After Opening the new Istanbul Airport, it is important to know that being at the airport 2 hours before a flight is a must thing. New Istanbul airport is moved 1.5 – 2 hours away from the center of Istanbul in addition to its huge size, be aware that you will walk not less than 15- 20 minutes inside of it. So if your layover is not more than 6 hours, it is better to stay at the airport and enjoy its five star facilities, kids playground, the IGA Galleries, food and beverages, shopping and duty free.
While if you have enough time, you are about to experience the best layover in your lifetime!!
Get yourself a cap and hit the road toward the heart of Istanbul at Sultan Ahmet Square where you can start your journey by visiting the ancient Hagia Sophia This grand building served both as a cathedral and a mosque throughout the ages, going back as far as the times of the Byzantine Empire with an age of almost 1000 years. In fact, Hagia Sophia was once the largest cathedral in the world. You will definitely spend a wonderful time there.
Right next to Hagia Sophia you will find the great Blue Mosque that is famous with its six minarets, its sophisticated architecture will grab you in immediately,you will be amazed by the beautiful details in each corner and each meter of it. You will actually feel the spiritual peace inside of it.
If you are more of street guy and love walking, Istiklal Street in the day time is a good option, but do not forget to charge your camera because you are going to take dozens of photos. Shops, Turkish delights shops, restaurants, street music bands, and of course the ancient red train that goes across the street.
Keep walking down the road until you face Galata Tower, according to Wikipedia was in fact built by the Genoans in the 14th century. The republic of Genoa (the northwestern bit of Italy) was once a trading nation. You can have a 30 minute rest at the restaurant on top of it.
Pack your things up and take a cap toward Ortakoy square, where you can eat fresh fish sandwich or the Turkish famous food (kumpir) while enjoying the great view of Bosphorus.
Do not forget to join one of bosphorus tours on the boat and drink a hot cup of Turkish tea. If you do not like crowded places you can go back to Karakoy and have a peaceful walk there. A neighborhood filled with cafes, shops and street art. The neighborhood is filled with little alleys where you can sit at one its cafes and drink Turkish nargile
As evening approaches, finish your tour with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, the first shopping mall of the world, take a walk between lantern shops, gold jewellers, silk clothing stores. It is enjoyable area to walk in even if you are not willing to buy anything and sellers are not needy or pushy but still, it’s better to learn some techniques about how to bargain a seller in Grand Bazaar. If you are still hungry, DO NOT miss the ET DÖNER sandwich, a charcoal grilled meat with onions, tomatoes and pickles or spicy pickled green peppers. It’s a little more expensive than other sandwiches but you will never forget any single bite you ate of it!.
If your layover is long and you need to book a room in a hotel, you can get that for free when you fly through turkish airlines, and there are a several choices they offer you are not obligated to a specific choice although we recommend you to stay at a hotel near the airport not to miss your flight.
It is very important to be at the airport 4 hours before your flight or at maximum 2 hours, Istanbul Airport is very big you will not be lost though, signs are all over the place and there are a lot of people who can help you out in case of any problem. At the end if you are in a hurry, take the airport small car it will take you to the terminal within few minutes.