Flying to Antalya from UK via Istanbul - Experiences Pros & by:Tim Smith
While investigating the prices of flights to Antalya - a practice with which I am quite familiar, since purchasing an apartment some 60 km from the airport, I discovered that one can sometimes save money by electing to fly via Istanbul.
Over the past two years I have made three such journeys each time departing from London Luton airport with Easyjet en-route to Istanbul Sabiha Gocken airport. The timings of these flights, particularly in the winter season, are such that you can catch an onward connection to Antalya flying there with Pegasus www.flypgs.com a reliable and punctual Turkish airline. It is possible to fly (again via Istanbul) from Stansted using Pegasus for both legs, however the flight times of the second leg with Pegasus do not tie in with their arrival in Istanbul and will therefore involve an overnight stay there.
Travelling in February 2008 I researched and discovered that I could lodge in a suburb of Istanbul called Pendik reaching this by Taxi a journey of approximately 20 minutes and 12 or so miles. The hotel proved to be comfortable and the breakfast reasonable.
The journey involves obtaining your entry visa in Istanbul airport, clearing customs and if you are travelling onwards to Antalya the same afternoon you will need to proceed to the Domestic area which is just to your left about 100 yards and wait a couple of hours before you can check in at the Pegasus terminal. When returning to the -UK at Sabiha Gocken you will need to go through security to gain access to the International Terminal.
Sabiha Gocken airport is a reasonable satellite airport in Istanbul (Ataturk is the biggest airport there); the facilities are satisfactory if unexciting and the catering is quite expensive. I am told that Sabiha is expanding rapidly and that eventually it will provide a significant portion of flights which hitherto have operated from Ataturk.
In July 2008 I travelled with my wife using the same route but this time we elected to stay overnight in Istanbul on our return to the UK. We did not want an expensive hotel so booked an economy room at a website called www.istanbul30.com
This website offers rooms from 30 euros per person per night and here we gained an advantage and a disadvantage. The obvious advantage was the price; the less obvious advantage was the proximity of this small hotel to Taksim Square and in particular Istikial Caddesi the main shopping street of the City.
The disadvantage was that the hotel was quite shabby particularly the shower room where a chambermaid was still assiduously mopping up the excess water spilled by an inadequate drainage system.
Nonetheless and after a suitable reprimand from my wife we discovered that Istikial Caddesi is reminiscent of Oxford Street at Christmas with its illuminations and vibrant shops, it also reminds you of San Francisco because of the trolley car where customers are hanging outside the compartment using railings to avoid falling off the car.
The dining is superb and inexpensive and a must see is the tourist highlight called Galata Tower where for about 5 you can reach the top and enjoy one of the world's greatest sights, a 270 degree view of the Bosphorous, Mosques, Fountains, Bridges, Suspension Bridges, Ferries and Ocean Liners. For those of you who are financially secure it is possible to book a four or five course meal here where you can enjoy the view, the food and take in a large floor show including Turkish Belly Dancing. The cost of this is approximately 80 euros per person.
At the time of writing i.e. May 2009, there are special offers applying to both Easyjet and Pegasus airlines and I calculated that for the complete journey in October it would cost me approximately 120 return - a very reasonable price.
The main disadvantage is that you will be travelling from Luton to Antalya for most of the day arriving in the evening. The advantages are cost and reasonable starting out times when compared with some of the charter airlines which sometimes depart at 3.00am or 22.00pm. Another advantage is that you may get to see one of the world's greatest cities i.e. Istanbul - the panorama while landing is amazing. It is easy to transfer from Sabiha Gocken to Istanbul Taksim Sq by Havas airport bus at a cost of around 5 for each leg with a journey time of approximately 1 hour. The return bus departs near MacDonald's restaurant on an hourly basis.
About the author
Tim is the owner of an apartment on the new Four Seasons Complex Nr Side and Kumkoy, Antalya, Turkey and has travelled to Antalya several times in the past three years.
Copyright All rights reserved. Written by T.P.Smith