Cheap Flights to Istanbul
- Area Metro : 5,343 km² (2,063 sq mi)
- Calling Code : European side 212 / Asian side 216
- Currency : Turkish Lira (TL)
- Population Metro (2015) : 14,657,434
- Official Language : Turkish
- Time Zone : EET (UTC+2) Summer EEST (UTC+3)
- Airports : Atatürk Int. Airport & Sabiha Gökçen Airport
Having found a great deal on your cheap flight to Istanbul, Turkey you will have the pleasure of gazing over the ancient ruins through your window and lush pieces of paradise, you’re feeling good before your mystical holiday in Turkey has even begun!
Multiple airliners land at Atatürk Int. Airport some of which comprise:
- British Airways
- TAP Portugal
- Air France
Airline carriers gracing the runways of Sabiha Gökçen Airport include the following and more:
- Fly Baghdad
Five Reasons to Visit Istanbul
- Istanbul, one of Europe’s largest cities and Turkeys most populous, straddles the Bosphorus strait between the Black and Marmara seas. It’s the country’s cultural, historic and economic heart and historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium. A city of wonder, it’s a delight for historians with a blend of remnants from the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman empires that once ruled it, imparting a plethora of magnificent ancient sights for tourists to savour including several enormous beautiful scenic parks. The Golden Horn, a freshwater estuary, separates old and new with the Galata Bridge at its mouth linking Eminönü and Sirkeci in Old Istanbul, the Atatürk Bridge to the west and further west, the Haliç Köprüsü (an expressway bridge). Wonderful vistas of historic Istanbul can be had from new M2 Metro bridge.
- Visitors have excellent choices for accommodation to suit their pockets. The city has more than a 1000 hotels comprising best value, budget, mid-range and luxury with brands like Holiday Inn, Hilton, Best Western and more. For absolute opulence, stay in the Ottoman Çırağan Palace, located on the shores of the Bosphorus, now part of the Kempinski Hotel group. There are hundreds of B&Bs, Inns, Speciality Lodgings, Holiday Rentals including a great range of backpacker/hostel establishments.
Places to Visit Istanbul
- Istanbul Archaeology Museums, a group of three, situated in Eminönü showcase splendid archaeological and artistic Topkapi treasures and ancient artefacts. The Museum of the Ancient Orient built in 1883, displays a collection of pre-Islamic items collected from the massive Ottoman Empire. The Archaeology Museum features the sarcophagi from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon and others, all exceptionally impressive as well as an expansive exhibition that that documents Istanbuls history. The Tiled Pavilion, constructed by order of Mehmet the Conqueror in 1472, displays Ottoman, Anatolian and Seljuk ceramics and tiles dating back to the latter 12th century.
- The magnificent Sultan Ahmet Mosque built between 1603 and 1700 is a masterpiece from architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa with its six minarets and cascading domes. Being a working mosque, plan your visit to avoid disappointment.
- Resembling a fairy tale castle is Topkapi Palace, one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions. Built between 1466 and 1478 in Baroque style it was home to Ottoman sultans and harems for virtually 400 years. Located in its outer court is Hagia Irene, built on the initial site (in 324) of an Aphrodite temple and today serves as a museum.
- Şehzade Mosque opened in 1548 as a memorial to Süleiman the Magnificent’s son Mehmet, who died aged 22 from smallpox. On its eastern side are the burial places of Prince Mehmet, his sisters and brothers including two of Süleymans grand viziers.
- Situated in the areas of Galata/Karaköy is the Romanesque medieval stone Galata Tower, 63 metre high that opened in 1348. With its conical cap souring above all other structures, it’’s the most recognised landmark of the Golden Horn and affords visitors wonderful vistas of the port, bridges, ferries and all of Istanbul. A meal can be enjoyed in the restaurant at the top.
- A must for both adults and children is Istanbul Sea Life Aquarium, the largest in Europe, located in Bayrampaşa in the Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall. This next-generation aquarium guarantees an unforgettable experience of underwater discovery and entertainment comprising its rainforest, tropical sea zones, a jellyfish discovery section and a predator tank. The 90m long Marinescape Sea Tube is one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world that affords spectacular views of marine life.
- There are wonderful green spaces to find tranquillity like the historical urban Emirgan Park, located in Sarıyer on the European coast of the Bosphorus. The park has a colourful array of plants, a lake affords and wonderful views from the top. Yildiz Park in Beşiktaş was formally part of the imperial garden of Yildiz Palace. Its verdant with colourful flowers, filled with birds, old Ottoman houses, charming pathways, duck ponds and popular for picnickers. Gulhane Park in Eminönü is next to and within the grounds of Topkapi Palace. It provides wonderful wide walkways lined with tall trees and a variety of multi-coloured flowers, also popular for families and picnics.
- For an excellent dining experience, Meze by Lemon Tree dishes up some of the most delicious Turkish food in an intimate atmosphere while Karaköy Güllüoğlu has been satisfying patrons since 1947 with absolute mouth watering deserts.
- Great for student travellers is the Mimar Sinan Teras Cafe in a rickety building with panoramic views of the city from a spacious outdoor terrace. The best Turkish coffee will be had at Fazil Bey while Karabatak imports and fuses coffees from Vienna creating the most delicious coffees around. 360 is one of Istanbuls most well-known bars and for live music nothing beats Babylon or MiniMüzikHol with local and international musicians.
In spite of Istanbuls public transport network comprising buses, minibuses, ferries, catamarans, funiculars, trains, trams, trolley cars and subways you’ll still take more than one mode to reach your destination. The whole metropolitan transport system accepts jetons (tokens) or transit cards. Without a transit card, each time you change modes, you pay the individual fare again. Jetons must be inserted at every transfer point but transit cards award discounts when transferring. Transit cards available are Akbil, the Besibiryerde and the Istanbulkart, all with a 10% discount that’s built in (off the full jeton fare). The Akbil is prepaid with free transfers within 45 minutes. It can be topped up and used by more than one traveller in a group. The Besibiryerde allows five rides but designed to replace it, is the new credit card size Istanbulkart. Both of these can be recharged at vending machines in all metro stations, main bus and tramway hubs and at ferry docks with Turkish lira and major credit cards.
The Metropolitan buses are economical, frequent and easy, provided you know your way around. Destinations are clearly displayed at bus stops including signs with lists detailing stops on route. Tickets are purchasable on buses or at main hubs and operate from around 06h00 to midnight. Always check with the driver that he’s going where you want to go and with passengers as to when to get off.
The Dolmus (meaning stuffed):
These yellow minivans run daily on set routes throughout the city from early morning to early evening. Departing from the terminus only when full (marked with a blue D) they drop off and pick up passengers along the way. Cheaper than taxis, their routes are often more direct than the buses, saving time. Main dolmus ranks are situated in Taksim, Sirkeci and Aksaray.
This historic street car runs daily from 07h00 to 23h00, stopping in Beyoglu at Nutru Sokak and Hüseyn Aga Camii. Payment can be made with cash or an Akbil.
There are plenty of taxis in the city but avoid those congregating around popular tourist spots and hailing them down. Rather have your hotel phone a taxi, giving you the benefit of a driver that operates aboveboard. If you need a taxi when out sightseeing, pop into the closest hotel and ask the receptionist to order one for you. Always check the meter is running and if travelling outside the city, discuss the list of set rates before leaving.
Hiring a vehicle is great if you don’t want to go anywhere. Driving in Istanbul is infuriating with congested traffic, deciphering road signs and finding non-existent parking. But if adamant, car hire companies at Atatürk International Airport are Avis, Hertz, Sixt, Budget and Alamo while at Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Hertz and Decar are situated in the international terminal with Avis in the domestic terminal.
The Metro is open from around 06h30 to midnight and connects to the airport with access at Yesilköy, just outside the airport
Ferries and Sea Buses:
There are standard ferries that comprise slow, passengers only and car. The fast ferries mostly serve southern Maramara sea ports while commuter ferries shuttle between Kadiköy and Besiktas, Kabatas, Haydarpasa and Eminönü.
The scenic ferry takes a pleasurable cruise up the Bosphorus, departing from Eminönü with a stop at Besiktas (near to the Dolmabahçe and Çiragan palaces) before continuing along the channel. This ferry departs every day around 10h35 and returns from its final stop at 15h00. Additional trips operate during specific times of the year.
Sea buses (passenger only catamarans) travel around 25 to 33mph with fast ones having speeds of up to 37mph.
Known as Tünel, this subway links Karaköy to the elevated district of Beyoglu. These trains operate from 07h00 to 21h00 Monday to Saturdays while Sundays they depart at 07h30. An additional funicular provides transport to the docks of Kabatas up a steep hill to Taksim.