Out of the two airports in Istanbul, Sabiha Gokcen is the second busiest. (It will be the third most active in 2018 when the new airport opens.) Currently servicing 51 airlines flying to 136 destinations, it is on the Asian side of the city and named after Turkey’s first female pilot who was also the adopted daughter of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
Over the last 10 years, investors have pumped billions of Turkish liras to modernise it, and these days, it hosts all facilities of a state-of-the-art airport including a car park, excellent duty-free shopping, and VIP lounges.
It serves more domestic passengers than international, but a lot of those want to get to the Taksim or Sultanahmet districts of Istanbul. If you are tired from your flight, the airport does have a four storey, 128-room hotel within the terminal. Otherwise, it will take an hour maximum to get to your hotel in the city centre.
From Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Taksim and Sultanahmet
Private Airport Transports: These are an attractive option, merely as a fast, efficient way of getting to your hotel. The average price is 45 Euros, which is good value for money if you are travelling as a group of friends. Sometimes, hotels offer them free as part of your stay, but you can also order paid transfers at the time of booking. This is a great option if you are travelling at awkward hours.
All travel agencies in Istanbul also sell group and private transfers from Sabiha Gokcen Airport. Solo female travellers in particular like this option because TURSAB (Turkish Association of Travel Agents) requires all travel agencies to be registered. They have to show their licenses at all times and in the case of transfers, this is in the window at the front of the vehicle. Booking airport transfers also leaves a paper trail in the extremely rare event that something should happen.
Taxis from Sabiha Gokcen: It is approximately 50 kilometres from Sabiha Gokcen Airport to the Sultanahmet district, which takes around an hour to reach depending on traffic. The Taksim area is nearly the same time as well, with a distance of roughly 45 kilometres.
Taxis will charge an initial setting off rate of 2.70 Turkish liras and then 2.40 Turkish liras for every kilometre after that. Therefore, the average price of a taxi ride to either destination averages from 100 to 125 lira. If you decide to catch a cab, don’t pay in foreign currency because this opens up opportunities for dishonest taxi drivers to scam you. There is also NO need to tip taxi drivers in Istanbul because this is not customary.
Havabus Services: Havabus is the company that has contracts to run airport shuttle transfers. They don’t operate from or to, the Sultanahmet district but they do run to and from Taksim Square every half hour from 4 am to 1 am. The current price is 15 Turkish liras for a one-way shuttle transfer.
Rent a Car: If you are an experienced driver who can cope with the frantic hustle and bustle of cars, traffic jams, crazy drivers, and a fast-paced transport network, then hire a car. Prices work out at an average of 85 lira a day and offices are in the arrival halls of both the domestic and international terminals. They include well-known brands such as Europea Car, Budget, and Avis. Personally, unless we plan to head to the outskirts of Istanbul or other places in the country, we never hire a car in Istanbul. Those stories of crazy Turkish drivers are real!
Bus, Metro and Sea Ferry Services: Istanbul has an efficient transport network including buses, the Metro and sea ferries but unfortunately, in the case of Sabiha Gokcen Airport, it involves limited schedules, changing routes and a lot of messing about. If you are travelling to Taksim, it also makes sense to catch the direct Havas bus service. There is a frequent metro service from nearby Kartaltepe to Kadikoy but likewise, to get to Taksim or Sultanahmet; this involves three changes of transport along the route.
More Trip Planning Resources
Escaping the crowds: Istanbul has many neighbourhoods off the beaten track that are worth exploring. This article talks about them and more places near Sabiha Gokcen Airport. If you are staying on the Asian side, visit Bagdat Caddesi for shopping opportunities or stay in the Uskudar neighbourhood and see the majestic Ottoman Beylerbeyi Palace.
Is it safe to travel to Turkey? The country has seen turbulent times of late, and many travellers are wondering if they should continue with plans to visit Istanbul and other places. In this article, we look at the tourism industry and security procedures in place to keep people safe.
Cities to Visit Other Than Istanbul: If you can extend your time in Turkey, individual cities within Turkey are making a name for themselves and climbing up the ladder of popularity. Some like Bursa and Yalova are popular daytime trips from Istanbul.
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