Layover Guide at Istanbul Airport

Planning to spend your long layover time in Istanbul Airport? Layovers are exhausting and stressful, especially after a tiring flight or before an exciting journey ahead. However, there are several methods by which layover can be more than just an unproductive waiting period. Indeed, it is a transit point for flights from the Middle East to Europe, so you might end up in the brand new airport. But do you know how to spend your time most effectively? In fact, as Istanbul is a common stopover for flights from the Middle East to Europe, you might find yourself waiting at the brand-new airport. So, how can you make the most of your downtime?

Determine Your Available Time

First of all, it is necessary to determine how much time you have. Your choices will depend on whether you are at Istanbul Airport for just a few hours, or even an overnight layover at Istanbul Airport. The new airport is in Arnavutkoy which is about 50km away from the city center. As you know, it takes approximately 1-1. 5 hours to go through the airport channels, and the distances that one has to cover inside such a large terminal are quite extensive. Also, it will take approximately 50-100 minutes to get to the city center by taxi or by bus. For instance, the new M11 subway line, which is scheduled to become operational by the end of year 2020, will reduce the duration of travel.

Things to Do at Istanbul Airport During Your Layover Time

#1. Transit Visa

Depending on the country you are from, there is a possibility that you need a visa if you decide to leave the airport and see Istanbul. Check out if you need a Transit visa or not.

Here's What You Should Know About Transit Visas

  • Check the latest rules from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on our evisa content.
  • Some countries don't need a visa to visit Turkey, while others can get one online.
  • Make sure to check this before your trip to avoid any surprises.

#2. Enjoy Non-Stop Shopping During Your Layover Time at Istanbul Airport

Istanbul Airport is a shopping paradise that guarantees that one will be able to shop for expensive brands or even local Turkish products. The largest duty-free shopping mall is filled with world-class brands including Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. From the latest fashion apparel and accessories to the latest fragrances, gadgets, and gizmos, Duty-Free shops are the place to be. You can also taste various oriental dishes or buy souvenirs like handmade carpets, ceramics, sweets, and spices produced in Turkey.

There is more to shopping at the airport than Duty-Free as there are other shops where you can shop for different items. Electronics lovers can find the newest devices and gadgets in stores such as Samsung and Apple. Fashion enthusiasts will be able to find a lot of clothing stores ranging from casual wear to luxury brands. There is no shortage of convenience stores, pharmacies, and bookshops that make shopping even more convenient, for instance, if you need to buy a book to read on your flight.

#3. Check Out Your E-Mail with Istanbul Airport Free Wi-Fi During Your Layover

Free and easy access to the internet is very essential when it comes to communication and Istanbul Airport seeks to provide this by providing free Wi-Fi connection to travelers. The WI-FI service is provided for one hour for all the passengers on the train to read their e-mails, update their social sites, and work for a while. Originally, getting connected to the airport’s Wi-Fi is very simple all you have to do is choose the network that the airport offers and you are asked to fill in some details and you are connected. If needed for a longer period a higher tariff is available to stay connected throughout your stay.

This free wireless internet connection is particularly of great benefit to business persons as they may be needed to discuss some important issues or even participate in virtual meetings through video conferencing. Also, it keeps the leisure traveler amused with movies, TV shows, or browsing the internet among others. It also means that you can call other people for instance your family or friends to let them know of your plans or simply give them a real-time view of what you are doing at the airport.

#4. Stay Connected to the Internet by Buying an eSIM During Your Layover

Especially while traveling to another country, it is important to be connected to the internet and this is made easier by an eSIM through which one will be connected even without a SIM card. We suggest you buy eSims during layover time at Istanbul Airport, especially when you plan to leave Istanbul Airport.

  • Purchase: This is similar to eSIMs that are bought online but without physically going to the manufacturer's shop.
  • Activation: It is quite easy to activate, and is often activated by scanning a bar code at the back of the device. It eliminates the inconvenience of swapping SIM card trays and ensures that you are connected as soon as you arrive in a new country.
  • Plans: There are many choices involving time that can be made by the passengers and these options can be either short time or long time concerning the usage of data. Whether one needs a couple of days of Internet service or prefers to have a plan that will last a month, it is possible. Still, among the possibilities there is an option that says something like unlimited data.

#5. Children’s Playground

Traveling with kids can be challenging, but Istanbul Airport makes it easier with dedicated play areas designed to keep children entertained and happy. The children’s playgrounds are equipped with safe and engaging play equipment, including slides, climbing structures, and interactive games. These areas are designed to help children burn off some energy, making it easier for parents to manage long layovers or delayed flights.

The playgrounds are strategically located within the terminal, allowing parents to relax nearby while keeping an eye on their children. These play areas provide a much-needed break for families, giving kids a chance to move around and play after being cooped up in a plane. Additionally, these spaces often include seating areas and charging stations for parents, ensuring that the whole family can take a break and recharge before the next leg of their journey.

#6. Prayer Rooms

Recognizing the diverse needs of its passengers, Istanbul Airport offers separate prayer rooms for men and women. These facilities provide a quiet, peaceful space for travelers to perform their religious duties, away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal. The prayer rooms are equipped with prayer mats, washing areas, and shoe racks, ensuring that worshippers have everything they need for their prayers.

The availability of prayer rooms reflects Istanbul Airport’s commitment to accommodating the cultural and religious needs of its passengers. These rooms are conveniently located throughout the airport, making them easily accessible no matter where you are in the terminal. Whether you have a few minutes or a longer layover, the prayer rooms provide a serene environment to reflect and find solace during your travels.

#7. Art Galleries

Cultural tourists will be glad to know that art galleries dedicated to prominent Turkish artists and a collection of photographs by Ara Güler are located inside the airport. The galleries are modern and traditional where art lovers can get a taste of contemporary art even if they are on the move. The art pieces exhibited usually comprise travel photographs, paintings, and sculptures that give a glimpse of the artistry of Turkey.

These galleries are installed at various parts of the airport, and this makes it possible for individuals to view the artwork while waiting and or moving around the airport. The exhibitions are not only an aesthetically pleasant distraction, but they provide the viewer with a much richer experience of Turkey. For art lovers, these galleries offer a chance to interact with the creations of renowned artists and maybe get inspired when in the airport.

#8. Dining

The dining choices at Istanbul Airport cover the needs of every single guest, be they in for a fast bite or a sit-down meal. The available food area consists of restaurants and cafes where passengers can enjoy Turkish and other types of food. For those who would like to taste Turkish dishes, restaurants provide good opportunities to try kebabs, mezes, and sweets, such as baklava. Local brands as well as international brands such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and KFC are available for those who like familiar tastes.

Eating at Istanbul airport is not simply a simple provision of food; it is an art in its own right. The restaurants have an excellent view of the runway and this provides a relaxing setting while eating. The wide variety of food businesses guarantees that no matter what you fancy, a take-out fix, or a proper restaurant meal, you can get it here. There are also countless bars and cafes where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a piece of cake waiting for your flight.

#9. Spa Treatments

At the end of a tiring flight, the best thing many people prefer is spa treatments, and there are numerous spas in Istanbul Airport. The services offered by the Ambassador Spa and Beauty Salon include massage, facial cosmetic, and nail care services that aim to revitalize travelers. The ambiance, the highly trained masseurs, and the variety of spa treatments guarantee that one will be able to select his/her best method of rejuvenation.

Besides the spa services, the airport also has showers for people to wash themselves before their next flight. It is particularly useful for business and other travelers who have to do several hours of flying and would wish to feel refreshed afterward. With spa treatments and showers available, you can stay pampered and fresh during your layover, transforming the stopover into a health booster and relaxation session.

#10. Lounges

For those who want a more relaxed and premium setting, there are several lounges at Istanbul Airport, each providing the following services: any additional standard for the enhanced stopover. Amenities that one can find when visiting the flight lounge, are the comfortable seats, fast internet connection, delicious meals, and even individual soundproof bedrooms, An example is the Istanbul Airport Lounge. Such lounges may provide facilities such as business stations, shower facilities, and entertainment gadgets, making sure that all a customer requires is provided before boarding a flight.

People can get access to these lounges through their flights’ business and first-class ticketing; however, economy-class ticket holders can also pay and get entry. at the Istanbul airport lounge. While there are exceptions, a visit to the airport lounge during a layover can greatly enhance your layover experience due to the excellent facilities provided in those lounges.

#11. Airport Hotel

In case you have a long layover and need a place to take a break, the YOTEL Istanbul Airport provides comfortable cabins within the Terminal area. The hotel provides contemporary and cozy rooms which may be rented for a few hours or till morning. Every room has a comfortable bed, ensuite facilities, and other amenities such as Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and air conditioning, which is ideal if you have a long layover.

This helps in avoiding the hustle of commuting to an off-site hotel, making sure you get optimum sleep time. Dining facilities, fitness center, and meeting rooms are the other facilities available at YOTEL so that your every need is well catered while on your stay. Whether you want to get some rest, grab a bite to eat, or do a bit of work, the YOTEL is perfect for your layover convenience and comfort.

Exploring Istanbul City During a Long Layover

If there are more than 10 hours between your flights in the airport, it will be recommended that you step out of the airport and tour around Istanbul.

Layover Tour You Should See in Istanbul

#1. Sultanahmet Layover Tour

For revolving around Istanbul like a time machine and tasting its historical spirit, there is no better place than Sultanahmet. Must-see attractions include:

  • Hagia Sophia Museum: It is a church and mosque whose stunning uniqueness is seen in this architectural design.
  • Blue Mosque: Another beautifully designed architectural gem, best known for the blue hues of the tiles.
  • Basilica Cistern: An old well with a tall marble column based just below the ground.
  • Grand Bazaar: This is our online shopping paradise, which hails from a very ancient market and houses millions of stores, though, they might be a little pricey at times.
  • Spice Market: A smaller market with more affordable prices.
  • Topkapi Palace: A former palace of the Ottoman sultans is also present and now hosts a museum.

#2. Taksim Square Layover Tour

Taksim is now the social and commercial center of Istanbul, but it is also a tourist attraction, which you should see the Taksim before you leave Istanbul. Must attraction points at Taksim Square include:

  • Taksim Square: An active and engaging space located in the cultural center of Istanbul. This lively part of the city is teeming with life all the time, with people watching shows and concerts or shopping and eating. It remains one of the best places to visit by either locals or tourists since there is always something to do there.
  • Dolmabahce Palace: A beautiful and grand palace that can be found only a few minutes walk from Taksim Square. This beautiful structure is world-renowned because of its architecture and the historical significance of the place.
  • Istiklal Street: A main shopping road with many stores, coffee shops, and eating places that are full of life and activity. It is the exact location for taking a walk, shopping for peculiar souvenirs, trying various types of food, and feeling the spirit of the city.
  • Galata Tower: Towering over the beautiful city skyline, the Galata Tower provides magnificent panoramic views and breathtaking heights at the top. Whether starting up the old stone staircase or taking the lift, one just knows that there is a wonderful view all set at the summit.

#3. Istanbul Ferry Layover Tour

One way to relax and take a leisurely view of the city is through ferry tours. at the Istanbul ferry tour layover, you will see theBosphorus and the Golden Horn. Here you will meet the two parts of Istanbul, Europe and Asia, while guides will explain interesting things to you as you sail. Some ferries even have a restaurant where you can order food so you do not have to worry about cooking or rushing your meal. It is a relatively fun activity for visiting Istanbul and having a small boat experience.

#4. Free Istanbul Layover Tours by Turkish Airlines

If you are a passenger flying with Turkish Airlines, and if you have a connecting flight with a long layover in Istanbul, then you might be able to participate in a free city tour. These tours also include guides, tickets ready and prepared for you, and even transportation means to and from the airport. This is the best chance to get the opportunity to go sightseeing with the experience of arranging nothing in Istanbul.

#5. Relax and Unwind at Istanbul

Relax and Sit Back: Comfortable lounges and seating areas are available throughout the airport.

Explore the Airport: Discover the variety of restaurants, shops, and lounges.

  • Shopping: The airport offers a wide range of shopping options, including duty-free stores and international brands.
  • Visit the Istanbul Airport Museum: The museum showcases beautiful modern and traditional art and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Eat and Drink: Choose from a wide range of dining options, from fast food to sit-down restaurants and bars.
  • Work: The airport has several business centers and quiet areas for working.
  • Take a Helicopter Tour: Enjoy a panoramic tour of Istanbul from the air.

#6. Discover Istanbul with Private, Customizable Segway Tours

Ride around the city using on-city Segway tours in Istanbul, offered by the only licensed Segway tour company in Istanbul. Our fully private, bespoke, and escorted Tours are Segway adventures through the Old City of Istanbul.

Explore Istanbul's architecture and historical and cultural attractions, such as Sultanahmet, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Covered Bazaar, Square Hippodrome, Bozdoğan Aqueduct, Hagia Sophia, and much more with segway.

Benefit from a knowledgeable guide and explore the fascinating history of Istanbul. Take an entertaining guided tour, and for the Segway tour, you can either go for one of our set tours or we can arrange a special Segway tour for you in this interesting and lively city. Our main goal is to professionally make you fall in love with Istanbul like you have never done before.

Transfer from or to Istanbul Airport

If you plan to go out of Istanbul Airport to the city center or return to the airport after transferring to the city during your layover, it is useful to understand your choices and make the right decision.

Additional Amenities at Istanbul Airport

Use Luggage Storage at Istanbul Airport During Your Layover Time

luggage lockers are easily accessible and situated near Gates 1 and 6 on the departure level. These lockers are available in three sizes and can be used anytime any day. Just swipe with cash or card and after that, you will get a code your belongings are secure without any worries and you can take back your luggage with your code. Some tips on preparing for storage include packing lightly, ensuring that your bags and boxes are clearly labeled, taking pictures of them, moving your valuable items with you, and overseeing your belongings. Following these tips and the various facilities found at Istanbul Airport, your trip through Turkey will be a breeze.