Expats in Turkey can choose among various means of transport to move from one place to another. Here is an overview of the Turkish transports system.
If you are moving to Turkey, whether to work, settle or on a tourist trip, you will definitely need to move from one place to another. Various means of transports are available in most Turkish cities: airplanes, boats, trains, buses, subway, etc. You simply have to choose according to the purpose of your trip and your budget. You may also rent a car if you have a valid driver's license.
Major Turkish cities have a good airline network as most flights cover Istanbul and Ankara. The country has a not only a national airline company but also many private companies which connect the major cities such as Istanbul and Ankara to one another as well as the country to other parts of the world. Among these: Turkish Airlines, Anadolu Jet, Atlasjet, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines, Sun Express. Other cities such as Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Izmir, Malatya, Samsun, Trabzon, Kayseri and Van also have their own regional airports.
Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (IDO) connects the different Turkish cities through passenger boats and car ferries across the Marmara Sea. You may also travel from Istanbul to Kabatas Cinarcik and Princes' Islands, or to other regions such as Bandirma Yenikapı, Bursa and Yalova.
The whole country is served by various private bus and coach companies. In general, most coaches are clean and comfortable. Soft drinks and snacks are also served on board. If you are preparing a long trip, especially during public holidays, weekends and during school holidays, that is from mid-June to early September, advance booking is recommended. Some companies offer online booking facilities. Otherwise, you can purchase your bus ticket directly at the bus station. You are advised to choose well known bus companies which are more reliable and punctual. Note that bus stations are generally found in city outskirts.
On the other hand, “dolmuses”, which are collective minibuses, serve intramural cities and their outskirts. Dolmuses generally start when they are full and when prices and routes are fixed. You can also ask the driver to stop anywhere. These are available up to 6 to 7 pm. However, this means of transport can be uncomfortable for long trips.
As regards city buses, you can purchase tickets in advance at special kiosks which you can find at major bus stations and transfer points. Note that private buses also operate on municipal lines. These accept bus tickets as well as cash.
Hitchhiking is quite common in Turkey, particularly over short distances. You will have to stand on one side of the road, facing traffic, and extend your arm on the side of the road waving upward and downward.
Train, tram and subway
Turkish railway connections are improving rapidly, especially due to the presence of high-speed trains on the Ankara-Konya line, for instance. Hence, the train is one of the country's most popular means of transport.
In general, Turkish trains' comfort levels vary. Most of these are quite comfortable with retractable seats while others have first and second class compartments with six and eight seats respectively. You can also access to sleeping cars with berths. As advance booking does not apply to trains, the concept operates on a first come, first served basis. Moreover, station names are indicated rather than city names.
However, the trains do not reach the coastal regions, such as the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. As for cities such as Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa and Ankara, these have their own subway network. Some of these also have trams.
Taxis are equipped with a meter. Some drivers, particularly in Istanbul, tend to set a price before starting the trip. Nevertheless, you are advised to assess the price before agreeing. You might have to pay more for a private journey including waiting time and distance than for a trip from the airport.
Renting a car is definitely the most comfortable means of transport in Turkey. However, traffic jams are quite frequent across the country.