Updated in June 2023
Find out how to get from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet, the city’s main historical district, and Taksim, in the city centre.
With so many historical and other world-famous attractions, I’m sure Istanbul will be somewhere on your bucket list. Everyone who visits the city falls in love with it. If you want to know whether Istanbul is safe, check out this post.
To make things easier for when you decide to go – or maybe return – I’ll explain to you how to get from the New Istanbul airport to Sultanahmet, the most popular tourist area, where you can find the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern and other attractions. If you haven’t booked your accommodation, you can see where to stay in Istanbul.
In April 2019 Atatürk Airport closed and all flights transferred to the New Istanbul Airport, which once fully completed, will serve 200 million passengers a year.
Istanbul also has a second airport, called Sabiha Gökçen, dominated by Turkish low-cost Pegasus Airlines and others.
Some Information About Istanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport is located on the European side of the city, not far from the Black Sea coast, in the Arnavutköy District (do not confuse it with the Arnavutköy neighbourhood).
As you would expect, it is very large and modern, with all the modern conveniences you would expect.
If you want to go shopping as soon as you land, there’s a very large Duty-Free shop in both the arrival and departure areas.
You can change most major currencies at the airport’s arrivals hall, as there are a number of banks in the area. If you’re anything like me, though, you’ll prefer to use one of the many ATM machines available just to the left of the arrivals gate.
There are a number of snack bars, cafes, as well as a pharmacy, tourist information windows and stalls selling mobile phone SIM cards.
To use the free wifi at Istanbul Airport, you’ll need to find one of the machines and scan your passport. You’ll then receive a code to have wifi access. You’ll be able to use if for one hour only, mind you.
How To Get From Istanbul Airport To Sultanahmet
There are several ways to travel from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet. Which one to choose will depend mostly on your budget. But if you’re traveling in a small group and with heavy luggage, a private transfer may be the best option.
There are also taxis, buses and a new metro line that opened in early 2023. These are the cheapest way to transfer from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet.
Below you’ll find more detailed information on each of these options.
Taxi From Istanbul Airport To Sultanahmet
I’ve got an issue with airport taxi drivers, and although this seems obvious, I’d rather list it here, so just to ensure it’s covered and there are no doubts.
Regular taxis are available and drivers stay outside the airport. Only once have I taken a taxi from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet and this is not a method I normally choose or recommend.
Transfer From Istanbul Airport To Sultanahmet
Another option is booking your own private transfer from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet in advance. You may organise it with your hotel, who will charge you accordingly, or book it online. The journey time is around 1.5 hours, depending on traffic.
The benefit is convenience. You won’t need to look for a driver and you will know your fare in advance. You can pre-pay and, if necessary, you can cancel it up to 24 hours before, with a full refund.
Sample fares are:
Transfer from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet price per person: from 27 euros
Transfer from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet, up to 4 people: from 50 euros
Shuttle Bus From Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet
Another option is taking the shuttle bus from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet. From the arrivals hall, go down to level -2 and the Havaist buses will be outside. There are buses to every corner of the city, so it’s important you go to the right platform.
Buses from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet depart from bay 16. You can buy your ticket directly from the driver or buy it online here.
The buses don’t go to Sultanahmet as such, but to Beyazit, a few metres from the Grand Bazar and the Beyazit tram stop. From there, you can walk, take the tram or an Uber to your accommodation.
If you have Istanbul Tourist Pass, you get a one-way shuttle bus from the airport to the city. It gives you free entry to more than 80 attractions and you can buy it here.
The Havaist shuttle bus to Sultanahmet (Beyazit Meydan) runs 24/7, roughly every 25 minutes.
Metro From Istantul Airport To Sultanahmet
A new metro line opened in early 2023, connecting Istanbul Airport to the city. It is the fastest metro line in Turkey, reaching speeds of 120km/hour.
While the metro will take you to the city in 30 minutes, it won’t take you to Sultanahmet. That means you’ll have to change several times after you reach the final station, making your journey less comfortable and far from convenient. It’s still cheaper than taking the shuttle, but that won’t come without a hassle.
The trains are modern, comfortable and some carriages have luggage racks. There is no wifi on the metro, so make sure to locate your hotel on Google Maps while you still have wifi at the airport and keep your GPS on. You’ll need it!
The fare price in May 20243 is 12TL (Turkish Lira) per leg, per person.
The last station in the city is called Kagithane, but it will soon extend to Gayrettepe, one station down.
The Istanbul Airport metro line runs from 6am to 11:30pm.
The steps to take the Istanbul Airport metro to Sultanahmet are as follows:
Step 1: At the airport, follow the signs to the metro (U). The station is located outside the airport terminal, so you’ll have to walk for around 5 minutes.
Step 2: At the station, buy an Istanbulkart, which costs around 2.5 euros. You’ll also have to add money on top of the card price – add at least 6 euros. If you’re not travelling alone, you can buy only one card and use it for everyone traveling with you. Make sure top top it up with a lot more money, though.
Step 3: Once you get to Kagithane station, get out and walk for about 3 minutes to the Kagithane metro station M7 line. From the airport metro station, you’ll walk left and cross a park, then cross 2 more streets. You’ll see the M7 station bridge.
Step 4: Take the metro towards Yildiz and get off at Mecidiyekoy station. You’ll have to tap again and pay an additional 12TL fare.
Step 5: At Mecidiyekoy station, get out through the toll gate and follow the signs to the M1 (green) line. You don’t have to get to street level here. But you’ll have to pay the fare again. Go to the platform and take the train going to Yenikapi, getting off at Vezneciler station.
Step 6: Once at Vezneciler station, you’re only 5 minutes’ walk from the Grand Bazaar. Depending on your hotel’s exact location, you can take the Vezneciler tram to the stop closest to your hotel. The Vezneciler tram stop is a 3 minute walk from the metro station.
As you can see, this is not the most convenient way to get to Sultanahmet from Istanbul Airport.
Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet FAQ
How to get from Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet?
You can take a taxi, a shuttle bus, book a private transfer or take the metro, which connects with other public transport.
What’s the cheapest way to get from IST to Sultanahmet?
The cheapest way is by metro, but adding all the connections you’ll need, it ends up costing almost the same as the shuttle bus.
What’s the best way to get to Sultanahmet from Istanbul Airport for a group of 3 or more?
If you’re travelling in a group of at least 3 people, the private transfer is the best way. It will cost more than the shuttle bus, but you’ll get straight to your accommodation and won’t have to worry about walking or taking an Uber afterwards.
How long is the journey from the new Istanbul Airport to Sultanahmet?
The journey takes about 1.5 hours, depending on traffic.
MORE ABOUT ISTANBUL:– A Tour of Kadiköy Market, Istanbul– The Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts– Nisantasi, A Different Side of Istanbul– Yeni Cami, Istanbul New Mosque– What To Do In Istanbul During a Long Flight Connection– The Blue Mosque– Visiting Galata Tower– Türk-Alman Kitabevi, A Very Cool Café in Istanbul