Transportation in Turkey

Travelling around Turkey
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Updated 2024-02-24 19:05

Türkiye is a huge country offering a variety of landscapes and attractions. Most expats settle in major cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir or Antalya. However, you should not miss the opportunity to travel around the country and discover the stunning rocky landscapes of Cappadocia or the beautiful beaches of Fethiye, for example.

Traveling by plane in Türkiye

Türkiye is home to 58 airports, with the airports in Istanbul, Izmir, Dalaman and Milas being some of the busiest. Besides the flagship company Turkish Airlines, a handful of smaller carriers, like Anadolu Jet, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines or Sun Express, operate frequent domestic flights.

Istanbul has a new and high-capacity airport that was opened for service in 2018, covering an area of 76.5 million square meters.

Useful links:

Turkish Airlines

Anadolu Jet

Pegasus Airlines

Sun Express

Traveling by bus in Türkiye

Private bus and coach companies cover long-haul routes across the whole country. They represent the cheapest transportation option.

Coaches tend to be clean, comfortable and rather punctual, especially if you pick a well-known company such as Kamil Koç or Metro, and all offer complimentary soft drinks and snacks.

Tickets can be bought either online or directly at the bus stations. Although stations are generally found in the city outskirts, carriers usually arrange free transfers from and to city centers.

Good to know:

If you are traveling at peak periods, like national public holidays, you should, if possible, try to book in advance, as buses rapidly get fully booked.

When booking a ticket in Türkiye (both in person or online), you will be asked to state your gender. This is because of a cultural tradition in Türkiye, according to which people generally prefer to sit next to those of the same sex — especially on longer trips.

Another interesting thing about traveling by bus in Türkiye is that most buses have a row of single seats, which may be slightly more expensive than the standard double-seat option.

Useful links:

Kamil Koç

Metro Turizm

Ulusoy

Obilet (ticket booking app)

Traveling by train in Türkiye

Trains connect major cities in central and eastern Anatolia, but the railway network somewhat leaves out the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. Turkish railways have recently experienced a stride with the launch of a new Yuksek Hizli Tren (high-speed train) connecting Ankara, Konya, Eskisehir and Istanbul. Comfort is also improving with the rollout of modern, air-conditioned passenger compartments, comfortable sleeping berths for overnight journeys, and restaurant carts serving soft drinks and cold food.

Suggested regional routes:

  • Van Gölü Ekspresi (Van Lake Express) – Starts from Ankara and travels through Kirikkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Elazig, Mus, and Tatvan. It serves food and has sleeping car options.
  • Güney Kurtalan Ekspresi (Southern Kurtalan Express) – Starts from Ankara and travels through Kirikkale, Kayseri, Sivas, Malatya, Diyarbakir, and Batman. The view is magnificent, with many lakes, rivers and mountains.
  • İzmir Mavi Tren Ekspresi (Izmir Blue Train Express) – Starts from Izmir and travels through Manisa, Usak, Afyonkarahisar, Kutahya, Eskisehir, and Ankara.

Booking is available online or at the stations. Online booking is not available for some regional routes, such as the ones listed above. For those, you should personally visit the central stations to reserve and purchase tickets.

Good to know:

The Haydarpasa train station, Istanbul's historic station, has not been in service since 2012, but talks about converting it into a museum or an entertainment facility are underway.

Useful link:

TCDD - Turkish Railway network

Traveling by boat in Türkiye

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.

On the Aegean coast, you will also find ferry routes connecting Turkish cities to Greek Islands. For instance, you can travel from the Turkish city of Fethiye to the Greek Island of Rhodes in just over two hours. Or, you can take the ferry from the Turkish Izmir to the port of Thessaloniki.

Useful link:

Istanbul Deniz Otobusleri

Tilos Travel (Türkiye to Greece ferries)

Driving in Türkiye in Türkiye

Driving in Türkiye may be the most comfortable option, provided you own a valid driver's license. Türkiye has quite straightforward traffic regulations, with vehicles driving on the right-hand side of the road. Note however that traffic jams are quite frequent, especially in the outskirts of large cities.

Car rental facilities are available in city centers or in the vicinity of transportation hubs (like train or bus stations).

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.