Istanbul has two major airports, Ataturk International Airport and Sabiha Gokcen.
Ataturk Airport in on European side of Istanbul and is only 17 km away from Sultanahmet, the old town. It was opened in 1924 and today it is the biggest airport in Turkey in terms of number of passengers, destinations served and aircraft movements. It is the main hub for Turkish Airlines, National Airline of Turkey.
In 1980s, the airport was named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first president of Turkish Republic, and called Istanbul Ataturk International Airport. International aviation sign of the airport is “IST”.
In 2015 it served more than 60 million passengers and became 13th busiest airport in the world, in terms of total passengers, 9th busiest in the world in terms of international passengers, and 3rd busiest airport in Europe after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
It is very easy to reach to city from the airport via metro, shuttle buses and taxis. If you are heading to Sultanahmet take the metro and change to tram at Zeytinburnu station.
If you use shuttle bus , you need to get off at aksaray then take tram to go to Old town.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport, is the second airport after Ataturk Airport and is on the Asian side of Istanbul. International aviation code is “SAW”. It is 55 km from Sultanahmet, the old town of Istanbul and mainly used by low cost airlines. It functions as main hub of Pegasus Airlines.
The construction of the airport started in 1998 and finished in 2001. It was named after first female combat pilot in Turkey. In 2010 the airport served more than 11 million passengers and was awarded with World’s Best Airport at World Low Cost Airlines Congress in London. The airport was planning to serve 25 million passengers by 2023 however in 2015 already served 28 million passengers.
Sabiha Gokcen Airport doesnot have railway connection. Nearest metro station is in Kartal, which is 22 km away and can be reached by a short bus or taxi ride.
The shuttle buses operate between Taksim & Airport and Kadikoy & Airport. If you heading to Sultanahmet you need to take shuttle bus to Taksim, then funicular to Kabatas and from there tram to old town.