When we learn of critical changes to the information in our guidebooks on Turkey, we post them here. (Of course, it's still smart to reconfirm critical transportation and sightseeing details locally.) Armed with a Rick Steves guidebook and these late-breaking updates, you're set for a great trip!
- Turkey is again issuing tourist visas to Americans, but it's smart to monitor the Turkish Embassy’s website for the latest updates.
Etickets are available for the Ephesus Archaeological site (including the Terrace Houses). Buying tickets online enables you to skip the ticket-buying line; no refunds or exchanges are allowed.
If accompanied by an official tour guide, you can also skip the line without buying tickets ahead of time.
- While Istanbul's main station, Sirkeci, is being remodeled, trains between Istanbul and Asian Turkey are served by Söğütlüçeşme Station, in the Kadıköy district (across the Bosphorus from the city center, but much more central than the recent terminus at Pendik). Trains to/from the west and north are still served by the suburban station of Halkalı (west of the city center). The Marmaray light-rail line now connects both Halkalı and Söğütlüçeşme with central Istanbul.
- The correct address for Quincentennial Museum of Turkish Jews is Bereketzade Mahallesi, Büyük Hendek Caddesi 39, Beyoğlu, and its telephone number (also printed incorrectly in some editions) is +90 (0)212/292-6333.
- Istanbul's huge, brand-new airport (IST) replaced Atatürk Airport in April 2019, and is now the city's hub for Turkish Airlines and all international flights. Located to the northwest of the city center on the European side of the Bosphorus, Istanbul Airport is a one-hour taxi ride from either the Old Town or the New District, or 1.5 hours by bus (but can be much longer during rush hour; plan ahead to be at the airport 3 hours prior to international flights).
The airport has five concourses, signed as "piers," that extend from the central terminal (concourses A, B, D, and F are international — Turkish Airlines uses concourse F; concourse G is domestic). There are no trains or trams between the piers, but the lofty ceilings and glimmering design may distract you from all the walking. Use the moving sidewalks when possible.
All of the concourses empty into the central terminal, where you'll find shops, eateries, duty-free stores, and exchange desks (see the airport's zoomable map). To exit, continue down the escalators into baggage claim. From the center of the baggage-claim area, continue through customs onto the arrivals floor. An info kiosk is to the right as you leave customs, and ATMs flank each end of the building. Car-rental desks and other services are also located on this floor. Taxis wait outside door 9; Havaist and IETT buses are near door 13.
You can reach the Old Town or the New District by taxi, private transfer, or shuttle bus (Metro lines connecting the city center to the airport are currently under construction, with plans to be operational by 2020):
- Located outside door 9 of the arrivals floor, 24/7 taxi service can take you directly into the city (expect to pay about 240 TL to the Old Town or 170–190 TL to the New District).
- Private transfers can be booked directly though your hotel for €50, with a customary 10 percent tip.
- Havaist runs luxury buses every 30–50 minutes between the city center and airport, with onboard Wi-Fi, USB outlets, and space for luggage. The IST-1 line runs into the Old Town, while IST-19 serves the New District (18 TL).
- For those staying in the New District, the cheapest option for getting to/from the airport is the H2 shuttle line, which leaves at roughly 15-minute intervals, costs 5.20 TL, and is run by Istanbul's public transit agency, IETT. (IETT does not offer direct or connecting buses to the heart of Old Town; the closest stop is a fairly short taxi ride away, but taxis often turn down fares this small — you could find yourself stranded.