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Travel to Istanbul

Flying to Istanbul

Turkish Airlines is the national flag carrier airline of Turkey, serving 304 destinations in Turkey and around the world. Other airlines that fly to Istanbul include Emirates, Etihad, KLM, Lufthansa, among many others.

From London Heathrow to Istanbul: British Airways and Turkish Airlines, both fly to Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
From Gatwick to Istanbul: Pegasus to Istanbul Sabiha Airport and Turkish Airlines fly to Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
From Stansted Airport: Atlasglobal and Pegasus both fly to Istanbul Sabiha Airport.

Flight times

From London - 3 hours 40 minutes; New York - 9 hours 50 minutes; Los Angeles - 13 hours; Toronto - 10 hours; Sydney - 21 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Driving in Istanbul is not for the faint-hearted due to congestion and the way the locals drive may be different from what you are used to. Also, all toll stations on highways and bridges do not accept cash or credit card - payment must be made using an electronic payment device attached to the car.

Driving is on the right and speed limits are as follows:
• Urban: 50kph / 32mph
• Main road: 90kph / 56mph
• Highway: 120kph / 75mph

Drivers bringing cars into Turkey must show their registration documents, passport and international driving licence at the place of entry. If arriving from Europe, you must have a Green Card - a document produced by car insurers to prove that a driver has adequate insurance cover for driving abroad. You must carry a valid driving licence, passport, logbook, insurance certificate and vehicle registration at all times. The Turkish Touring and Automobile Association ( has reciprocal agreements with some international motoring associations.

Emergency breakdown services

Traffic Police (tel: 154).


There are many routes to Turkey from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Popular crossing points for Europeans are Kapıkule in Edirne (from Bulgaria) and İpsala, also in Edirne (from Greece).

The distance from Kapıkule to Istanbul is 259km (161 miles) via E80, while the distance from İpsala to Istanbul is 255km (158 miles) via E84.


On the European side, Büyük Istanbul Otogari (International Istanbul Bus Terminal) in Esenler, about 10km (6 miles) west of Istanbul, serves all international and most domestic lines. Upon arrival, you can get metro M1 to the city centre.

On the Anatolian (Asian) side, Harem is the hub for the buses. Upon arrival, you can take a ferry to the European side.

Some of the best coach companies in Istanbul include Kamil Koç ( and Ulusoy (; together they serve a wide range of destinations throughout Turkey, including Ankara, Antalya, Bodrum, Bursa, Çanakkale, Fethiye and Izmir.

Long journeys are usually made at night, leaving Istanbul after 2200 and arriving at the destination in the morning.

Time to city

From border crossing Kapıkule to Istanbul - 3 hours.
From Ankara to Istanbul - 5 hours.

Travel by Rail


The Bosphorus Express, also known as the Trans Balkan Express, is an international passenger train running between Istanbul, Turkey and Bucharest, Romania.


Turkish State Railways - TCDD ( operates the national railway network.

Journey times

From Bucharest (Romania) to Istanbul - 18 hours. 

Travel by boat

The Port of Istanbul for cruise liners is located in Karaköy, at the point where the Golden Horn flows into the Bosphorus. It has two piers: the Galata Pier and the Salıpazarı Pier.

Ferry operators

There are many passenger ferries taking locals and visitors to nearby islands and Marmara's southern shore.


Once your cruise ship docks at Karaköy Yolcu Salonu passenger terminal (at Beyoglu's southern tip), walk along the boardwalk until you reach the Galata Bridge, and cross it, and you will be in the city centre, close to major tourist attractions.

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Featured Hotels


Grand Hotel de Londres (Buyuk Londra Hotel)

With a history dating back to the heydays of the Orient Express, this establishment has seen many writers (Hemingway being one of them), artists and actors step through its doors. Though the hotel has had many rounds of renovations over the years, the 1900s atmosphere is still very much palpable and underlined by the dark wooden interior and velvet drapes. It's also within walking distance to Taksim square, and near to many theatres and restaurants.

Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Right on the Bosphorus Strait's shoreline and partly housed in a former Ottoman palace, the Kempinski boasts some of the most opulent rooms in Istanbul. The waterfront pool terrace offers unparalleled Bosphorus views while the bar, restaurants and spa offer plenty of opportunity to swaddle yourself in luxury.

Side Hotel and Pension

In prime position, slap in the middle of Sultanahmet's historical quarter, this family-run hotel has long been a budget traveller institution. The simple rooms are spick-and-span and decently sized and the roof top terrace (where breakfast is served) has excellent views over the old city’s domes and minaret punctured skyline.

Sarı Konak

This family-run boutique hotel offers an old-world atmosphere trussed up with modern conveniences in an Ottoman-era mansion. The smallish rooms have polished wood floors and are classically styled while the rooftop cafe has views of both the Blue Mosque and the Sea of Marmara.

Ibrahim Pasha Hotel

Sleek design and ultra-friendly service make the Ibrahim Pasha stand out in the crowded Istanbul accommodation market. Little extras such as complimentary fruit in rooms and Molton Brown toiletries in bathrooms add a luxurious feel while staff go out of their way to help guests, creating a home-from-home vibe.

Hotel Empress Zoe

Quirky folk art touches, Central Asian textiles as bedspreads and the odd antique give the Empress Zoe’s rooms plenty of quirky appeal. Set within a row of Ottoman era mansions, with a lush garden and a rooftop terrace with views over Sultanahmet’s Byzantine period walls, this hotel brims with character.