Gökçen Airport and
the center of Istanbul (map) is
transfer van, city
bus and Metro, Havataş
Airport Bus, taxi,
shuttle van, and car
The journey by road between Old
Sabiha Gökçen Airport can take as little as 40
minutes under the best conditions (06:00
am on a weekend morning, for example),
but at other times you must allow 60
to 90 minutes, and perhaps two hours or more.
By 2018, the Istanbul Metro should be running all the way from Kadıköy, on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, to Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
By the way, there's a good hotel right next to the airport terminal at Sabiha Gökçen. More...
private transfer service operated
Travel is an exceptional value: not
much more than a taxi, but far more comfort,
convenience and security—and no hassles
over the fare. More...
Havataş airport buses shuttle between Sabiha
Gökçen Airport and the Kadıköy ferry dock every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour (for example, at 04:00, 04:30, 05:00 am, etc.) The first bus departs at 04:00 am, the last bus at 01:00 am. (Thus, no buses between 01:30 and 03:30 am). One-way fare is TL8. More...
The Kadıköy ferry dock has a Metro station, and is served by TurYol, Şehir Hatları, and Dentur Avrasya ferryboats from Eminönü and Karaköy (for Sirkeci and the T1 Bağcılar-Kabataş tram).
The Kadıköy ferry dock also has a major city bus station for buses along the Asian Bosphorus shore to the Harem Otogar (intercity bus station), and Üsküdar.
Other Havataş buses go to Taksim
Square in Beyoğlu on
the European shore every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from 03:30 am until 01:00 am. The journey can take as little as 90 minutes, or much longer, depending on traffic. The one-way fare is TL12.
From Taksim Square you can take other Havataş buses or the Metro to the Yenikapı fast ferry terminal or to Atatürk Airport.
A cheaper, but slower and less comfortable, alternative is to use public transit: the E-10 and E-11 city buses will take you from the airport to the ferry docks in Kadıköy in under an hour for only a few liras (buy your tickets from the IETT bus booth near the buses). Note that these buses are often uncomfortably crowded with passengers, their luggage, and locals.
The Kadıköy ferry dock has a Metro station, and is served by TurYol, Şehir Hatları, and Dentur Avrasya ferryboats from Eminönü and Karaköy (for Sirkeci and the T1 Bağcılar-Kabataş tram). Buy a jeton (token), or use an Istanbulkart at the fare booths.
If you're arriving for the first time in Istanbul, I highly recommend the ferry voyage: it's the perfect first glimpse and introduction to the city (map).
An alternative is to take the E-10 bus to the Kartal station on the M4 Metro line, then the Metro either to the Kadıköy ferry dock (terminal station) for the ferryboat to Eminönü, or to the Ayrılık Çeşmesi station to transfer to the Marmaray. Take the Marmaray to the Sirkeci station on the European shore of the Bosphorus, then the T1 Bağcılar-Kabataş tram to the stop nearest to your hotel. Here are maps of the system.
But then you don't get to see Istanbul from the sea....
The daytime fare may be about TL100
to Sirkeci or Sultanahmet, TL120
to the Büyük
Otogar (main bus
terminal). Istanbul taxis are not my favorite means of transport. Read this...
Several travel agencies have organized
to provide minibus transport from
Sultanahmet to Sabiha
Airport. Contact your Sultanahmet
hotel for information. The vans
depart several times daily and are
far cheaper than a taxi. (Shuttle
vans are not convenient for going
from the airport.)
High-speed trains zoom between Istanbul, Eskişehir, Ankara and Konya. The Istanbul terminus is near the seashore in Pendik, a few kilometers south of Sabiha Gökçen Airport. You can go there by city bus. More...
From Old Istanbul to
Sabiha Gökçen Airport
Going from Old Istanbul (Sultanahmet, Sirkeci, etc.) to Sabiha Gökçen Airport to catch a flight, you should prefer either the airport
private transfer service (because they know how to predict the traffic flow and time required for the trip), or the Marmaray, Metro and Havataş airport bus.
Start your trip to the airport a minimum 3 hours before your flight departure time; 3-1/2 is better, 4 is secure.
Take the Marmaray from Yenikapı or Sirkeci to Ayrılık Çeşmesi, then the M4 Metro line to Kadıköy, where you board the Havataş airport bus to the airport.
For a last Bosphorus ferry cruise goodbye to the city, and allowing even more time, instead of the Marmaray you could take a ferryboat from Eminönü to Kadıköy, then the Havataş bus to the airport.
Here are instructions
for going to Atatürk Airport on
the European shore.
info for transport from Atatürk Airport
to Istanbul's city center.
—by Tom Brosnahan