Istanbul Airport Layover
IST Airport it’s an ultra-modern airport, with parts still under construction, but your layover will be unaffected because all necessary facilities are fully operational.
The main disadvantage of having a layover at Istanbul Airport is the fifty kilometers it takes to get to Istanbul or any other interesting local attractions. However, if you have a short layover at Istanbul Airport, there are a few things you can do at the airport or nearby to help pass the time. If you have a long layover, you can travel to Istanbul and explore the Turkish city that spans two continents.
TOP 10 ISTANBUL NEW AIRPORT IDEAS
1) Explore the shopping area
Whether you’re in Istanbul for a few hours or overnight, there are plenty of shops to keep you occupied. Turkish delicacies and trinkets, as well as foreign-branded clothing, books, and electronics. There are even cafes that serve delicious food! There’s no shortage of ways to spend your time, whether you’re in a hurry or have time on your hands! Here are our top three recommendations. Shop Gifts & Accessories: Passengers in transit can find gifts made with materials from all over Turkey as well as quality imports from world-renowned designers. The store sells hundreds of items, including clothing, jewelry, and accessories for men and women, as well as handbags designed by celebrities such as Celine Dion, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Jimmy Choo.
INCOOP also sells home textile collections, such as bedding sets. Every Wednesday (14:00 – 15:00), INCOOP collects donations in a donation box next to the cashier counter, which is then forwarded to the TUSKONFED TOKAD charity association, which awards scholarships to deserving young people. Kasapoglu Bakery & Cafe Kasapoglu was founded in 1952 and has since delivered its signature baklava in all major cities throughout Turkey, including Istanbul Ataturk Airport. You can sip your coffee while watching pastry chefs prepare each pastry fresh every day and listening to them tell you stories about their cakes. Baking is done here 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, making Kasapoglu famous among bakers worldwide.
WaxTime, located inside Istanbul Airport’s Domestic Departures Hall, offers stylish designer watches to fashion-forward travelers. WaxTime’s offerings include watches from nearly every luxury brand on the planet, including Cartier, Armani, Gucci Rolex, IWC, Citizen, and many more. The company has been in business for over 35 years and has 200 boutiques worldwide. WaxTime is the place to go if you want an exclusive watch shopping experience as well as expert advice.
2) Have tea while waiting for your flight
If you’re traveling internationally, remember that many countries observe tea time, which typically comes between mid-morning and early afternoon. With Turkey being a predominantly Muslim country, chances are good there will be an abundance of teahouses in most airports. So while you’re waiting for your flight, find a cozy seat and enjoy a traditional cup of Turkish black tea. If you don’t mind breaking with tradition—and language barriers—you can order some baklava to go along with it! And if you have time before or after your flight, drop by a local market: You never know what wonderful samples (or even full meals) you might come across.
3) Try Turkish coffee in Istanbul
If you’re lucky enough to be headed through Istanbul International Airport (IST), you might as well try some Turkish coffee. The rich, dark brew is prepared differently in Turkey than in America, as Turkish coffee is generally much weaker than its American counterpart. Most of IST’s restaurants offer a cup of this Turkish specialty on their menus, but there are a few stands and cafes that specialize in it and don’t serve anything else. Keep an eye out for one near your gate!
4) Read a book at the Büyükada bookstore
Come hungry, because Büyükada is home to some of Istanbul’s best pastries. If you can only pick one Turkish dish for your last meal, look no further than sucuklu yumurtali̇ (baked eggs with sujuk sausage). Don’t worry if you can’t find a seat at one of its cafes; it’s also a great place for people-watching. But there’s more than that: Walk along Serdar mah., which runs perpendicular from Barbaros Sk. toward Meclis-i Mebusan cd., and you’ll pass shops selling fresh fish, vegetable stalls and butchers—the kind of places you’d expect in any old market.
5) Eat dinner before boarding
Eating dinner before boarding is a great way to save money, especially if you’re flying on an airline with inflight meal service. If you find yourself hungry after your flight lands, get ready for a much more expensive dinner than what you could have grabbed earlier in the day. While some airports offer food options, Istanbul is not one of them—if you don’t want to order delivery or eat offsite, it might be a good idea to grab a quick bite before heading through security. You can also look into getting an airport parking spot and eating dinner in your car or truck (don’t forget about our tips for smart parking!).
6) Go through security again
Going through security is pretty easy these days; you have your electronics and liquids laid out in front of you, you know where your shoes are, and you’re not looking for anything unusual. But it doesn’t hurt to go through security a second time before boarding – that way, if you forgot something, there’s plenty of time to go back. It might even help alert airport employees of any forgotten items. And if you need a break while waiting for your flight, there’s no better place than Istanbul Airport! It has free Wi-Fi and plenty of seats – just remember: You can only stay for an hour or so unless you pay extra for a day pass.
7) Watch TV news (in English and Turkish)
Watching TV news in a foreign language is a great way to improve your listening comprehension. You’ll learn new vocabulary and you’ll pick up on some interesting expressions that might be hard to understand otherwise. You can also try watching TV dramas, though these tend to use less formal language. While listening, you can pause and rewind with subtitles on if something doesn’t make sense or if you want to catch an idiom or expression that you don’t understand. It will help your vocabulary build up more quickly—just try not to get sucked into anything too dramatic! : )
8) Relax in Istanbul Lounge before takeoff
Istanbul airport is one of few places in the world where there’s an entire lounge that has been designed for pets. The Istanbul airport boasts a pet concierge service that will look after your pooch while you’re on vacation. If you find yourself stranded in Istanbul, it might be worth trying to get your dog a boarding pass and dropping him off with all of his furry friends (though we can’t promise he’ll enjoy it). You know your pets would appreciate it if they could get into their own travel Instagram shots while they wait! Just try not to drop them off and forget about them because we hear those little furballs have been known to have a little trouble getting their boarding passes when their humans are away!
9) Grab a bite before you land at IST
IST, Istanbul’s main airport, attracts tens of millions of passengers each year. Those who choose to connect through IST have little time for a sit-down meal before their flights. Thankfully, it’s possible to eat breakfast or lunch from several fast food options and sit down restaurants at IST before a flight leaves for another destination. Many travelers choose local Turkish cuisine including kebabs or köfte, a kind of meatball served with rice or bulgur. Pide (Turkish flatbread) can also be found in many varieties such as kıymalı pide (pide topped with minced meat), cheese, or mixed vegetables.
10) Have Breakfast At After Security Area/Departure Lobby
There are numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars in both areas. Most of them offer breakfast service until late morning, which can be handy if you’re heading out early or spending a long layover here. To avoid crowds, it’s best to come earlier on weekdays. The options are equally abundant near security and post-security (after check-in), but there is one thing that could attract you towards after security: smoking areas with open terraces/balconies! If you’re looking for a break from being inside an airport, Istanbul Airport offers a wonderful opportunity for it.