gökçen Airport and the city center and between cruise ship ports and main attractions, as well as all other travel agency services such as tickets, hotels, car rental/hire, and tours. 

Uber & Lyft

Uber or Lyft does not currently provide service in Turkey. You can use taxis instead. There are information boards that show average prices for destinations to make your journey more predictable.

Rent a Car 

You can rent a car after you take your baggage. You can find a lot of different renting agents and choose one after you compare the options. Even though there are traffic and parking issues in Istanbul, especially if you are going to stay longer and travel to different cities, renting a car would be a comfortable choice. 


The new metro line M11, which started to serve in January 2023, has the distinction of being Turkey's fastest metro. This metro is the fastest vehicle that will take you to the airport in the European continent. When all stages of this line, which is currently operating between Kağıthane and Istanbul Airport, are completed, it will connect Gayrettepe and Halkalı to the airport. This metro line, which currently operates from 06.00 in the morning to 00.00 at night, operates once every 20 minutes. The journey takes less than 30 minutes. It is possible to reach it by the M7 metro line from the Kağıthane metro stop.


There is also a hotel inside Istanbul airport. In fact, this hotel, Yotel, is not only one of the largest airport hotels in the world but also the largest in Europe. The hotel has cabins on both the air and land sides. Offering a variety of room types and services that serve all purposes, this hotel also has cabins that can be rented by the hour. If you are going to make a transfer, you can also consider this option in order not to continue your journey tired. You can look here for detailed information.


If you are required to have a visa to enter Turkey, you should already have bought it online through the excellent e-visa website. If you arrive without a visa, you may be able to buy one at a machine in the Arrivals area—but why take the chance? Without a visa, you may be refused entry. 

Duty-Free Shopping Upon Arrival

If you arrive from another country, you can buy duty-free goods at shops in the baggage claim area, and then take them right into Turkey. You can find everything you are looking for here. At Istanbul Airport, which has a very large duty-free area, you can find products of luxury world brands as well as local products specific to Turkey.

Currency Exchange

Currency exchange offices (döviz bürosu) are available after passport control in the baggage claim area and in the Departures area, of the International terminal. Exchange rates here are very poor: you'll pay a lot for your Turkish money. You may want to exchange for Turkish liras only enough of your money to provide for your transport and tipping needs until you can find an exchange office with better rates. 

Lots of  ATMs are located outside the secure Customs area, after baggage claim.


As at all Turkish airports, you will have to pass through a complete security check just to enter the terminal (International or Domestic), then a second full security check in the gate area.

International Terminal

The modern International Terminal Dış Hatlar Terminalı) is spacious and efficient, with all the expected services including ATMs (cash machines) from which you can obtain Turkish Liras, currency exchange offices; shops, restaurants, and cafés with surprisingly high prices; Emanet (Baggage Check, Left Luggage) and an Airport Hotel (Yotel).

Left Luggage/Baggage Check Room

Yes, there is a Left Luggage/baggage Check Room at Istanbul Airport. It's expensive for long deposits but handy. 

Lost & Found

Here’s information on Istanbul Airport Lost and Found, if you've lost or forgotten something in the airport or on an airplane. If you lose your luggage, it will be stored in the Lost and Found Property Office. Make sure you go back to the airport to take your luggage back because, after 1 day, you’ll be charged daily. 

Domestic Terminal

You can walk between the International Terminal (Dış Hatlar Terminali) and the Domestic Terminal (İç Hatlar Terminali) via a walkway on the International Arrivals level without having to go through a security check when you get to the Domestic Terminal.

Istanbul Airport Lounges/Airline Clubs

Both the International Terminal and Domestic Terminal have comfortable airline lounges/clubs you can use. 

Sabiha Gökçen Airport

Seeing the Sights Between Flights

If you have a long layover in Istanbul you can deposit your luggage in the Left Luggage/Baggage Check room, go into the city center, and have some fun. But what do you do if you're transferring between airports and you have most of a day in Istanbul? You can check our “How to Tour Istanbul as You Change Airports” article to find the answer you’re looking for.

—by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Melike Kocaer

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