How much time should I plan after I arrive and get off plan in Istanbul before I can leave the airport (customs, etc)? How early should I plan on getting to Ataturk Airport in Istanbul to depart?
Shouldn't take you no more than 45 minutes to an hour to get completely out of the airport. Don't forget that you need to purchase a visa before leaving the airport. The line moves very quickly. Are you flying out of the airport domestically or internationally? Same sort of rule applies as here in the US. One hour for domestic and about two hours for international. I did both and don't remember taking too long to get through security.
I am flying to Rome, Italy; so technically Internationally so two hours?
Yes, 2 hours.
The one time I arrived in Istanbul, it took me almost 2 hours to get out of the airport. The visa line was long, but moved at a reasonable pace (not "fast" but not too slow either). But the immigration line was very slow and took much longer than I expected. By the time I was through immigration, my bags were waiting, and customs was a walk-through. Our hotel's driver had been waiting for us for quite a while, and said it often takes a long time for people to get out of the airport. I only have that one experience, so I have no basis for comparison.
Hi Stephanie - I agree with Harold. The visa line was long but moved along. 30 minutes or so. The immigration line was perhaps double the time. Make sure you are in correct line to get a visa first....otherwise you'll wait in the immigration line twice. Saw that happen to a few unhappy folks...I don't think they knew they needed a visa first. I would say 2 hours max....more like 90 minutes. The time to check in was quick but I would still allow 2 hours.
Stephanie- You can now save time by purchasing your tourist visa for Turkey online HERE. Try it now, the link should work. Thanks, Rose!-Lee