With so many historical and other world famous attractions, I’m sure Istanbul will be somewhere on your travel list. I must admit, as the first time I went there, I immediately fell for the city. To make things easier for when you decide to go – or maybe return – I’ll explain to you how to go from Istanbul Atatürk airport to Sultanahmet, the historical district, and beyond. This is where most major airlines, including Turkish Airways, British Airways, Lufthansa and Atlas Global fly to. Istanbul also has a second airport, called Sabiha Gökçen, dominated by Turkish low cost Pegasus Airline and others.


Istanbul Atatürk International Airport is located on the European side of the city. It’s a very large and modern airport, with all the modern conveniences you would expect. In my opinion, the only downside to it is the lack of free wi-fi.

How to Go from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Sultanahmet & Taksim

If you want to go shopping as soon as you land, there’s a very large Duty Free shop in both the arrivals and departure areas.

You can change most major currencies at the airport’s arrivals hall. 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 till and mobile phone SIM cards.


If for whatever reason, you wish to store your luggage, Atatürk airport’s left luggage office is located on next floor below the arrivals hall. It’s a manned one, rather than automatic lockers, and on my last trip (October 2015) prices were 25 Turkish Liras (TL) for a large piece of luggage, 18TL for a medium suitcase and 15TL for a piece of hand luggage. Sizes are relative here, mind you.


There are several ways to travel from Istanbul main airport to Sultanahmet and Taksim. I recommend using a private car transfer, previously booked, or public transport.

How To Go From Istanbul Atatürk Airport To Sultanahmet & Taksim TAXI

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.

Buy your tickets for Istanbul attractions here and jump the lines!


Another option is booking your own private transfer in advance. You may organise it with your hotel or book it through specialised sites, such as this one, which I used myself and liked the system so much that I decided to become their partner – meaning, if you book through this link, I’ll make a small commission and it won’t cost you a penny extra. Alternatively, you may choose a luxury transfer.

The benefit? You won’t need to look for taxi drivers 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:

Atatürk Airport to Sultanahmet or Taksim: from 38USD for up to four people.

Atatürk Airport to Sultanahmet (luxury): from 61EUR for three people.


There’s no doubt that this is the cheapest way to travel from Atatürk Airport to Sultanahmet and Taksim. There are signs pointing to the metro station, but it’s easy. From the arrivals gate, stay inside the airport and walk to the right, to the end of the corridor, and go down the escalators. Go right again, to the very end of the corridor and you will see the entrance on the left.

How To Go From Istanbul Atatürk Airport To Sultanahmet & Taksim

If you’re staying in Istanbul for a few days and intend to use public transport regularly, it’ll be worthwhile buying the Istanbulkart, a magnetic card you’ll load and use on public transport. The card costs 10TL and you can buy from the machines or from a small stall by the metro station entrance. Using the Istanbulkart, each journey will cost between 1.50TL to 2.50TL. You can also buy individual tokens for 5TL each. To go to Sultanahmet you’ll need two tokens, and three to Taksim.

Once you have your card or your tokens, go through the barriers, and the trains will leave from downstairs. The airport station is called Havalimanı, airport in Turkish, and they all go to the same direction. If you look on the map, that’s that red line M1A.

You will have to change at Zeytinburnu station, the fourth from the airport. Go through the barriers and take the tram (tramvay in Turkish) towards Kabataş (pronounced kabatásh).

To take the tram, you’ll have to use one more token or touch the card on the barrier – slightly inconvenient, I know!

How To Go From Istanbul Atatürk Airport To Sultanahmet & Taksim

If you’re going to Sultanahmet or nearby areas such as Beyazit, Eminönü, all you have to do is keep an eye on your stop. The journey will take around 50 minutes – easy peasy!

If you’re going to Taksim, there’s a third step. Stay on the tram and get off at the last stop. When your tram arrives at Kabataş, go down the stairs and follow the signs to the Taksim funicular (Füniküler). This leg of the trip takes only two minutes, and you will have to pay once again.

The total journey from Atatürk airport to Taksim takes approximately one hour and ten minutes.

Just bear in mind the Istanbul metro and tram systems work between 6am and 11pm.

Now all you have to do is enjoy all this fantastic city has to offer. If you’re staying in Istanbul for a very short period, check out what to do in Istanbul in 10 hours.

16 Responses

  1. Andrew

    Great guide to getting to and from the airport in Istanbul … will need to know this when I land there next year!

  2. Miguel

    There is No Metro from Ataturk, your information about it is confusing. Please correct since when you rely on it, once you are on Istanbul airport you get very confused

    • Pedro

      Hi Miguel, I don’t know what you mean, because there is a metro at Ataturk airport, which I’ve taken several times as explained on the post. The other airport, Sabiha Gokcen, on the Asian side, is the one without metro. If some taxi driver or shuttle bus company told you there isn’t one, you were victim of a scam.

  3. Tanzina

    Thank you so much for this, Pedro! I had looked up the route on Google Maps however your post is so useful in terms of pricing (which I feel will have increased slightly, as expected). Your sharing of the routes is definitely appreciated. Heading there for the first time 🙂

    • Pedro

      Hi Tanzina, I hope you have a great time there. In terms of prices, up until April this year, they hadn’t changed at all. You’ll love Istanbul!

  4. Haroom Muhammad

    Hi Pedro,
    Your post is very informative and impressive! I am scheduled to arrive Sabiha Gokcen airport on March 15, 2018 and planning to stay for 3 days with family and kids; can you suggest which area in Istanbul will be better to see the places of interest? I am leaning to stay close to SultanAhmet. My return flight will be from Ataturk Airport. Please advise!
    Thanks. Haroon

    • Pedro

      Hi Haroom, how are you? If you’re staying for 3 days only, I recommend you stay in Sultanahmet, where most of the main attractions are, or in the area called Eminönü, between Sultanahmet and the Bosphorus. If you stay elsewhere, you will spend a long time moving from one place to another.

      Have a great time in Istanbul, the city is amazing! Check out the other posts here on the blog. 🙂

  5. shafsa

    what is the cheapest way to have a look around attractions as a group of 15 people

    • Pedro

      Hi Shafsa, for 15 people, if you’re not taking your luggage, the very cheapest way is going by public transport, but you would definitely need a group leader, which I imagine you’d have. Otherwise, stick to transfer or taxi (a few cars).

  6. Hamada Naka

    Hi Pedro
    Is there any bus transportation between Ataturk Airport and Sultanahmet area?.

    • Pedro

      Hi Hamada, there is a bus from there to Taksim that goes near Sultanahmet. But I prefer to take the metro and the tram, it’s pretty much the same time and extremely cheap.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.