How to Get to Istanbul? – By Air, Train, Car, Ferry or Coach

Istanbul is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. Getting to Istanbul is easy and convenient, thanks to a variety of transportation options available for tourists. In this article, we will explore the different means of transport that will bring you to Istanbul, including options from the airport, by plane, by train, car, bus, or boat.

Practical Information

Istanbul enjoys a strategic location in eastern Europe, on the north west of Turkey, and has excellent infrastructures for air, sea and land transport that guarantee easy and rapid access to the city any region and city of Turkey, Europe or the rest of the world. Istanbul has great and modern transportation network.

Here’s some information about all the available options to help you decide which type of transport suits you best for your traveling to Istanbul.

Istanbul has two main international airports. International New Istanbul Airport (IST) is located in Arnavutkoy on the European side and International Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) is located in Kurtkoy on the Asian side.

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Istanbul Airport (IST)

The Istanbul Airport is the newest airport in Istanbul, located on the European side of the city. Here are some options to get to Istanbul city center from IST:

  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the airport, and the journey to the city center takes around 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic. The cost for a taxi ride ranges from 100-150 Turkish Lira (TRY).
  • Metro: The M11 metro line connects the airport to the city center, with stops at Gayrettepe and Halkalı stations. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes and costs 19 TRY.
  • Bus: The Havaist and IETT buses provide transportation between the airport and the city center. The Havaist buses are more expensive but offer more comfortable rides, while the IETT buses are more affordable. The cost for a bus ride ranges from 18-30 TRY, depending on the bus company and the destination.

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW)

Sabiha Gökçen International Airport is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, approximately 50 kilometers away from the city center. Here are some options to get to Istanbul city center from SAW:

  • Taxi: Taxis are available outside the airport, and the journey to the city center takes around 60-90 minutes, depending on traffic. The cost for a taxi ride ranges from 150-250 TRY.
  • Bus: The Havabus and IETT buses provide transportation between the airport and the city center. The Havabus is a more comfortable and direct option, while the IETT buses are more affordable but with more stops. The cost for a bus ride ranges from 15-25 TRY.

Getting to Istanbul by Plane

Istanbul is a major transportation hub, with two airports and several international airlines flying to Istanbul. There are a lot of direct flights from many European countries and all world major cities to Istanbul. All major airlines offers variety of flights to Istanbul, Turkey. Here are some popular airlines that fly to Istanbul:

  • Turkish Airlines: The national flag carrier of Turkey, Turkish Airlines flies to Istanbul from over 300 destinations worldwide, making it the largest airline operating in Istanbul.
  • Emirates: Emirates operates several flights daily to Istanbul from Dubai, offering convenient connections to other destinations in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
  • Qatar Airways: Qatar Airways flies daily to Istanbul from Doha, offering connections to other destinations in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

How to Get to Istanbul by Air

Getting to Istanbul by Train

If you are coming to Istanbul from Europe, it is possible to take a train from many European cities. Istanbul has several railway stations, but the main one is Haydarpasa Station on the Asian side of the city. Some of the popular routes include:

  • Belgrade-Istanbul Express: This train connects Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, to Istanbul. The journey takes around 20 hours, and the train runs every day.
  • Bucharest-Istanbul Express: This train connects Bucharest, the capital of Romania, to Istanbul. The journey takes around 20 hours, and the train runs every day.
  • Thessaloniki-Istanbul Express: This train connects Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, to Istanbul. The journey takes around 14 hours, and the train runs every day.
  • Sofia-Istanbul Express: This train connects Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to Istanbul. The journey takes around 10 hours, and the train runs every day.

Getting to Istanbul by Car

If you plan to drive to Istanbul, keep in mind that Turkey drives on the right side of the road, and the use of seat belts is mandatory. Istanbul is connected to the rest of Turkey and Europe via an extensive network of highways.



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From Europe, there are several routes that lead to Istanbul:

  • Via Bulgaria: The E80 highway leads to Istanbul from Bulgaria. The journey takes around 8-9 hours, depending on traffic.
  • Via Greece: The E90 highway leads to Istanbul from Greece. The journey takes around 12-13 hours, depending on traffic.
  • Via Romania: The E87 highway leads to Istanbul from Romania. The journey takes around 16 hours, depending on traffic.

Getting to Istanbul by Bus

There are many international bus companies that offer services to Istanbul from different European countries. Some of the popular routes include:

  • Bulgaria-Istanbul: There are several buses that run daily from Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to Istanbul. The journey takes around 8 hours.
  • Greece-Istanbul: There are several buses that run daily from Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece, to Istanbul. The journey takes around 10 hours.
  • Romania-Istanbul: There are several buses that run daily from Bucharest, the capital of Romania, to Istanbul. The journey takes around 17 hours.

Getting to Istanbul by Boat

If you are coming from Greece or Italy, you can take a ferry to Istanbul.

The Cruise Port of Istanbul, the Galataport Istanbul, is located in the shores of the Galata, Karakoy and Tophane neighborhoods, in the entrance of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn.

Some of the popular routes include:

  • Greece-Istanbul: There are several ferry companies that operate between different Greek islands and Istanbul. The journey time varies depending on the route and the ferry company.
  • Italy-Istanbul: There are several ferry companies that operate between Italy and Istanbul. The journey time varies depending on the route and the ferry company.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different ways to get to Istanbul, whether you are coming from Europe, Asia, or beyond. By air, by train, by car, by bus, or by boat, each mode of transportation has its advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences. No matter how you choose to arrive in Istanbul, the city is sure to welcome you with open arms and offer you an unforgettable experience.


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