Turkey flights - cheap international flight tickets and hacker fares to Istanbul
Flights to Istanbul. Book plane ticket to Istabul Airport (IST) in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkey is open to international tourism

Turkey is open to all travelers, quarantine-free, regardless of their vaccination status. All travel restrictions have been lifted, however, a Form for Entry to Türkiye must be completed within 72 hours before departure and the copy must be presented prior to boarding.

Visitors from selected European countries, such as Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, or Poland, can enter Turkey without visa. Foreign tourists from other countries need to apply online for the Turkey eVisa – a digital version of the usual travel visa that allows a stay of 30 to 90 days, depending on nationality.

Transiting through Turkey is allowed if you remain in the transit area of the airport during the layover. Transit Visa is only required if you want to pass the Turkish Immigration.

Arriving in Istanbul

  • If you are flying to Istanbul from abroad, you will most likely land at one of its biggest international airportsits main international airportIstanbul Atatürk Airport IST and Sabiha Gökçen Airport SAW.

    Istanbul Atatürk Airport, located on the European side of the city, is the larger of the two airports and the primary hub for the national carrier Turkish Airlines. It's well-connected to the city center by a variety of transportation options — including the metro, public bus, and taxis. Upon arrival, you'll find a range of dining options, shopping centers, currency exchange, ATMs, and luggage storage. There's a Wi-Fi network available for arriving passengers (free 1-hour free access, you must register first via SMS and using your passport number).

    Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, located on the Asian side of the city, is a smaller but more modern airport compared to IST, and it primarily serves low-cost airlines. It is also less crowded, which can be a big plus if you're looking for a smoother arrival experience. SAW is known for its impressive views of the city and the nearby sea — plan ahead and book a window seat! After arrival, you'll have some good options to get to the city via taxi or private transfer services. However, public transport is less convenient than at IST
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    These are also the best (and the cheapest) airports to fly into Istanbul. As they are used by many airlines serving the same routes, the competition for passengers is fierce – with decreased airfare as a result.
  • Once in Istanbul, take advantage of frequent intercity flights operated by domestic airlines such as Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, SunExpress, AnadoluJet, Onur Air, and Corendon Airlines. Those in-country carriers typically offer lower fares, operate from smaller airports located closer to city centers (you save on ground transportation), and provide flexible schedules – with a wide range of departure times.
  • Planning to explore the region? Popular destinations near Istanbul can be easily reached with regional low-cost carriers (LCCs) by the likes of AirArabia, Buta Airways, FlyDubai, FlyArystan, Jazeera Airways, Wizz Air, Air Europa, easyJet. If you have a layover in Istanbul and plan to fly only a short distance to one of its neighboring countries, these budget airlines are an excellent way to save money. However, the “no-frills” carrier may not provide free checked baggage allowance, complimentary food, in-flight entertainment systems, and fast customer support. You may not even get to choose your seats, unless you pay extra.

Airports of Istanbul

Best airports to fly into Istanbul: Istanbul Airport (IST) or Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW)
Istanbul has two international airports – Istanbul Airport IST located on the European side of Istanbul, about 24 km (15 miles) west of the city center, and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport SAW located on the Asian side of Istanbul, about 50 km (31 miles) southeast of the city center.
Things to know before flying to Istanbul
Airlines flying to IstanbulAegean Airlines, Aeroflot, Air Albania, Air Algerie, AirArabia, Air Astana, AirEuropa, Air France, Air Malta, AirMoldova, Air Monte Negro, Air Portugal, ANA, AnadoluJet, AirSerbia, Ariana Afgan Airlines, Asiana Airlines, ATA Airlines, Avianca, Azerbaijan Airlines, Azimuth, Badr Airlines, Belavia, Berniq Airways, British Airways, Buraq Air, Buta Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Southern Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Delta Air Lines, EasyJet, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Finnair, Flyadeal, FlyArystan, FlyBaghdad, FlyDubai, Fly Jordan, FlyOne, Fly OYA, Garuda Indonesia, Ghadames Air, Gulf Air, Hong Kong Airlines, IndiGo, IrAero, IranAir, Iran Aseman Airlines, Iraqi Airways, Japan Airlines, Jazeera Airways, JetBlue, Jordan Aviation, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Kuwait Airways, Libyan Wings, LOT, Lufthansa, Mahan Air, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, MEA, Meraj Air, NouvelAir, Oman Air, Pegasus Airlines, PIA, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Qeshm Air, Red Wings, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Brunei, Royal Jordanian, Rossiya Airlines, RwandAir, SAS, Saudia, SCAT Airlines, Scoot, Singapore Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Tarom, Thai Airways, TunisAir, Turkish Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines, UIA, Utair, Uzbekistan Airways, Wizz Air
Airlines of TurkeyTurkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, SunExpress, AnadoluJet, Onur Air, Corendon Airlines, Freebird Airlines, Tailwind Airlines

Main airports in IstanbulIstanbul International Airport (IST) — Istanbul
Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) — Istanbul
Regular price (roundtrip)✈ €100 – €200 (from Europe)
✈ $650 – $900 (from USA)
Flight hacks 40% — 80% off regular fare
Airline discountsDiscounted airline tickets to Istanbul (student/family/seniors/military)

Low-cost flights from Istanbul

Stay ahead of the game. Fly to popular destinations at a fraction of the regular fare.

Turkish Airlines: long-haul planes on short-haul routes

Turkish Airlines has an enormous fleet of nearly 400 aircraft – from the small Airbus A319 (126 seats) up to the giant Boeing 777-300ER (249 seats). The good news is that the airline often operates long-haul configured aircraft on short and medium-haul routes.

So if you fly domestically from Istanbul or travel to one of the neighboring countries, choose Turkish Airlines – you may get lucky and be seated in a large cabin with generous seat legroom, even in economy class. Look for Airbus A330, Airbus A350, Boeing 787 and Boeing 777s when booking your ticket.

The cheapest time to fly to Istanbul

The low tourist season in Turkey typically occurs between November and April (excluding dates around Christmas and New Year) – it is also the cheapest time to fly to Istanbul. Airfares and hotel prices tend to be cheaper as the country is less crowded and there is less demand. However, the temperatures can be quite cold in some regions, and some attractions may be closed due to inclement weather.

Despite the cooler temperatures, the low season presents a great opportunity to experience Istanbul in a different light. You can still enjoy its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and delicious cuisine – with the added benefit of having many attractions to yourself.

Know your time zone

Turkey uses only one time zone across the country – Turkey Time (TRT) – which is UTC+3 (GMT+3). As a result, clocks in Istanbul are 3 hours ahead of London and 7 hours ahead of New York. The country shares the same time zone with Ethiopia, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine. It does not have an associated daylight saving time.

Ensure you know the local time zone when checking flights and airport transfer times. The departure time on your plane ticket is always listed based on the time zone of the departure airport. We suggest resetting your watch during the flight – it will help your brain adjust to the new time zone and to deal with jet lag.

Duty-free rules

Turkey is serious about the duty-free concession. There is a limit for bringing in certain items. Alcoholic drinks such as wine or spirits cannot exceed one liter per person, and you can carry only 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 200g of tobacco. In addition to personal items, you may also carry items such as gifts – up to a value of €430.

Anything above those limits must be declared – at the airport in Istanbul, head to the Red Lane to declare your goods.

Next tips

Flights to Istanbul from United States and Canada

  • There are no direct flights from the US or Canada to Istanbul. However, most major hubs in Asia have non-stop flights to Istanbul, as do some larger airports in the Middle East – your journey will have at least one stop. Currently, only Turkish Airlines (THY) offers year-round direct flights on routes from the US/Canada to Istanbul. It flies out from most biggest cities in North America: New York, Atlanta, Washington, Chicago, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Toronto and Vancouver. All scheduled flights arrive at the Istanbul International Airport. Expect to spend between 9 and 14 hours on a plane.
  • Istanbul is well-served via one-stop flights from North America. Flights to Istanbul with one layover depart from most major North American airports, including Atlanta ATL, Dallas DFW, Denver DEN, Chicago ORD, Los Angeles LAX, Las Vegas DFW, Miami MIA, Seattle SEA, Houston IAH, New York JFK, and San Francisco SFO in the United States and Toronto YYZ, Vancouver YVR, Calgary LAS, and Montreal YUL in Canada.
  • The best airlines to fly to Istanbul from the US and Canada are: Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Turkish Airlines. They are top full-service carriers, offering exceptional customer service, in-flight comfort, a generous checked baggage allowance, and reliable customer support channels – all included in the ticket price.

US and Canada to Istanbul.Ticket prices in February 2024.

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Avoid currency exchange kiosks at airports

Airports are infamous for making an exuberant amount of money from their currency exchanges due to the extremely high margins, and the airports in Istanbul are no exception. Airport kiosks usually charge higher fees which are sometimes hidden within the poorer exchange rates they offer – their business is based on charging extra for being a convenient, last-minute option.

Plan ahead and exchange some money for the Turkish lira at home.

Download a VPN app

When it comes to media censorship, Turkey is one of the world leaders – it seems to have a problem with freedom of speech and certain online content. In the last few years, more than 250,000 websites have been banned temporarily or permanently – including Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Wikipedia, IMDB, and Blogspot. You can use this website to check if a certain site currently works in Turkey.

If you want to keep access to your favorite websites while traveling to Istanbul, you should download a VPN app for your smartphone and laptop before you arrive. With the VPN app, you will be able to bypass government censorship and freely access all blocked content.

Uber has limited availability in Istanbul

Uber is available in Turkey but not everywhere in the country. The app will find you a ride easily in Istanbul, however, in most areas outside the city, it can be much more difficult to find a car (try BiTaksi and iTaksi apps there). If available, though, Uber is a good way for a cross-city journey: the cars are safe, usually air-conditioned, and there are fixed distance-based fees, so drivers can’t overcharge you for journeys.

Interestingly, Uber is easily accessible for airport transfers in Istanbul. So, instead of taking a bus or local taxi, you can simply use the Uber app at the airport to arrange a quick transfer to the city.

Long waiting times when calling the helpline?

Social media is usually a faster way to reach the airline when a problem arises. Use Twitter or Facebook Messenger to contact the airline customer service and get a response and solution within minutes (see detailed guides for Turkish Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and others).

When it comes to Twitter, there’s one more trick to get in touch with the airline faster: mention the airline in a tweet about your issue (add “@airline_handle”, for example: “@TurkishAirlines”). The social media team will often notice it immediately, ask you for a direct message, and respond privately.

Next tips

Flights to Istanbul from UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and other countries in Europe

  • There are no direct flights from Europe to Istanbul — you’ll need to get a connecting flight from elsewhere in the Middle East or in Asia. Direct flights from Europe to Istanbul are just few hours long (around 4 hours if you fly direct from London, and just below 2 hours from Athens). Most European hubs have a nonstop connection to Istanbul (as well to other Turkish cities). Among the airlines that operate those route you'll find both full-service carriers such as British Airways, KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, SWISS, and Turkish Airlines, and low-budget companies by the likes of Ryanair, easyJet, Wizz Air, and Jet2.com.
  • Airlines that frequently fly from the UK, Germany, France, and other European countries to Istanbul include Aegean Airlines, Air Malta, British Airways, Croatia Airlines, Emirates, Finnair, KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, SAS, SWISS, and Turkish Airlines.
  • Consider departure airports in neighboring countries to increase your chance of spotting the best deal. Especially look for large airports that serve as hubs for multiple airlines. For example, if you live in Western Europe, check air tickets to Istanbul from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, and Rome. Leverage frequent promotions from European budget carriers like RyanAir, EasyJet, and Eurowings to reach a major hub; from there, take a cheaper long-haul flight to your final destination, potentially saving hundreds of euros.
  • These major European airports are excellent departure points for trips to Istanbul: London LHR and Manchester MAN in the United Kingdom, Frankfurt FRA and Munich MUC in Germany, Paris CDG and Nice NCE in France, Amsterdam AMS in the Netherlands, Madrid MAD and Barcelona BCN in Spain, Rome FCO and Milano MXP in Italy, Brussels BRU in Belgium, Copenhagen OSL in Denmark, Oslo OSL in Norway, Stockholm ARN in Sweden, Zurich ZRH in Switzerland, Lisbon LIS in Portugal, Vienna VIE in Austria, Warsaw WAW in Poland, Prague PRG in the Czech Republic, and Dublin DUB in Ireland.

Europe to Istanbul.Flight schedule and ticket prices.

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Last-minute flights to Istanbul. The real cost of convenience.

Last-minute flights are often touted as a great way to save money, but the reality is far from it. Booking last-minute flights to Istanbul almost always never works out. The convenience of being able to book a flight on the fly is a dangerous game of chance, and you will most likely end up paying significantly higher than booking in advance.

Last-minute flight cost spike
Late booking penalty: The flight prices rise as departure draws near. Last-minute flights are almost always more expensive than booking in advance.

The common perception may be that airlines decrease ticket prices to fill empty seats as the departure date approaches. However, the truth is that airfares depend on demand. Based on years of research and current customer data, the airlines know what people are willing to pay for specific flights and dates. They are also well aware that people are willing to pay a premium for flights they need to take immediately. To make the most money, the airline will sell its cheapest fares first and then increase the prices right before the flight to take advantage of business travelers and others who are willing to pay the premium price for late booking.

Occasionally, airlines can put some seats on sale to fill the remaining seats, but these are for unusual times and unpopular places. Popular destinations and dates around peak travel times tend to sell out quickly.

Planning ahead is key to securing a good deal on your flight. Last-minute flight deals are hard to come by, so as soon as you have a tentative travel timeline, book your flight. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to save money. If you are looking for a good deal, the best time to book your flight to Istanbul is 2-8 months before the takeoff.

Looking for the best deals for Istanbul? Check different departure airports.

Airlines often have varying prices for flights to Istanbul from different airports – even if they are in close proximity to one another. So don’t limit yourself to just your nearest airport. The neighboring cities may have lower-priced flights that include a layover at Istanbul, or may even have direct flights that are more budget-friendly.

For example, if you’re looking to fly from Paris to Istanbul, it may be worth checking prices for flights departing from London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or Rome. Yes, you may have to fly a few hundred kilometers to these hubs, but domestic low-cost airlines like EasyJet, RyanAir, or WizzAir will happily take you there for less than €100.

Book flights from many departure airports
By entering more than one departure city in the flight search engine (at the top of this page), you can quickly find the airport with the cheapest flights to your destination

The same goes for long-haul flights to Istanbul from anywhere in the world. By broadening your search to include neighboring airports, you may discover lower-priced options that can save you hundreds of euros!

Domestic flights from Istanbul

Most domestic routes in Turkey are operated by local carriers. When traveling to popular tourist destinations such as Antalya, Ankara, İzmir, Bursa, Adana, Gaziantep, or Konya from Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport, you’ll likely fly with one of these domestic airlines: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, SunExpress, AnadoluJet, Onur Air, and Corendon Airlines.

This is often the best transportation method, providing speed, convenience, and cost-effectiveness. Local airlines often offer multiple daily flights to key destinations, providing flexibility in scheduling and competitive pricing. They also serve smaller regional airports, enabling access to a wider range of Turkish destinations.

Flights to Istanbul from Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand to Istanbul.Flight ticket prices today.

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“Hot seats” on long-haul flights

Those days seat selection is considered an optional, extra paid service – seats with extra legroom (front and exit rows) are usually priced higher. However, if you’re about to take a long-haul flight to Istanbul, those “hot seats” are worth considering – expect to pay $50-$100, which is much less than upgrading to Premium Economy.

If you want to choose your seats, do this early (ideally during the booking) for a more extensive selection of available options.

Booking hot seats (preffered seats with extra legroom) on plane
Choosing a hot seat during the flight booking process is usually worth it. For a reasonable price, you will get more room to stretch your legs, as well as a wider seat pitch.

Booking group flights to Istanbul

Flights are cheaper when purchased in bulk rather than as individual tickets. Booking group flights to Istanbul can be a cost-effective option for a school trip, family reunion, or corporate group traveling to a conference.

To qualify for the special group rate, the group must usually have at least 10 passengers. Discounts depend on the airline, group size, and travel dates, and typically range from 5% to 20% off the regular airfare.

Airlines and flight search websites typically limit automatic group bookings to 10 passengers. This limit reflects the complexity of managing larger groups, which require personalized service and more time to coordinate. To get the price quote for your group, you’ll need to contact the airline or a travel agent directly.

If you’re open to different airlines or want more personalized service, a travel agent may be a better choice. Travel agents may have access to discounted group rates to Istanbul and can help with logistics and scheduling.

Flights to Istanbul from Bali, Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, and other major hubs in Asia

  • Many popular tourist destinations in Asia have convenient direct flights to/from Istanbul: Bangkok BKK, Bali DPS, Beijing PEK, Ho Chi Minh SGN, Hong Kong HKG, Jakarta CGK, Kuala Lumpur KUL, Manila MNL, New Delhi DEL, Phuket HKT, Singapore SIN, Taipei TPE, and Tokyo HND.
  • Asia is probably the best continent for short-haul and mid-haul flying. The sheer scale of this most populous region on Earth is reflected in the type of aircraft operating many shorter routes: intra-Asia flyers benefit from comfortable, wide-bodied aircraft by the likes of Boeing 777, 787 or Airbus A350, A330, and A380. When booking your flight to Istanbul look for these bigger planes as they will almost always give you the best experience in every cabin, including better seat pitches, higher ceilings, and larger overhead bin space.
  • Asia is also home to most of the world’s best airlines. There are only ten airlines that received the prestigious 5-star mark of quality from Skytrax, and all of them are from Asia: ANA, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines. Choosing one of these airlines for your trip to Istanbul will guarantee a pleasant journey – delicious meals served during the flight, great in-flight entertainment, and above-average airline customer service.
  • Asia is extremely well served by low-cost regional airlines. If you are visiting Turkey and want to see several other countries on a tight budget, they often have great sales with rock-bottom prices, while still offering a relatively comfortable flight experience. Among the best Asian budget airlines you can book without hesitation are AirAsiaCebu Pacific, Citilink, FlyDubai, Indigo, Jetstar Airways, Scoot, SpiceJet, and VietJet Air. The cons? Being no-frills airlines they may not provide free baggage allowance, inflight meals, or onboard entertainment. The departure times may also be quite inconvenient as they try to save money by flying at off-peak hours.
  • Most major Asian airports have convenient and frequent flights to Istanbul — including Changi (Singapore), Dubai (UAE), Hong Kong (China), Incheon (Seoul, South Korea), Indira Gandhi (New Delhi, India), KLIA (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Narita (Tokyo, Japan), Denpasar (Bali, Indonesia), Soekarno–Hatta (Jakarta, Indonesia), Ninoy Aquino (Manila, Philippines), Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok, Thailand), Taoyuan (Taipei, Taiwan), and others.

Istanbul from major Asian airports.Flight prices in February 2024.

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Proof of onward travel – a simple hack

Travelers who go on long trips often don’t have a set itinerary and fly on one-way tickets. The problem? For many APAC countries, proof of onward travel is a legal requirement. If you arrive at the airport without an onward ticket (from Turkey to another country), you’ll either be forced to buy one online or forbidden from boarding the plane altogether.

The cheapest solution? Renting an onward ticket! Use the websites such as OneWayFly or OnwardTicket to get a flight reservation for a limited amount of time (usually 2 to 14 days). They work by actually booking you on a real flight out of Turkey and giving you a confirmable flight reservation with a PNR (Passenger Name Record) under your name. After the time limit, your spot on the flight is automatically canceled. Such “temporary tickets” tend to cost anywhere from $10 to $20.

Confirmed flight ticket reservation
Proof of onward travel: confirmed flight ticket reservation (source: OnwardTicket)

Fly now, pay later

Book Now Pay Later (BNPL) plans for flights have become a popular trend in the travel industry, allowing travelers to book flights and pay in installments. Among the airlines that offer this option are American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Qantas, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines. They partner with external financial companies to offer their loan services on the checkout page.

The BNPL plans come with varying terms and fees. Some may be interest-free but have fees for late-payments and require forced autoplay on your bank account, while others may have high annual percentage rates (up to 30-40% APR).

When considering BNPL financing for your flight to Istanbul, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate the pros and cons, and thoroughly review the terms and conditions.