Travel to Turkey: The best airport for your trip
Visit Istanbul, Turkey’s mega hub
The city of Istanbul is a megacity with an impressive history, in a unique geographic spot. It is located both in continental Europe and Asia and is home to more than 14.8 million citizens. That makes it by far the biggest city in the country, so it’s not surprising that a large share – between 40 and 50 percent - of the Turkish economy is centred around this megalopolis Although Istanbul is very popular among visitors, tourism here actually plays a secondary role.
Istanbul benefits from its excellent access both to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea as well as its proximity to the EU countries Greece and Bulgaria and, thanks to its size, it is also an important hub for air travel. On October 29, 2018, Istanbul Airport was opened approximately 50 km northwest of the city centre (on the European side) and is currently the largest airport in the world with a total area equivalent to 2,000 football stadiums. With a capacity of 150 million passengers annually, it is set to overshadow major hubs such as Atlanta, Beijing and Dubai and become a global hub in international aviation. Istanbul-Atatürk, previously the most important airport in Turkey, finally closed its doors on October 7th, 2019, for all air traffic.
Almost 85 km away is the other Istanbul Airport, Sabiha Gökçen, on the Asian continent, which also boasts an impressive 34, 136, 516 passengers.
There are excellent connections to choose from for air travel to Turkey. In addition to Turkish Airlines (TK), Pegasus Airlines (PC) and SunExpress (XQ), Turkey is also served by numerous European low-cost airlines such as easyJet (U2), Ryanair (RYR) and Germanwings (4U).
Istanbul-Atatürk (IST) (now closed) – Passengers 2018: 67, 981, 446
Istanbul Airport (IST) – Passengers April – December 2019: 48, 230, 714
Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) – Passengers 2018: 34, 136, 516
Antalya Airport (AYT) – Passengers 2018: 31, 566, 217
Ankara-Esenboğa Airport (ESB) – Passengers 2018: 16, 732, 651
Izmir-Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB) – Passengers 2018: 13, 425, 547
Antalya: Things to do and see nearby
Antalya Airport (AYT) is the second largest airport in Turkey. With over 31.5 million passengers in 2018, it serves even more passengers than the airport in the capital of Ankara. Most passengers coming through Antalya Airport (AYT) are travellers who want to spend vacations on the so-called Turkish Riviera nearby, but it also plays an important role for Turkish citizens, due to its location in the country.
The two most important airlines providing flights to and from Antalya are Turkish Airlines and SunExpress. Both are Turkish carriers and SunExpress has its headquarters in Antalya. Due to the high popularity of the region around Antalya among German and other western European tourists, the airport is also well-connected via budget airlines. Lufthansa, Condor, Germanwings, TUIfly and Germania all offer direct flights to Antalya. The Turkish Riviera is also popular with Russian visitors, which explains why Aeroflot, Pobeda, S7 Airlines, Redwings, Ural Airlines and Utair also offer numerous flights there.
As a tourist destination to spend vacations, Antalya itself is not as popular as its airport passenger volume might suggest and mainly serves as a transit point to one of the many popular holiday areas in the north or south. Side and Alanya are particularly noteworthy and both cities offer great beaches and beautiful old towns with many historic sights. But there are also many smaller communities such as Kemer, Belek, Avsallar and Konakli which can be reached easily by bus from Antalya Airport.
Izmir: Holidays with sun, sea & ancient history
Izmir-Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB) is the fifth largest airport in the country in terms of passenger and air cargo volume after the two Istanbul airports, Antalya and Ankara.
Izmir itself is a very modern, cosmopolitan city which is well-connected by public transport and it hosts the second largest port of the country. There are also some beautiful sights you might want to visit, as Izmir has 5000 years of history. The Izmir Clock Tower near Yali Mosque, the Atatürk Monument on Republic Square and the Agora ruins dating from 4 th century BC are an absolute must. Kordon, Izmir´s iconic seafront, is a great place for hanging out, going for a leisurely stroll or sipping a cup of tea or Turkish coffee. It’s lined with picturesque cafes which offer a great view across the Mediterranean.
What you should also see when visiting Izmir are the lively Kemeraltı Bazaar and the Kadifekale Castle, which is located on a hill about 4 km away and offers a great panoramic view of the city, the bay and the neighbouring mountains. The bazaar district is home to the Hisar Mosque, the largest and most architecturally important mosque in Izmir, which was opened in 1597. A boat trip in the Bay of Izmir is also a fantastic experience and if you’re lucky you can even spot dolphins in the sea.
For lovers of ancient Greek sights with ruins, temples, amphitheatres and statues, Izmir is the perfect starting point. Ephesus, one of the most important ancient Greek towns, is just 70 km away in the south. 80 km to the north you can visit the Pergamon. Also, the idyllic coast town of Foça, which has preserved much of its original beauty, is not far away.
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