Layover like a boss: Istanbul

With family on two separate continents, long international flights are now a part of both our lives and probaby will be forever. And so we are starting to figure out some strategies to make those twenty-hour airplane adventures as smooth, painless, and fun as possible.

For one thing, we’ve decided to make layovers something to look forward to. Especially layovers in the three to five hour range. Shorter layovers mean you get to board your next flight soon, and longer layovers mean time for some quick exploring of a new city, but it’s annoying when your connection isn’t quite enough time to leave the airport but an awful lot of time to kill sitting at your gate. So we have a plan to find all the best little spots at the airports we normally fly through and make layovers fun! I’ll write our tips and discoveries here so we can remember them for future trips.


We connected at Istanbul Ataturk in early August, shortly after the bombing and the coup. But aside from more Turkish flags on display than usual and somewhat tighter security, you’d never know it. Istanbul Ataturk is still what it is- a busy, bustling, modern international airport.

Some of the gates are okay places to sit around for a while, but some- especially on the lower level- have uncomfortable bare metal seats and limited space. But fear not: We scoured the whole airport and found what we are pretty sure is the most comfy place to wait, aside from the airport lounges we’re not cool enough (read: too cheap) to get into. Cakes & Bakes, a cafe on the upper level, is where it’s at. The coffee and pastries there are a bit pricey, and they don’t have Turkish coffee, but they do have lovely soft chairs in the back that are a great place to read or just chill. For Turkish coffee and a wider assortment of yummy pastries, Simit Sarayi is the place to go. If they’re out of Turkish coffee, Sweet Delights in the food court has it too (along with baklava). A cup of strong, aromatic Turkish coffee will always be a routine of our Istanbul layovers. Just the thing to wake us up after the first ten-hour stretch of our journey! And my favorite Turkish pastry, a savory potato-stuffed cylinder whose name I will hopefully learn the next time we are in Istanbul.