Istanbul Airport Transfer: Guide on How to Get From Istanbul Airports to the City

Last Updated on January 16th, 2020

Istanbul is a huge city with a few airports on different banks and a bit complex subway system. I remember how confused we were on our first visit when trying to understand all the details about airport transfer. After conducting thorough research and making a few trips to and from airports, I decided to put together this Istanbul airport transfer guide.

In this post, you’ll find how to get from two major International airports in Istanbul to different parts of the city. The table of contents below will help you navigate better through this page.


How to get to/from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Taksim Square

Istanbul sightseeing

The only way to reach Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul is by land transport: taxi or bus. Unfortunately, there is no subway or high-speed tram to this airport.

If you go by bus (or as some people call it a shuttle,) you need to look for Havabus. This is the only bus which goes to Taksim Square. Buses depart from the international terminal and it’s very easy to find them. Once you exit the terminal and cross the road, you’ll see a few different lines where people wait for their own bus. Havabus to Taksim should be somewhere there too. In case you get confused, ask locals to direct you. Everyone is friendly and ready to help.

Buses depart every half an hour from 3:30 am to 1 am in the morning. Travel time from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Taksim Square on a good day with moderate traffic takes about 1.5 hours. The ticket price is 18 lira per person and you pay inside the bus.

Taking a taxi is another option how to get from Sabiha Gokcen airport to Taksim Square. The cost should be around 50 euros.

No matter which option you choose, make sure to allocate extra time for your transfer. Due to heavy traffic delays happen often. On our first visit to Istanbul, we met a few random people at the terminal and later in the airport shuttle who missed their flights because they were stuck in a traffic jam and got late.


Transfer from Sabiha Gokcen airport to Sultanahmet and nearby districts

If you opt for public transport to get from Sabiha Gokcen airport to Sultanahmet or nearby districts, you’ll need to make another transfer on the Asian side in Kadikoy.

To get from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Kadikoy you need:

There are three different buses you could take to get to Kadikoy.

Your first option is to go with Havabus. Buses on this route run every half an hour from 3:30 am to 1 am on a daily basis. The fare is 12 lira and the journey takes around an hour to get to Kadikoy pier if there is no traffic.

Your second option would be to take a public city bus E10 which departs from Sabiha Gokcen airport around the clock.

And the third option is to take express bus E11.

For travel by E10 and E11 buses, you can use an Istanbul card or buy a regular ticket at the ticket booth.

From Kadikoy to Fatih which includes Sultanahmet and other districts you need:

Istanbul airport transfer

  • Hop on a ferry to Eminonu. There, across the road from a ferry terminal is a high-speed tram stop with the same name Eminonu. On the fourth stop, you’ll reach the center of Sultanahmet, where the main attractions of Istanbul are located. Riding further will bring you to Bayazit, Laleli, and Aksaray districts.
  • Or take a Marmaray train that goes under the Bosphorus Strait from Kadikoy to Sirkeci station.

What to remember: Ferries between Asian and European parts of Istanbul run only during the day hours. So if you arrive late at night you may want to choose another way of transportation or stay overnight in Kadikoy.

Another option how to Get Sabiha Gokcen transfer to Sultanahmet includes:

  • To get from Sabiha Gokcen airport to Taksim Square by Havabus bus and then take the cable car to Kabatas station. From there take the high-speed tram to Sultanahmet.
  • Get from Sabiha Gokcen airport to Taksim Square by Havabus, take the M2 metro (green line), go to Vezneciler station (Istanbul Universitesi Station) which will bring you to the Laleli district. Continue on foot or hop on another tram to the desired stop.

Transfer from Sabiha Gokcen to Princes’ Islands

To get to Princes’ Islands or as it is also called Adalar you need to take a bus E9 from the airport to the Bostanci neighborhood in Kadikoy district, and from there look for a ferry run by IDO company. This is the best and fastest option.

Istanbul airport transfer

How to get from Sabiha Gokcen airport to Haydarpasa and Marmaray Sirkeci Train Stations

If you arrived in Istanbul, and then plan to move around the country by train, then you need to get to one of the stations in Istanbul: Sirkeci or Haydarpasa.

Keep in mind that Sirkeci railway station is located on the European side of Istanbul near the Eminonu marina while Khaidarpash railway station is located on the Asian side of Istanbul near the Kadikoy pier.

  •  To get from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Sirkeci station, you need to take Havabus shuttle or bus E10 to go to Kadikoy pier. From there take a ferry to the European side to Eminonu Pier. From Eminonu there is only one stop by tram to Sirkeci station or a few minutes on foot.
    Another option is to use the new metro line Marmaray and get off at the Sirkeci station right near the train station.
  • To get to the Haydarpash station, you just need to go from the airport by bus to Kadikoy pier, and then walk about a kilometer to the station or catch a taxi.


Istanbul airport transfer

How to get from Ataturk airport to Sultanahmet and nearby districts

Ataturk Airport is an international airport in Istanbul. It is located on the European side of the city, within 20 km from the historical center of Sultanahmet and 29 km from Taksim Square.

To get from Ataturk Airport to Sultanahmet or adjacent neighborhoods of Aksaray, Laleli, and Gulhane, where the main attractions and a lot of hotels and guesthouses are located, you can take a taxi or metro. A taxi ride should cost around $25-$30.

A metro stop Havalimani (red line) is conveniently located near the airport, so it makes the entire process of getting into the city easier.

Finding the metro station is very easy too. In the airport follow the signs to “Metro/Subway”. At some point, you’ll reach the escalator, go down and the entrance to the metro will be on your right. You can either use an Istanbul card or buy a token.

From Havalimani in 6 stops get off on Zeytinburnu metro station and make a transfer to T1 high-speed tram. By it, you can go to Aksaray, Laleli, Sultanahmet, and Gulhane stops. I do recommend making a transfer at Zeytinburnu station, not at Aksaray station. Aksaray has a very long crossing, so it may be difficult to walk with suitcases. Plus, there is a higher chance for T1 tram to be empty at Zeytinburnu, so you’ll get a chance to sit down, put aside your bags and even see a bit of the city outside the window.


Ataturk airport transfer to Taksim Square

To get from Ataturk airport to Taksim Square is very similar to transfer from Sabiha Gokcen airport.

  1. You can either hop on Havabus bus that runs every 30 minutes from 3:30 am to 1 am. The ticket cost is 12 lira and the journey takes about 40 minutes, excluding traffic jams.
  2. An alternative to that would be subway, tram, and funicular. In this case, you take a subway at the Havalimani station, make a transfer to a tram at Zeytinburnu station and stay in a tram until the last stop Kabatas. There, you’ll find a funicular station (with the same name Kabatas) and go up to Taksim.
  3. Another, newer way how to get from Ataturk Airport to Taksim is by M2 metro line (a green line.) Ride to Yenikapi metro stop, change to M2 line and from there go to the Taksim stop.

Ways to get Ataturk airport – Sabiha Gokcen airport transfer

Istanbul airport transfer

In order to get from Ataturk Airport to Sabiha Gokcen Airport (or vice versa,) you can use Havabus buses. By it get at first to Taksim Square, then transfer to the bus of the same company (it stops in front of the Point hotel) and get to Sabiha Gokcen. Ataturk – SAW airport transfer takes at least 2.5 hours and costs 35 lira per person.

Another option is to use a combination of transport: metro, tram, ferry, and bus which in my opinion is a bit exhausting. Still, here are the details: go by metro to Zeytinburnu station, there make a transfer to tram and go to Eminonu stop. From Eminonu walk a few minutes to ferry terminal and catch a ferry to Kadikoy. In Kadikoy hop on a city bus E10 or Havabus bus to Sabiha Gokcen.

This transfer will suit those travelers who have a long layover in Istanbul but fly to and from different airports. In this way, there is a good chance to experience some of the best attractions in Istanbul, especially if you are visiting for the first time.

One more option for Ataturk – SAW airport transfer is to take the M1 metro from Ataturk to Yenikapi, transfer to Yenikapi station (Marmaray line) and follow the Marmaray tunnel to the Asian side of Istanbul, and then take the E10 bus and drive to Sabiha Gokcen Airport.

Istanbul airport transfer guide

Anya is Ukrainian-American who is absolutely obsessed with not only seeing the world as a traveler but living on each continent as an expat and digital nomad. She is the founder, editor and author or Road Is Calling. Her main goal is to share her knowledge of travel, hospitality business, online entrepreneurship and how to become an expat through finding jobs around the world. When she is not working on her blog, she is sauntering up mountains, wandering neighborhoods of a new city or simply mastering gluten-free cooking.

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