Istanbul Atatürk Airport lies 24km west of Istanbul, and is the city's main airport. It has two passenger terminals:
It's likely you'll be travelling through Terminal 2. This is a large, modern building, with decent eating and shopping facilities, but it can get crowded due to heavy passenger traffic. You'll find Arrivals on the ground floor and Departures on the first floor. Leave plenty of time before your flight, or to get to your hotel, as there can be long queues at check-in and passport control.
Terminal 1 is smaller and more manageable, but be aware there are a lot of stairs, which can make accessibility difficult.
To get between terminals, allow for a five-minute walk.
Have you got your visa?
Many travellers are surprised to arrive at passport control and find out they need a visa to get into the country. Don't panic! You can buy one easily at a desk at passport control. To avoid delays, we strongly recommend you buy an e-Visa before you travel.
There are many ways to get to into the city from the airport. You can take public transport, but it's complicated and you'll have to change, so we recommend going by shuttle bus or taxi.
The most hassle-free journey into the city is the Havatas airport shuttle. It's a white bus with blue writing on it that leaves every 30 minutes between 04:00 and 01:00. Journey time is about 40 minutes depending on the traffic (which is notoriously bad in Istanbul). The shuttle doesn't go to Sultanahmet, so you'll have to use public transportation or a taxi if you're staying there.
Cost: TRY 14
Location: Outside the airport terminal, second lane
A taxi can be faster, and can work out cheaper if there are a few of you.
But be savvy: Have small change in Turkish Lira, and keep an eye on the metre or negotiate a flat rate before you start driving, as some taxi drivers may take a long detour to charge you a higher fare. Also, traffic in Istanbul can be hectic, and taxis can take unnecessary risks at times. The word 'yavaş' (yavash), or slow down, may come in handy. For your stay in Istanbul, this is a great list giving you an idea of fares.
Cost: Around TRY 43 to Sutlanahmet/TRY 53 to Taksim
Location: Walk past anyone offering you taxi rides within the airport and go outside to the official taxi rank
The least expensive option is to take the metro into town, but it may require a couple connections to get where you're going.
Cost: TRY 4 (for every connection)
Location: Arrivals terminal, underground
If you want to get some sleep before a flight we recommend making your way to the TAV Airport Hotel. The TAV hotel is located inside the international terminal and is available both landside and airside. There are 46 rooms available that allow you to stay in 3 hour time frames. You will have internet access, a music system, minibar, and screens with the flight details. Rooms start at €95 for up to 3 hours.
Located inside the international terminal, the TAV hotel is the only one available inside the airport
Located out of the way of most of the airport’s foot traffic, you’ll be able to dine in peace overlooking the runway. Sky Restaurant offers an international menu with Turkish dishes and a local wine selection.
International Terminal, airside, departures, upper level from the food court
The new Istanbul International Airport is due to open in 2017, but for now Atatürk is the main transport hub for the city.
In fact, it's the busiest airport in Europe in terms of traffic per square metre so we recommend allowing plenty of time to get through passport and security controls. Customers often complain of overcrowding, delays, and long queues at passport control. This can affect your transit time so consider organising everything (such as visas) before heading to the airport.
For those craving traditional and fast Turkish fare, we recommend Turcuisine in International Departures food court. If it’s a mezze you prefer, head to Restro, a buffet restaurant with stuffed grape leaves and international food options. Restro is located on the mezzanine floor before passport control. For pub food and beer with enough space to sit down, try out English Efes Beerport, a pub open 24 hours a day just after passport control.
Ataturk Airport has one security check before passport control and another security check after. If you need to buy toiletries or water for your trip we suggest waiting until after the final security control—otherwise you may find yourself required to discard those items.
If you need to take a shower, access the internet, or blow off some steam by playing PlayStation, we recommend heading to the Primeclass Lounge above the food court in the International Terminal. The lounge is open 24 hours a day where you’ll have access to personal massage chairs and snacks. A pass to enter the lounge costs EUR 33.90 + VAT.
You definitely find electrical outlets in the airport lounges, for example the SkyTeam Lounge has more than 70 electric power sockets (Location: International Terminal, airside, Next to Gate 223).
Moreover there are some power outlets at the coffee shops / restaurants across from the Duty Free Shop.
All companies are open 24/7.
International Terminal Car Hire Companies
Domestic Terminal Car Hire Companies
WORLD RENT A CAR
If you didn’t get a chance to explore Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar you can still pick up local delicacies like Turkish delight at the Old Bazaar, designed to resemble the famous market in town. Spend some time browsing the “covered market” to pick up some last minute gifts. If you prefer higher-end products we suggest heading to the boutiques in the International Departures terminal where you’ll find Hermès, Bvlgari, and Versace shops.
This family-owned Turkish jewellery shop sells beautiful pieces inspired by designs from Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
International Terminal, landside, just before passport control
Instead of getting honey and syrup all over your luggage, buy traditional Turkish sweets like baklava and delights at this local pastry shop.
International Terminal, airside, departures, near Gate 219
If you’d like to kill some time by seeing a bit more of Turkish culture we recommend visiting the TAV Gallery to check out the artwork on display. Exhibitions change regularly and are often produced by local students and artists.
Shower facilities are available in the Comfort and Primeclass Lounges in the International Terminal. The lounge is open 24 hours a day where you’ll have access to personal massage chairs and snacks. A pass to enter the lounge costs EUR 33.90 + VAT.
for access to departure times, security waiting times, Airport Wi-Fis, lounge access and more Istanbul Atatürk Airport