Flying is one of the best ways to travel around Turkey for a number of reasons: it’s budget friendly, you’ll cover large distances in an hour or two, and almost every corner of the country is easily within reach.
It’s no secret that Turkey is huge: coming in at around 783,500 sq km (302.5k sq miles), the country is twice the size of Germany and about the same size as Texas. If the entirety of Turkey were in Europe, it would be the second-largest country!
While a country of this size might seem daunting, air travel in Turkey is extremely convenient and will get you to your destination in the shortest amount of time.
To put it in perspective, you could drive 22-hours (non-stop!) and 1,700 kilometers from Izmir (a city on the west coast) to Van (one of the easternmost cities) … or hop on a plane and be there in just 2 hours. Awesome, right?
Besides the convenience factor, domestic airlines in Turkey are very budget-friendly and won’t hurt your pocket: the flight we mentioned above (Izmir – Van) usually costs $50 USD one-way, and most tickets are somewhere in the $25 to $60 range. If you want to know how to travel around Turkey on a budget, this is one of the best options.
Finally, there are almost 60 airports in Turkey: 20 are exclusively domestic, while 35 are domestic and international. You’ll have no problem getting to even the most remote places in the country thanks to the excellent airport infrastructure and daily departures.
If you’re ready to learn more about domestic flights in Turkey — including the best airlines to travel around Turkey, how to travel to and from the airport, and plenty of other practical tips, this post has everything you need to know. Grab your passport and let’s go!
LIST OF AIRLINES IN TURKEY
There are 4 domestic airlines in Turkey: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, AnadoluJet, and SunExpress. Let’s take a look at each:
Turkey’s national airline is none other than Turkish Airlines — and one of the best airlines in the world!
Besides flying to 130 countries around the world, Turkish Airlines covers 50 destinations in Turkey, making them the airline with the most domestic coverage.
Turkish Airlines operates from a number of different hubs, but their main bases are Istanbul Airport (IST), Ankara Esenboğa Airport (ESB), and İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB). Likewise, Turkish Air is a member of the Star Alliance network, so you can earn more miles if you’re part of the program. 🙂
Turkish Airlines is the best domestic airline in Turkey for a number of reasons: the hospitality is legendary (you’ll get a snack even if it’s a 1-hour flight!), the seats are comfortable, and all flights come with a complimentary 23-kg checked bag.
However, there’s one small downside to such amazing service: the tickets are more expensive compared to other domestic airlines. But if you can afford an extra $5 or $10 USD for a ticket, we highly recommend booking with Turkish Airlines!
On the flip side, Pegasus Airlines is the biggest budget airline in Turkey, with about 30% of the entire domestic market. This low-cost Turkish airline flies to more than 40 destinations across the country, from popular cities (Antalya, Izmir, Ankara) to hidden gems like Kars, Van, and Batman.
While Pegasus’ prices may be comparably cheaper than Turkish Airlines (by 10 to 50% on average), many amenities are not included because of the company’s “no frills” model.
You’ll need to pay for checked luggage (and be careful to not go over the limit with your carry-on bags!) and seating selection. Domestic flights typically don’t include complimentary food or snacks, but there’s an in-flight menu that you can order from.
Named after Turkey’s geographical region (Anadolu is Anatolia in Turkish!), AnadoluJet is a low-cost airline that was created by Turkish Airlines.
There’s not much to say about AnadoluJet, except that it’s like Turkish Airlines but with Pegasus-level service.
When booking your airline tickets, be sure to read the small print — sometimes the flight is marketed on Turkish Airlines, but underneath it’ll say “Operated by Anadolujet”.
Similar to AnadoluJet, SunExpress is a smaller airline that’s concentrated on regional markets. The company is owned by Turkish Airlines (50%) and Lufthansa (50%), and offers both domestic and international flights.
You’ll most likely see SunExpress flying to and from Antalya and the coastal cities (Izmir, Bodrum, Dalaman, Samsun, Trabzon, etc) because those are the company’s focus cities. In fact, SunExpress is headquartered in Izmir and uses Antalya Airport as their airline hub.
Psst! You might have read about Onur Air or AtlasGlobal (AtlasJet) in travel guides or blogs, but unfortunately both airlines ceased operations in 2022 and don’t exist anymore. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see them on your flight search results. 😅
LIST OF THE MOST POPULAR AIRPORTS IN TURKEY
If you’re wondering where to fly in or out of, here’s a quick overview of the most popular airports in Turkey (by passenger traffic):
- Istanbul International Airport (IST) — Istanbul
- Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) — Istanbul
- Antalya Airport (AYT) — Antalya
- Esenboğa International Airport (ESB) — Ankara
- Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB) — Izmir
- Adana Şakirpaşa Airport (ADA) — Adana
- Trabzon Airport (TZX) — Trabzon
- Dalaman Airport (DLM) — Mulga
- Milas-Bodrum Airport (BJV) — Mugla / Bodrum
- Oğuzeli Airport (GZT) — Gaziantep
Both of Istanbul’s airports take the top spot — IST for international and domestic flights, and SAW for mostly domestic flights. Turkey’s capital, Ankara, took the 4th spot, while popular summer destinations like Antalya, Mugla, and Bodrum took 3rd, 8th, and 9th spot respectively.
Turkey’s third-biggest city, Izmir, took the 5th spot, while the ‘Gateway to the Black Sea,’ Trabzon, came in at lucky number 7. Those who want to explore southern Turkey should plan to arrive at Adana (number 6) or Gaziantep (number 10) — and don’t forget to try the delicious Adana kebab or baklava!
AVERAGE FLIGHT TIMES
If you’re flying between cities in Turkey, you can expect most flights to take between 1 to 2 hours. Here are some of the most popular routes and their average flight time:
İstanbul – İzmir — 1 hour 10 mins
Istanbul – Antalya — 1 hour 15 mins
Istanbul – Cappadocia — 1 hour 20 mins
Istanbul – Bodrum — 1 hour 20 mins
İstanbul – Trabzon — 1 hour 40 mins
Istanbul – Van — 2 hours
Cappadocia – Antalya — 1 hour 20 mins
Antalya – Izmir — 1 hour 10 mins
Antalya – Trabzon — 1 hour 50 mins
GETTING TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
One of the most common questions about flying in Turkey isn’t the actual process — it’s getting to the airport! 😅
Thankfully, getting to and from the airport is quite easy and convenient.
OPTION #1 — Airport Shuttle
All major airports in Turkey have their own version of an airport shuttle, which is an excellent way to save time, money, and your stress. These airport shuttles are much cheaper than taking a taxi; go to the city center; and offer a convenient way to go to and from the airport.
In Istanbul, there are two companies that operate shuttles to/from the airport.
HavaIST operates transportation from Istanbul International Airport (IST), and HAVABUS operates shuttles from Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW).
Note that HavaIST only operates from IST airport, and HAVABUS only operates from SAW airport. The only exception is that there is a route from HavaIST that goes between IST airport to SAW airport (it’s very convenient if you’re flying out from different airports and need to transfer between IST and SAW).
Outside of Istanbul, the most popular airport transfer shuttle company is called Havaş. They actually used to service Istanbul’s airports as well, until the airports created their own airport buses (discussed above). 😅
Havaş airport buses provide transportation to/from 20 airports across Turkey, including Izmir, Bodrum, Dalaman, Antalya, Alanya, Konya, Ankara, Sivas, Şanlıurfa, and Trabzon, among others.
To check the route map, timetables, and ticket price, click here to go to Havaş’ English website. Scroll down to the bottom and enter your details to see the information.
OPTION #2 — Public Transportation
Major metropolitan cities in Turkiye have public transport that goes from the airport to the city center. For example, Istanbul’s M4 metro connects SAW airport to the city center, and the M11 metro goes all the way from IST airport to Kagithane.
Izmir has the İZBAN train, which goes directly from Adnan Menderes Airport to the center (you can check the line map here).
Likewise, travelers can get from Antalya airport to the center via the Antray (Antalya tram).
OPTION #3 — Taxi
Every airport in Turkey, no matter how big or small, will always have at least a few taxi drivers near the departures. Be sure to google the average price of a taxi fare beforehand to ensure that you won’t get scammed.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAVEL BY AIRPLANE IN TURKEY?
As mentioned in the beginning, domestic airfare in Turkey is quite budget-friendly — especially if you book in advance! Below are some of the average prices for a one-way ticket that’s booked at least a few weeks in advance.
Please note that the lower end of the price is typically on Pegasus (a budget airline), while the higher end is on Turkish Airlines or its subsidiaries. Overall, the average plane ticket price in Turkey is around $30 one-way.
Istanbul to Izmir — $25 to $40
Istanbul to Antalya — $25 to $40
Istanbul to Bodrum — $30 to $55
Istanbul to Cappadocia — $35 to $65
Istanbul to Trabzon — $35 to $55
Izmir to Antalya —$15 to $50
Istanbul to Van — $40 to $60
Cappadocia – Antalya — $20 to $50
If you’re flying during Turkey’s peak season (June through August), keep in mind that prices can double or even triple. If you’re flying during the first half of the year, it’s also a good idea to check the dates for Ramadan, as many locals tend to travel during this time and prices will also rise.
PRACTICAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR FLYING IN TURKEY
We’ve covered almost everything you need to know about domestic flights in Turkey, so here are a few final words of advice.
Flying to Cappadocia
If you’re traveling to Turkey, there’s a high chance that you’ll also be visiting Cappadocia (which we highly recommend — it’s amazing!)
However, there’s one important thing to keep in mind: there are actually two airports in Cappadocia. 😅
You can either fly to Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV) or Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR). From a practical point of view, it’s easier to fly into Nevşehir because it’s slightly closer (40 km versus 75 km from Kayseri) and better-organized. However, Kayseri has more flights to/from the airport per day.
No matter what you choose, the most important thing when arriving to Cappadocia is to book a good airport transfer service — click here for the top-rated transfers.
If you plan to fly around Turkey often, it’s worth signing up for a loyalty program to get free flights and discounts.
Each airline has its own loyalty program — for example, Turkish Airlines is Miles&Smiles, while Pegasus has BolBol.
By the way! Turkish Airlines is part of the Star Alliance partnership, which also includes Air Canada, ANA, Air China, LOT, Lufthansa, and United, among others. Don’t forget that you can earn and transfer miles to/from Turkish Airlines if you’re a member of another airline in this partnership. 🙂
The early bird gets the worm, right? Be sure to book your air tickets in advance — you’ll have more choices and the prices will be lower.
Factor in Time to get to the airport
Like many major cities around the world, the majority of airports in Turkey are located far, far away from the city center.
For example, both Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) are about an hour’s drive (50 km) from the center. Izmir Airport (ADB) to the center is about 30 minutes’ drive (20 km).
Be sure to factor in an extra one to two hours in case you get stuck in traffic!
The two largest (and busiest) airports are both located in Istanbul, and as such, the city is one of the largest aviation hubs in the world.
If you fly from two ‘secondary cities’, such as Trabzon to Gaziantep, you’ll most likely need to connect in Istanbul. If you prefer direct flights without any stops, be sure to keep this in mind when planning your itinerary.
However, even if you connect in Istanbul, both IST and SAW airports offer plenty of amenities. Speaking of which…
Airport Lounges in Turkey
Turkey has about 50 airport lounges around the country, and relaxing in one is an excellent way to pass the time in comfort and style.
One of our absolute must-haves when traveling is our Priority Pass, which allows holders to access more than 1,500 lounges worldwide — including Turkey!
BOOKING AIRLINE TICKETS
If you’re planning on booking a ticket in Turkey, we recommend Kiwi — just input your airport and travel dates below to see the best deals!