Touching Down in Turkey: Navigating the Airports of Istanbul City for a Smooth Travel Experience

Touching Down in Turkey: Navigating the Airports of Istanbul City for a Smooth Travel Experience

Istanbul City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and bustling nightlife, it's no wonder that hundreds of thousands flock to this unique city each year. But before they can experience all that Istanbul has to offer, travelers must first pass through its airports. In this article, we'll explore the various airports serving Istanbul City and how you can make your journey as smooth as possible.

The number of international visitors traveling to Istanbul continues to grow annually, making the city’s airports ever more crowded with tourists eager to discover what lies ahead. There are two main airports that serve Istanbul: Atatürk Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW). Both provide flights from major cities around the globe, but which airport should you use? Let’s take a look at both IST and SAW so you can decide for yourself!

From navigating security lines to understanding local customs regulations, getting ready for an international flight out of Istanbul requires some extra preparation. We hope this article will give you the information you need to ensure a stress-free trip when departing from either IST or SAW. Read on to uncover everything there is to know about flying into and out of Istanbul City!

Geographic Location of Istanbul

Istanbul is located in northwest Turkey on the Bosporus Strait, a waterway connecting Europe to Asia. It is one of the world's most populous cities with more than 15 million inhabitants living across its two continents. Istanbul has three international airports; Atatürk Airport, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, and Istanbul New Airport. All are within close proximity to the city center, making it easy for travelers to access the city no matter which airport they arrive or depart from.

The city's location between Europe and Asia makes it an ideal hub for air travel, allowing passengers to easily reach many destinations in both regions. With such a large population and diverse geography, Istanbul is well-served by airlines offering domestic flights as well as international routes around the globe. Next, we'll look at some of the major airports that serve this bustling metropolis.

Major Airports

Istanbul is home to two international airports, Istanbul Airport, and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport. Both of these airports offer direct flights from major cities around the world.

Istanbul Airport is located on the European side of the city, about 35 kilometers northwest of downtown Istanbul. It opened in 2018 and has seen a steady increase in passenger traffic since then. The airport currently serves over 70 million passengers annually with more than 300 destinations worldwide. Its three terminals are connected by an automated people mover system that runs 24/7.

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, approximately 45 kilometers east of downtown. This airport was originally established as a military airbase but now serves as one of Turkey's busiest commercial airports with over 26 million passengers being serviced each year. It offers both domestic and international flights to more than 100 destinations across four continents.

The two airports help facilitate travel for millions of tourists who come to experience the rich culture and history that this city has to offer. With so many options for taking off or landing, it's no wonder why Istanbul continues to be such an attractive destination for travelers all over the world. Passenger traffic at both airports continues to grow every year, providing even more opportunities for visitors to explore what this vibrant city has to offer.

Passenger Traffic

Istanbul is one of the busiest cities in Turkey when it comes to passenger traffic. Istanbul Atatürk Airport, the main international airport located on the European side, saw more than 60 million passengers pass through its doors in 2019 alone. This makes it consistently rank among Europe’s top 20 airports by passenger numbers. Sabiha Gökçen International Airport on the Asian side also serves millions of travelers a year and has been expanding steadily since it opened in 2001.

The city is home to many other smaller regional airports as well, such as Canakkale-Çan Airport and Bursa Yenisehir Airport which offer connections within Turkey and abroad. All these airports provide regular domestic flights for those looking to get around without having to take long bus rides or drive their own cars.

With an impressive number of air transport options from both sides of the Bosporus Strait, Istanbul provides efficient access to any part of Turkey with ease.

Services & Facilities

Istanbul's airports offer a wide range of services and facilities for travelers. Ataturk International Airport has two terminals, with the main terminal featuring duty-free shops, cafes, restaurants, ATMs, currency exchange booths, banks, tourist information counters, and first aid rooms. There are also prayer rooms available in both terminals. Sabiha Gokcen International Airport features similar amenities as well as VIP lounges where passengers can relax before their flights. Both airports have free Wi-Fi access and charging points to keep devices powered up throughout the journey.

In terms of transportation options between Istanbul airports and city center locations such as Taksim Square or Sultanahmet area, there are plenty of choices including shuttle buses, taxis, and car rentals. The Metrobus line is a cost-effective way to travel between both airports and many parts of the city center. Passengers who prefer an even faster option can take advantage of helicopter shuttles that run on certain routes during peak hours. With so many options available for getting around Istanbul quickly and conveniently, travelers will be able to explore the city without worrying about long commutes.

Airport Expansion Projects

Istanbul's two primary airports, Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen, are both undergoing expansion projects. The former has recently added a new runway for take-offs and landings. It also boasts improved connections to the city center via rail transit systems. Meanwhile, the latter is being renovated to provide better services for international flights. Both these initiatives will help Istanbul accommodate increased air traffic in the coming years.

The Turkish government aims to make Istanbul one of the world's leading aviation hubs by investing heavily into its airport infrastructure. There have been talks of building a third major airport in the region as well, which would be capable of handling large numbers of passengers efficiently. All this should ensure that travelers from around the world can easily access Istanbul with minimal delays and disruptions.

Connections To Other Cities

Istanbul is connected to many cities in Turkey, as well as international destinations. Istanbul Ataturk Airport serves both domestic and international flights. It's the largest airport in Turkey and offers a wide range of direct flights from all over the world. Additionally, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport operates mostly international routes but also has some domestic flights. Together, these two airports offer various options for those wanting to travel to or from Istanbul by plane.

The city is also served by multiple buses which provide services between Istanbul and other cities across Turkey. There are daily high-speed rail links connecting Istanbul with Ankara and Izmir, allowing travelers an efficient way to get around the country quickly. Furthermore, ferries connect Istanbul to many nearby towns on the Black Sea coast and Marmara Sea islands. This makes it easy for people to explore beyond the boundaries of the city itself while visiting Istanbul.


Istanbul is a major destination for air travel, with several airports located within its city limits. The two main airports are Atatürk International Airport and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, both of which experience high levels of passenger traffic due to their strategic location and wide range of services and facilities. There have been numerous airport expansion projects in recent years, enabling the airports to accommodate an ever-increasing number of passengers while also providing more connections to other cities around the world. All in all, Istanbul's airports offer travelers a great opportunity to explore this vibrant city as well as get access to its many attractions.

The combination of convenient transport links, efficient services, and modern amenities make these airports ideal for anyone looking to fly into or out of Istanbul. With new projects being added all the time, it looks like air travel in Istanbul will only become easier over time. In addition, visitors can rest assured that they'll find everything they need at Istanbul's airports during their stay in the city – from comfortable waiting for areas to duty-free shops where they can buy souvenirs. I'm sure that everyone who visits Istanbul will be able to enjoy the convenience that these airports provide!