Getting stranded at the airport can be a very unpleasant experience, especially for English-speaking travelers in Turkey. Notwithstanding your preference for road or rail travels, every traveller at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport (ISL), which is about 50 kilometres or approximately 31 miles to the city centre—Sultanahmet (Istanbul’s old city)—have some efficient and reliable means of transportation to choose from.
The distance between ISL Airport and Sultanahmet takes between 50 – 60 minutes, and ease of movement around Turkey or locations around Sultanahmet can be achieved through one of Europe’s best public transportation systems or Airport Shuttle Service companies such as Havaist.
The Atatürk International Airport no longer offers commercial flight services to both local and international airliners—since 7 April 2019—and this indicates that the new Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (ISL) are saddled with the challenge of providing the best travel experience to all guests through time-saving, convenient and comfortable transport systems. You will certainly need to choose between available transportation systems unless you have a free or paid airport pickup. This article provides an overview of the Havaist Airport Shuttle and public transportation system, including other important information you might find useful for a memorable experience in Turkey.
Public and Private Transport Services
Information from Turkey Airport confirms that Havaist is one of your best public transportation options to and from Istanbul Airport no matter your location within the Muslim-majority country. Passengers are guaranteed best services from over 150 shuttle buses, 65 bus stations and on 20 different lines.
Movements from IST and ISL to locations within the metropolis are non-stop but at intervals between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Havaist Shuttle Bus offers a 2-way service every hour. Buses leave the company’s departure points every 15 minutes to cater for passengers’ need for punctuality and free movement.
Payment for both public and private shuttle service is made at the bus stops. Transport fare from IST to Sultanahmet is between 25 – 30 Turkish Liras (LP). Travellers who don’t have the currency may use services from Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) for cash withdrawals around the airport. Large denominations of Lira, credit cards or foreign currency are unacceptable. Notes less than 50 Liras are easier to use.
From ISL Airport to Istanbul
A new airport transport bus service system was established for the general public on 29 October, 2018. Since then, previous delays in movements to and from the airport reduced significantly—thanks to a new contractual agreement between Havaist, IETT and the Turkish government. The bus transportation service contract will last between 2018 and 2028. Though both companies are owned and managed by Otobüs AŞ, IETT serves passengers traveling on Mahmutbey, Halkalı, Mecidiyeköy and Atatürk Airport on H2, H3 and H4 lines whereas Havaist operates from IST1, IST2, IST3, IST7, IST19 shuttle lines.
- Make sure that details of your hotel address and phone number are accessible. There are lots of hotels rendering 3 to 5-star hospitality services in Istanbul. The number is so high that residents may not remember them by name. With this information on piece of paper or any visual storage medium, it is easier to get help from people—even if the hotel receptionist doesn’t speak English language.
- Some hotels offer airport pickup services at little or no cost. Make timely inquiries and adequate preparations before heading to Turkey.
- Avoid taking taxis from IST and ISL unless you have enough cash to spare and time to waste. Havaist Shuttle Service operates through special lines that save time. For instance, moving from Sabiha Gökçen airport to Sultanahmet by taxi takes over sixty minutes at a cost valued over 120 Turkish Liras.
- Depending on your destination, you may need a combination of public transportation and Havaist Shuttle Service.
- If you’re going to Taskim between 4am and 1pm, Havaist provides daily services through the shortest distance. The company’s main park is in Gezi Park metro, a location near Taskim Square, which serves as drop-off and pick-up points. Time is not more than 50 minutes and this can be less if there is no gridlock. A taxi ride is more expensive and can last up to ninety minutes.
- You have two options to reaching Sultanahmet: either by using a taxi to Taskim Square and hopping on the airport shuttle though the journey may require short-distance drives by tram or taxi again.
Tips on moving from ISL Airport to locations around Sultanahmet
The time-saving and cost-effective trip from ISL to Sultanahmet should start with a Havaist shuttle service which drops you off in Kadıköy anytime between 4am and 1pm for less than 15 Turkish Lira (TL). This journey lasts about one hour.
Next, stroll down to Şehir Hatları dock to board a ferry heading to Eminönü at less than 5 TL. For approximately 15 minutes, this means of transportation presents travellers with nice views for photographs and lasting memories.
If your hotel is located somewhere in Eminönü, it could be a stone throw away from the dock. Otherwise, less than five minutes taxi ride will transfer you from the dock to the next available T1 Kabataş/Eminönü-Bağcılar tram which drops you off in other Suitanahmet locations.
An experience with Public and Private Shuttle Services
Compared to using a taxi and public airport shuttle in Istanbul, I discovered during my recent trip that Havaist is a smart alternative because the private shuttle company owns a fleet of air-conditioned buses with more comfortable and spacious seats, professional drivers, and minimal risk of accidents. In addition, prices are fixed and service includes a stop right in front of your hotel.
There are provisions for passengers traveling in pairs or groups and with luggage, especially those with young children. Child seats are also provided on request. These are some of the numerous benefits you get for booking shuttle services at Havaist since recent advancements in technology and ICT enhanced public transport management in Istanbul and other countries.
Nonetheless, public transportation services (such as ferries and trams) provide a great option for time-conscious passengers because the roads are usually gridlocked between 7am to 10am and after 4pm every day. Additionally, your safety is guaranteed because security personnel are always on ground at all stations. The availability of elevators and escalators makes public transport comfortable for pregnant women and people with children or the elderly.
One of the disadvantages is that you will be required to walk some distance.
However, your health condition and available time are factors to be considered before making final decisions on private or public means of transportation.