Wondering how many international airports are in Istanbul and what amenities they offer? Discover all about it in this guide to Istanbul Airports.
Embark on a seamless journey through Istanbul’s airports with this essential guide. From the opening of the new airport, which assumed the mantle from Istanbul Ataturk Airport after its closure, to the comprehensive insights into Sabiha Gokcen International Airport located on the Asian side, this guide unveils everything you need to know.
Explore the facilities, transportation options, and key tips for navigating Istanbul’s two active airports, ensuring a smooth start and finish to your travels in this vibrant city.
Istanbul sits smack in the middle of the action, making it not only one of the largest cities in Europe but also the top spot to visit in Türkiye. You’d expect a bustling hub like Istanbul City to have its transport game on point, especially when it comes to flying in and out.
Speaking of which, airports are a big deal here. Istanbul doesn’t disappoint, boasting two international airports that handle both the comings and goings of domestic and international travelers.
So, let’s dive into what you need to know about these gateways. We’re talking about the main airport in Istanbul, which has recently shifted operations to Istanbul’s new airport, a modern marvel located just west of the city.
This new international airport is making waves as the main Istanbul airport, complete with one terminal for now but with grand plans for expansion. Then there’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport, holding down the fort on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, offering another gateway to this dynamic city.
This guide is here to give you the lowdown on these airports, spotlighting the amenities they offer and the airlines you can hop on. Whether you’re trying to get from Istanbul airport to the heart of the city or curious about how Istanbul Atatürk (now part of aviation history) transferred its crown to the new champ, we’ve got the insights. And yes, figuring out how to get to the airport or zipping between the city and Sabiha Gökçen Airport won’t be a headache with the tips we’re serving up. Let’s make your trip to Istanbul as smooth as your flight in.
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How Many Airports Are In Istanbul, Turkey
So, how many airports are there in Istanbul, Turkiye? Once home to three airports, Istanbul now boasts two major international hubs for travelers zipping in and out.
- First up, we’ve got the Sabiha Gökçen Airport (IATA code SAW) chilling on the Asian side of the city, a go-to for budget flights and domestic hops
- Then, there’s the star of the show, the New Istanbul Airport (IATA code IST), positioned on the European side and taking the lead as the busiest airport in Turkey
Istanbul Atatürk Airport, once the main gateway, bowed out in 2019. It just couldn’t keep up with the demand, leading to all eyes on the New Istanbul International Airport.
This spot has taken the baton as the primary airport, not just for Istanbul but for all of Turkiye, while the legacy of Istanbul Atatürk has been transferred to the new airport.
Whether you’re flying high or keeping it domestic, these two airports have got you covered, making your flights to and from Istanbul a breeze.
1. New Istanbul Airport – Istanbul International Airport
New Istanbul Airport Code – IST
Diving into the world of aviation marvels, the New Istanbul Airport stands out as not just a giant in Europe but as one of the grandest globally. Situated on the European side of Istanbul, in the Arnavutkoy district, this airport isn’t just huge; it’s a beacon of modern aviation technology and ambition. Easily accessible by car, taxi, or public transport, it’s set up to welcome everyone.
In 2021, it clinched the 14th spot on the list of the world’s busiest airports (and the biggest in Europe), with a capacity to manage 50 million passengers. But hold your hats; there’s a bigger plan in the works. By 2025, New Istanbul Airport aims to skyrocket to the top as the world’s busiest hub, eyeing an annual capacity of 200 million passengers.
Known locally as Istanbul Havalimani, this place is a testament to Turkey’s lofty aviation dreams.
Since its grand unveiling in 2018, the “new” Istanbul Airport (airport code IST) has been on an upward trajectory. With six runways and a growing ability to host a vast number of passengers, it’s gunning for the title of the world’s best, currently sitting pretty at #8.
This colossal project, brought to life by the IGA consortium, is on a 25-year tenure to operate before it transitions to the Turkish state’s hands. It’s a shining example of the heights to which Istanbul’s aviation scene aims, serving as a pivotal link for flights to Istanbul, especially after the transition from the former mainstay, Istanbul Atatürk Airport, marking a new era for international airports in Istanbul.
Amenities At New Istanbul Airport
Just thirty-five kilometers north of the bustling Taksim Square, along the serene shores of the Black Sea, sits the New Istanbul Airport, a marvel in the aviation world. Known for being the largest airport in Europe, its world-class amenities make it stand out not just on the continent but as a contender for one of the largest airports in the world.
Step inside, and you’re greeted with an array that feels less like an airport and more like a luxury resort. From local and international dining spots to bars and cafés, the place is buzzing. Add to that the exclusive CIP & VIP lounges, an expansive duty-free zone, ample parking, conference facilities, a hairdresser, and even photography services; you’ve got everything under one roof. Need a last-minute gift? The florist shops and grocery areas will have something for you.
For the practicalities, there’s car rental, pharmacies, travel agencies, banking services, airline ticket offices, and ATMs aplenty.
Getting to and from the airport is a breeze, with shuttle bus and taxi links straight to Taksim Square. Wandering through this airport, with its high ceilings and modern touches, is an experience in itself akin to strolling through a five-star hotel.
But let’s not stop there. The sheer scale of Istanbul Airport demands a deeper dive into its shopping and dining offerings.
With the airport’s opening marking a new era for Istanbul’s place in global aviation, it’s clear: whether you’re passing through or starting your journey here, this airport is a destination in its own right.
IST Istanbul Airport Hotels
Istanbul New Airport has a hotel inside. The YOTEL Istanbul Airport Hotel is one of the largest airport hotels in the world and the biggest in Europe, offering 451 rooms. It is divided into two sections: one located on the landside, accessible to all guests, and the other in the international transit area, catering specifically to passengers in transit.
Shopping At New Istanbul Airport
At IST, shopping isn’t just an activity; it’s an experience. Inside the airport, the Unifree Duty-Free Center spans 55,000 square meters, offering an impressive 34,000 square meters of duty-free shopping and 18,000 square meters dedicated to luxury boutiques.
For those keen on local flavors, the Bazaar area extends over 3,000 square meters. From Fashion Garden to Icon Gulf, IST transforms airport shopping with its diverse “concept” sections, catering to all tastes and needs, making it a standout feature of Istanbul’s main international airport.
The products are extensive, and you’ll find a range of things, including:
- Kids wear
- Luxury and premium products
- Home textile
- And more
Restaurants At New Istanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport, notably IST, is not just about flights; it’s a culinary journey. For those passing through with Turkish Airlines, you might know about “Touristanbul” for layover explorations.
But here’s a hidden gem inside the airport itself: the Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles lounge. This 1,700-square-meter space brings Istanbul’s rich flavors to you right at the airport on the European side, making it a haven within what’s considered the biggest airport in the region.
Upon entering, the aroma of Turkish coffee promises a soothing break from travel fatigue against an Ottoman-inspired setting. The lounge brims with live cooking stations and buffets, showcasing a variety of Turkish dishes. But it’s the tea room that truly captivates.
Sink into plush chairs, surrounded by loose tea leaves from across Turkiye and golden urns of steaming water. Pouring a glass of traditional Turkish tea, you’re not just waiting for a flight at IST airport; you’re indulging in a slice of Turkish hospitality, making it more than just a stopover—it’s a part of your journey through Istanbul.
Airlines Connected To The New Istanbul Airport
Connected to the world for its reasonably-priced flights, the New Istanbul airport is linked to several different airlines. These include (but are not limited to):
- Aegean airlines,
- Turkish Airways
- Air Albania
- British Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Gulf Air
- Kuwait Airways
- Qatar Airways
- And more
The airport welcomes domestic and international flights from all over the world.
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2. Sabiha Gökçen International Airport – SAW Airport
Sabiha Gokcen Airport Code – SAW
Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW), positioned on the Asian side of Istanbul, 50 km away from the city center, stands as Istanbul’s second busiest airport. Named after Turkey’s first female combat pilot and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s adoptive daughter, it serves as a gateway offering some of the most affordable fares to and from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. Its popularity among travelers is mainly due to these competitive rates.
Yet, affordability can come with its challenges, particularly when it comes to navigating the journey to the city’s heart. Traveling from Sabiha Gökçen to downtown Istanbul, especially by public transport, requires planning for both time and additional costs.
Under normal traffic conditions, reaching the airport takes about an hour. However, the trek across the Asia-Europe bridge can be daunting, with potential traffic snarls depending on your travel schedule. Shuttle services and car rentals are available for a more direct route to the airport, albeit at a higher cost.
Amenities At Sabiha Gokcen Airport
Following an expansion in October 2009, Sabiha Gökçen now boasts the capacity to handle 35 million passengers annually with its state-of-the-art single-terminal setup. The airport is equipped with a variety of shops and eateries open round the clock, alongside hotels within and near its premises for convenient stays. While lounge access is available to all passengers for a fee, exclusive lounges cater to first and business-class travelers.
The airport’s comprehensive amenities also include prayer rooms, financial services, medical facilities, luggage services, duty-free shopping, and spa treatments, ensuring a fully accessible and enjoyable experience for all travelers, including those requiring wheelchair accessibility.
SAW Istanbul Airport Hotels
Nearby, hotels such as the ISG Airport Hotel and the Crowne Plaza Istanbul Asia offer comfortable lodging options for those in transit or visiting Istanbul.
With its strategic location on the Asian side, Sabiha Gökçen complements Istanbul’s airport ecosystem, serving as a vital counterpart to the central international hub on the European side, Istanbul Airport (IST), marking Istanbul’s prominence in global aviation.
Airlines Connected To The Sabiha Gokcen Airport
The airlines serving the Sabiha Gokcen include (but are not limited to):
- Air Arabia
- Anadolu Jet
- Air Manas
- Azerbaijan Airlines
- Buta Airways
- Corendon Airlines
- Fly Baghdad
- Iraqi Airways
- Fly Nas
- Nile Air
- Jordan Aviation
- Royal Wings
- Qatar Airways
- Turkish Airlines
Istanbul Airport Transfers
Once you have landed at the airport, what’s next? Let us help you by answering these questions and more.
Are taxis available at Istanbul airports?
Yes, there is always a steady stream of taxis available. We suggest you have your hotel name & address written on a piece of paper in case your driver does not speak English.
Things you should know about taking a taxi and taxi drivers in Istanbul include
- It would be best if you had Turkish Lira (TL) in hand
- Be sure that the driver turns on the meter
- Driver’s speed and often take backstreets
Due to the distance, a taxi is usually the same price as a private transfer
Is the Metro operating from Istanbul airport to the city center?
From January 22, 2023, a new line opened up. The Metro line from Istanbul Airport to the city center is now Turkey’s fastest Metro – operating at a whopping 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour.
It is now possible to reach Istanbul Airport from:
- Kağıthane in 24 minutes
- Levent in 35 minutes
- Taksim in 41 minutes
- Tekstilkent in 45 minutes
Istanbul Airport Metro Stations
The Istanbul Airport metro line has eight stations: Kağıthane, Hasdal, Kemerburgaz, Göktürk, İhsaniye, Satellite Terminal, Istanbul Airport, and Cargo Terminal.
After arriving at Istanbul airport, how do you get to your hotel?
There are several options on how to get to your hotel from the airport
- Private transfer
How easy is it to arrange airport transfers in Istanbul
It’s straightforward; book online using the button below. Private transfers are better than taxis because you’ve booked ahead and a driver is waiting for you at the airport terminal and will carry your bags. The other main benefit is that the price is fixed, so no matter how bad the Istanbul traffic is on the day you arrive, you won’t pay any more.
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Ataturk Airport Of Istanbul
Apart from the two airports we detailed, you may have remembered that Istanbul had a third airport. The Ataturk International Airport had served as the primary airport for Istanbul on the European side of the city for a long time. Today, however, the Atatürk Airport is out of operation and will soon be turned into a green space.
Airports in Istanbul FAQs
What are the main airports serving Istanbul, and where are they located?
Istanbul is served by two main airports. Istanbul Airport (IST), the main international airport, is located on the European side of the city and was officially opened as part of a significant development in aviation for the region. Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) is situated on the Asian side, offering an alternative entry point to the city and complementing the aviation infrastructure with its strategic location.
When did Istanbul Atatürk Airport close, and why?
Istanbul Atatürk Airport, once the primary airport serving the city, was officially closed to commercial passenger flights in 2019. This move was part of a transition to the new Istanbul Airport, which was built to accommodate the growing demand for air travel and to serve as a global aviation hub with its capacity for expansion and modern facilities.
How can travelers commute between Istanbul’s airports and the city center?
Travelers can commute between Istanbul Airport and the city center via various modes of transport, including taxis, private shuttles, and a dedicated airport bus service. For Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, options include buses, taxis, and car rental services, with both airports offering connections that cater to different needs and preferences.
What unique features distinguish Istanbul Airport from other international airports?
Istanbul Airport is distinguished by its position as the largest airport in Europe, with plans to become one of the biggest airports in the world. Its state-of-the-art facilities, including six runways, a vast duty-free shopping area, and extensive dining options, set it apart. The airport’s strategic location as a global hub, bridging east and west, further cements its unique status in the international aviation community.