The new Istanbul Airport (with the IATA code IST) is the main international airport serving Turkish Istanbul. It has three terminals: Terminal 1 is for domestic flights, Terminal 2 for international flights, and Terminal 3 for both domestic and international flights. The total capacity of IST Airport is an incredible 200 million passengers per year. The airport serves as a significant transfer hub. If you fly from Prague with Turkish Airlines (and others) to far Asia or Africa, you will probably fly through Istanbul.
For long-haul flights with a transfer, you may have several hours reserved for the transfer (from quick two-hour transfers to very long transfer gaps of five hours or more). In such cases, it may be worth spending time in the more pleasant environment of an airport lounge, which offers a more comfortable setting, food, drinks, and possibly showers. The iGA Lounge is such a lounge at Istanbul Airport.
During my trip to Mauritius, I had just under three hours in Istanbul for a transfer, which I decided to spend in the iGA Lounge, even though the reviews for this lounge were not as enthusiastic as, for example, the Vienna Sky Lounge. The lounge in Istanbul is open 24 hours a day, and I arrived there around midnight when the hot buffet was mostly closed, and guests could serve themselves at large tables offering about 10 types of Turkish appetizers and salads.
I tasted couscous, which was truly excellent, and if I had it in a restaurant, I would be thrilled. For other types of dishes, it was more about a weaker taste. Guests could also refresh themselves with stuffed rolls or a few types of sweets. However, these did not even come close to the taste that Turkish confectioners enchant elsewhere.
The bar is located at one end of the lounge and is not self-service. Beer, draft wine, and mixed cocktails (e.g., gin and tonic) are available here. Although the lounge was crowded with people, the service was fast and had no problem if a person went for a drink several times.
The freely available non-alcoholic section was much richer, besides sparkling or still water, there was Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Fuze Tea, and Cappy juices. It was also possible to serve yourself coffee or Turkish tea.
However, what must be highlighted about the iGA Lounge is the view. The lounge is located on the first floor in the middle of the terminal, at the highest possible point. You can directly observe the hustle and bustle of the airport even in the late night hours.
The lounge is huge, offering plenty of seating options. Since the new Istanbul main airport was put into operation only a few years ago, it is designed in a modern style. Another advantage is that upon entering the lounge, you can use a three-hour Wi-Fi access. Passengers outside the lounge have only one hour available. You can get free access to the lounge with your credit card, but you can also buy it directly. I bought it for 30 EUR through the Revolut card, which I’m always using when travelling.
More information can be obtained by clicking on the map link:
Accommodation in Istanbul
I wholeheartedly endorse the Mest Hotel located directly in the heart of Istanbul. The hotel is elegantly renovated, the breakfasts are incredible and the views are spectacular. I last stayed here in the fall of 2022 and will definitely be back again.