How to travel in Turkey: all about transportation in Turkeyby Luz Prada | August 19, 2022
Türkiye, which most of the Western world knows as Turkey, is a nation of incredibly rich history. Turkey is a marvelous midland between Europe and the Middle East, acting as a buffer of the two separate worlds and their histories. That history and majesty across the whole land is waiting for any curious traveller. Simply get your visa for Turkey and fly into one of the major cities. Remember: you might be able to extend the duration of your Turkish visa. Learn how to extend my tourist visa in Turkey.
In this article we are going to explain how to travel in Turkey and how to get to all the places you must see.
How to travel Turkey: transport in the cities
Istanbul is considered one of the Great Cities in the world because of its rich ancient history and the remnants of many civilizations and its modernity. You can easily walk almost anywhere and it is safe. However the city is simply way too big to see only on your feet. So how to travel inside Turkey to more distant districts?
Taxis are everywhere and work just like in any major city, and they're a comfortable way to resolve how to travel to Turkey. Just make sure you know enough of their language to get around and use your own math to avoid overcharging. This is a known tactic drivers may use to get more money from tourists.
Light rails in cities like Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Bursa among others do exist. Since they travel on fixed routes, there’s no chance of getting lost or being led around by a taxi driver. When in Istanbul, get the Istanbulkart, an all-access card to public transport.
Using a bicycle in a city or on busy roads is not too wise. Turkey is a car-first type of country where the roads aren’t easily shared. However, taking bikes to natural landscapes is a great way to get around and see great natural sites like the Hittite Trail near Ankara.
Buses and dolmuş
There are a few different bus options throughout Turkey. Standard city buses require pre-paid tickets and scheduled boarding. These come as tokens or smart cards which are your ticket. They are buyable or redeemable at bus depots and other locations.
Inter-town services also run to get people from smaller towns and village locations to the city at regular intervals. These are smaller buses and have very infrequent schedules.
However, there is a unique and typical method for how to travel Turkey. A transport method in between a Taxi and a Bus, called the dolmuş. The word literally means “stuffed” and is basically a mini-bus or a small van with its own set routes. You can opt to be dropped off anywhere along the route. They even have their own distinct stops and schedules separated from other transports. The best thing about dolmuş? Cheap and a bit more flexible than a bus.
It might come as a surprise, but the Turkish car infrastructure is pretty high-quality with well maintained roads. So, how to travel Turkey? Just rent a car!
Of course you won’t be able to bring your own car if flying in, but you can rent one. Car rentals are very simple in Turkey. You need to be 21 or older and with a license for at least a year. You can rent with a travel company, or a local one that might be cheaper. However, the safest option is booking a car before arriving with a company like Rentalcars. In any case renting a car can go up to $75 a day.
A very popular method of travelling across Turkey is using long-distance buses. These are can be luxurious vehicles with air conditioning and on-board lavatories. Some even have TVs, with local channels, and wi-fi on board. Of course they still take resting stops every few hours at special bus terminals.
These are real long-distance runs, up to 10 hours long, linking major cities in Turkey. On some routes you can see all the great sights of the country. A 280 mile journey will cost about $2.50 for a standard, less fancy bus. Although the premium won’t go up much and it will cost about $3.50.
Trains are not Turkey’s strongest transport method. High speed railways between major cities have come and gone and the maintenance of railways has been questionable. If you want to get a train, you should make the reservation well ahead of time, and from a proper starting point.
Turkey is a peninsula that extends into the Mediterranean and Aegean seas with the Black Sea to the north and the smaller Marmara sea between them. Sometimes it may be faster or simply more beautiful to take a boat rather than travel exclusively inland.
Ferries run from Istanbul across the Marmara Sea where you can head to Yalova, home of natural hot springs. Two other vacation hotspots are Bodrum and Datca in the southwest, and you can travel between them on a ferry.
Tips for your trip to Turkey
- Before boarding the plane, check all the Turkey travel requirements and don’t forget to get your visa on visagov.com.
- If you want to use internet on your mobile, your EU free-roaming won’t work. You will have to pay extra, or get a local SIM card.
- Is Turkey safe? While it is a generally safe country, avoid areas near Iran, Iraq and Syria.
- Never take any photo of or near military buildings or areas. This is considered a crime in Turkey.
- Turkey is a vast country, so don’t try to see everything at once, rather choose one or two areas and explore them properly.
- Don't know how to start planning your trip? Don't worry! Use our Istanbul itinerary as a guide for one of the largest and culture-rich cities in the world.