Flights to Istanbul Atatürk International Airport Suggested Itineraries

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Several airlines operate direct flights from the UK to Istanbul . Scheduled carriers include: British Airways, THY (Turkish Airlines), Lufthansa, Swissair, KLM and Alitalia. The flight time from London to Istanbul is approximately four hours. During the summer months a number of companies run charter flights to Istanbul, which makes it the best time to look for bargains.

Atatürk International Airport is the country's main aviation hub and has recently benefited from a multi million pound makeover (leaving its elderly neighbour to handle domestic traffic). As Istanbul continues to sprawl her principal airport is in danger of being swallowed up by the suburbs, despite the fact that it's 23 km west of the city centre. However, getting into town is a relatively stress free experience as long as you avoid the peak times.

Once your flight has touched down in Istanbul you'll be shepherded into a gleaming new arrivals lounge where you'll immediately be swamped by taxi drivers. Cab rides into Sultanahmet should take about 30 minutes (depending on the time of day) but you must make sure that the meter is running, otherwise you'll be hit with an inflated bill. Expect to pay between £6 10 for the trip to Sultanahmet and an additional couple of pounds to go to Taksim. If you're on a tight budget it's worth splitting the fare with other travelers.

Alternatively you can hop on one of the Havas shuttle buses which operate between Aksaray, Taksim and the airport (buses leave every 30 minutes and cost approximately £1.50). There are also a couple of municipal buses, but they are generally more trouble then they are worth. The final option (and probably the quickest during the rush hour) is to catch a cab to the nearby metro station at Zeytinburnu and continue your journey on the Tramway.

In 2001 Istanbul opened a second airport on the opposite side of the Bosporus named Sabiha Gokçen International Airport (after a female fighter pilot). The 'international' bit is slightly over egging the pudding as the airport is still in its fledgling stage and the chances are that your flight will land on the European side.