Unless your hotel has arranged for a free airport pick-up, you will need to find transportation from the airport to your hotel. From the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul, you have several options regardless the location of your hotel — Sultanahmet or Beyoğlu (Taksim/Cihangir). The following overview helps you make the correct choice based on the amount of people, your needs and/or preferences. You can find Sabiha Gökçen Airport transportation options here.
- Get Turkish Liras – If you don’t have Turkish liras on you, use one of the many ATMs in the airport to withdraw some cash money. None of the transportation options mentioned below will accept credit cards, foreign currencies or big Turkish lira notes. Make sure you have some 5, 10, 20 or maximum 50 notes handy. Also, check out our Istanbul money strategy.
- Hotel Address – Make sure that you write down or print out the exact address of your hotel, together with its telephone number. Istanbul is a huge city with an uncountable amount of (small) hotels. Even locals don’t know them all by heart. So, if you need help, just hand over the piece of paper. It’s not unusual for taxi drivers to ask for directions at traffic lights or call the hotel. Don’t worry, he’ll get you there.
Taking a taxi to your hotel is the most common used and most convenient option. If you’re travelling with a party of four, it’s even as cheap or expensive as the shuttle services. Just walk out of the airport – disregard the hustlers inside the airport trying to give you a ride – and you’ll see the official taxis nicely lined up. In about half an hour (without traffic jams) he’ll take you to Sultanahmet for about 40 TL, a ride to Taksim will take a few minutes more and will set you back for 50 TL. Always check this page for the latest cab fees.
Havataş Airport Shuttle Service in Istanbul
Havataş is a municipality owned reliable airport shuttle service. You can find them outside the airport terminal, in the second lane. Every half hour, between 04:00 and 01:00, one of their buses heads for Taksim. The current pick-up and drop-off point is in front of the Point Hotel, just past Taksim Square. The ride costs 14 TL per person (luggage included) and takes approximately 40 minutes depending on traffic.
The only downside is that they don’t go to Sultanahmet, so you’ll need to take a taxi or use public transportation if your hotel is located in that area. From the drop-off point you can walk through Taksim Gezi Park to Taksim Square, where you can take the F1 Taksim-Kabataş funicular, followed by the T1 Kabataş-Bağcılar tramway and get off at the Sultanahmet stop. Alternatively, you can use the airport shuttle service and get off at the Aksaray stop, and take a taxi from there.
You can also use public transportation to reach your hotel. There is of course a reason I put this almost last in the list. Although a little bit cheaper, it is rather adventurous. For starters, you’ll have to change vehicles/lines (and take plenty of stairs) a few times, and the operating hours are only between 6 am and midnight. So only read on if you are travelling light.
Still with me? Ok, here we go. Keep in mind that every transfer I mention requires you to buy a new token or use your Istanbul Kart, on average 1,5 TL each and per person.
First hop on the metro in the airport (underground) in the direction of Zeytinburnu. At that station, not necessary the final destination of the metro, you must get off and take the T1 Bağcılar-Kabataş tramway in the direction of Kabataş. If your hotel is located in Sultanahmet, get off at the respective stop. If you’re going to Taksim, stay put until the very last station – Kabataş. From there, follow the F1 Taksim-Kabataş funicular (füniküler) signs and hop on. The next stop is Taksim Square.
Hotel Airport Pick-Up
Most hotels will offer (upon request) an airport pick-up. These pick-ups are rarely free of charge, and often much more expensive than the options mentioned above. Having said that, a bit of luxury and special treatment always has its price. If you want to arrive at your hotel in style, go for it.