IST Layover

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Dangjr213, Jan 4, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    I've read a few of the IST Layover threads at FT and see that it will take me 15-45 to clear customs upon arrival but I haven't see anything about getting back to the airport. I have two layovers coming up next month (both on a Saturday if that matters).

    For the first layover my flight lands at 4pm and departs at 1:10am. For the second layover my flight lands at 5:45am and departs at 1:20pm. I'm arranging a for a tour guide to pick up/drop me off at the air port. Multiple guides have suggested to use the second layover because even though it's shorter, more will be open. If my flight is at 1:20 what time should I get back to the airport.

    My bags should already be checked, I should have my boarding pass, and I will have applied for an e-visa in advance. I'll be traveling to the US on a united business class award ticket if that matters.
     
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  2. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Even 1 hour can be cutting it close, IMHV. Unless you have VIP customs access, I wouldn't want to have less than 60-75 minutes to clear customs at IST. I've been through here 4 times during the past year, and my experiences have varied greatly. I ended up behind the entire Swedish national basketball team in the customs line a few months ago! ;)
     
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  3. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    I am surprised that the guides suggested the second layover. By the time you reach SultanAhmet or Taxim Sq. it will be 7AM, barely anything would be open except some breakfast places. On the otherhand, evenings you can stroll around Grand Bazar area, or Egyptian (spice) bazar, Have fish sandwich across the street. Take the tram across, walk over to docks take a boat ride back (15 minutes) and head to the airport ;)

    Newscience has the latest information, mine is two years old.
     
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  4. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    It really depends on what you want to see. The morning layover is going to give you a chance to get inside Hagia Sofia, the Cisterns or some of the other typical sites; the evening means no chance at all.

    Flights to the USA may or may not have extra security screening which won't help your limited timing. Are you on a TK flight? If so, the dedicated access point via the lounge should help you immensely in both in and out of the country. Otherwise the fact that you're in business class doesn't mean much.

    I would skip the Grand Bazaar, FWIW. I also would do the trip on my own both time, using the metro into town and back again. Part of that is because I've done it enough times to be comfortable with the process but it also it reasonably quick and a fair price. And I don't think that the "normal" walk through the Sultanahmet area down to the waterfront really needs a guide to get the experience.
     
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  5. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    All flights in and out of IST are on TK. So I'll keep an eye out for the access point via the lounge, thanks for the tip.

    The only thing on our must see list is the blue mosque which is why we went ahead and booked the guide for the second layover. Not comfortable enough to do it on our own. The money is worth the peace of mind that we won't get lost. Now I'm just worried about how long I need to give myself to get back through the airport.
     
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  6. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Upon arrival at IST there is a main immigration area with a bunch of lines. Towards the right as you are facing the immigration booths there should be a fast track line with at TK logo on it. Showing your premium class BP there should get you in that (hopefully much shorter) line.

    As you enter the departures level from the road the lounge (and the premium security screening) is to the left at the far end of the terminal. With that you should not need more than 30 minutes to clear immigration/customs and probably much more like 5-10 IMO. You get access with your TK premium class BP.

    With the timing you have I'd say you can get in to town, see the waterfront and the Galata Bridge early and then head up to the Blue Mosque and be done there by 10am, maybe 11am if you are slow. If you are done by 10am I'd put the Basilica Cistern on your itinerary. It takes 20-30 minutes inside to get through it and I think it is very much worthwhile.

    [​IMG]

    And I'd definitely take the Spice Market over the Grand Bazaar.
     
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    BTW, do not leave the terminal/customs without getting a visa ($20 US). There is one way to do so that I discovered by accident (I thought about this when I read WA's email above), and you absolutely do not want to depart the terminal without a valid and stamped Turkish entry visa. :eek:
     
  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    As of some point in April you can only get the visa online; that's worth being aware of. And you can do it online now already; I'd do that instead of standing in line, especially with the short visits.

    https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/
     
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  9. cc1972

    cc1972 Silver Member

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    +1
    I went to the Spice Bazaar first by mistake and the following day the Grand Bazaar... I was really disappointed with the Grand Bazaar. It's huge and can be interesting, but I felt like it was just a tourist trap. The Spice Bazaar is much smaller but felt more authentic. However, if you have enough time to cover both, then why not; otherwise, you may regret it, and it's not because others didn't like one place that you won't enjoy it.
     
  10. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    FWIW, here's my "top 3" list (in no certain order) to run-and-see in Istanbul:
    - Blue Mosque
    - Haga Sofia (AyaSofia)
    - Topkapi Palace

    These 3 "must sees" are also located very close to each other. ;)
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I was relatively unimpressed by Topkapi Palace and would swap in Basilica Cisterns over that. Possibly even over the Haga Sofia depending on the lines.
     

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