Transit at Istanbul International Airport

Transit at Istanbul International Airport

Istanbul International Airport, located in the vibrant city of Istanbul, is a major global transportation hub connecting continents and cultures. With its state-of-the-art facilities and expansive terminal, it offers a seamless transit experience for travelers. Whether you're on a short layover or a long connecting flight, Istanbul International Airport provides a range of amenities and services to ensure your journey is comfortable and convenient.

Can I Exit Istanbul International Airport During Transit?

Transit passengers at Istanbul Airport cannot exit without a valid visa for Turkey. They are required to remain in the airport's transit lounge, as leaving the premises is only allowed with the appropriate visa documentation.

Visa Requirements for Transit in Turkey

To exit the international transit area of Istanbul Airport, two visa options are available: the Turkey e Visa and the Transit visa. Both visas allow transit passengers to enter Turkey temporarily, with the Turkey e Visa being obtained online and the Transit visa at the airport.

Transit with a Türkiye e-Visa

For transit passengers at Istanbul Airport, the Turkish eVisa is the recommended choice. It offers convenience as you can apply online and typically receive the approved visa via email within 24 hours. If urgency is a concern, a priority service guarantees processing within 1 hour. Eligibility is based on your country of origin.

Transit Visas at the Turkey Embassy

If you are ineligible for Turkey's e-Visa, you can obtain a transit visa for Turkey through the nearest Turkish Representation. Single and double transit visas are available for those who need to transit through Turkey.

Is There Sufficient Time to Explore Istanbul Between Flights?

When deciding whether to stay in the transit area without a visa or apply for a visa and visit Istanbul, here are some essential points to keep in mind:

Airport Logistics

  1. Time for Airport Controls: Allocate 1 to 1.5 hours to navigate through the airport controls. Istanbul Airport is vast, and there are long walking distances between different areas.
  2. Distance to City Center: The airport is located approximately 50 km away from the city center. Traveling by bus or taxi takes around 50 to 100 minutes to reach your destination.


Based on the provided information, here are the recommendations for international transfers at Istanbul Airport:

  1. Up to 10-hour Connection: If your layover is within 10 hours, it is advisable to stay at the airport. This allows you to relax, explore the airport facilities, and ensure a stress-free onward journey.
  2. Over 10-hour Connection: If your layover exceeds 10 hours, it is recommended to leave the airport and visit Istanbul. This extended timeframe allows you to experience some of the city's highlights, immerse yourself in the local culture, and make the most of your transit time.

Remember to consider visa requirements and apply accordingly before making any decisions.

International Transit Procedures at Istanbul International Airport

The procedures for international transit at Istanbul Airport depend on whether your flights are booked on a single ticket or separate tickets.

If your flights are on a single ticket, you can disembark the aircraft with your cabin baggage and proceed directly to the boarding gate. If you haven't received a boarding pass, you will need to complete check-in at the transfer desk.

For flight routes booked on separate tickets, you must retrieve your baggage from the international arrival hall and then check it in again for your next flight.

To ensure a smooth transfer in Istanbul, it is important to review the rules and restrictions set by your airline(s).

Transit Restrictions and Guidelines at Istanbul Airport

Passengers transiting through Istanbul Airport do not have any additional health requirements. However, it is essential to review the COVID-19 requirements of your final destination, as some countries may mandate a pre-departure test.

Istanbul Airport provides COVID-19 testing facilities. If you require a test for your destination, please ensure to gather information about the testing center beforehand, prior to your travel.

Transit Facilities Available at Istanbul International Airport

Transit Facilities Available at Istanbul International Airport

Istanbul International Airport offers a range of amenities for transit passengers. If you are staying within the transit area during your connecting flights, you can enjoy various services such as:

  • A dedicated TV watching area
  • Terrace and smoking area
  • Museum and exhibitions
  • Children's play areas
  • Youth Lounge

Sleeping Options at Istanbul International Airport

If you have an overnight stay at Istanbul International Airport and prefer not to stay in the hotel, you have the option to apply for a Turkish e-Visa or transit visa and spend the night outside the airport. There are several hotels located just a few kilometers away from the airport.

Alternatively, if you prefer to stay within the airport premises, there is a hotel available where you can book a cabin for as little as 4 hours. This option is ideal for passengers with a long transit time who need a comfortable place to rest.

Moreover, the airport also offers a free-to-use nap zone and pay-to-use sleep pods where you can take a rest between flights, providing a convenient and comfortable option for travelers seeking some relaxation during their layovers.

Safety Measures at Istanbul Airport

For those spending extended periods or sleeping at Istanbul Airport, safety can be a concern. However, Istanbul Airport maintains a high level of safety and security. Private security personnel and police officers are present 24/7 to ensure the well-being of passengers.

As one of the largest airports globally, Istanbul Airport handles a substantial volume of passengers daily, with the majority passing through without incidents. Nevertheless, it is advisable to remain vigilant during your time at the airport.

To ensure the security of your belongings, it is essential to keep your luggage with you at all times. If you prefer not to carry them around, luggage lockers are available for storage during transit. If you notice any suspicious activity or items, promptly report it to airport security for further assistance.

Transportation Options to Explore Istanbul During Transit

If you plan to apply for a visa and visit Istanbul during your layover, here are the transportation options available:

  1. Bus: Public 'H' class buses operate daily between 6 am and 1 am, connecting the airport to various districts in Istanbul.
  2. Rental Car: Car rental companies can be found in the arrivals hall of Istanbul airport, providing the option to explore the city at your own convenience.
  3. Taxi: Taxis are readily available at all times outside Istanbul airport, offering a convenient way to travel to and from the city.
  4. Metro: Currently, the metro is not operational at Istanbul airport, but it is expected to open soon. Keep an eye out for updates on its availability.

Remember to factor in sufficient travel time to ensure you can comfortably return to the airport for your connecting flight.


Apply for Turkey visa:

  • Online Application: Fill out the visa application with your passport details.

  • Payment: Use a credit card to make an online payment.

  • Email Confirmation: After payment confirmation, your visa will be emailed to you.

Get Visa to Turkey

Recent News

Show More

Other Info

Show More
Apply for Turkey eVisa