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IST airport - 18 hour layover - where to stay ?

Friends :

I am reaching IST (Istanbul) at 12:00 noon by Turkish airlines on March 1 - will pick up my checked in bag.
My next flight is 6:30am the next day, March 2 - on United/ operated by Lufthansa airlines.

Where can i stay during this long layover ? I am not planning to go outside as I will need a visa (as a US citizen)

Thanks for your help

Posted by
2020 posts

Without getting the cheap and easy tourist visa, you'd be limited to the mostly-windowless airside Yotel.

Posted by
4097 posts

Generally, on arrival at an international airport, you will go through immigration (entry for people) first, where you (as a US citizen) will need to have a Visa. After that, you will proceed to collect your checked baggage and pass through customs (entry for goods) to enter the arrivals hall.

If you do not have a Visa, and therefore cannot pass through immigration, you won't reach the baggage carousels.

Unless, of course, you've confirmed that your bag will be available to collect airside, but that's not typical for checked baggage on a long-haul flight.

Posted by
4097 posts

Are you flying on a single ticket or two separate ones? If single, have you confirmed that your luggage will transfer to your morning flight without your assistance? If so, you could pack what you need for the overnight in your carryon.

If you're on 2 separate tickets, you will surely need to claim and recheck your luggage.

Posted by
68 posts

CWSocial :

Two separate tickets - flying BOM-IST on Turkish Airlines
then flying IST-FRA-SFO on separate ticket.

I see this makes it complicated .... :(

Posted by
4097 posts

Ah yes, it does.

The Yotel at Istanbul Airport has both airside and landside accommodation, per their webpage:

https://helpcenter.yotel.com/hc/en-gb/articles/7189722926109-Which-YOTEL-Istanbul-Airport-hotel-should-I-book-#:~:text=You%20will%20only%20need%20your,before%20immigration%20and%20passport%20control.

They lay out who can stay at each, and whether a Visa is required. The scenario for someone who is:

"Flying with two different airlines with a non-connecting flight that you need to collect your luggages and recheck in them."

...is listed under the landside option, which requires a Visa.

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you so much -
so in my case - I have no option, but to get a visa (on arrival) - pick up my checked bag, go through
security check and go to United/Lufthansa counter once they open.

I am thinking - if I need to get a visa, might as well explore options to see whatever little I can in Istanbul - will be heavily jet lagged, but so be it. And I will also need to lug a 23 kg checked bag or find an option ... ouch !

I had to get separate tickets as this was the cheapest option - other options were very expensive.

Posted by
4097 posts

I think that's a great option! An evening in Istanbul is a bonus!

There are companies that do layover tours. I think I remember seeing one for Istanbul... I'll research.

If you book the landside Yotel, you should be able to leave your luggage with them.

I would get my Turkey visa beforehand.... one less thing to do during your limited time in Istanbul. I always recommend setting the start date a few days ahead of your intended arrival, in case your airline changes your flight and you need to come earlier.

Posted by
4097 posts

I haven't used this company, so this is just an example of a private layover tour:

https://www.guidedistanbultours.com/tour/istanbul-layover-tour/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAo-yfBhD_ARIsANr56g4pVp0A8UTQ1A3zHi7Mh1yt5QiN367--zP3ksl6ck2VE1ElehDIyYsaAvaSEALw_wcB

"Includes: Officially licensed tour guide, private tour, transportation, roundtrip airport transfers"

ETA: yikes, not cheap!

I also saw options on GetYourGuide, which will have flexible booking terms.

Posted by
196 posts

I had a similar problem in 2019. Flew into IST and had to collect our checked bags. We then went to the Lufthansa counter and had to convince them to check the bags again for the next day. We also had an early flight the next morning and wanted to stay in the Airside Yotel to sleep in and skip the security lines.
Yes, you'll need an e-visa: http://www.evisa.gov.tr/ Its a simple process for U.S. citizen.

Posted by
1050 posts

You’re in luck because (1) IST Airport has lockers you can store your luggage in. ( 2) Istanbul’s new Metro Line M11 from IST Airport to central Istanbul just opened last month. The M11 line begins at IST’s Metro station located about 800 feet in front of the airport terminal. You can get from the airport to the final M11 ( “M eleven”) station in the city named “Gayrettepe” in 33 minutes. From that station you can transfer to Metro Line M2 which will arrive at Taksim Square after 3 more stations taking 8 minutes. Tons of hotels at Taksim Square or you can reach the Beyoglu neighborhood where I usually stay by walking 10 minutes from Taksim Square. You also can transfer to the F1 Funicular near Taksim Square and take it downhill to the waterfront KABATAS station and transfer to the T1 Tram for SULTANAHMET, where most of Istanbul’s historic sights— the Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar— are all located. Start checking Trivago.com or Booking.com for the best deals on hotels.

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you leonard. Thank you Kenko.

My situation is similar to yours leonard in 2019
I will try to get Lufthansa to check in my bag.

If not, as Kenko has suggested, I will look for lockers to store my bags. Metro option is a godsend for me -- instead of an organized tour, I would love to explore it on my own. Cheaper and at my own pace.
I will have to return to the airport late in the night for my 625am flight to Frankfurt.

One more question -
I don't have any local currency. How much Turkish Liras should I get for this short visit ?
I am hoping I can use credit card everywhere - but I am sure, getting some Turkish Liras will be helpful.

Thx

Posted by
4097 posts

How Much Turkish Liras should I get for this short visit ?

Short answer: restaurants, admissions and larger purchases are likely to take credit cards, though you'll want to confirm that with each establishment. Smaller vendors, such as at kiosks, and smaller purchases will likely require Turkish Lira. In most cases, if you buy a restaurant meal on a credit card, you cannot add the tip to the charge, so you'll need cash for it.

You can read my Trip Report for a lot more detail on ATMs, costs of typical items and credit cards. Note that with the high rate of inflation in Turkey, prices will be much higher now.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/3-weeks-to-fall-in-love-with-turkey

Posted by
710 posts

Turkish Airlines is currently advertising a free 2-3 day layover for connecting flights. Of course there are restrictions, but it could be a good deal for the right person. Additional days are also available at a low(er?) cost.

Posted by
68 posts

I came back last Saturday after a wonderful 3 nights vacation in Istanbul.
Thank you All ... very very much for your helpful guidance -- without this I would not have ventured out.

Here is my trip report :
- cancelled by United ticket from IST-FRA-SFO .. took credit for future flight (Thanks United for this option)
- walked over, got visa on arrival. Took me 5 minutes !! ... and $30 USD cash (they don't accept credit card - not sure about other currency)
- collected my checked 23kg bag and found 'Left Baggage'. Cost : $5 USD/day or 90 TL
(Kudos to IST airport -- it was so convenient)

  • talked to touristanbul counter - they put me in 'The Grand Yavuz Hotel' in Sultanahmet area
    (Hotel was fine - nothing great, nothing bad either. Decent breakfast, helpful staff. One downside - this is a very hilly area, lots of steep walks up and down. I'm glad I took my smaller bag with me)

  • they also got me into HavaIST bus to Aksaray and gave me directions: walk few minutes to Aksaray T1 tram line station to Cemberlitas (3 stops away), and from there walk 10 minutes to the hotel. (Cost : HavaIST shuttle : 87 TL ~ $ 5 USD, and got a 10 pack istanbul public transportation card for $20 USD - good for travel on bus, metro, tram, ferry, funicular, metrobus, marmaray
    This card made my transportation very convenient all over Istanbul)

  • next 2.5 three days, I went around Istanbul - Aya Sofia mosque, Blue Mosque (which is closed), Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Taksim square, Galata Tower, walked across the Galata bridge, visited Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace - did not go inside as it takes too much time to really visit, .. went to Kadikoy neighborhood for another afternoon/evening. It was fun -- Istanbul is a very charming place to visit. Not to mention, Excellent food all over ( vegetarian or non-vegetarian options ), lovely Turkish tea with Turkish sweets (baklava, halva, etc)

On Saturday, took a taxi from hotel to IST airport : took 1 hr 15 minutes (cost : $30 USD). I could have gone via public transportation, but did not want to risk delays as I had to pick up the Left Luggage.

Getting my bag back from Left Luggage was smooth.

They have made IST airport and facilities really wonderful .. so convenient.

Lastly -- I found Istanbul quite safe, I was walking around with my phone out using google maps, and there were many others like me. Shopkeepers at the Grand Bazaar and other places were quite nice .. did not feel any undue sales pressure. Language was a slight barrier, but everyone tried to help.

Thanks again everyone for your help - Hope my report helps others plan their visit.

Posted by
68 posts

Also - I withdrew 400 TL from ATM at the airport (charged 40 TL as commission)
This turned about sufficient for me. If needed, there are ATMs all over the place ... I got good exchange rates on my
ATM transaction.

Posted by
4097 posts

Wow, sounds like you turned a long layover into a great 2.5 days in Istanbul! I'm impressed with how you made it all work! Did you just buy a new ticket on Turkish Airlines with their 3 day layover option?

Thanks for reporting back about your Visa on arrival, left luggage and use of the tourist desk for your hotel and bus transfer. Very helpful.

Finally, glad to hear you enjoyed the sights and food in Istanbul!

Posted by
68 posts

You guessed it right, CWsocial - luckily there were plenty of seats on IST-SFO direct flight - cost was only slightly higher.
This was all well worth it.

Posted by
4097 posts

Glad it worked out so well! Thanks for the movie tip; it looks like I'll find it on Prime Video.

Posted by
1050 posts

Great to hear that you were able to thoroughly enjoy Istanbul as an extended stopover at the end of your journeys. Sometimes the best things happen as spontaneous surprises—
Welcome home to California!

Posted by
68 posts

Thank you Kenko - glad to be back .. although would have hoped for better weather.

CWsocial - it's on Netflix