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Istanbul Atatürk Airport lies 24km west of Istanbul, and is the city's main airport. It will close in 2018 when Istanbul New Airport is scheduled to open.
It has two passenger terminals:
It's likely you'll be travelling through the International Terminal. 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.
The Domestic Terminal 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 for around EUR 20 (depending on what country you're from. Travellers from countries, like Germany, don't need a visa.
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 Havabüs (formerly 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 to Taksim Square, depending on traffic (notoriously bad in Istanbul).
The bus doesn't go to Sultanahmet, so you'll have to use public transport or a taxi if you're staying there.
Cost: TRY 12
Location: Outside the airport terminal, second lane. Returning from Taksim, the stop is just outside The Point Hotel
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 meter 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 45 to Sutlanahmet/TRY 56 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 of connections to get where you're going. Take line M1A as far as Yenikapi.
Cost: TRY 4 (for every connection)
Location: Arrivals terminal, underground
Uber does exist in Istanbul, but it's very expensive.
Cost: Around TRY 100 to Sultanahmet or Taksim
If you want to get some sleep before a flight we recommend making your way to the TAV Airport Hotel, the only hotel inside the airport – accessible before and after security.
Before security you can only stay overnight, but after security, you can relax for periods of as little as three hours. You'll have internet access, a music system, minibar and screens showing flight details. You can also choose a Deluxe room for extra comfort.
There are also three meeting rooms and the Sky Restaurant, a very good eating option in the airport.
Note that if you're transferring between an international and domestic flight, or vice versa, you can't access the hotel.
Location: International Terminal, before security (near VIP Lounge) and after security
Cost: Before security: from EUR 108 for an overnight stay in a single room. After security: from EUR 95 for up to 3 hours or EUR 110 in a double room, rising to EUR 195 single or EUR 220 double for 15-24 hours
Located far away from most of the airport's foot traffic, you’ll be able to dine in peaceful surroundings under palm trees. Sky Restaurant offers an international menu with Turkish dishes and a local wine selection.
It's also one of the few places in the airport you can see planes landing and taking off, with a great view of the runway.
Location: International Terminal, after security, departures, upper level from the food court
Opening hours: 07:00-22:30 (bar is open 24 hours)
'Istanbul New Airport' is due to open in 2018, at which time Atatürk will close, but for now it's 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, the 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 it's best to wait until after the final security control. Otherwise you may have to throw those items away.
If you need to take a shower, access the internet or just blow off some steam by playing PlayStation, we recommend heading to the Primeclass Lounge in the International Terminal. The lounge is open 24 hours a day and you’ll have access to personal massage chairs and snacks. It's bigger and more comfortable than the Comfort Lounge on the mezzanine floor above the food court.
Location: International Terminal, after security, floor below the food court
Cost: EUR 33.90 + VAT
Opening hours: 24 hours
Don't worry if you didn’t get a chance to explore Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. You can still pick up last-minute gifts at the Old Bazaar, designed to resemble the famous market in town.
Spend some time browsing the 'covered market' to pick up some local delicacies like Turkish delight, confectionery, spices and olive oil, as well as jewellery, glassware, leather and souvenirs. Prices are pretty ok for an airport shop, and a lot of products are the same as you'd see in the original bazaar.
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.
Location: International Departures Terminal, after security
All companies are open 24/7.
International Terminal Car Hire Companies
Domestic Terminal Car Hire Companies
WORLD RENT A CAR
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.
This family-owned Turkish jewellery shop sells beautiful pieces inspired by designs from Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
International Terminal, before security, just before passport control
Instead of getting honey and syrup all over your luggage, buy traditional Turkish sweets like baklava at this local pastry shop and café.
Location: International Terminal, after security, departures, near Gate 219
Opening hours: 07:00-23:00
Shower facilities are available in the Primeclass and Turkish Airlines lounges in the International Terminal, and Turkish Airlines lounge in the Domestic terminal.
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.
for access to departure times, security waiting times, Airport Wi-Fis, lounge access and more Istanbul Atatürk Airport