Getting from Istanbul Airport (IST) to Cheers Hostel (Sultanahmet) via Havaist and Public Transport

Note that this information is up to date as of April 2024.

This journey from Istanbul Airport (IST) uses the HAVAIST bus HVIST-12 and local tram. Journey time is about 1 hour 15 minutes.

  1. Once you have your luggage you go through customers and into the public arrival area. Once you come out into the public internal area turn left. Heading in that direction keep a look on your right for a bank of 3 lifts. They are yellow and have an image of a bus on the far right and far left. These lifts will take you to level -2.

  2. Once on level -2 you exit into a long sort of underground road where there are numerous parking stops for buses.

  3. If you are going to use the tram from where the bus drops off, you will need a IstanbulKart. You can get one of these using a credit/debit card from the yellow machines found right after the drink machines between bus stops 3 and 2. There are bus stop numbers up on the wall going from 1 (far left if facing the road) to 20 (far right). In 2023 it cost TL50 but now in 2024 that is TL70 for the card. Plus you must add an amount of credit to it. I just added TL50 to it as that was more than sufficient for the tram ride.

    IstanbulKart Ticket Machine - Push bottom right button to change language to English

  4. With your new IstanbulKart in your pocket head back the way you came and onward to stop 12 to find the HVIST-12 bus. The HVIST-12 runs about 45 times a day so the service is pretty regular 24 hours a day. Make sure bus is headed to Aksaray Metro. 2024 price for the one-way trip from Airport to Aksaray Metro is TL170 ~ GBP4. 25 (2023 TL87 ~ GBP3. 60) with debit card (phone/NFC) on boarding the bus. Before paying and boarding the bus you drop your luggage to go under the bus. When doing this the person loading the luggage will give you a plastic disk with a number of it which corresponds to the tag they put on your bag. You must present this on arrival to get your bag.


  5. HAVAIST say the bus 53km journey takes 90 minutes. This is probably the maximum time when traffic is heavy. 2023 journey time to Aksaray was 45 minutes, and the same again in 2024. The bus makes a couple of other stops but Aksaray Metro is where the bus terminates, and most people get off.

  6. As you step off the bus you want to head to your right - in the direction of the back of the bus. Follow the footpath along. As you head around the corner you hopefully will see the tram station (Aksaray) in front and to your right. It sort of sits under a road overpass. As you cross over to the tram station you want the second platform. Go past the first platform, cross the tram lines and enter the second platform. The tram heads up the hill and will probably be marked with the end stop of Kabatas.

  7. You want to get off at the 5th station, Gulhane istasyonu. The station before is Sultanahmet. Head uphill to get off the platform. When you get off there is no need to tap off, you just walk through the turnstile.

  8. Once off the tram head back up the hill the in the direction you travelled on the tram. You will walk past a wall of ATM's on your right. Past the ATM's there is some building works going on that blocks the footpath. Everyone just walks on the road but watch out for trams!

  9. At the end of the building works you hit a split in the road. The left is where you came down on the tram. Take the road on your right. Walk up the hill and take the next street on your left. Follow it a short way and you should soon see the sign for Cheers Hostel.
A ride on the ferry is a great way to enjoy that credit remaining on your IstanbulKart. Just see the crew at Cheers Hostel how to easily walk down to the water to enjoy a ride on one of the ferries.

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