Istanbul Airport review (IST)

I have been transferring through Istanbul Airport (IST) many times. My first visit to Istanbul New Airport was at the beginning of June 2019. I spend seven hours at the airport with my toddler and husband.

So, here you go ISTANBUL AIRPORT REVIEW (IST) from the eyes of transferring passenger.

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When I visit home from Hurghada, I usually transfer through Istanbul Airport. It is a hub for thousands of flights and passengers travelling around the world. You can basically fly from Istanbul new airport anywhere you want.

Istanbul new airport is one of the biggest airports in the world. When it’s fully completed, it has a capacity of 200 million passengers. At the moment it has the capacity to handle only 90 million passengers. Can you imagine 200 million people! It’s 547 945 people daily!

#istanbulairport #istanbulhavalimain #turkishairlines #IST #lifebeyondex

Istabul Airport
Istanbul new Airport is a massive airport, with capacity of 90 million passengers. Image: IGA

I transferred the first time through Istanbul new Airport at the beginning of June 2019.

Two months after opening the new airport and I was super excited to see the new Istanbul Airport. I had seven wonderful hours to explore everything in Istanbul’s new airport and find the answers to my questions:

How does Istanbul new Airport work? What about the architecture, interior design, usability and everything? Have they managed to solve the problems that Ataturk Airport had? How does it look like there? I wanted to see and feel everything.


Continue reading to find out everything about my layover at Istanbul new Airport:

What is Istanbul’s new airport like from the eyes of the transferring passenger?

In this blog, I  write about my experiences and thoughts about Istanbul new airport. I also try to answer all the questions I had before visiting the airport and more.

Welcome to Istanbul Airport!


  • General Information about Istanbul new Airport (IST)
  • My Expectations about Istanbul new Airport (IST)
  • Istanbul new Airport layout and design
  • Where to rest and sleep at the new Istanbul Airport (IST)
  • Restaurants at the Istanbul New Airport (IST)
  • Other facilities at Istanbul New Airport (IST)
  • Istanbul new airport pros & cons


Istanbul new Airport (IATA code: IST) was officially opened 29th of October 2018.

All the commercial flights were transferred to new Istanbul Airport from Ataturk Airport 6th of April 2019. Imagine, everything happened in 45 hours. And I can’t even finish a blog post in 45 hours!

Istanbul Airport (IATA code: IST) is called İstanbul Havalimanı in the Turkish language. It’s also a new home Airport for Turkish Airlines company. I like to fly with Turkish Airlines, though they should give more Miles & Smiles points for their frequent flyers, like me.

Istanbul new Airpor from above. Image: IGA
Istanbul new Airpor from above. Image: IGA

There are hundreds of other airline companies flying from Istanbul Airport. Istanbul new Airport provides flights for 350 destinations. 80% of the flights from Istanbul New Airport are operated by Turkish Airlines.

When the last phrase of the new Istanbul Airport will be fully completed, the airport can handle 150 million passengers per year (capacity for 200 million). The constructions are expected to be finished in 2027. EXPECTED. Let’s see, if it’s 2027 or what.



The new Airport is located away 50 kilometres away from Sultanahmed and 35 kilometres away from Taksim. It takes about an hour to get to the centre of Istanbul from the new Airport.

TAXI fare from the new Istanbul Airport to the city centre is about 200TL.

Check the price at the airport! And use metered taxis, if possible.

More information about the airport taxis from here.

There is also public transportation (IETT buses & HAVAIST shuttles) operating between Istanbul city and Istanbul new Airport. More information, schedules and prices: 



Metro connection between Istanbul and the Airport is supposed to be working in 2020.



I spend seven hours at Istanbul’s Airport at the beginning of June 2019. Two months after opening the new airport. I was super excited to see Istanbul new Airport.

How does the new Istanbul airport work? What about the architecture, interior design, usability and everything? Is it user-friendly? How does it look like? Have they managed to solve the problems that Ataturk Airport had? How does it look like there? I wanted to see and feel everything.

This time we had 7-hour layover at Istanbul Airport. For the first time, I was looking forward to stop-over, despite, I was travelling with my 1,5 years old daughter and a husband. The husband is easy to travel with (usually), but travelling with a baby is always a little bit challenging, thought our baby is an easy one.

Travelling 14 hours is hard for everyone, especially when it happens at night.

Where to sleep and eat? What to do? Is there anything to do with the kids at the airport?

Here is all the information about the new Istanbul Airport I have at the moment.



We landed at Istanbul’s new airport on Monday morning at 7.45 am. It was a good time to land, there were no big queues to security controls.

Off course, when you have lots of time to queue there are no lines, but when you are busy, the lines are long. This is how goes.

This happened to me last time when I transferred through Ataturk Airport. I had only 1 hour and 20 minutes time to transfer between the flights. And queues very long. Finally, I made it on time, mostly because I knew where I was heading at.

With this new Airport, I’d say, reserve at least two hours for transferring between the connection flights.

If you are unlucky, you may have to walk more than a lot. You are going to walk quite a lot anyway. Here are some pictures to clarify the size of the airport. It’s huge!

Here is a link for an interactive map to Istanbul’s new airport. 

The thing I hated at Ataturk Airport most was walking. For example, last time, when I was transferring there, I had a baby, buggy, carry bag, bags and SMALL SHOES (my shoes were killing me.). 

You can only imagine how sweaty and annoyed I was after walking from the other side of the airport to departure gate.

Connection flight is always on the other side of the airport, isn’t it? Why? 

But what about Istanbul new Airport? Is it more user-friendly from this point of view?

Unfortunately not. The layout of the new Istanbul Airport is not very user-friendly either.

There is one huge terminal working at the moment (the other should be ready in 2025) and the transportation between the piers (there are seven of them) has to be done by feet.

No train nor flying cars, pure walking or running (depend on how late you are).

Luckily, there is a paid buggy transportation available in Istanbul New Airport. More information: If you have a tight schedule or you have health problems or disabilities, pre-order the buggy. It’s not that expensive 5,00€+tax (5,90€) adult and 2,5€+tax (2,95€) for child age 7-12 years. Children under 7 go for free.

You can order a transportation inside Istanbul Airport
Buggy is ready to transfer the passenger at the airport.

Thought Istanbul New Airport is huge, at least in the new Istanbul Airport you get to walk in a nice environment. The new airport is modern and beautiful. I loved the ceilings and plants.

BUT the airport looks like it has been designed five years ago, and it probably has.

In my opinion, when designing a huge building like this, the design should look more into the future. Obviously, the design has also to stand the test of time. There won’t be a new airport anytime soon. But still, it could have been so much more.

Where were all the technology and wow-effects? Everything I saw at Istanbul new airport has been seen five years ago. I wish design would have been more unique and special.

A woman walking in Istanbul Airport
Women walking in Istanbul Airport shopping area.

It could have been so much more. First of all, user-oriented design and architecture. User experience, the design is more than just aesthetics. Service design, User-centered design, Interior design and Architecture they all go hand in hand.

User experience is what should have been looked closer in the design of Istanbul new Airport.

As an example lack of airport maps. I didn’t see any information board or an airport map at the airport. I had to google the map at the airport.

I kept looking and looking, but I didn’t see any. Maybe they are installed later?

I read that the app is available now. An app? Excellent idea, but I wouldn’t count on that.


Especially, when many people have been complaining about the WI-FI not working properly. For me WI-FI it worked well, I managed to log in with SMS-code they send to my phone.

I thought the WI-FI at Istanbul new Airport is free for one hour, but I managed to get the code for at least four times. After an hour, I just ordered a new code and went back online. I don’t know if there was a bug or something, but I’m happy I could use the internet, basically as much as I needed. 

Guiding at Istanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport guiding is good and easy to follow.

Another thing I was really happy about, was the info desks and guides, who replaced the lack of the maps excellent. At the Airport guides serve you in English and Turkish languages.

Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of the things in the design I liked.

Read more about them further.



We left home at night and spend the night on board. All of us were very tired, but luckily our daughter slept on board for about three hours. First flight was easy for us.

For us, the easiest thing would probably have been booking a room from the airport hotel (YOTELair). There are new airport hotels both landside and airside in Istanbul new airport. More info about Istanbul airport hotels, click here to Yotels’ site (opens to the new tab).

But, first of all, we are not that rich. Airport hotels are quite expensive, and I don’t want to spend over 150 €/night for staying at the hotel for less than five hours.

You can also book a room hourly. Prices start from 70€/4 hours. Contact Yotelair (airside) for more details.

It takes time to get to the hotel, plus you need to eat and leave the room early enough to catch the flight and find the right gate. If I was alone with a baby, I probably would consider an airport hotel as an option, but now there were two of us to make everything easier.


Instead of booking the hotel, we decided to find a place to sleep from the airport. Obviously, the most important things were to find a sleeping place for our daughter.

There were some benches near the gates and around the airport. Like Ataturk Airport, there were people sitting on the floors. It wasn’t even the busiest time of the day.

I wish they had seated the new airport better than the old one.

After exploring Istanbul airport for a while, we found an area with multi-functional furniture. The area is designed for hanging out, sleeping, resting, working, and so on. Pictures below. I loved it.

We took two chairs for ourselves and placed our daughter on the sofa to sleep. She had a good nap, though the airport is not the most silent and darkest place to sleep.

While our daughter was sleeping on the couch, we had refreshing coffees from Starbucks and loaded the batteries for the rest of the travel.

There were also REST ZONES, where you can sleep in the lounge chair, that’s awesome.

If I was alone, I’d be there for sure! But for the family, it’s not ideal. Firstly, there were no room and second I’d rather not to wake up everyone, by taking a baby to the rest zone. Family rooms, for the next big airport, please!

Here are a few pictures of the rest zone, excellent idea, right?


Compared to Ataturk Airport, I found there were fewer restaurants and coffee shops at Istanbul new Airport.

Maybe all of the restaurants aren’t opened yet, and there will be more choices in the future (I hope.).

For example, I remember Ataturk had some healthier food options and lots of restaurants, which I didn’t find from the new Airport. Or maybe I wasn’t looking close enough.

I saw some restaurants in the terminal, but to be honest they looked very expensive and too fancy to go with the baby. So, in the end, we decided to go to eat in the restaurant deck upstairs.

You may probably remember “big”, noisy and chaotic restaurant area in Ataturk Airport (I don’t miss it.). The area where Burger King, Popeyes, Sbarro and some other fast-food restaurants were located. It was horrible.

Well, I have news for you (you decide if it’s good or bad) there is a similar area at the new Istanbul Airport. The view is nicer (obviously), but the area and restaurants are the same (Pictures below).

What comes to the food, not all the kids and families eat fast food. I tried to find something healthier or at least normal food to eat. I ended up having wedged potatoes and spaghetti with tomato sauce from Scbarros. This was the best food I found from there.

Luckily, I had packed extra clothes and some other food for the baby. Pasta and tomato sauce wasn’t the best idea. Next time we go downstairs for steaks. Or probably not.

Have you found good restaurants with decent prices from Istanbul New Airport?

If yes, let me know, what and where. I head there next time.


There were ENOUGH TOILETS and most of them had toilet paper (still would recommend having your own with you).

PRAYING ROOMS: There are 44 praying rooms at the Airport (22 for women and 22 for men). There is also one room available for other religions.

TERRACE/SMOKING AREAS. There are 13 smoking areas at Istanbul new Airport. 10 on the international side and 3 on the domestic side. We did have some difficulties to find them, but the airport guides helped us to find them easily.

Smoking area at Istanbul New Airport
There were smoking roo at Istanbul Airport.

DUTY-FREE: As earlier in the text, I was complaining about not to use the latest technology in the airport design; I read that Duty-Free area has it! I wish so much to have visited in Duty-Free shops. But I didn’t, for sure I will next time. There is supposed to be A “magic mirror” that allows guests to preview accessories, make-up, sunglasses and so on. Without actually wearing them. WOW! More about the Duty-Free shopping at Istanbul New Airport, here.

WITH KIDS: There was supposed to be a playing area for kids, but it wasn’t ready yet.

Baby care rooms/breastfeeding rooms should also be available.

There are no buggies/strollers available, so take your own with you.


All in all, Istanbul new Airport is nicer than the old one (Ataturk). It’s huge and beautiful.

In one sentence: Lots of walking inside a beautiful building.

+ Istanbul new Airport is better than the old one

+ Sleeping zones

+ Playing area for the Kids

– Lots of walking

– Restaurants

More information about the Istanbul new Airport:

Istanbul Airport Official website.

Have you been to Istanbul New Airport? How did you like it?

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the post!


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