Our flight home from LHR to KUL by Turkish Airlines is a stop-over flight (our choosing) instead of a transit. We’ve decided to take advantage of the stop-over lower fare compared to a transit, as it is sufficient to cover one night’s stay in a hotel. Our flight departed LHR at 11:30 and arrived IST at 17:20 local time, Istanbul being 2 hours ahead of London. We’ll be doing a 3 night free & easy, no itinerary stop-over in Istanbul.
For Muslim passengers who wish to perform their prayers, there is a prayer area behind baggage carousel 11 on the arrival level. There is no ablution facilities there, but you can do so at the washroom in-front of carousel 9 & 10. If you are on transit at Ataturk, there is a prayer hall on departure level between gates 218 & 219.
Although we’ve been to Istanbul several times, this will be our first taking the metro into town (otherwise it has been the airport shuttle). It’s a matter of following the sign on the floor & overhead signboard to the metro platform on the lower floor. There is lift to assist passengers with luggage, thus it’s step-free to the platform.
Our ‘Istanbulkart’ (Oyster equivalent) purchased 2 years ago, had sufficient balance for us to drop off at Sultanahmet stop where our hotel is. Unlike Oyster, Istanbulkart can be used up to 4 persons. The first will go thru the turnstile and pass the card to the person at the back to do the same. Of-course, 4 charges will be incurred for a 4 person use. Should you require to top-up your card, there are top-up machines close to the platform.
Those intending to proceed to Sultanahmet, Eminonu or right to Kabatas or in between, you’ll need to change to Tram service at Aksary. Although there is another interchange at Zeytinburnu to do so, people who we asked (non-english speaking) gestured ‘no-no’, but to get off at Aksary. One person even wrote down ‘Aksary’. No idea why that’s so. Thereafter, you’ve walk over to the Tram stop at Yusufpasa.
Exiting Aksary station is step free, but one needs to cross a very busy & wide main road over to Yusufpasa. There is an underground walkway but the stairs down and then up again is taxing. We GUARANTEE those with luggage and the not-so-young will be breathless. Once across the main road, it’s a further +/- 150m to Yusufpasa tram stop. We wonder whether a transfer at Zeytinburnu, would be step free and be friendly to disabled?
Trams runs frequently and you should not have to wait long for one. By the time we reached Sultanahmet stop, it was already night. We will be putting up at Star Holiday Hotel, a short walking distance from the stop. This is our 3rd time staying here and although the room is a little smallish, it’s proximity to attractions in Sultanahmet area makes choosing this hotel a no-brainier. It’s literally a 3 minutes walk to the Blue Mosque and 2 minutes, to Hagia Sophia. We’ve reviewed the hotel here. Nearby attractions or rather all attractions in Sultanahmet area, will be covered in future post.