Istanbul International Airport:
All You Need To Know Before Landing

The official name of Istanbul International Airport is “Istanbul Ataturk Airport”. We locals, don’t even use those words to describe it, we simply call it as “Yesilkoy”.

If we take a taxi to go to the airport, we tell the driver; “To the airport, Yesilkoy, please”. “Yesilkoy” is the neighborhood which the Airport is located in and it takes its nickname from there.

Istanbul International Airport (Airport code: IST) is the largest airport, both in Istanbul and in Turkey. And of course it is the busiest one.

It is crowded 12 months because most of the visitors land to this airport whether they are going to Cappadocia region for a cultural trip or to Antalya for a sun-sea-sand holiday.

Special Tips:

  • Be at Istanbul International Airport, at least 2 hours before your flight. There might be delays, of course. But there might be long lines that will keep you waiting too. Don’t risk it.

  • Prices for food and drink are really high. So if you are going to spend longg hours waiting in the terminal building, eat before you enter the terminal grounds.

  • High prices are an important factor but the real reason is that airport food is always unhealthy. Not just Istanbul International Airport food, all airport foods..Maybe you’ve noticed, food at the airports are shiny and look like they will never rot and probably they won’t; because there are lots of protective ingredients in them. You don’t want those chemicals in your system.You can have your breakfast at the hotel. Or you can have a lunch or dinner in the city center or in Yesilkoy neighbourhood, which is very close to the airport.

  • Pharmacy and exchange office are on the Arrivals Floor. If you are departing and if you went downstairs to buy an aspirin from the pharmacy or to change your dollars into euros, you're doomed. Now, you have to get out of the terminal, get in that dreadful security check line again. So be prepared, don't leave important things to last minute.

  • Exchange rates are very high in Istanbul International Airport, I don't recommend you to use that service. Change your money in the city center if possible.

3 typical phases of this airport;

  • Crowded,
  • Very crowded,
  • Waaaay too crowded..

There is no such thing as “less crowded” when it comes to Istanbul Ataturk International Airport. It is always busy!

But don’t let that scare you, it is not boring or tiring at all. It is a big airport so it can handle with a lot of people in the form of waiting lines, easily.

The only downside is that you have to be there early. Like most of the major airports in the world.

I personally like it a lot, because I like airports and the bustling rhythm of them. Istanbul International Airport is the place to really feel like you are a citizen of the world.

There are always different kinds of people from all around the world and of course a lot to talk about with them. What can I say; I’m a people’s person.

Besides, the terminal buildings really have a nice design. The transparent ceilings make the terminal space way more spacious and lively with the natural daylight. And the height of the ceilings helps to acquire that spaciousness.

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Istanbul International Airport Facts:

  • Location: It is nearly 23 km. (14 miles) west of Sultanahmet Square.
  • Full Name: (Istanbul) Ataturk International Airport
  • Connection with Domestic Terminal: With an underground walkway.
  • Connection with Metro: With an underground walkway.

Airport Facilities:

Money: There are ATMs, bank branches and currency exchange offices.

Communications: Post offices are located in both the International and the Domestic terminals.

Eating and drinking: A very wide range of restaurants, bars, cafes, snack bars, coffeshops and fast food restaurants serve 24-hour.

Lost And Found Office: There is a lost property office in the International Terminal.

Luggage Storage Services: The luggage storage unit is located on the Arrivals Floor of the terminal and is open round-the-clock.

Porter Service: Available for 24 hours.

Pharmacy: 24-hour pharmacy is at the Departure Floor.

Medical Services:

- Emergency Medical Care: For emergencies and first aid.

- Portclinic: Serving with a full equipped intensive care unit and a medical team (a doctor, an anesthesia technician, and driver trained to give first-aid).

Children: Baby-care rooms and a Kid’s play room are available.

Airport Hotel: There is a hotel right next to the terminal building; Istanbul International Airport Hotel.

Car Parking: There is a car park for 7,200 cars. Valet service is available.

Car Hire: Car hire companies (Airport VIP, Alamo, Avias, Avis, Budget, Hertz, National Car, Sixt and Ulger) are in the Arrivals Floor, just after the baggage reclaim area.

Information and Help Desks: Information desks are located in both terminals. Staff can provide information on facilities and services available at the airport, and on hotels and tourist attractions in Istanbul.

Conference and Business Facilities: Free Wi-Fi internet access is available in the International Arrivals Floor.Three conference halls are available.Lounges offer Internet, fax and photocopying facilities.Business and conference facilities are also available at the International Airport Hotel.

Disabled Travelers: The airport has lifts and numerous wheelchair-accessible toilets. Passengers should make advance arrangements with their airline for wheelchairs

Travel agencies: Travel agencies in the International Terminal offer 24-hour service and hotel reservations.

Hairdresser: It is on the Mezzanine of the Departures Floor. Serves 24 hours/ 7 days.

Photography Service: It is on the Departures Floor. Serves 24 hours/ 7 days.

News Stand: All Turkish and foreign publications can be found at the bookshop on the Departures Floor.

Grocery: It is on the Departures Floor. Serves 24 hours/ 7 days. Packaged food, beverages, Turkish delights..

Florist: It is located in the Arrival Hall.

Shopping and Lounges:

Duty-free Area Shopping:

Departures Floor:

There is a giant duty-free shop on the Departures Floor in Istanbul International Airport. It is the 17th biggest Duty-free Shop in the world.

You can buy spirits, liquor, tobacco, perfume, cosmetics and chocolate here.

And there are Hermes, S. Ferragamo & Versace, Bvlgari, Mavi Jeans, Vakko, Desa Leather, Empire, Atasay Jewellery, D&R Bookstore on this floor.

There is a very kitsch shop named Old Bazaar. It is a replica of old bazaars in Turkey. (I go into these places to have a big laugh; fake stone walls in a high-tech building. Oh, please..).

You can find anything you need here; textile, coffee, tea, olive oil, sweet pastry, giftware, dried fruits, cezerya, helva, Turkish delight, etc

Arrivals Floor:

There are three Duty-free shop areas in the Arrivals Floor. Not as big as the one at the Departures Floor but it sells the same products.

Lounge services:

It is a part of the TAV 'primeclass' CIP service, with world class comfort in a modern lounge, where guests feel special and privileged.

  • International Terminal:

There are 7 Lounges in the International Terminal.

4 of them serve card holders of several banks. (Garanti, Yapi Kredi, Hsbc, Akbank). 1 of them (Primeclass Lounge) serves anyone who pays the price. 1 of them serves First Class and Buisness Class passengers. 1 of them serves THY passengers and the last one serves British Airways passengers.

  • Domestic Terminal:

There is only 1 lounge here that serves holders of Akbank cards as well as 'Primeclass' passengers that pay a fee for the lounge services.

You’ve landed.. Now what?

My advise: Take a taxi from the scenic coastal road. But if you want to learn about all options, here is all about transportation to city center: Airport Transfers

You are transit passing Istanbul, you have only a few hours between flights and you need some rest. Here is a very convenient lodging for you: Airport Hotels

There is another airport in Istanbul, a smaller one. Here is all info about it:

Istanbul Airports: Sabiha Gokcen Airport

Sabiha Gokcen Airport Transfers

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