Champions League final: Want to get to Istanbul to see Manchester City vs Inter? You still can

Exclusive: Air fares and hotel rates are way below the usual prices for top sporting events

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 09 June 2023 10:22 BST
City magic: Manchester City fans outside the Dubliner Irish Pub in Istanbul on Thursday
City magic: Manchester City fans outside the Dubliner Irish Pub in Istanbul on Thursday (PA Wire)

As fans of Manchester City and the Italian side Inter converge on Istanbul for Saturday’s Champions League final, there are still flights available at fares way below the usual “peak pricing” for key sporting events.

Pegasus Airlines has a one-way overnight flight on Friday night from Manchester, arriving at 8.35am, for just £263 – comparable with normal fares for very short-notice bookings.

The final kicks off at 10pm local time (8pm UK time) at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on the west side of the city.

Compared with the prices paid by West Ham United fans who went to Prague for the Europa Conference final on Wednesday, Manchester City supporters have plenty of choice at lower fares – even though Istanbul is twice as far.

Here’s our guide to booking a last-minute Turkey trip to see the final.

How much are air fares to the host city?

Manchester to Istanbul is almost 1,700 miles, and a four-hour flight. The demand for seats has pushed up fares. But the aviation analyst Cirium has identified 13 extra scheduled flights between Manchester and Istanbul, with additional charter flights. The extra flights add around 2,500 extra seats to normal capacity.

The Turkish carrier Pegasus is scheduled to be the largest airline between the two cities this week, followed by Turkish Airlines and easyJet. Pegasus has a departure at 2.35am on Saturday that arrives at 8.35am for £263.

Passengers who are prepared to travel overnight via Dalaman will pay even less: £151 one-way.

There is even a flight for £111 that arrives in Istanbul at 7.55pm, two hours before kick off. But those flights touch down at Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of the city, with difficult transport direct to the stadium.

Flying into Istanbul’s vast new airport on the European side of the Bosphorus, fares are generally much higher. But there is one Turkish Airlines flight from Manchester at £209 on Saturday that arrives three hours before the final begins.

Returning home?

While some Manchester City fans have been in the city for days, it appears that everyone wants to come home on Sunday. Turkish Airlines has just a few seats available at £858 one way, with some flights offering business-class only at £1,536.

But anyone who waits until Monday will find much cheaper deals – especially if they are prepared to fly to one of the London airports. Seats at below £300 one way are widely available.

This compares with over £1,000 return for West Ham fans flying from London to Prague this week.

What about accommodation?

Rates are surging in the city centre, especially for Saturday night. One quote for an upmarket hotel is £3,835 for Saturday night, and city-centre three-star hotels are selling for around £300 for a double. But Istanbul is vast, with tens of thousands of hotel rooms. Staying on the Asian side and taking the ferry across should work out at around £100 a night for a double room.

What about safety?

The UK government is saying: “Plan your movement around the city to arrive at the Manchester City dedicated fanzone or stadium well in advance of the match kick-off, follow the instructions of the local authorities, take care of your personal possessions including passports, especially in crowds and on public transport.”

There are warnings of terrorism from the Foreign Office, which says: “There is a potential that citizens from western countries may be targets or caught up in attacks.”

Should I stay longer?

Yes. Istanbul is one of the greatest cities in the world, and extending a stay by 48 hours to make the most of the history, gastronomy and atmosphere in Istanbul would be an excellent move.

Read our latest 48 Hours guide to Istanbul

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