The World’s Largest Airport Museum: A Hidden Gem In Istanbul

The Istanbul Airport Museum offers a glimpse into the rich history of Turkiye from prehistoric and Roman to modern times.

  • Istanbul Airport Museum is the world’s largest and showcases 316 Turkish artifacts from various historical eras.
  • The museum offers a glimpse into Turkiye’s rich history and includes significant historical documents like the ‘Kadesh Treaty’.
  • Located in the International Departures area, the museum is a must-visit for those transiting Istanbul’s bustling airport.

Turkiye boasts some of the world’s best open-air and indoor archeological museums. Those just transiting through Istanbul Airport may be disappointed that they came so close to seeing Turkiye’s marvels and yet so far. Fortunately, the Istanbul Airport Museum offers passengers the chance to glimpse into Turkiye’s archeological history without ever leaving the airport.

Istanbul Airport is only five years old, but it is already setting world records and is one of the busiest airports in the world. In addition to relaxing at Turkish Airlines’ luxurious lounge,step back and discover Turkiye’s long and storied history.

The world’s largest airport museum

Turkiye is famous for its many ancient Greco-Roman cities and a history stretching back to the earliest days of permanent human settlement (the ruins at Göbekli Tepe are over 11,000 years old). The Istanbul Airport Museum is an opportunity to peek into this rich history while having a layover at the new Istanbul Airport.

  • Opened: 17th July 2020
  • Size: Approx. 10,750 sq feet

The Istanbul Airport Museum is the largest in the world, and visitors can see 316 artifacts from all over Turkiye. The exhibit even includes the ‘Kadesh Treaty’ the first recorded peace treaty in human history between Pharaoh Ramesses II and the Hittite emperor Ḫattušili III.

The museum has artifacts from Turkish, Ottoman, Seljuk, Byzantine, Roman, Greek, Lydian, Hittite, and prehistoric times. It offers a taste of the many superb archeological museums found across Turkiye.

The airport museum is the first of its kind in Turkiye and one of the few in the world. It is one of the best museums in or next to airports worldwide (although they are often aviation museums – like Delta Flight Museum at Georgia’s Atlanta Airport).

Visit the Istanbul Airport Museum

The main exhibit at the Istanbul Airport Museum is the ‘Treasures of Türkiye: Faces of the Throne’; the museum plans to host a new temporary exhibition every year.

  • Admission: €13 (approx. USD 14.50)
  • Opening Hours: 8:30 am to 11:00 pm daily

The Istanbul Airport Museum is necessary for those with spare hours transiting Turkiye’s glitzy new Istanbul Airport. It is a way to glimpse Turkiye without leaving the airport. It is located upstairs on the International Departures floor behind the duty-free shops, with airport signs directing the way for passengers. It doesn’t take long to explore the museum 30 minutes will likely be plenty of time to see its exhibits.

The museum is open daily from 8:30 am to 11:00 pm and costs approx. USD 14.50. The museum pass Istanbul card is not valid for the Istanbul Airport Museum. Those who can’t physically see the museum can still explore it online with a virtual tour.

The Istanbul Airport boasts a second exhibit called ‘Pioneers of Modern Science – the History of Islamic Science and Technology Exhibition.’ It has interactive displays about Muslim scientists and is located at Pier B in the International Departures area.

Istanbul Airport

In April 2019, Istanbul’s new international airport finally opened for commercial passenger flights (cargo services were transferred in February 2022). The massive new airport quickly became Europe’s busiest by 2022 (although Heathrow will be busier in 2023). Istanbul Airport is both a major hub and the primary gateway into Turkiye.

There are ambitious plans for the gleaming new Istanbul Airport, with targets of handling 100 million passengers annually by 2027. The airport continues to be expanded in phases. It is hoped that, eventually, when all stages are complete, it will have the capacity to serve 200 million passengers annually (which would make it the largest airport in the world).

Istanbul Airport is located quite far from the city of Istanbul around an hour by taxi, and the rail connection is still incomplete. For now, passengers must take a taxi or bus to get to and from the airport.


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