Sultanahmet is the heart of Istanbul and the historical district where the main attractions are concentrated. Within walking distance are Topkapi Palace, Gulhane Park, Blue Mosque, Ayia Sofia, Cisterna Basilica. Sultanahmet has chic hotels and the best cafes with local cuisine, stores, and souvenir shops. How to get from Ataturk airport to Sultanahmet is a burning question for those who came to the city of contrasts for the first time.
On public transportation
Most flights land at Ataturk International Airport. It is located in the European part, on the western edge of the city. The distance from Istanbul airport to the Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Square, the promenade of the Bosphorus is 24-26 km.
From this Istanbul airport you can get to Sultanahmet by public transport. On arrival, you must immediately change the currency. The bus, subway, and streetcar will take 15-20 liras, but it is not worth it to change a large sum because of the unfavorable exchange rate. Journeys are paid for both in cash (buying a token) and by transport card.
Those who plan to actively move around the city, it is worth getting an Istanbulcard. It is sold in vending machines at bus stops and in the subway. The card is valid in the streetcar, bus (except the company “Havatash”), subway, ferry, cable car. Without the card a single trip costs on average 5-6 lira, with Istanbulcard – 2.6 lira. If you transfer to another transport you will be charged 1.8 lira. If 90 minutes have passed between transfers, the cost again becomes 2.6 lira.
On the subway
This is a quick and budget way to get from Ataturk Airport to Sultanahmet. After passing through passport and customs control, you should be guided by the Metro sign. It leads to the final station of Havalimani. Trains run until midnight at 6-10 minute intervals.
On the way you will have to take the T1 express streetcar to Kabatasz pier. Change at Zeytinburnu or Aksaray metro stations and go to the Sultanahmet stop. The streetcar stops near the subway exit.
The subway lines in Istanbul are not connected to each other. When transferring from one branch to another, you will have to go through the turnstile again and pay the fare. But given Istanbul’s traffic jams, it’s the fastest way to get where you want to go.
There is a regular bus from Ataturk airport to Istanbul. The trip will take on average 50 minutes, taking into account traffic jams, more than an hour. As an option – expressTN-1, the next one to Taksim. It does not go through Sultanahmet, you can go to Fatih district, then take a streetcar or walk on foot.
Cab and Transfer
Getting into a cab in Istanbul is a risky venture. Turkish cab drivers try to squeeze as much money as possible from the tourist. If you want to get from Ataturk to central Istanbul by cab, it is better to book a car on one of the cab service websites.
A cab ride from Ataturk Airport is not much different in price than a transfer. Most hotels provide this service for an adequate price. When booking a room from the list of additional preferences, you need to designate the transfer. The driver will be waiting in the arrival area at the agreed time. Comfortable transportation takes the tourist directly to the hotel.
- Guaranteed meeting on arrival.
- Help with luggage.
- Comfortable transportation to the hotel.
- The tourist knows the cost of travel in advance.
Option with a transfer is suitable for families with children and companies of several people. The cost is per car, not per seat.
Sabiha Gökçen Airport
It is located in the Asian part of Istanbul. Sometimes, a transit flight forces the traveler to get from one airport to another. The first option is to get off at Ataturk and take the Havataş bus, which goes to Taksim Square. There you will change to a bus of the same company (there is a direct route to Sabiha Gökçen). The travel time will take at least 2.5 hours if there is no traffic.
You can take the subway to save time. From Havalimani station go to the Yenikapa terminus, transfer to the Marmaray line station of the same name and get off on the Asian side. From there you can take the E10 bus to Sabiha Gökçen. The trip will take 1.5-2 hours.
If the plane has landed in Sabiha Gökçen, there are several ways to get to the center. First take the E10 bus to the Kadıköy wharf, then take the ferry to Eminonu. From there you can walk to Sultanahmet or take a streetcar.
How to get to Taksim?
It is an area in the European part of the city that is popular with travelers of all ages. There are chic hotels, stores for all tastes, street musicians hold concerts in the evening.
There are two ways to get from Ataturk Airport to Taksim. The first option is to take the 96T bus to Taksim Square. It runs at 40-60 minute intervals, there is a risk of being stuck in traffic. Then the journey will take more than an hour.
The second option is to take the Havalimani metro to the Yenikapa terminus, then transfer to the M2 line station of the same name. After 4 stations get off at Taksim Square.
How do I get to other areas?
For those who plan to stay in Istanbul for a few days, it will certainly be interesting to see other places and districts of the city.
Asian part of Istanbul
Tourists often prefer hotels in the European part. But that doesn’t stop you from visiting the Asian side – there are old and quite safe neighborhoods with a real oriental flavor. The easiest way to get to the Asian side is by water – ferries regularly sail to the piers of Kadikoy and Uskudar. You can sail from Eminenyu, Kabataş, Besiktas wharf, depending on the location of the hotel.
You can take the subway through the underground Marmaray tunnel. The nearest station in the Sultanahmet district is Sirkeci. Get off at the next station, Uskudar.
They are located 20 km from the metropolis, but are part of the city. The Prince’s Islands are popular with vacationers and locals, especially in the summertime. The only way to get there is by water. Ferries depart regularly from different marinas: from Eminenyu and Kabataş marinas in the European part, Bostanji and Kadıköy in the Asian part of Istanbul. One way ticket costs from 4 to 10 liras.
Transportation to popular attractions
In addition to Sultanahmet, travelers prefer to stay in Taksim, Aksaray, Laleli, and Fatih. There is a transport connection between them. The Blue Mosque, Cistern, Aya Sofia and Topkapi are within walking distance of Sultanahmed Square (T1 streetcar stop of the same name.
The Galata Tower is the symbol of Istanbul and can be seen from many places. From Sultanahmed, take the T1 streetcar to the Karakey stop, then a steep climb up the mountain. If you want, you can walk to Karakoy and take a stroll along Galata Bridge. The second option is to take the metro to Shishane station (line M2). From there it’s a 5-10 minute walk to the tower.
Those wishing to get to Taksim Square can go to the metro station of the same name (line M2). You can spend some time and walk along Istiklal Street, which ends at Taksim Square. The beginning of the street can be reached from Karakoy by the underground funicular “Tunel”.
How do I get from the airport to Istanbul at night?
If the plane landed between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m., you can’t take the subway or bus. There is no public transportation, the first buses leave the route at 4 a.m. You either have to take a cab or wait until morning.
If you do not want to sit in the airport building, it is recommended to book a transfer in advance. A driver with a sign will be waiting in the arrival hall and will take you to the hotel. There is no traffic at night, the road will take 30-40 minutes, depending on the location of the hotel.
Rent a car
Tourists who plan to actively move around Istanbul and beyond should consider renting a car. You can choose a car upon arrival in the city – the rental counter is located in the arrival hall of the international terminal.
Booking a car early will save time and money. When ordering a car on the Internet, you can choose the model and configuration. On arrival, after passing through passport and customs control, the car is waiting for the traveler in the parking lot. The way to the city is along the expressway along the Sea of Marmara.
There are different ways for tourists to get from Ataturk Airport to Sultanahmet. It’s cheaper and faster to get there by subway. There are no problems with public transport in Istanbul except at night. Then you have to take a cab from Ataturk Airport to Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque or another destination. You can get back to Ataturk from the center by public transport in the reverse order.