Istanbul Airport to City Guide [2021]

written by
Transfer Expert Team
January 13, 2021
istanbul airport to city

If you are planning to visit Istanbul, the new airport (IST) can be challenging because it is busy and complex airport. I'm pretty sure your first route will be Istanbul airport to city. I made this post for you. However, I should inform you that this article includes many subjective arguments.

Istanbul airport to Taksim
Galata Tower

Before the deep dive in the article, I must introduce myself. I am an engineer. I lived in Istanbul for almost a decade. I studied in Bogazici University. Therefore, I spent sufficient time to make an analysis on the topic.

I am managing technical infrastructures for many airport transfer companies. Although being objective is a must for me, this post includes biased arguments. However, I strongly believe that numerous people will agree with my points.

Istanbul Airport to City

How far from Istanbul Airport to city center?

Whether it depends on many parameters such as traffic and routes, Istanbul airport to city distance is approximately 42 km.

how many transportation options are available from (IST) to the city

You will have three options if you are planning to go from Istanbul airport city. Those are

The Reasons of the Limited Options for Istanbul Airport to City

Istanbul Airport (IST) is relatively a new airport. New Istanbul Airport started its lifetime on 6th of April 2019. It is Istanbul's main airport for international flights. It is located in Arnavutköy region, which is the northwest of Istanbul.

Because it is brand new, limited Istanbul new airport transport options are understandable.

When people talks about the size of an airport, they actually mean the passenger quantity that an airport can serve annually. Maybe I should give some numbers. When all stages of Istanbul airport are completed, it will be able to serve 200 million passengers a year.

I know the fact that numbers alone means nothing. Some of the busiest airports and the quantity of passengers they served are below:

AirportLocationTotal Passengers
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International AirportAtlanta, Georgia, U.S.A110,531,300
Beijing Capital International AirportBeijing, China100,011,438
United States Los Angeles International AirportLos Angeles, California, U.S.A88,068,013
Tokyo Haneda AirportTokyo, Japan85,505,054
Heathrow AirportHillingdon, London, U.K.80,888,305
Source: Wikipedia

When comparing those with the planned capacity of 200 millions of passengers per year, you'll have a pretty idea about Istanbul airport transport. Additionally, more and more international visitors come to Istanbul to visit museums, historical heritages, mosques and other cultural places.

Moreover, Istanbul airport transport infrastructure are not fully completed. Airport rail links have not been implemented yet. The planned subway line is M11 Gayrettepe-Istanbul Airport Metro Line. This metro line was started to be built in 2016. It is planned to be put into service in 2022. Therefore, it is impossible to go from Istanbul airport to city center by metro right now.

Although it is planned to be a aviation hub for intercontinental flights as well as transit flights, until that time, the only Istanbul airport transport mode is the highway transportation.

Let's inspect those Istanbul airport transport alternatives.

Istanbul Airport Taxi Service

Istanbul airport taxi

Taxi from new Istanbul airport to city is one of the options you have.

In Istanbul, a taxi driver who cares for his job and does it professionally very rare thing. I'm sorry about that. I have met with some, but definitely they formed the minority. I am apologizing for respectful taxi drivers that make up the exceptions.

The Wars between Istanbul Taxis and Uber

The general opinion of I told above is one of the reason of Why Uber was in demand. Because Uber drivers don’t change their business status based on the nationality of passengers. Also, they don’t have options to refuse passengers if they don’t appreciate the route.

Istanbul Taxi problems

Let me explain: If you are in Taksim, city center, and would like to take a taxi than you have a challenging task. The most of the taxi drivers only accept tourists that don’t know the Istanbul roads. Moreover, you can be refused If your destination has a traffic problem. Although, it is forbidden to refuse a passenger because of the destination, those drivers found their ways.

A typical communication starts with asking your destination. If they don't like the route, they always say the same lie. They say that they will deliver the vehicle they drive and that they ask you if their paths coincide with yours. Of course, most of the time it is a lie.

Uber drivers have some similarities with private airport transfer drivers in this manner. They don't differ passengers.

However, Uber lost the battle with the taxi community. Political context was on behalf of taxi drivers. Nobody makes their political decision based on banning Uber. However, the taxi driver’s votes are influenced by the decision. Thus, they made a great lobby activities before elections.

Long story short, one and maybe the most important private airport transfer option was banned. These circumstances reduced the number of Istanbul airport transport alternatives to three.

The cost of taking a taxi to get from Istanbul Airport to City Center

It will cost you $30–$35 if you take a taxi. Even though the duration can be fluctuate because of Istanbul traffic, your travel with taxi approximately takes 35–45 mins.

Also, please keep in mind that taxi drivers had not informed about your destination. Because they can't speak English, verbal communication between you and taxi driver can be a pain.

It should also be noted that extra mileage caused by linguistic conflict is beneficial for them. It is almost inevitable to avoid.

In case of any problem with taxi drivers, you can report a complaint to Beyaz Masa which is highly effective institution that belongs to Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

istanbul municipality inquiry

Things to know before getting taxi service in Istanbul

Those are useful information if you are going to use a taxi in Istanbul.

  • Agree on the price before your trip.
  • Ask the price for more than one taxi if you have options.
  • The vehicle delivery time is at 3 o'clock at noon and midnight. Apart from these hours, they do not have the option of disliking your route and not taking you to the vehicle. Otherwise, make a complaint on the link above.

Istanbul Airport Shuttle Bus

Istanbul airport shuttle bus

Havaist buses are the only public transportation option from the new Istanbul Airport. As I told above, Metro Line M11 will also connect the new airport to the city center but, for the moment apart from private transfers, the shuttle buses provide the only alternative.

They are relatively cheap. You can choose Istanbul airport shuttles if vehicle changing is not a problem for you. Because they have very limited destinations. Especially for international travelers with a lot of luggage can experience tough times.

They are airport shuttles in Istanbul are scheduled vehicles. It means that they only move through pre-defined hours. If the shuttle loaded, you have to next session. You can look Istanbul airport shuttle service hours.

Istanbul Airport Public Transport

Istanbul airport public transport is the cheapest one comparing to the other airport transfer options. You should make trip-chaining in order to arrive your destination. Keep in mind that, it is the most disturbing and difficult transfer option.

You can get from Istanbul airport to city center public transport with the bus lines of H1, H2, H3, H4, H6, H7, H8. You can visit and get every information easily with the official website of Istanbul Municipality's relevant website (IETT)

Istanbul Airport Private Transfer

Businesswoman waiting its Istanbul Private Airport Transfer

What is Airport Private Transfer?

Airport private transfer is the safest way to travel. It is basically an airport transfer service that mostly booked before your flights. Typically, a private transfer driver or well-speaking assistant holds a sign. The sign has your name. A tourism agency, a tour operator or a professional driver can provide it. Think Uber, but in a more professional way. We have already an article that describes the types and applications of private transfer in Istanbul

Because the airport transfer service quality depends many variables. Istanbul private airport transfer prices can varies from €50 to €250 for nearly about 50 km. The rented private car is the most influential factor for price.

Istanbul airport private transfer

Why Istanbul Airport Private Transfer Service is relatively Expensive?

It is necessary to emphasize that being expensive is a relative term that needs other things to compare. In our case, we compare private transfer service with the two other transportation services. I said the disadvantageous parts of others above.

At the end of this article, I presume you don’t think that Istanbul private transfers are expensive.

The Benefits of Choosing Us for City Transfer

Also, when you travel, you need to feel safe and comfortable. Doing this requires a carefully selected drivers. All of our drivers are carefully selected based on their English-speaking ability, their personality, and their experience with foreign destinations. Your driver will ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch.

Each driver must go through a thorough background check before they can work for Istanbul Transfer Expert. This process includes having an in-person interview with our manager and obtaining a sample of their driving records.

We send our expert team to meet you at the airport for your Istanbul airport to city transfer. They will carry your bags and escort you to your hotel. Our Istanbul airport private transfer team members, will be there waiting for you with your name on a sign whenever you arrive at the airport.

We hope you like this article which describes the many ways of Istanbul airport to city transportation.

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