This detailed transportation guide tells you how to get from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) to the city center. We cover the bus, metro, taxi, and private transfer options.
You’re flying into Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport on the Asian side of Istanbul, and you want to get into the center of the city. Exciting times!
The first question to ask is what part of Istanbul you consider to be the center. This is a city that has no defined center, but most people think it is Taksim or Sultanahmet. The good news is that if you’re looking for another place, such as Besiktas, Ortakoy, Fatih, or Eminonu, you can quickly get to any of those places from Taksim or Sultanahmet.
These are all located on the European side. If you’re trying to get to a place on the Asian side, it will be a lot easier and cheaper!
So, how do you get from A to B?
The distance from SAW Airport to Istanbul city center is around 48km, which by road should translate to about 50 minutes, but traffic is ALWAYS an issue. As you leave the airport, you’re very likely to get stuck in a traffic jam instantly, and there’s not much you can do to avoid it. Unfortunately, this is part of the beauty of Istanbul!
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Arrange A Pre-Paid Driver
The best way to get from SAQ to the city is to pre-book a private transfer which costs a teeny little but more than a taxi, but there are big benefits to pre-arranging a private transfer from the airport to your Istanbul hotel. For starters, you’ll avoid the hassle and stress of trying to hail a taxi or navigate public transportation after a long flight. A private transfer lets you relax and enjoy the ride as someone else takes care of the driving.
In addition, private transfers are often more comfortable and luxurious than other transport options. You can choose to ride in style in a limousine or SUV or opt for a more budget-friendly sedan. Either way, you can sit back and enjoy the scenery as you’re whisked to your destination.
Finally, by pre-booking your transfer ahead of time, you can be assured of a smooth and seamless experience. Your driver will be waiting for you at the airport when you arrive and will help with your luggage before escorting you to your vehicle. This is the perfect way to start or end your trip without any worries about getting around town.
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Self-Drive From SAW Airport To Istanbul City Center
If you want to hire a car, you can do that with several car hire companies at the airport. From there, you’ll take the O-4 Anadolu Otoyolu from the airport and toward the bridge over the Bosphorus and over toward the main central points of the city.
This should take around one hour, but again, traffic can drastically lengthen this journey. You should also know that driving in Istanbul is not for the faint of heart. The traffic in this city is hectic and chaotic.
SAW Airport To Istanbul City Center Via Private Transfer
There are many transfer companies that you can pre-book who will pick you up at the airport and take you to wherever you want to go. These can be private, i.e., you are the only ones in the car, or shuttle, which you’ll share with a few other people, usually in a minibus.
Prices vary; you can check the prices below.
SAW Airport To Istanbul City Center By Bus
The easiest way to get into the Istanbul center is to use the HAVAIST bus that runs from many different parts of the city to the airport. There is a direct service between SAW and Taksim, which should take around 90 minutes, but as always, traffic can interfere.
Buses are located directly outside the airport’s arrivals terminal, and you look for the one with the ‘Taksim’ sign. One ticket is currently 50TL, do check just before your journey as prices change. This will permit you a seat and space for two pieces of luggage. Buses operate 24 hours per day on a regular basis; you don’t usually have to wait more than half an hour for a bus to arrive.
Do bear in mind that this is probably the most popular service of them all, and it is on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. If the bus is full, you’ll have to wait for the next one.
If you want to get to Sultanahmet, get off at Taksim Square and then take a taxi for the rest of your journey, which should be around 45-50TL.
However, if you want to avoid taxis, you can take the HAVAIST bus from SAW to Kadikoy and then take the Marmaray over to Eminonu and the tram to Sultanahmet. However, it’s a long-winded journey that may be difficult if you’re tired from your flight.
Taxi From SAW Airport To Istanbul City Center
The final choice is to take a taxi from the airport to the city center. It’s a convenient choice but a cost you will not know about until you stop. A taxi can cost you anywhere between 300 to 600 TL, as you will experience traffic and never know how much traffic it will be.
Many taxis are lined up outside the arrivals terminal if you want to use a taxi. Go to the front of the queue and double-check the price with the driver before entering.