Airport Hotels Atatürk - Istanbul


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Istanbul Atatürk Airport

Most planes arrive at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA: IST), 20 km west of the city centre. From the airport, there are various options for getting into Istanbul: you can take a taxi (about 30-35 TL to Taksim, and 25-30 TL to Sultanahmet), the express bus service run by the local airport service called "Havaş" which departs half-hourly between 4AM-midnight and costs 10 TL to Taksim (and also to Etiler, and Kozyatağı), the public bus (line #96T) run by İETT costing 2.50 TL, which also stops at Aksaray close to Sultanahmet. Travel times are 20–40 minutes, but depend a lot on traffic, and Istanbul is heavily congested!

Then, there is the metro (signposted "light rail" in the airport, when you get outside the baggage claim its about a 10 minute walk in the airport to the metro line. Just follow the signs), which will take you directly to the Otogar (bus station) or to numerous stops within Istanbul (Aksaray in the city centre is the last stop, transfer stations for tram heading for deeper into old city is available at Zeytinburnu and Aksaray). It costs 1.50 TL (+an extra 1.50 TL when boarding the tram) and getting to Aksaray takes around 45 minutes. It is possible to be at your bus departing from Otogar within less than one hour after landing by taking the metro.

When entering the metro station, you need to buy a jeton (token) for 1.50 lira. Just hand the cashier 1.50 lira and he'll give you a token. They don't accept credit card or foreign currency here. This will get you on the red metro line (towards Aksaray). From this line, if you are going to Sultanahmet, you can transfer at Zeytinburnu and buy another jeton (1.50 lira). Note that the jeton token here is different than the first one. From Zeytinburnu, take the blue tram line T1, towards Kabataş which passes by: Sultanahmet, Eminönu and Tophane. The trip from the airport to Sultanahmet takes about 45 min.

Other Notes: Note that people are working on commission at the airport trying to make you use special shuttle buses for very high fees (30+ TL), so for people who wish to travel more economically the Metro/tram-combination is easy and fairly quick, and offers very good value. Travel by metro/tram cost 1 token per trip which is equal to 1.5 TL. No matter how long you travel, it cost 1 token per trip.

Visa: Depending on nationality, foreigners arriving in Istanbul may need to purchase tourist visas (USA and some EU citizens, depending on exact nationality, do). This must be done upon arrival before queuing for passport control. The windows for purchasing the visa are located immediately to the left of the main passport control booths. You may pay using foreign currency or Turkish Lira (TL) (only cash is accepted, though, no credit cards). The fee varies depending on the visitor’s nationality. The fee is $20 (or €15 or 10 GBP) for visitors traveling with U.S. and Australian passports. As of Sep 2008, Canadians pay US$60 (or €45). As of Aug 2009, EU pays €15 (note that GB citizens may pay in Pounds), or the fee is 35 TL.

Note that food and drinks at the airport may cost up to five times more than in the city proper, like in other international airports. If you are traveling on budget and plan to spend some time at the airport, it may be wise to bring your own meals from town instead of buying them there. If you come from the Metro, there is a supermarket in the tunnel leading to the elevators / stairs to the airport proper where you can do some last-minute shopping.

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