Scheduled to open next month, Istanbul's new airport makes final test flights
An aerial view of the new Istanbul Airport

Most will already be aware that İstanbul’s newest – and the world’s biggest – airport opened earlier this month, but it hasn’t been to universal rave reviews.

The scale and design have certainly been welcomed as ambitious and impressive but travellers have also logged a few gripes.

The lack of travellators and a shortage of internal signage are among the criticisms. Interactive “AskMe” panels which are reportedly difficult to hear and smart baggage trollies limited to two hours’ use for 5TL also prompted a few grumbles.

However, there are some innovative touches bound to find favour with passengers with enhanced public transport links also in the pipeline once the new Metro link is complete.


The new airport is located just off the D020 in the Arnavutköy district, which is in the northwest of the city.

It’s 40kms from the city centre and takes approximately an hour to reach from there by car – traffic permitting.

Public transport

There are established bus routes from İstanbul with connections offered by the IETT buses or the HAVAIST shuttle.

However, passengers are warned neither will accept foreign currency or credit cards. Payment is usually made with an İstanbul Kart travel card.

Taxi fares range from 90.00tl for closer destinations such as Başakşehir to 210.00tl for the outlying districts such as Pendir.


For those driving themselves, there are 40,000 parking spaces available, a single multi-storey divided into five blocks boasting 24-hour security seven days a week and monitored by 2,500 CCTV cameras.

Valet parking, car washes, valeting and detailing services are also available as well as a tyre depot and filling station.

Payment for parking is made inside the terminal before you return to your car with costs ranging from 21.00tl for an hour to 444.00tl for a month’s stay.


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For passengers connecting from Sabiha Gökçen Airport there’s no denying the transfer between the two is as time-consuming as it was from the old Atatürk Airport.

There is no direct link via public transport and traffic can be an issue.

Although they are within the same building, the link between the international and domestic terminals can also take over an hour.

A Fasttrack service is available but passengers are urged to leave as much time as possible between flights.


Visitors arriving from outside Turkey have been reminded there is no longer an option to buy a visa on arrival.

The correct documentation must be obtained before departure and may be requested by airlines before you board the plane.

There have already been reports of visitors being turned away before embarking on their flight in their home country because they had not purchased visas in advance.


One of the shopping streets at the new Istanbul Airport

As you might expect from the largest airport in the world, it boasts an impressive shopping area as well as numerous coffee shops. Not all the units are open just yet but free wifi is available for two hours, with many premises also offering internet access to their customers.

There are ATM points in both arrivals and departures as well as a number on the international airside.

More detailed information can be found in a comprehensive blog in English by the Slow Travel Guide as well as a personal review on the airport’s first day written in Turkish for the Ahval news site, available here.

This article was written by and was published with the kind permission of Slow Travel Guide.

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