Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST)

Things to do in Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST)

One of the top choices for duty-free cigars in Europe is this fragrant, humid antechamber tucked away behind the tobacco section of the duty-free shop.

At this, one of Europe’s biggest duty-free shops, prices are lower than comparable shops in the airport’s Euro Zone.

Jewelry has a distinctive Turkish sensibility at this duty-free shop. The designers employ historical Anatolian jewelry-making techniques and motifs.

If you want to bring baklava back home, don’t buy it in the city—you’ll get syrup all over your luggage. Buy it here.

This is not a luxury spa—don’t expect aromatherapy or an oxygen facial—but it’s a perfectly serviceable salon for basic freshening-up if you’re in need of a shampoo, blow-dry, shave, or manicure.

If you have a few hours to kill and feel adventurous, take a five-minute taxi ride to military-aviation paradise: the Istanbul Aviation Museum in the nearby district of Yesilköy.

Ottoman-style décor, elaborate antique portraiture, deep leather sofas, gilded chairs, crystal chandeliers, palatial marble washrooms, and darkened, private relaxation areas with fully reclining armchairs conspire to make this one of the world’s most opulent airport lounges.

Security regulations make it all but impossible to watch planes taking off from the airport, but these establishments in the Istanbul International Airport Hotel offer international cuisine, a fully stocked bar, and a fine vantage point for plane-spotting. The bar is open 24 hours.

Compared to the Turkish Airlines Lounge, this airport-operated lounge is somewhat spartan, but it offers wireless Internet access, massage recliners, shower facilities, and a well-stocked buffet with coffee, snacks, pastries, sandwiches, and aperitifs. Admission is $45.

This is the only gym at the airport. Unfortunately, it isn’t convenient for international layover passengers: you have to go through Passport Control and immigration—and purchase a visa, if you’re a U.S. citizen.

Two treatments—neither of them traditional Tui Na—are available at this outlet operated by a friendly Turkish couple. The more private option is a Swedish-style back rub in a massage chair behind the curtain, with a human massage therapist (prices begin at $20 for 10 minutes).

For a peaceful place to get right with God—or to get away from the PA system—prayer rooms, called masjids, are available throughout the airport (5 a.m.–11 p.m.). Men and women pray separately (and in modest clothing—no shorts or bare arms).

All major flights to Istanbul touch down at Ataturk Airport, located approximately 14 miles west of the city center. On average, 82,000 passengers pass through it daily, and 700 planes arrive and depart, making it the 17th busiest airport in the world.

Designed to look like Istanbul’s huge, centuries-old, labyrinthine Grand Bazaar with its colorful carnival of domed buildings, arches, and pillars, the newer and smaller Old Bazaar sells high-quality Turkish specialty items—olive oil, dates, halvah (a Middle Eastern sweet made of ground sesame se

This family-owned Turkish chain sells lovely and unusual pieces that reflect Turkey’s cultural heritage. The designers use precious and semiprecious metals and gems to create contemporary drop necklaces, rings, and bracelets inspired by Byzantine and Ottoman Empire designs.