Although they may not be the most convenient methods of transportation at this time, both of Istanbul’s commercial airports are now connected to the city’s metro system.
Istanbul Airport (IST)’s metro station on the M11 line was inaugurated yesterday, 22 January. The ride from the airport to Kağıthane station takes only 24 minutes; however, from that non-downtown location, visitors should currently expect no shortage of transfers to get to either Sultanahmet or Taksim, two of the more tourism-heavy spots in the city. But there’s a little hediye (Turkish for gift) awaiting arriving residents and travelers until around 23 February: all metro rides from the airport will be free for the first month.
Unfortunately, Istanbul Airport’s new metro station is not exactly in the main terminal — passengers will have to walk past the central parking lots and rental car agencies to access it.
Nevertheless, it will be nice to have the metro as a back-up, considering every other means of transport is subject to the vicissitudes of Istanbul traffic; in fact, it was often due to the traffic that I would deliberately arrive or depart in the city outside of the usual rush hour. On that note, the IST metro service will see trains leaving the airport station every eight minutes, and operating between 06:00 and 24:00.
This recent opening comes just a few months after Istanbul’s other major airport, over on the Asian side, started receiving metro service on the M4 line. Ultimately, it is the goal of Istanbul authorities to construct a high-speed rail line that connects both IST airport and Sabiha Gökçen airport (SAW), with continuing operations to the rest of Europe in the west, and towards the Turkish capital Ankara in the east.
Lastly, for those of you who are frequent users of Sabiha Gökçen, promising news for later this year; it is expected that the airport’s second runway will open this spring.
Are you as big of a metro system fan as I am?