Stuck on a Istanbul layover at The İstanbul International Ataturk Airport in Turkey? Istanbul offers a lot for those stuck on a long layover, both inside and outside the airport. The Ataturk airport is the largest in Turkey and one of the top five busiest in all of Europe. The airport is located 15 miles west of Istanbul’s city center which makes it an accessible destination for those stuck on long layovers. If you’re trying to figure out if you are able to leave the airport on your Istanbul layover, click here for useful tips.
If you’re stuck inside the airport during your Istanbul layover, there are many services and amenities found inside the Ataturk airport including kid’s play rooms, hairdressers, photography service, shoe shiners, food and beverages, news stands, grocery, florist and medical services. You can find out more information here.
The Ataturk airport offers “Primeclass” CIP Service, regardless of airline or flight class, for all passengers that may need help in the airport. Click here to find out more.
There are also a number of lounges for weary travelers to rest including the Emirates lounge (for those flying first and business class on Emirates), and Turkish Airlines Lounge (for those who purchased first and business tickets on Star Alliance and Turkish Airlines). There is also a new SkyTeam exclusive lounge in the International Terminal near Gate 224.
There’s a hotel inside the Istanbul airport for weary travelers. The International Airport Hotel of 85 rooms, which offers hourly accommodation. All rooms come with with TVs that show flight details, music system, 24 hour room service, internet access and minibar. Here’s additional hotels near the airport, and for Istanbul hotels of varying price points, click here.
For those looking to stow your bags while you explore the city, there are Baggage Custody Services on the Arrivals Floor of both the International and Domestic Terminals. They are open 24 hours a day in both locations. Fees are charged on a daily fee.
Getting to and from the airport into Istanbul is relatively easy, as the city center is not far and you can get there by:
- Car Hire: Companies include Airport VIP, Alamo, Avias, Avis, Budget, Hertz, National Car, Sixt and Ülger. You can find more information at counters at the International Terminal (Arrivals) just past baggage claim.
- Rail: You can get on the rail from the airport in the Esenler Terminal. You can find a map and more information on the rail system here.
- Bus: Havas operates airport shuttle buses to central Istanbul (Taksim Square) and to the bus terminal on demand (trip time is roughly 30 minutes). Here’s the Havas schedule from Ataturk.
- Taxis: Taxis or shared taxis, known as dolmus, are available outside the terminals.
- Private transfers can be arranged.
Layover Guide’s Suggestions Of Things To Do On An Istanbul Layover:
There are many tours available in Istanbul, based on your interest and depending on the length of your layover. There are bus and walking tours, boat rides, day trips, cultural, food, wine, dinner theater, nighttime tours for those on overnight layovers and tons more!
The Blue Mosque
One of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, this mosque got its name from the color of the tiles inside. The Blue Mosque, with many domes and minarets, was built in order to compete with the Hagia Sophia, just across the street. The two popular sights are a great way to see a couple of spots if you’re limited on time during your layover.
Built in 500 A.D., Galata Tower is one of the recognizable landmarks of Istanbul and offers great panoramic views of the city. Originally named the Tower of Christ, it was used as a watchtower but now is a restaurant/club and lookout balcony.
If you want to pick up some gifts or keepsakes during your Istanbul layover, this is the place to come to shop! At what is said to be over 4,000 shops, bargaining is standard practice here, in the largest covered market in Turkey. You can buy anything from pottery and spices to leather.
The Turkish Baths offer it all – soaking, steaming, and tons of different types of massages. You can find listings of the best baths in Turkey here. It’s a great place to relax and unwind after, or between, long flights during your layover.
This palace is a “historic area of Istanbul” and was the residents of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853. It’s picturesque and an interesting place to learn about Istanbul’s rich history. Click here for museum’s contact and visiting information.
Leave suggestions below for Istanbul layovers!