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Traveling To Istanbul Just Got Easier As High-Speed Train Is Connected To Airports

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Just in time for the summer 2023 travel season, two new metro lines have opened in Istanbul — finally connecting the city's two airports with its mass public transportation system.

Gone are the days when travelers to and from Istanbul's two airports have to sit for hours in traffic on their way to the popular city center districts for tourists.

Istanbul city with train

Tourists tend to like Taksim, Sultanahmet, and Galata on the European side of the city. Kadikoy is popular with tourists on the Asian side of Istanbul.

The New M11 Kagithane-Istanbul Airport Line

Istanbul Airport (IST), one of the world's biggest airports and Europe's busiest airport in 2022, is now connected by a 34- kilometer (approx. 21 miles) fast train to the Kagithane station.

It's now Turkey's fastest metro! Trains speed towards the city center at up to 120 kilometers per hour.

The new M11 Kagithane-Istanbul Airport line has a daily capacity of carrying 800,000 passengers quickly to and from the airport, and will totally change the game for upcoming travelers.

Fatih Sultan brige in istanbul

Why You Should Use The High-Speed Metro Line

If you are thinking about opting for a 10-12 hour layover or making Istanbul a longer stop, choosing to take the new fast trains from the airport is smart. Most importantly, it saves you the hassle of sitting in the back of a taxi, bus, or private shuttle van.

Istanbul is consistently ranked at or near the top as one of the most congested cities in the world. In 2021, it had a congestion rate of 62%!

So this means Istanbul's population spends an average of 19 minutes longer in traffic for every 30-minute ride.

Why You Should Travel to Istanbul

Stradling Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a massive city of over 15 million people. Istanbul's historical importance means it is a bucket-list destination for millions of tourists every year.

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hagia sophia

UNESCO world heritage sites such as 6th century Hagia Sophia to the 15th century Topkapi Palace highlight the lasting influence on both Europe and Asia over the past 2,000 years.

In addition to its rich history and culture, Istanbul is a kind of heaven for shoppers. The Grand Bazaar, also located in Sultanahmet, is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. You can find jewelry, spices, textiles, and more.

When it comes to cuisine, the food in Turkey is renowned for its rich flavors and variety – from mouth-watering kebabs to yummy baklava.

It's safe to say Istanbul's food scene is a foodie's delight, with tasty dishes around every corner of the city.

New Metro Lines Conveniently Transport Visitors With Ease

people on train

Note you will still have to transfer lines to get to the tourist districts of the city, like Taksim or Sultanahmet.

However, the 47- kilometer distance from Sultanahmet to Istanbul Airport (IST), which used to take at least an hour and a half by taxi or private shuttle (and much longer during the morning and evening rush hours), now only takes around an hour.

How To Travel From Istanbul Airport (IST) To Sultanahmet

Young woman traveler looking at a building in istanbul

To get to Sultanahmet from Istanbul Airport (IST):

  • Take the M11 Kagithane – Istanbul Airport Metro line to the Kagithane Station.
  • Transfer to the M7 Yildiz – Mahmutbey Metro Line.
  • In 2 stops, get off at the Mecidiyekoy station.
  • Take the M2 Yenikapi – Haciosman Metro Line to the Taksim station.
  • Then take the F1 Taksim – Kabatas Funciular line to Kabatas.
  • Lastly, take the T1 Kabatas – Bagcilar Tram line 7 stops to the Sultanahmet Station.

How To Travel From Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) To Sultanahmet

skyline istanbul

Likewise, Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW), located on the Asia side of the city, is now directly connected to the metro lines too.

You can easily reach Sultanahmet by taking the M4 Kadikoy – Sabiha Gökçen Havalimani Metro Line to the Ayrilik Cesmesi Station and switching to the Marmaray train.

In two stops, you can reach the Sirkeci Station near Sultanahmet.

Traveling Inter-City From The Two Istanbul Airports

Traveling onwards by high-speed train to destinations such as Ankara, Eskesehir, and Konya is easily and quickly reached via the Asian side of the city as well by taking the M4 Kadikoy – Sabiha Gökçen Havalimani Metro Line to the Pendik Station.

It is a one-kilometer walk to the Pendik Turkish State Railways Station (TCDD).

People using train kiosk istanbul

Hours Of Operation And Cost

Istanbul's metro system is open from 6 am-midnight daily, and the fare is currently less than a dollar USD per metro line and payable by cash or credit card in kiosks located within each station.

The metro system guarantees you will beat the street traffic that experts warn is threatening to hit traffic deadlock if more measures to thwart it aren't implemented soon.

Plan on arriving at the airport at least 1.5 hours before domestic flights and 2.5 hours before international flights.

Be aware that Istanbul Airport (IST) is massive, and distances inside the airport are far apart.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Haha. Has the author even been to Istanbul. We are currently in Istanbul ready to leave. 45 minutes in a taxi when busy. 30 minutes when not busy. Can't buy tickets in kiosks for public transport. Have to go to a machine which noone except the locals seem to know how to operate. Recommend Istanbul. Amazing city. Just take a Yellow taxi. 30-45 minutes and approximately 20 dollars USD.


Sunday 25th of June 2023

@David, approx $20 from or to which airport? Can you pay in dollars? Thank you


Thursday 1st of June 2023

What is the metro like for carrying luggage. Is it crowded? Travelling late this year and should be M11 on to the M2 by then?


Thursday 4th of May 2023

This is all true, but:

1. 120 km/h might be faster than typical 80 km/h, but lower limit of high-speed rail is actually 200 km/h

2. I have visited Istanbul 3 weeks ago, and took the new line one way to Taksim. Trouble is, changing from one to another metro line means you have to physically walk some 5-7 min from one to another station, since they are located in proximity of each other, but not actually at the same place. This is very inconvenient if you are having a suitcase with you. In the end, it comes to the same amount of time compared to havabus, and by using bus you don't have to drag your luggage around. Just MHO.

Imran Saeed

Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

I like your good work