Sabiha Gokçen airport is situated on the Asian side of Istanbul. However, most of the sights we wanted to see are on the European side. That´s why we booked our accomodation there. The journey from the airport to the city centre takes about two hours, depending on the type of transport. We found the fastest way!
Arrival to Istanbul
Several airlines fly from our region to Istanbul. We flew from Vienna airport to Sabiha Gokçen Airport with Tuskish low cost airlines – Pegasus airlines. This airport is one of two international airports in Istanbul and it is mostly used for low cost flights. As mentioned earlier, Sabiha Gokçen Airport is situated on the Asian side of Istanbul. It is about 35 km southeast from the city centre which is on the European side.
The flight took about two hours. The Sabiha Gokçen Airport was a nice surprise for us. It was much bigger than as we expected. After imigration and baggage claim we are heading to ATM to withdraw some money for the transport to our hotel (1 TRY turkish lira = 0,3 EUR)
Our hotel was located in Sultanahmet District near two biggest sightseeing of Istanbul – Haghia Sophia and The Blue Mosque. So we left the airport.
There are two biggest problems in the traffic situation if you want to get from the Sabiha Gokçen Airport to the city centre of Istanbul:
1. the subway doesn´t go to the airport (as of May 2015)
2. constant traffic jams on the highway
From Sabiha Gokçen airport to Kartal
There is an option to take a shuttle bus from the airport, but it doesn´t solve the traffic jam problem. Therefore we decided to take a taxi from the airport. The driver checked the traffic situation on his phone application and found out that there is a traffic jam (as he predicted) and the ride would take over two hours. So the taxi driver took us to the first subway station called Kartal and gave us advice where to change for the train to the centre.
From Kartal to Ayrilikçesme
Because it was faster and of course cheaper than 2 hours in taxi we were quite happy. We avoided the huge traffic jam on the highway. The taxi driver took the side roads to get to the Kartal station. In less than 20 minutes finally we got to the subway station. From Kartal we took subway to Ayrilikçesme station. It took around 30 minutes. Subway in Istanbul looked very nice and clean. We got off at the Ayrilikçesme station.
From Ayrilikçesme to Sirkeci station
At Ayrilikçesme station we changed for Marmaray line because this subway line goes under the Bosporus to European side of Istanbul. We bought one-way tickets (for 4 TRY per ticket) and travel for one stop to the Sirkeci station.
From Sirkeci station to Sultanahmet district
Our hotel seemed to be close from Sirkeci station according to the map. So we decide to take a walk. Very soon we realized that the old town is quite hilly 🙂 We were pushing our suitcases up the hills when suddenly the wind started to rise. All the dust from the streets was in our eyes and we could barely see for a meter. Istanbul welcomed us with a thunderstorm.
Finally, we get to the main street. We asked the policeman for the direction to the Sultanahmet station. Because we knew our hotel is only 50 meters away from the tram station. Consequently, we went toward the Sultanahmet tram station. And, it started to rain. We were completely soaked. But finally found our hotel – The Tan hotel!
The storm passed and we managed to take a walk around nearby surroundings. We found a cute little restaurant with delicious food. Enjoyed a cup of hot turkish tea and full of expectations what this city prepared for us.
You can also take bus from Sabiha Gokçen airport – called Havatas. It will take to famous Taksim square. And from there you can get to Sultanahmet district by taxi or by combination of funicular and tram. For us these alternatives routes seemed more complicated despite the fact that it might be cheaper.
VIE-SAW-VIE = 2 x 114,50 EUR incl. checked luggage and reserved seat
SAW-Kartal = 40 TRY, approx. 12,50 EUR per two persons
Kartal-Ayrilikçesme = 2 x 4 TRY, approx. 2,50 EUR
Ayrilikçesme-Sirkeci = 2 x 4 TRY, approx. 2,50 EUR