Cheap Flights to Istanbul

Istanbul photo

Istanbul overview

When to fly?

Peak Season:

Istanbul’s tourist season runs from April to the end of October and July and August are the busiest months. If you plan on visiting during these months, it's recommended to search for flights to Turkey far in advance, especially around the festival dates, such as the Istanbul International Music Festival held every June and July. This highly prestigious event showcases classical music, ballet, opera and traditional music from a variety of well-known international artists. Many festival goers book a flight to Istanbul for the music and stay for a holiday.

Off Season:

The chill and wetness of winter fends off most visitors, but you will find fewer crowds and cheap flights and hotels.

Shoulder Season:

The shoulder seasons of April through June and September through October have mild weather, fewer tourists, and slightly lower hotel and flight prices. It is also when the Tulip Festival takes place. Although tulips are widely associated with Holland, they are also an important symbol in Turkish and Ottoman history and can be seen on tiles in mosques, literature and on royal clothing. The Tulip Era also signifies an Ottoman Empire period in history. To celebrate it, Istanbul parks are filled with different coloured tulips, for about 10-15 days during either March or April. This coincides with art exhibitions, photo contests and other events in Sultanahmet and Taksim Square. Another event which takes place during this period is The International Istanbul Film Festival offers movie buffs the chance to view Turkish movies with English subtitles. Starting late March and lasting two weeks, this festival is definitely for those travellers who are looking for something slightly different.

Why Visit?

The city is perched on the Bosphorus Strait and boasts a glorious imperial history. Istanbul has been the capital city of four empires - Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman. Its cultural heritage practically sings from the cobbled stones of the Grand Bazaar where traders and tourists haggle over treasures; in the Aya Sofya (also known as Haghia Sophia, its Greek name), and in the Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi), which was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.

One of the best ways to experience Istanbul is through the mouth-watering Turkish cuisine. Specialties include mam bayildi (an eggplant and tomato dish, mam bayildi translates as "the priest wept" such is its deliciousness), mercimek corbasi (red lentil soup), kofte (meatballs), testi kebab, borek (a pastry that has hundreds of varieties) and sweet, sticky, syrupy baklava.

It would be a waste to take cheap flights to Istanbul and not visit a traditional hamam (bathhouse) or take a ferry trip between Eminönü (Europe) and Anadolu Kavagi (Asia).

A European capital of culture in 2010, Istanbul has caught the public imagination. It is an increasingly popular destination for anyone with an appetite for the out of ordinary. Starting with the Blue Mosque, probably the city's best-known landmark, through the bazaars including the Grand Kapali Carsi and spice, to the magnificence of the Topkapi Palace and the nearby Istanbul Archaeology Museums, Istanbul is no ordinary city.

Cap it off with a night cruise of the Bosphorus to see the city from another perspective.

Getting around Istanbul

Several major car-rental companies have desks at Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST). There are metro, bus and taxi services to the city. There is an express bus service called Havas, which departs every 30 minutes.

If you have lots of luggage, take the metro to Aksaray and a taxi from there as it can be tricky negotiating a busy tram otherwise.

Walking is the best way to see this beautiful city. Another wonderful way of getting around is to take a ferry or catamaran along the Golden Horn or up the Bosphorus.

It's cheap to travel by public transport. The fast-growing metro system (underground and trains) saves you from the traffic jams, but travelling by tram will give you a great view of Istanbul.

There is a comprehensive bus system, however traffic congestion makes it a slow way of getting around. The Akbil electronic transit pass is valid on buses, trams, light rail, funiculars and ferry boats.

Dolmuses (shared minibus taxis) are more comfortable than the metropolitan buses and cheaper than taxis. They can be hailed along their route or at a stand. When you board, tell the driver where you are going and find out the cost.

For a private yellow taxi, have a hotel call one for you and ensure that the meter is running before you set off.

Istanbul insider information

  • Turkish coffee, the so-strong-you-can-stand-up-your-spoon-in-it blend may be better known, but Turks drink tea during the day. You'll more than likely be offered a cup if you're shopping in a bazaar. It's not rude to refuse a cup, but be upfront with your host if you're not going to buy. Apple tea, elma cai, is particularly popular with visitors. 
  • If you need a break from the hubbub of Istanbul, take to the water. A ferry ride along the Bosphorus River is a really wonderful way of seeing the city. 
  • Bagdat Caddesi is one of the most upmarket streets in Istanbul. It's on the Asian side of the city. From the European side, take a ferry to Kadikoy and continue on a dolmus. 
  • Galata Tower is a huge stone circular landmark that offers fantastic views of the city. In times past, it was the lookout of Galata, the Genoese town. 
  • If you want to buy the traditional kilim (carpet), without the Grand Bazaar experience – visit the small towns in the countryside where the carpets are made.

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Prices found by our users for local departures to Istanbul

Cheapest flights to Turkey

How much do things cost in Istanbul?

One-way ticket (local transport)
$ 0.88
1 km taxi journey
$ 0.74
Taxi - fixed fee
$ 1.35
1 hour taxi waiting fee
$ 7.81
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre)
$ 1.10
Cheap meal
$ 6.76
Imported beer (0.33 litre)
$ 5.07
$ 2.87
A dozen eggs
$ 2.55
Bottle of wine
$ 10.14
Bottle of local beer (0.5 litre)
$ 2.55
Large bottle of water
$ 0.57
Clothing & Shoes
Pair of jeans
$ 58.45
Pair of Nike shoes
$ 90.84
How much does an apartment cost in Istanbul?
3 bedroom apartment in city centre
$ 1105
1 bedroom apartment in city centre
$ 589
3 bedroom apartment outside of centre
$ 623
1 bedroom apartment outside of centre
$ 330

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